1824 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

George Wither

Bryan Waller Procter, in Effigies Poeticae, or, the Portraits of the British Poets (1824) 47.



From a scarce Print by Payne, prefixed to his "Emblems."

WITHER has the crabbed cramped look of a puritan. His broad hat, and fierce, contracted, frowning brow savour but little of the profession of poetry. He would pass muster for a covenanter or round-head, — for one of old Noll's preaching and fighting followers, during the time when that "immortal rebel" played at bowls with crowns and sceptres, turned kingdoms into commonwealths, and rode like the sea-eagle over the sounding ocean, a victor whom few dared meet, and none could vanquish. Wither is a voluminous writer. Some of his pieces are interesting; and there is one passage in his "Shepherds' Hunting," which is surpassingly beautiful; but generally speaking, his poetry is indifferent enough. He wrote some of his verses while in durance; and he keeps, we think, in this portrait, his prison look, — stern and suffering.