Edward Farr, ed. Select Poetry of the Reign of King James the First. 1847.
THIS volume of Select Sacred Poetry was suggested to the Editor in the course of his researches for the Select Poetry of the Reign of Queen Elizabeth, issued by the Parker Society. In those researches he met with so many unknown poets of the reign of King Jamesunknown, not only to the public at large, but to the lovers of poetrythat he conceived he should render some service to society by collecting specimens of the whole, and publishing them as a companion volume to those referring to the age of Queen Elizabeth.
In the pages of this volume are enumerated the names of Donne, Quarles, Herbert, Drayton, Sir John Beaumont, the Fletchers, Jonson, and others, with which the ardent reader of Sacred Poetry may be acquainted. But who, it may be asked, except the antiquarian, has heard of the names of King James, the Earl of Cumberland, Sir William Leighton, Sir John Stradling, Warren, Farley, Prickett, Peyton, Nathaniel Baxter, Æmelia Lanyer, Parkes, Willymat, Augustine Taylor, Arthington, Peacham, Bulloker, Graile, Gokins, Crane, Zouche, Penuen, Lithgow, Small, Fitzgeffrey, and various others, as among Englands Sacred Poets? Yet these authors will be found to be all worthy of remembrance equally with their known and more fortunate contemporaries.
It has been thought expedient to retain the original orthography, so that the extracts are literal reprints, except where obvious errors of the press have been corrected. Footnoted are brief biographical notices of the writers from whose works selections have been made; but, as in the case of the Elizabethan Poets, so little is known of many of them, that the Editor is only able to mention their names and the titles of their books.
Concerning the merits of the writers in this Selection a few words will suffice. Among such a number of authors it must be expected that the talent displayed therein greatly varies; but the reader will find many pages of genuine poetry, and will, throughout the whole volume, discern purity of sentiment, devotional feeling, and solid thought. Some names there are among them not unworthy of being ranked with that prince of Sacred PoetsMilton.
The Selection has been derived from printed books and MSS. The material has been discovered in the public and in private libraries. All the rich stores in the British Museum and other public libraries have been examined diligently by the Editor, his anxious wish being to recover the names of the olden writers of his native tongue from the utter oblivion with which the lapse of ages had covered them and to render the Selection complete as possible. He must confess, however, that after all his researches the volume would have been incomplete but for the kind aid afforded him by William Henry Miller, Esq. That gentlemen pointed out to, and furnished the editor with, many rare volumes not to be met with in any other library than his own; for which kindness he gladly avails himself of this opportunity of making a public acknowledgment.