The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume IV. Prose and Poetry: Sir Thomas North to Michael Drayton.

XVII. Writers on Country Pursuits and Pastimes

§ 6. Topsell

Markham wrote several other books on practical subjects, the titles of which, as well as of works by contemporary writers on country matters, will be found in the bibliography. Among the latter, may be specially noted Tubervile’s Booke of faulconrie (1575), and The Noble arte of venerie or hunting, also attributed to Turbervile, and both compilations from foreign sources; Simon Latham’s two books of Falconry (1615–8); and John Dennys’s Secrets of angling (1613), from which Markham drew more than inspiration, and with which Walton was acquainted. Descriptive natural history makes a good beginning in Topsell’s illustrated Historie of Fourefooted Beastes (1607), in which, as the author frankly and quaintly says,

  • I have followed D. Gesner as neer as I could, I do profess him my Author in most of my stories, yet I have gathred up that which he let fal, and added many pictures and stories as may apeare by conference of both together.
  • A companion volume, The historie of Serpents, or the second booke of living creatures, was published in the following year. Both these books were re-issued in 1658, together with the Theater of Insects, the latter being a translation of Thomas Moffett’s Insectorum sive minimorum animalium theatrum, which, though written in 1590, first appeared in its Latin form in 1634. Moffett, who had studied medicine in Cambridge and Basle and travelled in Italy and Spain, was also the author of a descriptive and moralising poem on The silkewormes and their flies (1599). Silk culture was receiving some attention in England about this time, and other practical treatises on the subject were brought out. The newly imported accomplishment of smoking tobacco was also contributing its quota to literature.