1873 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Francis Davison

Thomas Corser, in Collectanea Anglo-Poetica 5 (1873) 111.



Among the various collections of our early poetical miscellanies, which have been the means of preserving and extending the knowledge of many of the beautiful compositions of our early poetical writers, and many of which, like the present, are now become exceedingly scarce, the Poetical Rhapsodie of Davison may be considered as one of the most important; and if it is not adorned with some of the sparkling gems which glitter in England's Helicon from the pens of Lodge, Breton, Marlow and others, of which the present volume is believed to be an imitation, it yet may boast of such illustrious names as Spenser, Davis, Watson, Constable, Greene, Sylvester and Sir Walter Raleigh, besides those of the two brothers, Francis and Walter Davison. The first edition was published in 1602, and was so popular that it was successively reprinted with additions in 1608, 1611 and 1621. Of this first edition only one copy is known, which is in Malone's collection in the Bodleian, and has been reprinted by Mr. Collier in his valuable series of our Early Poetical Miscellanies. Besides this by Mr. Collier, it was reprinted by Sir Egerton Brydges, at his private press at Lee Priory in 1814, 8vo, 100 copies, under the care of Mr. Haslewood: and again, also, at London in 1826, in two volumes, 8vo, with a memoir, and other editions by Sir H. Nicholas.

The principal contributor of this miscellany was Francis Davison, son of William Davison, Secretary of State to Queen Elizabeth, whose favour he had lost by hastening the death of the unfortunate Mary Queen of Scots in 1587, and who died in 1608. Francis Davison, being himself a poet, was better able to form a judgment of the relative merits of his contemporaries, and to discriminate in the selection he made from their poetical contributions. And this adds to the value and interest of the present work as compared with others of our poetical miscellanies.