BL 684.g.25

Specimens of the Early English Poets.

London: Printed for Edwards, Pall-Mall. 1790

[George Ellis]


The poetical miscellany now offered to the public was originally intended to comprize, within the compass of one volume, all the most beautiful small poems which had been published in this country during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries; and it was conceived that, by classing the several authors under the reigns in which they flourished, the collection would unite the advantages of a poetical common-place book with those of a history of English poetry. Perhaps these purposes may be in some measure answered even by the present imperfect collection; but the completion of the publisher's plan has been prevented by the difficulty of procuring a sufficient stock of materials.

The regularity and harmony of style, and the minute attention to the artifice of composition which were introduced by the au- [i / ii] thors of Queen Anne's reign, produced in the public such a delicacy and even fastidiousness of taste, as could not be gratified by the irregular compositions of our early poets, who therefore soon fell into disrepute, and were in a little time consigned to oblivion. The disuse of the black letter contributed, perhaps, to this revolution in taste. Of those works which had been printed in that antiquated character, a very few copies, becoming valuable from their scarcity, escaped into the cabinets of literary collectors, where they are secure indeed against farther insult, but are at the same time inaccessible to the curiosity of the public.

It has been lamented by many lovers of poetry, that, when a general and uniform edition of our poets was published under the auspices of Dr. Johnson, no effort was made in favour of these antiquated writers. It should seem, that the director of that literary apotheosis might have recommended to public notice the works of Surrey, Wyat, [ii / iii] Sidney, Raleigh, and the several contributors to our earlier miscellanies, as justly and as successfully as those of Blackmore, Sprat, and Yalden.

To those who possess a complete poetical library, the following collection will, of course, be useless: it is a mere common-place book, and very imperfect; but it is hoped, far less so than any other of the same size. It is confined to small poems only; because it was apprehended that these would be more pleasing than extracts and fragments, and would tend equally to characterize the manner of the several authors. The task of selection too was much easier; for any man can appreciate the merit of natural thoughts conveyed in natural language, whereas inspiration is a supernatural agent, and what in one age passes for sublime, may in another be only considered as absurd. [iii / iv]

Poems of the ballad kind have been omitted, because they seem less connected with the history of our poetry, than with that of our ancient manners and customs. For this reason too, the longest are scarcely susceptible of abridgement, and their number is not so considerable as to require selection. It is to be wished that more of them may be discoverd, particularly in the class of metrical romances, as even the oldest of those in prose are claimed as the property of other nations.

As many of the names which occur in this volume will probably not be familiar to the general class of readers, it might be expected that the specimens of each author should be preceded by some account of his life and writings: but it was thought unnecessary to attempt what has been already executed in the best and most popular of our modern miscellanies. A sufficient account of all the British poets may be found either in Percy's Collection; or in Headley's Select Beauties of [iv / v] Ancient English Poetry; or in Pinkerton's Scottish Ballads and Poems.

It is necessary to mention, that the compiler has taken the liberty of adopting throughout the orthography of the present time. He conceives, that, although some of the variations which have taken place in our mode of spelling may have been dictated by caprice, the greater number were adopted with a view to prevent ambiguity, and that it is no injury to his authors to render them more intelligible.

The freedom which has been taken in suppressing not only several lines, but occasionally very long passages in a poem, is certainly inexcusable, if it shall be found to have been injudiciously exercised: but, on this point, the reader's opinion will probably be decided rather by the merit of what is preserved, than by any apology that could be offered in a preface. [v / vi]

[Solid black lines separate poems when they do not have titles, unless the poem begins at the top of a page.]

[No table of contents.]



HENRY HOWARD, Earl of Surrey, is considered as the first English classic. His Poems together with those of Sir Thomas Wyat, the elder, and those of uncertain authors, were published by Tottel, in 1557 and 1565. A very satisfactory account of the contributors to this curious miscellany may be found in the third volume of Warton's History of English Poetry. Totel's editions are now extremely scarce, and even the copy of them printed in 1717, in Octavo, is not very common.

Give place, ye lovers, here before 1-2

Ode.--The sotte season, that bud and bloom brings forth 2-3


Your looks so often cast 3

Since love will needs that I must love 3-4

My Lute awake, perform the last 4-5


Ode.--Adieu, desert, how art thou spent! 6-7

Give place, ye Ladies, and be gone 7-8

A many may live thrice Nestor's life 9

The smoky sighs, the bitter tears 9-10

I see there is no sort 10-11

To this my song give ear who list, 11-13

A Lover to his Mistress 14

Harpalus and Phillida 15-19(1)

From Gammer Gurton's Needle 19-20



A strange passion of a lover--I laugh sometimes with little lust; 23

The Lullabuy of a Lover. 24-25

The Dole of Despair, WRITTEN BY A LOVER, Disdainfully rejected, contrary to former Promises. 25-26


Song.--Blow, blow thou Winter-wind 27

Sonnet.--On a day, (alack the day!) 27-28

Spring, a Song.--When daisies pied and violets blue, 28

Song of Fairies.--Now the hungry lion roars, 29

Song.--Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more; 29-30

Winter, a Song.--When icicles hang by the wall, 30

A Song on Fancy.--Tell me, where is Fancy bred, 31

Ariel's Song 31

Song.--Come away, come away death, 32

Song.--"Who is Silvia? what is she," 32-33

Dirge 33-34

Song.--Under the green-wood tree, 34

The Force of Love [this is a sonnet]--Being your slave, what should I do but tend 35

Wholesome Counsel.--When as thine eye hath chose the dame 35-37

Sympathizing Love.--As it fell upon a day 37-39


Sonnet.[no](2)--Whence comes my love, Oh heart, disclose! 40


Sonnet.[no]--Faint amorist! what, does thou think 41-42

Sonnet.[no]--In a grove most rich of shade, 42-45

Sonnet.[no]--Only joy, now here you are, 45-46

Sonnet.[yes]--Because I breathe not love to every one, 46-47

Song.--"Who is it that this dark night 47-48


The following estracts are taken from the "Six Court Comedies," written by this author, and published by Blount, in 1632.

Song.--What bird so sings, yet so does wail? 49

Song.--O for a bowl of fat Canary, 49-50

Cupid and Campaspe [sic.] 50-51

Song.--O yes! O yes! if any maid 51

Song.--In Sappho and Phaon.--O Cruel love! on thee I lay 52

Vulan's Song. 52-53


Sonnet.[yes]--Look, Delia, how w'esteem the half-blown rose

Sonnet.[yes]--If this be love to draw a weary breath / ------ / With downward looks, still reading on the earth / These sad memorials of my love's despair; 54-55

Sonnet.[yes]--I once may see when years shall wreck my wrong, 55

Sonnet.[yes]--Beauty, sweet love, is like the morning dew, 56

Sonnet.[yes]--I must not grieve my love, whose eyes would read, 56-57

Ode.--Now each creature joys the other, 57

Pastoral.--O happy golden age! 58-60


The following pieces are extracted from England's Helicon.

A PASTORAL OF / Phillis and Corydon. 61-62

Phillis and Corydon. [another one] 62-63

The Shepherd's Address to his Muse. 63-64


LOVE. Love's sooner felt than seen, his substance thinne . . . 65


I grieve, yet dare not shew my discontent . . . . Sign'd, "Finis, Eliza, Regina, upon Mount Zeurs departure, Asbmol. Mus. MSS. 6969 (781.) p. 142. 66


The Studry Rock. FROM PERCY'S COLLECTION.--The Sturdy rock, for all his strength, 67-68

The Praise of Amarcana.--The sun, the season, in each thing, 68-69


Samela.--Like to Diana in her summer-weed, 70


Tityrus to his Fair Phillis. 71


From his Aviza. 72-73

To his Aviza. 73-74


The Passionate Shepherd. 75



I, with whose colours Myra drest her head, 78

Song.--Away with these self-loving lads, 79

The Dream.--My senses all, like beacon's flame, 80-81


The Soul's Errand. 82-85.

The Nymph's Reply to the Passionate Shepherd. 85-86

Dulcina. 86-88

The Silent Lover. 88-89

The Shepherd's Description of Love.89-90

Verses Found in his Bible. 90-91

Imitation of Marlow. 91-92

[Spenser and Donne not here, as they are in SPCRGN.]



The works of this laborious but tiresome writer, form a large volume in folio, printed in 1641, and consisting principally of translations. In page 652, is inserted the "Soul's Errand," (which is usually attributed to Sir Walter Raleigh) under the title of "The Lie," but strangely disfigured. 95

A Caution For Courtly Damsels. 95-96

A Contented Mind.96-97

Thou art not fair, for all thy red and white, 97


This poet was born in 1588, and died in 1667. He was a most voluminous writer; but no complete edition of his works was ever published, although no author perhaps was ever more admired by his contemporaries. A list of his pieces is given at the end of a small pamphlet called, "Extracts from Juvenilia, &c. printed by George Bigg, 1785."

Song.--Shall I, wasting in despair,98-99

Amaryllis I did woo, 100

Lordly gallants, tell me this: 100

Wantons! 'tis not your sweet eyings, 101-102

Philarete to his Mistress. 102-104

Sad eyes, what do you ail, 104-106

The Steadfast Shepherd. 106-109

->The following Rhomboidal Dirge, is inserted on account of its singularity. Ah me! / Am I the swain, [in the shape of Easter Wings, kind of; there are three pages of these things, but I guess it is one poem.] 110-111


Song.--Come, my Celia, let us prove, 113

Song.--Drink to me only with thine eyes 114

The Sweet Neglect.--Still to be neat, still to be drest, 114-115

Hue and Cry after Cupid.--Beauties, have ye seen a toy, 115-117


Author of "Britannia's Pastorals," the "Shepherd's Pipe," &c.--A complete and beautiful edition of his works was published in 1772, by T. Davies in Russel Street, Covent Garden. [118]

Song.--Shall I tell you whom I love? 118-119

Thyrsis's Praise to His Mistress. 119-120

The Syren's Song. In the Inner Temple Mask. 120-121


From the Tragedy of the Bloody Brother. Song.--Take, oh take those lips away, 122

Song.--In the Nice Valour.--Hence all you vain delights, 122-123

Song In a Masque.--You should stay longer if we durst---123

Song In the Queen of Corinth.--Weep no more, nor sigh, nor groan, 124

Duet in the Captain.--"Tell me, dearest, what is love?" 124-125

Song in the Elder Brother.--Beauty clear and fair, 125

Song in a Wife for a Month.--Let those complain that feel love's cruelty, 126


Sonnet to Sleep. [yes] 127

To his Lute [yes, sonnet] 127-128

Sonnet To the Nightingale [yes] 128

Song.--Phoebus arise 129-130

Sonnet.[yes]--Thrice happy he, who by some shady grove 130

Sonnet.[yes]--Sweet spring, thou turn'st, with all thy goodly train, 131

Sonnet To the Nightingale. [another; yes] 131-132

This world a hunting is, 132


Langbaine enumerates five-and-twenty plays written by this voluminous author. The following extracts are taken from his "Pleasant Dialogues and Drammas, &c." small 12mo 1637. [133]

Song.--Pack clouds away, and welcome day, 133

Shepherd's Song. 124-135


The Shepherd's Daffodil. 136-137

Sonnet.[yes]--Since there's no help, come let us kiss and part, 138

To my Coy Love. 138-139


Song.--Go and catch a falling star, 140-141

Song.--I never stoop'd so low as they [last line missing] 141


Cupid's Pastime. FROM PERCY'S COLLECTION. 141-144


Brother of Francis Beaumont, and author of Bosworth Field, and other poems, 1629.

A Description of Love. 145-146


The poems of this writer are remarkable for their elegance and purity. He was born in 1580, and died in 1640. The earliest English edition of his works was published in Quarto, 1607. It contains four tragedies in alternate rhime, with eboruses, viz. Croesus, Darius, the Alexandrean tragedy, and Julius Cæsar; a Parænesis to the Prince, and Aurora, a collection of sonnets. This last was never republished.

Extract from a Speech of Coelia, in the Tragedy of Croesus.--Fierce tyrant, Death, that in thy wrath didst take 147-148

Extract from a Chorus in Julius Caesar.--This life of ours is like a rose, 149-150

Song from the Aurora.--O would to God a way were found, 150-152


The Absract of Melancholy, Prefixed to the Anatomy of Melancholy. 153-156



Think not, 'cause men flattering say, 159-161

Song.--If the quick spirits in your eye 162

When you the sun-burnt pilgrim see [looks like a sonnet to me, but not identified as such] 162-3

Song.--He that loves a rosy cheek 163

Ask me why I send you here, 164

The Inquiry.--Amongst the myrtles as I walked, 164-5

Gaze not on thy beauty's pride, 165-6

Boldness in Love.--Mark how the bashful morn in vain 166-7

Ungrateful Beauty Threatened. 167

Song.--Wonder not though I am blind, 168


Death's Final Conquest. 169


Song.--Fine young Folly, tho' you were 170-1

Song.--Not the phoenix in his death, 171

The Description of Castara 172

To Castara, of True Delight 173-4

To Castara.--Give me a heart, where no impure 174


Ode.--Come, spur away 175-177

Epithalamium 178-180


Author of Time's Curtain drawn, or the Anatomy of Vanity, &c. 1633

Song.--From the Shepherd's Tales. 181-182

Care's Cure, or a Pig for Care 183-185


Song.--Why dost thou say I am forsworn, 186

Song.--Amarantha, sweet and fair, 186-7

Song.--Tell me not, sweet, I am unkind, 187

Song.--When I by thy fair shape did swear

Sonnet.[no]--When love, with unconfined wings,188-9


Author of "Poems and Translations, amours, lusory, moral, and divine," a volume in duodecimo, 1651.

The Surprise, A Song. 190-1

Love Once, Love Ever. 191

Extract from the Sun-rise; a Poem 192-193 [at the bottom of p. 193, Ellis says,] Whispers some amorous story in her ear.* / &c. &c. &c. / * The remainder of this poem would now be thought forced and unnatural.

[Jasper Mayne]

Song In the amorous Warre, by Jasper Mayne, Oxford, 1659. / Time is a feather'd thing; 194


The poems of this author, consisting of songs and sonnets, and a play called the Blind Lady, were printed in 1660, in one volume octavo.

Song To the Inconstant Cynthia. 195

The Resolution 196


He was Poet Laureat during the reigns of Charles the 1st and 2d. His works, consisting of Gondebert, Madagascar, several small poems, and sixteen plays, were published in 1673, in a large volume folio.

The Dream. To Mr. George Porter. 197-9

The Mistress 200-1


Author of "Clarastella," a collection of poems, in 12mo, printed in 1650.

Song Anacreontic.--Invest my head with fragrant rose, 202

Stanzas On Clarastella saying she would commit herself to a nunery. 203-4


Author of a collection of poems published under the title of Hesperides, Octavo, 1648.--The volume contains two little pieces, "the Primrose" and "the Inquiry," which are printed in Carew's poems.

A Mediatation for his Mistress. 205

Sonnet.[no]--Am I despis'd because you say 206

The Mad Maid's Song. 206-7


Author of "Men Miracles," and other poems, a small volume, 1656. The Men Miracles are a good satire on travellers, written in what is now called Hudibrastic verse. 208

Song.--Coelia in Love. 208


Song.--I do confess thou'rt smooth and fair 209

Song.--In faith 'tis true, I am in love 210


Song. Imitated from an Epigram of Martial.--Prithee, die and set me free 211-12

Song.--Morpheus, the humble god, that dwells


Song In the Old Couple.--Dear, do not your beauty wrong, 213


Sonnet.--You meaner beauties of the night,

Stanzas from the Religuiae Wottonianae, 1672. 215-6

Tears At the grave of Sir Albertus Morton, who was buried at Southampton; Wept by Sir H. Wotton. 217-8

Upon the Death of Sir A. Morton's Wife. 218


An author much admired by his contemporaries. He died in 1643. His plays and poems were published in a volume octavo, in 1651. 219

Song In the Lady Errant.--To carve our loves in myrtle rinds, 219

Love But One 220

Falsehood 221

Lesbia on her Sparrow 221-2

Song.--Whilst early light springs from the skies, 223-4

Song.--Come, O come, I brook no stay 224-5


Song.--Why so pale and wan, fond lover? 226

Song.--Honest lover whosoever, 227-8

Song.--'Tis now, since I sat down before 229-30

A Ballad Upon a Wedding. 231-6



Song.--Here's to thee, Dick--this whining love despise; 239

The Spring. 240

The Request. 240-1

The Change. 241

The Soul. 242-3

The Wish. 243-4

The Inconstant. 244-5

Honour. 245-6

The Chronicle. 246-9

[NEW AUTHOR? I think so:]

From Stephens's Oxford Miscellanies, 1685.

Song.--Reason, thou vain impertinence, 250

Song. Same Collection. Nay, I confess I should despise 251


Il Penseroso. 252-8

L'Allegro. 258-63.


Alexander's Feast; or, the Power of Music: An Ode on St. Cecilia's Day.264-8

Song. From Dryden's Collection.--A silly shepherd woo'd, but wist not / How he might his mistress' favour gain. 269-70

Written in the Leaves of a Fan. Same Collection.--flavia the least and slightest toy 270

Song. Same Collection.--At dead of night, when wrapp'd in sleep 271-2

On Music. From the Same Collection.--When whispering strains, with creeping wind, 272-3

Song. Same Collection. By Mr. J.H.--In Chloris all soft charms agree: 273-4


Song.--Phillis, let's shun the common fate, 275

Song.--Not, Celia, that I juster am, 276

Song.--Love, when 'tis true, needs ot the aid 278

Song.--Phillis, this early zeal assuage: 279

Song.--Get you gone--you will undo me; 280

Song.--Love still has something of the sea, 281-2

Song.--Fair Amynta, art thou mad, / To let the world in me / Envy joys I never had, 282-3

Song.--Thanks, fair Urania, to your scorn, 283-5

Song.--Hears not my Phillis, how the birds 285-6

Song.--Phillis is my only joy, 286

Song.--What shall become of man so wise /. . . . / Let us then ply those joys we have, / 'Tis vain to think beyond the grave; 287


Of Sylvia. 288

Of Love. 289-90

Song.--Go, lovely rose! 291

To Phillis.--Phillis, why should we delay / Pleasures shorter than the day? 292

On a Girdle. 293

To the Mutable Fair. 293-6

To a Lady in Retirement. 296-7

Of English Verse 297-8

Song.--While I listen to thy voice, 298-9


This poet is a miserable imitator of Cowley. Of the three following extracts, the first is in the best style of his poetry; the second a specimen of his wit; and the third is remarkable from its having been imitated by Mr. Pope, in his Ode of "The Dying Christian." 300

Song.--Remov'd from fair Urania's eyes, 300

Song.--How happy a thing were a wedding, 301

Song. A Thought on Death.--When on my sick bed I languish, 301


This pleasing and elegant author was principally distinguished by his "Virgil Travestie," and other burlesque Translations, and in this style of writing was considered as only inferior to Butler. His "Complete Angler," published by Sir John Hawkins, together with that of Isaac Walton, is also a deservedly popular performance. The following pieces are extracted from his "Poems on Several Occasions, octavo, 1689."

To Chloris. 302-3

Extract From "Contentation [sic.]," Addressed to Isaac Walton.--O senseless man, that murmurs still 304-5

Song.--Prithee, why so angry sweet? 305

Laura Sleeping. Ode. 306

The Joys of Marriage. 307

Laura Weeping. Ode. 308


The following extract is taken from his poems, published with the Translation of Il Pastor fido, 1676.--The four first lines are part of another sonnet.

Thou blushing rose, within whose virgin leaves 309


Song.--Insulting beauty, you mis-spend 310


Song.--See, O see!311


Life.--I made a posy, while the day ran by: 312


Song.--Love in fantastic triumph sat, 313


From Select Ayres, printed for J. Playford, 1669.

Hue and Cry after Chloris. 314


The Surrender. 315-6


From a collection entitled "Wit Restored." Edit. 1658. Duod.

Phillida Flouts Me.--Oh! what a pain is love; 317-320


From the same, by D. Stroad.

Answer to "The Lover's Melancholy." 321


This little piece is modern; but it is so beautiful an imitation of the old poets, that it is presumed every reader will see it with pleasure in this collection.

The Ivy.--How yonder ivy courts the oak, 322-323


London, Printed by T. Rickaby, 1790.


  1. [There are footnotes in this edition as well as headnotes, footnotes telling us the meaning of archaic words.]
  2. "No" and "yes" here indicate whether the poem is actually in the form claimed by the title or not.
  3. [I don't think he necessarily means that these are poems by Dryden; I think these could be from the Tonson miscellanies, although that would mean that it is likely that they are written by Dryden; notice the poem that says "from the same collection" is written by someone else.]


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