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The Lives of the Poets of Great Britain and Ireland (1753) Volume I.   By: (1703-1758)

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First Page:

Anglistica & Americana

A Series of Reprints Selected by Bernhard Fabian, Edgar Mertner, Karl Schneider and Marvin Spevack

1968

GEORG OLMS VERLAGSBUCHHANDLUNG HILDESHEIM

Theophilus Cibber

The Lives of the Poets of Great Britain and Ireland (1753)

Vol. I

1968

The present facsimile is reproduced from a copy in the possession of the Library of the University of Gottingen. Shelfmark: H. lit. biogr. I 8464.

Although the title page of Volume I announces four volumes, the work is continued in a fifth volume of the same date. Like Volumes II, III, and IV, it is by "Mr. CIBBER, and other Hands" and is "Printed for R. GRIFFITHS".

M.S.

THE

LIVES

OF THE

POETS

OF

GREAT BRITAIN and IRELAND,

To the TIME of

DEAN SWIFT .

Compiled from ample Materials scattered in a Variety of Books, and especially from the MS. Notes of the late ingenious Mr. COXETER and others, collected for this Design,

By Mr. CIBBER.

In FOUR VOLUMES.

VOL. I.

MDCCLIII.

VOLUME I.

Contains the

LIVES

O F

Chaucer Langland Gower Lydgate Harding Skelton Barclay More Surry Earl Wyat Sackville Churchyard Heywood Ferrars Sidney Marloe Green Spenser Heywood Lilly Overbury Marsten Shakespear Sylvester Daniel Harrington Decker Beaumont and Fletcher Lodge Davies Goff Greville L. Brooke Day Raleigh Donne Drayton Corbet Fairfax Randolph Chapman Johnson Carew Wotton Markham T. Heywood Cartwright Sandys Falkland Suckling Hausted Drummond Stirling Earl Hall Crashaw Rowley Nash Ford Middleton

THE LIVES OF THE POETS.

GEOFFRY CHAUCER.

It has been observed that men of eminence in all ages, and distinguished for the same excellence, have generally had something in their lives similar to each other. The place of Homer's nativity, has not been more variously conjectured, or his parents more differently assigned than our author's. Leland, who lived nearest to Chaucer's time of all those who have wrote his life, was commissioned by king Henry VIII, to search all the libraries, and religious houses in England, when those archives were preserved, before their destruction was produced by the reformation, or Polydore Virgil had consumed such curious pieces as would have contradicted his framed and fabulous history. He for some reasons believed Oxford or Berkshire to have given birth to this great man, but has not informed us what those reasons were that induced him to believe so, and at present there appears no other, but that the seats of his family were in those countries. Pitts positively asserts, without producing any authority to support it, that Woodstock was the place; which opinion Mr. Camden seems to hint at, where he mentions that town; but it may be suspected that Pitts had no other ground for the assertion, than Chaucer's mentioning Woodstock park in his works, and having a house there. But after all these different pretensions, he himself, in the Testament of Love, seems to point out the place of his nativity to be the city of London, and tho' Mr. Camden mentions the claim of Woodstock, he does not give much credit to it; for speaking of Spencer (who was uncontrovertedly born in London) he calls him fellow citizen to Chaucer.

The descent of Chaucer is as uncertain, and unfixed by the critics, as the place of his birth. Mr. Speight is of opinion that one Richard Chaucer was his father, and that one Elizabeth Chaucer, a nun of St. Helen's, in the second year of Richard II. might have been his sister, or of his kindred. But this conjecture, says Urry,[1] seems very improbable; for this Richard was a vintner, living at the corner of Kirton lane, and at his death left his house, tavern, and stock to the church of St. Mary Aldermary, which in all probability he would not have done if he had had any sons to possess his fortune; nor is it very likely he could enjoy the family estates mentioned by Leland in Oxfordshire, and at the same time follow such an occupation. Pitts asserts, that his father was a knight; but tho' there is no authority to support this assertion, yet it is reasonable to suppose that he was something superior to a common employ... Continue reading book >>


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