George Wither
George Wither was an English poet, pamphleteer
A pamphleteer is a historical term for someone who creates or distributes pamphlets. Pamphlets were used to broadcast the writer's opinions on an issue, for example, in order to get people to vote for their favorite politician or to articulate a particular political ideology.A famous pamphleteer...

, and satirist. He was a prolific writer who adopted a deliberate plainness of style; he was several times imprisoned. C. V. Wedgwood wrote "every so often in the barren acres of his verse is a stretch enlivened by real wit and observation, or fired with a sudden intensity of feeling".

Context and poetic reputation

Wither has been classified as a Spenserian
Edmund Spenser
Edmund Spenser was an English poet best known for The Faerie Queene, an epic poem and fantastical allegory celebrating the Tudor dynasty and Elizabeth I. He is recognised as one of the premier craftsmen of Modern English verse in its infancy, and one of the greatest poets in the English...

, with Michael Drayton
Michael Drayton
Michael Drayton was an English poet who came to prominence in the Elizabethan era.-Early life:He was born at Hartshill, near Nuneaton, Warwickshire, England. Almost nothing is known about his early life, beyond the fact that in 1580 he was in the service of Thomas Goodere of Collingham,...

, Giles Fletcher
Giles Fletcher
Giles Fletcher was an English poet chiefly known for his long allegorical poem Christ's Victory and Triumph ....

, Phineas Fletcher
Phineas Fletcher
Phineas Fletcher was an English poet, elder son of Dr Giles Fletcher, and brother of Giles the younger. He was born at Cranbrook, Kent, and was baptized on 8 April 1582.-Life:...

, and Henry More
Henry More
Henry More FRS was an English philosopher of the Cambridge Platonist school.-Biography:Henry was born at Grantham and was schooled at The King's School, Grantham and at Eton College...

. The early Jacobean Spenserians were generally republican rather than imperial (at least in terms of ancient Rome), of the "country party" rather than the "court party", nostalgic for Elizabeth I, and in favour of the older ornateness rather than the plain style of James I.

According to Christopher Hill
Christopher Hill (historian)
John Edward Christopher Hill , usually known simply as Christopher Hill, was an English Marxist historian and author of textbooks....

"... we can trace a line from Spenser ... through a group of poets ... ranging from Shakespeare, Drayton, the two Fletchers, William Browne and Samuel Daniel
Samuel Daniel
Samuel Daniel was an English poet and historian.-Early life:Daniel was born near Taunton in Somerset, the son of a music-master. He was the brother of lutenist and composer John Danyel. Their sister Rosa was Edmund Spenser's model for Rosalind in his The Shepherd's Calendar; she eventually married...

 to George Wither".

Or again:
"A line of poets could be traced from Sidney
Philip Sidney
Sir Philip Sidney was an English poet, courtier and soldier, and is remembered as one of the most prominent figures of the Elizabethan Age...

 and Spenser through Sylvester and Browne to Wither— not, admittedly, of a rising quality, but of a consistent political attitude."

Where Hill identifies connections via the aristocratic patrons and politics, Alastair Fowler takes Drayton to be the poetic centre of a group, which besides Wither comprised Browne, John Davies of Hereford
John Davies of Hereford
John Davies of Hereford was a writing-master and an Anglo-Welsh poet. He is usually known as John Davies of Hereford in order to distinguish him from others of the same name....

, William Drummond of Hawthornden
William Drummond of Hawthornden
William Drummond , called "of Hawthornden", was a Scottish poet.-Life:Drummond was born at Hawthornden Castle, Midlothian. His father, John Drummond, was the first laird of Hawthornden; and his mother was Susannah Fowler, sister of William Fowler, poet and courtier...

, George Sandys
George Sandys
George Sandys was an English traveller, colonist and poet.-Life:He was born in Bishopsthorpe, the seventh and youngest son of Edwin Sandys, archbishop of York. He studied at St Mary Hall, Oxford, but took no degree...

 and Joshua Sylvester
Joshua Sylvester
Joshua Sylvester was an English poet.-Biography:Sylvester was the son of a Kentish clothier. In his tenth year he was sent to school at King Edward VI School, Southampton, where he gained a knowledge of French...


From c.1640 onwards, Wither assumed an overtly prophetic voice. His wide range of publication, in prose as well as various poetic genres over nearly half a century, has left a very uneven impression of his interests and affected his poetic reputation. George Gilfillan
George Gilfillan
George Gilfillan was a Scottish author and poet. He was one of the spasmodic poets, and an editor and commentator of earlier British poetry. He was born at Comrie, Perthshire, where his father, the Rev. Samuel Gilfillan, the author of some theological works, was for many years minister of a...

 wrote that "Wither was a man of real genius, but seems to have been partially
insane". Herbert Grierson found something to praise in early love poems, but spoke of "endless diffuse didactic and pious poems, if they can be called poems".

Early life

Wither was born in Bentworth
Bentworth is a village and large civil parish in the East Hampshire district of Hampshire, England. It lies approximately west of the town of Alton and about 8 miles south of Basingstoke, just off the A339 road. The parish covers an area of , of which about are woodland...

, near Alton
Alton, Hampshire
Alton is a historic market town and civil parish in the East Hampshire district of the English county of Hampshire. It had a population of 16,584 at the 1991 census and is administered by East Hampshire district council. It is located on the source of the River Wey and is the highest town in...

, in the heart Hampshire
Hampshire is a county on the southern coast of England in the United Kingdom. The county town of Hampshire is Winchester, a historic cathedral city that was once the capital of England. Hampshire is notable for housing the original birthplaces of the Royal Navy, British Army, and Royal Air Force...

, the son of George Wither Senior of that place and his wife, Mary, who was possibly from the family of Hunt. His grandfather, Richard Wither, lived at Manydown in Wootton St Lawrence, where the family had resided since at least 1344. His early schooling took place under Rev. John Greaves, the father of John
John Greaves
John Greaves was an English mathematician, astronomer and antiquary.-Life:He was born in Colemore, near Alresford, Hampshire. He was the eldest son of John Greaves, rector of Colemore, and Sarah Greaves...

, Sir Edward
Edward Greaves (physician)
Sir Edward Greaves, 1st Baronet , was an English physician.Greaves was the son of John Greaves, rector of Colemore, Hampshire. He was born at Croydon, Surrey, in 1608. His brothers were John Greaves, Nicholas Greaves and Thomas Greaves. He studied at Oxford University, and was elected a fellow of...

 and Thomas Greaves
Thomas Greaves (orientalist)
Thomas Greaves was an English orientalist, a contributor to the London Polyglot of Brian Walton.-Life:He was a son of the Rev. John Greaves of Colemore, Hampshire, and brother of John Greaves, Nicholas Greaves and of Sir Edward Greaves...

. Between the ages of fifteen and seventeen he studied at Magdalen College, Oxford
Magdalen College, Oxford
Magdalen College is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in England. As of 2006 the college had an estimated financial endowment of £153 million. Magdalen is currently top of the Norrington Table after over half of its 2010 finalists received first-class degrees, a record...

. Despite his neighbors' advice that his father put him to some mechanic trade, he was sent to one of the Inns of Chancery
Inns of Chancery
The Inns of Chancery or Hospida Cancellarie were a group of buildings and legal institutions in London initially attached to the Inns of Court and used as offices for the clerks of chancery, from which they drew their name...

, eventually obtaining an introduction at Court.

It is thought that he spent some time in Ireland, perhaps with Adam Loftus
Adam Loftus (Archbishop)
thumb|right|200px|Archbishop Adam LoftusAdam Loftus was Archbishop of Armagh, and later Dublin, and Lord Chancellor of Ireland from 1581. He was also the first Provost of Trinity College, Dublin.-Early life:...

 at Rathfarnham Castle
Rathfarnham Castle
Rathfarnham Castle is a 16th century castle in Rathfarnham, South Dublin, Ireland.-Origins:The earlier Anglo-Norman castle which was replaced by the present building was built on lands which were confiscated from the Eustace family of Baltinglass because of their involvement in the Second Desmond...

. He wrote what amounted to a masque
The masque was a form of festive courtly entertainment which flourished in 16th and early 17th century Europe, though it was developed earlier in Italy, in forms including the intermedio...

 for a wedding that took place there in 1610, of the parents of Francis Willughby
Francis Willughby
thumbnail|200px|right|A page from the Ornithologia, showing [[Jackdaw]], [[Chough]], [[European Magpie|Magpie]] and [[Eurasian Jay|Jay]], all [[Corvidae|crows]]....


He wrote an elegy
In literature, an elegy is a mournful, melancholic or plaintive poem, especially a funeral song or a lament for the dead.-History:The Greek term elegeia originally referred to any verse written in elegiac couplets and covering a wide range of subject matter, including epitaphs for tombs...

 (1612) on the death of Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales
Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales
Henry Frederick Stuart, Prince of Wales was the elder son of King James I & VI and Anne of Denmark. His name derives from his grandfathers: Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley and Frederick II of Denmark. Prince Henry was widely seen as a bright and promising heir to his father's throne...

, and a volume of gratulatory poems (1613) on the marriage of the princess Elizabeth
Elizabeth of Bohemia
Elizabeth of Bohemia was the eldest daughter of King James VI and I, King of Scotland, England, Ireland, and Anne of Denmark. As the wife of Frederick V, Elector Palatine, she was Electress Palatine and briefly Queen of Bohemia...


Imprisonment and release

Some time between 1611 and 1613 he wrote Abuses Stript and Whipt, twenty satires directed against Revenge, Ambition, Lust. These satires — aimed at exposing "th'abuses of these wicked Times" — achieved some popular success and there were seven printings from 1613 to 1617. The volume included a poem called "The Scourge", in which the Lord Chancellor
Lord Chancellor
The Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain, or Lord Chancellor, is a senior and important functionary in the government of the United Kingdom. He is the second highest ranking of the Great Officers of State, ranking only after the Lord High Steward. The Lord Chancellor is appointed by the Sovereign...

 was attacked, and a series of epigram
An epigram is a brief, interesting, usually memorable and sometimes surprising statement. Derived from the epigramma "inscription" from ἐπιγράφειν epigraphein "to write on inscribe", this literary device has been employed for over two millennia....

s. Despite the fact that the satires referenced nobody by name, and that Wither had published them a year before with no trouble, he was arrested for libel "on or about 20 March 1614" and held in the Marshalsea
The Marshalsea was a prison on the south bank of the River Thames in Southwark, now part of London. From the 14th century until it closed in 1842, it housed men under court martial for crimes at sea, including those accused of "unnatural crimes", political figures and intellectuals accused of...

 prison for four months before being released.

In A Satyre: Dedicated to His Most Excellent Majestie, Wither made a bold appeal to King James for his release, claiming that he had "not sought to scandalize the state, nor sowne sedition." The cause for his initial imprisonment is somewhat unclear, as the Abuses were in fact very general, and had not satirized any one person by name.

Charles Lamb commented
"that a man should be convicted of libel when he named no names but Hate, and Envy, and Lust, and Avarice, is like one of the indictments in the Pilgrim's Progress, where Faithful is arraigned for having 'railed on our noble Prince Beelzebub, and spoken contemptibly of his honourable friends, the Lord Old Man, the Lord Carnal Delight, and the Lord Luxurious'."

This view has been held by most later critics and scholars, in addition to the possibility of earlier editions containing text which was erased in later editions. Several scholars in the late 19th and early 20th centuries also claimed that Wither had offended Lord Chancellor Ellesmere with one of the verses in Abuses. This claim, however, was rejected by Pritchard, who blames the misreading of the verses.

Pritchard makes the case that the reason for Wither's imprisonment was that he angered Henry Howard, 1st Earl of Northampton
Henry Howard, 1st Earl of Northampton
Henry Howard, 1st Earl of Northampton was a significant English aristocrat and courtier. He was suspect as a crypto-Catholic throughout his life, and went through periods of royal disfavour, in which his reputation suffered greatly. He was distinguished for learning, artistic culture and his...

, by accusing him and others of colluding with the Spanish—and Catholic—government. Pritchard mentions that Northampton was at the height of his power when Wither was arrested, and notes that he was not able to secure his release until after Northampton's death in June 1614.

Pastoral and later satires

He was early known in the pastoral
The adjective pastoral refers to the lifestyle of pastoralists, such as shepherds herding livestock around open areas of land according to seasons and the changing availability of water and pasturage. It also refers to a genre in literature, art or music that depicts such shepherd life in an...

 genre. He had figured as one of the interlocutors, Roget, in his friend William Browne's Shepherds Pipe, with which were bound up eclogue
An eclogue is a poem in a classical style on a pastoral subject. Poems in the genre are sometimes also called bucolics.The form of the word in contemporary English is taken from French eclogue, from Old French, from Latin ecloga...

s by other poets, among them one by Wither. During his imprisonment he wrote what may be regarded as a continuation of Browne's work, The Shepherd's Hunting (printed 1615)—eclogues in which the two poets appear as Willie and Roget (in later editions Philarete). It is largely allegorical. The fourth of these eclogues contains a famous passage in praise of poetry; the poets are explicit that pastoral is just a preliminary to other work.

After his release he was admitted (1615) to Lincoln's Inn
Lincoln's Inn
The Honourable Society of Lincoln's Inn is one of four Inns of Court in London to which barristers of England and Wales belong and where they are called to the Bar. The other three are Middle Temple, Inner Temple and Gray's Inn. Although Lincoln's Inn is able to trace its official records beyond...

, and in the same year he printed privately Fidelia, a love elegy
In literature, an elegy is a mournful, melancholic or plaintive poem, especially a funeral song or a lament for the dead.-History:The Greek term elegeia originally referred to any verse written in elegiac couplets and covering a wide range of subject matter, including epitaphs for tombs...

, of which there is a unique copy in the Bodleian Library
Bodleian Library
The Bodleian Library , the main research library of the University of Oxford, is one of the oldest libraries in Europe, and in Britain is second in size only to the British Library...

. Other editions of this book, which contained the lyric "Shall I, wasting in despair", appeared in 1617 and 1619.

In 1621, he returned to the satiric vein with Wither's Motto: Nec habeo, nec careo, nec curo (Latin for "I have not, I want not, I care not"). Over 30,000 copies of this poem were sold, according to his own account, within a few months. Like his earlier invective, it was said to be libellous, and Wither was again imprisoned, but shortly afterwards released without formal trial on the plea that the book had been duly licensed. In 1622 appeared his Faire-Virtue, The Mistresse of Phil Arete, a long panegyric
A panegyric is a formal public speech, or written verse, delivered in high praise of a person or thing, a generally highly studied and discriminating eulogy, not expected to be critical. It is derived from the Greek πανηγυρικός meaning "a speech fit for a general assembly"...

 of a mistress, partly real, partly allegorical, written chiefly in the seven-syllabled verse of which he was a master.

Ben Jonson
Ben Jonson
Benjamin Jonson was an English Renaissance dramatist, poet and actor. A contemporary of William Shakespeare, he is best known for his satirical plays, particularly Volpone, The Alchemist, and Bartholomew Fair, which are considered his best, and his lyric poems...

 turned satire back on Wither, portrayed as the Chronomastix of the masque Time Vindicated
Time Vindicated to Himself and to His Honours
Time Vindicated to Himself and to his Honours was a late Jacobean era masque, written by Ben Jonson and with costumes, sets, and stage effects designed by Inigo Jones...

. Wither avenged himself, by a reference to Jonson's drunken conclave. He was obliged to print this book with his own hand, in consequence of his quarrel with the Stationers Company.

Psalmody and hymnody

Wither had begun as a moderate in politics and religion, but his Puritan
The Puritans were a significant grouping of English Protestants in the 16th and 17th centuries. Puritanism in this sense was founded by some Marian exiles from the clergy shortly after the accession of Elizabeth I of England in 1558, as an activist movement within the Church of England...

 leanings became more pronounced, as he moved from an Arminian to a more Calvinist position. His later work consists of religious poetry, and of controversial and political tracts. From 1614 he began to work on a new psalm translation, a project in tune with the circle round Sir Edwin Sandys
Edwin Sandys (American colonist)
Sir Edwin Sandys was an English politician, a leading figure in the parliaments of James I of England. He was also one of the founders of the proprietary Virginia Company of London, which in 1607 established the first permanent English settlement in what is now the United States in the colony of...

 that Wither frequented.

Preparation to the Psalter (1619) was an early work in English on literary aspects of the Bible, and initiated a campaign by Wither to substitute his own writings for the dominant psalms.

His Hymnes and Songs of the Church (1622–1623) were aimed to counter exclusive psalmody
Exclusive psalmody
Exclusive psalmody is the particular worship practice of several small Protestant denominations worldwide which use a metrical version of the Book of Psalms from the Bible as the only manual of songs that may be sung in their services...

, represented by the Sternhold and Hopkins Psalter. Orlando Gibbons
Orlando Gibbons
Orlando Gibbons was an English composer, virginalist and organist of the late Tudor and early Jacobean periods...

 provided tunes for some of them. They were issued under a patent
A patent is a form of intellectual property. It consists of a set of exclusive rights granted by a sovereign state to an inventor or their assignee for a limited period of time in exchange for the public disclosure of an invention....

 of King James I
James I of England
James VI and I was King of Scots as James VI from 24 July 1567 and King of England and Ireland as James I from the union of the English and Scottish crowns on 24 March 1603...

 ordaining that they should be bound up with every copy of the authorized metrical psalms offered for sale. This patent was opposed, as inconsistent with their privilege to print the singing-psalms, by the Stationers Company
Worshipful Company of Stationers and Newspaper Makers
The Worshipful Company of Stationers and Newspaper Makers is one of the Livery Companies of the City of London. The Stationers' Company was founded in 1403; it received a Royal Charter in 1557...

, to Wither's great mortification and loss, and a second similar patent was finally disallowed by the House of Lords
House of Lords
The House of Lords is the upper house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Like the House of Commons, it meets in the Palace of Westminster....

. Wither defended himself in The Schollers Purgatory (1624).

Some more of Wither's religious poetry is contained in Heleluiah: or Britain's Second Remembrancer, which was printed in Holland in 1641. This work assumed the knowledge of metrical psalms. Besides hymns, the book contains songs, especially the Cradle Song, Part 1 No. 50 ("Sleep, baby, sleep, what ails my dear"), the Anniversary Marriage Song, Part 2 No. 17 ("Lord, living here are we"), the Perambulation Song, Part 2 No. 24 ("Lord, it hath pleased Thee to say"), the Song for Lovers, Part 3 No. 20 ("Come, sweet heart, come, let us prove"), the Song for the Happily Married, Part 3 No. 21 ("Since they in singing take delight") and the Song for a Shepherd, Part 3 No. 41 ("Renowned men their herds to keep").

Under Charles I

Wither was in London during the plague
Bubonic plague
Plague is a deadly infectious disease that is caused by the enterobacteria Yersinia pestis, named after the French-Swiss bacteriologist Alexandre Yersin. Primarily carried by rodents and spread to humans via fleas, the disease is notorious throughout history, due to the unrivaled scale of death...

 of 1625, and in 1628 published Britain's Remembrancer, a voluminous poem on the subject, interspersed with denunciations of the wickedness of the times, and prophecies of the disasters about to fall upon England.

In 1635 he was employed by Henry Taunton, a London publisher, to write English verses illustrative of the allegorical plates of Crispin van Passe, originally designed for the emblem book
Emblem book
Emblem books are a category of mainly didactic illustrated book printed in Europe during the 16th and 17th centuries, typically containing a number of emblematic images with explanatory text....

 Gabriel Rollenhagens Nucleus emblematum selectissimorum (1610–1613). The book was published as a Collection of Emblemes, Ancient and Moderne, of which the only perfect copy known is in the British Museum
British Museum
The British Museum is a museum of human history and culture in London. Its collections, which number more than seven million objects, are amongst the largest and most comprehensive in the world and originate from all continents, illustrating and documenting the story of human culture from its...

. In 1636 he translated The Nature of Man by Nemesius
Nemesius , was a Christian philosopher, and the author of a treatise De Natura Hominis . According to the title of his book, he was the Bishop of Emesa . His book is an attempt to compile a system of anthropology from the standpoint of Christian philosophy.Nemesius was also a physiological theorist...


Civil War soldier

Wither had served as captain of horse in 1639 in the expedition of Charles I
Charles I of England
Charles I was King of England, King of Scotland, and King of Ireland from 27 March 1625 until his execution in 1649. Charles engaged in a struggle for power with the Parliament of England, attempting to obtain royal revenue whilst Parliament sought to curb his Royal prerogative which Charles...

 against the Scottish Covenanters
The Covenanters were a Scottish Presbyterian movement that played an important part in the history of Scotland, and to a lesser extent in that of England and Ireland, during the 17th century...

, and his religious rather than his political convictions must be accepted as the explanation of the fact that, three years after the Scottish expedition, at the outbreak of the English Civil War
English Civil War
The English Civil War was a series of armed conflicts and political machinations between Parliamentarians and Royalists...

, he is found definitely siding with the Parliament
Parliament of England
The Parliament of England was the legislature of the Kingdom of England. In 1066, William of Normandy introduced a feudal system, by which he sought the advice of a council of tenants-in-chief and ecclesiastics before making laws...

. He sold his estate to raise a troop of horse, and was placed by a parliamentary committee in command of Farnham Castle
Farnham Castle
Farnham Castle is a castle in Farnham, Surrey, England .First built in 1138 by Henri de Blois, grandson of William the Conqueror, Bishop of Winchester, the castle was to become the home of the Bishops of Winchester for over 800 years. The original building was demolished by Henry II in 1155 after...

. After a few days occupation he left the place undefended, and marched to London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

. His own house near Farnham was plundered, and he himself was captured by a troop of Royalist horse, owing his life to the intervention of Sir John Denham
John Denham (poet)
Sir John Denham was an English poet and courtier. He served as Surveyor of the King's Works and is buried in Westminster Abbey....

, on the ground that so long as Wither lived he himself could not be accounted the worst poet in England.

A reported episode from 1642 or 1643 has Wither with Henry Marten
Henry Marten (regicide)
Sir Henry Marten was an English lawyer and politician who sat in the House of Commons in two periods between 1640 and 1653...

 mocking the coronation regalia. At this time, in any case, Wither's views were converging with those of the advocates of true popular sovereignty, and his political poem Vox Pacifica called for a purge of Parliament.

He was promoted to the rank of major. He was present at the siege of Gloucester
Gloucester is a city, district and county town of Gloucestershire in the South West region of England. Gloucester lies close to the Welsh border, and on the River Severn, approximately north-east of Bristol, and south-southwest of Birmingham....

 (1643) and at Naseby
Naseby is a small village in the District of Daventry in Northamptonshire, England.The village is 14 mi north of Northampton, 13.3 mi northeast of Daventry, and 7 mi south of Market Harborough. It is 2.4 mi from Junction 2 of the A14 road, giving it access to the national road system...

 (1645). He had been deprived in 1643 of his nominal command, and of his commission as justice of the peace
Justice of the Peace
A justice of the peace is a puisne judicial officer elected or appointed by means of a commission to keep the peace. Depending on the jurisdiction, they might dispense summary justice or merely deal with local administrative applications in common law jurisdictions...

, in consequence of an attack upon Sir Richard Onslow, who was, he maintained, responsible for the Farnham disaster. In the same year parliament made him a grant of £2000 for the loss of his property, but he apparently never received the full amount, and complained from time to time of his embarrassments and of the slight rewards he received for his services. An order was made to settle a yearly income of £150 on Wither, chargeable on Sir John Denham's sequestrated estate, but there is no evidence that he ever received it.

Commonwealth and Restoration

He became a political and religious writer using verse as his medium. He is considered to stand out as a supporter of the Commonwealth who also proposed a more egalitarian social vision. His Respublica Anglicana (1650) was a reply to the Anarchia Anglicana (1649) of Theodorus Verax (Clement Walker
Clement Walker
Clement Walker was an English lawyer, official and politician. As a member of the Long Parliament, he became an outspoken critic of the conduct of its affairs, and allied himself to William Prynne...

), a Presbyterian opponent of the Independents. It defended 'engagement
Engagement controversy
The Engagement Controversy was a debate in England from 1649-1652 regarding loyalty to the new regime after the execution of Charles I. During this period hundreds of pamphlets were published in England supporting 'engagement' to the new regime or denying the right of English citizens to shift...

', the notion that recognition of the Parliamentary regime should be required.

A small place given him by the Protector was forfeited after Wither expressed criticism of Cromwell. He was involved in 11 court cases, from 1643 to 1661, including Onslow's libel suit over the poem Justiarius Justificatus. At the Restoration
English Restoration
The Restoration of the English monarchy began in 1660 when the English, Scottish and Irish monarchies were all restored under Charles II after the Interregnum that followed the Wars of the Three Kingdoms...

 he was arrested, and remained in prison for three years.

He was a conforming Anglican; but by this time he had moved closer to the Quakers. In Parallelogrammaton (1662) he compared to them as predecessors the prophets Ezekiel
Ezekiel , "God will strengthen" , is the central protagonist of the Book of Ezekiel in the Hebrew Bible. In Judaism, Christianity and Islam, Ezekiel is acknowledged as a Hebrew prophet...

 and Habakkuk
Habakkuk , also spelled Habacuc, was a prophet in the Hebrew Bible. The etymology of the name of Habakkuk is not clear. The name is possibly related to the Akkadian khabbaququ, the name of a fragrant plant, or the Hebrew root חבק, meaning "embrace"...


He died in London.


His extant writings, noted by Thomas Park
Thomas Park (antiquarian)
Thomas Park was an English antiquary and bibliographer, also known as a literary editor.-Life:He was the son of parents who lived at East Acton, Middlesex...

 in Brydges's British Bibliographer, number over a hundred. Wither wrote, generally, in a pure English idiom, and preferred the reputation of rusticity. According to the Dunciad "Withers, Ward, and Gildon rest" together "Safe, where no Critics damn, no duns molest".

After a period of neglect, George Ellis anthologised Wither in Specimens of the Early English Poets (1790). Samuel Egerton Brydges
Samuel Egerton Brydges
Sir Samuel Egerton Brydges, 1st Baronet was an English bibliographer and genealogist. He was also Member of Parliament for Maidstone from 1812 to 1818....

 published The Shepherds Hunting (1814), Fidelia (1815) and Fair Virtue (1818), and a selection appeared in Ezekiel Sanford's Works of the British Poets, vol. v. (1819).

Most of Wither's works were edited in twenty volumes for the Spenser Society (1871–82); a selection was included by Henry Morley
Henry Morley
Henry Forster Morley was a writer on English literature and one of the earliest Professors of English Literature.-Life:...

 in his Companion Poets (1891); Fidelia and Fair Virtue are included in Edward Arber
Edward Arber
Edward Arber was an English academic and writer.Arber was born in London. From 1854 be 1878 he worked as a clerk in the Admiralty, and began evening classes at King's College London in 1858. From 1878 to 1881 he lectured in English, under Prof. H...

's English Garner (vol. iv, 1882; vol. vi, 1883), and The Poetry of George Wither was edited by Frank Sidgwick in 1902.


External links

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