21 SEPTEMBER 1956, Page 28

Amateur Poet

.THERE is no need to. make more than the modest claim of antiquarian interest.' Mr. Grant says, to justify the publication for the first time of Newcastle's poems to his future wife (The Phanseys of William Cavendish. Marquis of Newcastle, addressed to Margaret Lucas, and her Letters in Reply, edited by Douglas Grant. Nonesuch Press, 31s. 6d.). The editor is right not to claim the Marquis as a great poet: he was never more than derivative, he sometimes had difficulty with scansion, and his and his betrothed's spelling is truly ducal. Newcastle was a real amateur poet. Unlike other poetasters who pretended unwillingness to publish, he really wrote for one reader only. So his sedulous aping of Donne tells us something about poetical. fashion in the 1640s. Newcastle did not often approach his master so closely as when he wrote : 'Can'st thou not give mee more love than thou hast?' and he can sink to the bathos of 'Delightful bathinge thus in my owne gore.' But sometimes he captures the authentic mid-century note :

You Silly lovers, you Irnbrase But things, Skinne deepe Upon the face; For Bewty like the movinge Ayre Fades, Withers, staynes, corrupts though fayre Blasted like morning's flowers soone; Then Gayther'd, dyes before tis Noone. The volume, published in a limited edition, is extremely pleasing to look at, to handle and to