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Sonnet and Ottava Rima - A History of English Poetry

by Thomas Warton

The Sonnet, together with the Ottava Rima, seems to have been theinvention of the Provincial bards, but to have been reduced to itspresent rhythmical prosody by some of the earliest Italian poets. It isa short monody, or Ode of one stanza containing fourteen lines, withuncommonly frequent returns of rhymes more or less combined. But thedisposition of the rhymes has been sometimes varied according to thecaprice or the convenience of the writer. There is a sonnet of theregular construction in the Provincial dialect, written by Guglielmo degli Amalricchi, on Robert king of Naples who died in 1321.[4] But theItalian language affords earlier examples. (The multitude of identicalcadences renders it a more easy and proper metre to use in Italian thanin English verse.)

No species of verse appears to have been more eagerly and universallycultivated by the Italian poets, from the fourteenth century to thepresent times. Even the gravest of their epic and tragic writers haveoccasionally sported In these lighter bays. (A long list of them isgiven in the beginning of the fourth Volume of Quadrios History ofItalian Poetry.) But perhaps the most elegant Italian sonnets are yet tobe found in Dante. Petrarch's sonnets are too learned (metaphysical) andrefined. Of Dante's compositions in this style I cannot give a betteridea, than in (the ingenious) Mr. Hayley's happy translation of Dante'sbeautiful sonnet to his friend Guido Calvacanti [sic], written in hisyouth, and probably before the year 1300.

Henry! I wish that you, and Charles, and I,
By some sweet spell within a bark were plac'd,
A gallant bark with magic virtue grac'd,
Swift at our will with every wind to fly:[Pg 3]
So that no changes of the shifting sky
No stormy terrors of the watery waste,
Might bar our course, but heighten still our taste
Of sprightly joy, and of our social tie:
Then, that my Lucy, Lucy fair and free,
With those soft nymphs on whom your souls are bent,
The kind magician might to us convey,
To talk of love throughout the livelong day:
And that each fair might be as well content
As I in truth believe our hearts would be.[5]

We have before seen, that the Sonnet was imported from Italy intoEnglish poetry, by lord Surrey and Wyat, about the middle of thesixteenth century. But it does not seem to have flourished in itslegitimate form, till towards the close of the reign of queen Elisabeth.What I call the legitimate form, in which it now appeared, was notalways free from licentious innovations in the rythmical arrangement.

To omit Googe, Tuberville [sic], Gascoigne, and some other petty writerswho have interspersed their miscellanies with a few sonnets, and whowill be considered under another class, our first professed author inthis mode of composition, after Surrey and Wyat, is Samuel Daniel. HisSonnets called Delia, together with his Complaint of Rosamond,were printed for Simon Waterson, in 1591.[6] It was hence that the nameof Delia, suggested to Daniel by Tibullus, has been perpetuated in thesong of the lover as the name of a mistress. These pieces are dedicatedto Sir Philip Sydney's sister, the general patroness, Mary countess ofPembroke. But Daniel had been her preceptor.[7] It is not said inDaniel's Life, that he travelled. His[Pg 4] forty-eighth sonnet is said tohave been "made at the authors being in Italie."[8] Delia does notappear to have been transcendently cruel, nor were his sufferingsattended with any very violent paroxysms of despair. His style and hisexpressions have a coldness proportioned to his passion. Yet as he doesnot weep seas of tears, nor utter sighs of fire, he has the merit ofavoiding the affected allusions and hyperbolical exaggerations of hisbrethren. I cannot in the mean time, with all these concessions in hisfavour, give him the praise of elegant sentiment, true tenderness, andnatural pathos. He has, however, a vigour of diction, and a volubilityof verse, which cover many defects, and are not often equalled by hiscontemporaries. I suspect his sonnets were popular. They are commended,by the author of the Return from Parnassus, in a high strain ofpanegyric.

Sweet honey-dropping Daniel doth wage
War with the proudest big Italian
That melts his heart in sugar'd sonnetting.[9]

But I do not think they are either very sweet, or much tinctured withthe Italian manner. The following is one of the best; which I the ratherchuse to recite, as it exemplifies his mode of compliment, and containsthe writer's opinion of Spenser's use of obsolete words.

Let others sing of knights & Paladines,
In aged accents, and untimely words,
Paint shadowes in imaginarie lines,
Which well the reach of their high wit records;
But I must sing of thee, and those faire eyes
Autentique shall my verse in time to come,
When yet th' vnborne shall say "Loe, where she lyes,
Whose beauty made Him speak that els was dombe."[Pg 5]
These are the arkes, the trophies I erect,
That fortifie thy name against old age,
And these thy sacred vertues must protect
Against the Darke, & Times consuming rage.
Though th' errour of my youth they shall discouer,
Suffise, they shew I liu'd, and was thy louer.[10]

But, to say nothing more, whatever wisdom there may be in allowing thatlove was the errour of his youth, there was no great gallantry intelling this melancholy truth to the lady.

Daniel is a multifarious writer, and will be mentioned again. I shalladd nothing more of him here than the following anecdote. When he was ayoung student at Magdalen-Hall in Oxford, about the year 1580,notwithstanding the disproportion of his years, and his professedaversion to the severer acadamical [sic] studies, the Dean and Canons ofChristchurch, by a public capitular act now remaining, gave Daniel ageneral invitation to their table at dinner, merely on account of theliveliness of his conversation.[11]

About the same time, Thomas Watson published his Hecatompathia, Or thepassionate century of love, a hundred sonnets.[12] I have not been ableto discover the date of this publication:[13] but his First set ofItalian Madrigals appeared at London, in 1590.[14] I have called themsonnets: but they often wander beyond the limits, nor do they alwayspreserve the conformation [or] constraint,[15] of the just ItalianSonetto.[16] Watson is more brilliant than Daniel: but he isencumbered with conceit and the trappings of affectation. In thelove-songs of this age, a lady with all her load of panegyric, resemblesone of the unnatural factitious figures which we sometimes see among thefemale portraits at full length of the[Pg 6] same age, consisting only ofpearls, gems, necklaces, earings, embroidery, point-lace, farthingale,fur, and feathers. The blooming nymph is lost in her decorations.Watson, however, has sometimes uncommon vigour and elegance. As in thefollowing description.

Her yellow locks exceed the beaten gold,
Her sparkling eyes in heau'n a place deserue;
Her forehead high and faire, of comelie mould,
Her wordes are musical, of syluer sound, &c.
Her eye-browe hangs like Iris in the skies,
Her eagle's nose is straite, of stately frame;
On either cheeke a rose and lillie lyes;
Her breathe is sweet perfvme, or holie flame:
Her lippes more red than any coral-stone, &c.
Her breast transparent is, like cristal rock,
Her fingers long, fit for Apollo's lute,
Her slipper such, as Momus dare not mock,
Her virtues are so great, as make me mute, &c.[17]

Spenser's Sonnets were printed with his Epithalamium. They areentered, in the year 1593, under this title to William Ponsonby,"Amoretti, and Epithalamium, written not long since by EdmondSpencer."[18] In a recommendatory sonnet prefixed, by G. W. senior, itappears that Spenser was now in Ireland. Considered under the idea whichtheir title suggests, undoubtedly these pieces are too classical,abstracted, and even philosophical. But they have many strokes ofimagination and invention, a strength of expression, and a stream ofversification, not unworthy of the genius of the author of the FaerieQueene.[19] On the whole however, with the same metaphysical flamewhich Petrarch felt for the accomplished Laura, with more panegyric[Pg 7]than passion, Spenser in his sonnets seldom appeals to the heart, andtoo frequently shews more of the poet and the scholar than of the lover.The following, may be selected in illustration of this opinion.

When those renowned noble peers of Greece,
Through stubborne pride among themselues did iar,
Forgetful of the famous golden fleece,
Then Orpheus with his harp their strife did bar.
But this continual, cruel, civil war,
The which myselfe against myselfe doe make,
Whilst my weake powres of passions warried arre,
No skill can stint, nor reason can aslake.
But when in hand my tunelesse harpe I take,
Then doe I more augment my foes despight,
And grief renew, and passion doe awake
To battaile fresh against myselfe to fight.
Mongst whom, the more I seeke to settle peace,
The more I find their malice to increase.[20]

But the following is in a more intelligible and easy strain, and haslent some of its graces to the storehouse of modern compliment. Thethought on which the whole turns is, I believe, original, for I do notrecollect it in the Italian poets.

Ye tradeful Merchants, that with weary toyle,
Doe seek most precious things, to make your gaine,
And both the Indias of their treasure spoile;
What needeth you to seeke so farre in vaine?
For lo, my Love doth in herselfe containe[Pg 8]
All this worlds riches that may farre be found:
If saphyres, loe, her eyes be saphyres plaine;
If rubies, loe, her lips be rubies sound;
If pearles, her teeth be pearles both pure & round;
If iuorie, her forehead iuorie were [wene];
If gold, her locks are finest gold on ground;
If siluer, her faire hands are siluer sheene:
But that which fairest is, but few behold,
Her mind adornd with vertues manifold.[21]

The last couplet is platonic, but deduced with great address andelegance from the leading idea, which Gay has apparently borrowed in hisbeautiful ballad of Black-eyed Susan.

Among the sonnet-writers of this period, next to Spenser I placeShakespeare. Perhaps in brilliancy of imagery, quickness of thought,variety and fertility of allusion, and particularly in touches ofpastoral painting, Shakespeare is superiour. But he is more incorrect,indigested, and redundant: and if Spenser has too much learning,Shakespeare has too much conceit. It may be necessary however to readthe first one hundred & twenty six sonnets of our divine dramatist aswritten by a lady:[22] for they are addressed with great fervency yetdelicacy of passion, and with more of fondness than friendship, to abeautiful youth.[23] Only twenty six, the last bearing but a smallproportion to the whole number, and too manifestly of a subordinatecast, have a female for their object. But under the palliative I havesuggested, many descriptions or illustrations of juvenile beauty,pathetic endearments, and sentimental declarations of hope ordisappointment, which occur in the former part of this collection, willlose their impropriety and give pleasure without disgust. The following,a few lines omitted, is[Pg 9] unperplexed and elegant.

How like a winter has my absence been
From thee, the pleasure of the fleeting year!
What freezings have I felt, what dark days seen!
What old December's bareness every where!
And yet this time, remov'd,[24] was summer's time;
The teeming autumn big with rich increase,
Bearing the wanton burden of the prime, &c.
For summer and his pleasures wait on thee,
And thou away, the very birds are mute:
Or, if they sing, 'tis with so dull a chear,
That leaues look pale, dreading the winter's near.[25]

In the next, he pursues the same argument in the same strain.

From you have I been absent in the spring,
When proud-pied April dress'd in all his trim,
Has put a sprite of youth in euery thing;
That heauy Saturn laugh'd and leap'd with him.
Yet not the lays of birds, nor the sweet smell
Of different flowers in odour and in hue,
Could make me any summer's story tell,
Or from their proud lap pluck them where they grew:
Nor did I wonder at the lilies white,
Nor praise the deep vermilion of the rose:
They were but sweet, but figures of delight,
Drawn after thee, thou pattern of all those![26]
Yet seem'd it winter still, and, you away,
As with your shadow, I with these did play.[27]
[Pg 10]

Here are strong marks of Shakespeare's hand and manner. In the next, hecontinues his play with the flowers. He chides the forward violet, asweet thief, for stealing the fragrance of the boy's breath, and forhaving died his veins with too rich a purple. The lilly is condemned forpresuming to emulate the whiteness of his hand, and buds of marjoramfor stealing the ringlets of his hair. Our lover is then seduced intosome violent fictions of the same kind; and after much ingeniousabsurdity concludes more rationally,

More flowres I noted, yet I none could see,
But sweet or colour it had stolne from thee.[28]

Shakespeare's Sonnets were published in the year 1599.[29] I rememberto have seen this edition, I think with Venus and Adonis and the rapeof Lucrece, a very small book, in the possession of the late Mr Thomsonof Queen's College Oxford, a very curious and intelligent collector ofthis kind of literature.[30] But they were circulated in manuscriptbefore the year 1598. For in that year, they are mentioned by Meres."Witness his [Shakespeare's] Venus and Adonis, his Lucrece, hissugred Sonnets among his priuate friends, &c."[31] They were reprintedin the year 1609; one hundred & fifty four in number. They were firstprinted under Shakespeares name, among his Poems, in the year 1717, bySewel, who had no other authority than tradition.[32] But that they wereundoubtedly written by Shakespeare, the frequent intermixture ofthoughts and expressions which now appear in his plays, and, what ismore, the general complexion of their phraseology & sentiment,abundantly demonstrate, Shakespeare cannot be concealed. Their lateingenious editor is of opinion, that Daniel was Shakespeare's model.[33]

I have before incidentally mentioned Barnefield's Sonnets,[34] which,like Shakespeare's, are adressed [sic] to a boy. They are flowery andeasy. Meres recites Barnefelde among the pastoral writers.[35] Thesesonnets,[Pg 11] twenty in number, are written in the character of a shepherd:and there are other pieces by Barnefield which have a pastoral turn, inEnglands Helicon. Sir Philip Sydney had made every thing Arcadian. Iwill cite four of this authors best lines, and such as will be leastoffensive.

Some talk of Ganymede th' Idalian boy,
And some of faire Adonis make their boast;
Some talke of him whom louely Leda lost
And some of Echo's loue that was so coy, &c.[36]

Afterwards, falling in love with a lady, he closes these sonnets with apalinode.[37]

I have before found occasion to cite the Sonnets of H. C. called Dianaprinted in 1592.[38] As also Dieella [sic], or Sonnets by R. L.printed in 1596.[39] With these may be mentioned a set of Sonnets,entitled Fidessa more chaste than kinde. By B. Griffin, Gent. AtLondon. Printed by the Widow Orwin for Matthew Lownes, 1596.[40] Theyare dedicated to Mr William Essex of Lambourne in Berkshire. Thenfollows a deprecatory address to the gentlemen of the Inns of Court, whoare earnestly requested to protect at least to approve this firstattempt of a stranger; and who promises, if now successful, to publish apastoral the next time. It is possible that some other writers of thisclass may have escaped my searches. I do not wish to disturb theirrepose, which is likely to be lasting.

[Pg 13]


Warton's notes, which in the manuscript are designated by letters orsymbols, have been numbered. Brackets enclose all the editor'scorrections, expansions, and comments. The parentheses are Warton's.

[1] [Thomas Warton's original version began "The temporary voguewhich ..." The final version, here parenthesized in the text,represents, it seems fairly certain, Joseph Warton's expansion. Althoughthis deprecatory comment seems rather abrupt coming after five sectionsdevoted to the Elizabethan satirists, Joseph Warton is not disparagingwhere his brother praised. Thomas Warton had already (IV, 69) belittledthe "innumerable crop of satirists, and of a set of writers differingbut little more than in name, and now properly belonging to the samespecies, Epigrammatists."]

[2] [Warton here combined several remarks in Dryden's essay "TheOriginal and Progress of Satire." See John Dryden, Essays, ed. W. P.Ker (Oxford, 1900), II, 111-112. There were six, not four editions ofHoliday's Persius.]

[3] [Warton refers presumably to Isaac Reed's Collection of OldPlays (London, 1780).]

[4] [Jehan de] Nostredam [e]. [Les] Vies des [...] Poet[es]Provens[aux]. [Lyon, 1575] n. 59. pag. 199.

[5] [William Hayley. An] Ess[ay] on Epic Poetry. [London,1782] Notes, Ess. iii. v. 81. p. 171.

[6] They are entered to him, feb. 4, under that year [1591/92].Registr. Station. B. fol. 284. a. In sixteens. I have a copy. Wh[ite]Lett[er i. e., roman]. With vignettes.

[7] [Daniel was tutor to her son William Herbert and preceptorto Ann Clifford, Countess of Pembroke, but Sidney's sister seems to havebeen the patroness rather than the pupil of Daniel.][Pg 14]

[8] His sister married John Florio, author of a famous Italiandictionary, and tutor to queen Anne, consort of James the first, inItalian, under whom Daniel was groom of the Privy-Chamber. [Anthoney a]Wood, Ath[enae] Oxon[ienses]. [London, 1691-92.] i. 379. col. 1.[Warton's mention of "Daniel's Life" refers presumably to the briefbiography by Wood, here cited.]

[9] A. i. Sc. i[i]. Warton was evidently quoting from theedition prepared by Thomas Hawkins and sold by his own printer,Prince—The Origin of the English Drama (Oxford, 1773), III, 213.

[10] Sonn. 50. [To show how "One of Spenser's cotemporarypoets has ridiculed the obsolete language of The Fairy Queen" Wartonhad already quoted the first two lines of this sonnet in the secondedition of his Observations on the Faerie Queene (London, 1762), I,122, n.]

[11] From a manuscript note by bishop Tanner inserted in Wood'sAthen. Oxon. i. 379. Bibl. Bodl. ["Aug. 9. Jac. 1. The Dean andChapter of Cht. Ch. by grant under their Common Seal out of regard forthe learning wit and good conversation of Sam. Daniel gent. gave himleave to eat and drink at the Canons Table whenever he thought fit tocome."—Tanner's marginal note (I, col. 447) in his copy (Bodleian MS.Top. Oxon. b. 8) of the second, 1721, edition of Wood. Although PhilipBliss in his edition of Athenae Oxonienses (London, 1813) incorporatedmany of the marginalia inserted by Tanner in his copy of Wood, Blissevidently overlooked this particular note. The editor is grateful to theBodleian Library for a photostat and for permission to quote. Accordingto Mr. W. G. Hiscock, Deputy Librarian at Christ Church, no mention ofthe "act" concerning Daniel is now to be found in the records under hiscare.]

[12] See supr. iii. [433]. Warton used Greek capitals in histitle.

[13] At London in quarto [1582]. There is a fine manuscriptcopy, at present, in the British Museum. Watson has many pieces inEnglands Helicon, 1600.[Pg 15]

[14] In quarto.

[15] [Above the word "conformation" Warton added "constraint."It is not clear whether he intended both to stand.]

[16] I have discovered, says Mr Steevens, in a Letter to me,that Watson's Sonnets, which were printed without date, were entered onthe books of the Stationer's Company, in 1581: under the Title of,"Watsons Passions, manifesting the true frenzy of Love". The Entry is toGabriel Cawood, who afterwards published them. [See A Transcript of theRegisters of the Company of Stationers of London, ed. Edward Arber(London, 1875-1894), II, 409.] Ad Lectorem Hexasticon is prefixed"Green's Tullie's Love", & subscribed "Tho. Watson. Oxon."—[RobertGreene, Ciceronis Amor. Tullies Love (London, 1601), Sig. A3 verso.]

I find in [Joseph] Ames' Typographical Antiquities. [London, 1749]page 423. Amintae Gaudia. Authore Tho. Watsono. Londinensi. Jurisstudiosi [sic]. 1592 [This unique pencilled annotation seems tobe in Joseph Warton's hand.]

[17] [A note to accompany this Sonnet No. VII has been almostcompletely destroyed by the excision, unique in the notebook, of whatwas originally folio 17. The mutilated line ends of the note read thus:"... nd/ ... on/... omas/... s Tr." This note presumably referred toThomas Watson and cited Section XI of "A Comparative Discourse of ourEnglish Poets," in Francis Meres's Palladis Tamia: Wit's Treasury(London, 1598, fol. 280), where among those praised for their Latinverse are Christopher Ocland, Thomas Watson, Thomas Campion, WalterHaddon, and "Thomas Newton with his Leyland."]

[18] Novemb. 19. [1594, not 1595.] Registr. Station. B. fol.315. a.[Pg 16]

[19] There is [a] Sonnet by Spenser, never printed with hisworks, prefixed to Gabriel Harveys "Foure Letters, &c. Lond. 1592." Ihave much pleasure in drawing this little piece from obscurity, not onlyas it bears the name of Spenser, but as it is at the same time a naturalunaffected effusion of friendship ... [four words illegible]. (SeeObservations on Spenser's Fair. Qu. [II]. [245-247?].)

"Harvey, the happy aboue happiest men,
I read: that sitting like a looker-on
of this worldes stage, doest note with critique pen
The sharpe dislikes of each condition;
And, as one carelesse of suspition,
Ne fawnest for the favour of the great,
Ne fearest foolish reprehension
of faulty men, which daunger to thee threat;
But freely doest, of what thee list, entreat,
Like a great lord of peerlesse liberty:
Lifting the good vp to high honours seat,
And th' euil damning euermore to dy.
For life and death is in thy doomefull writing,
So thy renowme liues euer by endighting.

Dublin this 18 of July, 1586. Your devoted Friend during life, EdmundSpencer."

I avail myself of an opportunity of throwing together a few particularsof the life and writings of this very intimate friend of Spenser, moreespecially as they will throw general light on the present period. Hewas born at Saffron-Walden in Essex, [John] Strype's [Life of theLearned Sir Thomas] Smith. [London, 1698] p. 18. He was a fellow ofPembroke-Hall, Spenser's college: and was one of the proctors of theuniversity of Cambridge, in 1583. [Thomas] Fuller's [History of theUniversity of] Cambridge,[Pg 17] p. 146. [in his] Ch[urch] Hist[ory ofBritain]. [London, 1655.] Wood says, he was first of Christ's college,and afterwards fellow of Trinity-Hall, Ath. Oxon. F[asti, I, col.755]. But Wood must be mistaken, for in the Epilogus to his Smithus,addressed to John Wood Smith's amanuensis, Harvey dates fromPembroke-Hall. Smithus, Signat. G. iij. [G4 verso.] [Warton probablydid not intend to deny that Harvey was a fellow of Trinity, butevidently felt that Wood was ignorant of the intermediate fellowship atPembroke.] He was doctorated in jurisprudence at both universities. Withhis brother Henry, he was much addicted to Astrology. (See supr. [Vol.IV], p. 23.)

He seems to have been a reader in rhetoric at Cambridge from hisCiceronianus, vel Oratio post reditum habita Cantabrigiae ad suosauditores. Lond. 1577. 4to. It is dedicated to William Lewin, I supposeof Christ's college. (See Wood, ubi supr.) He published also Rhetor,vel duorum dierum oratio de natura arte et exercitatione rhetorica,Lond. 1577. 4o. It is dedicated to Bartholomew Clark, the eleganttranslator of Castilios Courtier, who has also prefixed an address toour author's Rhetor, dated at Mitcham in Surrey, Cal. Sept. 1577. Hepublished in four books, a set of Latin poems called Gabrielis HarveiiGratulationum Valdinensium Libri quatuor, &c. Lond. 1578. 4to. Thisbook he wrote in honour of queen Elisabeth, while she was on a progressat Audley-end in Essex, "afterwards presenting the same in print to herHighnesse at the worshipfull Maister Capels in Hertfordshire." Notesto Spenser's September. He mentions a most perfect and elegantdelineation or engraving of all England, perartificiose expressa,procured by his friend M. Saccoford, to which the queen's effigy,accuratissime depicta, was prefixed. Lib. i. p. 13. In his characterof an accomplished Maid of Honour of the queen's court, some curiousqualifications are recited. One of the first, to make her truly amiable,is what he calls Affectatio.[Pg 18]

She is to understand painting her cheeks, to have a collection of goodjokes, to dance, draw, write verses, sing, and play on the lute, andfurnish her library with some approved recipt-books. She is to becompletely skilled in cosmetics. "Deglabret, lavet, atque ungat, &c."Lib. iiii. p. 21. 22. (See supr. ii[i]. [426, n].) Another book ofHarvey's Latin poetry is his Smithus, vel Musarum Lacrymae, on thedeath of Seceretary [sic] Sir Thomas Smith, Lond. 1578. 4to. Thededication is to Sir Walter Mildmay. When Smith died, he says, LordSurrey broke his lyre. Cant. v. He wishes on this mournful occasion,that More, Surrey, and Gascoigne, would be silent. Cant. vi. Ascham,Carr, Tonge, Bill, Goldwell, Watson, and Wilson, are panegyrised asimitators of Smith. [Nicholas Carr, 1524-1568, was Regius Professor ofGreek at Cambridge. William Bill, d. 1561, was Master of TrinityCollege, Cambridge. Perhaps Tonge is the Barnaby Tonge who matriculatedat Christ Church, Cambridge, in 1555. There were two John Goldwell's atCambridge in Smith's day: one was a fellow at Queen's from 1538 to 1542;the other was named fellow of Trinity in 1546. For Wilson see Warton'sdiscussion earlier in the History (III, 331-344), where this verypraise in Harvey's Smithus is quoted.] Cant. vii. Signat. D. iij.See also, Sign. L. i. And C. ij. Wilson, the author of the Art ofRhetoric, is again commended. Ibid. Sign. E. ij. Again, Sign. F. i. F.ij. He thinks it of consequence to remember, that Smith gave a Globe,mira arte politum, to Queens College Library at Cambridge. Ibid, Sign.E. iij. [E4 verso.] He praises Lodovice Dolci's odes, and Ronsard.Cant. ii. Sign. C. i. His iambics are celebrated by his cotemporaries.See Meres, Wits Tr. fol. 280. 282. [283 verso.] (See supr. ii [i].[401, n].) Nothing can be more unclassical than Harvey's Latin verse. Heis Hobbinol in Spenser's Pastorals. Under that name, he has prefixedtwo recommendatory poems to the first and second parts of the Faeriequeene. [There was only[Pg 19] one such poem, but in some folio editions itwas inadvertently printed twice.] The old annotator on Spenser'sPastorals prefaces his commentary, with an address, dated 1579, "To themost excellent and learned both oratour and poet master GabrielHarvey, &c." In the notes to September, he is said to have writtenmany pieces, "partly vnder vnknowne titles, and partly vnder counterfeitnames: as his Tyrannomastix, his old [ode] Natalitia, hisRameidos, and especially that part of Philomusus his divineAnticosmopolite, &c." He appears to have been an object of the pettywits & pamphlet-critics of his times. His chief antagonists were Nashand Greene. In the Foure Letters abovementioned, may be seen manyanecdotes of his literary squabbles. To these controversies belong hisPierces supererogation, Lond. 1593. Sub-Joined, is a New Letter ofnotable contents with a strange sound sonnet called Gorgon. To this issometimes added An Advertisement for Pap-Hatchet &c. Nash's Apologyof Pierce Penniless, printed 1593, is well known. Nash also attacksHarvey, as a fortune-teller & ballad maker, in Have with you toSaffron-Walden. Nash also wrote a confutation of Harvey's FoureLetters, 1592. [Strange News, of the Intercepting Certaine Letters,to which Warton evidently refers, is actually the early title of theApology.] I pass over other pieces of the kind. The origin of thedispute seems to have been, that Nash affirmed Harvey's father to havebeen a rope-maker at Saffron-Walden. Harvey died, aged about 90, atSaffron Walden, in 1630.

[20] Sonn. xliii.

[21] Sonn. xv.

[22] Except in in [sic] such a passage as when he calls thisfavourite by "The master-mistress of my passion," Sonn. 20. And in afew others, where the expressions literally shew the writer to be a man.[Warton of course wanted to preserve Shakespeare's sonnets from thecharge of homosexuality. In the eighteenth century the distaste forconceits and an acute sensitivity to[Pg 20] the suspicion of homosexualitymade the Sonnets so unpopular that they were omitted from the editionsof Shakespeare by, among others, Rowe, Pope, Theobald, Warburton,Capell, and Johnson.]

[23] The last of these is that which begins, "O thou, my lovelyBoy." Sonn. 126.

[24] "When absent from thee".

[25] Sonn. 97.

[26] They were sweet indeed, but they wanted animation; and,in appearance, they were nothing more than beautiful resemblances orcopies of you.

[27] Sonn. 98.

[28] Sonn. 99.

[29] [Warton originally wrote "1609," but immediately scored itout and replaced it with "1599."]

[30] In 16mo. With vignettes. Never entered in the Register ofthe Stationers. [Possibly Warton saw a volume registered by Eleazer Edgaron 3 January 1599/1600 as "A booke called Amours by J. D. with certenoyr sonnetes by W. S. vjd" (Arber's Stationers Register, III,153). This entry may indicate that Edgar held manuscripts of some ofShakespeare's sonnets, and some copies of the book so registered mayhave been published. However, if Warton had seen this hypotheticalvolume he should have correctly identified it: he had already (III, 402,n.) printed the Edgar entry from the Stationers Register.

If this volume which Warton mentions ever actually existed, it cannotnow be located. Concerning Warton's statement Mr. G. B. Oldham,Principal Keeper of Printed Books, British Museum, wrote as follows: "Ihave examined the sale catalogue which contains books from the libraryof the Reverend William Thomson of Queens College, Oxford, but havefailed to find anything at all corresponding with the volume whichWarton describes. There[Pg 21] are not, in fact, many really scarce books inthis catalogue and it rather looks as though the rarer items inThomson's collection were otherwise disposed of. In any case I thinkthere is a strong presumption that Warton's memory betrayed him."

Thus, in the absence of any evidence concerning a 1599 edition of theSonnets and in the light of Thorpe's claim in 1609 that they were"Never before Imprinted," it seems probable that what Warton was vaguelyrecalling was actually a copy of Shakespeare's Passionate Pilgrim.This book, printed for Jaggard in 1599, my have misled Warton by itsseparate title page, Sonnets to Sundry Notes of Musicke. Such a volumeas Warton describes was, it seems evident from surviving copies,frequently bound up to contain The Passionate Pilgrim, Venus andAdonis, and other small collections of poetry. The fact that Wartonrecollected the book as a l6mo. does not argue much against thisidentification. Though The Passionate Pilgrim is actually an octavo,surviving copies measure about 4-1/2 by 3-1/4 inches, and as late as1911 William Jaggard, in his Shakespeare Bibliography (p. 429),described it as a 16mo.

In explanation of Warton's probable error two extenuating facts shouldbe remembered. First, since Thomson died about 1766, Warton'srecollection was at least fifteen years old; and second, only in 1780did Edmond Malone edit the Sonnets and The Passionate Pilgrim asdiscriminate texts comprising Shakespeare's lyrics. Even then Maloneomitted without comment the separate title page Sonnets to Sundry Notesof Musicke. Previously, except in George Steevens's edition of theSonnets, Shakespeare's poems were lumped together, with lyrics ofseveral other Elizabethan poets, and printed as Shakespeare's Poems onSeveral Occasions. Moreover, Warton was not the first to write of a1599 edition of the Sonnets. His friend Bishop Percy may have helpedto create this false impression in Warton's memory. In his[Pg 22] interleavedcopy of Langbaine's Account of the English Dramatick Poets,immediately after Oldys's statement that Shakespeare's Sonnets werenot printed until 1609, Percy commented, "But this is a mistake. Lintotrepublished Shakespeare's Sonnets from an edition in 1599." Malone, inhis transcript of Steevens's transcript of Percy, corrected Percy'smistake: "This is a mistake of Dr. Percy's. Lintot republished fromold eds but not from any ed. of 1599, except a very few sonnetscalled the Passionate Pilgrim printed in that year." (Photostat ofBergen Evans's transcript of Bodleian Malone 129-132.) Warton, however,may well have been misled by Percy's comment, for in the winter of 1769he had borrowed and used Percy's annotated copy of Langbaine. (ThePercy Letters, The Correspondence of Thomas Percy and Thomas Warton,ed. M. G. Robinson and Leah Dennis [Baton Rouge, 1951], pp. 135, 137.)It is unfortunate that the matter was not cleared up in discussion withMalone, whom at some time during the 1780's Warton furnished with a copyof the 1596 Venus and Adonis and with whom he corresponded around 1785concerning sonnets in general and Shakespeare in particular. (WilliamShakespeare, Plays and Poems, ed. Edmond Malone [London, 1790] X, 13,n. 1; and James Prior, The Life of Edmond Malone [London, 1860], pp.122-123.)]

[31] Wits Tr. fol. 281. b. [The brackets in the text areWarton's.]

[32] [Warton was of course much mistaken. Following the 1640edition of Benson, Gildon had reprinted them under Shakespeare's name in1709 (dated 1710) and again in 1714. The two Sewell editions appeared in1725 and 1728. Invariably the poems seem to have been printed underShakespeare's name, though perhaps not always in a collected edition ofhis complete poems. See Hyder Rollins's New Variorum edition of theSonnets (Philadelphia, 1944).]

[33] [See Malone's Supplement to the Edition of Shakespeare'sPlays (London, 1780), I, 581.]

[34] See supr. vol. iii. [p. 405].[Pg 23]

[35] Wits Tr. fol. 284. a. He is again mentioned by Meres forhis distich on king James's Furies & Lepanto. fol. 284. b. [Thedistich, printed by Meres, is the final couplet of Barnfield's SonnetII.]

[36] Sonn. xii.

[37] It begins thus.

Nights were short, and daies were long,
Blossoms on the hauthorns hong;
Philomel, night-musickes kinge,
Tolde the comming of the springe, &c.

He does not scruple to insert these lines,

Loue I did the fairest boy,
That these fields did ere enioy.
Loue I did faire Ganymed,
Venus darling, beauties bed, &c.

This piece was afterwards inserted in Englands Helicon.

[38] See supr. vol. iii. p. [292, n.] I [am] now most inclinedto think, that these initials mean Henry Constable, and not HenryChettle. The Sonnets do not justify the applauses paid to Constable, byhis contemporaries, Edmond Bolton, Meres, the author of the Returnfrom Parnassus, and many others. Some of his sonnets are prefixed toSydney's Apology for Poetry. The initials H. C. often occur inEnglands Helicon. I take this opportunity of saying that some piecesof Chettle were among Mr. Beauclerc's books. (See supr. iii. [291-292,n.?]) [Indeed the annotations in the Harvard Library copy of theBibliotheca Beauclerkiana (p. 102) suggest that either Thomas Wartonor, more probably, his brother may have purchased the copy of Chettle'sEnglands Mourning Garment owned by Thomas Warton's former[Pg 24] student. Itwas sold to "Dr. W."]

[39] See supr. iii. [480.] [R. L. was Richard Lynch.]

[40] In 16mo. With vignettes. They are sixty two in number.The best is that which begins,

Venus, and yong Adonis sitting by her,
Vnder a myrtle shade began to woe him
She told the yongling, &c. Sonn. iii.

He calls Sleep, "Balme of the brused heart." Sonn. xv.