1600 ca.
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Of Monsters. To my Lady Rogers.

The most elegant and witty Epigrams of Sir John Harrington, Knight, digested into Foure Bookes: Three whereof never before Published. [Second edition.]

Sir John Harington


John Harington's ninety-third epigram, first published in 1618, makes a possible allusion to the allegory of book I of the Faerie Queene. Wells gives an alternate reading for "scarfe" from B.M. Addit. MS 12049: "That wears the skarlett, poseth many wits" (1972) 71.

R. M. Cummings: "The disclaimer ... is lightly intended: as an allegorizer of Ariosto, Harington must know that Spenser intends both the senses he pretends not to be able to distinguish between. (In the context, perhaps it should be said, a Spenserian allusion is more likely than a Biblical one)" Critical Heritage (1971) 73.

Thomas Warton: "Many of Harrington's Epigrams were certainly written before [1618]. Perhaps there was an older edition. In Fitz-geoffrey's Latin Epigrams, called Affaniae, published 1601, there is an epigram to Harrington ... and in sir John Stradling's Epigrams, published 1607, there is one to Harrington, Lib. i. p. 32. 'Ad D. I. Harrington, Equitem doctissimum, de quibusdam epigrammatis Stradlingo, equiti, dono missi, 1590.' And in Stradling's epigrams, we have two of Harrington's translated into Latin" History of English Poetry (1774-81, 1840) 3:463n.

John Payne Collier: "The most entertaining of these writers is Sir John Harington, and his principle merit depends upon the great difference between his epigrams and those of his rivals: Ben Jonson truly called them 'narrations' and not epigrams" Poetical Decameron (1820) 1:276-77.

John Bowyer Nichols: "Sir John was born at Kelston, near Bath, in Somersetshire, 1561, and had Queen Elizabeth for his godmother. He died in 1612. His Lady, Mary, daughter of Sir George Rogers, survived him till 1634. In his epigrams are several to his mother-in-law Lady Rogers. These Epigrams were the most popular of his works, although they cannot now be allowed much poetical merit" Literary and Miscellanous Memoirs of Joseph Cradock (1828) 2:125-26n.



Strange-headed Monsters, Painters have described.
To which the Poets strange parts have ascribed,
As Janus first two faces had assign'd him,
Of which, one look't before, tother behind him:
So men, may it be found in many places,
That underneath one hood can beare two faces.
Three-headed Cerberus, Porter of Hell,
In faind with Pluto, God of wealth to dwell.
So still with greatest States, and men of might,
Dogs dwell, that doe both fawne, and bark, and bite.
Like Hydras heads, that multiply with wounds,
Is multitude, that mutinie confounds:
On what sev'n-headed beast the Strumpet sits,
That weares the scarfe, sore troubleth many wits,
Whether sev'n sinnes be meant, or else sev'n hils,
It is a question fit for higher skils.
But then of these, if you can rightly conster,
A headlesse woman is a greater Monster.

[sig. G8v]