By George Saintsbury
This Elibron Classics e-book is a facsimile reprint of a 1910 version via Macmillan and Co., constrained, London.
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_truthjpf its imagery. Froma youngpoetwealways expect second-hand presentations of nature, and in Sackville's day second-hand presentation of naturehad beenelevatedto the rank of a science. Here the new school-Surrey,Wyatt,and SACKVILLE their followers-even if he had studied them, could have given him little or no help, for great as are the merits of Tottel's Miscellany, no one would go to it for representations of nature. Among his predecessorsin his own style he had to go back to Chaucer(putting the Scotchschool out of the question) before he could find anything original.
This is hardly critical. That Sidney-a young man, and a man of fashion at the time when Lyly's oddities were fashionable-should have to a great extent (for his resistanceis by no meansabsolute)resistedthe temptation to imitate them, is very creditable. But the influence of EupJntcswas at least as strong for many years as the influence of the Arcadia and the Apii/i'^v ; and the chief thing that can be said for Sidney is that he did not wholly follow Lyly to do evil. Nor is his positive excellence in prose to be compared for a moment with his positive excellence in poetry.
17 Most of these things, it will be seen,weremerelyadaptations of foreignoriginals;but they certainly make up a remarkablebudgetfor one man. In addition to them, and to a good number of shorter and miscellaneous poems,must be mentioned the Glassof Government(a kind of morality or serious comedy, moulded, it would seem,on German originals), and the rather prettily, if fantasticallytermed flowers, Herbs, and Weeds. Gascoigne has a very fair command of metre: he is not a great sinner in the childish alliteration which, survivingfrom the older English poetry, helps to convert so much of his contemporaries'work into doggerel.