Nonfiction > G. Gregory Smith, ed. > Elizabethan Critical Essays
G. Gregory Smith, ed.  Elizabethan Critical Essays.  1904.
William Vaughan (1577–1641)
From The Golden Grove
[William Vaughan’s book, entitled The Golden-groue, moralized in three books: a work very necessary for all such as would know how to gouerne themselues, their houses, or their country, appeared in 1600 (12mo, unpaged). The extracts have been taken from the copy preserved in the Bodleian Library (Wood, 743). In the note ‘To the Reader,’ Vaughan says:—‘If any man delight to haue himselfe shine with a glorious shewe of virtue, I haue giuen him the toppes of moral behauior; if to haue his house and family wel beautified, I haue yeelded him diuers braunches for that purpose; if to haue his countrey flourish, I haue sent him the deep-grounded stemme of policy.’ There are three books, containing respectively sixty-nine, thirty, and seventy chapters. The following notes include all the more important references to literary matters.  1
  Book i, chap. 51, entitled ‘Whether Stage Playes ought to be suffred in a Commonwealth?’ is a diatribe against plays as mere folly and wickedness: the literary problem is not discussed.  2
  In Bk. iii, chap. 39, ‘Of Grammar,’ chap. 40, ‘Of Logick,’ and chap. 41, ‘Of Rhetoricke and the abuse thereof,’ Vaughan follows the traditional line of description and commendation of these studies. Chap. 42 is headed ‘Of Poetry, and of the excellency thereof.’ This shows that Moses and Deborah were the most ancient poets, that poetry was the chief cause of the heathen’s ‘ciuility,’ and that poets were the first to ‘obserue the secrete operations of nature,’ and to offer oblations, sacrifices, and prayers. Vaughan mentions the characteristics of poetry, opposes those who say that the Gentiles first founded poetry, and that therefore it ought to be rejected, and stands forth in its defence, drawing on classic names and examples, and referring especially to Homer. ‘Sundry times haue I beene conuersant with such as blasphemed Poetry, by calling it mincing and lying Poetry. But it is no maruel that they thus deride Poetry, sith they sticke not in this out-worne age to abuse the ministers of God by terming them bookish fellowes and Puritanes, they themselues not knowing what they meane.’ After the classics he names modern poets. ‘Ieffery Chaucer, the English Poet, was in great account with King Richard the second, who gaue him, in reward of his poems, the manour ot Newelme in Oxfordshire.’ He refers to the story of Alain Chartier’s being kissed by the French Queen, and tells that Francis I made ‘those famous poets Dampetrus and Macrinus’ of the Privy Council. ‘King Henrie the eight, for a few Psalmes of Dauid turned into English meeter by Sternhold, made him Groome of his priuie chamber and rewarded him with many great gifts besides. Moreouer, hee made Sir Thomas Moore Lord Chauncelour of this Realme, whose poeticall works are as yet in great regard.’ Queen Mary gave a pension to Vergoza the Spaniard for a poem on her marriage with Philip, Queen Elizabeth made Dr. Haddon Master of Requests. Princely poets of former times were Julius Caesar, ‘a very good poet,’ Augustus, Euax, King of Arabia, and Cornelius Gallus, treasurer of Egypt. He then adds: ‘Neither is our owne age altogether to bee dispraysed. For the old Earle of Surrey composed bookes in verse. Sir Philip Sidney excelled all our English Poets in rarenesse of stile and matter. King James the sixt of Scotland, that now raigneth, is a notable Poet, and daily setteth out most learned poems, to the admiration of all his subiects.’ Vaughan refers to Sidney’s defence of Poetry in the Apology, and sums up ‘Take away the abuse, which is meerely accidental, and let the substance of Poetrie stand still … I conclude that many of our English rimers and ballet-makers deserue for their baudy sonnets and amorous allurements to bee banished, or seuerely punished: and that Poetrie it selfe ought to bee honoured and made much of, as a precious Iewell and a diuine gift.’]  3

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