1766 ca. ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Sir William Davenant

Samuel Pegge, 1766 ca; in Anonymiana, or Ten Centuries of Observations on various Authors and Subjects (1809) 173.



CENTURY IV. XC.

Sir William Davenant's nose was injured by an amour he had with a girl, of which A. Wood has given an account in Athen. Oxon. vol. II. col. 412; and which Sir John Suckling glances at in these lines:

Will Davenant, asham'd of a foolish mischance,
That he had got lately travelling in France,
Modestly hop'd the handsomeness of his Muse
Might any deformity about him excuse.

Where it is evident Sir John alludes to this distemper's being called the "French" disease; and consequently there is in fact no difference between him and Mr. Wood. Cibber, therefore, in the Life of Sir William, did not understand Suckling, when he writes "Suckling here differs from the Oxford Historian, in saying that Sir William's disorder was contracted in France: but, as Wood is the highest authority, it is more reasonable to embrace his observation; and probably Suckling only mentioned 'France,' in order that it might rhyme with 'mischance.' It does not appear that Davenant had ever been in France when this accident befell him."