Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Chamberlayne, William

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CHAMBERLAYNE, WILLIAM (1619–1689), physician and poet, was born in 1619, He practised as a physician at Shaftesbury in Dorsetshire. During the civil war he was distinguished for his loyalty to Charles I; and it appears from a passage at the close of the second book of ‘Pharonnida’ that he wan present at the second battle of Newbury. He died in January 1689, and was buried at Shaftesbury in the churchyard of the Holy Trinity, where a monument was erected to him by his son Valentine Chamberlayne. In 1658 he published ‘Love's Victory, a Tragi-Comedy,' 4to, dedicated to Sir William Portman, bart, There are some fine passages in the play, and plenty of loyal sentiment. An alteration, under the title of ‘Wits led by the Nose, or a Poet's Revenge,’ was acted at the Theatre Royal in 1678, and printed in the some year. In 1659 appeared ‘Pharonnida, an Heroick Poem,' 8vo. The dedication to Sir William Portman, dated from Shaftesbury 12 May 1659, is followed by an 'epistle to the reader,’ in which Chamberlayne stated that ‘Fortune had placed him in too low a sphear to be happy in the acquaintance of more celebrated wits.’ The poem in in rhymed heroics; there are five books and four cantos to each book. As the fourth book commences with fresh pagination and in different type, it has been conjectured that the printing wus interrupted by the author's employment in the wars. In spite of its diffuseness and intricacy, the story is interesting; and much of the poetry is remarkable for happy imagery and rich expression. Both in its faults and in its beauties ‘Pharonnida,' bears considerable resemblance to ‘Endymion,' Southey warmly admired the poem, and in a note to his ‘Vision of the Maid of Orleans' (Poems, 1-vol. ed. 1850, p. 79) speaks of Chamberlayne as ‘a poet to whom I am indebted for many hours of delight.' A romance founded on the poem was published in 1683, under the title title of ‘Eromona, or the Noble stranger.' In 1820 'Pharonnida’ was reprinted in 3 vols. 12mo. At the Restoration, in 1683, Chamberlayne published ‘England’s Jubile, or a Poem on the happy Return of his Sacred Majesty Charles the Second,' 4to, pp. 8.

[Retrospective Review, vol. i; Corser's Collectanea; Hutchins's Dorset. ed. 2, iii. 201.]

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