1834 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Geoffrey Whitney

Robert Aris Willmott, in Lives of Sacred Poets (1834) 131.



Geoffrey Whitney occupies the first place among English Emblem-writers. Whitney resided many years on the Continent, and published, at Leyden, a second edition of his Emblems in 1586. The rarity of this edition precludes any hope of discovering the first. In his dedication to the Earl of Leicester, he dwells upon his "lack of leisure and learning," but permits no opportunity to escape of showing the latter; and if the Earl did not close the book with a very exalted idea of the dignity of poets, it was not owing to Whitney's modesty in asserting it. The Emblems are not destitute of a certain graceful and touching simplicity. His imitation of the 154th Emblem of Alciatus, is one of the most pleasing specimens of his style.