1812 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Browne of Tavistock

William Beloe, in Anecdotes of Literature and Scarce Books 6 (1812) 83-84.



Browne appears to be one of those early poets who have not had sufficient justice rendered to their memory; yet that he was held estimation by his cotemporaries, is sufficiently evident, as well from the verses which I have had it in my power to present the reader, written, I presume, by his fellow collegians, as from the complimentary poems prefixed to the first and second editions of his works. Among them we find the names of Michael Drayton, Selden, John Davies of Hereford, Glanville, Withers, Ben Jonson, and others of distinction.

Considering the time at which he wrote, there is great sweetness and harmony in Browne's versification. Specimens will be found by those who may not possess this poet's works, in Hayward's British Muse, Headley's Compilation, and in the elegant volumes of Mr. Ellis. I forbear inserting any other than the following short apostrophe, taken by chance, and subjoined merely in vindication of the merit which I have imputed to Browne.

Sing on sweet muse, and whilst I feed mine eyes
Upon a jewell and unvalued prize,
As bright a starre, a dame as faire, as chaste
As eye beheld, or shall till natures last
Charme her quick senses, and with raptures sweet
Make her affection with your cadence meet,
And if her gracefull tongue admire one straine,
It is the best reward my pipe would gaine:
In lien whereof in laurell-worthy rymes,
Her love shall live untill the end of times,
And spite of age the last of dayes shall see
Her name embalmed in sacred poesie.

There are not many passages even in Pope much more mellifluous.