1834 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Bp. Joseph Hall

Robert Aris Willmott, in Lives of Sacred Poets (1834) 73-74.



Satire, specifically so called, observes Warton in his History of English Poetry, did not commence in England till the latter end of the reign of Elizabeth. Eclogues and Allegories had hitherto been made the vehicles of satire, but the first professed English satirist was Bishop Hall, whose Toothless Satires were printed in 1597. Warton, in this instance, is not implicitly to be followed. Chaucer and Skelton, in particular, had long before furnished specimens of unconcealed and bitter satire; and Gascoigne's Steels Glas, expressly entitled a satire, was published in 1587, ten years before the first appearance of Hall's poems. The eloquent Bishop, indeed, considered himself the first adventurer in this path of poetry, but Mr. Beloe, in the Anecdotes of Literature, and Mr. Collier, in the Poetical Decameron, have both ingeniously attempted, and with apparent success, to establish the prior claims of Thomas Lodge and Dr. Donne. But if Hall was second in point of time, he was first in merit. So much elegance of thought, enforced by such vigour of delineation, and felicity of style, had not been often seen in our poetry.