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ANON., A New and General Biographical Dictionary, 1784

ANON., A New and General Biographical Dictionary, 1784

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106. Henry Headley

1787



Headley (1765–88) was a young poet and critic. The year after

graduating at Oxford he published a selection of the beauties of

English poetry between 1558 and 1660. He included nothing by

Donne and gave no account of him though he offered biographical

sketches of many minor poets of the period. But he also omitted

the beauties of Sidney, Spenser, and Milton, whose names he

repeatedly invoked with Donne’s as major writers of that age.

In his introductory scale of poets Headley classified Donne solely

as a satirical writer, omitting him from the category of

‘Philosophical and Metaphysical’ poets and the category of

‘Amatory, and Miscellaneous’ poets (Select Beauties of Ancient

English Poetry, 1787, p. xv).



250



THE CRITICAL HERITAGE



ELIZABETH began to reign in 1558.

Epic Poets.

Spencer,

Milton,

Davenant.



Philosophical

Dramatic.

& Metaphysical

G.Gascoyne,

Sir J.Davis,

Shakespeare,

Phin. Fletcher, Massinger,

Giles Fletcher, Jonson,

H.More.

Beaumont &

Fletcher,

Shirley.



Satyrical.



Pastoral.



Hall,

Marston,

Rowlands,

Donne.



Warner,

Drayton,

Browne,

Fairfax,



Historical.

Niccols,

Sackville,

Daniel,

Drayton,

May,

J.Beaumont.



Amatory, &

Translators.

Miscellaneous.

Fairfax.

Raleigh,

Sandys,

Drummond,

Crashawe.

Marlowe,

Cowley,

Carew,

Corbet,

King,

Habington,

Cartwright,

Randolph,

Suckling.



251



107. Anon., Nouveau Dictionnaire Historique

1789



There is a wildly inaccurate account of Donne in the seventh

edition of the Nouveau Dictionnaire Historique: ou Histoire

Abrégée, Caen and Lyon, 1789, pp. 331–2. Donne is said to have

been born in 1574, son of a rich merchant, and to be the subject

of a life by ‘Jean Watton’, 1658. There is a mention of PseudoMartyr and a summary of the argument of Biathanatos. Otherwise

all that is said of his writings is that ‘he gained the esteem of his

countrymen by productions full of spirit and grace’, and that he

made in turn poems of gallantry and what his age took for satires.

He is declared to have gained prosperity and honours in

recompense of his talents.



252



108. William Cowper

1790, 1793



Cowper was related to the family of Donne and had dealings with

the poet’s descendants. He several times alluded to Donne as a

kinsman and fellow-poet. All the following references are addressed

to relatives with whom he evidently shared an interest in their

common forebear. The first occurs in a letter to Mrs Bodham

written from Weston, 27 February 1790. Mrs Bodham’s maiden

name was Anne Donne; she was Cowper’s cousin, daughter of his

mother’s brother, the Rev. Roger Donne, and had seemingly sent

him a picture of his mother (The Correspondence of William

Cowper, ed. T.Wright, 1904, iii, pp. 434–5). The second item is

from a letter to John Johnson dated 31 July 1790, inviting him to

visit (Correspondence, iii, p. 478). Cowper’s sonnet ‘Kinsman

belov’d’, from which the third extract is taken, was also addressed

to Johnson; it expresses gratitude for the gift of a bust of Homer,

which had none the less caused the poet grief as well as joy.



(i)

There is in me, I believe, more of the Donne than of the Cowper; and

though I love all of both names, and have a thousand reasons to love

those of my own name, yet I feel the bond of nature draw me

vehemently to your side. [He gives various Donne traits in his own

character.]… Add to all this, I deal much in poetry, as did our venerable

ancestor, the Dean of St Paul’s, and I think I shall have proved myself

a Donne at all points. The truth is that whatever I am, I love you all….

(ii)

If you have Donne’s poems bring them with you, for I have not seen

them many years, and should like to look them over.

(iii)

The grief is this, that sunk in Homer’s mine

I lose my precious years, now soon to fall,

253



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