Infomotions, Inc.English literature during the lifetime of Shakespeare. / Schelling, Felix Emmanuel, 1858-1945

Author: Schelling, Felix Emmanuel, 1858-1945
Title: English literature during the lifetime of Shakespeare.
Publisher: New York : H. Holt and company, 1910.
Tag(s): english literature early modern, 1500-1700 history and criticism; shakespere; prose; spenser; elizabethan; faerie queene; poems; chap; poetry; dramatic; verse; tottel's miscellany
Contributor(s): Eric Lease Morgan (Infomotions, Inc.)
Versions: original; local mirror; HTML (this file); printable; PDF
Services: find in a library; evaluate using concordance
Rights: GNU General Public License
Size: 168,364 words (longer than most) Grade range: 13-16 (college) Readability score: 47 (average)
Identifier: englishliteratur00scheuoft
Delicious Bookmark this on Delicious

Discover what books you consider "great". Take the Great Books Survey.

Br' ' W^s^5 

m : 



In Six Volumes, Ci'Oivn 8vo. 


Ph.D. 8s. 6d. 

THE AGE OF CHAUCER. By Professor W. H. 

SCHOPIELD, Ph.D. [In preparation. 


1780). By EDMUND GOSSE, M.A. 8s. 6d. 

1900). By GEORGE SAINTSBURY. 8s. 6d. 


TURE. Crown 8vo. ios. Also in five Parts. 25. 6d. each. 

jvols. 8vo. Vol. I. From the Origins to Spenser. 
Vol. II. From Shakespeare to Crabbe. i8s. net. Vol. III. 
From Blake to Mr. Swinburne. i8s. net. 

Crown 8vo. 6s. 6d. net. 

Vol.1. From the Beginning to 1880. Vol.11. From 
1800 to 1900. i8s. net. 


8vo. i8s. net 

LIFE OF DRYDEN. Library Edition. Crown 8vo, 
39. net ; Pocket Edition, Fcap. 8vo, 2s. net. 

(English Men of Letters. 


Globe 8vo. Sewed, 25. Stiff Boards, 2s. 3d. 

NOTES ON A CELLAR-BOOK. Small 4 to. Js. 6d. 







, I o 





First Edition 1887. Second Edition 1890 

Reprinted 1893, 1894, 1896, 1898, 1901, 1903, 1907, 1910, 1913, 1918 



As was explained in the Note to the Preface of the 
previous editions and impressions of this book, after 
the first, hardly one of them appeared without careful 
revision, and the insertion of a more or less considerable 
number of additions and corrections. I found, indeed, 
few errors of a kind that need have seemed serious except 
to Momus or Zoilus. But in the enormous number of 
statements of fact which literary history of the more 
exact kind requires, minor blunders, be they more or fewer, 
are sure to creep in. No writer, again, who endeavours 
constantly to keep up and extend his knowledge of such 
a subject as Elizabethan literature, can fail to have some- 
thing new to say from time to time. And though no 
one who is competent originally for his task ought to 
experience any violent changes of view, any one's views 
may undergo modification. In particular, he may find 
that readers have misunderstood him, and that alterations 
of expression are desirable. For all these reasons and 
others I have not spared trouble in the various revisions 
referred to ; I think the book has been kept by them 


fairly abreast of its author's knowledge, and I hope it is 
not too far behind that of others. 

It will, however, almost inevitably happen that a long 
series of piecemeal corrections and codicils somewhat 
disfigures the character of the composition as a whole. 
And after nearly the full score of years, and not much 
less than half a score of re-appearances, it has seemed to 
me desirable to make a somewhat more thorough, minute, 
and above all connected revision than I have ever made 
before. And so, my publishers falling in with this view, 
the present edition represents the result. I do not think 
it necessary to reprint the original preface. When I 
wrote it I had already had some, and since I wrote it 
I have had much more, experience in writing literary 
history. I have never seen reason to alter the opinion 
that, to make such history of any value at all, the critical 
judgments and descriptions must represent direct, original, 
and first-hand reading and thought ; and that in these 
critical judgments and descriptions the value of it consists. 
Even summaries and analyses of the matter of books, 
except in so far as they are necessary to criticism, come 
far second ; while biographical and bibliographical details 
are of much less importance, and may (as indeed in 
one way or another they generally must) be taken at 
second hand. The completion of the Dictionary of 
National Biography has at once facilitated the task of the 
writer, and to a great extent disarmed the candid critic 


who delights, in cases of disputed date, to assume that 
the date which his author chooses is the wrong one. 
And I have in the main adjusted the dates in this book 
(where necessary) accordingly. The bibliographical addi- 
tions which have been made to the Index will be found 
not inconsiderable. 

I believe that, in my present plan, there is no author 
of importance omitted (there were not many even in the 
first edition), and that I have been able somewhat to 
improve the book from the results of twenty years' 
additional study, twelve of which have been mainly 
devoted to English literature. How far it must still be 
from being worthy of its subject, nobody can know better 
than I do. But I know also, and I am very happy to 
know, that, as an Elizabethan himself might have said, 
my unworthiness has guided many worthy ones to 
something like knowledge, and to what is more import- 
ant than knowledge, love, of a subject so fascinating and 
so magnificent. And that the book may still have the 
chance of doing this, I hope to spare no trouble upon it 
as often as the opportunity presents itself. l 

EDINBURGH, January 30, 1907. 

1 In the last (eleventh) re-impression no alterations seemed necessary. In 
this, one or two bibliographical matters may call for notice. Every student 
of Donne should now consult Professor Grierson's edition of the Poems (2 vols., 
Oxford, 1912), and as inquiries have been made as to the third volume of 
my own Caroline Poets (see Index), containing Cleveland, King, Stanley, 
and some less known authors, I may be permitted to say that it has been in 
the press for years, and a large part of it is completed. But various stoppages, 
in no case due to neglect, and latterly made absolute by the war, have pre- 
vented its appearance. BATH, October 8, 1918. 




The starting-point Tottel's Miscellany Its method and authorship The 
characteristics of its poetry Wyatt Surrey Grimald Their metres 
The stuff of their poems TJie_jblirroi^Jor ^Magistrates Sackville His 
contributions and their characteristics Remarks on the formal criticism 
of poetn^-Gascoigne Churchyard -Tusser Turberville Googe The 
translators Classical metres Stanyhurst Other miscellanies 

Pages 1-27 



Outlines of Early Elizabethan Prose Its origins Cheke and his contem- 
poraries AsghamlAHis style Miscellaneous writers Critics Webbe 
Puttenham Lyly 'Euphues and E\iphuism Sidney His style and 
critical principles Hooker^-Greville Knolles Mulcaster 28-49 



Divisions of Elizabethan Drama Its general character Origins Ralph 
Roister Doister Gammer Gurfon's Needle Gorboduc The Senecan 
Drama Other early plays The " university wits " Their lives and char- 
acters Lyly (dramas) The Marlowe^group Peele Greene Kyd 
Marlowe The actor playwrights .... 50-81 




Spenser-His life and the order of his works- The Shepherds Calendar The 
minor poems The Faerie QueetteIts scheme The Spenserian stanza- 
Spenser's language His general poetical qualities Comparison with other 
English poets His peculiar charm The Sonneteers Fulke Grcville 
Sidney Watson Barnes Giles Fletcher the elder Lodge Avtsa 
Percy Zepheria Constable D^njel Drayton Alcilia Griffin 
Lynch Smith Barnfield Southwell The song and madrigal writers- 
Campion Raleigh Dyer Oxford, etc. Gifford Howell, Grove, and 
others^The historians Warner The larger poetical works of Daniel 
and Drayton The satirists Lodge Donpe The poems of Donne 
generally Hall Marston Guilpin Tourneur Pages 82-156 



Difficulty of writing about Shakespere His life His reputation in England 
and its history Divisions of his work The Poems The Sonnets The 
Plays Characteristics of Shakespere Never unnatural His attitude to 
morality His humour Universality of his range Comments on him 
His manner of working His variety Final remarks Dramatists to be 
grouped with Shakespere Ben Jonson Chapmanzr-Marston Dekker 




Bacon- Raleigh The Authorised Version Jonson arid Daniel as prose-writers 
Hakluyt The Pamphleteers Greene Lodge Harvey Nash Dek- 
ker Breton The Martin Marprelate Controversy Account of it, with 
specimens of the chief tracts ..... 207-252 




Characteristics Beaumont and Fletcher Middleton Webster Heywood 
Tourneur Day ..... Pages 253-288 



Sylvester Davies of Hereford Sir John Davies Giles and Phineas Fletcher 
William Browne Wither Drummond Stirling Minor Jacobean 
poets Songs from the dramatists .... 289-314 





The quintet Milton's life His character His periods of literary production 
First Period, the minor poems The special excellences of Comus 
Lycidas Second Period, the pamphlets Their merits and defects 
Milton's prose style Third Period, the larger poems Milton's blank 
verse His origins His comparative position Jeremy Taylor's life His 
principal works His style Characteristics of his thought and manner 
SirThJP a S-BrQwne His life, works, and editions His literary manner 
Characteristics of his style and vocabulary His Latinising Remarkable 
adjustment of his thought and expression Clarendon His life Great 
merits of his History Faults of his style Hobbes His life and works 
Extraordinary strength and clearness of his style . . 3 I 5~353 



Herrick Carew Crashaw Divisio'hs of Minor Caroline poetry Miscellanies 
George Herbert Sandys Vaughan Lovelaceand Suckling Montrose 


Quarles More Beaumont Habington Chalkhill Marmion Ky- 
naston Chamberlayne Benlowes Stanley John Hall Patrick Carey 
Cleveland Corbet Cartwright, Sherburne, and Brome Cotton The 
general characteristics of Caroline poetry A defence of the Caroline 
poets ....... Pages 354~393 



Weakening of dramatic strength Massinger Ford Shirley Randolph 
Brome Cokaine Glapthorne Davenant Suckling Minor and 
anonymous plays of the Fourth and other Periods The Shakesperian 
Apocrypha . . 394-427 



Burton Fuller Lord Herbert of Cherbury Izaak Walton Howell Earle 
Felltham The rest ..... 428-444 

CONCLUSION .*.., 445 



IN a work like the present, forming part of a larger whole and 
preceded by another part, the writer has the advantage of being 
almost wholly free from a difficulty which often presses on 
historians of a limited and definite period, whether of literary or 
of any other history. That difficulty lies in the discussion and 
decision of the question of origins in the allotment of sufficient, 
and not more than sufficient, space to a preliminary recapitula- 
tion of the causes and circumstances of the actual events to be 
related. Here there is no need for any but the very briefest 
references of the kind to connect the present volume with its 
forerunner, or rather to indicate the connection of the two. 

There has been little difference of opinion as to the long 
dead-season of English poetry, broken chiefly, if not wholly, byi 
poets Scottish rather than English, which lasted through almost 
the whole of the fifteenth and the first half of the sixteenth 
centuries. There has also been little difference in regarding 
the remarkable work (known as Tottel's Miscellany, but more 
properly called Songs and Sonnets, written by the Right Honour- 
able Lord Henry Howard, late Earl of Surrey, and other) which 
was published by Richard Tottel in 1557, and which went 
through two editions in the summer of that year, as marking the 
E.L. II B 


dawn of the new period. The book is, indeed, remarkable in 
many ways. The first thing, probably, which strikes the modern 

1 ' reader about it is the fact that great part of its contents is anony- 

mous and only conjprhinHy t^ hf^nttriHitH, while as to the part 

2 . which is more certainly known to be the work of seyejal authors, 

most of those authors were either dead or had written long 
before. Mr. Arber's remarks in his introduction (which, though 
I have rather an objection to putting mere citations before the 
public, I am glad here to quote as a testimony in the forefront 
of this book to the excellent deserts of one who by himself has 
done as much as any living man to facilitate the study of Eliza- 
bethan literature) are entirely to the point how entirely to the 
point only students of foreign as well as of English literature 
[ know. "The poets of that age," says Mr. Arber, "wrote for 
their own delectation and for that of their friends, and not for 
the general public. They generally had the greatest aversion to 
their works appearing in print." This aversion, which continued 
in France till the end of the seventeenth century, if not later, had 
been somewhat broken down in England by the middle of the 
sixteenth, though vestiges of it long survived, and in the form of 
a reluctance to be known to write for money, may be found even 
within the confines of the nineteenth. The humbler means and 
lesser public of the English booksellers have saved English litera- 
ture from the bewildering multitude of pirated editions, printed 
from private and not always faithful manuscript copies, which 
were for so long the despair of the editors of many French 
classics. But the manuscript copies themselves survive to a 
certain extent, and in the more sumptuous and elaborate editions 
of our poets (such as, for instance, Dr. Grosart's Donne) what 
they have yielded may be studied with some interest. Moreover, 
they have occasionally preserved for us work nowhere else to be 
obtained, as, for instance, in the remarkable folio which has 
supplied Mr. Bullen with so much of his invaluable collection of 
Old Plays. [_At the early period of Tottel's Miscellany it would 
appear that the very idea of publication in print had hardly 


occurred to many writers' minds.y When the book appeared, both 
its main contributors, Surrey and Wyatt, had been long dead, as 
well as others (Sir Francis Bryan and Anne Boleyn's unlucky 
brother, George Lord Rochford) who are supposed to be repre- 
sented. The short Printer's Address to the Reader gives abso- 
lutely no intelligence as to the circumstances of the publication, 
the person responsible for the editing, or the authority which the 
editor and printer may have had for their inclusion of different 
authors' work. It is only a theory, though a sufficiently plausible 
one, that the editor was Nicholas Grimald, chaplain to Bishop 
Thirlby of Ely, a Cambridge man who some ten years before had 
been incorporated at Oxford and had been elected to a Fellow- 
ship at Merton College. In Grimald's or Grimoald's connection 
with the book there was certainly something peculiar, for the first 
edition contains forty poems contributed by him and signed with 
his name, while in the second the full name is replaced by " N. 
G.," and a considerable number of his poems give way to others. 
More than construction might, no doubt, be placed on this 
curious fact ; but hardly any construction can be placed on it 
which does not in some way connect Grimald with the publica- 
tion. It may be added that, while his, Surrey's, and Wyatt's con- 
tributions are substantive and known the numbers of separate 
poems contributed being respediiely-fert^Uar^Syrrey, the same for 
Gjimald, and nmetyjjixLfor Wyatt no less than one hundred and 
thirty-four poems, reckoning the contents of the first and second 
editions together, are attributed to "other" or "uncertain" 
authors. And of these, though it is pretty positively known 
that certain writers did contribute to the book, only four 
poems have been even conjecturally traced to particular authors. 
The most interesting of these by far is the poem attributed, 
with that which immediately precedes it, to Lord Vaux, and 
containing the verses " For age with stealing steps," known to 
every one from the gravedigger in Hamlet. Nor is this the 
only connection of Tottel's Miscellany with Shakespere, for there 
is no reasonable doubt that the " Book of Songs and Sonnets," 


to the absence of which Slender so pathetically refers in The 
Merry Wives of Windsor, is Tottel's, which, as the first to use 
the title, long retained it by right of precedence. Indeed, one 
of its authors, Churchyard, who, though not in his first youth 
at its appearance, survived into the reign of James, quotes it 
as such, and so does Drayton even later. No sonnets had been 
seen in England before, nor was the whole style of the verse 
which it contained less novel than this particular form. 

As is the case with many if not most of the authors of our 
period, a rather unnecessary amonnt of ink has been spilt on 
questions very distantly connected with the question of the abso- 
lute and relative merit of Surrey and Wyatt in English poetry. 
In particular, the influence of the one poet on the other, and the 
consequent degree of originality to be assigned to each, have 
been much discussed. A very few dates and facts, will supply 
most of the information necessary to enable the reader to decide 
this and other questions for himself. Sir Thomas Wyatt, son of 
Sir Henry Wyatt of Allington, Kent, was born in i ^03, entered 
St. John's College, Cambridge, in 1515, became a favourite of 
Henry VIIL, received important diplomatic appointments, and 
died in i j; 4 2. Lord Henry Howard was born (as is supposed) 
in 1517, and became Earl of Surrey by courtesy (he was not, 
the account of his judicial murder says, a lord of Parliament) at 
eight years old. Very little is really known of his life, and his 
love for " Geraldine " was made the basis of a series of fictions 
by Nash half a century after his death. He cannot have been 
more than thirty when, in the Reign of Terror towards the close 
of Henry VIIL 's life, he was arrested on frivolous charges, 
the gravest being the assumption of the royal arms, found guilty 
of treason, and beheaded on Tower Hill on.igth January 1547. 
Thus it will be seen that Wyatt was at Cambridge before Surrey 
was born, and died five years before him \ to which it need only 
be added that Surrey has an epitaph on Wyatt which clearly 
expresses the relation of disciple to master. Yet despite this 
relation and the community of influences which acted on both, 


their characteristic^ ,n rp ma rifely Hiffcrpiif- and each is of the 
greatest importance in English poetical history. 

In order to appreciate exactly what this importance is we must 
remember in what state Wyatt and Surrey found the art which 
they practised and in which they made a new start. Speaking 
roughly but with sufficient accuracy for the purpose, that state is 
typically exhibited in t\vo writers, Hawes and Skelton. The 
former represents the last phase of the Chaucenanjjchopl, ^reak- 
ened not merely hy the absence of men of great talent during 
more than a century, but by the continual imitation during that 
:riod of weaker and ever weaker French models the last faint 


echoes of the Roman de la Rose and the first extravagances of 
the Rhetoriqueurs. Skelton, on the other hand, with all his 
vigour, represents the English tendency to prosaic doggerel. 
Whether \\yatt arid ~his younger companion deliberately~had 
recourse to Italian example in order to avoid these two dangers 
it would be impossible to say. But the example was evidently 
before them, and the result is certainly such an avoidance. 
Nevertheless both, and especially Wyatt, had a great deal to 

learn. It i^jWprtly ovulpnt flint, npifhpr hnrl any thpqry of 

English prosody before him. Wyatt's first sonnet displays the 
completest indifference to quantity, not merely scanning " harber," 
" banner," $md " suffer " as iambs (which might admit of some 
defence), but making a rhyme of " feareth " and " appeareth," 
not on the penultimates, but on the mere "eth." In the fol- 
lowing poems even worse liberties are found, and the strange 
turns and twists which the poet gives to his decasyllabics suggest 
eiLhes-a^total want of ear or such a study in foreign languages 
that the student had actually forgotten the intonation- and 
cadences of his own tongue. So stumbling and knock-kneed is 
his verse that any one who remembers the admirable versifica- 
tion of Chaucer may now and then be inclined to think that 
Wyatt had much better have left his innovations alone. But this 
petulance is soon rebuked by the appearance of such a sonnet 
as this : 


(The Imtr having dreamed enjoying of his lave complaindh that the dream 
is not either longer or truer.) 

" Unstable dream, according to the place 

Be steadfast once, or else at least be true. 

By tasted sweetness, rriake me not to rue 
The sudden loss of thy false feigned grace. 
By good respect in such a dangerous case 

Thou brought'st not hor into these tossing seas 

But mad'st my sprite to live, my care to increase, 1 
My body in tempest her delight to embrace. 
The Ixxly dead, the sprite had his desire : 

Painless was th' one, the other in delight. 

Why then, alas ! did it not keep it right, 
But thus return to leap into the fire ? 
And where it was at wish, could not remain ? 
Such mocks of dreams do turn to deadly pain." 

Wyatt's awkwardness is not limitprl to the decasyllabic, but some 
nM^is short pppms in short lines recover rhythmjcal grace very 
remarkably, and set 

Surrey is a far superior metrist. Neither in his sonnets, nor 
in his various stanzas composed of heroics, nor in what may be 
called his doggerel metres the fatally fluent Alexandrines, four- 
teeners, and admixtures of both, which dominated English poetry 
from his time to Spenser's, and were never quite rejected during 
the Elizabethan period do we find evidence of the want of ear, 
or the want of rormjinnrl of lanpHnppj which makes Wyatt's versifi- 
cation frequently disgusting. Surrey has even no small mastery 
of what imy K ? r*\\(*A thp arrhitprtnrp pf verse, the valuing of 
cadence in successive lines so as to produce a concerted piece 
and not a mere reduplication of the same notes. And in his 
translations of the /Eneid (not published in Tottel's Miscellany) 
he has the great honour of being the originator of blank verse. 
and blank ver.s.e of by no means a bad pattern. The following 

1 In original " tencrease," and below "timbrace." This sybstitution of 
elision for slur or hiatus (found in Chaucerian MSS.) passed later into the 
t' and th' of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. 


sonnet, combined Alexandrine and fourteener, and blank verse 
extract, may be useful : 

(Complaint that his lady after she knew of his love kept her face a/way hidden 

from him.') 

" I never saw my lady lay apart 
Her cornet black, in cold nor yet in heat, 
Sith first she knew my grief was grown so great ; 
Which other fancies driveth from my heart, 
That to myself I do the thought reserve, 
The which unwares did wound my woeful breast. 
But on her face mine eyes mought never rest 
Yet, since she knew I did her love, and serve 
Her golden tresses clad alway with black, 
Her smiling looks that hid[es] thus evermore 
And that restrains which I desire so sore. 
So doth this cornet govern me, alack ! 
In summer sun, in winter's breath, a frost 
Whereby the lights of her fair looks I lost." 1 

(Complaint of the absence of her lover being upon the sea.) 
" Good ladies, ye that have your pleasures in exile, 
Step in your foot, come take a place, and mourn with me a while. 

And such as by their lords do set but little price, 
Let them sit still : it skills them not what chance come on the dice. 

But ye whom love hath bound by order of desire, 
To love your lords whose good deserts none other would require, 

Come ye yet once again and set your foot by mine, 
Whose woeful plight and sorrows great, no tongue can well define." 2 

1 As printed exactly in both first and second editions this sonnet is evi- 
dently corrupt, and the variations between the two are additional evidence of 
this. I have ventured to change " hid " to " hides " in line 10, and to alter the 
punctuation in line 13. If the reader takes "that" in line 5 as = "so that," 
"that" in line io,as = "which" (i.e. "black"), and "that" in line II with 

" which," he will now, I think, find it intelligible. Line 13 is usually printed : 

"In summer, sun : in winter's breath, a frost." 
Now no one would compare a black silk hood to the sun, and a reference to line 

2 will show the real meaning. The hood is a frost which lasts through summer 
ifiid winter alike. ^ 

2 In reading these combinations it must be remembered that is there ajways a 
strong caesura in the midst of the first and Alexandrine line. It is the Alexandrine 
which Mr. Browning has imitated in Fifine, not that of Drayton, or of the 
various practitioners of the Spenserian stanza from Spenser himself downwards. 


" It was the (n) 1 night ; the sound and quiet sleep 
Had through the earth the weary bodies caught, 
The woods, the raging seas, were fallen to rest, 
\Vhen that the stars had half their course declined. 
The fields whist : beasts and fowls of divers hue, 
And what so that in the broad lakes remained, 
Or yet among the bushy thicks 2 of briar, 
Laid down to sleep by silence of the night, 
"Can swage their cares, mindless of travails past 
Not so the spirit of this Phenician. 
Unhappy she that on no sleep could chance, 
Nor yet night's rest enter in eye or breast. 
Her cares redouble : love doth rise and rage again, 3 
And overflows with swelling storms of wrath. " 

The "other" or "uncertain" authors, though interesting 
enough for purposes of literary comparison, are very inferior to 
Wyatt and Surrey. Grimald, the supposed editor, though his 
verse must not, of course, be judged with reference to a more 
advanced state of things than his own, is but a journeyman verse- 

" Sith, Black wood, you have mind to take a wife, 
I pray you tell wherefore you like that life," 

is a kind of foretaste of Crabbe in its bland ignoring of the 
formal graces of poetry. He acquits himself tolerably in the 
combinations of Alexandrines and fourteeners noticed above 
(the " poulter's measure," as Gascoigne was to call it later), nor 
does he ever fall into the worst kind of jog-trot His epitaphs and 
elegies are his best work, and the best of them is that on his 
mother. Very much the same may be said of the strictly mis- 
cellaneous part of the Miscellany. The greater part of the 
Uncertain Authors are less ambitious,but alsqless irregular than 
Wyatt, while they fall far short of Surrey in every respect. Some- 
times, as in the famous " I loath that I did love," both syntax 

1 In these extracts ( ) signifies that something found in text seems better 
away ; [ ] that something wanting in text has been coniecturally supplied 
3 Thickets. 
1 This Alexandrine is not common, and is probably a mere oversight. 


and prosody hardly show the reform at all ; the^ recall the ruder 
snatches of an earlier time. But, on the whole, the character- 
istics of these poets, both in mnftpr nnd form, are sufficiently 
uniform and sufficiently interesting. Metrically, they show, on 
the one side, a__desire tr> "^ n rpjiu/pnated heroic^ either in 
couplets or in various combined forms, the simplest of which is 
the elegiac quatrain of alternately rhyming lines, and the most 
complicated the sonnej ; while between them various stanzas 
more or less suggested by Italian are to be ranked. Of this 
thing there has been and will be no end as long as English 
poetry lasts. The attempt to arrange the old and apparently 
almost indigenous " eights and sixes " into fourteener lines and 
into alternate foiirteeners and Alexandrines, seems to have com- 
mended itself even more to contemporary taste, 1 and, as we have 
seen and shall see, it was eagerly followed for more than half a 
century. But it was not destined to succeed. These long lines, 
unless very sparingly used, or with the ground-foot changed from 
the iambus to the anapaest or the trochee, are not in keeping with 
the genius of. English poetry, as even the great examples of Chap- 
man's Homer and the Polyolbion may be said to have shown once 
for all. In the hands, moreover, of the poets of this particular 
time, whether they were printed at length or cut up into eights 
and sixes, they had an almost irresistible tendency to degenerate 
into a kind of lolloping amble which is inexpressibly monoton- 
ous. Even when the spur of a really poetical inspiration excites 
this amble into something more fiery (the best example existing is 
probably Southwell's wonderful "Burning Babe"), the sensitive 
ear feels that there is constant danger of a relapse, and at the 
worst the thing becomes mere doggerel. Yet for about a quarter 
of a century these overgrown lines held the field in verse and 
drama alik.e, and the encouragement of them must be counted 
as a certain drawback to thejbenefits which Surrey, Wyatt, and the 
other contributors of the Miscellany conferred on English litera- 
ture by their exercises, here and elsewhere, in the blank verse 
decasyllabic, the couplet, the stanza, and, above all, the sonnet. 


It remains to say something of the matter as distinguished 
from the form of this poetry, and for once the form is of hardly 
superior importance to the matter. It is a question of some 
interest, though unfortunately one wholly incapable of solution, 
whether the change in the character of poetical thought and 
theme which Wyatt and Surrey wrought was accidental, and 
consequent merely on their choice of models, and especially of 
Petrarch, or essential and deliberate. If it was accidental, there 
is no greater accident in the history of literature. The absence 
of the pgrymal nnfp in mpriiapval poetry is a rnmmnnplare, and 
nowhere had that absence been more marked than in England. 
With Wyntt nnrl Snrr n y Fn^lnh j"" n tr;' b nn nmf > it n b^M"^ the 
irtQst personal (and in a rather bad but unavoidable word) the 
most "introspective" in Europe. There had of course been love 
poetry before, but its convention had been a convention of im- 
personality. It now became exactly the reverse. The lover 
sang less his joys than his sorrows, and he tried to express those 
sorrows and their effect on him in the most personal way he 
could Although allegory still retained a strong hold _on the 
national taste, and was yet to receive its greatest poetical expres- 
sion in The Faerie Qt/eene, it_was allegory of quite a different 
kind from that which in the. Rnmnn Jt la Rose had taken 
Europe captive, and had since dominated European poetry in 
all departments, and especially in the department of love-making. 
" Dangier " and his fellow-phantoms fled before the dawn of the 
new poetry in England, jmdthe depressing influences of a 
common form. n conventional ^tock of Trnngp^ pprgr>nagp gj . and 
almost language disappeared. No doubt there was convention- 
ality enough in the following of the Petrarchian model, but it was 
a less stiff and uniform conventionality ; it allowed and indeed 
invited the .individual to wear his rue with a difference, and to 
ayjiil himself at least of the_almost infinite diversity of cir- 
cumstance and feeling which the life of the aqUia] 1P- nn ft^Carda,. 

instp.irl nf r r djinnL r fvryfhing tr> th^ mnnrk anrl forms "of an 

already {renprnli^p^ nnf | nllrgnrifiml PYpmVnrr With the new 


theme to handle and the new forms ready as tools for the handler, 
with the general ferment of European spirits, it might readily 
have been supposed that a remarkable out-turn of work would be 
the certain and immediate result. 

The result in fact may have been certain but it was not 
immediate, being delayed for nearly a quarter of a century ; and 
the next remarkable piece of work done in English poetry after 
Tottel's Miscellany a piece of work of greater actual poetical 
merit than anything in that Miscellany itself was in the old forms, 
and showed little if any influence of the new poetical learning. 
This was the famous Mirror for Magistrates, or rather that part 
of it contributed by Thomas Sackville, Lord Buckhurst. The 
Mirror as a whole has bibliographical and prosodic rather than 
literary interest It was certainly planned as early as ijffi by 
way of a supplement to Lydgate's translation of Boccaccio's Fall 
of Princes. It was at first edited by a certain William Baldwin, 
and for nearly half a century it received additions and alterations 
from various respectable hacks of letters ; but the " Induction " 
and the " Complaint of Buckingham " which Sackville furnisHed 
to it in 1559, though they were not published till four years later, 
completely outweigh all the rest in value. To my own fancy the 
fact that Sackville was (in what proportion is disputed) also author 
of Gorboduc (see Chapter III.) adds but little to its interest. 
His contributions to The Mirror for Magistrates contain the best 
poetry written, in the English language between Chaucer and 
Spenser, and are -most certainly the originals or at least^ the 
models of some of Spenser's finest work. He has had but faint 
praise of late years. According to the late Professor Minto, he 
" affords abundant traces of the influence of Wyatt and Surrey." 
I do not know what the traces are, and I should say myself that 
few contemporary or nearly contemporary efforts are more dis- 
tinct. Dean Church says that we see in him a faint anticipation 
of Spenser. My estimate of Spenser, as I hope to show, is not 
below that of any living critic ; but considerations of bulk being 
allowed, and it being fully granted that Sackville had nothing like 


Spenser's magnificent range, I cannot see any " faintness " in the 
case. If the " Induction " had not been written it is at least 
possible that the "Cave of Despair" would never have enriched 
English poetry. 

Thomas Sackville was born at Buckhurst in Sussex, injhe 
year 1536, of a family which was of the most 

.and the jnost honourable standing. He was educated at Oxford, 
at the now extinct Hart Hall, whence, according to a prac- 
tice as common then as it is uncommon now (except in the 
cases of royal , princes and a few persons of difficult and in- 
constant taste), vhe moved to Cambridge Then he entered the 
Innpf Tpmple^married early, travelled became noted in literature, 
was made Lord Buckhurst at the age of thirty-one, was for many 
years one of Elizabeth's chief councillors and officers, was pro- 
moted to the Earldom of Dorset at the accession of James I., 
and died, it is said, at the Council table on the iQth of April 1608. 
We shall deal with Gorboduc hereafter : the two contribu- 
tions to The Mirror for Magistrates concern us here. And I have 
little hesitation in saving that no more astonishing rontrihntinn 
Lo_ English poetry, when the due reservations of that historical 
criticism which Js the life of all criticism are made, is to be found 
anywhere. The bulk is not great : twelve or fifteen hundrerL 
Hnes must cover the whole of it. The form is not new, being 
merely the, seven-line stanza already familiar in Chaucer. The 
anangement is in no way jnovel, combining as it does the 

presentment nf pmhnHipd vi'rfiip^ vices and 

with tVje,1y n.nrrntivf rommop in poets for mnny_y^ars 

beforg. But the poetical value of the whole is extraordinary. 
The two constituents of that value, the formal and the materia^ 
are rpprpspntpd with n F'ng'ilar equality of development. There 
is nothing here of Wyatt's floundering prosody, nothing of the 
well-intentioned do^erel in which Surrey .himself indulges and in 
which his pupils simply revel. Thp^nHpnr^ ^f the rcrocr arc 
pprfrrf, the imagery fresh -and yharp r the presentation of nature 
singularly original, when it is romp-ir^ \vjth the battered copies 


of the poets with whom Sackville must have been most familiar, 
the followers of Chaucer fromOccleve to Hawes. Even the general 
plan of the poem the weakest part of nearly all poems of this 
time is extraordinarily effective and makes one sincerely sorry 
that Sackville's taste, or his other occupations, did not permit him 
to carry out the whole scheme on his own account. The " Induc- 
tion," in which the author is brought face to face with Sorrow, 
and the central passages of the " Complaint of Buckingham," 
have a depth and fulness of poetical sound and sense for which 
we^jrmst look backwards a hundred and fifty years, or forwards 
nearly five and twenty. Take, for instance, these stanzas : 

" Thence come we to the horror and the hell, 
The large great kingdoms, and the dreadful reign 
Of Pluto in his throne where he did dwell, 
The wide waste places, and the hugy plain, 
The wailings, shrieks, and sundry sorts of pain, 

The sighs, the sobs, the deep and deadly groan ; 

Earth, air, and all, resounding plaint and moan. 

" Here puled the babes, and here the maids unwed 
With folded hands their sorry chance bewailed, 
Here wept the guiltless slain, and lovers dead, 
That slew themselves when nothing else availed ; 
A thousand sorts of sorrows here, that wailed 

With sighs and tears, sobs, shrieks, and all yfere 

That oh, alas ! it was a hell to hear. 

" Lo here, quoth Sorrow, princes of renown, 
That whilom sat on top of fortune's wheel, 
Now laid full low ; like wretches whirled down, 
Ev'n with one frown, that stayed but with a smile : 
And now behold the thing that thou, erewhile, 

Saw only in thought : and what thou now shall hear, 
Recount the same to kesar, king, and peer." 1 

1 The precedent descriptions of Sorrow herself, of Misery, and of Old Age, 
are even finer than the above, which, however, I have preferred for three 
reasons. First, it has been less often quoted ; secondly, its subject is a kind 
of commonplace, and, therefore, shows the poet's strength of handling ; thirdly, 
because of the singular and characteristic majesty of the opening lines. 

' : 


It is perhaps well, in an early passage of a book which will 
have much to do with the criticism of poetry, to dwell a little on 
what seems to the critic to be the root of that matter. In 
the first place, I must entirely differ with those persons who have 
sought to create an independent prosody for English verse under 
the head of "beats" or "accents" or something of that sort. 
Every English metre since Chaucer at least can be scanned, within the 
proper limits, according to the strictest rules of classical prosody: and 
while all good English metre comes out scatheless from the application 
of those rules, nothing exhibits the badness of bad English metre so 
well as that application. It is, alongside of their great merits, the 
distinguishing fault of Wyatt eminently, of Surrey to a less degree, 
and of all the new school up to Spenser more or less, that they 
neglect the quantity test too freely ; it is the merit of Sackville 
that, holding on in this respect to the good school of Chaucej^_he 
observes it. Vnii will find no "jawbreakers" in Sackville. no 
attempts to adjust English words on a Procrustean bed of inde- 
pendent quantification. He has net indeed the manifold music of 
Spenser it would be unreasonable to expect that he should have 
it. JTul 111, ,1 ...... , in lln fun IUM_ ........ pin, u, j]| ,1 ..... , in of 

ir infm n rnmniijjio., a 

completeness of accomplishment within th^ writer's 
which is very noteworthy in so young a man. The extraordinary 
richnf^ and gtat-ejjness of the measure, has escaped no critic. 
There is indeed a certain one-sidedness about it, and a devil's 
advocate might urge that a long poem couched in verse (let alone 
the subject) of such unbroken gloom would be intolerable. But 
Sackville did not write a long poem, and his complete command 
within his limits of the effect at which he evidently aimed is most 

The second thing to note about the poem is the extraordinary 
freshness and truth Pf its imagery. From a young poet we always 
expect second-hand presentations of nature, and in Sackville's 
day second-hand presentation of nature had been elevated to the 
rank of a science. Here the new school Surrey, Wyatt, and 


their followers even if he had studied them, could have given 
him little or no help, for great as are the merits of Tottel's 
Miscellany, jio one would po to it for representations of nature. 
Among his predecessors in his own style he had to go back to 
Chaucer (putting the Scotch school out of the question) before he 
could find anything original. Yet it may be questioned whether 
the sketches of external scenery in these brief essays of his, or 
the embodiments of internal thought in the pictures of Sorrow 
and the other allegorical wights, are most striking. It is perfectly 
clear that Thomas Sackville had, in the first place, ^poetical eye 

_to see, within aswell as without, the objects of poetical present- 
ment ; in the second place, a poetical vocabulary in which to clojhe 

jhe results of his seeing ; and in the third place, a poetical, ear by 
aid of which to arrange his language in the musical co-ordination 
necessary to poetry. Wyatt had been too much to seek in the 
lasFj Suney had not been very obviously furnished with the first; 
and all three were not to be possessed by any one else till 
Edmund Spenser arose to put Sackville's lessons in practice on 
a wider scale, and with a less monotonous lyre. It is possible 
that Sackville's claims in drama may have been exaggerated 
they have of late years rather been undervalued : but his claims in 
poetry proper can only be overlooked by those who decline to 
consider the most important part of poetry. In the subject of 
even part of The Mirror there is nothing new : there is only a 
following of Chaucer, and Gower, and Occleve, and Lydgate, and 
Hawes, and many others. But in the handling there is one 
novelty which makes all others of no effect or interest. It is the 
novelty of a new poetry. 

It has already been remarked that these two important books 
were not immediately followed by any others in poetry corre- 
sponding to their importance. The poetry of the first half of 
Elizabeth's reign is as mediocre as the poetry of the last half of 
her reign is magnificent. Although it had taken some hints from 
Wyatt and Surrey it had not taken the best ; and the inexplicable 
devotion of most of the versifiers of the time to the doggerel 


metres already referred to seems to have prevented them from 
cultivating anything better. Yet the pains which were spent 
upon translation during this time were considerable, and un- 
doubtedly had much to do with strengthening and improving the 
language. The formal part of poetry became for the first time a 
subject of study resulting in the Instructions of Gascoigne, and in 
the noteworthy critical works which will be mentioned in the next 
chapter ; while the popularity of poetical miscellanies showed the 
audience that existed for verse. The translators and the miscel- 
lanists will each call for some brief notice; but first it is necessary 
to mention some individual, and in their way, original writers 
who, though not possessing merit at all equal to that of Wyatt, 
Surrey, and Sackville, yet deserve to be singled from the crowd. 
These are Gascoigne, Churchyard, Turberville, Googe, and Tusser. 
The poetaster and literary hack, Whetstone, who wrote a 
poetical memoir of George Gascoigne after his death, entitles it 
a remembrance of " the well employed life and godly end " of 
his hero. It is not necessary to dispute that Gascoigne's end 
was godly ; but except for the fact that he was for some years a 
diligent and not unmeritorious writer, it is not so certain that 
his life was well employed. At any rate he does not seem to 
have thought so himself. The date of his birth has been put 
as early as 1525 and as late as 1536 : he certainly died in 1577. 
His father, a knight of good family and estate in Essex, dis- 
inherited him ; but he was educated at Cambridge, if not at both 
universities, was twice elected to Parliament, travelled and fought 
abroad, and took part in the famous festival at Kenilworth. His 
work is, as has been said, considerable, and is remarkable for the 
number of first attempts in English which it contains. It has at 
least been claimed for him (though careful students of literary 
history know that these attributions are always rather hazardous) 
that he wrote the first English prose comedy (The Supposes^ a 
version of Ariosto), the first regular verse satire (The Steel Glass), 
the first prose tale (a version from Bandello), the first translation 
from Greek tragedy (Jocastd), and the first critical essay (the 


above-mentioned Notes of Instruction}. Most of these things, it 
will be seen, were merely adaptations of foreign originals ; but they 
certainly make up a remarkable budget for one man. In addition 
to them, and to a good number of shorter and miscellaneous 
poems, must be mentioned the Glass of Government (a kind of 
morality or serious comedy, moulded, it would seem, on German 
originals), and the rather prettily, if fantastically termed Flowers, 
Iferbs, and Weeds. Gascoigne has a very fair command of 
rnetrej he is not a great sinner in the childish alliteration which, 
surviving from the older English poetry, helps to convert so much 
of his contemporaries' work into doggerel. The pretty " Lullaby 
of a Lover," and "Gascoigne's Good Morrow " may be mentioned, 
and part of one of them may be quoted, as a fair specimen of 
his work, which is always tolerable if never first-rate. 

" Sing lullaby, as women do, 
Wherewith they bring their babes to rest, 
And lullaby can I sing too, 
As womanly as can the best. 
With lullaby they still the child ; 
And if I be not much beguiled, 
Full many wanton babes have I 
Which must be stilled with lullaby. 

" First lullaby, my youthful years, 
It is now time to go to bed, 
For crooked age and hoary hairs 
Have won the hav'n within my head : 
With lullaby then, youth, be still, 
With lullaby content thy will, 
Since courage quails and comes behind, 
Go sleep and so beguile thy mind. 

" Next lullaby, my gazing eyes, 
Which wanton were to glance apace, 
For every glass may now suffice 
To show the furrows in my face. 
With lullaby then wink awhile, 
With lullaby your looks beguile ; 
Let no fair face, nor beauty bright, 
Entice you oft with vain delight. 


" And lullaby, my wanton will, 
Let reason(s) rule now rein thy thought, 
Since all too late I find by skill 
How clear I have thy fancies bought : 
With lullaby now take thine ease, 
With lullaby thy doubts appease, 
For trust to this, if thou be still 
My body shall obey thy will." 

Thomas Churchyard was an inferior sort of Gascoigne, who 
led a much longer if less eventful life. He was about the 
Court for the greater part of the century, and had a habit of 
calling his little books, which were numerous, and written both in 
verse and prose, by alliterative titles playing on his own name, 
such as Churchyard's Chips, Churchyard's Choice, and so forth. 
He was a person of no great literary power, and chiefly note- 
worthy because of his long life after contributing lQ^,Tottel's 
Mijgftany^\vhich makes him a link between the-old literature 
and the new. 

The literary interests and tentative character of the time, 
together with its absence of original genius, and the constant 
symptoms of not having " found its way," are also very noteworthy 
in George Turberville and Barnabe Googe, who were friends and 
verse writers of not dissimilar character. Turberville, of whom 
not much is known, was a Dorsetshire man of good family, and 
was educated at Winchester and Oxford. Hfs birth and death 
dates are both extremely uncertain. Besides a book on Falconry 
and numerous translations (to which, like all the men of his 
school and day, he was much addicted), he wrote a good many 
occasional poems, trying even blank verse. Barnabe Googe, 
a Lincolnshire man, and a member of both universities, 
appears to have been born in 1540, was employed in Ireland, 
and died in 1594. He was kin to the Cecils, and Mr. Arber 
has recovered some rather interesting details about his love 
affairs, in which he was assisted bjr Lord Burghley. He, too, 
was an indefatigable translator, and wrote some original poems. 
Both poets affected the combination of Alexandrine and fourteener 


(split up or not, as the printer chose, into six, six, eight, six), the 
popularity of which has been noted, and both succumbed too 
often to its capacities of doggerel. Turberville's best work is the 
following song in a pretty metre well kept up : 

" The green that you did wish me wear 

Aye for your love, 
And on my helm a branch to bear 

Not to remove, 
Was ever you to have in mind 
Whom Cupid hath my feire assigned. 

" As I in this have done your will 

And mind to do, 
So I request you to fulfil 

My fancy too ; 

A green and loving heart to have, 
And this is all that I do crave. 

" For if your flowering heart should change 

His colour green, 
Or you at length a lady strange 

Of me be seen, 

Then will my branch against his use 
His colour change for your refuse. 1 

" As winter's force cannot deface 

This branch his hue, 
So let no change of love disgrace 

Your friendship true ; 
You were mine own, and so be still, 
So shall we live and love our fill. 

" Then I may think myself to be 

Well recompensed, 
For wearing of the tree that is 

So well defensed 

Against all weather that doth fall 
When wayward winter spits his galL . 

" And when we meet, to try me true, 
Look on my head, 

1 Refusal. 


And I will crave an oath of you 

Whe'r 1 Faith be fled; 
So shall we lx>th answered be, 
Both I of you, and you of me. " 

The most considerable and the most interesting part of 
Googe's work is a set of eight eclogues which may not have been 
without influence on The Shepherd's Calendar, and a poem of 
some length entitled Cupido Conquered, which Spenser may also 
have seen. Googe has more sustained power than Turberville, 
but is much inferior to him in command of metre and in lyrical 
swing. In him, or at least in his printer, the mania for cutting 
up long verses reaches its height, and his very decasyllabics are 
found arranged in the strange fashion of four and six as thus : 

" Good aged Bale : 
That with thy hoary hairs 
Dost still persist 
To turn the painful book, 
O happy man, 

That hast obtained such years, 
And leav'st not yet 
On papers pale to look. 
Give over now 
To beat thy wearied brain, 
And rest thy pen, 
That long hath laboured sore." 

Thomas Tusser (15 24?- 15 80) has often been regarded as 
merely a writer of doggerel, which is assuredly not lacking in his 
Hundred (later Five Hundred} Points of Husbandry (1557-1573). 
But he has some piquancy of phrase, and is particularly noticeable 
for the variety, and to a certain extent the accomplishment, of his 
prosodic experiments a point of much importance for the time. 

To these five, of whom some substantive notice has been 
given, many shadowy names might be added if the catalogue were 
of any use : such as those of Kinwelmersh, Whetstone, Phaer, 

1 Short for " whether." 


Neville, Blundeston, Edwards, Golding, and many others. They 
seem to have been for the most part personally acquainted with 

one another ; the literary energies of England being almost 

confined to the universities and the Inns of Court, so that most 
of those who devoted themselves to literature came into contact 
and formed what is sometimes called a clique. They were all 
studiously and rather indiscriminately given to translation (the 
body of foreign work, ancient and modern, which was turned into 
English during this quarter of a century being very large indeed), 
and all or many of them were contributors of commendatory 
verses to each other's work and of pieces of different descriptions 
to the poetical miscellanies of the time. Of these miscellanies 
and of the chief translations from the classics some little notice 
may be taken because of the great part which both played in the 
poetical education of England. It has been said that almost all 
the original poets were also translators. Thus Googe Englished, 
among other things, the Zodiacus Vita of Marcellus Palingenius, 
the Regnum Papisticum of Kirchmayer, the Four Books of Hus- 
bandry of Conrad Heresbach, and the Proverbs of the Marquis of 
Santillana; but some of the translators were not distinguished 
by any original work. Thus Jasper Heywood, followed by 
Neville above mentioned, by Studley, and others, translated 
between 1560 and 1580 those tragedies of Seneca which had 
such a vast influence on foreign literature and, fortunately, so 
small an influence on English. Arthur Golding gave in 1567 
a version, by no means destitute of merit, of the Metamorphoses 
which had a great influence on English poetry. We have already 
mentioned Surrey's blank -verse translation of Virgil. This 
was followed up, in 1555-60, by Thomas Phaer, who, like most 
of the persons mentioned in this paragraph, used the fourteener, 
broken up or not, as accident or the necessities of the printer 
brought it about. 

It was beyond doubt this abundant translation, and perhaps 
also the manifest deficiencies of the fourteener thus used, which 
brought about at the close of the present period and the beginning 


of the next the extraordinary attempt to reproduce classical 
metres in English verse, which for a time seduced even Spenser, 
which was not a little countenanced by most of the critical writers 
of the period, which led Gabriel Harvey and others into such 
absurdities, and which was scarcely slain even by Daniel's famous 
and capital Defence of Rhyme. The discussion of this absurd 
attempt (for which rules, not now extant, came from Drant of 
Cambridge) in the correspondence of Spenser and Harvey, and the 
sensible fashion in which Nash laughed at it, are among the best 
known things in the gossiping history of English Letters. But the 
coxcombry of Harvey and the felicitous impertinence of Nash 
have sometimes diverted attention from the actual state of the 
case. William Webbe (a very sober-minded person with taste 
enough to admire the "new poet," as he calls Spenser) makes 
elaborate attempts not merely at hexameters, which, though only a 
curiosity, are a possible curiosity in English, but at Sapphics which 
could never (except as burlesque) be tolerable. Sidney, Spenser, 
and others gave serious heed to the scheme of substituting classical 
metres without rhyme for indigenous metres with rhyme. And 
unless the two causes which brought this about are constantly kept 
in mind, the reason of it will not be understood. _It was un- 
duubtC'Jly the weakness of contemporary English verse which 
reinforced the general KenaissanCfe admiration for the classics ; 

ficTr must it be forgotten llial Wyatl tukes, in vernacular metres 
and with rhyme, nearly as great liberties with the intonation and 
prosody of the language as any of the classicists in their unlucky 
hexameters and elegiacs. The- majesty and grace of the learned 
tongues, contrasting with the poverty of their own_Janguage, 
impressed, and to a great extent rightly impressed, jfce early 

..Elizabethans. so that they naturally enough cast about for any 
means to improve the one, and hesitated at any peculiarity which 
was not found in the other. It was unpardonable in Milton 
to sneer at rhyme after the fifty years of magnificent production 
which had put English on a level with Greek and above Latin 
as a literary instrument. But for Harvey and Spenser, Sidney 


and Webbe, with those fifty years still to come, the state of the 
case was very different. 

The translation mania and the classicising mania together led 
to the production of perhaps the most absurd book in all literature 
a book which deserves extended notice here, partly because it 
has only recently become accessible to the general reader in its 
original form, and partly because it is, though a caricature, yet a 
very instructive caricature of the tendencies and literary ideas o, 
the time. This is Richard Stanyhurst's translation of the first 
four books of the ^neid, first printed at Leyden in the summer 
of 1582, and reprinted in London a year later. This wonderful 
book (in which the spelling is only less marvellous than the 
phraseology and verse) shows more than anything else the active 
throes which English literature was undergoing, and though the 
result was but a false birth it is none the less interesting. 

Stanyhurst was not, as might be hastily imagined, a person of 
insufficient culture or insufficient brains. He was an Irish 
Roman Catholic gentleman, brother-in-law to Lord Dunsany, and 
uncle to Archbishop Usher, and though he was author of the 
Irish part of Holinshed's History, he has always been regarded 
by the madder sort of Hibernians as a traitor to the nation. His 
father was Recorder of Dublin, and he himself, having been 
born about 1547, was educated at University College, Oxford, 
and went thence, if not to the Inns of Court, at any rate to 
those of Chancery, and became a student of Furnival's Inn. 
He died at Brussels in 1618. Here is an example of his prose, 
the latter part of which is profitable for matter as well as for 
form : 

" How beyt 1 I haue heere haulf a guesh, that two sorts of carpers wyl seeme 
too spume at this myne enterprise. Thee one vtterlie ignorant, the oother 
meanlye letterd. Thee ignorant wyl imagin, that thee passage was nothing 
craggye, in as much as M. Phaere hath broken thee ice before me : Thee 
meaner clarcks wyl suppose my trauail in theese heroical verses too carrye no 

1 This and the next extract are given literatim to show Stanyhurst's 
marvellous spelling. 


great difficultie, in that yt lay in my choice too make what word I would short 
or long, hauing no English writer beefore mee in this kind of poetrye with 
whose squire I should leauel my syllables. 

Haue not theese men made a fayre speake ? If they had put in Mightye Jotte, 
and gods in thee plural number, and Venus with Cupide thee blynd Boy, al had 
beene in thee nick, thee rythme had been of a right stamp. For a few such 
stiches boch vp oure newe fashion makers. Prouyded not wythstanding 
alwayes that Artaxerxes, al be yt hee bee spurgalde, beeing so much gallop, 
bee placed in thee dedicatory epistle receauing a cuppe of water of a swayne, 
or elles al is not wurth a beane. Good God what a frye of wooden rythmours 
dooth swarme in stacioners shops, who neauer enstructed in any grammar 
schoole, not atayning too thee paaringes of thee Latin or Greeke tongue, yeet 
like blind bayards rush on forward, fostring theyre vayne conceits wyth such 
ouerweening silly follyes, as they reck not too bee condemned of thee learned 
for ignorant, so they bee commended of thee ignorant for learned. Thee 
reddyest way, therefore, too flap theese droanes from the sweete senting hiues of 
Poetrye, is for thee learned too applye theym selues wholye (yf they be de- 
lighted wyth that veyne) too thee true making of verses in such wise as thee 
Greekes and Latins, thee fathurs of knowledge, haue doone ; and too leaue too 
theese doltish coystrels theyre rude rythming and balducktoom ballads." 

Given a person capable of this lingo, given the prevalent mania 
for English hexameters, and even what follows. may not seem too 

" This sayd, with darcksoom night shade quite clowclye she vannisht. 
Grislye faces frouncing, eke against Troy leaged in hatred 
Of Saincts soure deities dyd I see. 
Then dyd I marck playnely thee castle of Ilion vplayd, 
And Troian buyldings quit topsy tur\'ye remooued. 
Much lyk on a mountayn thee tree dry wythered oaken 
Sliest by the clowne Coridon rusticks with twibbil or hatchet. 
Then the tre deepe minced, far chopt dooth terrifye swinckers 
With menacing becking thee branches palsye before tyme, 
Vntil with sowghing yt grunts, as wounded in hacking. 
At length with rounsefal, from stock vntruncked yt harssheth. 

Hee rested wylful lyk a wayward obstinat oldgrey. 

I Theese woords owt showting with her howling the house she replennisht." 
There is perhaps no greater evidence of the reverence in 


which the ancients were held than that such frantic balderdash 
as this did not extinguish it. Yet this was what a man of 
undoubted talent, of considerable learning, and of no small 
acuteness (for Stanyhurst's Preface to this very translation shows 
something more than glimmerings on the subject of classical and 
English prosody), could produce. It must never be forgotten 
that the men of this time were at a hopelessly wrong point of 
view^ It never occurred to them that English left to itself could 
equal Greek or Latin. They simply endeavoured, with the 
utmost J>ains and skill, to drag English up to the same level 
as these unapproachable languages, by forcing it into the same 
moulds which Greek and Latin_had endured. Properly speak- 
ing we ought not to laugh at them. They were carrying out 
in literature what the older books of arithmetic call "The Rule 
of False," that is to say, they were trying what the English 
tongue could not bear. No one was so successful as Stany- 
hurst in applying this test of the rack : yet it is fair to 
say that Harvey and Webbe, nay, Speijser and Sidney, had 
practically, though, except in Spenser's case, it would appear 
unconsciously, arrived at the same conclusion before. How 
much we owe to such adventurers of the impossible few men 
know except those who have tried to study literature as a whole. 
A few words have to be said in passing as to the miscellanies 
which played such an important part in the poetical literature of 
the day. Tottel and The Mirror for Magistrates (which was, 
considering its constant accretions, a sort of miscellany) have 
been already noticed. They were followed by not a few others. 
The first in date was The Paradise of Dainty Devices (1576), edited 
by R. Edwards, a dramatist of industry if not of genius, and con- 
taining a certain amount of interesting work. It was very popular, 
going through nine or ten editions in thirty years, but with a few 
scattered exceptions it does not yield much to the historian of 
English poetry. Its popularity shows what was expected ; its 
contents show what, at any rate at the date of its first appearance, 
was given. It is possible that the doleful contents of The Mirror 


for Magistrates (which was reprinted six times during our present 
period, and which busied itself wholly with what magistrates 
should avoid, and with the sorrowful departing out of this life of 
the subjects) may have had a strong effect on Edwards, though 
one at least of his contributors, W. Hunnis, was a man of mould. 
It was followed in 1578 by A Gorgeous Gallery of Gallant 
Inventions, supposed to have been edited by Roydon and Proctor, 
which is a still drier stick. The next miscellany, six years later, 
A Handful of Pleasant Delights, edited by Clement Robinson, is 
somewhat better though not much. It is followed by the Phoenix 
Nest, an interesting collection, by no less than three miscellanies 
in 1600, edited by "A. B." and R. Allot, and named England's 
Helicon, England's Parnassus, and Belvedere (the two latter being 
rather anthologies of extracts than miscellanies proper), and by 
Francis Davison's famous Poetical Rhapsody, 1602, all which last 
belong to a much later date than our present subjects. / 

To call the general poetical merit of these earlier miscellanies 
high would be absurd. Butjvhat at once strikes the reader, not 
merely of them but of the collections of individual work which 
accompany them, as so astonishing, is the level which is occasion- 
ally reached. The work is often the work of persons quite 
unknown or unimportant in literature as persons. But we 
constantly see in^jt a flash, _a_symptom of the presence of the 
t*ue_j>oetical spirit which it is often impossible to find for years 
together in other periods of poetry. For instance, if ever there 
was a "dull dog" in verse it was Richard Edwards. Yet in The 
Paradise of Dainty Devices Edwards's poem with the refrain 
"The falling out of faithful friends renewing is of love," is 
one of the most charming things anywhere to be found. So 
is, after many years, the poem attributed to John Wooton in 
England's Helicon (the best of the whole set), beginning " Her 
eyes like shining lamps," so is the exquisite " Come, little babe " 
from The Arbour of Amorous Devices, so are dozens and scores 
more which may be found in their proper places, and many of 
them in Mr. Arber's admirable English Garner. The spirit of 


poetry, rising slowly, was rising surely in the England of these 
years : no man knew exactly where it would appear, and the 
greatest poets were for their praises of themselves and their 
fellows are quite unconscious and simple as ignorant as others. 
The firs_t thirty years of the reign were occupied with simple 
education study of models, efforts in this or that kind T transla- 
tion, and the rest. But the right models had been provided by 
Wyatt and Surrey's study of the Italians, and by the study of the 
classics which all men then pursued; and the original inspiration, 
without which the best models are useless, though itself, can 
do^Uttle when the best rn nrlp1g 1rp nr>1 " "?*A } imp ihnn^nntiy 
present. Few things are more curious than to compare, let 
us say, Googe and Spenser. Yet few things are more certain than 
that without the study and experiments which Googe represents 
Spenser could not have existed. Those who decry the historical 
method in criticism ignore this; and ignorance like wisdom is 
justified of all her children. 




THE history of the earlier Elizabethan prose, if we except the 
name of Hooker, in whom it culminates, is to a great extent the 
history of curiosities of literature of tentative and imperfect 
efforts, scarcely resulting in any real vernacular style at all. It 
is, however, emphatically the Period of Origins of modern English 
prose, and as such cannot but be interesting. We shall therefore 
rapidly survey its chief developments, noting first what had been 
done before Elizabeth came to the throne, then taking Ascham 
(who stands, though part of his work was written earlier, very 
much as the first Elizabethan prosaist), noticing the schools of 
historians, translators, controversialists, and especially critics who 
illustrated the middle period of the reign, and singling out the 
noteworthy personality of Sidney. We shall also say something 
of Lyly (as far as Euphnes is concerned) and his singular attempts 
in prose style, and shall finish with Hooker, the one really great 
name of the period. Its voluminous pamphleteering, though much 
of it, especially the Martin Marprelate controversy, might come 
chronologically within the limit of this chapter, will be better 
reserved for a notice in Chapter VI. of the whole pamphlet litera- 
ture of the reigns of Elizabeth and James an interesting subject, 
the relation of which to the modern periodical has been somewhat 
overlooked, and which indeed was, until a comparatively recent 
period, not very easy to study. Gabriel Harvey alone, as 


distinctly belonging to the earlier Elizabethans, may be here 
included with other critics. 

It was an inevitable result of the discovery of printing that 
the cultivation of the vernacular for purposes of all work that is 
to say, for prose should be largely increased. Yet a different 
influence arising, or at least eked out, from the same source, rather 
checked tms increase. The study of the classical writers had at 
first a tendency to render inveterate the habit of employing Latin 
for the journey-work of literature, and in the two countries which 
were to lead Western Europe for the future (the literary date of 
Italy was already drawing to a close, and Italy had long possessed 
vernacular prose masterpieces), it was not till the middle of the 
// sixteenth century that the writing of vernacular prose was warmly 
*^ advocated and systematically undertaken. The most interesting 
monuments of this crusade, as it may almost be called, in Eng- 
land are connected with a school of Cambridge scholars who 
flourished a little before our period, though not a few of them, 
such as Ascham, Wilson, and others, lived into it. A letter of Sir 
John Cheke's in the very year of the accession of Elizabeth is the 
most noteworthy document on the subject. It was written to 
another father of English prose, Sir Thomas Hoby, the translator 
of Castiglione's Courtier. But Ascham had already and some 
years earlier published his Toxophilus, and' various not unimport- 
ant attempts, detailed notice of which would be an antedating of 
our proper period, had been made. More's chief work, Utopia, had 
been written in Latin, and was translated into English by another 
hand, but his History of Edward V. was not a mean contribution 
to English prose. Tyndale's New Testament had given a new 
and powerful impulse to the reading of English ; Elyot's Governor 
had set the example of treating serious subjects in a style not 
unworthy of them, and Leland's quaint Itinerary the example of 
describing more or less faithfully if somewhat uncouthly. Hall 
had followed Fabyan as an English historian, and, above all, 
Latimer's Sermons had shown how to transform spoken English 
of the raciest kind into literature. Lord Berners's translations of 


Froissart and of divers examples of late Continental romance 
had provided much prose of no mean quality for light read- 
ing, and also by their imitation of the florid and fanciful style of 
the French-Flemish rhetoriqueurs (with which Berners was familiar 
both as a student of French and as governor of Calais) had pro- 
bably contributed not a little to supply and furnish forth the side 
of Elizabethan expression which found so memorable an exponent 
in the author of Euphues. 

For our purpose, however, Roger Ascham may serve as a 
starting-point. His Toxophilus was written and printed as early 
as 1545 ; his Schoolmaster did not appear till after his death, and 
seems to have been chiefly written in the very last days of his life. 
There is thus nearly a quarter of a century between them, yet 
/they are not very different in style. Ascham was a Yorkshire 
man born at Kirbywiske, near Northallerton, in 1515; he went 
to SL John's College at Cambridge, then a notable seat of 
learning, in 1530; was elected scholar, fellow, and lecturer, 
became public orator the year after the appearance of Toxophilus^ 
acted as tutor to the Princess Elizabeth, went on diplomatic 
business to Germany, was Latin secretary to Queen Mary, and 
after her death to his old pupil, and died on the 3oth December 
1568. A treatise on Cock-fighting (of which sport he was very 
fond) appears to have been written by him, and was perhaps 
printed, but is unluckily lost. We have also Epistles from him, 
and his works, both English and Latin, have been in whole or 
part frequently edited. The great interest of Ascham is expressed 
as happily as possible by his own words in the dedication of 
Toxophilus to Henry VIII. "Although," he says, "to have 
written this book either in Latin or Greek . . . had been more 
easier and fit for my trade in study, yet ... I have written this 
English matter in the English tongue for Englishmen " a memor- 
able sentence none the worse for its jingle and repetition, which 
are well in place. Until scholars like Ascham, who with the 
rarest exceptions were the only persons likely or able to write 
at all, cared to write "English matters in English tongue for 


Englishmen," the formation of English prose style was impossible; 
and that it required some courage to do so, Cheke's letter, written 
twelve years later, shows. 1 

"I am of this opinion that our own tongue should be written clean and 
pure, unmixed and unmingled with borrowing of other tongues, wherein, if we 
take not heed by time, ever borrowing and never paying, she shall be fain to 
keep her house as bankrupt. 1 For then doth our tongue naturally and pr^s- 
ably utter her meaning, when she borroweth no counterfeitures of other, 
tongues to attire herself withal, but useth plainly her own with such shift as! 
nature, craft, experience, and following of other excellent doth lead hWunto, 
and if she want at any time (as being imperfect she must) yet let her borrow 
with such bashfulness that it may appear, that if either the mould of our own 
tongue could serve us to fashion a word of our own, or if the old denizened 
words could content and ease this need we would not boldly venture of un- 
known words." 2 

jy* (^tow 

The Toxophilus and the Schoolmaster are both in their different 
ways very pleasant reading ; and the English is far more correct 
than that of much greater men than Ascham in the next cen- 
tury. It is, however, merely as style, less interesting, because 
it is clear that the author is doing little more than translate 
in his head, instead of on the paper, good current Latin (such 
as it would have been " more easier " for him to write) into 
current English. He does not indulge in any undue classi- 
cism ; he takes few of the liberties with English grammar which, 
a little later, it was the habit to take on the strength of classical 
examples. But, on the other hand, he does not attempt, and it 
would be rather unreasonable to expect that he should have 
attempted, experiments in the literary power of English itself. 
A slight sense of its not being so "easy" to write in English 
as in Latin, and of the consequent advisableness of keeping 
to a sober beaten path, to a kind of style which is not much 

1 The letter is given in full by Mr. Arber in his introduction to Ascham's 
Schoolmaster, p. 5. 

" It will be seen that Cheke writes what he argues for, " clean and pure 
English." " Other excellent " is perhaps the only doubtful phrase in the 
extract or in the letter, 


more English (except for being composed of good English 
words in straightforward order) than it is any literary language 
framed to a great extent on the classics, shows itself in him. One 
might translate passage after passage of Ascham, keeping almost 
the whole order of the words, into very good sound Latin prose; 
and, indeed, his great secret in the Schoolmaster (the perpetual 
translation and retranslation of English into the learned languages, 
and especially Latin) is exactly what would form such a style. It 
is, as the following examples from both works will show, clear, 
not inelegant, invaluable as a kind of go-cart to habituate the 
infant limbs of prose English to orderly movement ; but it is not 
original, or striking, or characteristic, or calculated to show the 
native powers and capacities of the language. 

" I can teach' you to shoot fair, even as Socrates taught a man once to 
know God. For when he asked him what was God? 'Nay,' saith he, ' I 
can tell you better what God is not, as God is not ill, God is unspeakable, un- 
searchable, and so forth. Even likewise can I say of fair shooting, it hath not 
this discommodity with it nor that discommodity, and at last a man may so 
shift all the discommodities from shoHting that there shall be left nothing 
behind but fair shooting. And to do this the better you must remember how 
that I told you when I described generally the whole nature of shooting, that 
fair shooting came of these things of standing, nocking, drawing, holding and 
loosing ; the which I will go over as shortly as I can, describing the discom- 
modities that men commonly use in all parts of their bodies, that you, if you 
fault in any such, may know it, and go about to amend it. Faults in archers 
do exceed the number of archers, which come with use of shooting without 
teaching. Use and custom separated from knowledge and learning, doth not 
only hurt shooting, but the most weighty things in the world beside. And, 
therefore, I marvel much at those people which be the maintainers of uses 
without knowledge, having no other word in their mouth but this use, use, 
custom, custom. Such men, more wilful than wise, beside other discommo- 
dities, take all place and occasion from all amendment. And this I speak 
generally of use and custom. " 

" Time was when Italy and Rome have been, to the great good of us who 
now live, the best breeders and bringers up of the worthiest men, not only for 
wise speaking, but also for well-doing in all civil affairs that ever was in the world. 
But now that time is gone ; and though the place remain, yet the old and 
present manners do differ as far as black and white, as virtue and vice. Virtue 
once made that country mistress over all the world : vice now maketh that 


country slave to them that before were glad to serve it. All man [i.e. 
mankind] seeth it ; they themselves confess it, namely such as be best and 
wisest amongst them. For sin, by lust and vanity, hath and doth breed up 
everywhere common contempt of God's word, private contention in many 
families, open factions in every city ; and so making themselves bond to 
vanity and vice at home, they are content to bear the yoke of serving strangers 
abroad. Italy now is not that Italy it was wont to be ; and therefore now not 
so fit a place as some do count it for young men to fetch either wisdom or 
honesty from thence. For surely they will- make others but bad scholars that 
be so ill masters to themselves." 

This same characteristic, or absence of characteristic, which 
reaches its climax a climax endowing it with something like 
substantive life and merit in Hooker, displays itself, with more 
and more admixture of raciness and native peculiarity, in almost 
all the prose of the early Elizabethan period up to the singular 
escapade of Lyly, who certainly tried to write not a classical style 
but a style of his own. The better men, with Thomas Wilson and 
Ascham himself at their head, made indeed earnest protests 
against Latinising the vocabulary (the great fault of the contem- 
porary French Pleiade), but they were not quite aware how much 
they were under the influence of Latin in other matters. The 
translators, such as North, whose famous version of Plutarch 
after Amyot had the immortal honour of suggesting not a 
little of Shakespere's greatest work, had the chief excuse and s - 
temptation in doing this ; but all writers did it more or less ^^ 
the theologians (to whom it would no doubt have been " more ^ 
easier " to write in Latin), the historians (though the little known 
Holinshed has broken off into a much more vernacular but also 
much more disorderly style), the rare geographers (of whom the 
chief is Richard Eden, the first English writer on America), and 
the rest. Of this rest the most interesting, perhaps, are the 
small but curious knot of critics who lead up in various ways 
to Sidney and Harvey, who seem to have excited considerable 
interest at the time, and who were not succeeded, after the 
early years of James, by any considerable body of critics of 
English till John Dryden began to write in the last third of 



the following century\O( these (putting out of sight Stephen 
Gosson, the immediate begetter of Sidney's Apology for Poetry, 
Campion, the chief champion of classical metres in English, 
and by a quaint contrast the author of some of the most charming 
of English songs in purely romantic style, with his adversary 
the poet Daniel, Meres, etc.), the chief is the author of the 
anonymous Art of English Poesie, published the year after the 
Armada, and just before the appearance of The Faerie Queene. 
This Art has chiefly to be compared with the Discourse of English 
Poetrif, published three years earlier by William Webbe. Webbe, 
of whom nothing is known save that he was a private tutor at 
one or two gentlemen's houses in Essex, exhibits that dislike 
and disdain of rhyme which was an offshoot of the passion for 
humanist studies, which was importantly represented all through 
the sixteenth and early seventeenth century in England, and 
which had Milton for its last and greatest exponent. The Art of 
English Poesie, which is attributed on no grounds of contemporary 
evidence to George Puttenham, though the book was generally 
reputed his in the next generation, is a much more considerable 
treatise, some four times the length of Webbe's, dealing with a large 
number of questions subsidiary to Ars Poetica, and containing no 
few selections of illustrative verse, many of the author's own. As 
far as style goes both Webbe and Puttenham fall into the rather 
colourless but not incorrect class already described, and are of 
the tribe of Ascham. Here is a sample of each : 

(Webbe's Preface to the Noble Poets of England.) 

"Among the innumerable sorts of English books, and infinite fardels of printed 
pamphlets, wherewith this country is pestered, all shops stuffed, aad every 
study furnished ; the greater part, I think, in any one kind, are such as are 
either mere poetical, or which tend in some respects (as either in matter or 
form) to poetry. Of such books, therefore, sith I have been one that have had 
a desire to read not the fewest, and because it is an argument which men of 
great learning have no leisure to handle, or at least having to do with more 
serious matters do least regard. If I write something, concerning what I think 
of our English poets, or adventure to set down my simple judgment of English 
poetry, I trust the learned poets will give me leave, and vouchsafe my book 

ir LYLY 35 

passage, as being for the rudeness thereof no prejudice to their noble studies, 
but even (as my intent is) an instar cotis to stir up some other of meet ability 
to bestow travail in this matter ; whereby, I think, we may not only get the 
means which we yet want, to discern between good writers and bad, but per- 
haps also challenge from the rude multitude of rustical rhymers, who will be 
called poets, the right practice and orderly course of true poetry." 

(Puttenham on Style.') 

" Style is a constant and continual phrase or tenour of speaking and writing, 
extending to the whole tale or process of the poem or history, and not properly 
to any piece or member of a tale ; but is of words, speeches, and sentences 
together ; a certain contrived form and quality, many times natural to the 
writer, many times his peculiar bye-election and art, and such as either he 
keepeth by skill or holdeth on by ignorance, and will not or peradventure 
cannot easily alter into any other. So we say that Cicero's style and Sallust's 
were not one, nor Caesar's and Livy's, nor Homer's and Hesiodus', 1 nor Hero- 
dotus' and Thucydides', nor Euripides' and Aristophanes', nor Erasmus' and 
Budeus' styles. And because this continual course and manner of writing or 
speech sheweth the matter and disposition of the writer's mind more than one 
or two instances can show, therefore there be that have called style the image 
of man (mentis character}. For man is but his mind, and as his mind is 
tempered and qualified, so are his speeches and language at large ; and his 
inward conceits be the metal of his mind, and his manner of utterance the very 
warp and woof of his conceits, more plain or busy and intricate or otherwise 
affected after the rate. 2 " 

Contemporary with these, however, there was growing up a 
quite different school of English prose which showed itself on one 
side in the estilo culto of Lyly and the university wits of his 
time ; on the other, in the extremely vernacular and sometimes 
extremely vulgar manner of the pamphleteers, who were very 
often the same persons. Lyly himself exhibits both styles in 
Euphues ; and if Pap with a Hatchet and An Almond for a 
Parrot are rightly attributed to him, still more in these. So also 
does Gabriel Harvey, Spenser's friend, a curious coxcomb who 
endeavoured to dissuade Spenser from continuing The Faerie 
Queene, devoted much time himself and strove to devote other 
people to the thankless task of composing English hexameters and 

1 The final s of such names often at the time appears unaltered. 
2 I.e. " in proportion." 


trimeters, engaged (very much to his discomfiture) in a furious 
pamphlet war with Thomas Nash, and altogether presents one 
of the most characteristic though least favourable specimens of 
the Elizabethan man of letters. We may speak of him further 
when we come to the pamphleteers generally. 

John Lyly is a persbn'of much more consequence in English 
literature than the conceited and pragmatical pedant who wrote 
Pierce 's Supererogation. He is familiar, almost literally to every 
schoolboy, as the author of the charming piece, " Cupid with my 
Campaspe Played," and his dramatic work will come in for notice 
in a future chapter; but he is chiefly thought of by posterity, 
whether favourably or the reverse, as the author of Euphues. 
Exceedingly little is known about his life, and it is necessary to 
say that the usually accepted dates of his death, his children's 
birth, and so forth, depend wholly on the identification of a John 
Lilly, who is the subject of such entries in the registers of a 
London church, with the euphuist and dramatist an identifica- 
tion which requires confirmation. A still more wanton attempt 
to supplement ignorance with knowledge has been made in the 
further identification with Lyly of a certain "witty and bold 
atheist," who annoyed Bishop Hall in his first cure at Hawstead, 
in Suffolk, and who is called " Mr. Lilly." All supposed facts 
about him (or some other John Lyly), his membership of Parlia- 
ment and so forth, have been diligently set forth by Mr. Bond in 
his Oxford edition of the Works, with the documents which 
are supposed to prove them. He is supposed, on uncertain 
but tolerable inferences, to have been born about 1554, and he 
certainly entered Magdalen College, Oxford, in 1569, though he 
was not matriculated till two years later. He is described as 
plebeii filius, was not on the foundation, and took his degree in 
1^73. He must have had some connection with the Cecils, for 
a letter of 1574 is extant from him to Burleigh. He cannot 
have been five and twenty when he wrote Euphues, which was 
licensed at the end of 1578, and was published (the first part) 
early next year, while the second part followed with a very short 


interval. In 1582 he wrote an unmistakable letter commend- 
atory to Watson's Hctatompathia, and between 1580 and 1590 
he must have written his plays. He appears to have continued 
to reside at Magdalen for a considerable time, and then to have 
haunted the Court. A melancholy petition is extant to Queen 
Elizabeth from him, the second of its kind, in which he 
writes: "Thirteen years your highness' servant, but yet nothing." 
This was in 1598: he is supposed to have died in 1606. 
Euphues is a very singular book, which was constantly reprinted 
and eagerly read for fifty years, then forgotten for nearly two 
hundred, then frequently discussed, but very seldom read, 
even it may be suspected in Mr. Arber's excellent reprint of 
it, or in that of Mr. Bond. It gave a word to English, and 
even yet there is no very distinct idea attaching to the word. 
It induced one of the most gifted restorers of old times to make 
a blunder, amusing in itself, but not in the least what its author 
intended it to be, and of late years especially it has prompted 
constant discussions as to the origin of the peculiarities which 
mark it. As usual, we shall try to discuss it with less reference 
to what has been said about it than to itself. 

Euphues (properly divided into two parts, " Euphues, the 
Anatomy of Wit," and " Euphues and his England," the scene of 
the first lying in Naples) is a kind of love story; the action, 
however, being next to nothing, and subordinated to an infinite 
amount of moral and courtly discourse. Oddly enough, the 
unfavourable sentence of Hallam, that it is "a very dull story," 
and the favourable sentence of Kingsley, that it is "a brave, 
righteous, and pious book," are both quite true, and, indeed, 
any one can see that there is nothing incompatible in them. At 
the present day, however, its substance, which chiefly consists of 
the moral discourses aforesaid, is infinitely inferior in interest 
to its manner. Of that manner, any one who imagines it 
to be reproduced by Sir Piercie Shafton's extravagances in The 
Monastery has an entirely false idea. It is much odder than 
Shaftonese, but also quite different from it. Lyly's two secrets 


are in the first place an antithesis, more laboured, more mono- 
tonous, and infinitely more pointless than Macaulay's which 
antithesis seems to have met with not a little favour, and was 
indeed an obvious expedient for lightening up and giving 
character to the correct but featureless prose of Ascham and 
other " I^atiners." The second .was a fancy, which amounts to a 
mania, for similes, strung together in endless lists, and derived as 
a rule from animals, vegetables, or minerals, especially from the 
Fauna and Flora ,of fancy. It is impossible to open a page of 
Euphues without finding an example of this eccentric and tasteless 
trick, and in it, as far as in any single thing, must be found the 
recipe for euphuism, pure and simple. As used in modern 
language for conceited and precious language in general, the 
term has only a very partial application to its original, or to that 
original's author. Indeed Lyly's vocabulary, except occasionally 
in his similes, is decidedly vernacular, and he very commonly 
mingles extremely homely words with his highest flights. No 
better specimen of him can be given than from the aforesaid 
letter commendatory to the Hecatompathia. 

" My good friend, I have read your new passions, and they have renewed 
mine old pleasures, the which brought to me no less delight than they have 
done to your self-commendations. And certes had not one of mine eyes about 
serious affairs been watchful, both by being too too busy, had been wanton : such 
is the nature of persuading pleasure, that it melteth the marrow before it scorch 
the skin and burneth before it warmeth. Not unlike unto the oil of jet, which - 
rotteth the bone and never rankleth the flesh, or the scarab flies which enter 
into the root and never touch the fruit. 

" And whereas you desire to have my opinion, you may imagine that my 
stomach is rather cloyed than queasy, and therefore mine appetite of less force 
than my affection, fearing rather a surfeit of sweetness than desiring a satis- 
fying. The repeating of love wrought in me a semblance of liking ; but 
searching the very veins of my heart I could find nothing but a broad scar 
where I left a deep wound : and loose strings where I tied hard knots : and a 
table of steel where I framed a plot of wax. 

"Whereby I noted that young swans are grey, and the old white, young 
trees tender and the old tough, young men amorous, and, growing in years, 
either wiser or warier. The coral plant in the water is a soft weed, on the 
land a hard stone : a sword frieth in the fire like a black eel ; but laid in earth 

LVLY 39 

Hke white snow : the heart in love is altogether passionate ; but free from desire- 
altogether careless. 

" But it is not my intent to inveigh against love, which women account but 
a bare word and men reverence as the best God. Only this I would add 
without offence to gentlewomen, that were not men more superstitious in their 
A>raises than women are constant in their passions love would either be worn 
jout of use, or men out of love, or women out of lightness. I can condemn 
none but by conjecture, nor commend any but by lying, yet suspicion is as free 
as thought, and as far as I can see as necessary as credulity. 

' ' Touching your mistress I must needs think well, seeing you have written 
so well, but as false glasses shew the fairest faces so fine gloses amend the 
bacldest fancies. Appelles painted the phoenix by hearsay not by sight, and 
Lysippus engraved Vulcan with a straight leg whom nature framed with a poult 
foot, which proveth men to be of greater affection their [then ?= than] judg- 
ment. But in that so aptly you have varied upon women I will not vary from 
you, so confess I must, and if I should not, yet mought I be compelled, that 
to love would be the sweetest thing in the earth if women were the faithfulest, 
and that women would be more constant if men were more wise. 

" And seeing ycu have used me so friendly as to make me acquainted with 
your passions, I will shortly make you privy to mine which I would be loth 
the printer should see, for that my fancies being never so crooked he would put 
them into straight lines unfit for my humour, necessary for his art, who set- 
teth down blind in as many letters as seeing. 1 Farewell." 

Many efforts have been made to discover some model for 
Lyly's oddities. Spanish and Italian influences have been alleged, 
and there is a special theory that Lord Berners's translations 
have the credit or discredit of the paternity. The curious 
similes are certainly found very early in Spanish, and may 
be due to an Eastern origin. The habit of overloading 
the sentence with elaborate and far-fetched language, especially 
with similes, may also have com.e from the French rhetori- 
queurs already mentioned a school of pedantic writers (Chastel- 
lain, Robertet, Cretin, and some others being the chief) who 
nourished during the last half of the fifteenth century and the first 
quarter of. the sixteenth, while the latest examples of them were 
hardly dead when Lyly was born. The desire, very laudably 

1 " Blinde " with the e according to the old spelling having six letters, the 
same number as seeing. This curious epistle is both in style and matter an 
epitome of Euphues, which had appeared some three years before. 


felt all over Europe, to adorn and exalt the vernacular tongues, 
so as to make them vehicles of literature worthy of taking rank 
with I^itin and Greek, naturally led to these follies, of which 
euphuism in its proper sense was only one. / 

Michael Drayton, in some verse complimentary to Sidney, 
stigmatises not much too strongly Lyly's prevailing faults, and 
attributes to the hero of Zutphen the purification of England from 
euphuism. This is hardly critical. That Sidney a young man, 
and a man of fashion at the time when Lyly's oddities were 
fashionable should have to a great extent (for his resistance is 
by no means absolute) resisted the temptation to imitate them, is 
very creditable. But the influence of Euphues was at least as 
strong for many years as the influence of the Arcadia and the 
Apology ; and the chief thing that can be said for Sidney is that 
he did not wholly follow Lyly to do evil. Nor is his positive 
excellence in prose to be compared for a moment with his positive 
excellence in poetry. His life is so universally known that 
nothing need be said about it beyond reminding the reader that 
he was born, as Lyly is supposed to have been, in 1554 ; that he 
was the son of Sir Henry Sidney, afterwards Viceroy of Ireland, 
and of I^ady Mary, eldest daughter of the luckless Dudley, Duke 
of Northumberland ; that he was educated at Shrewsbury and 
Christ Church, travelled much, acquiring the repute of one of the 
most accomplished cavaliers of Europe, loved without success 
Penelope Devereux (" Stella "), married Frances Walsingham, and 
died of his wounds at the battle of Zutphen, when he was not yet 
thirty-two years old. His prose works are the famous pastoral 
romance of the Arcadia, written to please his sister, the Countess 
of Pembroke, and the short Apology for Poetry, a very spirited 
piece of work, immediately provoked by a rather silly diatribe 
against the theatre by one Stephen Gosson, once a playwright 
himself, but turned Puritan clergyman. Both appear to have 
been written about the same time that is fb say, between 1579 
and 1581 ; Sidney being then in London and in the society of 
Spenser and other men of letters. 



The amiability of Sidney's character, his romantic history, the 

exquisite charm of his verse at its best, and last, not least, the 
fact of his enthusiastic appreciation and patronage of literature 
at a time when literary men never failed to give aristocratic 
patrons somewhat more than quid pro quo, have perhaps caused 
his prose work to be traditionally a little overvalued. The 
Apology for Poetry is full of generous ardour, contains many 
striking and poetical expressions, and explains more than any 
other single book the secret of the wonderful literary produc- 
tion of the half-century which followed. The Arcadia, especially 
when contrasted with Euphues, has the great merit of abundant 
and stirring incident and interest, of freedom from any single 
affectation so pestering and continuous as Lyly's similes, and of 
constant purple patches of poetical description and expression, 
which are indeed not a little out of place in prose, but which are 
undeniably beautiful in themselves. But when this is said all is 
said. Enthusiastic as Sidney's love for poetry and for literature 
was, it was enthusiasm not at all according to knowledge. In 
the Apology, by his vindication of the Unities, and his denuncia- 
tion of the mixture of tragedy and comedy, he was (of course 
without knowing it) laying down exactly the two principles, a 
fortunate abjuration and scouting whereof gave us the greatest 
possession in mass and variety of merit that any literature 
possesses the Elizabethan drama from Shakespere and Marlowe 
to Ford and Shirley. Follow Sidney, and good-bye to Faustus, to 
Hamlet, to Philaster, to The Duchess of Malfi, to The Changeling, 
to The Virgin Martyr, to The Broken Heart. We must content 
ourselves with Gorboduc and Cornelia, with Cleopatra and 
Philotas, at the very best with Sejanus and The Silent Woman. , 
Again Sidney commits himself in this same piece to the pestilent ' 
heresy of prose^poetry, saying that verse is " only an ornament of 
poetry ;" nor is there any doubt that Milton, whether he meant it 
or not, fixed a desenfed stigma on the Arcadia by calling it a 
"vain and amatorious poem." It is a poem in prose, which is as 
much as to say, in other words, that it unites the faults of both 


kinds. Nor is Sidney less an enemy (though a " sweet enemy " in 
his own or Bruno's words) of the minor and more formal graces 
of style. If his actual vocabulary is not Latinised, or Italianised, 
or Lylyfied, he was one of the greatest of sinners in the special 
Elizabethan sin of convoluting and entangling his phrases (after 
the fashion best known in the mouths of Shakespere's fine gentle- 
men), so as to say the simplest thing in the least simple manner. 
Not Osric nor lachimo detests the mot propre more than Sidney. 
Yet again, he is one of the arch offenders in the matter of spoiling 
the syntax of the sentence and the paragraph. As has been 
observed already, the unpretending writers noticed above, if they 
have little harmony or balance of phrase, are seldom confused or 
breathless. Sidney was one of the first writers of great popularity 
and influence (for the Arcadia was very widely read) to introduce 
what may be called the sentence -and -paragraph-heap, in which 
clausejsjinked on to clause till not merely the grammatical but the 
philosophical integer is hopelessly lost sight of in a tangle of 
jointings and appendices^ It is not that he could not do better ; 
but that he seems to have taken no trouble not to do worse. 
His youth, his numerous avocations, and the certainty that he 
never formally prepared any of his work for the press, would of 
course be ample excuses, even if the singular and seductive beauty 
of many scraps throughout this work did not redeem it. But 
neither of the radical difference in nature and purpose between 
prose and verse, nor of the due discipline and management of prose 
itself, does Sidney seem to have had the slightest idea. Although 
he seldom or never reaches the beauties of the flamboyant period 
of prose, which began soon after his death and filled the middle 
of the seventeenth century, he contains examples of almost all 
its defects ; and considering that he is nearly the first writer to do 
this, and that his writings were (and were deservedly) the favourite 
study of generous literary youth for more than a generation, it is 
scarcely uncharitable to hold him directly responsible for much 
mischief. The faults of Euphues were faults which were certain 
to work their own cure ; those of the Arcadia were so engaging in 

ii SIDNEY 43 

themselves, and linked with so many merits and beauties, that they 
were sure to set a dangerous example. I believe, indeed, that if 
Sidney had lived he might have pruned his style not a little without 
weakening it, and then the richness of his imagination would prob- 
ably have made him the equal of Bacon and the superior of 
Raleigh. But as it is, his light in English prose (we shall speak 
and speak very differently of his verse hereafter) was only too often 
a will-o'-the-wisp. I am aware that critics whom I respect have 
thought and spoken in an opposite sense, but the difference comes 
from a more important and radical difference of opinion as to the 
nature, functions, and limitations of English prose. Sidney's style 
may be perhaps best illustrated by part of his Dedication ; the 
narrative parts of the Arcadia not lending themselves well to brief 
excerpt, while the Apology is less remarkable for style than for 

To my dear Lady and Sister, the Countess of Pembroke. 

" Here have you now, most dear, and most worthy to be most dear, lady, 
this idle work of mine ; which, I fear, like the spider's web, will be thought 
fitter to be swept away than wove to any other purpose. For my part, in very 
truth, as the cruel fathers among the Greeks were wont to do to the babes 
they would not foster, I could well find in my heart to cast out in some desert 
of forgetfulness this child which I am loth to father. But you desired me to 
do it, and your desire to my heart is an absolute commandment. Now it is 
done only for you, only to you ; if you keep it to yourself, or commend it to 
such friends who will weigh errors in the balance of good will, I hope, for the 
father's sake, it will be pardoned, perchance made much of, though in itself it 
have deformities. For indeed for severer eyes it is not, being but a trifle, and 
that triflingly handled. Your dear self can best witness the manner, being done 
in loose sheets of paper, most of it in your presence, the rest by sheets sent 
unto you as fast as they were done. In sum, a young head, not so well stayed 
as I would it were, and shall be when God will, having many fancies begotten 
in it, if it had not been in some way delivered, would have grown a monster, 
and more sorry might I be that they came in than that they gat out. But 
his 1 chief safety shall be the walking abroad ; and his chief protection the 
bearing the livery of your name, which, if much good will do not deceive me, 
is worthy to be a sanctuary for a greater offender. This say I because I know 
thy virtue so ; and this say I because it may be for ever so, or, to say better, 
because it will be for ever so." 

1 Apparently = the book's. 


The difference referred to above is again well exemplified by 
the difference of opinions on the style of Hooker as compared 
with that of Sidney, .Hooker wrote considerably laterjhan the 
other authors here criticised but his work is sojiistinctly the climax 
of the style started by Ascham, Cheke, ajTdjbheirJgllows (the 
style in which English was carefully adapted to literary purposes 
for which Latin had been previously employed, under the general 
idea that Latin syntax should, on the whole, rule the new literary 
medium), that this chapter would be incomplete without a notice 
of him. For the distinguished writers who were contemporary with 
his later years represent, with rare and only partly distinguished 
exceptions, not a development of Hooker, but either a develop- 
ment of Sidney or a fresh style, resulting from the blending in 
different proportions of the academic and classical manner with 
the romantic and discursive. 

The events of Hooker's neither long nor eventful life are 
well-known from one of the earliest of standard biographies in 
English that of Izaak Walton. He was born at Heavitree, a 
suburb of Exeter, in 1554 (?). Though he was fairly connected, 
his parents were poor, and he was educated as a Bible clerk at 
Corpus Christi College, Oxford. He entered here in 1567, and 
for some fifteen years Oxford was his home, latterly as Fellow 
and Lecturer of Corpus. The story of his marriage is slightly 
pathetic, but more than slightly ludicrous, and he appears to 
have been greatly henpecked as well as obliged to lead an un- 
congenial life at a country living. In 1585 he was made Master 
of the Temple, and held that post for seven years, distinguishing 
himself both as a preacher and a controversialist. But neither 
was this his vocation ; and the last nine years of his life were 
spent, it would seem more congenially, in two other country 
livings, first in Wiltshire, then in Kent. He died in 1600. The 
first four books of the Ecclesiastical Polity were published in 
JJS94, the fifth in 1597. The last three books, published after 
his death, lie under grave suspicion of having been tampered 
with. This, however, as the unquestionably genuine portion is 

n HOOKER 45 

considerable in bulk, is a matter rather of historical and theo- 
logical than of purely literary interest Hooker himself appears 
to have been something like the popular ideal of a student : 
never so happy as when pen in hand, and by no means 
fitted for the rougher kind of converse with his fellow-men, 
still less for the life of what is commonly called a man of the 

But in the world of literature he is a very great man indeed. 
Yen- few theological * books have made themselves a place in 
the first rank of the literature of their country, and if the 
Ecclesiastical Polity has done so, it has certainly not done so 
without cause. If there has been a certain tendency on the part 
of strong partisans of the Anglican Church to overestimate the 
literary and philosophical merit of this book, which may be called 
the_first_ vernacular^ defence^ of the^ position of the English Church, 
that has been at least compensated by partisan criticism on the 
other side. Nor is there the least fear that the judgment of 
impartial critics will ever deprive Hooker of the high rank gene- 
rally accorded to him. He is, of course, far from being faultless. 
In his longer sentences (though long sentences are by no means 
the rule with him) he, often falls into that abuse of the classical 
style which the comparatively jgje~ writers who had preceded 
him avoided, but which constantly manifested itself in the richer 
manner of his own contemporaries the abuse of treating the 
uninflected English language as if it were an inflected language, 
in which variations and distinctions of case and gender and 
number help to connect adjective with substantive, and relative 
with antecedent Sometimes, though less often, he distorts the 
natural order of the English in order to secure the Latin desider- 
atum of finishing with the most emphatic and important words 
of the clause. His subject leads and almost forces him to an 
occasional pedantry of vocabulary, and in the region which is not 
quite that of form nor quite that of matter, he sometimes fails in 
co-ordinating his arguments, his facts, and his citations, and in 
directing the whole with crushing force at his enemy. His argu- 



ment occasionally degenerates into mere illustration ; his logic 
into mere rhetoric. 

But when all these things are admitted, the Ecclesiastical 
Polity remains a book in which matter ajnd manner are wedded as 
in few other books of the same kind. The one characteristic 
which has been admitted by Hooker's faintest praisers as well as 
by his warmest the golden moderation and judiciousness of his 
argument is perhaps rather calculated to extort esteem than 
to arouse admiration. Moderation, like other kinds of probity, 
laitdatur et alget: the adversary is not extremely grateful for not 
being pushed to extremity, and those on the same side would at 
least excuse a little more vehemence in driving advantages home. 
But Hooker has other qualities which are equally estimable and 
more shining. What especially distinguishes him from the lite- 
rary point of view is his almost unique faculty of diversifying 
.dry and technical argument with outbursts of rhetoric. These 
last are not mere purple patches ; they do not come in with the 
somewhat ostentatious usherment and harbingery which, for in- 
stance, laid the even more splendid bursts of Jeremy Taylor open 
to the sharp sarcasm of South. There is nothing theatrical about 
them ; they rise quite naturally out of the level of discussion and 
sink into it again, with no sudden stumble or drop. Nor are they 
ever (like some of Sidney's poetical excrescences) tags and hemi- 
stichs of unwritten sonnets or songs stuck in anyhow upon the 
prose. For instance, Sidney writes : "About the time when the 
candles had begun to inherit the sun's office." Now this in a some- 
what quaint and conceited fashion of verse would be excellent. 
It would also be excellent in burlesque, and in such prose 
as Browne's it might conquer its place victoriously. But 
except in such a context (which Sidney cannot weave) it 
is a rococo ornament, a tawdry beautification. Compare with it 
any of the celebrated passages of Hooker, which may be found 
in the extract books the encomium on law, the admirable passage, 
not so admirable indeed in the context as it might be, but still 
admirable, about angels, the vindication of music in the church 

ir HOOKER 47 

service. Here the expression, even at its warmest, is in no sense 
poetical, and the flight, as it is called, connects itself with and 
continues and drops into the ordinary march of argument in the 
most natural and imperceptible manner. The elevated passages 
of Hooker's style resemble more than anything else those con- 
venient exploits common, probably, in most persons' dreams, in 
which the dreamer, without any trouble to himself or any apparent 
surprise in those about him, lifts himself from the ground and 
skims or soars as he pleases, sure that he can return to earth also 
when he pleases, and without any shock. The speculators on the 
causes of beauty, admiration, and the like have sometimes sought 
them in contrast first of all, -and it has been frequently noticed 
that the poets who charm us most are those who know how to 
alternate pity and terror. There is something of the same sort in 
these variations of the equable procession of Hooker's syllogisms, 
these flower-gardens scattered, if not in the wilderness, yet in the 
humdrum arable ground of his collections from fathers and philo- 
sophers, his marshallings of facts and theories against the counter- 
theories of Cartwright and Travers. Neither before him nor in 
his time, nor for generations after him scarcely, indeed, till 
Berkeley did any one arise who had this profound and unpre- 
tentious art of mixing the useful with the agreeable. Taylor 
already mentioned as inferior to Hooker in one respect, however 
superior he may be in the splendour of his rhetoric is again and 
still more inferior to him in the parts that are not ornamental, in 
the pedestrian body of his controversy and exposition. As a mere 
controversialist, Hooker, if not exactly a Hobbes or a Bentley, if 
not even a Chillingworth, is not likely to be spoken of without 
respect by those who understand what evidence means. If he 
sometimes seems to modern readers to assume his premisses, the 
conclusions follow much more rigidly than is customary with a 
good many of our later philosophers, who protest against the 
assumption of premisses; but having so protested neglect the 
ambiguity of terms, and leave their middles undistributed, and 
perpetrate illicit process with a gaiety of heart which is extremely 


edifying, or who fancy that they are building _syjjtems_ of philo- 
sophy when they are in ^reality constructing dicdonaries of 
tenh&T" But his argument is of less concern to us here than the 
style in which he clothes it, and the merit of that is indisputable, 
as a brief extract will show. 

" As therefore man doth consist of different and distinct parts, every part 
endued with manifold abilities which all have their several ends and actions 
thereunto referred ; so there is in this great variety of duties which belong to 
men that dependency and order by means whereof, the lower sustaining always 
the more excellent and the higher perfecting the more base, they are in their 
times and seasons continued with most exquisite correspondence. Labours of 
lx>dily and daily toil purchase freedom for actions of religious joy, which 
benefit these actions requite with the gift of desired rest a thing most 
natural and fit to accompany the solemn festival duties of honour which are 
done to God. For if those principal works of God, the memory whereof we 
use to celebrate at such times, be but certain tastes and says, 1 as it were, of 
that final benefit wherein our perfect felicity and bliss lieth folded up, seeing 
that the presence of the one doth direct our cogitations, thoughts, and desires 
towards the other, it giveth surely a kind of life and addeth inwardly no small 
delight to those so comfortable anticipations, especially when the very out- 
ward countenance of that we presently do representeth, after a sort, that also 
whereunto we tend. As festival rest doth that celestial estate whereof the 
very heathens themselves, which had not the means whereby to apprehend 
much, did notwithstanding imagine that it must needs consist in rest, and 
have therefore taught that above the highest movable sphere there is no thing 
which feeleth alteration, motion, or change ; but all things immutable, unsub- 
ject to passion, blest with eternal continuance in a life of the highest perfec- 
tion, and of that complete abundant sufficiency within itself which no 
possibility of want, maim, or defect, can touch." 

Hooker's defects have been already admitted, and it has to be 
added to them that he was necessarily destitute of much useful 
vocabulary which his successors inherited or added, and that he had 
absolutely no model of style. \hjit_he lacked_was^ the audacity 
to be, not like Sidney more flowery, not like the contemporary 
pamphleteers more slangy, but more intelligently vernacular ; to 
follow in the mould of his sentences the natural order of English 
speech rather than the conventional syntax of Latin, and to 
elaborate for himself a clause-architecture or order, so to speak, 

1 "Assays." 


of word-building, which should depend upon the inherent qualities 
of euphony and rhythm possessed by English. It is, how- 
ever, quite certain that nothing was further from Hooker's 
thoughts than the composition of English literature merely as 
English literature. He wanted to bring a certain subject under 
the notice of readers of the vulgar tongue, and being before all 
things a scholar he could not help making a scholarly use of 
that tongue. The wonder is that, in his circumstances and 
with his purposes, with hardly any teachers, with not a great stock 
of verbal material, and with little or no tradition of workmanship 
in the art, he should have turned out such admirable work. 

It would be interesting to dwell on the prose of Fulke 
Greville, Sidney's friend, who long outlived him, and who antici- 
pated not a little of that magnificence of the prose of his later 
contemporaries, beside which I have ventured to suggest that 
Sidney's own is sometimes but rococo. A place ought to be given 
to Richard Knolles, who deserves, if not the name of the first 
historian of England, certainly the credit of making, in his History 
of the Turks (1604), a step from the loose miscellany of the 
chronicle to the ordered structure of the true historic style. 
Some would plead for Richard Mulcaster, whose work on educa- 
tion and especially on the teaching of the English tongue in his 
Positions and First Part of the Elementary (1582) is most 
intimately connected with our general subject. But theVe is no 
room for more than a mention of these, or for further dwelling on 
the translators already glanced at and others, the most important 
and influential of whom was John Florio, the Englisher (1603) of 



IT does not belong to the plan of this division of the present 
hook to trace the earliest beginnings of the English theatre, or 
those intermediate performances by which, in the reigns of the 
four first Tudors, the Mystery and Morality passed into the 
Interlude. Even the two famous comedies of Ralph Roister 
Doister and Gammer Gurton's Needle stand as it were only at 
the threshold of our period in this chapter, and everything before 
them is shut out of it. On the other hand, we can take to 
be our province the whole rise, flourishing, and decadence of 
the extraordinary product, known somewhat loosely as the Eliza- 
bethan drama. We shall in the present chapter discuss the two 
comedies or rather farces just mentioned, and notice on the one 
hand the rather amorphous production which, during the first 
thirty years of Elizabeth, represented the influence of a grow- 
ing taste for personal and lively dramatic story on the some- 
what arid soil of the Morality and Interlude, and, on the other, 
the abortive attempt to introduce the regular Senecan tragedy 
an attempt which almost immediately broke down and disappeared, 
whelmed in the abundance of chronicle -play and melodrama. 
And finally we shall show how the two rival schools of the 
university wits and the actor playwrights culminated, the first in 
Marlowe, the second in the earlier and but indistinctly and 
tonjecturally known work of Shakespere. A second chapter 


will show us the triumph of the untrammelled English play in 
tragedy and comedy, furnished by Marlowe with the mighty line, 
but freed to a great extent from the bombast and the unreal scheme 
which he did not shake off. Side by side with Shakespere 
himself we shall have to deal with the learned sock of Jonson, 
the proud full style of Chapman, the unchastened and ill-directed 
vigour of Marston, the fresh and charming, if unkempt grace of 
Dekker, the best known and most remarkable members of a crowd 
of unknown or half-known playwrights. A third division will show 
us a slight gain on the whole in acting qualities, a considerable 
perfecting of form and scheme, but at the same time a certain 
decline in the most purely poetical merits, redeemed and illus- 
trated by the abundant genius of Beaumont and Fletcher, of 
Middleton, of Webster, of Massinger, and of Ford. And the 
two latest of these will conduct us into the fourth or period of 
decadence where, round the voluminous work and still respectable 
fame of James Shirley, are grouped names like Brome, Glap- 
thorne, Suckling, and others, whose writing, sometimes remarkable 
and even brilliant, gradually loses not only dramatic but poetical 
merit, till it drops into the formless plots, the unscannable verse, 
the coarseness unredeemed by passion, the horrors unlit by any 
tragic force, which distinguish the last plays before the closing of 
the theatres, and reappear to some extent at a period beyond ours 
in the drama (soon to be radically changed in almost every 
possible characteristic) of the Restoration. The field of survey 
is vast, and despite the abundant labour which has been bestowed 
upon it during the nineteenth century, it is still in a somewhat 
chaotic condition. The remarkable collection of old plays 
which we owe to Mr. A. H. Bullen shows, by sample only 
and with no pretence of being exhaustive, the amount of 
absolutely unknown matter which still exists. The collection 
and editing of texts has proceeded on the most widely different 
principles, and with an almost complete absence of that in- 
telligent partition of labour which alone can reduce chaos to 
order in such a case. To give but one instance, there is 


actually no complete collection, though various attempts have 
been made at it, which gives, with or without sufficient editorial 
apparatus to supplement the canon, all the dramatic adespota 
which have been at one time or another attributed to Shakespere. 
These at present the painful scholar can only get together in 
publications abounding in duplicates, edited on the most 
opposite principles, and equally troublesome either for library 
arrangement or for literary reference. The editions of single 
authors have exhibited an equal absence of method ; one 
editor admitting doubtful plays or plays of part-authorship which 
are easily accessible elsewhere, while another excludes those 
which are difficult to be got at anywhere. It is impossible for 
any one who reads literature as literature and not as a matter 
of idle crotchet, not to reflect that if either of the societies 
which, during the nineteenth century, have devoted them- 
selves to the study of Shakespere and his contemporaries, had 
chosen to employ their funds on it, a complete Corpus of the 
drama between 1560 and 1660, edited with sufficient, but not 
superfluous critical apparatus on a uniform plan, and in a decent 
if not a luxurious form, might now be obtainable. Some forty or 
fifty volumes at the outside on the scale of the " Globe " series, 
or of Messrs. Chatto's useful reprints of Jonson, Chapman, and 
other dramatists, would probably contain every play of the 
slightest interest, even to a voracious student who would then 
have all his material under his hand. What time, expense, and 
trouble are required to obtain, and that very imperfectly, any 
such advantage now, only those who have tried to do it know. 
Even Mr. Hazlitt's welcome, if somewhat uncritical, reprint of 
Dodsley, long out of print, did not boldly carry out its 
principle though there are plans for improving and supple- 
menting it. 

Nevertheless, if the difficulties are great so are the rewards. It 
has been the deliberate opinion of many competent judges (neither 
unduly prejudiced in favour of English literature nor touched with 
that ignorance of other literature which is as fatal to judgment 


as actual prejudice) that in no time or country has the literary 
interest of a short and definite period of production in one well- 
defined kind approached in value the interest of the Elizabethan 
drama. Other periods and other countries may produce more re- 
markable work of different kinds, or more uniformly accomplished, 
and more technically excellent work in the same kind. But for 
originality, volume, generic resemblance of character, and indi- 
vidual independence of .trait, exuberance of inventive thought, and 
splendour of execution in detached passages the Elizabethan 
drama from Sackville to Shirley stands alone in the history 
of the world. The absurd overestimate which has sometimes 
been made of its individual practitioners, the hyperbole of the 
language which has been used to describe them, the puerile and 
almost inconceivable folly of some of their scholiasts and parasitic 
students, find a certain excuse in this truth a truth which will 
only be contested by those who have not taken the very consi- 
derable trouble necessary to master the facts, or who are precluded 
by a natural inability from savouring the gout du terroir of this 
abundant and intoxicating wine. There are those who say that 
nobody but an enthusiast or a self-deceiver can read with real 
relish any Elizabethan dramatist but Shakespere, and there are 
those who would have it that the incommunicable and uncom- 
municated charm of Shakespere is to be found in Nabbes and 
Davenport, in Glapthorne and Chettle. They are equally wrong, 
but the second class are at any rate in a more saving way of 
wrongness. Where Shakespere stands alone is not so much in 
his actual faculty of poetry as in his command of that faculty. 
Of the others, some, like Jonson, Fletcher, Massinger, had the art 
without the power ; others, like Chapman, Dekker, Webster, had 
flashes of the power without the aft. But there is something in 
the whole crew, jovial or saturnine, which is found nowhere else, 
and which, whether in full splendour as in Shakespere, or in 
occasional glimmers as in Tourneur or Rowley, is found in all, 
save those mere imitators and hangers-on who are peculiar to no 


This remarkable quality, however, does not show itself in the 
dramatic work of our present period until quite the close of it. 
It is true that the period opens (according to the traditional 
estimate which has not been much altered by recent studies) 
with three plays of very considerable character, and of no incon- 
siderable merit the two comedies already named and the 
tragedy of Gorboduc, otherwise Ferrex and Porrex. Ralph Roister 
Doister was licensed and is thought to have been printed in 
1566, but it may have been acted at Eton by 1541, and the 
whole cast of the metre, language, and scenario, is of a colour 
older than Elizabeth's reign. It may be at least attributed to 
the middle of the century, and is the work of Nicholas Udall, a 
schoolmaster who has left at two great schools a repute for 
indulgence in the older methods of instruction not inferior to 
Busby's or Keate's. Ralph Roister Doister, though a fanciful 
estimate may see a little cruelty of another kind in it, is of no 
austere or pedagogic character. The author has borrowed not a 
little from the classical comedy Plautine or even Aristophanic 
rather than Terentian to strengthen and refine the domestic 
interlude or farce ; and the result is certainly amusing enough. 
The plot turns on the courtship of Dame Christian Custance 
[Constance], a widow of repute and wealth as well as beauty, by 
the gull and coxcomb, Ralph Roister Doister, whose suit is at 
once egged on and privately crossed by the mischievous Matthew 
Merrygreek, who plays not only parasite but rook to the hero. 
Although Custance has not the slightest intention of accepting 
Ralph, and at last resorts to actual violence, assisted by her 
maids, to get rid of him and his followers, the affair nearly 
breeds a serious quarrel between herself and her plighted lover, 
Gawin Goodluck ; but all ends merrily. The metre is the some- 
what unformed doggerel couplet of twelve syllables or there- 
abouts, with a strong caesura in the middle, and is varied and 
terminated by songs from Custance's maids and others. Indeed 
the chief charm of the piece is the genuine and unforced 
merriment which pervades it. Although Merrygreek's practices 


on Ralph's silliness sometimes tend a little to tediousness, the 
action on the whole moves trippingly enough, and despite the 
strong flavour of the " stock part " in the characters they have 
considerable individuality. The play is, moreover, as a whole 
remarkably free from coarseness, and there is no difficulty in 
finding an illustrative extract. 

C. distance loquitur. 

" O Lord ! how necessary it is now o' days, 
That each body live uprightly all manner ways ; 
For let never so little a gap be open, 
And be sure of this, the worst shall be spoken. 
How innocent stand I in this frame o' thought, 
And yet see what mistrust towards me it hath wrought. 
But thou, Lord, knowest all folks' thoughts and eke intents ; 
And thou art the deliverer of all innocents. 
Thou didst keep the advoutress, 1 that she might be amended ; 
Much more then keep, Lord, 2 that never sin intended. 
Thou didst keep Susanna, wrongfully accused, 
And no less dost thou see, Lord, how I am now abused. 
Thou didst keep Hester, when she should have died, 
Keep also, good Lord, that my truth may be tried. 
Yet, if Gawin Goodluck with Tristram Trusty speak, 
I trust of ill-report the force shall be but weak ; 
And lo ! yond they come talking sadly together : 
I will abide, and not shrink for their coming hither." 

Freedom from coarseness is more than can be predicated of 
the still more famous Gammer Gurton's Needle, attributed to, and 
all but certainly known to be, by John Still, afterwards bishop. The 
authorship, indeed, is not quite certain ; and the curious reference 
in Martin Marprelate's Epistle (ed. Arber, p. n) to "this trifle" 
as "shewing the author to have had some wit and invention in 
him " only disputes the claim of Dr. Bridges to those qualities, 
and does not make any suggestion as to the identity of the 
more favoured author. Still was the son of a Lincolnshire 
gentleman, is supposed to have been born about 1543, was 
educated at Christ's College, Cambridge, and after a course of 
1 Adulteress. 2 Understand "me," 


preferment through the positions of parish priest in London and 
at Hadleigh, Dean of Booking, Canon of Westminster, Master 
successively of St. John's and Trinity, and Vice-Chancellor of his 
own University, was at the beginning of 1593 made Bishop of 
Bath and Wells, an office which- he held for fifteen years. His 
play (taking it as his) was his only work of the kind, and was the 
first English play acted at either university, though later he 
himself had to protest officially against the use of the vernacular 
in a piece performed before the Queen. Gammer Gurton's Needle, 
as has been said, is, despite the subsequent history of its author 
and the academic character of its appearance, of a much lower 
order of comedy than Ralph Roister Doister, though it is also 
more spontaneous, less imitative, and, in short, more original. 
The best thing about it is the magnificent drinking song, " Back 
and Side go Bare, go Bare," one of the most spirited and genuine 
of all bacchanalian lyrics ; but the credit of this has sometimes 
been denied to Still. The metre of the play itself is very similar 
to that of Ralph Roister Doister, though the long swinging couplet 
has a tendency to lengthen itself still further, to the value of four- 
teen or even sixteen syllables, the central caesura being always 
well marked, as may be seen in the following : 

Diccon. " Here will the sport begin, if these two once may meet, 

Their cheer, [I] durst lay money, will prove scarcely sweet. 

My gammer sure intends to be upon her bones, 

With staves, or with clubs, or else with coble stones. 

Dame Chat on the other side, if she be far behind, 

I am right far deceived, she is given to it of kind. 

He that may tarry by it a while, and that but short, 

I warrant him trust to it, he shall see all the sport. 

Into the town will I, my friends to visit there, 

And hither straight again to see the end of this gear. 

In the meantime, fellows, pipe up your fiddles ; I say, take them, 

And let your friends hear such mirth as ye can make them." 

As for the story, it is of the simplest, turning merely on the 
losing of her needle by Gammer Gurton as she was mending 
her man Hodge's breeches, on the search for it by the. house- 


hold, on the tricks by which Diccon the Bedlam (the clown 
or " vice " of the piece) induces a quarrel between Gammer 
and her neighbours, and on the final finding of the needle in 
the exact place on which Gammer Gurton's industry had been 
employed. The action is even better sustained and livelier than 
in Udall's play, and the swinging couplets canter along very 
cheerfully with great freedom and fluency of language. Unfor- 
tunately this language, whether in order to raise a laugh or to be 
in strict character with the personages, is anything but choice. 
There is (barring a possible double meaning or two) nothing of 
the kind generally known as licentious ; it is the merely foul and 
dirty language of common folk at all times, introduced, not with 
humorous extravagance in the Rabelaisian fashion, but with 
literal realism. If there had been a little less of this, the piece 
would have been much improved ; but even as it is, it is a capital 
example of farce, just as Ralph Roister Doister is of a rather 
rudimentary kind of regular comedy. 

The strangeness of the contrast which these two plays offer 
when compared with the third is peculiar in English literature. 
Elsewhere it is common enough. That tragedy should be stately, 
decorous, and on the whole somewhat uneventful as far as visible 
action goes, comedy bustling, crammed with incident, and quite re- 
gardless of decorum, might seem a law of nature to the audience 
of ^Eschylus and Aristophanes, of Plautus and Pacuvius, even to the 
audience of Moliere and Racine. But the vast and final change, 
the inception of which we have here to record, has made tragedy, 
tragicomedy, comedy, and farce pass into one another so 
gradually, and with so little of a break in the English mind, 
that Gammer Gurton's Needle and Gorboduc, though they were 
presented to the same audiences, and in all probability written 
within ten years of each other at furthest, seem to belong to 
different worlds of literature and society. The two comedies just 
noticed are framed upon no literary model at all as wholes, but 
simply upon the model of human nature. Gorboduc is framed, 
though not with absolute fidelity, on~the model of the tragedies 


of Seneca, which had, during the early years of the sixteenth 
century, mastered the attention of the literary playwrights of Italy, 
France, and even to some extent Germany, and which determined 
for three hundred years, at any rate, the form of the tragedy of 
France. This model which may be briefly described as the 
model of Greek tragedy, still further pruned of action, with the 
choruses retained, but estranged from their old close connection 
with the dialogue, and reduced to the level of elaborate lyrical 
moralisings, and with the tendency to such moralising in dialogue 
as well as in chorus largely increased was introduced in England 
with hardly less advantage than abroad. Sackville, one of the 
reputed authors of Gorboduc, was far superior to Jodelle, both 
as poet and as versifier, and the existence of the two univer- 
sities in England gave a support, to which nothing in France 
corresponded, to the influence of learned writers. Indeed, 
till nearly the close of our present period, the universities had 
the practical control of literary production. But the genius of 
the English nation would have none of Seneca. It refused him 
when he was first introduced by Sackville and others ; it refused 
him once more when Daniel and the set of the Countess of Pem- 
broke again attempted to introduce him ; it refused him again 
and again in the later seventeenth century, when imitation, first 
of his earlier French followers, and then of the greater tragedy 
of Corneille and Racine (which was only the Senecan model 
strengthened and improved) was repeatedly tried by fine gentle- 
men and by needy hacks, by devotees of the unities, and by 
devotees of court fashion. I hardly know any other instance in 
literary history of a similar resistance offered to a similar tide of 
literary influence in Europe. We have little room here for 
fanciful comparisons, yet might the dramatic events of 1560- 
1590 in England well seem a literary battle of Tours, in which 
an English Charles Martel stemmed and turned back for ever 
and ever the hitherto resistless march of a literary invader 
and spread of a literary heresy. 

To the modern reader Gorboduc (part of which is attributed 

in "GORBODUC" 59 

to Thomas Norton, and which was acted on i8th January 1561, 
published piratically in 1565, and authoritatively under the title 
of Ferrex and Porrex in 1 5 7 1 ?) is scarcely inviting, but that is 
not a criterion of its attractiveness to its own contemporaries. 
Perhaps the most curious thing about it is the violence done to 
the Horatian and Senecan theories, or rather the naif outwitting 
of those theories, by an arrangement of dumb shows between the 
acts to satisfy the hunger for real action which the model refused 
to countenance. All the rest is of the most painful regularity : 
and the scrupulosity with which each of the rival princes is 
provided with a counsellor and a parasite to himself, and the 
other parts are allotted with similar fairness, reaches such a 
point that it is rather surprising that Gorboduc was not provided 
with two queens a~ good and a bad. Such action as there is 
lies wholly in the mouths of messengers, and the speeches are of 
excessive length. But even these faults are perhaps less trying to 
the modern reader than the inchoate and unpolished condition 
of the metre in the choruses, and indeed in the blank verse 
dialogue. Here and there, there are signs of the stateliness and 
poetical imagery of the " Induction " ; but for the most part the 
decasyllabics stop dead at their close and begin afresh at their 
beginning with a staccato movement and a dull monotony of 
cadence which is inexpressibly tedious, as will be seen in the 
following : 

(Ft Jena soliloquises.) 

" Why should I" live and linger forth my time 
In longer life to double my distress ? 
O me, most woeful wight, whom no mishap 
Long ere this day could have bereaved hence. 
Might not these hands, by fortune or by fate, 
Have pierc'd this breast, and life with iron reft ? 
Or in this palace here where I so long 
Have spent my days, could not that happy hour 
Once, once have happ'd in which these hugy frames 
With death by fall might have oppressed me ? 
Or should not this most hard and cruel soil, 


So oft where I have press'd my wretched steps, 
Some time had ruth of mine accursed life, 
To rend in twain and swallow me therein ? 
So had my bones possessed now in peace 
Their happy grave within the closed ground, 
And greedy worms had gnawn this pined heart 
Without my feeling pain : so should not now 
This living breast remain the ruthful tomb 
\Yherein my heart yielden to death is graved ; 
Nor dreary thoughts, with pangs of pining grief, 
My doleful mind had not afflicted thus." 

There is no blame due to Sackville in that he did not invent 
what no single man invented, and what even in England, where 
only it has been originally attained, took some thirty years of 
the genius of the nation working through innumerable individual 
tentatives and failures to bring about. But he did not invent it ; 
he did not even make any attempt to invent it ; and had this 
first English tragedy been generally followed, we should have 
been for an unknown period in the land of bondage, in the 
classical dungeon which so long retained the writers of a nation, 
certainly not, at the time of the appearance of Gorboduc^ of less 
literary promise than our own. 

In describing these tentatives and failures it will be impossible 
here to enter into any lengthened criticism of particular works. 
We shall have to content ourselves with a description of the 
general lines and groups, which may be said to be four in 
number: (i) The few unimportant and failing followers of Sack- 
ville; (2) The miscellaneous farce-and-interlude-writers, who, 
incult and formless as their work was, at least maintained the 
literary tradition ; (3) The important and most interesting group 
of " university wits " who, with Marlowe at their head, made the 
blank verse line for dramatic purposes, dismissed, cultivated as 
they were, the cultivation of classical models, and gave English 
tragedy its Magna Charta of freedom and submission to the 
restrictions of actual life only, but who failed, from this cause or 
that, to achieve perfect life-likeness; and (4) The actor-play- 


wrights who, rising from very humble beginnings, but possessing 
in their fellow Shakespere a champion unparalleled in ancient 
and modern times, borrowed the improvements of the University 
Wits, added their own stage knowledge, and with Shakespere's 
aid achieved the master drama of the world. 

A very few lines will suffice for the first group, who are the 
merest literary curiosities. Indeed the actual number of Senecan 
dramas in English is very small indeed, though there may possibly 
be some undiscovered in MS. The Tancred and Gismund of 
Robert Wilmot (acted 1568, and of some merit), the Cornelia of 
Gamier, translated by Kyd and printed in 1594, the curious play 
called The Misfortunes of Arthur, acted before the Queen in the 
Armada year, with " triumphs " partly devised by Francis Bacon, 
the two plays of Samuel Daniel, and a very few others, complete 
the list ; indeed Cornelia, Cleopatra, and Philotas are almost the 
only three that keep really close to the model. At a time of such 
unbounded respect for the classics, and when Latin plays of the 
same stamp were constantly acted at the universities, such a 
paucity of examples in English can only testify to a strong national 
distaste an instinctive feeling that this would never do. 

The nondescript followings of morality and farce are infinitely 
more numerous, and perhaps intrinsically more interesting ; but 
they can hardly be said to be, except in bulk, of much greater 
importance. Their real interest to the reader as he turns them 
over in the first seven or eight volumes of Dodsley, or in the 
rarer single editions where they occur, is again an interest of 
curiosity a desire to trace the various shiftings and turnings of 
the mighty but unorganised genius which was soon to find its 
way. Next to the difficulty of inventing a conveniently plastic 
form seems to have been the difficulty of inventing a suitable 
verse. For some time the swinging or lumbering doggerel in which 
a tolerably good rhyme is reached by a kind of scramble through 
four or five feet, which are most like a very shuffling anapaest 
the verse which appears in the comedies of Udall and Still held 
its ground. We have it in the morality of the N&v Custom, 


printed in 1573, but no doubt written earlier, in the Interlude of 
The Trial of Treasure, in the farcical comedy of Like Will to Like, 
a coarse but lively piece, by Ulpian Fulwell (1568). In the very 
curious tragicomedy of Cambyses this doggerel appears partly, but 
is alternated with the less lawless but scarcely more suitable 
"fourteener" (divided or not as usual, according to printer's 
exigencies) which, as was shown in the last chapter, for a time 
almost monopolised the attention of English poets. The same 
mixture appears to some extent, though the doggerel occupies the 
main text, in the Damon and Pythias of Richard Edwards, the 
editor of The Paradise of Dainty Devices. In Appius and 
Virginia (a decidedly interesting play) the fourteener on the 
contrary is the staple verse, the doggerel being only occa- 
sional. Something the same may be said of a very late mor- 
ality, The Conflict of Conscience. Both doggerel and fourteeners 
appear in the quaint productions called Three Ladies of London, 
etc ; but by this time the decasyllabic began to appear with them 
and to edge them out. They died hard, however, thoroughly ill- 
fitted as they were for dramatic use, and, as readers of Love's 
Labour Lost know, survived even in the early plays of Shake- 
spere. Nor were the characters and minor details generally of 
this group less disorderly and inadequate than the general 
schemes or the versification. Here we have the abstractions 
of the old Morality; there the farcical gossip of the Gammer. 
Gurton's Needle class ; elsewhere the pale and dignified person- 
ages of Gorboduc: all three being often jumbled together all in 
one play. In the lighter parts there are sometimes fair touches 
of low comedy ; in the graver occasionally, though much more 
rarely, a touching or dignified phrase or two. But the plays as 
wholes are like Ovid's first-fruits of the deluge nondescripts 
incapable of life, and good for no useful or ornamental purpose. 

It is at this moment that the cleavage takes place. And 
when I say "this moment," I am perfectly conscious that the 
exact moment in dates and years cannot be defined. Not a little 
harm has been done to the history of English literature by the 


confusion of times in which some of its historians have pleased 
themselves. But even greater harm might be done if one 
were to insist on an exact chronology for the efflorescence of 
the really poetical era of Elizabethan literature, if the blos- 
soming of the aloe were to be tied down to hour and day. 
All that we can say is that in certain publications, in certain 
passages even of the same publication, we find the old respect- 
able plodding, the old blind tentative experiment in poetry 
and drama : and then without warning without, as it seems, any 
possible opportunity of distinguishing chronologically we find the 
unmistakable marks of the new wine, of the unapproachable poetry 
proper, which all criticism, all rationalisation can only indicate 
and not account for. We have hardly left (if we take their 
counterparts later we have not left) the wooden verse of Gorbodnc, 
the childish rusticity of Like Will to Like, when suddenly we 
stumble on the bower 

" Seated in hearing of a hundred streams " 

of George Peele, on the myriad graceful fancies of Lyly, on the 
exquisite snatches of Greene, on the verses, to this day the high- 
water mark of poetry, in which Marlowe speaks of the inexpressible 
beauty which is the object and the despair of the poet. This is 
wonderful enough. But what is more wonderful is, that these 
lightning flashes are as evanescent as lightning. Lyly, Peele, 
Greene, Marlowe himself, in probably the very next passages, 
certainly in passages not very remote, tell us that this is all matter 
of chance, that they are all capable of sinking below the level of 
Sackville at his even conceivably worst, close to the level of 
Edwards, and the various anonymous or half-anonymous writers 
of the dramatic miscellanies just noted. And then beyond these 
unequal wits arises the figure of Shakespere ; and the greatest 
work of all literature swims slowly into our ken. There has been 
as yet no history of this unique phenomenon worthy of it ; I have 
not the least pretension to supply one that shall be worthy. But 
at least the uniqueness of it shall here have due celebration. The 


age of Pericles, the age of Augustus, the age of Dante, had no 
such curious ushering-in unless time has dealt exceptional injustice 
to the forerunners of all of them. We do not, in the period 
which comes nearest in time and nature to this, see anything of 
the same kind in the middle space between Villon and Ronsard, 
between Agrippa d'Aubigne* and Cofneille. Here if anywhere is 
the concentrated spirit of a nation, the thrice-decocted blood of a 
people, forcing itself into literary expression through mediums 
more and more worthy of it. If ever the historical method was 
justified (as it always is), now is its greatest justification as 
we watch the gradual improvements, the decade -by -decade, 
almost year-by-year acquisitions, which lead from Sackville to 

The rising sap showed itself in two very different ways, in 
two branches of the national tree. In the first place, we have 
the group of University Wits, the strenuous if not always wise band 
of professed men of letters, at the head of whom are Lyly, Mar- 
lowe, Greene, Peele, Lodge, Nash, and probably (for his connec- 
tion with the universities is not certainly known) Kyd. In the 
second, we have the irregular band of outsiders, players and 
others, who felt themselves forced into literary and principally 
dramatic composition, who boast Shakespere as their chief, and 
who can claim as seconds to him not merely the imperfect talents 
of Chettle, Munday, and others whom we may mention in this 
chapter, but many of the perfected ornaments of a later time. 

It may be accident or it may not, but the beginning of this 
period is certainly due to the "university wits." Lyly stands a 
good deal apart from them personally, despite his close literary 
connection. We have no kind of evidence which even shows 
that he was personally acquainted with any one of the others. 
Of Kyd, till Mr. Boas's recent researches, we knew next to 
nothing, and we still know very little save that he was at 
Merchant Taylors' School and was busy with plays famous 
in their day. But the other five were closely connected in 
life, and in their deaths they were hardly divided. Lodge 



only of the five seems to have freed himself, partly in virtue of a 
regular profession, and partly in consequence of his adherence to 
the Roman faith, from the Bohemianism which has tempted men 
of letters at all times, and which was especially dangerous in a 
time of such unlimited adventure, such loose public morals, and 
such unco-ordinated society as the Elizabethan era. Whatever 
details we have of their lives (and they are mostly very meagre 
and uncertain) convey the idea of times out of joint or not yet 
in joint. The atheism of Marlowe rests on no proof whatever, 
though it has got him friends in this later time. I am myself 
by no means sure that Greene's supposed debauchery is not, to 
a great extent, "copy." The majority of the too celebrated 
"jests" attributed to George Peele are directly traceable to 
Villon's Replies Franches and similar compilations, and have a 
suspiciously mythical and traditional air to the student of literary 
history. There is something a little more trustworthily auto- 
biographical about Nash. But on the whole, though we need 
not doubt that these ancestors of all modern Englishmen who 
live by the gray goose quill tasted the inconveniences of the 
profession, especially at a time when it was barely constituted 
even as a vocation or employment (to quote the Income Tax 
Papers), we must carefully avoid taking too gloomy a view of 
their life. It was usually short, it was probably merry, but we 
know very little else about it. The chief direct documents, the 
remarkable pamphlets which some of them have left, will be 
dealt with hereafter. Here we are busied only with their dates 
and their dramatic work, which was in no case (except perhaps 
in that of Kyd) their sole known work, but which in every case 
except those of Nash and perhaps Greene was their most 

In noticing Euphues an account has already been given of 
Lyly's life, or rather of the very scanty particulars which are 
known of it. His plays date considerably later than Euphues. 
But they all bear the character of the courtier about them ; and 
both in this characteristic and in the absence of any details in 



the gossipping literature of the time to connect him with the 
Bohemian society of the playhouse, the distinction which sepa- 
rates Lyly from the group of "university wits" is noteworthy. 
He lost as well as gained by the separation. All his plays were 
acted " by the children of Paul's before her Majesty," and not 
by the usual companies before Dick, Tom, and Harry. The 
exact date and order of their writing is very uncertain, and in 
one case at least, that of The Woman in the Moon, we know 
that the order was exactly reversed in publication : this being the 
last printed in Lyly's lifetime, and expressly described as the 
first written. His other dramatic works are Campaspe, Sappho 
and Phaon, Endymion, Galathea, Midas, Mother Bombie, and 
Love's Metamorphosis; another, The Maid's Metamorphosis, which 
has been attributed to him, is in all probability not his. 

The peculiar circumstances of the production of Lyly's plays, 
and the strong or at any rate decided individuality of the author, 
keep them in a division almost to themselves. The mythologi- 
cal or pastoral character of their subject in most cases might not 
of itself have prevented their marking an advance in the dramatic 
composition of English playwrights. A Midsummer Night's 
Dream and much other work of Shakespere's show how far 
from necessary it is that theme, or class of subject, should affect 
merit of presentment. But Lyly's work generally has more of 
the masque than the play. It sometimes includes charming 
lyrics, such as the famous Campaspe song and others. But most 
of it is in prose, and it gave beyond doubt though Gascoigne 
had, as we have seen, set the example in drama no small 
impetus to the use and perfectioning of that medium. For Lyly's 
dramatic prose, though sometimes showing the same faults, is 
often better than Euphues, as here : 

"End. O fair Cynthia, why do others term thee unconstant, whom I have 
ever found immovable? Injurious time, corrupt manners, unkind men, who 
finding a constancy not to be matched in my sweet mistress, have christened 
her with the name of wavering, waxing, and waning. Is she inconstant that 
keepeth a settled course, which since her first creation altereth not one minute 

in LVLY 67 

in her moving ? There is nothing thought more admirable, or commendable 
in the sea, than the ebbing and flowing ; and shall the moon, from whom the 
sea taketh this virtue, be accounted fickle for increasing and decreasing? 
Flowers in their buds are nothing worth till they be blown ; nor blossoms 
accounted till they be ripe fruit ; and shall we then say they be changeable, 
for that they grow from seeds to leaves, from leaves to buds, from buds to their 
perfection ? then, why be not twigs that become trees, children that become 
men, and mornings that grow to evenings, termed wavering, for that they con- 
tinue not at one stay ? Ay, but Cynthia being in her fulness decayeth, as not 
delighting in her greatest beauty, or withering when she should be most 
honoured. When malice cannot object anything, folly will ; making that a 
vice which is the greatest virtue. What thing (my mistress excepted) being in 
the pride of her beauty, and latter minute of her age, that waxeth young 
again ? Tell me, Eumenides, what is he that having a mistress of ripe years, 
and infinite virtues, great honours, and unspeakable beauty, but would wish 
that she might grow tender again ? getting youth by years, and never-decaying 
beauty by time ; whose fair face, neither the summer's blaze can scorch, nor 
winter's blast chap, nor the numbering of years breed altering of colours. 
Such is my sweet Cynthia, whom time cannot touch, because she is divine, 
nor will offend because she is delicate. O Cynthia, if thou shouldest always 
continue at thy fulness, both gods and men would conspire to ravish thee. 
But thou, to abate the pride of our affections, dost detract from thy perfections ; 
thinking it sufficient if once in a month we enjoy a glimpse of thy majesty ; 
and then, to increase our griefs, thou dost decrease thy gleams ; coming out 
of thy royal robes, wherewith thou dazzlest our eyes, down into thy swath 
clouts, beguiling our eyes ; and then 

In these plays there are excellent phrases and even striking 
scenes. But they are not in the true sense dramatic, and are 
constantly spoilt by Lyly's strange weakness for conceited style. 
Everybody speaks in antitheses, and the intolerable fancy, similes, 
drawn from a kind of imaginary natural history, are sometimes 
as prominent as in Euphues itself. Lyly's theatre represents, 
in short, a mere backwater in the general stream of dramatic 
progress, though not a few allusions in other men's work 
show us that it attracted no small attention. With Nash alone, 
of the University Wits proper, was Lyly connected, and this. . 
only problematically. He was an Oxford man, and most oft fcl / 
them were of Cambridge ; he was a courtier ; if a badly-paidl 
one, and they all lived by their wits ; and, if we may judge 


by the very few documents remaining, he was not inclined to 
be hail-fellow-well-met with anybody, while they were all born 
Bohemians. Yet none of them had a greater influence on 
Shakespere than Lyly, though it was anything but a beneficial 
influence, and for this as well as for the originality of his pro- 
duction he deserves notice, even had the intrinsic merit of his 
work been less than it is. But, in fact, it is very great, being 
almost a typical production of talent helped by knowledge, but 
not mastered by positive genius, or directe ( d in its way by the 
precedent work of others. 

In the work of the University Wits proper Marlowe, Greene, 
Peele, Lodge, Nash, and Kyd, the last of whom, it must again 
be said, is not certainly known to have belonged to either uni- 
versity, though the probabilities are all in favour of that hypo- 
thesis a very different kind of work is found. It is always 
faulty, as a whole, for even Dr. Faustus and Edward II. , 
despite their magnificent poetry and the vast capabilities of 
their form, could only be called good plays or good composi- 
tions as any kind of whole by a critic who had entirely lost the 
sense of proportion. But in the whole group, and especially in 
the dramatic work of Marlowe, Greene, Peele, and Kyd (for that 
of Lodge and Nash is small in amount and comparatively unim- 
portant in manner), the presence, the throes of a new dramatic 
style are evident Faults and beauties are more or less common 
to the whole quartet. In all we find the many-sided activity of 
the Shakesperian drama as it was to be, sprawling and strug- 
gling in a kind of swaddling clothes of which it cannot get rid, 
and which hamper and cripple its movements. In all there is 
present a most extraordinary and unique rant and bombast of 
expression which reminds one of the shrieks and yells of a band 
of healthy boys just let out to play. The passages which (thanks 
chiefly to Pistol's incomparable quotations and parodies of them) 
are known to every one, the "Pampered jades of Asia," the 
"Have we not Hiren here," the "Feed and grow fat, my fair 
Callipolis," the other quips and cranks of mine ancient are 


scattered broadcast in their originals, and are evidently meant 
quite seriously throughout the work of these poets. Side by 
side with this mania for bombast is another mania, much more 
clearly traceable to education and associations, but specially odd 
in connection with what has just been noticed. This is the 
foible of classical allusion. The heathen gods and goddesses, 
the localities of Greek and Roman poetry, even the more out- 
of-the-way commonplaces of classical literature, are put in the 
mouths of all the characters without the remotest attempt to 
consider propriety or relevance. Even in still lesser peculiarities 
the blemishes are uniform and constant such as the curious 
and childish habit of making speakers speak of themselves in 
the third person, and by their names, instead of using " I " and 
" me." And on the other hand, the merits, though less evenly 
distributed in degree, are equally constant in kind. In Kyd, 
in Greene still more, in Peele more still, in Marlowe most of all, 
phrases and passages of blinding and dazzling poetry flash out 
of the midst of the bombast and the tedium. Many of these 
are known, by the hundred books of extract which have followed 
Lamb's Specimens, to all readers. Such, for instance, is the 

" See where Christ's blood streams in the firmament " 
of Marlowe, and his even more magnificent passage beginning 

" If all the pens that ever poets held ; " 
such Peele's exquisite bower, 

" Seated in hearing of an hundred streams, 

which is, with all respect to Charles Lamb, to be paralleled by 
a score of other jewels from the reckless work of " George 
Pyeboard" : such Greene's 

"Why thinks King Henry's son that Margaret's love 
Hangs in the uncertain balance of proud time ? " 

such even Kyd's 

" There is a path upon your left hand side 
That leadeth from a guilty conscience 
Unto a forest of distrust and fear." 


But the whole point of the thing is that these flashes, which are 
not to be found at all before the date of this university school, 
are to be found constantly in its productions, and that, amorphous, 
inartistic, incomplete as those productions are, they still show 
Hamlet and A Midsummer Nighfs Dream in embryo. Whereas 
the greatest expert in literary embryology may read Gorboduc 
and The Misfortunes of Arthur through without discerning the 
slightest signs of what was coming. 

Nash and Lodge are so little dramatists (the chief, if not only 
play of the former being the shapeless and rather dull comedy, 
Will Summer's Testament, relieved only by some lyrics of merit 
which are probably not Nash's, while Lodge's Marius and Sylla, 
while it wants the extravagance, wants also the beauty of its 
author's companions' work), that what has to be said about them 
will be better said later in dealing with their other books. 
Greene's prose pieces and his occasional poems are, no doubt, 
better than his drama, but the latter is considerable, and was 
probably his earliest work. Kyd has left nothing, and Peele 
little, but drama ; while beautiful as Marlowe's Hero and Leander 
is, I do not quite understand how any one can prefer it to the 
faultier but far more original dramas of its author. We shall 
therefore deal with these four individually here. 

The eldest of the four was George Peele, variously described 
as a Londoner and a Devonshire man, who was probably born 
about 1558. He was educated at Christ's Hospital (of which 
his father was "clerk") and at Broadgates Hall, now Pembroke 
College, Oxford, and had some credit in the university as an 
arranger of pageants, etc. He is supposed to have left Oxford for 
London about 1581, and had the credit of living a Bohemian, 
not to say disreputable, life for about seventeen years ; his death 
in 1597 (?) being not more creditable than his life. But even the 
scandals about Peele are much more shadowy than those about 
Marlowe and Greene. His dramatic work consists of some half- 
dozen plays, the earliest of which is The Arraignment of Paris, 
1581 (?), one of the most elaborate and barefaced of the many con- 


temporary flatteries of Elizabeth, but containing some exquisite 
verse. In the same way Peele has been accused of having 
in Edward I. adopted or perhaps even invented the basest 
and most groundless scandals against the noble and stainless 
memory of Eleanor of Castile ; while in his Battle of Alcazar 
he certainly gratifies to the utmost the popular ante -Spanish 
and ante-Popish feeling. So angry have critics been with 
Peele's outrage on Eleanor, that some of them have declared 
that none but he could have been guilty of the not dissimilar 
slur cast on Joan of Arc's character in Henry VI., the three 
parts of which it has been the good pleasure of Shakesperian 
commentators to cut and carve between the University Wits ad 
libitum. I cannot myself help thinking that all this has arisen 
very much from the idea of Peele's vagabondism given by the 
untrustworthy "Jests." The slander on Queen Eleanor was 
pretty certainly supplied to him by an older ballad. There is 
little or nothing else in Peele's undoubted writings which is at 
all discreditable. His miscellaneous poems show a man by no 
means given to low company or low thoughts, and one gifted 
with the truest poetic vein ; while his dramas, besides exhibiting 
a greater command over blank verse than any of his prede- 
cessors and than any except Marlowe of his contemporaries 
can claim, are full of charming passages. Sir Clyomon and Sir 
ClamydeS) which has been denied to him an interesting play 
on the rare basis of the old romance is written not in blank 
verse but in the fourteener. The Old Wives' Tale pretty 
certainly furnished Milton with the subject of Comus, and 
this is its chief merit. Edward I. and The Battle of Alcazar^ 
but especially the latter, contain abundance of the hectoring 
rant which has been marked as one of the characteristics 
of the school, and which is half -excused by the sparks of 
valour that often break from its smoke and clatter. But 
Peele would undoubtedly stand higher, though he might not 
be so interesting a literary figure, if we had nothing of his save 
The ^Arraignment of Paris and David and Bethsabe. The 



Arraignment (written in various metres, but mainly in a musical 
and varied heroic couplet), is partly a pastoral, partly a masque, 
and wholly a Court play. It thus comes nearest to Lyly, but is 
altogether a more dramatic, livelier, and less conceited perform- 
ance than anything by the author of Euphuts. As for Darid and 
Bethsabt, it b crammed with beauties, and Lamb's curiously faint 
praise of it has always been a puzzle to me. As Marlowe's are 
the mightiest, so are Peele's the softest, lines in the drama before 
Shakespere ; while the spirit and humour, which the author also 
had in plenty, save his work from the merely cloying sweetness 
of some contemporary writers. Two of his interposed or occa- 
sional lyrics will be given later : a blank verse passage may find 
room here : 

Bftktakf. " Come, gentle Zephyr, trick'd with those perfumes 
That erst in Eden sweeten'd Adam's love, 
And stroke my bosom with thy silken fan : 
This shade, sun-proof, 1 is yet no proof for thee ; 
Thy body, smoother than this waveless spring, 
And purer than the substance of the same, 
fn creep through that his lances cannot pierce : 
Thou, and thy sister, soft and sacred Air, 
Goddess of life, and governess of health, 
Keep every fountain fresh and arbour sweet ; 
No brazen gate her fiaaaage can repulse, 
Nor bushy thicket bar thy subtle breath : 
Then deck thee with thy loose delightsome robes, 
And OB thy wings bring delicate perfumes, 
To play the wanton with us through the leaves." 

Robert Greene, probably, if not certainly, the next in age of the 
group to Peele, was bom in 1560, the son of apparently well-to-do 
parents at Norwich, and was educated at Clare Hall, Cambridge, 
where he took his Master's degree in 1 583. He was subsequently 
incorporated at Oxford, and being by no means ill -inclined to 
make the most of himself, sometimes took, the style of a member 

1 C Milton's " elms star-proof" in the Anodes. MDton evidently knew 

in GREENE 73 

" Utriusque Academiae." After leaving the university he seems 
to have made a long tour on the Continent, not (according to his 
own account) at all to the advantage of his morals or means. 
He is said to have actually taken orders, and held a living for 
some short time, while he perhaps also studied if he did not 
practise medicine. He married a lady of virtue and some fortune, 
but soon despoiled and deserted her, and for the last six years of 
his life never saw her. At last in 1592, aged only two and 
thirty, but after about ten years it would seem of reckless living 
and hasty literary production, he died (of a disease caused or 
aggravated by a debauch on pickled herrings and Rhenish) so 
miserably poor that he had to trust to his injured wife's forgive- 
ness for payment of the money to the extent of which a charit- 
able landlord and landlady had trusted him. The facts of this 
lamentable end may have been spitefully distorted by Gabriel 
Harvey in his quarrel with Nash ; but there is little reason to 
doubt that the received story is in the main correct. Of the re- 
markable prose pamphlets which form the bulk of Greene's work 
we speak elsewhere, as also of the pretty songs (considerably ex- 
ceeding in poetical merit anything to be found in the body of his 
plays) with which both pamphlets and plays are diversified. His 
actual dramatic production is not inconsiderable : a working-up 
of the Orlando Furioso ; A Looking Glass for London and England 
(Nineveh) with Lodge ; James IV. (of Scotland), a wildly un- 
historical romance ; Alphonsus, King of Arragon ; and perhaps 
The Pinner of Wakefield, which deals with his own part namesake 
George-a-Greene ; not impossibly also the pseudo-Shakesperian 
Fair Em. His best play without doubt is The History of Friar 
Bacon and Friar Bungay, in which, after a favourite fashion of the 
time, he mingles a certain amount of history, or, at least, a certain 
number of historical personages, with a plentiful dose of the super- 
natural and of horse-play, and with a very graceful and prettily- 
handled love story. With a few touches from the master's hand, 
Margaret, the fair maid of Fressingfield, might serve as handmaid 
to Shakespere's women, and is certainly by far the most human 



heroine produced by any of Greene's own group. There is less 
rant in Greene (though there is still plenty of it) than in any of 
his friends, and his fancy for soft female characters, loving, and 
yet virtuous, appears frequently. But his power is ill-sustained, 
as the following extract will sfcow : 

Margaret. "Ah, father, when the harmony of heaven 
Soundeth the measures of a lively faith, 
The vain illusions of this flattering world 
Seem odious to the thoughts of Margaret. 
I loved once, Lord Lacy was my love ; 
And now I hate myself for that I loved, 
And doted more on him than on my God, 
For this I scourge myself with sharp repents. 
But now the touch of such aspiring sins 
Tells me all love is lust but love of heaven ; 
That beauty used for love is vanity : 
The world contains naught but alluring baits, 
Pride, flattery [ ], and inconstant thoughts. 

To shun the pricks of death I leave the world, 
And vow to meditate on heavenly bliss, 
To live in Framlingham a holy nun, 
Holy and pure in conscience and in deed ; 
And for to wish all maids to learn of me 
To seek heaven's joy before earth's vanity." 

We do not know anything of Thomas Kyd's, except The 
Spanish Tragedy, which is a second part of an extremely popular 
play (sometimes attributed to Kyd himself, but probably earlier) 
called Jeronimo, and the translation of Cornelia, though others 
are doubtfully attributed. The well-known epithet of Jonson, 
" sporting " Kyd, seems to have been either a mere play on the 
poet's name, or else a lucus a non lucendo ; for both Jeronimo and 
its sequel are in the ghastliest and bloodiest vein of tragedy, and 
Cornelia is a model of stately dullness. The two " Jeronimo " 
or " Hieronimo " plays were, as has been said, extremely popu- 
lar, and it is positively known that Jonson himself, and probably 
others, were employed from time to time to freshen them up ; with 
the consequence that the exact authorship of particular passages i 

in KYD 75 

is somewhat problematical. Both plays, however, display, nearly 
in perfection, the rant, not always quite ridiculous, but always 
extravagant, from which Shakespere rescued the stage ; though, 
as the following extract will show, this rant is by no means always, 
or indeed often, smoke without fire : 

" O ! forbear, 

For other talk for us far fitter were. 
But if you be importunate to know 
The way to him, and where to find him out, 
Then list to me, and I'll resolve your doubt. 
There is a path upon your left hand side, 
That leadeth from a guilty conscience 
Unto a forest of distrust and fear 
A darksome place and dangerous to pass. 
There shall you meet with melancholy thoughts 
Whose baleful humours if you but uphold, 
It will conduct you to despair and death. 
Whose rocky cliffs when you have once beheld 
Within a hugy dale of lasting night ^^jt^^j i/Z^rfr***-^- 
That, kindled with the world's iniquities, 
Doth cast up filthy and detested fumes 
Not far from thence, where murderers have built 
An habitation for their cursed souls, 
There is a brazon cauldron fixed by Jove 
In his fell wrath upon a sulphur flame. 
Yourselves shall find Lorenzo bathing him 
In boiling lead and blood of innocents. " 

But nothing, except citation of whole scenes and acts, could 
show the extraordinary jumble of ghosts, blood, thunder, treach- 
ery, and horrors of all sorts which these plays contain. 
.Now for a very different citation : 

" If all the pens that ever poets held 

Had fed the feeling of their masters' thoughts, 
And every sweetness that inspir'd their hearts, 
Their minds, and muses, on admired themes ; 
If all the heavenly quintessence they 'still 
From their immortal flowers of poesy, 
Wherein as in a mirror we perceive 


The highest reaches of a human wit ; 
If these had made one poem's period, 
And all combined in beauty's worthiness, 
Yet should there hover in their restless heads 
One thought, one grace, one wonder at the least 
Which into words no virtue can digest." 

It is no wonder that the whole school has been dwarfed 
in the general estimation, since its work was critically considered 
and isolated from other work, by the towering excellence of 
this author. Little as is known of all the band, that little 
becomes almost least in regard to their chief and leader. Born 
(1564) at Canterbury, the son of a shoemaker, he was educated 
at the Grammar School of that city, and at Benet (afterwards 
Corpus) College, Cambridge ; he plunged into literary work and 
dissipation in London; and he outlived Greene only to fall a 
victim to debauchery in a still more tragical way. His death (1593) 
was the subject of much gossip, but the most probable account 
is that he was poniarded in self-defence by a certain Francis 
Archer, a serving-man (not by any means necessarily, as Charles 
Kingsley has it, a footman), while drinking at Deptford, and that 
the cause of the quarrel was a woman of light character. He 
has also been accused of gross vices not to be particularised, and 
of atheism. The accusation is certain ; and Mr. Boas's researches 
as to Kyd, who was also concerned in the matter, have thrown 
some light on it ; but much is still obscure. The most offensive 
charges were due to one Bame or Baines, who was afterwards 
hanged at Tyburn. That Marlowe was a Bohemian in the fullest 
sense is certain ; that he was anything worse there is no evidence 
whatever. He certainly was acquainted with Raleigh and other 
distinguished persons, and was highly spoken of by Chapman and 

But the interest of Marlowe's name has nothing to do with 
these obscure scandals of three hundred years ago, though it 
may be difficult to pass them over entirely. He is the 
undoubted author of some of the masterpieces of English verse ; 


the hardly to be doubted author of others not much inferior. 
Except the very greatest names Shakespere, Milton, Spenser, 
Dryden, Shelley no author can be named who has produced, 
when the proper historical estimate is applied to him, such work 
as is to be found in Tamburlaine, Doctor Faustus, The Jew of 
J/W/tf, Edward the Second, in one department ; Hero and Leander 
and the Passionate Shepherd in another. I have but very little 
doubt that the powerful, if formless, play of Lusfs Dominion is 
Marlowe's, though it may have been rewritten, and the translations 
of Lucan and Ovid and the minor work which is more or less 
probably attributed to him, swell his tale. Prose he did not 
write, perhaps could not have written. For the one characteristic 
lacking to his genius was measure, and prose without measure, as 
numerous examples have shown, is usually rubbish. Even his 
dramas show a singular defect in the architectural quality of 
literary genius. The vast and formless creations of the writer's 
boundless fancy completely master him ; his aspirations after the 
immense too frequently leave him content with the simply un- 
measured. In his best play as a play, Edward the Second, the 
limitations of a historical story impose something like a restraining 
I form on his glowing imagination. But fine as this play is, it is 
noteworthy that no one of his greatest things occurs in it. The 
Massacre at Paris, where he also has the confinement of reality 
after a fashion, is a chaotic thing as a whole, without any great 
beauty in parts. The Tragedy of Dido (to be divided between 
jhim and Nash) is the worst thing he ever did. But in the 
Ipurely romantic subjects of Tamburlaine, Fattstus, and The Jew of 
\Malta, his genius, untrammelled by any limits of story, showed 
|itself equally unable to contrive such limits for itself, and able to 
levelop the most marvellous beauties of detail. Shakespere 
limself has not surpassed, which is equivalent to saying that no 
)ther writer has equalled, the famous and wonderful passages in 
r amburlaine and Faustus, which are familiar to every student of 
English literature as examples of the ne plus ultra of the poetic 
)wers, not of the language but of language. The tragic imagina- 


tion in its wildest flights has never summoned up images of pity 
and terror more imposing, more moving, than those excited by 
The Jew of Malta. The riot of passion and of delight in the 
beauty of colour and form which characterises his version of 
Hero and Leander has never been approached by any writer. But 
Marlowe, with the fullest command of the apeiron, had not, and, 
as far as I can judge, never would have had, any power of intro- 
ducing into it the law of the peras. It is usual to say that had he 
lived, and had his lot been happily cast, we should have had two 
Shakesperes. This is not wise. In the first place, Marlowe was 
totally destitute of humour the characteristic which, united with" 
his tragic and imaginative powers, makes Shakespere as, in a less 
degree, it makes Homer, and even, though the humour is grim 
and intermittent, Dante. In other words, he was absolutely 
destitute of the first requisite of self-criticism. In the natural 
course of things, as the sap of his youthful imagination ceased 
to mount, and as his craving for immensity hardened itself, 
he would probably have degenerated from bombast shot through 
with genius to bombast pure and simple, from Faustus to Lusfs 
Dominion^ and from Lusfs Dominion to Jeronimo or The Dis- 
tracted Emperor. Apart from the magnificent passages which he 
can show, and which are simply intoxicating to any lover of 
poetry, his great title to fame is the discovery of the secret of 
that " mightyjine " which a seldom-erring critic of his own day, 
not too generously given, vouchsafed to him. Up to his time 
the blank verse line always, and the semi-couplet in heroics, or 
member of the more complicated stanza usually, were either stiff 
or nerveless. Compared with his own work and with the 
work of his contemporaries and followers who learnt from him, 
they are like a dried preparation, like something waiting for the 
infusion of blood, for the inflation of living breath. Marlowe 
came, and the old wooden versification, the old lay-figure structure 
of poetic rhythm, was cast once for all into the lumber-room, where 
only poetasters of the lowest rank went to seek it. It is im- 
possible to call Marlowe a great dramatist, and the attempts that 


have been made to make him out to be such remind one of the 
attempts that have been made to call Moliere a great poet. Mar- 
lowe was one of the greatest poets of the world whose work was 
cast by accident and caprice into an imperfect mould of drama ; 
Moliere was one of the greatest dramatists of the world who was 
obliged by fashion to use a previously perfected form of verse. 
The state of Moliere was undoubtedly the more gracious ; but 
the splendour of Marlowe's uncut diamonds of poetry is the more 

The characteristics of this strange and interesting school may 
be summed up briefly, but are of the highest importance in literary 
history. Unlike their nearest analogues, the French romantics of 
the 1830 type, they were all of academic education, and had even 
a decided contempt (despite their Bohemian way of life) for un- 
scholarly innovators. They manifested (except in Marlowe's 
fortuitous and purely genial discovery of the secret of blank verse) 
a certain contempt for form, and never, at least in drama, 
succeeded in mastering it. But being all, more or less, men of 
genius, and having the keenest sense of poetry, they supplied the 
dry bones of the precedent dramatic model with blood and 
breath, with vigour and variety, which not merely informed but 
transformed it. David and Bethsabe, Doctor Faustus, Friar 
Bacon and Friar Bungay, are chaotic enough, but they are of the 
chaos that precedes cosmic development. The almost insane 
bombast that marks the whole school has (as has been noticed) 
the character of the shrieks and gesticulations of healthy childhood, 
and the insensibility to the really comic which also marks them 
is of a similar kind. Every one knows how natural it is to 
childhood to appreciate bad jokes, how seldom a child sees a 
good one. Marlowe and his crew, too (the comparison has no 
doubt often been used before), were of the brood of Otus and 
Ephialtes, who grew so rapidly and in so disorderly a fashion that 
it was necessary for the gods to make an end of them. The 
universe probably lost little, and it certainly gained something. 

Side by side with this learned, extravagant, gifted, ill-regulated 


school, there was slowly growing up a very different one, which 
was to inherit all the gifts of the University Wits, and to add to 
them the gifts of measure and proportion. The early work of the 
actor school of English dramatists is a difficult subject to treat in 
any fashion, and a particularly difficult subject to treat shortly. 
Chronology, an important aid, helps us not very much, though 
such help as she does give has been as a rule neglected by 
historians, so that plays before 1590 (which may be taken 
roughly as the dividing date), and plays after it have been 
muddled up ruthlessly. We do not know the exact dates of 
many of those which are (many of the plays of the earlier time 
are not) extant ; and of those which are extant, and of which the 
dates are more or less known, the authors are in not a few most 
important cases absolutely undiscoverable. Yet in the plays 
which belong to this period, and which there is no reason to 
attribute wholly to any of the Marlowe group, or much reason to 
attribute to them under the guidance, or perhaps with the 
collaboration of practical actors (some at least of whom were like 
Shakespere himself, men of no known regular education), there 
are characteristics which promise at least as well for the future as 
the wonderful poetic outbursts of the Marlowe school itself. Of 
these outbursts we find few in this other division. But we find 
a growing knowledge of what a play is, as distinguished from a 
series of tableaux acted by not too lifelike characters. We find a 
glimmering (which is hardly anywhere to be seen in the more 
literary work of the other school) of the truth that the characters 
must be made to work out the play, and not the play be written 
in a series of disjointed scenes to display, in anything but a suc- 
cessful fashion, the characters. With fewer flights we have fewer 
absurdities ; with less genius we have more talent. It must be 
remembered, of course, that the plays of the university school 
itself were always written for players, and that some of the authors 
had more or less to do with acting as well as with writing. But 
the flame of discord which burns so fiercely on the one side in 
the famous real or supposed dying utterances of Greene, and 


which years afterwards breaks out on the other in the equally 
famous satire of The Return from Parnassus, 1 illuminates a real 
difference a difference which study of the remains of the lite- 
rature of the period can only make plainer. . The same differ- 
ence has manifested itself again, and more than once in other 
departments of literature, but hardly in so interesting a manner, 
and certainly not with such striking results. 

1 The outburst of Greene about "the only Shakescene," the "upstart 
crow beautified with our feathers," and so forth, is too well known to need 
extracting here. The Return from Parnassus, a very curious tripartite play, 
performed 1597-1601 but retrospective in tone, is devoted to the troubles of 
poor scholars in getting a livelihood, and incidentally gives much matter on the 
authors of the time from Shakespere downward, and on the jealousy of pro- 
fessional actors felt by scholars, and vice versa. 


" Velut inter ignes luna minores " 

THERE is no instance inJErg 1igh h'g^'-y of a poet receiving such 
immediate recognition, anH deserving it so thnrrmghly, as did 
Edmund Spenser at the date of The Shepherd's Calendar. In 
the first chapter of this v61ume the earlier course of Elizabethan 
poetry has been described, and it will have been seen that, with 
great intention, no very great accomplishment had been achieved. 
It was sufficiently evident that a poetic language and a_general 
pgpHV gpin'i- W p r p hping former^ such as had not existed in 
England since Chaucer's death ; but no one had yet arisen who 
could justify the expectation based on such respectable teritatives. 
It seems from many minute indications which need not be 
detailed here, that at the advent of The Shepherd's Calendar all 
the best judges recognised the expected poet. Yet they could 
hardly have known how just their recognition was, or what 
extraordinary advances the poet would make in the twenty 
years which passed between its publication and his death. 

The life of Spenser is very little Vnnwtr ar^ here and else- 
where the conditions of this book preclude the reproduction or 
even the discussion of the various pious attempts which have 
been made to supply the deficiency of documents. The chief 
of these in his case is to be found in Dr, Grosart's magnificent 


edition, the principal among many good works of its editor. That 
he belonged to a branch a Lancashire branch in all probability 
of the family which produced the Le Despensers of elder, and the 
Spencers of modern English history, may be said to be unques- 
tionable. But he appears to have been born about 1552 in 
London, and to have been educated at Merchant Tailors', whence 
in May 1569 he matriculated at Pembroke Hall, Cambridge, as 
a sizar. At or before this time he must have contributed (though 
there are puzzles in the matter) certain translations of sonnets 
from Petrarch and Du Bellay to a book called The Theatee of 
Voluptuous Worldlings, published by a Brabanter, John van der 
Noodt. These, slightly changed from blank verse to rhyme, 
appeared long afterwards with his minor poems of 1590. But 
the original pieces had been claimed by the Dutchman ; and 
though there are easy ways of explaining this, the thing is 
curious. However it may be with these verses, certainly 
nothing else of Spenser's appeared in print for ten years. His 
Cambridge life, except for some vague allusions (which, as usual 
in such cases, have been strained to breaking by commentators 
and biographers), is equally obscure; save that he certainly 
fulfilled seven years of residence, taking his Bachelor's Degree in 
1573, and his Master's three years later. But he did not gain a 
fellowship, and the chief discoverable results of his Cambridge 
sojourn were the thorough scholarship which marks his work, and his 
friendship with the notorious Gabriel Harvey his senior by some 
years, a Fellow of Pembroke, and a person whose singularly bad' 
(literaryltaste, as shown in his correspondence with Spenser, may 
be perhaps forgiven, ^Trst/because it did no harm, and secondly, 
because without him we should know even less of Spenser than 
we do. It is reasonably supposed from the notes of his friend, 
" E. K." (apparently Kirke, a Pembroke man), to The Shepherd's 
Calendar, that he went to his friends in the north after leaving 
year or two there, falling: in love with 

thejieroine, poetically named Rosalind, of The Calendar, and no 
doubt writing that remarkable book. Then (probably very late in 


1578) he_wgnt to London, was_jntroduced by Harvey to Sidney 
and Leicester, and thus mixed at once in the best literary and 
political society. He was not long in putting forth his titles to 
its attention, for The Shepherd's Calendar was published in the 
winter of 1579, copiously edited by " E. K.," whom some absurdly 
suppose to be Spenser himself. The poet seems to have had also 
numerous works (the titles of which are known) ready or nearly 
ready for the press. But all were subsequently either changed 
in title, incorporated with other work, or lost. He had already 
begun The Faerie Qt/eenc, much to the pedant Harvey's disgust ; 

and he__dabbled in thp fashinnnblp ahsnrHify o classical 

metres, like his inferiors. But he published nothing more 
immediately ; and powerful as were his patrons, the only pre- 
ferment which he obtained was in that Eldorado -Purgatory of 
Elizabethan ambition Ireland. Lord Grey took him as private 
secretary when he was in 1580 appointed deputy, and shortly 
afterwards he received some civil posts in his new country, and a 
lease of abbey lands at Enniscorthy, which lease he soon gave' 
up. But he stayed in Ireland, notwithstanding the fact that his 
immediate patron Grey soon left it. Except a few bare dates 
and doubtful allusions, little or nothing is heard of him between 
is 80 and 1500. On the eve of the latter year (the ist of 
December 1589) the^first three books of The Faerie Queene were 
entered at Stationers' Hall, and were published in the spring of 
the next year He liud been already established at Kilcolman in 
the county Cork on a grant of more than three thousand acres of 
land out of the forfeited Desmond estates. And henceforward 
his literary activity, at least in publication, became more consider- 
able, and he seems to have been much backwards and forwards 
between England and Ireland. In 1590 appeared a volume of 
minor poems (The Ruins of Time, The Tears of the Muses, Virgil's 
Gnat, Mother Hubbard's Tale, The Ruins of Rome, Mitiopotmos, 
and the Visions}, with an address to the reader in which another 
list of forthcoming works is promised. These, like the former list 
of Kirke, seem oddly enough to have also perished. The whole 


collection was called Complaints, and a somewhat similar poem, 
Daphnaida, is thought to have appeared in the same year. On 
the nth of June 1594 the poet married (strangely enough it was 
not known whom, until Dr. Grosart ingeniously identified her 
with a certain Elizabeth Boyle alias Seckerstone), and in 1595 
were published the beautiful AmorettLor love sonnets, and the still 
more beautiful Epithalamion describing his courtship and mar- 
riage, with the interesting poem of Colin Cloufs Come Home Again ; 
while in the same year (old style; in January 1596, new style) the 
fourth, fifth, and sixth books of The Faerie Queene were entered 
for publication and. soon appeared. The supposed allusions to 
Mary_Stuart greatly offended her son James. The Hymns and 
th Prothalamion followed in the same year. Spenser met with 
difficulties at Court (though he had obtained a small pension of 
fifty pounds a year), and had had like other Englishmen troubles 
with his neighbours in Ireland ; yet he seemed to be becoming 
more prosperous, and in 1598 he was named Sheriff of Cork. A 
few weeks later the Irish Rebellion broke out; his house was sacked 
and burnt with one of his children ; he fled to England and died 
on^the 1 6th of January 1599 at King Street, Westminster, perhaps 
not "for lack of bread," as Jonson says, but certainly in no 
fortunate circumstances. In the year of his misfortune had been 
registered, though it was never printed till more than thirty years 
later, his one prose work of substance, the remarkable View of the 
^Present State of Ireland ; an admirable piece of prose, and a poli- 
tical tract, the wisdom and grasp of which only those who have / 
had to give close attention to Irish pnljp'rs ran^ fully estimate. It X 
is probably the most valuable documenton any given period of 
Irish history that exists, and is certainly superior in matter, no less 
than in style, to any political tract in English, published before 
the days of Halifax eighty years after. 

It has been said that The Shepherd's Calendar placed jipenser 

at once at the head of theEnglish poets_o. his day ; and it did 

"so But had he ^written nothing more, he would not (as is the 

case with not a few distinguished poets) have occupied as high 


or nearly as high a position in quality, if not in quantity, as he 
now does. He was a young man when he published it ; he was 
not indeed an old man when he died ; and it would not appear 
that he had had much experience of life beyond college walls. 
His choice of models the artificial pastorals in which the 
Renaissance had modelled itself on Virgil and Theocritus, rather 
than Yirgjland Theocritus themselves was not altogether happy. 
He showed, indeed, already his extraordinary metrical skill. 
experimenting with rhyme- royal and other stanzas, fourteeners 
or eights and sixes, anapaests more or less irregular, and an 
exceedingly important variety of octosyllable which, whatever 
may have been his own idea in practising it, looked back 
to early Middle English rhythms and forward to the metre 
of Christabel) as Coleridge was to start it afresh. He also 
transgressed into religious politics, taking (as indeed he always 
took, gt-ranorg ,nc \\ jriay seem in so fanatical a worshipper of 
beauty) theJPuritan side. Nor is his work improved as poetry, 
though it acquires something in point of quaint attractiveness, by 
good Mr. " E. K.'s" elaborate annotations, introductions, explana- 
tions, and general gentleman-usherings the first in English, 
but most wofully not the last by hundreds, of such overlayings of 
gold with copper. Yet with all these drawbacks The Shepherd's 
Calendar is delightful. 'Already we can see in it that double 

command, *\ > "f *V pjrtftj ia1 anrl tV| P n-msirq] pipping of 

poetry, in wJiich no English poet is Spenser's superior, if any is 
his equal. Already the unmatched power of vigorous allegory, 
which he was to display later, shows in such pieces as The Oak 
and the Briar. Injhe less deliberately archaic divisions, such^ as 
" AjgiPjind " November," the command of metrical form, in 
which also the^poet is almost peerless, discovers itself. Much 
the same may be said of the volume of Complaints, which, though 
published later than The Faerie Queene, represents beyond all 
quesftOrr very much earlier, work. . penser is unquestionably, 
when he is not at once spurred and- soothed by the play of his 
own imagination, as in The Queene, ft melancholy poet, and the 


note of melancholy is as strong in these poems as in their jojnt 
title It combines with his delight in emblematic allegory 
happily enough, in most of these pieces-exempt Afgttier I-fubbartfj. 
Jjde. This is almost an open satire, and shows that if Spenser's 
genius had not found a less mongrel style to disport itself in, 
not merely_jvouldl)onne, and Lodge, and Hall, and Marston 
have hadjp abandon their dispute for the post of first English 
satirist, but the attainment of really great satire in English might 
have been hastened by a hundred years, and Absalom and 
Achitophel have been but a second. Even here, however, the 
piece still keeps the Chaucerian form and manner, and is only a 
kind of exercise. The sonnets from and after Du Bellay and 
others are more interesting. As in the subsequent and far finer 
Amoretti, Spenser prefers the final couplet form to the so-called 
Petrarchian arrangement ; and, indeed, though the most recent 
fashion in England has inclined to the latter, an impartial judg- 
ment must pronounce both forms equally good and equally 
entitled to place. The Amoretti written in this metre, and 
undoubtedly representing some, at least, of Spenser's latest 
written work, rank with the best of Sidney's, and hardly below 
the best of Shakespere's ; while both in them and in the earlier 
sonnets the note of regret mingled with delight the special Re- 
naissance note sounds as it rarely does in any other English verse. 
Of the poems of the later period, however (leaving The Faerie 
Queene for a moment aside), the Epithalamion and the Four 
Hymns rank undoubtedly highest. For splendour ofimagery, 
for harmony of verse, for delicate taste and real passion, the 
JitJialamion excels all other poems _of_Jts_class and the Four 
Hymns express a rapture ofT?latonic enthusiasm, which may 
indeed be answerable for the unreadable Psyches and Psychozoias 
of the next age, but which is itself married to immortal verse in 
the happiest manner. 

Still, to the ordinary reader, Spenser is the poet of The Faerie 
Queene, and for once the ordinary reader is right. Every quality 
found in his other poems is found in this greatest of them in 


perfection ; and much is found there which is not, and Indeed 
could not be, found anywhere else. Its general scheme is so 
well known (few as may be the readers who really know its 
details) that very slight notice of it may suffice. Twelve knights, 
representing twelve virtues, were to have been sent on adventures 
from the Court of Gloriana T Queen of Fairyland. The six finished 
books give the legends (each subdivided into twelve cantos, 
averaging fifty or sixty stanzas each) of_ Holiness, Temperance, 
Chastity, Friendship, Justice^ and Courtesy ; while a fragment of 
two splendid "Cantos on Mutability" is supposed to have belonged 
to a seventh book (not necessarily seventh in order) on Constancy. 
Legend has it that the poem was actually completed ; but this 
seems improbable, as the first three books were certainly ten 
years in hand, and the second three six more. The existing 
poem comprehending some, four thousand st^p/n^ or between 
thirty and forty thousand lines, exhibits so many and such varied 
excellences that it is difficult to believe that the poet could have 
done anything new in kind. N.Q_part of it is as a whole inferior 
to any^other part, and the fragmentary cantos contain not merely 
one^of the most finished pictorial pieces the ProcessicmoF the 
Months to be found in the whole poem, but much of the poet's 
finest thought and verse. Had fortune been kinder, the volume 
pf delight would have been greater, biit its general character 
' / would probably not have changed much. As it is, The Faerie 
\ Qneene isjjie only long poem thataloverjjf poetry can sincerely 
. wjshjonger. CLoocU ^vC^MT 

It deserves some critical examination here from three points 
of view, regarding respectively its gpi}f ml sr.hpmpj its minor 
details of form in _ metre^anfl language and lastly, its general 
poetical characteristics. The first is simple enough in its com- 
plexity. The" poem is a long Roman d' Venture (which it is per- 
haps as well to say, once for all, is not the same as a " Romance 
of Chivalry," or a " Romance of Adventure "), redeemed from the 
aimless prolixity inrlH^f fcojhat form by its, regular plpr^ by the 
intercommunion of the adventures of the sevejal_knights (none 


of whom disappears after having achieved his own quest), and by 
the_ constant presence of a not too obtrusive allegory. This last 
characteristic attaches it on the other side to the poems of the 
Roinan de la Rose order, which succeeded the Romans cT Aventures 
as objects of literary interest and practice, not merely in France, 
out throughout Europe. This allegory has been variously esti- 
mated as a merit or defect of the poem. It is sometimes political, 
oftener religious, very often moral, and sometimes purely personal 
the identifications in this latter case being sometimes clear, as 
that of Gloriana, Britomart, and Belphcebe with Queen Elizabeth, 
sometimes probable, as that of Duessa with Queen Mary (not one 
of Spenser's most knightly actions), and of Prince Arthur with 
Leicester, and sometimes more or less problematical, as that of 
Artegall with Lord Grey, of Timias the Squire with Raleigh, and 
so forth. To those who are perplexed by these double meanings 
thebest remark is hlazlitt's blunt one that " the allegory won't 
bite them." In other words, it is always perfectly possible to 
enjojjhe poem without troubling oneself about the allegory at all, 
except in its broad ethical features, which are quite unmistakable. 
On the other hand, 1 am inclined to think that the presence of 
thoge under -meanings, with the interest which they give_ to a 
moderately instructed and~lntelligent person~~who, without too 
desperate a determination to see into millstones, understands 
"words to the wise," is a great addition to the hold of the poem 
over the attention, and saves it from the charge of mere desultori- 
ness, which some, at least, of the other greatest poems of the 
kind (notably its immediate exemplar, the Orlando Furiosd) must 
undergo. And here it may be noted that the charge made by 
most foreign critics who have busied themselves with Spenser, 
and perhaps by some of his countrymen, that he is, if not a 
mere paraphrast, yet little more than a transplanter into English 
of the Italian, is glaringly uncritical. Not, perhaps, till Ariosto 
and Tasso have been carefully read in the original, is Spenser's 
real greatness understood. He has often, and evidently of 
purpose, challenged comparison ; but in every instance it will 



be found that his beauties are emphatically his own. He has 
followed his leaders only as Virgil has followed Homer ; and 
much less slavishly. 

It is strange to find English critics of this great if not 
greatest English poem even nowadays repeating thaL, Spenser 
borrowed his wonderful stanza from the, Italians. He did nothing 
of the kind. That the ottava rima on the one hand, and the 
on -the. other, may have suggested the idea of it is quite 

possible. But the Spenserian stanza, as it is justly called, is his 

^rl no nnfi plspj^ and its merits, especially that primal merit 
v of adaptation^ to the subject and style of the poem, are unique. 
>7 Nothing else could adapt itself so perfectly to the endless series 
\ of vignettes and dissolving views which the poet delights in 
giving ; while, at the same time,yn has, for so elaborate and 
apparently integral a form, a singular faculty of hooking itself on to 
^stanzas preceding and following so as not to interrupt continuous 
narrative when continuous ifuirrative is needed. Its great com- 
\J pjiss, admitting of an almost infinite variety of cadence and com- 
position, saves it from the monotony from which evenjhe_cflasum- 
mate art of Milton could not savejjlapk v^rsfi now and then/ and 
from which no writer has ever been able to save the couplet, or 
the quatrain, or the stanzas ending with a couplet, in narratives 
of very great length. But the most remarkable instance of 
harmony between metrical form and other characteristics, both of 
form and matter, in the metrist has yet to be mentioned. It has 
been said how well the stanza suits Spen_Sr!s_DictQriaJ faculty ; it 
certainly suits his musical faculty as well The_jlightly (very 
slightly, for lie can be vigorous enough) languid turn, of his grace, 
the y^lujjtuous cadences of his rhythm, find in it the most perfect 
^exponent possible. The verse of great poets, especially Homer's, 
has~"olte7r~been compared to the sea. Spenser's is more like a 
r-iger, wide, and deep, and strong, but moderating its waves and 
coQyjyingthem all in a steady, soft, irresistible sweep forwards. 
To aid him, besides this extraordinary instrument of metre, he 
had forged for himself another in his language. A great deal 


has been written on this comments, at least of the unfavourable 
kind, generally echoing Ben Jonson's complain^ that Spenser " writ v 
no^ language " ; that his dialect is not the dialect of any actual 
pjace or time, that it is an artificial " poetic diction " made up of 
Chaucer, and of Northern dialect, and of classicisms, and of 
foreign words, and of miscellaneous archaisms from no matter 
where. No doubt it is. But if any other excuse than the fact of 
a beautiful and satisfactory effect is wanted for the formation of a 
pogtic diction different from the actually spoken orthe ordinarily 
written tongue of the day (and I am not sure that any such ex- 
cuse is required) it is to be found at once. There was no 
actually spoken or ordinarily written tongue in Spenser's day 
which could claim to be "Queen's English." Chaucer was ^ 
obsolete, and since^Chaucer there was nojsingle persomdio could 
even pretend to authority. Every writer more or less endowed 
with originality was engaged in beating out for himself, from 
popular talk, and from classical or foreign analogy, an instrument 
of speech. Spenser's verse_]anguage and Lyly's prose are the 
most remarkable results of the process; but it was7~Tn fact, 
not only a common but a necessary one, and in no way to be 
blamed. As for the other criterion hinted at above, no one is 
likely to condemn the diction according to that. In its remote- S 
ness without grotesqueness, in its lavish colour, in its abundance 
of matter for every kind of cadence and sound-effect, it is exactly 
suited to the subject, the writer, and the verse. 

It is this singular and complete adjustment of worker and 
implement which, with other peculiarities noted or to be noted, 
gives The Faerie Queene its unique unicity, if such a conceit may 
be pardoned. From some points of view it might be called 3. 
very artificial poem, yet no pp^m rung with snrh ^n^pntirp 
absence of effort, with such an easy eloquence, with such an r 
effect, as has been said already, of flowing water. With all his ' 
learning, and his archaisms, and his classicisms, and his Platonisms, 
and hisisms without end, hardly any poet smells of the lamp Jess 
disagreeably than Spenser. (Where^Milton forges and smelts, his Z^a. 



gold is native. The endless, various, brightly -coloured, softly 

y< > and yet disfttxjly outlined pictures rise and pass before the eyes 

\ and vanish the multiform, sweetly-linked, softly-sounding har- 
monies swell and die and swell again on the ear without a 
break, without a jar, sojtgr_than sleep and as continuous, gayer 
than the rainbow and as undiscoverably connected with any 
obvious cause. And this is the more remarkable because the 
very last thing that can be said of Spenser is that Jie is a poet of 
V mere words. Milton himself, the severe Milton, extolled his 
moraLJe^ching ; his philosophical idealism is evidently no mere 
poet's plaything or parrot-lesson, but thoroughly thought out and 
believed in. He is a determined, almost a savage partisan in 
politics and religion, a steady patriot, something of a statesman, 
very much indeed of a friend and ajover. And of all this there 
is ample evidence in his verse. Yet the alchemy of his poetry 
has passed through the potent alembics of verse and phrase all 
these rebellious things, and has distilled them into the inimitably 
fluent and velvet medium which seems to lull some readers to 
inattention by its very smoothness, and deceive others into a 
belief in its lack of matter by the very finish and brilliancy of its 
form. The show passages of the poem which are most gene- 
rally known the Hiise_> Pride, the CA VP f Despair, the 
Entrance of Belphoebe, the Treasury of Mnrnmqn, the Gardens 
o^ Acrasia, the Sojourn of Britomart in Busirane's Castle, the 
Marriage of the Thames and Medway, the Discovery of the False 
Florimel, Artegall and the Giant, Calidore with Melibreus, the 

(Jt Processions of the Seasons and the Months all these are not, as 
Jr is the case with so many other poets, mere purple patches, 

\j diversifying and relieving dullness, but rather remarkable, and as 
it happens easily separable examples of a power which is shown 
constantly and almost evenly throughout. Those who admire 
them do well ; but they hardly know Spenser. He, more than 
almost any other poet, must V aH mntinnn^sly and constantly 
till the eye and ear and mind have acquired the freedom, of his 
realm of enchantment, and hav? learnt the secret (as far as a mere 


reader may learn it) of the poetical spells by which he brings 
together and controls its wonders. The talk of tediousness, the 
talk of sameness, the talk of coterie-cultivation in Spenser shows 
bad taste no doubt ; but it rather shows ignorance. The critic 
has in such cases stayed outside his author; he speaks but of 
what he has not seen. 

The comparative estimate is always the most difficult in litera- 
ture, and where it can be avoided it is perhaps best to avoid it. 
But in Spenser's case this is not possible. He is one of those few 
who can challenge the title of " greatest English poet," and the 
reader may almost of right demand the opinion on this point of 
any one who writes about him. For my. part I have no intention 
of shirking the difficulty. It seems to me that putting Shake- 
spere aside as hors concours, not merely in degree but in kind, 
only two English poets can challenge Spenser for the primacy^) 0/L 
These are Milton and/Snelley)r The poet of The Faerie Queene is V'.. / 
generally inferior to Muton in the faculty of concentration, and 

L " , ~* ~ 

injthe minting of those monumental phrases, impressive of them- 
selves and quite apart from the context, which often count 
highest in the estimation of poetry. His_vocabulary_ and general 
st^le, if not more remote from the vernacular, have sometimes a 
touch of deliberate estrangement from that vernacular which is 
najdouht of itsel^a fault. His conception of a great_work is 
looser, more excursive, less dramatic. As compared with Shelley 
he lackslioTTnerely the ifiotlern touches which appeal to_a par- 
ticular age^but the lyrical ability in which Shelley has no equal 
among~English poets But in eachcase he redeems these defects 
with, as it seems to me, far more than counterbalancing merits. 
He is npypr prosnir. ns TV[i1tnn ; like his great successor Words- */ 
worth, constantly is, and his very faults are the faults of a poet 
He jnever_(as Shelley does constantly) dissolves away into a flux of 
words which simply bids good-bye to sense or meaning, and 
wanders on at large, unguided, without an end, without an 
aim. But he has more than these merely negative merits. I 
have seen long accounts of Spenser in which the fact of his 


invention of the Spenserian stanza is passed over almost without 
a word of comment. Yet in the formal history of poetry (and 
the history of poetry must always be pre-eminently a history of 
form) there is simply no achievement so astonishing as this. 
That we do not know the inventors of the great single pqgtic 
vehicles, the hexameter. tb p iamhir Smarms, the English heroic, 
the French Alexandrine, is one thing. It is another that in 
Spenser's case alone can the invention of a complicated but 
essentially integral form be assigned to a given jpoet. It is 
impossible to say that Sappho invented the Sapphic, or Alcaeus 
the Alcaic : each poet may have been a Vespucci to some pre- 
cedent Columbus. But .we are in a position to say that Spenser 
^^ 'did^ most unquestionably invent the English Spenserian stanza 
( ^> a^Jbrm^nl^Tnferiof^in individual beauty to the sonnet, which is 
itself practically adetydtdn, and far superior to the sonnet in its 
cajjacity of being used' in multiples as well as singly. When the 
unlikelihood ot such a~complicated measure succeeding in nar- 
rative form, the splendid success of it in The Faerie Queene, and 
the remarkable effects which have subsequently been got out of 
it by men so* different as Thomson, Shelley, and Lord Tennyson, 
y are considered, Spenser's invention must, I think, be counted 
the most considerable of its kind in literature. 

But it may be very freely admitted that this technical merit, 
great as it is, is the least part of the matter. Whosoever first 
invented butterflies and pyramids in poetry is not greatly com- 
mendable, and if Spenser had done nothing but arrange a cunning 
combination of eight heroics, with interwoven rhymes and an 
Alexandrine to finish with, it may be acknowledged at once that 
his claims to primacy would have to be dismissed at once. It is 
not so. Independently of The Faerie Queetie altogether he has done 
work which WP mintf go to Milton and Shelley themselves to_equal. 

The vnri'pri nnH .sin^iilnrly nriginnl strains r\(_The Calendar, the 

wnrmth nn d delicacy combined of the Epithalamion, the tone 
of minjrlprl rpftfft nnd wonder (not inferior in its characteristic 
Renaissance ring to Du Bellay's own) of The Ruins of Rome, the 


different notes of the different minor poems, are all things not to 
be found in any minor poet. But as does not always happen, 
and as is perhaps not the case with Milton, Spenser's greatest 
work is also his best. In the opinion of some at any rate the 
poet of Lyddas, of Comus, of Samson Agonistes, even of the 
Allegro and Penseroso, ranks as high as, if not above, the poet of 
Paradise Lost. But the poet of The faerie Queene could spare all 
his minor works and lose only, as has been_said, quantity not 
qualityjrf greatness. It is hardly necessary at this time of day 
to repeat the demonstration that Macaulay in his famous jibe 
Ofjly^ succeeded in showing that he had never read what he jibed 
at ; and though other decriers of Spenser's masterpiece may not 
have laid themselves open to quite so crushing a retort, they 
seldom fail to show a somewhat similar ignorance. For the 
Igver of poetry, for the reader who understands and can receive 
the poetic charm, the revelation of beauty m metrical language, 
no_ English poem is the superior, or, range and variety being 
ronsiderpH ; the fqn^l rf 77?^ Wnfrif Queene. Take it up where 
you will, and provided only sufficient time (the reading of a 
dozen stanzas ought to suffice to any one who has the necessary 
gifts of appreciation) be given to allow the soft dreamy versi- 
coloured atmosphere to rise round the reader, the languid and yet 
never monotonous music to gain his ear, the mood of mixed 
imagination and heroism, adventure and morality, to im press 
itself on his mind, and the result is certain^ To the influence of 
no poet are the famous lines of Spenser's great nineteenth- 
century rival so applicable as to Spenser's own. The enchanted 
boat, angel-guided, floating on away, afar, without conscious pur- 
pose, but simply obeying the instinct of sweet poetry, is not an 
extravagant symbol for the mind of a reader of Spenser. If 
such^readers want " Criticisms of Life " firstof all, they must go 

plpwhprq,thniigh thpy will find thpm amply giv^ subject to the 

limitations of the poetical method. If they want story they may 
CQmplain_ofslackness and deviations. If they want glorifications of 
science and such like things, they had better shut the book at once, 


and read, no more on that day nor on any other. But if they want 
r^oetry^-if they want jo be translated from a world which is noT 
one of beauty f only into one where the very uglinesses are 
beautiful, into a world of perfect harmony in colour and jsound, 
of an endless sequence of engaging event and_character r of noble 
passions and actions not lacking their due contrast, then let 
them go to Spenser with a certainty (^satisfaction. He is not, 
as are some poets, the poet of a certain time of life to the 
exclusion of others. He may be read in childhood chiefly for his 
adventure, in later youth for his display of voluptuous beauty. 
in manhood for his ethical and historical weight, in age for all 
combinedj_and for the contrast which his bright universe of 
invention affordTwith the work-day jejuneness of this troublesome 
world. But he never palls upon those who have once learnt to 
taste him ; and no poet is so little of an acquired taste to those 
who have any liking for poetry at all. He has been called the 
poet's poef a phrase honourable but a little misleading, inasmuch 
as it first suggests that he is not the poet of the great majority of 
readers who cannot pretend to be poets themselves, and secondly 
insinuates a kind of intellectual and aesthetic Pharisaism in those 
who do admire him, which may be justly resented by those who 
do not. Let us rather say that he is the poet of all others for 
those who seek in poetry only poetical qualities, and we shall 
say not only what is more than enough to establish his greatness 
but what, as I for one believe, can be maintained in the teeth of 
all gainsayers. 1 

The volume, xariety ? and vigour of the poetical production of 
the period in which Spenser is the central figure the last twenty 
years of the sixteenth century is perhaps proportionally the 
greatest, and may be_ said to be emphatically the most dis- 
tinguished in purely poetical characteristics of any period 

1 Of Spenser as of two other poets in thb 1 i ulme, Shakespere and Milton, 
it seemed to be unnecessary and even impertinent to give any extracts. Their 
works are, or ought to be, in all hands ; and even if it were not so, no space 
at my command could give sample of their infinite varieties, 


history. Every kind of poetical work is represented in it, and 
every kind (with the possible exception of the semi-poetical kind 
of satire) is well represented. There is, indeed, no second name 
that approaches Spenser's, either in respect of importance or in 
respect of uniform excellence of work. But in the most incomplete 
production of this time there is almost always that poetical spark 
which is often entirely wanting in the finished and complete 
work of other periods. I shall, therefore, divide the whole mass 
into four groups, each with certain distinguished names at its head, 
and a crowd of hardly undistinguished names in its rank and file. 
These four groups.are the sonneteers, the historians, the satirists, 
and lastly, the miscellaneous lyrics and ' 

Although it is only recently that its mass and its beauty have 
been fully recognised, the extraordinary outburst of sonnet-writing . 
at a certain period of Elizabeth's reign has always attracted the 
attention of literary historians. For many ypars afj-pr Wy nft ~ or ^ 
Surrey's work appeared the fnrm attracted hut- littlp imitation or 
piactice. About 1580 Sppnspr himself prnhahly, Sidney and 
Thomas Watson rprtainly, d,fivo,ted much attention to. it ; but it 
was some dozen years later that the most strilcing crop of sonnets 
appeared. Between igp^ and 1506 there were publishe^ more 
than a dozen collections, chiefly or wholly of sonnets, and almost 
all bearing the name of a single person, in whose honour 
they were supposed to be composed. So singular is this 
coincidence, showing either an intense engouement in literary 
society, or a spontaneous determination of energy in individuals, 
that the list with dates is worth giving. It runs thus : In 1593 
came Barnes's Parthenophil and Parthenophe, Jletcher's Licia, 
and Lodge's Phillis. In 1594 followed Constable's Diana, 
.Daniel's Delia, 1 the anonymous Zepheria, Qta^&op's Idea, Percy's S 
Ccelia, and Willoughby's Avisa ; 1595 added the Alcilia of a 
certain J. G, and Sgejjs^r's perfect Amoretti ; 1596 gave 
Griffin's Fidessa, Lynch's Diella, and Smith's Chloris, while 

1 Delia had appeared earlier in 1592, and partially in 1591 ; but the text 
of 1594 is the definitive one. Several of these dates are doubtful or disputed. 


Shakespere's earliest sonnets were probably not much later. 
Then the fashion changed, or the vein was worked out, or (more 
fancifully) the impossibility of equalling Spenser and Shake- 
spere choked off competitors. The date of Lord Brooke's 
singular Ccelica, not published till long afterwards, is uncertain ; 
but he may, probably, be classed with Sidney and Watson in 

Fulke, or, as he himself spelt it, Foulke Greville, in his 
later years Lord Brooke, 1 was of a noble house in Warwick- 
shire connected with the Beauchamps and the Willoughbys. 
He was born in 1554, was educated at Shrewsbury with Philip 
Sidney, whose kinsman, lifelong friend, and first biographer he 
was proceeded, not like Sidney to Oxford, but to Cambridge 
(where he was a member, it would seem, of Jesus College, not 
as usually said of Trinity) received early lucrative preferments 
chiefly in connection with the government of Wales, was a 
favourite courtier of Elizabeth's during all her later life, and, 
obtaining a royal gift of Warwick Castle, became the ancestor 
of the present earls of Warwick. In 1 6 1 4 he became Chancellor 
of the Exchequer. Lord Brooke, who lived to a considerable 
age, was stabbed in a rather mysterious manner in 1628 by a 
servant named Haywood, who is said to have been enraged by 
discovering that his master had left him nothing in his will. The 
story is, as has been said, mysterious, and the affair seems to 
have been hushed up. Lord Brooke was not universally popular, 
and a very savage contemporary epitaph on him has been pre- 
served. But he had been the patron of the youthful Davenant, 
and has left not a little curious literary work, which has only 
been recently collected, and little of which saw the light in his 
own lifetime. Of his two singular plays, Mustapha and Alaham 
(closet-dramas having something in common with the Senecan 
model), Mustapha was printed in 1609; but it would seem 

1 He is a little liable to be confounded with two writers (brothers of a 
patronymic the same as his title) Samuel and Christopher Brooke, the latter 
of whom wrote poems of some merit, which Dr. Grosart has edited. 


piratically. His chief prose work, the Life of Sidney, was not 
printed till 1652. His chief work in verse, the singular Poems 
of Monarchy (ethical and political treatises), did not appear till 
eighteen years later, as well as the allied Treatise on Religion. 
But poems or tracts on human learning, on wars, and other 
things, together with his tragedies as above, had appeared in 
1633. This publication, a folio volume, also contained by far 
the most interesting part of his work, the so-called sonnet collec- 
tion of Ccelica a medley, like many of those mentioned in this 
chapter, of lyrics and short poems of all lengths and metrical 
arrangements, but, unlike almost all of them, dealing with many 
subjects, and apparently addressed to more than one person. It 
is here, and in parts of the prose, that the reader who has not a very 
great love for Elizabethan literature and some experience of it, 
can be recommended to seek confirmation of the estimate in which 
Greville was held by Charles Lamb, and of the very excusable 
and pious, though perhaps excessive, admiration of his editor Dr. 
Grosart. Even Ccelica is very unlikely to find readers as a whole, 
owing to the strangely repellent character of Brooke's thought, 
which is intricate and obscure, and of his style, which is at any 
rate sometimes as harsh and eccentric as the theories of poetry 
which made him compose verse-treatises on politics. Neverthe- 
less there is much nobility of thought and expression in him, 
and not unfrequent flashes of real poetry, while his very faults 
are characteristic. He may be represented here by a piece from 
Ccelica, in which he is at his very best, and most poetical because 
most simple 

" I, with whose colours Myra dressed her head, 
I, that ware posies of her own hand making, 
I, that mine own name in the chimnies read 
By Myra finely wrought ere I was waking : 
Must I look on, in hope time coming may 
With change bring back my turn again to play ? 

" I, that on Sunday at the church-stile found 
A garland sweet with true love knots in flowers, 


Which I to wear about mine arms, was bound 
That each of us might know that all was ours : 
Must I lead now an idle life in wishes, 
And follow Cupid for his loaves and fishes ? 

" I, that did wear the ring her mother left, 
I, for whose love she gloried to be blamed, 
I, with whose eyes her eyes committed theft, 
I, who did make her blush when I was named : 
Must I lose ring, flowers, "blush, theft, and go naked, 
Watching with sighs till dead love be awaked ? 

"I, that when drowsy Argus fell asleep, 
Like jealousy o'erwatched with desire, 
Was ever warned modesty to keep 
While her breath, speaking, kindled Nature's fire : 
Must I look on a-cold while others warm them ? 
Do Vulcan's brothers in such fine nets arm them ? 

" Was it for this that I might Myra see 

Washing the water with her beauties white ? 
Yet would she never write her love to me : 
Thinks wit of change when thoughts are in delight ? 
Mad girls may safely love as they may leave ; 
No man can print a kiss : lines may deceive. " 

Had Brooke always written with this force and directness he 

would have been a great poet. As it is, he has but the ore of 

, ,, ,. , . i C^f -1< i fratrwv. tt -\*- e(<rlibir+*t. ? 

poetry, not the smelted metal. 

=a-. For there is no doubt that Sidney here holds the primacy. 
not merely in time but in value, of the whn]<^ 

Spenser and Shakespere aside. That thirty or forty years' . 
diligent study of Italian models had much to do with the extra- 
ordinary advance visible in h' g ^^^^<= ~r tbsp of Tntpl'g 
^Miscellany is, no doubt, undeniable. But many causes besides 
the inexplicable residuum of fortunate inspiration, which eludes 
the most careful search into literary cause and effect, had to do 
with the production of the " lqty? insolent, and passionate vein," v 
which becomes noticeable in English poetry for the first time 
about ii&Ojv and which dominates it, if we include the late 

iv SIDNEY lot 

autumn-summer of Milton's last productions, for .a hundred years. 
Perhaps it is not too much to say that this makes its very first 
appearance in Sidney's verse, for The Shepherd's Calendar, though 
of an even more perfect, is of a milder strain. The inevitable 
tendency of criticism to gossip about poets instead of criticising 
poetry has usually mixed a great deal of personal matter with 
the accounts of Astrofhel and Stella, the series of sonnets which 
is Sidney's greatest literary work, and which was first published 
some years after his death in an incorrect and probably pirated 
edition by Thomas NashJS There is no doubt that there was a 
real affection between Sidney (AstropheH and Penelope Devereux 
(Stella), daughter of the Earl of Essex, afterwards Lady Rich, 
ancPthat marriage proving unhappy, Lady Mountjoy. But the 
attempts which have been made to identify every hint and ajlusion 
jri the series with some fact or date, though falling short of the 
unimaginable folly of scholastic labour-lost which has been ex- 
pended on the sonnets of Shakespere, still must appear some- 
what idle to those who know the usual genesis of love-poetry 
how that it is of imagination all compact, and that actual occur- 
rences are much oftener occasions and bases than causes and 
material of it. It is of the smallest possible importance or 
interest to a rational man to discover what was the occasion of 
Sidney's writing these charming poems the important point is 
their charm. And in this~fe"5pect (giving heed to his date and 
his opportunities of imitation) I > j>hould put Sidney third to , 
"4 Sponger. The very first piece of the series, an 

oddly compounded sonnet of thirteen Alexandrines and a final 
heroiq strikes the note of intense and fresh poetry which is only 
heard afar off in Surrey and Wyatt, which is hopelessly to seek in 
the tentatives of Turberville and Googe, and which is smothered 
with jejune and merely literary ornament in the less formless work 
of Sidney's contemporary, Thomas Watson. The second line 

" That she, dear she, might take some pleasure of my pain," 
the couplet 


" Oft turning others' leaves to see if thence would flow 
Some fresh and fruitful showers upon my sunburnt brain," y 

and the sudden and splendid finale y 

" ' Fool ! ' said my muse, ' look in thy heart and writ 

are things that may be looked for in vain earlier. / 

A Jittle later we meet with that towering snnr of verse which 
is also peculiar to the period : 

" When Nature made her chief work Stella's eyes, 
In colour black why wrapt she beams so bright ? " 

lines which those who deprecate insistence on the importance of 
form in poetry might study with advantage, for the thought is a 
mere commonplace conceit, and the beauty of the phrase is 

plirHj flfriv^ fr "' vl tVl ^ ^"rminp orrnnnrnmnni- nnrl fiAvnro nf the 

verse. The first perfectly charming sonnet in the English 
language a sonnet which holds its own after three centuries, of 
Competition is the famous " With how sad steps, O moon, thou 
c|jmhst the skies." where Lamb's stricture on the last line as obscure 
seems to me unreasonable. The equally famous phrase, " That 
iiyeet fnemyFrnnr /' which occurs a little further on is another, and 
whether borrowed from Giordano Bruno or not is perhaps the 
of th^ felicity of expression in which Sidney is sur- 

prised by few Fn^lhhmrn Nor ought the extraordinary variety of 
the treatment to be missed. Often as Sidney girds at those who, 
like Watson, " dug their sonnets out of books," he can write in 
the learned literary manner with the best. The pleasant ease of 
his sonnet to the sparrow, " Good brother Philip," contrasts in the 
nflHpsr way with his allegorical and mythological sonnets, in each 
of which veins he indulges hardly less often, though very much 
more wisely than any of his contemporaries. Nor do the other 
"Songs of variable verse," which follow, and in some editions are 
mixed up with the sonnets, rH^pl.ny ]pq<; pv^m ordinary power. The 
first song, with its refrain in the penultimate line of each stanza, 

" To you, to you, all song of praise is due," 
contrasts in its throbbing and burning life with the faint and 

iv SIDNEY 103 

misty imagery, the stiff and wooden structure, of most of the verse 
of Sidney's predecessors, and deserves to be given in full : 

" Doubt you to whom my Muse these notes intendeth ; 
Which now my breast o'ercharged to music lendeth ? 

To you ! to you ! all song of praise is due : 
Only in you my song begins and endeth. 

"Who hath the eyes which marry state with pleasure, 
Who keeps the keys of Nature's chiefest treasure ? 

To you ! to you ! all song of praise is due : 
Only for you the heaven forgat all measure. 

" Who hath the lips, where wit in fairness reigneth ? 
Who womankind at once both decks and staineth ? 

To you ! to you ! all song of praise is due : 
Only by you Cupid his crown maintaineth. 

"Who hath the feet, whose steps all sweetness planteth? 
Who else ; for whom Fame worthy trumpets wanteth ? 

To you ! to you ! all song of praise is due : 
Only to you her sceptre Venus granteth. 

"Who hath the breast, whose milk doth passions nourish? 
Whose grace is such, that when it chides doth cherish ? 

To you ! to you ! all song of praise is due : 
Only through you the tree of life doth flourish. 

" Who hath the hand, which without stroke subdueth ? 
Who long dead beauty with increase reneweth ? 

To you ! to you ! all song of praise is due : 
Only at you all envy hopeless rueth. 

"Who hath the hair, which loosest fastest tieth? 
Who makes a man live then glad when he dieth ? 

To you ! to you ! all song of praise is due : 
Only of you the flatterer never lieth. 

"Who hath the voice, which soul from senses sunders? 
Whose force but yours the bolts of beauty thunders ? 

To you ! to you ! all song of praise is due : 
Only with you not miracles are wonders. - _ - 

" Douo"t you to whom my Muse these notes intendeth? 
Which now my breast o'ercharged to music lendeth ? 

To you ! to you ! all song of praise is due : 
Only in you my song begins and endeth. " 


Nor is its promise belied by those which follow, and which 
are among the earliest and the most charming of the rich 
literature of songs that really are songs songs to music 
which the age was to produce. All the scanty remnants of 
his other verse are instinct with the same qualities, especially 
the splendid dirge, " Ring out your bells, let mourning shows 
be spread," and the pretty lines " to the tune of Wilhelmus van 
Nassau." I must quote the first : 

" Ring out your bells ! let mourning shows be spread, 

For Love is dead. 
All love is dead, infected 

With the plague of deep disdain ; 
Worth as nought worth rejected. 

And faith, fair scorn doth gain. 
From so ungrateful fancy, 
From such a female frenzy, 
From them that use men thus, 
Good Lord, deliver us ! 

' Weep, neighbours, weep ! Do you not hear it said 

That Love is dead ? 
His deathbed, peacock's Folly ; 

His winding-sheet is Shame ; 
His will, False Seeming wholly ; 

His sole executor, Blame. 
From so ungrateful fancy, 
From such a female frenzy, 
From them that use men thus, 
Good Lord, deliver us ! 

" Let dirge be sung, and trentals rightly read, 

For Love is dead. 
Sir Wrong his tomb ordaineth 

My mistress' marble heart ; 
Which epitaph containeth 

' Her eyes were once his dart. ' 
From so ungrateful fancy, 
From such a female frenzy, 
From them that use men thus, 
Good Lord, deliver us ! 

iv WATSON 105 

" Alas, I lie. Rage hath this error bred, 

Love is not dead. 
Love is not dead, but sleepeth 

In her unmatched mind : 
Where she his counsel keepeth 

Till due deserts she find. 
Therefore from so vile fancy 
To call such wit a frenzy, 
Who love can temper thus, 
Good Lord, deliver us ! " 

The verse from the Arcadia (which contains a great deal of 
verse) has been perhap_s_injuriouslv affected in the general judg- 
ment by the fact that it includes experiments in the impos- 
sible classical jnetres. But both it and the Translations 
from the Psalms express the same jx>etical faculty employed 
with less directness and force. To sum up, there is no Eliza- 
bethan poet, except the two named, who is more unmistak- 
ahly imhnerl with popriml q^li>yjKhrm Sidney. And Hazlitt's 
judgment on him, that he is "jejune" and "frigid" will, as Lamb 
himself hinted, long remain the chiefest and most astonishing 
example of a great critic's aberrations when his prejudices are 

Had Hazlitt been criticising' Thomas Watson, his judgment, 
though harsh, would have been not wholly easy to quarrel with. 
It is probably the excusable but serious error of judgment which 
induced his rediscoverer, Professor Arber, to rank Watson above 
Sidney in gifts and genius, that has led other critics to put him 
unduly low. Watson himself, moreover, has invited depreciation 
by his extreme frankness in confessing that his Passionate 
Century is not a record of passion at all, but an elaborate literary -- 5 
pastiche after this author and that. I fear it must be admitted 
that the average critic is not safely to be trusted with such an 
avowal of what he is too much disposed to advance as a charge 
without confession. Watson, of whom as usual scarcely anything 
is known personally, was a Londoner by birth, an Oxford man by 
education, a friend of most of the earlier literary school of the 


reign, such as Lyly, Peele, and Spenser, and a tolerably 
industrious writer both in Latin and English during his short life, 
which can hardly have begun before 1557, and was certainly 
closed by 1593. He stands in English poetry as the author of 
the Hecatompathia or Passionate Century of sonnets (1582), and 
the Tears of Fancy, consisting of sixty similar poems, printed after 
his death. The Tears of Fancy are regular quatorzains, the 
pieces composing the Hecatompathia, though called sonnets, are 
in a curious form of eighteen lines practically composed of three 
six-line stanzas rhymed A B, A B, C C, and not connected by 
any continuance of rhyme from stanza to stanza. The special 
and peculiar oddity of the book is, that each sonnet has a prose 
preface as thus : " In this passion the author doth very busily 
imitate and augment a certain ode of Ronsard, which he writeth 
unto his mistress. He beginneth as followeth, Plusieurs, etc." 
Here is a complete example of one of Watson's pages : 

" There needeth no annotation at all before this passion, it is of itself so plain 
and easily conveyed. Yet the unlearned may have this help given them by the 
way to know what Galaxia is or Pactolus, which perchance they have not read 
of often in our vulgar rhymes. Galaxia (to omit both the etymology and what 
the philosophers do write thereof) is a white way or milky circle in the heavens, 
which Ovid mentioneth in this manner 

Est via siiblimis ca:lo manifesto, sereno. 
Lactea nomen habet, candore notabilis ipso. 

Metamorph. lib. I. 

And Cicero thus in Somnio Scipionis : Erat autem is sphndissimo candore 
inter flammas circulus elucens, qucm vos (ut a Graijs accepistis) orbem lacteunt 

Pactolus is a river in Lydia, which hath golden sands under it, as Tibullus 
witnesseth in this verse : 

Nee me regnajuvant, nee Lydius aurifer amnis. Titul. lib. 3. 

Who can recount the virtues of my dear, 

Or say how far her fame hath taken flight, 

That cannot tell how many stars appear 

In part of heaven, which Galaxia hight, 
Or number all the moats in Phoebus' rays, 
Or golden sands whereon Pactolus plays ? 


And yet my hurts enforce me to confess, 
In crystal breast she shrouds a bloody heart, 
Which heart in time will make her merits less, 
Unless betimes she cure my deadly smart : 
For now my life is double dying still, 
And she defamed by sufferance of such ill ; 

And till the time she helps me as she may, 

Let no man undertake to tell my toil, 

But only such, as can distinctly say, 

What monsters Nilus breeds, or Afric soil : 
For if he do, his labour is but lost, 
Whilst I both fry and freeze 'twixt flame and frost." 

'.flAjt- \ 

Now this is undoubtedly, as Watson's contemporaries would 

have said, " a cooling card " to the reader, who is thus presented 
with a series of elaborate poetical exercises affecting the acutest 
personal feeling, and yet confessedly representing no feeling at all. 
Yet the Hecatompathia is remarkable, both historically and intrin- 
sically. It does not seem likely that at its publication the author 
can have had anything of Sidney's or much of Spenser's before 
him ; yet his work is only less superior to the work of their com- 
mon predecessors than the work of these two. By far the finest 
of his Century is the imitation of Ferrabosco 

" Resolved to dust intombed here lieth love." 

The quatorzains of the Tears of Fancy are more attractive in form 
and less artificial in structure and phraseology, but it must be 
remembered that by their time Sidney's sonnets were known and 
Spenser had written much. The seed was scattered abroad, and 
ftfell in congenial soil in falling on Watson, but the Hecatom- 
pathia was self-sown. 

This difference shows itself very remarkably in the vast out- 
burst of sonneteering which, as has been remarked, distinguished 
the middle of the last decade of the sixteenth century. All these 
writers had Sidney and Spenser before them, and they assume so 
much of the characterof a school that there are certain subjects, 
for instance, "Care -charm ing sleep," on which many of them 
(after Sidney) composed sets of rival poems, almost as definitely 


competitive as the sonnets of the later " Uranie et Job " and 
" Belle Matineuse " series in France. Nevertheless, there is in 
all of them what as a rule is wanting in this kind of clique 
verse the independent spirit, the original force which makes 
poetry. The Smiths and the Fletchers, the Griffins and the 
Lynches, are like little geysers round the great ones : the whole 
soil is instinct with fire and flame. We shall, however, take the 
production of the four remarkable years 1593-1596 separately, 
and though in more than one case we shall return upon their 
writers both in this chapter and in a subsequent one, the unity 
of the sonnet impulse seems to demand separate mention for 
them here. 

In 1593 the influence of the Sidney poems (published, it must 
be remembered, in 1591) was new, and the imitators, except 
Watson (of whom above), display a good deal of the quality of the 
novice. The chief of them are Barnabe Barnes, with his Partheno- 
phil and Parthenophe, Giles Fletcher (father of the Jacobean poets, 
Giles and Phineas Fletcher), with his Licia, and Thomas Lodge, 
with his Phillis. Barnes is a modern discovery, for before Dr. 

*i Grosart reprinted him in 1875, from the unique original at 
jt*$ Chatsworth, for thirty subscribers only (of whom 1^ had the 
hsnourtp be one), he was practically unknown. Mr. Arber has 
since, in his English Garner, opened access to a wider circle, 
to whom I at least do not grudge their entry. As with 
most of these minor Elizabethan poets, Barnes is a very 

6 '. obscure person. A little later than Parthenophil he wrote A 
Divine Centurie of Spiritual Sonnets, having, like many of his 
contemporaries, an apparent desire poetically to make the best of 
both worlds. He also wrote a wild play in the most daring 
Elizabethan style, called The Devil's Charter, and a prose political 
Treatise of Offices. Barnes was a friend of Gabriel Harvey's, and 
as such met with some rough usage from Nash, Marston, and 
others. His poetical worth, though there are fine passages in 
The DeviTs Charter and in the Divine Centurie, must rest on 
Parthenophil. This collection consists not merely of sonnets but 


of madrigals, sestines, canzons, and other attempts after Italian 
masters. The style, both verbal and poetical, needs chastising in 
places, and Barnes's expression in particular is sometimes obscure. 
He is sometimes comic when he wishes to be passionate, and 
frequently verbose when he wishes to be expressive. But the fire, 
the full-bloodedness, the poetical virility, of the poems is extra- 
ordinary. A kind of intoxication of the eternal-feminine seems to 
have seized the poet to an extent not otherwise to be paralleled 
in the group, except in Sidney ; while Sidney's courtly sense of 
measure and taste did not permit him Barnes's forcible extrava- 
gances. Here is a specimen : 

" Phoebus, rich father of eternal light, 
And in his hand a wreath of Heliochrise 
He brought, to beautify those tresses, 
Whose train, whose softness, and whose gloss more bright, 

Apollo's locks did overprize. 

Thus, with this garland, whiles her brows he blesses, 
The golden shadow with his tincture 
Coloured her locks, aye gilded with the cincture." 

Giles Fletcher's Licia is a much more pale and colourless 
performance, though not wanting in merit. The author, who 
was afterwards a most respectable clergyman, is of the class 
of amoureux transit, and dies for Licia throughout his poems, 
without apparently suspecting that it was much better to live for 
her. His volume contained some miscellaneous poems, with a 
dullish essay in the historical style (see post\ called The Rising of 
Richard to the Crown. | Very far superior is Lodge's Phillis, the 
chief poetical work of that interesting person, except some of the 
madrigals and odd pieces of verse scattered about his prose 
tracts (for which see Chapter VI.) Phillis is especially remarkable 
for the grace and refinement with which the author elaborates the 
Sidneian model. Lodge, indeed, as it seems to me, was one of 
the not uncommon persons who can always do best with a model 
before them. He euphuised with better taste than Lyly, but in 
imitation of him ; his tales in prose are more graceful than those 


of Greene, whom he copied ; it at least seems likely that he out- 
Marlowed Marlowe in the rant of the Looking- Glass for London, 
and the stiffness of the Wounds of Civil War, and he chiefly 
polished Sidney in his sonnets and madrigals. It is not to be 
denied, however, that in three out of these four departments he 
gave us charming work. His mixed allegiance to Marlowe and 
Sidney gave him command of a splendid form of decasyllabic, 
which appears often in Phillis, as for instance 

"About thy neck do all the graces throng 
And lay such baits as might entangle death," 

where it is worth noting that the whole beauty arises from 
the dexterous placing of the dissyllable " graces," and the tri- 
syllable "entangle," exactly where they ought to be among the 
monosyllables of the rest. The madrigals " Love guards the roses 
of thy lips," " My Phillis hath the morning sun," and " Love in 
my bosom like a bee " are simply unsurpassed for sugared sweet- 
ness in English. Perhaps this is the best of them : 

" Love in my bosom like a bee, 

Doth suck his sweet ; 
Now with his wings he plays with me, 

Now with his feet. 
Within mine eyes he makes his nest 
His bed amidst my tender breast, 
My kisses are his daily feast ; 
And yet he robs me of my rest ? 
' Ah, wanton ! will ye ? ' 

" And if I sleep, then percheth he, 

With pretty flight, 1 
And makes his pillow of my knee 

The livelong night. 
Strike I my lute, he tunes the string. 
He music plays, if so I sing. 
He lends me every lovely thing 
Yet cruel ! he, my heart doth sting. 
' Whist, wanton ! still ye ! ' 

1 Printed in England's Helicon "sleight." 


" Else I with roses, every day 
Will whip you hence, 
And bind you, when you want to play, 

For your offence. 
I'll shut my eyes to keep you in, 
I'll make you fast it for your sin, 
I'll count your power not worth a pin. 
Alas, what hereby shall I win 
If he gainsay me ? 

" What if I beat the wanton boy 

With many a rod ? 
He will repay me with annoy 

Because a god. 

Then sit thou safely on my knee, 
And let thy bower my bosom be. 
Lurk in mine eyes, I like of thee. 
O Cupid ! so thou pity me, 
Spare not, but play thee." 

1594 was the most important of all the sonnet years, and 
here we are chiefly bound to mention authors who will come in 
for fuller notice later. The singular book known as Willoughby's 
Avisa which, as having a supposed bearing on Shakespere and as 
containing much of that personal puzzlement which rejoices 
critics, has had much attention of late years, is not strictly a 
collection of sonnets; its poems being longer and of differing 
stanzas. But in general character it falls in with the sonnet- 
collections addressed or devoted to a real or fanciful personage. 
It is rather satirical than panegyrical in character, and its poetical 
worth is very far from high. William Percy, a friend of Barnes , ^ 
(who dedicated the Parthenophil to him), son of the eighth Earl of * 
Northumberland, and a retired person who seems to have passed 
the greater part of a long life in Oxford " drinking nothing but 
ale," produced a very short collection entitled Cce/ia, not very 
noteworthy, though it contains (probably in imitation of Barnes) 
one of the tricky things called echo-sonnets, which, with dialogue- 
sonnets and the like, have sometimes amused the leisure of poets. 
Much more remarkable is\the singular anonymous collection 


called Zepheria. Its contents are called not sonnets but canzons, 
though most of them are orthodox quatorzains somewhat oddly 
rhymed and rhythmed. It is brief, extending only to forty 
pieces, and, like much of the poetry of the period, begins and 
ends with Italian mottoes or dedication -phrases. But what is 
interesting about it is the evidence it gives of deep familiarity 
not only with Italian but with French models. This appears 
both in such words as "jouissance," "thesaurise," "esperance," 
" souvenance," " vatical " (a thoroughly Ronsardising word), with 
others too many to mention, and in other characteristics. Mr. 
Sidney Lee, in his most valuable collection of these sonneteers, 
endeavours to show that this French influence was less uncommon 
than has sometimes been thought. Putting this aside, the 
characteristic of Zepheria is unchastened vigour, full of promise, 
but decidedly in need of further schooling and discipline, as the 
following will show : 

" O then Desire, father of Jouissance, 

The Life of Love, the Death of dastard Fear, 
. The kindest nurse to true perseverance, 

Mine heart inherited, with thy love's revere. [?] 

Beauty ! peculiar parent of Conceit, 

Prosperous midwife to a travelling muse, 

The sweet of life, Nepenthe's eyes receipt, 

Thee into me distilled, O sweet, infuse ! 

Love then (the spirit of a generous sprite, 

An infant ever drawing Nature's breast, 

The Sum of Life, that Chaos did unnight !) 

Dismissed mine heart from me, with thee to rest. 

And now incites me cry, ' Double or quit ! 

Give back my heart, or take his body to it ! ' " 

.This cannot be said of the three remarkable collections yet to 
be noticed which appeared in this year, to wit, Constable's Diana, 
Daniel's Delia, and Drayton's Idea. These three head the group 
and contain the best work, after Shakespere and Spenser and 
Sidney, in the English sonnet of the time. Constable's sonnets 
had appeared partly in 1592, and as they stand in fullest collec- 


tion were published in or before 1594. Afterwards he wrote, 
like others, " divine " sonnets (he was a Roman Catholic) and some 
miscellaneous poems, including a very pretty " Song of Venus and 
Adonis." He was a close friend of Sidney, many of whose sonnets 
were published with his, and his work has much of the Sidneian 
colour, but with fewer flights of happily expressed fancy. The best 
of it is probably the following sonnet, which is not only full of 
gracefully expressed images, but keeps up its flight from first to 
last a thing not universal in these Elizabethan sonnets : 

" My Lady's presence makes the Roses red, 
Because to see her lips they blush for shame. 
The Lily's leaves, for envy, pale became ; 
And her white hands in them this envy bred. 
The Marigold the leaves abroad doth spread ; 
Because the sun's and her power is the same. 
The Violet of purple colour came, 
Dyed in the blood she made my heart to shed. 
In brief all flowers from her their virtue take ; 
From her sweet breath, their sweet smells do proceed ; 
The living heat which her eyebeams doth make 
Warmeth the ground, and quickeneth the seed. 
The rain, wherewith she watereth the flowers, 
Falls from mine eyes, which she dissolves in showers." 

Samuel Daniel had an eminently contemplative genius which 
might have anticipated the sonnet as it is in Wordsworth, but 
which the fashion of the day confined to the not wholly suitable 
subject of Love. In the splendid " Care-charmer Sleep," one of 
the tournament sonnets above noted, he contrived, as will be seen, 
to put his subject under the influence of his prevailing faculty. 

" Care-charmer Sleep, son of the sable Night, 

Brother to Death, in silent darkness born, 
Relieve my anguish, and restore the light, 

With dark forgetting of my cares, return ; 
And let the day be time enough to mourn 

The shipwreck of my ill-adventured youth ; 
Let waking eyes suffice to wail their scorn 

Without the torment of the night's untruth. 


Cease, Dreams, th' imag'ry of our day-desires, 
To model forth the passions of the morrow, 

Never let rising sun approve you liars, 

To add more grief to aggravate my sorrow. 

Still let me sleep, embracing clouds in vain ; 

And never wake to feel the day's disdain." 

But as a rule he is perhaps too much given_to_musing t and_tnn 
little to rapture. In form he is important, as he undoubtedly 
did much to establish^ the arrangement of three alternate rhymed 
quatrains and a couplet whichT in Shakesperejs. hands, was to give 
the noblesTpoetry of the sonnet and of the world. He has also 
an abundance of the most exquisite single lines, such as 

" O clear-eyed rector of the holy hill," 

and the wonderful opening of Sonnet xxvn., " The star of my 
mishap imposed this pain." 

^^" The sixty-three sonnets, varied in different editions of Dray- 
ton's JrfeOjjirejuinongJ^ group. Thehy 

v average value is not of the very highest. Yet there are here and 
there the strangest suggestions of Drayton's countryman, Shake- 
spere, and there is one sonnet, No^_&i, beginning, " Since there's 
no help, come let us kiss and part," which I nave found it most 
difficult to believe to be Drayton's, and which is Shakespere all 
over. That^T2niyJon_was the author of/<&gasa whole is certain, 
not mprply-frffin |li^ 1- \\\ ,i11niinn>, but frnm ihe resemblance to 

.1 f hf *rr> gnrr^gfni ^VJWI'CAC f|f v.j s clear, masculine, vigorous, 

fprHlp Knl- nrrngirmslly prhpr unpn^tirnl^sfylp The sonnet just 

referred to is itself one of the very finest existing perhaps one 
of the ten or twelve best sonnets in the world, and it may be 
worth while to give it with another in contrast : 

" Our flood's Queen, Thames, for ships and swans is crowned ; 

And stately Severn for her shore is praised. 
The crystal Trent for fords and fish renowned ; 

And Avon's fame to Albion's cliffs is raised ; 
Carlegion Chester vaunts her holy Dee ; 

York many wonders of her Ouse can tell. 


The Peak her Dove, whose banks so fertile be ; 

And Kent will say her Medway doth excel. 
Cotswold commends her Isis to the Tame ; 

Our northern borders boast of Tweed's fair flood 
Our western parts extol their Wily's fame ; 

And the old Lea brags of the Danish blood. 
Arden's sweet Ankor, let thy glory be 
That fair Idea only lives by thee ! " 

" Since there's no help, come, let us kiss and part ! 

Nay, I have done. You get no more of me. 
And I am glad, yea, glad with all my heart 

That thus so cleanly I myself can free. 
Shake hands for ever, cancel all our vows, 

And when we meet at any time again 
Be it not seen in either of our brows 

That we one jot of former love retain. 
Now at the last gasp of Love's latest breath, 

When, his pulse failing, Passion speechless lies ; 
When Faith is kneeling by his bed of death, 

And Innocence is closing up his eyes : 
Now, if thou would'st, when all have given him over, 
From death to life thou might'st him yet recover ! " 

1595 chiefly contributed the curious production called Alcilia, 
by J. C., who gives the name of sonnets to a series of six-line 
stanzas, varied occasionally by other forms, such as that of the 
following pretty verses. It may be noted that the citation of 
proverbs is very characteristic of Alcilia : 

" Love is sorrow mixed with gladness, 
Fear with hope, and hope with madness. 
Long did I love, but all in vain ; 
I loving, was not loved again : 
For which my heart sustained much woe. 
It fits not maids to use men so, 
Just deserts are not regarded, 
Never love so ill rewarded. 
But 'all is lost that is not sought,' 
' Oft'wit proves best that's dearest bought.' 

" Women were made for men's relief; 
To comfort, not to cause their grief. 


Where most I merit, least I find : 
No marvel, since that love is blind. 
Had she been kind as she was fair, 
My case had been more strange and rare. 
But women love not by desert, 
Reason in them hath weakest part. 
Then henceforth let them love that list, 
I will beware of ' had I wist.' " 

1596 (putting the Amoretti, which is sometimes assigned to 
this year, aside) was again fruitful with Griffin's Fidessa, Lynch's 
Diella, and Smith's Chloris. Fidessa, though distinctly " young," 
is one of the most interesting of the clearly imitative class of 
these sonnets, and contains some very graceful poetry, especially 
the following, one of the Sleep class, which will serve as a good 
example of the minor sonneteers : 

" Care-charmer Sleep ! sweet ease in restless misery ! 

The captive's liberty, and his freedom's song ! 
Balm of the bruised heart ! man's chief felicity ! 

Brother of quiet Death, when Life is too too long ! 
A Comedy it is, and now an History ; 

What is not sleep unto the feeble mind ? 
It easeth him that toils, and him that's sorry ; 

It makes the deaf to hear ; to see, the blind ; 
Ungentle Sleep ! thou helpest all but me, 

For when I sleep my soul is vexed most. 
It is Fidessa that doth master thee 

If she approach ; alas ! thy power is lost. 
But here she is ! See, how he runs amain ! 
I fear, at night, he will not come again." 

Diella, a set of thirty-eight sonnets prefixed to the "Amorous 
poem of Diego and Genevra," is more elaborate in colouring but 
somewhat less fresh and genuine ; while Chloris, whose author 
was a friend of Spenser's, approaches to the pastoral in the plan 
and phrasing of its fifty sonnets. 

Such are the most remarkable members of a group of English 
poetry, which yields to few such groups in interest. It is con- 
nected by a strong similarity of feeling if any one likes, even 


by a strong imitatiofi of the same models. But in following 
those models and expressing those feelings, its members, even 
the humblest of them, have shown remarkable poetical capacity ; 
while of the chiefs we can only say, as has been said more than 
once already, that the matter and form together acknowledge, 
and indeed admit of, no superior. 

In close connection with these groups of sonnets, displaying 
very much the same poetical characteristics and in some cases 
written by the same authors, there occurs a great body of mis- 
cellaneous poetical writing produced during the last twenty. years 
of the sixteenth century, and ranging from long poems of the 
allegorical or amatory kind to the briefest lyrics and madrigals. 
Sometimes this work appeared independently ; sometimes it 
was inserted in the plays and prose pamphlets of the time. As 
has already been said, some of our authors, notably Lodge and 
Greene, did in this way work which far exceeds in merit any 
of their more ambitious pieces, and which in a certain unbor- 
rowed and incommunicable poetic grace hardly leaves anything 
of the time behind it. Shakespere himself, in Venus and Adonis 
and Lucrece, has in a more elaborate but closely allied kind of 
poetry displayed less mature, but scarcely less, genius than in 
his dramatic and sonnet work." It is my own opinion that the 
actual poetical worth of Richard Barnfield, to whom an exquisite 
poem in The Passionate Pilgrim, long ascribed to Shakespere, is 
now more justly assigned, has, owing to this assignment and to 
the singular character of his chief other poem, The Affectionate 
Shepherd, been considerably overrated. It is unfortunately as 
complete if not as common a mistake to suppose that any 
one who disdains his country's morality must be a good poet, 
as to set down any one who disdains it without further ex- 
amination for a bad one. The simple fact, as it strikes a critic, 
is that " As it fell upon a day " is miles above anything else 
of Barnfield's, and is not like anything else of his, while it is 
very like things of Shakespere's. The best thing to be said for 
Barnfield is that he was an avowed and enthusiastic imitator 


and follower of Spenser. His poetical work (we might have 
included the short series of sonnets to Cynthia in the division 
of sonneteers) was all written when he was a very young man, 
and he died when he was not a very old one, a bachelor country- 
gentleman in Warwickshire. Putting the exquisite "As it fell 
upon a day " out of question (which, if he wrote it, is one of 
the not very numerous examples of perfect poetry written by a 
very imperfect poet), Barnfield has, in no extraordinary measure, 
the common attributes of this wonderful time poetical enthu- 
siasm, fresh and unhackneyed expression, metrical charm, and 
gorgeous colouring, which does not find itself ill-matched with 
accurate drawing of nature. He is above the average Eliza- 
bethan, and his very bad taste in The Affectionate Shepherd (a fol- 
lowing of Virgil's Second Eclogue) may be excused as a humanist 
crotchet of the time. His rarity, his eccentricity, and the curious 
mixing up of his work with Shakespere's have done him some- 
thing more than yeoman's service with recent critics. But he 
may have a specimen : 

" And thus it happened : Death and Cupid met 

Upon a time at swilling Bacchus' house, 
Where dainty cates upon the board were set, 
And goblets full of wine to drink carouse : 
Where Love and Death did love the liquor so 
That out they fall, and to the fray they go. 

" And having both their quivers at their back 

Filled full of arrows the one of fatal steel, 
The other all of gold ; Death's shaft was black, 
But Love's was yellow Fortune turned her wheel, 
And from Death's quiver fell a fatal shaft 
That under Cupid by the wind was waft. 

" And at the same time by ill hap there fell 

Another arrow out of Cupid's quiver ; 
The which was carried by the wind at will, 

And under Death the amorous shaft did shiver. 1 
They being parted, Love took up Death's dart, 
And Death took up Love's arrow for his part." 

1 Not, of course = "break," but "shudder." 



There is perhaps more genuine poetic worth, though there is less 
accomplishment of form, in the unfortunate Father Robert South- 
well, who was executed as a traitor on the 2oth of February 1595. 
Southwell belonged to a distinguished family, and was born 
(probably) at Horsham St. Faiths, in Norfolk, about the year 
1560. He was stolen by a gipsy in his youth, but was recovered; 
and a much worse misfortune befell him in being sent for educa- 
tion not to Oxford or Cambridge but to Douay, where he got into 
the hands of the Jesuits, and joined their order. He was sent on 
a mission to. England; and (no doubt conscientiously) violating 
the law there, was after some years of hiding and suspicion 
betrayed, arrested, treated with great harshness in prison, and at 
last, as has been said, executed. No specific acts of treason were 
even charged against him ; and he earnestly denied any designs 
whatever against the Queen and kingdom, nor can it be doubted 
that he merely paid the penalty of others' misdeeds. His work 
both in prose and poetry was not inconsiderable, and the poetry 
was repeatedly printed in rather confusing and imperfect editions 
after his death. The longest, but by no means the best, piece is 
St. Peters Complaint. The best unquestionably is The Burning 
Babe, which, though fairly well known, must be given : 

" As I in hoary winter's night stood shivering in the snow, _/ 
Surpris'd I was with sudden heat, which made my heart to glow ; 
And lifting up a fearful eye to view what fire was near, 
A pretty Babe all burning bright, did in the air appear, 
Who scorched with excessive heat, such floods of tears did shed, 
As though His floods should quench His flames which with His tears were fed; 
' Alas ! ' quoth He, ' but newly born, in fiery heats I fry, 
Yet none approach to warm their hearts or feel My fire but I ! 
My faultless breast the furnace is, the fuel wounding thorns, 
Love is the fire, and sighs the smoke, the ashes shame and scorns ; 
The fuel Justice layeth on, and Mercy blows the coals ; 
The metal in this furnace wrought are men's defiled souls, 
For which, as now on fire I am, to work them to their good 
So will I melt into a bath to wash them in My blood : ' 
With these He vanished out of sight, and swiftly shrunk away, 
And straight I called unto mind that it was Christmas Day." 


Something of the glow of this appears elsewhere in the poems, 
which are, without exception, religious. They have not a little 
of the " hectic " tone, which marks still more strongly the chief 
English Roman Catholic poet of the next century, Crashaw ; but 
are never, as Crashaw sometimes is, hysterical. On the whole, as 
was remarked in a former chapter, they belong rather to the pre- 
Spenserian class in diction and metre, though with something of 
the Italian touch. Occasional roughnesses in them may be at 
least partly attributed to the evident fact that the author thought 
of nothing less than of merely " cultivating the muses." His religi- 
ous fervour is of the simplest and most genuine kind, and his 
poems are a natural and unforced expression of it 

It is difficult in the brief space which can here be allotted 
to the subject to pass in review the throng of miscellaneous 
poets and poetry indicated under this group. The reprints of 
Dr. Grosart and Mr. Arber, supplemented in a few cases by 
recourse to the older recoveries of Brydges, Haslewood, Park, 
ColUer, and others, bring before the student a mass of brilliant 
and beautiful matter, often mixed with a good deal of slag and 
scoriae, but seldom deficient in the true poetical ore. The mere 
collections of madrigals and songs, actually intended for casual 
performance at a time when almost every accomplished and 
well-bred gentleman or lady was expected to oblige the com- 
pany, which Mr. Arber's invaluable English Garner and Mr. 
Bullen's Elizabethan Lyrics give from the collections edited or 
produced by Byrd, Yonge, Campion^ Dowland, Morley, Alison, 
Wilbye, and others, represent such a body of verse as probably 
could not be got together, with the same origin and circum- 
stances, in any quarter-century of any nation's history since the 
foundation of the world. In Campion^ especially the Jyjjcal 
quality is extraordinary. He was long almost inaccessible, but 
Mr. Bullen's edition of 1889 has made knowledge of him easy. 
His birth-year is unknown, but he died in 1620. He was a 
Cambridge man, a member of the Inns of Court, and a physician 
in good practice. He has left us a masque ; four Books of Airs 


(1601-17?), ' m which the gems given below, and many others, 
occur ; and a sometimes rather unfairly characterised critical 
treatise, Observations on the Art of English Poesy, in which lie 
argues against rhyme and for strict quantitative measures, but on 
quite . different lines from those of the craze of Stanyhurst and 
Harvey. Some of his illustrations of his still rather unnatural 
fancy (especially " Rose-cheeked Laura," which is now tolerably 
familiar in anthologies) are charming, though never so charming 
as his rhymed " Airs." The poetry is, indeed, mostly in flashes, y 
and it is not very often that any song is a complete gem, like 
the best of the songs from the dramatists, one__QiL twr ' Q f whirh 
will be given presently for comparison. But by far the greater 
number' contain and exemplify those numerous characteristics of 
poetry, as distinguished from verse, which at one time of literary 
history seem naturally to occur seem indeed to be had for the 
gathering by any one who chooses while at another time they are 
but sparingly found in the work of men of real genius, and seem 
altogether to escape men of talent, accomplishment, and laborious 
endeavour. Here are a few specimens from Peele and others, 
especially Campion. As it is, an exceptional amount of the small 
space possible for such things in this volume has been given to 
them, but there is a great temptation to give more. Lyly's lyrical 
work, however, is fairly well known, and more than one collection 
of " Songs from the Dramatists " has popularised others. 

./&'. " Fair and fair, and twice so fair, 
As fair as any may be ; 
The fairest shepherd on our green, 
A love for any lady. 

Par. Fair and fair, and twice so fair, 
As fair as any may be : 
Thy love is fair for thee alone, 
And for no other lady. 

s. My love is fair, my love is gay, 

As fresh as bin the flowers in May, 
And of my love my roundelay 


Concludes with Cupid's curse, 

They that do change old love for new 

Pray gods, they change for worse ! 

Ambo, simul. They that do change, etc., etc. 
^E. Fair and fair, etc. 
Par. Fair and fair, etc. 
JE. My love can pipe, my love can sing, 
My love can many a pretty thing, 
And of his lovely praises ring 
My merry, merry roundelays. 
Amen to Cupid's curse, 
They that do change, etc." 


" His golden locks time hath to silver turned ; 
O time too swift, O swiftness never ceasing ! 
His youth 'gainst time and age hath ever spurned, 
But spumed in vain ; youth waneth by increasing : 
Beauty, strength, youth, are flowers but fading seen. 
Duty, faith, love, are roots, and ever green. 

" His helmet now shall make a hive for bees, 
And lovers' songs be turned to holy psalms ; 
A man-at-arms must now serve on his knees, 
And feed on prayers, which are old age's alms : 
But though from court to cottage he depart, 
His saint is sure of his unspotted heart. 

" And when he saddest sits in homely cell, 
He'll teach his swains this carol for a song : 
' Blessed be the hearts that wish my Sovereign well, 
Cursed be the souls that think her any wrong. ' 
Goddess allow this aged man his right, 
To be your beadsman now that was your knight. " 


" Fain would I change that note 

To which fond love hath charm 'd me, 

Long, long to sing by rote 

Fancying that that harm'd me : 

Yet when this thought doth come, 

' Love is the perfect sum 


Of all delight !' 
I have no other choice 
Either for pen or voice 

To sing or write. 

" O Love, they wrong thee much 

That say thy sweet is bitter, 
When thy rich fruit is such 

As nothing can be sweeter. 
Fair house of joy and bliss 
Where truest pleasure is, 
I do adore thee ; 
I know thee what thou art. 
I serve thee with my heart 
And fall before thee. 

Anon, in BULLEN. 

" Turn all thy thoughts to eyes, 

Turn all thy hairs to ears, 
Change all thy friends to spies, 
And all thy joys to fears : 
True love will yet be free 
In spite of jealousy. 

" Turn darkness into day, 
Conjectures into truth, 
Believe what th' curious say, 
Let age interpret youth : 
True love will yet be free 
In spite of jealousy. 

" Wrest every word and look, 

Rack every hidden thought ; 
Or fish with golden hook, 
True love cannot be caught : 
For that will still be free 
In spite of jealousy. " 


" Come, O come, my life's delight ! 

Let me not in langour pine ! 
Love loves no delay ; thy sight 

The more enjoyed, the more divine. 
O come, and take from me 
The pain of being deprived of thee ! 


" Thou all sweetness dost enclose 

Like a little world of bliss ; 

Beauty guards thy looks, the rose 

In them pure and eternal is : 

Come, then, and make thy flight 
As swift to me as heavenly light ! " 


" Follow your saint, follow with accents sweet ! 
Haste you, sad notes, fall at her flying feet ! 
There, wrapped in cloud of sorrow, pity move, 
And tell the ravisher of my soul I perish for her love. 
But if she scorns my never-ceasing pain, 
Then burst with sighing in her sight and ne'er return again. 

" All that I sang still to her praise did tend, 
Still she was first, still she my songs did end ; 
Yet she my love and music both doth fly, 
The music that her echo is and beauty's sympathy : 
Then let my notes pursue her scornful flight ! 
It shall suffice that they were breathed and died for her delight." 


" What if a day, or a month, or a year, 

Crown thy delights with a thousand sweet contentings ! 
Cannot a chance of a night or an hour 

Cross thy desires with as many sad tormentings ? 
Fortune, Honour, Beauty, Youth, are but blossoms dying, 
Wanton Pleasure, doating Love, are but shadows flying. 
All our joys are but toys ! idle thoughts deceiving : 
None have power, of an hour, in their lives bereaving. 

" Earth's but a point to the world, and a man 

Is but a point to the world's compared centre ! 
Shall then a point of a point be so vain 

As to triumph in a silly point's adventure ? 
All is hazard that we have, there is nothing biding ; 
Days of pleasure are like streams through fair meadows gliding. 
Weal and woe, time doth go ! time is never turning ; 
Secret fates guide our states, both in mirth and mourning." 


" 'Twas I that paid for all things, 
'Twas others drank the wine, 


I cannot now recall things ; 

Live but a fool, to pine. 
'Twas I that beat the bush, 

The bird to others flew ; 
For she, alas, hath left me. 

Falero ! lero ! loo ! 

" If ever that Dame Nature 

(For this false lover's sake) 
Another pleasing creature 

Like unto her would make ; 
Let her remember this, 

To make the other true ! 
For this, alas ! hath left me. 

Falero ! lero ! loo ! 

" No riches now can raise me, 

No want makes me despair, 
No misery amaze me, 

Nor yet for want I care : 
I have lost a World itself, 

My earthly Heaven, adieu ! 
Since she, alas ! hath left me. 
Falero ! lero ! loo ! " 

Anon, in ARBER. 

Beside these collections, which were in their origin and incep- 
tion chiefly musical, and literary, as it were, only by parergon, 
there are successors of the earlier Miscellanies in which, as in 
England's Helicon and the celebrated Passionate Pilgrim, there i 
is some of the most exquisite of our verse. And, yet again, 
a crowd of individual writers, of few of whom is much known, 
contributed, not in all cases their mites by any means, but 
often very respectable sums, to the vast treasury of English poetry. 
There is Sir Edward Dyer, the friend of Raleigh and Sidney, 
who has been immortalised by the famous " My mind to me 
a kingdom is," and who wrote other pieces not much inferior. 
There is Raleigh, to whom the glorious preparatory sonnet to 
The Faerie Qtieene would sufficiently justify the ascription of 
"a vein most lofty, insolent, and passionate," if a very con- 
siderable body of verse (independent of the fragmentary Cynthia) 


did not justify this many times over, as two brief quotations 
in addition to the sonnet will show : 

" Methought I saw the grave where Laura lay, 

Within that temple where the vestal flame 
Was wont to burn : and, passing by that way 

To see that buried dust of living fame, 
Whose tomb fair Love and fairer Virtue kept, 

All suddenly I saw the Fairy Queen, 
At whose approach the soul of Petrarch wept ; 

And from henceforth those graces were not seen, 
For they this Queen attended ; in whose stead 

Oblivion laid him down on Laura's hearse. 
Hereat the hardest stones were seen to bleed, 

And groans of buried ghosts the heavens did pierce : 
Where Homer's spright did tremble all for grief, 
And curse, the access of that celestial thief." 

" Three things there be that prosper all apace, 

And flourish while they are asunder far ; 
But on a day they meet all in a place, 

And when they meet they one another mar. 

" And they be these the Wood, the Weed, the Wag: 

The Wood is that that makes the gallows tree ; 
The Weed is that that strings the hangman's bag ; 
The Wag, my pretty knave, betokens thee. 

" Now mark, dear boy while these assemble not, 

Green springs the tree, hemp grows, the Wag is wild ; 
But when they meet, it makes the timber rot, 
It frets the halter, and it chokes the child. 

"God Bless the Child!" 

" Give me my scallop-shell of quiet, 

My staff of faith to walk upon, 
My scrip of joy, immortal diet, 

My bottle of salvation, 
My gown of glory, hope's true gage j 
And thus I'll take my pilgrimage. 

" Blood must be my body's balmer ; 
No other balm will there be given ; 


Whilst my soul, like quiet palmer, 

Travelleth towards the land of heaven ; 
Over the silver mountains 
Where spring the nectar fountains : 

There will I kiss 

The bowl of bliss ; 
And drink mine everlasting fill 
Upon every milken hill. 


My soul will be a-dry before, 
But after it will thirst no more. " 

\ * 

There is Lord Oxford, Sidney's enemy (which he might be if 
he chose), and apparently a coxcomb (which is less pardonable), 
but a charming writer of verse, as in the following : 

" Come hither, shepherd swain I 

Sir, what do you require ? 
I pray thee, shew to me thy name ! 
My name is Fond Desire. 

" When wert thou born, Desire? 
In pomp and prirrurof May. 
By whom, sweet boy, wert thou begot ? 
By fond Conceit, men say. 

" Tell me, who was thy nurse 

Fresh youth, in sugared joy. 
What was thy meat and daily food ? 
Sad sighs, with great annoy. 

" What hadst thou then to drink ? 

Unfeigned lovers' tears. 
What cradle wert thou rocked in ? 
In hope devoid of fears. 

" What lulled thee then asleep? 

Sweet speech which likes me best. 
Tell me, where is thy dwelling-place ? 
In gentle hearts I rest. 

" What thing doth please thee most ? 

To gaze on beauty still. 
Whom dost thou think to be thy foe ? 
Disdain of my good will. 


" Doth company displease? 
Yes, surely, many one. 
Where doth desire delight to live ? 
He loves to live alone. 

" Doth either time or age 

Bring him unto decay ? 
No, no ! Desire both Jives and dies 
A thousand times a day. 

" Then, fond Desire, farewell ! 
Thou art no mate for me ; 
I should be loath, methinks, to dwell 
With such a one as thee. 

There is, in the less exalted way, the industrious man of all work, 
Nicholas Breton, whom we shall speak of more at length 
among the pamphleteers, and John Davies of Hereford, no 
poet certainly, but a most industrious verse -writer in satiric 
and other forms. Mass of production, and in some cases 
personal interest, gives these A certain standing above their 
fellows. But the crowd of those fellows, about many of whom 
even the painful industry of the modern commentator has been 
able to tell us next to nothing, is almost miraculous when we 
remember that printing was still carried on under a rigid cen- 
sorship by a select body of monopolists, and that out of 
London, and in rare cases the university towns, it was impos- 
sible for a minor poet to get into print at all unless he trusted 
to the contraband presses of the Continent. In dealing with 
this crowd of enthusiastic poetical students it is impossible to 
mention all, and invidious to single out some only. The very 
early and interesting Posy of Gillyflowers of Humphrey Gifford 
(1580) exhibits the first stage of our period, and might almost 
have been referred to the period before it ; the same humpty- 
dumpty measure of eights and sixes, and the same vestiges 
of rather infantine alliteration being apparent in it, though some- 
thing of the fire and variety of the new age of poetry appears 
beside them, notably in this most spirited war-song : 

iv GIFFORD 129 

(/''or Soldiers.} 

" Ye buds of Brutus' land, courageous youths now play your parts, 1 
Unto your tackle stand, abide the brunt with valiant hearts, 
For news is carried to and fro, that we must forth to warfare go : 
Then muster now in every place, and soldiers are pressed forth apace. 
Faint not, spend blood to do your Queen and country good : 
Fair words, good pay, will make men cast all care away. 

" The time of war is come, prepare your corslet, spear, and shield: 
Methinks I hear the dru.m strike doleful marches to the field. 
Tantara, tantara the trumpets sound, which makes our hearts with joy 


The roaring guns are heard afar, and everything announceth war. 
Serve God, stand stout ; bold courage brings this gear about ; 
Fear not, forth run : faint heart fair lady never won. 

" Ye curious carpet-knights that spend the time in sport and play, 
Abroad and see new sights, your country's cause calls you away : 
Do not, to make your ladies' game, bring blemish to your worthy name. 
Away to field and win renown, with courage beat your enemies down ; 
Stout hearts gain praise, when dastards sail in slander's seas. 
Hap what hap shall, we soon shall die but once for all. 

" Alarm ! methinks they cry. Be packing mates, begone with speed, 
Our foes are very nigh : shame have that man that shrinks at need. 
Unto it boldly let us stand, God will give right the upper hand. 
Our cause is good we need not doubt : in sign of courage give a shout ; 
March forth, be strong, good hap will come ere it be long. 
Shrink not, fight well, for lusty lads must bear the bell. 

" All you that will shun evil must dwell in warfare every day. 
The world, the flesh, the devil always do seek our souls' decay. 
Strive with these foes with all your might, so shall you fight a worthy fight. 
That conquest dost deserve most praise, whose vice do[th] yield to virtue's 


Beat down foul sin, a worthy crown then shall ye win : 
If ye live well,, in Heaven with Christ our souls shall dwell." 

Of the same date, or indeed earlier, are the miscellaneous 
poems of Thomas Howell, entitled The Arbour of Amity, and 

1 I print this as in the original, but perhaps the rhythm, which is an odd 
one, would be better marked if lines I and 2 were divided into sixes and 
eights, lines 3 and 4 into eights, and lines 5 and 6 into fours and eights as the 
rhyme ends. 



chiefly of an ethical character. Less excusable for the uncouth- 
ness of his verse is Matthew Grove, who, writing, or at least pub- 
lishing, his poems in 1587, should have learnt something, but 
apparently had not. It has to be said in excuse of him that 
his date and indeed existence are shadowy, even among the 
shadowy Elizabethan bards ; his editor, in worse doggerel than 
his own, frankly confessing that he knew nothing about him, 
not so much as whether he was alive or dead. But his work, 
Howell's, and even part of Gifford's, is chiefly interesting as 
giving us in the very sharpest contrast the differences of the 
poetry before and after the melodious bursts of which Spenser, 
Sidney, and Watson were the first mouthpieces. Except an 
utter dunce (which Grove does not seem to have been by any 
means) no one who had before him The Shepherd's Calendar^ 
or the Hecatompathia, or a MS. copy of Astrophel and Stella, 
could have written as Grove wrote. There are echoes of this 
earlier and woodener matter to be found later, but, as a whole, the 
passionate love of beauty, the sense if only a groping sense 
of form, and the desire to follow, and if possible improve upon 
the models of melodious verse which the Sidneian school had 
given, preserved even poetasters from the lowest depths. 

To classify the miscellaneous verse of 1590-1600 (for the 
second decade is much richer than the first) under subjects 
and styles is a laborious and, at best, an uncertain business. 
The semi-mythological love -poem, with a more or less tragic 
ending, had not a few followers ; the collection of poems of 
various character in praise of a real or imaginary mistress, 
similar in design to the sonnet collections, but either more 
miscellaneous in form or less strung together in one long com- 
position, had even more ; while the collection pure and simple, 
resembling the miscellanies in absence of special character, but 
the work of one, not of many writers, was also plentifully re- 
presented. Satirical allegory, epigram, and other kinds, had 
numerous examples. But there were two classes of verse which 
were both sufficiently interesting in themselves and were culti- 


vated by persons of sufficient individual repute to deserve sepa- 
rate and detailed mention. These were the historical poem or 
history a kind of companion production to the chronicle play 
or chronicle, and a very popular one which, besides the names 
of Warner, Daniel, and Drayton, counted not a few minor ad- 
herents among Elizabethan bards. Such were the already-men- 
tioned Giles Fletcher ; such Fitz-Geoffrey in a remarkable poem 
on Drake, and Gervase Markham in a not less noteworthy 
piece on the last fight of The Revenge; such numerous others, 
some of whom are hardly remembered, and perhaps hardly de- 
serve to be. The other, and as a class the more interesting, 
though nothing actually produced by its practitioners may be 
quite equal to the best work of Drayton and Daniel, was the 
beginning of English satire. This beginning is interesting not 
merely because of the apparent coincidence of instinct which made 
four or five writers of great talent simultaneously hit on the 
style, so that it is to this day difficult to award exactly the 
palm of priority, but also because the result of their studies, in 
some peculiar and at first sight rather inexplicable ways, is some 
of the most characteristic, if very far from being some of the 
best, work of the whole poetical period with which we are now 
busied. In passing, moreover, from the group of miscellaneous 
poets to these two schools, if we lose not a little of the har- 
mony and lyrical sweetness which characterise the best work 
of the Elizabethan singer proper, we gain greatly in bulk and 
dignity of work and in intrinsic value. Of at least one of the 
poets mentioned in the last paragraph his modern editor a 
most enthusiastic and tolerant godfather of waifs and strays of 
literature confesses that he really does not quite know why 
he should be reprinted, except that the original is unique, and 
that almost every scrap of literature in this period is of some 
value, if only for lexicographic purposes. No one would dream 
of speaking thus of Drayton or of Daniel, of Lodge, Hall, 
Donne, or Marston; while even Warner, the weakest of the 
names to which we shall proceed to give separate notice, can be 


praised without too much allowance. In the latter case, more- 
over, if not in the first (for the history-poem, until it was taken up 
in a very different spirit at the beginning of this century, never 
was a success in England), the matter now to be reviewed, after 
being in its own kind neglected for a couple of generations, 
\) served as forerunner, if not exactly as model, to the magnificent 
satiric work of Dryden, and through his to that of Pope, Young, 
Churchill, Cowper, and the rest of the more accomplished English 
satirists. The acorn of such an oak cannot be without interest. 

The example of The Mirror for Magistrates is perhaps 
sufficient to account for the determination of a certain number 
of Elizabethan poets towards English history; especially if we 
add the stimulating effect of Holinshed's Chronicle, which was 
published in 1580. The first of the so-called historians, William 
Warner, belongs in point of poetical style to the pre-Spenserian 
period, and like its other exponents employs the fourteener; 
while, unlike some of them, he seems quite free from any Italian 
influence in phraseology or poetical manner. Nevertheless 
Albion's England is, not merely in bulk but in merit, far ahead of 
^the average work of our first period, and quite incommensurable 
with such verse as that of Grove. It appeared by instalments 
(1586-1606-1612). Of its author, William Warner, the old phrase 
has to be repeated, that next to nothing is known of him. He 
was an Oxfordshire man by birth, and an Oxford man by education ; 
he had something to do with Gary, Lord Hunsdon, became an 
Attorney of the Common Pleas, and died at Amwell suddenly in 
his bed in 1609, being, as it is guessed rather than known, fifty 
years old or thereabouts. Albion's England was seized as contra- 
band, by orders of the Archbishop of Canterbury a proceeding 
for which no one has been able to account (the suggestion that 
parts of it are indelicate is, considering the manners of the time, 
quite ludicrous), and which may perhaps have been due to some 
technical informality. It is thought that he is the author of a 
translation of Plautus's Menachnri ; he certainly produced in 1585? 
a prose story, or rather collection of stories, entitled Syrinx, which, 

iv WARNER 133 

however, is scarcely worth reading. Albiotis England is in no 
danger of incurring that sentence. In the most easily accessible 
edition, that of Chalmers's " Poets," it is spoilt by having the 
fourteeners divided into eights and sixes, and it should if possible 
be read in the original arrangement. Considering how few 
persons have written about it, an odd collection of critical slips 
might be made. Philips, Milton's nephew, in this case it may be 
hoped, not relying on his uncle, calls Warner a "good plain 
writer of moral rules and precepts " : the fact being that though he 
sometimes moralises he is in the main a story-teller, and much more J/ 
bent on narrative than on teachin. Meres calls him " a refiner of 7 

the English tongue," and attributes to him "rare ornaments 
resplendent habiliments of the pen": the truth being that he is c^d 
(as Philips so far correctly says) a singularly plain, straightforward, 
and homely writer. Others say that he wrote in " Alexandrines " 
a blunder, and a serious one, which has often been repeated up 
to the present day in reference to other writers of the seven-foot 
verse. He brings in, according to the taste and knowledge of his 
time, all the fabulous accounts of the origins of Britain, and 
diversifies them with many romantic and pastoral histories, 
classical tales, and sometimes mere Fabliaux, down to his own 
time. The chief of the episodes, the story of Argentile and 
Curan, has often, and not undeservedly, met with high praise, and 
sometimes in his declamatory parts Warner achieves a really 
great success. Probably, however, what commended his poem 
most to the taste of the day was its promiscuous admixture of 
things grave and gay a mixture which was always much to the v 
taste of Elizabeth's men, and the popularity of which produced 
and fostered many things, from the matchless tragi-comedy of 
Hamlet and Macbeth to the singularly formless pamphlets of 
which we shall speak hereafter. The main interest of Warner is 
his insensibility to the new influences which Spenser and Sidney \/ 
directed, and which are found producing their full effect on 
Daniel and Drayton. There were those in his own day who 
compared him to Homer : one of the most remarkable instances 


of thoroughly unlucky critical extravagance to be found in literary 
history, as the following very fair average specimen will show : 

" Henry (as if by miracle preserved by foreigns long, 
From hence-meant treasons) did arrive to right his natives' wrong : 
And chiefly to Lord Stanley, and some other succours, as 
Did wish and work for better days, the rival welcome was. 
Now Richard heard that Richmond was assisted and ashore, 
And like unkennel'd Cerberus, the crooked tyrant swore, 
And all complexions act at once confusedly in him : 
He studieth, striketh, threats, entreats, and looketh mildly grim, 
Mistrustfully he trusteth, and he dreadingly did dare, 
And forty passions in a trice, in him consort and square. 
But when, by his consented force, his foes increased more, 
He hastened battle, rinding his co-rival apt therefore. 
When Richmond, orderly in all, had battled his aid, 
Inringed by his complices, their cheerful leader said : 
' Now is the time and place (sweet friends) and we the persons be 
That must give England breath, or else unbreathe for her must we. 
No tyranny is fabled, and no tyrant was in deed 

Worse than our foe, whose works will act my words, if well he speed : 
For ill to ills superlative are easily enticed, 
But entertains amendment as the Gergesites did Christ. 
Be valiant then, he biddeth so that would not be outbid, 
For courage yet shall honour him though base, that better did. 
I am right heir Lancastrian, he, in York's destroyed right 
Usurpeth : but through either ours, for neither claim I fight, 
But for our country's long-lack'd weal, for England's peace I war : 
Wherein He speed us ! unto Whom I all events refer.' 
Meanwhile had furious Richard set his armies in array, 
And then, with looks even like himself, this or the like did say : 
' Why, lads, shall yonder Welshman with his stragglers overmatch ? 
Disdain ye not such rivals, and defer ye their dispatch ? 
Shall Tudor from Plantagenet, the crown by cracking snatch ? 
Know Richard's veiy thoughts ' (he touch'd the diadem he wore) 
' Be metal of this metal : then believe I love it more 
Than that for other law than life, to supersede my claim, 
And lesser must not be his plea that counterpleads the same.' 
The weapons overtook his words, and blows they bravely change, 
When, like a lion thirsting blood, did moody Richard range, 
And made large slaughters where he went, till Richmond he espied, 
Whom singling, after doubtful swords, the valorous tyrant died." 

iv DANIEL 135 

.x- Of the sonnet compositions of Daniel and Drayton something 
has been said already. But Daniel's sonnets are a small and 
Drayton's an infinitesimal part of the work of the two poets 
respectively. Samuel Daniel was a Somersetshire man, born 
near Taunton in 1562. He is said to have been the son of a 
music master, but was educated at Oxford, made powerful friends, 
and died an independent person at Beckington, in the county of 
his birth, in the year 1619. He was introduced early to good 
society and patronage, became tutor to Lady Anne Clifford, a 
great heiress of the North, was favoured by the Earl of South- 
ampton, and became a member of the Pembroke or Arcadia 
coterie. His friends or his merits obtained for him, it is said, 
the Mastership of the Revels, the posts of Gentleman Extra- 
ordinary to James I., and Groom of the Privy Chamber to Anne 
of Denmark. His literary production besides Delia was con- 
siderable. With the first authorised edition of that collection 
he published The Complaint of Rosamond, a historical poem of 
great grace and elegance though a little wanting in strength. In 
1^94 came his interesting Senecan tragedy of Cleopatra. ; in 1595 
the first part of his chief work, The History of the Civil Wars, 
and in 1601 a collected folio of "Works." Then he rested, at 
any rate from publication, till 1605, when he produced Philotas, 
another Senecan tragedy in verse. In prose he wrote the admirable 
Defence of Rhyme, which finally smashed the fancy for classical metres 
dear even to such a man as Campion. Hymen's Triumph, a 
masque of great beauty, was not printed till four years before his 
death. He also wrote a History of England as well as minor 
works. The poetical value of Daniel may almost be summed up 
in two words sweetness and dignity. He is decidedly wanting 
in strength, and, despite Delia, can hardly be saidjo. hayp had a \ / 
s_park of passion. Even in his own day it was doubted "whether 
hehadnoT~6verweighted himself with his choice of historical 
subjects, though the epithet of " well-languaged," given to him at 
the time, evinces a real comprehension of one of his best claims 
to attention. No writer of the period has such a command of pure I/ 


English, unadulterated by xenomania and unweakened by purism, 
as Daniel. Whatever unfavourable things have been said of him 
from time to time have been chiefly based on the fact that his 

J chaste and correct style lacks the fiery quaintness, the irregular 
and audacious attraction of his contemporaries. Nor was he less 

\/ a master of versification than of vocabulary. His Defence of 
Rhyme shows that he possessed the theory : all his poetical works 
show that he was a master of the practice. He rarely attempted and 

\/ probably would not have excelled in the lighter lyrical measures. 
But in the grave music of the various elaborate stanzas in which 
the Elizabethan poets delighted, and of which the Spenserian, 
though the crown and flower, is only the most perfect, he was a 
great proficient, and his couplets and blank verse are not inferior. 
Some of his single lines have already been quoted, and many 
more might be excerpted from his work of the best Elizabethan 
brand in the quieter kind. ^)uietj indeed, is the overmastering 
characteristic of Daniel. It was this no doubt which made him 
prefer the stately style of his Senecan tragedies, and the hardly 
more disturbed structure of pastoral comedies and tragi-comedies, 
like the Queen's Arcadia and Hymerfs Triumph, to the boisterous 
revels of the stage proper in his time. He had something of the 
schoolmaster in his nature as well as in his history. Nothing is 

\i more agreeable to him than to moralise ; not indeed in any dull 
or crabbed manner, but in a mellifluous and at the same time 
weighty fashion, of which very few other poets have the secret. 
It is perhaps by his scrupulous propriety, by his anxious decency 
(to use the word not in its modern and restricted sense, but in its 
proper meaning of the generally becoming), that Daniel brought 

. upon himself the rather hard saying that he had a manner " better 
suiting prose." 

~ The sentence will scarcely be echoed by any one who has 
his best things before him, however much a reader of some 
of the duller parts of the historical poems proper may feel 
inclined to echo it. Of his sonnets one has been given. The 
splendid Epistle to the Countess of Cumberland is not surpassed 


as ethical poetry by anything of the period, and often as it has 
been quoted, it must be given again, for it is not and never can 
be too well known: 

" He that of such a height hath built his mind, 
And reared the dwelling of his thoughts so strong, 
As neither fear nor hope can shake the frame 
Of his resolved powers ; nor all the wind 
Of vanity or malice pierce to wrong 
His settled peace, or to disturb the same : 
What a fair seat hath he, from whence he may 
The boundless wastes and wealds of man survey ! 

"And with how free an eye doth he look down 
Upon these lower regions of turmoil ! 
Where all the storms of passion mainly beat 
On flesh and blood : where honour, power, renown, 
Are only gay afflictions, golden toil ; 
Where greatness stands upon as feeble feet 
As frailty doth ; and only great doth seem 
To little minds, who do it so esteem. 

" He looks upon the mightiest monarch's wars 
But only as on stately robberies ; 
Where evermore the fortune that prevails 
Must be the right : the ill-succeeding mars 
The fairest and the best fac'd enterprise. 
Great pirate Pompey lesser pirates quails : 
Justice, he sees (as if seduced) still 
Conspires with power, whose cause must not be ill. 

" He sees the face of right t'appear as manifold 
As are the passions of uncertain man ; 
Who puts it in all colours, all attires, 
To serve his ends, and make his courses hold. 
He sees, that let deceit work what it can, 
Plot and contrive base ways to high desires, 
That the all-guiding Providence doth yet 
All disappoint, and mocks the smoke of wit. 

" Nor is he mov'd with all the thunder cracks 
Of tyrants' threats, or with the surly brow 
Of Power, that proudly sits on others' crimes ; 
Charg'd with more crying sins than those he checks. 


The storms of sad confusion, that may grow 
Up in the present for the coming times 
Appal not him ; that hath no side at all, 
But of himself, and knows the worst can fall. 

" Although his heart (so near allied to Earth) 
Cannot but pity the perplexed state 
Of troublous and distress'd Mortality, 
That thus make way unto the ugly birth 
Of their own sorrows, and do still beget 
Affliction upon imbecility : 
Yet seeing thus the course of things must run, 
He looks thereon not strange, but as fore-done. 

"And whilst distraught ambition compasses, 
And is encompass'd ; whilst as craft deceives, 
And is deceiv'd : whilst man doth ransack man 
And builds on blood, and rises by distress ; 
And th' inheritance of desolation leaves 
To great-expecting hopes : he looks thereon, 
As from the shore of peace, with unwet eye, 
And bears no venture in impiety." 

In sharp contrast with this the passage from Hymeifs Triumph, 

" Ah, I remember well, and how can IV" 

shows the sweetness without namby-pambyness which Daniel had 
at constant command. Something of the same contrast may be 
found between the whole of Hymen's Triumph and the Queen's 
Arcadia on the one side, and Cleopatra and Philotas on the 
other. All are written in mixed blank and rhymed verse, 
much interlaced and " enjambed." The best of the historical 
poems is, by common consent, Rosamond, which is instinct with 
a most remarkable pathos, nor are fine passages by any means to 
seek in the greater length and less poetical subject of The Civil 
Wars of York and Lancaster. The fault of this is that the too 
conscientious histQrian__js__constantly versifying what must; hp 
called mere expletive matter. This must always make any one 
who speaks with critical impartiality admit that much of Daniel 
is hard reading ; but the soft places (to use the adjective in no 


ill sense) are frequent enough, and when the reader conies to 
them he must have little appreciation of poetry if he does 
not rejoice in the foliage and the streams of the poetical oasis 
which has rewarded him after his pilgrimage across a rather arid 

./ Michael Drayton was much better fitted for the arduous, and 
perhaps not wholly legitimate, business of historical poetry than . 
Daniel If his genius was somewhat less fine, it was infinitely 
better thewed and sinewed. His ability, indeed, to force any 
subject which he chose to treat into poetry is amazing, and _can 
hardly be paralleled elsewhere except in a poet who was born 
but just before Dray ton's death, John Dryden. He was pretty 
certainly a gentleman by birth, though not of any great pos- 
sessions, and is said to have been born at Hartshill, in Warwick- 
shire, in the year 1563. He is also said, but not known, to 
have been a member of the University of Oxford, and appears to 
have been fairly provided with patrons, in the family of some one 
of whom he served as page, though he never received any great 
or permanent preferment. 1 On the other hand, he_was not a 
successful dramatist (the only literary employment of the time 
that brought in much money), and friend as he was of nearly all 
the men of letters of the time, it is expressly stated in one of the 
few personal notices we have of him, that he could not " swagger 
in a tavern or domineer in a hothouse " [house of ill-fame] that 

is to say, that the hail-fellow well-met Bohemianism of the time, 

-N ru* 
which had led Marlowe and many of his group to evil 

and which was continued in a less outrageous form under t 
patronage of Ben Jonson till far into the next age, had no charms 
for him. Yet he must have lived somehow and to a good age, 
for he did not die till the 23d December 1631. He was 
buried in Westminster Abbey, .a fact which drew from Goldsmith, 
in The Citizen of the World, a gibe showing only the lamentable 
ignorance of the best period of English poetry, in which Gold- 

1 Drayton has been thoroughly treated by Professor Oliver Elton in Michael 
Drayton (London, 1905), enlarged from a monograph for the Spenser Society. 


smith was not indeed alone, but in which he was perhaps pre- 
eminent among contemporaries eminent for it 

Drayton's long life was as industrious as it was long. He 
began in 1591 with a volume of sacred verse, the Harmony of 
the Church, which, for some reason not merely undiscovered but 
unguessed, displeased the censors, and was never reprinted with 
his other works untinecehtly. Two years later appeared Idea, 

The Wift^frffj^ anrln.nd-n rnlWtirm nf prlngn^ nrt to be 

confounded with the more famous collection of sonnets in praise 
of the~same real or lancied mistress which appeared later. In 
the first of these Drayton called himself " Rowland," or " Ro- 
land," a fact on which some rather rickety structures of guesswork 
have been built as to allusions to him in Spenser. His next 
work was J^azliouriados, afterwards refashioned and completed 
under the title of The Baron? Wars, and this was followed in 
1597 by one of his best works, England's Heroical Epistles. 
The Owl^ some Legends, and other poems succeeded ; and in 
1605 he began to collect his Works, which were frequently 
reprinted. The mighty poem of the P&Jyolbion was the fruit 
of his later years, and, in strictness, belongs to the period of a 
later chapter; but Drayton's muse iseminently one and indi- 
visihlpj flnd, notwithstanding the fruits ofjgfeHy\c^ntinual^ study 
which his verses show, they belong, in the order of thought, 

tothe middle and later Elizabethan^ p^ri^H rath^ jjisn to the 

-J Few poets of anything like r)raytnn's ynlump (of which some 
idea may be formed by saying that his works, in the not quite 
complete form in which they appear in Chalmers, fill five hundred 
of the bulky pages of that work, each page frequently containing 
a hundred and twenty-eight lines) show such .uniform mixture of 
-4 imagination and vigour. In the very highest and rarest graces-xif 
poetry he is, indeed, by common consent wanting, unless pj?e 
of these graces in the uncommon kind of the war-song be allowed. 
as perhaps it may be, to the famous and inimitable though jaflen- 
imitated Ballad of Asincourt. "To the brave Cambro-Britons 


and their Harp," not to be confounded with the narrative 
"Battle of Agincourt," which is of a less rare merit. The Agin- 

court ballad, 

" Fair stood the wind for France," 

is quite at the head of its own class of verse in England 
Campbell's two masterpieces, and Lord Tennyson's still more 
direct imitation in the "Six Hundred," falling, the first somewhat, 
and the last considerably, short of it. The sweep of the metre, 
the martial glow of the sentiment, and the skill with which the 
names are wrought into the verse, are altogether beyond praise. 
Drayton never, unless the enigmatical sonnet to Idea (see ante) be 
really his, rose to such concentration of matter and such elaborate 
yet unforced perfection of manner as here, yet his great qualities 
are perceptible all over his work. The enormous Polyolbion, 
written m a metre the least suitable to continuous verse of any in 
English the Alexandrine crammed with matter rebel to poetry, 
and obliging the author to find his chief poetical attraction rather 
in superadded ornament, in elaborately patched -on passages, 
than in the actual and natural evolution of his theme, is still a 
very great work in another than the mechanical sense. Here 
is a fairly representative passage : 

"The haughty Cambrian hills enamoured of their praise, 
(As they who only sought ambitiously to raise 
The blood of God-like Brute) their heads do proudly bear : 
And having crown'd themselves sole regents of the air 
(Another war with Heaven as though they meant to make) 
Did seem in great disdain the bold affront to take, 
That any petty hill upon the English side, 
Should dare, not (with a crouch) to veil unto their pride. 
When Wrekin, as a hill his proper worth that knew, 
And understood from whence their insolency grew, 
For all that they appear'd so terrible in sight, 
Yet would not once forego a jot that was his right, 
And when they star'd on him, to them the like he gave, 
And answer'd glance for glance, and brave for brave : 
That, when some other hills which English dwellers were, 
The lusty Wrekin saw himself so well to bear 


Against the Cambrian part, respectless of their power ; 

His eminent disgrace expecting every hour 

Those flatterers that before (with many cheerful look) 

Had grac'd his goodly sight, him utterly forsook, 

And muffled them in clouds, like mourners veiled in black, 

Which of their utmost hope attend the ruinous wrack : 

That those delicious nymphs, fair Team and Rodon clear 

(Two brooks of him belov'd, and two that held him dear ; 

He, having none but them, they having none but he 

Which to their mutual joy might cither's object be) 

Within their secret breast conceived sundry fears, 

And as they mix'd their streams, for him so mix'd their tears. 

V.'hom, in their coming down, when plainly he discerns, 

For them his nobler heart in his strong bosom yearns : 

But, constantly resolv'd, that dearer if they were) 

The Britons should not yet all from the English bear ; 

'Therefore,' quoth he, 'brave flood, tho' forth by Cambria brought, 

Yet as fair England's friend, or mine thou would'st be thought 

(O Severn) let thine ear my just defence partake.' " 

Happy phrases abound, and, moreover, every now and then there 
are set pieces, as they may be called, of fanciful description which 
are full of beauty ; for Drayton (a_not_very usual thing in _a_man 
of such unflagging industry, and even excellence of work) jvasjull 
o fancy. The fairy poem of Nymphidia is ongL "f the rpnst 
jrraceful trifles in the language, possessing a dancing movement 
and a felicitous choice of imagery and language which triumphantly 
avoid the trivial on the one hand, and the obviously burlesque on 
the_oihr^- The singular satirical or quasi-satirical poems of T/ie 
Mooncalf, The Owl, and The Man in the Moon, show a faculty of 
comic treatment less graceful indeed, but scarcely inferior, and 
the lyrics called Odes (of which the Ballad of Agincourt is some- 
times classed as one) exhibit a command of lyric metre hardly 
inferior to the command displayed in that masterpiece. In fact, if_ 
ever there was a poet who could write, and write, perhaps_beau^ 
tifully, certainly well, about any conceivable broomstickin almost 
any conceivable manner, that, poet was Drayton. His historical 
poems, which are inferior in bulk only to the huge Polyolbion, con- 
tain a great deal of most admirable work. They consist of three 


divisions The Barons Wars in eight-lined stanzas, the Heroic 
Epistles (suggested, of course, by Ovid, though anything but 
Ovidian) in heroic couplets, The Miseries of Queen Margaret in 
the same stanza as The Barons' Wars, and Four Legends in 
stanzas of various form and range. That this mass of work 
should possess, or should, indeed, admit of the charms of poetry 
which distinguish The Faerie Queene would be impossible, even if 
Drayton had been Spenser, which he was far from being. But 
to speak of his " dull creeping narrative," to accuse him of the 
"coarsest vulgarities," of being "flat and prosaic," and so on, as 
was done by eighteenth -century critics, is absolutely uncritical, 
unless it be very much limited. The Barons' Wars is somewhat 
_dull, the author being too careful to give a minute history of a_not 
particularly interesting subject, and neglecting to take the only 
possible means of making it interesting by bringing out strongly 
the characters of heroes and heroines, and so infusing a dramatic 
interest. But this absence of character is a constant drawback to 
the historicalpoems of the time. And even here we find many 
passages where the drawback of the stanza for narrative is most 
skilfully avoided, and where the vigour of the single lines and 
phrases is unquestionable on any sound estimate. 

Still the stanza, though Drayton himself defends it (it should 
be mentioned that his prose prefaces are excellent, and constitute 
another link between him and Dryden), is something of a clog ; 
and the same thing is felt in The Miseries of Queen Margaret and 
the Legends, where, however, it is again not difficult to pick out 
beauties. The Her oical Epistles can be praised with less allowance. 
Their shorter compass, their more manageable metre (for Drayton 
was a considerable master of the earlier form of couplet), and the 
fact that a personal interest is infused in each, give them a great 
advantage ; and, as always, passages of great merit are not 
infrequent. Finally, Drayton must have the praise (surely not quite 
irrelevant) of a most ardent and lofty spirit of patriotism. Never \f 
was there a better Englishman, and as his love of his country 
spirited him up to the brilliant effort of the Ballad of Agincourt, 


so it sustained him through the " strange herculean task " of the 
Polyolbion, and often put light and life into the otherwise lifeless 
mass of the historic poems. Yet I have myself no doubt that 
these historic poems were a mistake, and that their composition, 
though prompted by a most creditable motive, the burning^ 
attachment to_England which won the fight with Spain, and laid 
the foundation of the English empire, was not altogether, perhaps 
was not by any means, according to knowledge. 

The almost invariable, and I fear it must be said, almost 
invariably idle controversy about priority in literary styles has been 
stimulated, in the case of English satire, by a boast of Joseph 
Hall's made in his own Virgidemiarum 

" Follow me who list, 
And be the second English satirist. " 

It has been pleaded in Hall's favour that although the date 
of publication of his Satires is known, the date of their composi- 
tion is not known. It is not even necessary to resort to this 
kind of special pleading ; for nothing can be more evident than 
that the bravado is not very serious. On the literal supposition, 
however, and if we are to suppose that publication immediately 
followed composition, Hall was anticipated by more than one or 
two predecessors, in the production of work not only specifically 
satirical but actually called satire, and by two at least in the adop- 
tion of the h^^i^coupletform which has ever since been con- 
secrated to the subject. Satirical poetry, of a kind, is of course 
nearly if not quite as old as the language, and in the hands of 
Skelton it had assumed various forms. But the satire proper the 
following of the great Roman examples of Horace, Juvenal, and 
Persius in general lashing of vice and folly can hardly trace itself 
further back in England than George Gascoigne's Steel Glass, which 
preceded Hall's Virgidemiarum by twenty years, and is interesting 
not only for itself but as being ushered in by the earliest known 
verses of Walter Raleigh. It is written in blank verse, and is a 
rather rambling commentary on the text vanitas vanitatum, but 
it expressly calls itself a satire and answers sufficiently well to the 


description. More immediate and nearer examples were to be 
^ found in the Satires of Donne and Lodge. The first named were 
indeed, like the other poetical works of their marvellously gifted 
writer, not published till many years after ; but universal tra- 
dition ascribes the whole of Donne's profane poems to his early 
youth, and one document exists which distinctly dates " John 
Donne, his Satires," as early as 1593. We shall therefore deal 
with them, as with the other closely connected work of their 
author, here and in this chapter. But there has to be mentioned 
first the feebler but chronologically more certain work of Thomas 
Lodge, A Fig for Afcmus, which fulfils both the requirements of 
known date and of composition in couplets. It appeared in 
I 595> two years before Hall, and is of the latest and weakest of 
Lodge's verse work. It was written or at least produced when 
he was just abandoning his literary and adventurous career and 
settling down as a quiet physician with no more wild oats to sow, 
except, perhaps, some participation in popish conspiracy. The 
style did not lend itself to the display of any of Lodge's strongest 
gifts romantic fancy, tenderness and sweetness of feeling, or 
elaborate embroidery of precious language. He follows Horace 
pretty closely and with no particular vigour. Nor does the book 
appear to have attracted much attention, so that it is just possible 
that Hall may not have heard of it. If, however, he had not, it is 
certainly a curious coincidence that he, with Donne and Lodge, 
should all have hit on the couplet as their form, obvious as its 
advantages are when it is once tried. For the rhyme points the 
satirical hits, while the comparatively brief space of each distich 
prevents that air of wandering which naturally accompanies satire 
in longer stanzas. At any rate after the work (in so many ways 
remarkable) of Donne, Hall, and Marston, there could hardly 
be any more doubt about the matter, though part of the method 
which these writers, especially Donne and Marston, took to give 
individuality and "bite" to their work was as faulty as it now 
seems to us peculiar. 

Ben Jonson, the least gushing of critics to his contemporaries, 


said of John Donne that he was " the first poet of the world in 
.some things," and I own that without going through the long 
catalogue of singularly contradictory criticisms which have been 
passed on Donne, I feel disposed to fall back on and adopt this 
earliest, simplest, and highest encomium. Possibly Bem*night 
not have meant the same things that I mean, but that does not 
matter. It is sufficient for me that in one special point of the 
poetic charm the faculty of suddenly transfiguring common 

Nothings by a flood of light, and opening up strange visions to the 
capable imagination Donne is surpassed by no poet of any 
language, and equalled by few. That he has obvious and great 
defects, that he is wholly and in all probability deliberately 
careless of formal smoothness, that he adopted the fancy of his 

N time for quaint and recondite expression with an almost perverse 
vigour, and set the example of the topsy-turvified conceits which 
came to a climax in Crashaw and Cleveland, that he is almost 
impudently licentious in thought and imagery at times, that he 

-^ alternates the highest poetry with the lowest doggerel, the noblest 
thought with the most trivial crotchet all this is true, and all 
this must be allowed for; but it only chequers, it does not 
obliterate, the record of his poetic gifts and graces. He is, more- 
over, one of the most historically important of poets, although 
by a strange chance there is no known edition of his poems 
earlier than 1633, some partial and privately printed issues having 
disappeared wholly if they ever existed. His influence was second 

-^^o_ the_Jnfluence of no__rx)et of his generation, and completely 
overshadowed all others, towards his own latter days and the 
decades immediately following his death, except that of Jonson. 
Thomas Carew's famous description of him as 

" A king who ruled as he thought fit 
The universal monarchy of wit," 

expresses the general opinion of the time ; and even after the 
revolt headed by Waller had dethroned him from the position, 
Dryden, his successor in the same monarchy, while declining to 

iv DONNE 147 

allow him the praise of " the best poet " (that is, the most exact 
follower of the rules and system of versifying which Dryden him- 
self preferred), allowed him to be " the greatest wit of the nation. " 
His life concerns us little, and its events are not disputed, or 
rather, in the earlier part, are still rather obscure. Born in 1573, 
educated at both universities and at Lincoln's Inn, a traveller, a 
man of pleasure, a law-student, a soldier, and probably for a time 
a member of the Roman Church, he seems just before reaching 
middle life to have experienced some religious change, took 
orders, became a famous preacher, was made Dean of St. Paul's, 
and died in 1631. 

It has been said that tradition and probability point to the 
composition of most, and that all but certain documentary 
evidence points to the composition of some, of his poems in the 
earlier part of his life. Unless the date of the Harleian MS. is a 
forgery, some of his satires were written in or before 1593, when 
he was but twenty years old. The boiling passion, without a 
thought of satiety, which marks many of his elegies would also 
incline us to assign them to youth, and though some of his 
epistles, and many of his miscellaneous poems, are penetrated 
with a quieter and more reflective spirit, the richness of fancy 
in them, as well as the amatory character of many, perhaps 
the majority, favour a similar attribution. All alike display 
Donne's peculiar poetical quality the fiery imagination shining 
in dark places, the magical illumination of obscure and shadowy 
thoughts with the lightning of fancy. In one remarkable respect 
Donne has a peculiar cast of thought as well as of manner, 
displaying that mixture of voluptuous and melancholy meditation, \ 
that swift transition of thought from the marriage sheet to The 
shroud, which is characteristic of French Renaissance poets, but 
less fully, until he set the example, of English. The best known and 
most exquisite of his fanciful flights, the idea of the discovery of 

" A bracelet of bright hair about the bone " 

of his own long interred skeleton : the wish 


" I long to talk with some old lover's ghost 
Who died before the god of love was born," 

and others, show this peculiarity. And it recurs in the most 
unexpected places, as, for the matter of that, does his strong 
satirical faculty. In some of his poems, as the Anatomy of the 
World, occasioned by the death of Mrs. Elizabeth Drury, this 
melancholy imagery mixed with touches (only touches here) of the 
passion which had distinguished the author earlier (for the 
Anatomy is not an early work), and with religious and philo- 
sophical meditation, makes the strangest amalgam shot through, 
however, as always, with the golden veins of Donne's incomparable 
poetry. Expressions so strong as this last may seem in want of 
justification. And the three following pieces, the " Dream," a 
fragment of satire, and an extract from the Anatomy, may or may 
not, according to taste, supply it : 

" Dear love, for nothing less than thee 
Would I have broke this happy dream. 

It was a theme 

For reason, much too strong for fantasy : . 
Therefore thou wak'dst me wisely ; yet 
My dream thou brok'st not, but continued'st it : 
Thou art so true, that thoughts of thee suffice 
To make dreams true, and fables histories ; 
Enter these arms, for since thou thought'st it best 
Not to dream all my dream, let's act the rest. 

" As lightning or a taper's light 
Thine eyes, and not thy noise, wak'd me ; 

Yet I thought thee 

(For thou lov'st truth) an angel at first sight, 
But when I saw thou saw'st my heart 
And knew'st my thoughts beyond an angel's art, 
When thou knew'st what I dreamt, then thou knew'st when 
Excess of joy would wake me, and cam'st then; 
/ must confess, it could not choose but be 
Profane to think thee anything but thee. 

" Coming and staying show'd thee thee, 
But rising makes me doubt that now 
Thou art not thou. 

DONNE 149 

That love is weak where fears are strong as he ; 
"Tis not all spirit, pure and brave, 
If mixture it of fear, shame, honour, have. 
Perchance as torches which must ready be 
Men light, and put out, so thou deal'st with me. 
Thou cam'st to kindle, goest to come : then I 
Will dream that hope again, or else would die." 

" O age of rusty iron ! some better wit 
Call it some worse name, if ought equal it. 
Th' iron age was, when justice was sold ; now 
Injustice is sold dearer far ; allow 
All claim'd fees and duties, gamesters, anon 
The money, which you sweat and swear for 's gone 
Into other hands ; so controverted lands 
'Scape, like Angelica, the striver's hands. 
If law be in the judge's heart, and he 
Have no heart to resist letter or fee, 
Where wilt thou appeal ? power of the courts below 
Flows from the first main head, and these can throw 
Thee, if they suck thee in, to misery, 
To fetters, halters. But if th' injury 
Steel thee to dare complain, alas ! thou go'st 
Against the stream upwards when thou art most 
Heavy and most faint ; and in these labours they 
'Gainst whom thou should'st complain will in thy way 
Become great seas, o'er which when thou shall be 
Forc'd to make golden bridges, thou shall see 
That all thy gold was drowned in them before." 

She, whose fair body no such prison was 
But that a soul might well be pleased to pass 
An age in her ; she, whose rich beauty lent 
Mintage to olher beaulies, for they went 
But for so much as they were like to her ; 
She, in whose body (if we dare prefer 
This low world to so high a mark as she), 
The western treasure, eastern spicery, 
Europe and Afric, and the unknown rest 
Were easily found, or wjiat in ihem was best ; 
And when we've made ihis large discovery 
Of all, in her some one part then will be 


Twenty such parts, whose plenty and riches is 
Enough to make twenty such worlds as this ; 
She, whom had they known, who did first betroth 
The tutelar angels and assigned one both 
To nations, cities, and to companies, 
To functions, offices, and dignities, 
And to each several man, to him and him, 
They would have giv'n her one for every limb ; 
She, of whose soul if we may say 'twas gold, 
Her body was th' electrum and did hold 
Many degrees of that ; we understood 
Her by her sight ; her pure and eloquent blood 
Spoke in her cheeks, and so distinctly wrought 
That one might almost say, her body thought ; 
She, she thus richly and largely hous'd is gone 
And chides us, slow-paced snails who crawl upon 
Our prison's prison earth, nor think us well 
Longer than whilst we bear our brittle shell. " 

But no short extracts will show Donne, and there is no room 
for a full anthology. He must be read, and by every catholic 
student of English literature should be regarded with a respect 
only " this side idolatry," though the respect need not carry with 
it blindness to his undoubtedly glaring faults. 

Those faults are not least seen in his Satires, though neither 
the unbridled voluptuousness which makes his Elegies shocking 
to modern propriety, nor the far-off conceit which appears 
in his meditative and miscellaneous poems, is very strongly or 
specially represented here. Nor, naturally enough, is the extreme 
beauty of thought and allusion distinctly noteworthy in a class 
of verse which does not easily admit it. On the other hand, the 
force and originality of Donne's intellect are nowhere better 
shown. It is a constant fault of modern satirists that in their 
\ljust admiration for Horace and Juvenal they merely paraphrase 
them, and, instead of going to the fountainhead and taking their 
matter from human nature, merely give us fresh studies of Ibam 
forte via sacra or the Tenth of JuVenal, adjusted to the meridians 
of Paris or London. Although Donne is not quite free from 

iv HALL i$f 

this fault, he is much freer than either of his contemporaries,^ 
Regnier or Hall. And the rough vigour of his sketches and 
single lines is admirable. Yet it is as rough as it is vigorous ; and 
the breakneck versification and contorted phrase of his satires, 
softened a little in Hall, roughened again and to a much greater 
degree in Marston, and reaching, as far as phrase goes, a rare 
extreme in the Transformed Metamorphosis of Cyril Tourneur, 
have been the subject of a great deal of discussion. It is now 
agreed by all the best authorities that it would be a mistake to 
consider this roughness unintentional or merely clumsy, and that 
it sprung, at any rate in great degree, from an idea that the 
ancients intended the Satura to be written in somewhat un- 
polished verse, as well as from a following of the style of Persius, 
the most deliberately obscure of all Latin if not of all classical 
poets. In language Donne is not (as far as his Satires are con- 
cerned) a very great sinner ; but his versification, whether by his 
own intention or not, leaves much to desire. At one moment 
the ten syllables are only to be made out by a Chaucerian 
lengthening of the mute e ; at another the writer seems to be 
emulating Wyatt in altering the accent of syllables, and coolly 
making the final iambus of a line out of such a word as "answer." 
It is no wonder that poets of the " correct " age thought T< 
him in need of rewriting ; though even they could not mistake 
the force of observation and expression which characterises his 
Satires, and which very frequently reappears even in his dreamiest 
metaphysics, his most recondite love fancies, and his warmest 
and most passionate hymns to Aphrodite Pandemos. 

These artificial characteristics are supplemented in the Eliza- 
bethan satirists, other than Donne, by yet a third, which makes 
them, I confess, to me rather tedious reading, independently of 
their shambling metre, and their sometimes almost unconstruable 
syntax. This is the absurd affectation of extreme moral wrath 
agairfst the corruptions of their time in which they all indulge. 
Marston, who is nearly the foulest, if not quite the foulest writer 
of any English classic, gives himself the airs of the most sensitive 


puritan ; Hall, with a little less of this contrast, sins considerably 
in the same way, and adds to his delinquencies a most petulant 
and idle attempt to satirise from the purely literary point of view 
writers who are a whole head and shoulders above himself. And 
these two, followed by their imitator, Guilpin, assail each other 
in a fashion which argues either a very absurd sincerity of 
literary jealousy, or a very ignoble simulation of it, for the 
purpose of getting up interest on the part of the public. Never- 
theless, both Marston and Hall are very interesting figures in 
English literature, and their satirical performances cannot be 
passed over in any account of it. 

Joseph Hall was born near Ashby de la Zouch, of parents in 
the lower yeoman rank of life, had his education at the famous 
Puritan College of Emanuel at Cambridge, became a Fellow 
thereof, proceeded through the living of Hawstead and a canonry 
at Wolverhampton to the sees of Exeter and Norwich, of the 
latter of which he was violently deprived by the Parliament, 
and, not surviving long enough to see the Restoration, died (1656) 
in a suburb of his cathedral city. His later life 'was important 
for religious literature and ecclesiastical politics, in his dealings 
with the latter of which he came into conflict, not altogether 
fortunately for the younger and greater man of letters, with John 
Milton. His Satires belong to his early Cambridge days, and to 
the last decade of the sixteenth century. They have on the 
whole been rather overpraised, though the variety of their matter 
and the abundance of reference to interesting social traits of the 
time to some extent redeem them. The worst point about them, 
as already noted, is the stale and commonplace impertinence with 
which their author, unlike the best breed of young poets and men 
of letters, attempts to satirise his literary betters ; while they are 
to some extent at any rate tarred with the other two brushes of 
corrupt imitation of the ancients, and of sham moral indignation. 
Indeed the want of sincerity the evidence of the literary exarcise 
injures Hall's satirical work in different ways throughout. We 
do not, as we read him, in the least believe in his attitude of 


Hebrew prophet crossed with Roman satirist, and the occasional 
presence of a vigorous couplet or a lively metaphor hardly 
redeems this disbelief. Nevertheless, Hall is here as always a 
literary artist a writer who took some trouble with his writings ; 
and as some of his satires are short, a whole one may be given : 

" A gentle squire would gladly entertain 
Into his house some trencher-chaplain ; l 
Some willing man that might instruct his sons 
And that would stand to good conditions. 
First, that he lie upon the truckle bed, 
Whiles his young master lieth o'er his head. 
Second, that he do, on no default, 2 
Ever presume to sit above the salt. 
Third, that he never change his trencher twice. 
Fourth, that he use all common courtesies ; 
Sit bare at meals, and one half rise and wait. 
Last, that he never his young master beat, 
But he must ask his mother to define, 
How many jerks she would his breech should line. 
All these observ'd he could contented be 
To give five marks and winter livery." 

^^-^John Marston, who out-Hailed Hall in all his literary mis- 
deeds, was, it would appear, a member of a good Shropshire 
family which had passed into Warwickshire. He was educated 
at Coventry School, and at Brasenose College, Oxford, and passed 
early into London literary society, where he involved himself in 
the inextricable and not -much -worth -extricating quarrels which 
have left their mark in Jonson's and Dekker's dramas. In the 
first decade of the seventeenth century he wrote several remark- 
able plays, of much greater literary merit than the work now to 
be criticised. Then he took orders, was presented to the 
living of Christchurch, and, like others of his time, seems to 
have forsworn literature as an unholy thing. He died in 1634. 
Here r we are concerned only with two youthful works of his 

1 "Chaplain" trisyllable like "capellan." 
2 Missing syllable. 


Pigmaliorfs Image and some Satires in 1598, followed in the 
same year by a sequel, entitled The Scourge of Villainy. In 
these works he called himself " W. Kinsayder," a pen-name for 
which various explanations have been given. It is characteristic 
and rather comical that, while both the earlier Satires and The 
Scourge denounce lewd verse most fullmouthedly, Pigmalioris 
Image is a poem in the Venus and Adonis style which is certainly 
not inferior to its fellows in luscious descriptions. It was, in 
fact, with the Satires and much similar work, formally condemned 
and burnt in 1599. Both in Hall and in Marston industrious 
commentators have striven hard to identify the personages of the 
satire with famous living writers, and there may be a chance 
that some at least of their identifications (as of Marston's Tubrio 
with Marlowe) are correct. But the exaggeration and insincerity, 
the deliberate " society-journalism " (to adopt a detestable phrase 
for a corresponding thing of our own days), which characterise all 
this class of writing make the identifications of but little interest 
In every age there are writers who delight in representing that 
age as the very worst of the history of the world, and in ransack- 
ing literature and imagination for accusations against their fellows. 
The sedate philosopher partly brings and partly draws the con- 
viction that one time is very like another. Marston, however, 
has fooled himself and his readers to the very top of his and 
their bent ; and even Churchill, restrained by a more critical 
atmosphere, has not come quite near his confused and only half- 
intelligible jumble of indictments for indecent practices and 
crude philosophy of the moral and metaphysical kind. A vigor- 
ous line or phrase occasionally redeems the chaos of rant, fustian, 
indecency, ill-nature, and muddled thought. 

" Ambitious Gorgons, wide-mouth 'd Lamians, 
Shape-changing Proteans, damn'd Briarians, 
Is Minos dead, is Radamanth asleep, 
That ye thus dare unto Jove's palace creep ? 
What, hath Ramnusia spent her knotted whip, 
That ye dare strive on Hebe's cup to sip ? 


Ye know Apollo's quiver is not spent, 
But can abate your daring harcliment. 
Python is slain, yet his accursed race 
Dare look divine Astrea in the face ; 
Chaos return and with confusion 
Involve the world with strange disunion ; 
For Pluto sits in that adored chair 
Which doth belong unto Minerva's heir. 
O hecatombs ! O catastrophe ! 
From Midas' pomp to Trus' beggary ! 
Prometheus, who celestial fire 
Did steal from heaven, therewith to inspire 
Our earthly bodies with a sense- ful mind, 
Whereby we might the depth of nature find, 
Is ding'd to hell, and vulture eats his heart 
Which did such deep philosophy impart 
To mortal men." 

The contrast of this so-called satire, and the really satiric touches 
of Marston's own plays, when he was not cramped by the affecta- 
tions of the style, is very curious. 

Edward Gilpin or Guilpin, author of the rare book Skialetheia,. 
published between the dates of Hall and Marston, is, if not 
a proved plagiarist from either, at any rate an obvious follower 
in the same track. There is the same exaggeration, the same 
petulant ill-nature, the same obscurity of phrase and ungainliness 
of verse, and the same general insincerity. But the fine flower 
of the whole school is perhaps to be found in the miraculous 
Transformed Metamorphosis, attributed to the powerful but extra- 
vagant dramatist, Cyril Tourneur, who wrote this kind of thing: 

" From out the lake a bridge ascends thereto, 
Whereon in female shape a serpent stands. 

Who eyes her eye, or views her blue-vein'd brow, 
With sense-bereaving glozes she enchants, 
And when she sees a worldling blind that haunts 

The pleasure that doth seem there to be found, 

She soothes with Leucrocutanized sound. 

" Thence leads an entry to a shining hall 

Bedecked with flowers of the fairest hue ; 


The Thrush, the Lark, and night's-joy Nightingale 

There minulize their pleasing lays anew. 

This welcome to the bitter bed of rue ; 
This little room will scarce two wights contain 
T' enjoy their joy, and there in pleasure reign. 

" But next thereto adjoins a spacious room, 
More fairly fair adorned than the other : 
(O woe to him at sin-awhaping doom, 

That to these shadows hath his mind given over) 
For (O) he never shall his soul recover : 
If this sweet sin still feeds him with her smack 
And his repentant hand him hales not back." 1 

We could hardly end with anything farther removed from the 
clear philosophy and the serene loveliness of The Faerie Queene. 

1 Mr. Churton Collins is "tolerably confident," and perhaps he might 
have been quite certain, that Leucrocutanised refers to one of the Fauna 
of fancy, a monster that spoke like a man. "Minulise," from /juvvpifa, 
" I sing." " To awhape "= " to confound." 



THE difficulty of writing about Shakespere is twofold ; and though 
it is a difficulty which, in both its aspects, presents itself when 
other great writers are concerned, there is no other case in which 
it besets the critic to quite the same extent. Almost everything 
that is worth saying has been already said, more or less happily. 
A vast amount has been said which is not in the least worth say- 
ing, which is for the most part demonstrably foolish or wrong. 
As Shakespere is by far the greatest of all writers, ancient or 
modern, so he has been the subject of commentatorial folly to 
an extent which dwarfs the expense of that folly on any other 
single subject. It is impossible to notice the results of this folly 
except at great length; it is doubtful whether they are worth 
noticing at all ; yet there is always the danger either that some 
mischievous notions may be left undisturbed by the neglect to 
notice them, or that the critic himself may be presumed to be 
ignorant of the foolishness of his predecessors. These incon- 
veniences, however, must here be risked, and it may perhaps be 
thought that the necessity of risking them is a salutary one. In 
no other case is it so desirable that an author should be 
approached by students with the minimum of apparatus. 

The scanty facts and the abundant fancies as to Shakespere's 
life are a commonplace of literature. He was baptized on the 
26th of April Tgfi.j af StratfnrH-nn-Avnn and must have been 


born either on the same day, or on one of those immediately pre- 
ceding. His father was John Shakespere, his mother Mary 
Arden, both belonging to the lower middle class and connected, 
personally and by their relations, with yeomanry and small 
landed gentry on the one side, and with well-to-do tradesmen on 
the other. Nothing is known of his youth and little of his educa- 
tion ; but it was a constant tradition of men of his own and the 
immediately succeeding generation thjUhehadlittleschpollearn- 
ing_ JJefore he was nineteen he was married, at the end of 
November 1582, tOx^Anne__Jiathaway, who was seven years his 
senior. Their first child, Susannah, was baptized six. months 
later. He is said to have left Stratford for London in 1585, 
or thereabouts, and to have connected himself at once with the 
theatre, first in humble and then in more important positions. 
But all this is mist and myth. He is transparently referred to by 
Robert Greene in the summer or autumn of 1592, and the 
terms of the reference prove his prosperity. The same passage 
brought out a complimentary reference to Shakespere's intellectual 
and moral character from Chettle, Greene's editor. He published 
Venus and Adonis in 1593, and Lucrece next year. His plays 
now began to appear rapidly, and brought him money enough to 
buy, in 1597, the house of New Place* at Stratford, and to establish 
himself there after, it is supposed, twelve years' almost complete 
absence from his birthplace and his family. Documentary refer- 
ences to his business matters now become not infrequent, but, 
except as showing that he was alive and prosperous, they are 
quite uninteresting. The same may be said of the marriages and 
deaths of his children. In__i6oo appeared the Sonnets, some of 
which had previously been printed in unauthorised and piratical 
publications. He died on the 23d of April (supposed generally 
to be his birthday) 1616, and was buried at Stratford. His 
plays had been only surreptitiously printed, tEe retention of a 
play in manuscript being of great importance to the actors, and 
the famous first folio did not appear till seven years after his 


The canon of Shakespere's plays, like everything else con- 
nected with him, has been the subject of endless discussion. 
There is no reasonable doubt that in his earlier days (the first 
printed play among those ordinarily assigned to him, Romeo and 
Juliet, dates from 1597) he had taken part in dramatic work 
which is now mostly anonymous or assigned to other men, and 
there is also no doubt that there may be passages in the accepted 
plays which he owed to others. But my own deliberate judg- 
ment is that no important and highly probable ascription of 
extant work to Shakespere can be made outside the canon as 
usually printed, with the doubtful exception of The Two Noble 
Kinsmen; and I do not believe that in the plays usually accepted, 
any very important or characteristic portion is not Shakespere's. 
As for Shakespere-Bacon theories, and that kind of folly, they 
are scarcely worthy even of mention. Nor among the numerous 
other controversies and errors on the subject shall I meddle with 
more than one the constantly repeated assertion that England 
long misunderstood or neglected Shakespere, and that foreign 
aid, chiefly German (though some include Voltaire !), was required 
to make her discover him. A very short way is possible with 
this absurdity. It would be difficult to name any men more 
representative of cultivated literary opinion and accomplishment 
in the six generations (taking a generation at the third of a cen- 
tury) which passed between Shakespere's death and the battle of 
Waterloo (since when English admiration of Shakespere will 
hardly be denied), than Ben Jonson, John Milton, John Dryden, 
Alexander Pope, Samuel Johnson, and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. 
Their lives overlapped each other considerably, so that no period 
is left uncovered. They were all typical men of letters, each of 
his own time, and four at least of them were literary dictators. 
Now, Ben Jonspn's estimate of Shakespere in prose and verse is 
on record in more places than one, and is as authentic as the silly 
stories of his envy are mythical. If Milton, to his eternal dis- 
grace, flung, for party purposes, the study of Shakespere as a re- 
proach in his dead king's face, he had himself long before put on 


record his admiration for him, and his own study is patent to 
every critical reader of his works. Dryden, but a year or two 
after the death of Shakespere's daughter, drew up that famous and 
memorable eulogy which ought to be familiar to all, and' which, 
long before any German had spoken of Shakespere, and thirty 
years before Voltaire had come into the world, exactly and 
precisely based the structure of Shakespere -worship. Pope 
edited Shakespere. Johnson edited him. Coleridge is acknow- 
ledged as, with his contemporaries Lamb and Hazlitt, the founder 
of modern appreciation. It must be a curious reckoning which, 
in face of such a catena as this, stretching its links over the whole 
period, maintains that England wanted Germans to teach her 
how to admire the writer whom Germans have done more to 
mystify and distort than even his own countrymen. 

The work of Shakespere falls into three divisions very 
unequal in bulk. Therejsfirst (speaking both in the order of 
time and in that of thought, though not in that of literary import- 
ance and interest) the small division of poems, excluding the 
Sonnets, but including Venus and Adonis, The Rape of Lucrece. 
and the few and uncertain but exquisite scraps, the Lover's 
Complaint, The Passionate Pilgrim, and so forth. All these are 
likely to have been the work of early youth, and they are much 
more like the work of other men than any other part of Shakes- 
pere's work, differing chiefly in the superior sweetness of those 
wood-notes wild, which Milton justly, if not altogether adequately, 
attributed to the poet, and in the occasional appearance of the 
still more peculiar and unique touches of sympathy with and 
knowledge of universal nature which supply the main Shakes- 
periah note. The Venus and the Lncrece form part of a large 
collection (see last chapter) of extremely lusn'n^s, not to say 
voluptuous, poetry which the imitation of Italian models intro- 
duced into England, which has its most perfect examples in the 

these two poems, in numerous passages of Spenser, and 
in tlip fTero and Lcander of Marlowe, but which was written, as 
will have been seen from what has been already said, with extra- 


ordinary sweetness and abundance, by a vast number of Elizabethan 
writers. There are extant mere adespota^ and mere "minor poems" 
(such as the pretty " Britain's Ida," which used to be printed as 
Spenser's, and which some critics have rather rashly given to 
Phineas Fletcher), good enough to have made reputation, if not 
fortune, at other times. There is no reason to attribute to 
Shakespere on the one hand, any deliberate intention of exe- 
cuting a tour de force in the composition of these poems or, 
in his relinquishment of the style, any deliberate rejection of 
the kind as unworthy of his powers on the other. He appears 
to have been eminently one of those persons who care neither 
to be in nor out of the fashion, but follow it as far as suits 
and amuses them. Yet, beautiful as these poems are, they 
so manifestly do not present their author at the full of his 
powers, or even preluding in the kind wherein the best of those 
powers were to be shown, that they require comparatively little 
critical notice. As things delightful to read they can hardly be 
placed too high, especially the Venus; as evidences of the poet's 
many-sided nature, they are interesting. But they are in somewhat 
other than the usual sense quite " simple, sensuous, and passion- 
ate." The misplaced ingenuity which, neglecting the unum 
necessarium, will busy itself about all sorts of unnecessary things, 
has accordingly been rather hard put to it with them, and to find 
any pasture at all has had to browse on questions of dialect, and 
date, and personal allusion, even more jejune and even more 
unsubstantial than usual^ 

It is quite otherwise with the Sonnets. In the first place no- 
where in Shakespere's work is it more necessary to brush away 
the cobwebs of the commentators. This side of madness, no 
vainer fancies have ever entered the mind of man than those 
which have been inspired by the immaterial par.t of the matter. 
The vqry initials of the dedicatee " W. H." have had volumes 
written about them ; the Sonnets^ themselves have been twisted 
and classified in every conceivable shape ; the persons to whom 
they are addressed, or to whom they refer, have been identified 



with half the gentlemen and ladies of Elizabeth's court, and half 
the men of letters of the time ; and everyextremity and eccen- 
tricity of non-natural interpretation has been applied to them. 
When they are freed from this torture and studied rationally, 
there is nothing mysterious about them except the mystery ofjheir 
poetical beauty. Some of them are evidently addressed in the 
rather hyperbolical language of affection, common at the time, and 
derived from the study of Greek and Italian writers, to a man ; others, 
in language not hyperbolical at all, to a woman. Disdain, rivalry, 
suspense, short-lived joy, long sorrow, all the symptoms and con- 
comitants of the passion of love which are only commonplaces as 
daath and life are commonplace form their motives. For my part 
I am unable tojind the slightest interest or the most rudimentary 
importance in the questions whether the Mr. W. H. of the dedica- 
tion was the EarlofPembroke, and if so, whether he was also 
the object of the majority of the Sonnets ; whether the "jiark 
lady," the " woman colouredJU," was Miss Mary Fitton ; whether 
the rival poet was Chapman. Very likely all these things are 
true : very likely not one of them is true. They are impossible 
of settlement, and if they were settled they would not in the 
slightest degree affect the poetical beauty and the human interest of 
the Sonnets, which, in a strange reductio ad absurdtim of eighteenth 
century common-sense criticism, Hallam thought it impossible not 
to wish that Shakespere had not written, and which some critics, 

tjnf perhspg rJThp Ifyist qnnlihpfi haVA fga ivjedjlS the high water- 

mark of English, if not of all, poetry. 

This latter estimate will only be dismissed as exaggerated by those 
who are debarred from appreciation by want of sympathy with the 
subject, or distracted by want of comprehension of it. A harmony 
of the two chief opposing theories of poetry will teach us that we* 
must demand of the very highest poetry first the order is not. 
material a certain quality of expression, and secondly, a certain 
quality of subject. What that quality of subject must be has 
been, as it seems to me, crudely and wrongly stated, but rightly 
indicated, in Mr. Matthew Arnold's formula of the " Criticism of 


Life." That is to say, in less debatable words, the greatest poet 
must show most knowledge of human nature. Now both these 
conditions are fulfilled in the sonnets of Shakespere with a com- 
pleteness and intensity impossible to parallel elsewhere. The 
merits^ of the formal and expressive part hardly any one will now 
question ; the sonnets may be opened almost at random with the 
certainty of finding everywhere the phrases, the verses, the 
passages which almost mechanically recur to our minds when we 
are asked to illustrate the full poetical capacity and beauty of the 
English tongue, such as : 

"The painful warrior, famoused for fight, 
After a thousand victories once foiled, 
Is from the book of honour razed quite 
And all the rest forgot for which he toiled ; " 

" When to the sessions of sweet silent thought 
I summon up remembrance of things past ;" 

" Was it the proud full sail of his great verse, 

Bound for the prize of all too precious you ? " 

" Then hate me if thou wilt," 

with the whole sonnet which it opens ; or 

" When in the chronicle of wasted time 
I see descriptions of the fairest wights, 
And beauty making beautiful old rhyme 
In praise of ladies dead and lovely knights ;" 

or that most magnificent quatrain of all, 

" Let me not to the marriage of true minds 
Admit impediments. Love is not love 
Which alters when it alteration finds, 
Or bends with the remover to remove." 

Any competent judge of the formal part of poetry must admit 
that its force can no farther go. Verse and phrase cannot be 
better moulded to the melodious suggestion of beauty. Nor, as 


even these scraps show, is the thought below the verse. Even 
if Hallam's postulate of misplaced and ill-regulated passion be 
granted (and I am myself very far from granting it), the extra- 
ordinary wealth of thought, of knowledge, of nature, of self- 
knowledge, of clear vision of others in the very midst of the 
circumstances which might make for unclear vision, is still 
unmistakable. And if the poet's object was to catch up the sum 
of love and utter it with or even without any special relation to 
his own actual feelings for any actual person (a hypothesis which 
human nature in general, and the nature of poets in particular, 
makes not improbable), then it can only be said that he has 
succeeded. From Sappho and Solomon to Shellev and Mr. 
Swinburne, many bards have spoken excellently of love : but 
what they have said could be cut out of Shakespere^s sonnets 
better said than they have said it, and yet enough remain to 
furnish tortn tmTgreatest oLpoets.,^- 

With the third and in every sense chief division of the work, 
the necessities for explanation and allowance cease altogether. 
The thirty -seven plays of the ordinary Shakesperian canon 
comprise the greatest, the most varied, the most perfect work yet 
done by any man in literature ; and what is more, the work of 
which they consist is on the whole the most homogeneous and 
the least unequal ever so done. The tatter statement is likely 
to be more questioned than the former ; but I have no fear of 
failing to make it out. In one sense, no doubt, Shakespere is 
unequal as life is. He is not always at the tragic heights of 
Othello and Hamlet, at the comic raptures of Falstaff and Sir Toby, 
at the romantic ecstasies of Romeo and Titania. Neither is life. 
But he is always and this is the extraordinary and almost 
inexplicable difference, not merely between him and all his con- 
temporaries, but between him and all other writers at the 
height of the particular situation. This unique quality is uniquely 
illustrated in his plays. The exact order of their composition is en- 
tirely unknown, and the attempts which have been made to arrange 
it into periods, much more to rank play after play in regular 


sequence, are obvious failures, and are discredited not merely by 
the inadequate means such as counting syllables and attempting 
to classify the cadence of lines resorted to in order to effect 
them, but by the hopeless discrepancy between the results of 
different investigators and of the same investigator at different 
times. We know indeed pretty certainly that Romeo and Juliet 
was an early play, and Cymbeline a late one, with other general 
facts of the same kind. We know pretty certainly that the 
Henry the Sixth series was based on a previous series on the same 
subject in which Shakespere not improbably had a hand ; that 
King John and The Taming of the Shrew had in the same way 
first draughts from the same or other hands, and so forth. But 
all attempts to arrange and elucidate a chronological development 
of Shakespere's mind and art have been futile. Practically 
the Shakesperian gifts are to be found passim in the Shake- 
sperian canon even in the dullest of all the plays, as a 
whole, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, even in work so alien 
from his general practice, and so probably mixed with other 
men's work, as Titus Andronicus and Pericles. There are rarely 
elsewhere in The Maid's Tragedy of Fletcher, in The Duchess 
of Malfy of Webster, in The Changeling of Middleton 
passages or even scenes which might conceivably have been 
Shakespere's. But there is, with the doubtful exception of 
The Two Noble Kinsmen, no play in any other man's work 
which as a whole or in very great part is Shakesperian, and 
there is no play usually recognised as Shakespere's which would 
not seem out of place and startling in the work of any con- 

This intense, or rather (for intense is not the right word) this v - 
extraordinarily diffused character, is often supposed to be a mere \*. 
fancy of Shakespere-worshippers. It is not so. There is some- 
thing, not so much in the individual flashes of poetry, though it 
is there too, as in the entire scope and management of Shake- 
spere's plays, histories, tragedies, and comedies alike, which dis- 
tinguishes them, and it is exactly the characteristic noted 


above, and well put by Dryden in his famous definition of 
Shakespere. Perhaps the first branch or phase of this distinction 
is that Shakespere is never, in the vulgar sense of the word, 
unnatural. He has not the slightest objection to horrors; the 
alarmed foreign critics who described his theatre as a " shambles " 
need not have gone farther than his greatest plays to justify them- 
selves literally. But with barely even the exception which has 
so often to be made of Titus Andronicus, his horrors are never 
sought beyond a certain usual and probable round of circumstance, 
and are almost always tempered and humanised by touches of 
humour or pathos, or both. The cool sarcastic villany of Aaron 
(a mood hit off nowhere out of Shakespere, except in Middleton's 
De Flores, and not fully there) is the point on which I should 
chiefly put the finger to justify at least a partial Shakesperian 
authorship. Contrast the character with the nightmare ghastlinesses 
and extravagances not merely of Tourneur and Webster, but even 
of Marlowe in Barabas, and the difference of Shakespere's handling 
will be felt at once. Another point which has been often, yet 
perhaps not quite fully, noticed is the distinct and peculiar attitude 
of Shakespere towards what is in the common sense called mor- 
ality. Nobody can possibly call him squeamish : I do not know 
that even any French naturalist of the latest school has charged 
the author of Pericles, and Love's Labour Lost, and Henry IV., 
with that pruderie bete of which they accuse Scott. But he 
never makes those forms of vice which most trouble and cor- 
rupt society triumphant; he never diverges into the morbid 
pathology of the amatory passion, and above all, and most 
remarkably of all, though I think least remarked, he never makes 
his personages show the singular toleration of the most despic- 
able immorality which almost all his dramatic contemporaries 
exhibit One is constantly astonished at the end of an Eliza- 
bethan play, when, after vice has been duly baffled or punished, 
and virtue rewarded (for they all more or less follow that rule), 
reconciliations and forgivenesses of injuries follow, to observe the 
complacency with which husbands who have sold their wives' 


favours, wives who have been at the command of the first comer or 
the highest bidder, mix cheek by jowl, and apparently unrebuked, 
with the modest maidens, the virtuous matrons, the faithful lovers 
of the piece. Shakespere never does this. Mrs. Quickly is indeed 
at one time the confidante of Anne Fenton,and at another the com- 
plaisant hostess of Doll Tear-sheet, but not in the same play. We 
do not find Marina's master and mistress rewarded, as they would 
very likely have been by Fletcher or Middleton, with comfortable if 
not prominent posts at the court of Pericles, or the Government- 
house of Mytilene. The ugly and artistically unmanageable situa- 
tion of the husband who trades in his wife's honour simply does 
not occur in all the wide license and variety of Shakespere's forty 
plays. He is in his own sense liberal as the most easy going 
can demand, but he never mixes vice and virtue. Yet again, 
while practising this singular moderation in the main element, in 
the most fertile motives, of tragedy and comedy respectively, he is 
equally alone in his use in both of the element of humour. And 
here we are on dangerous ground. To many excellent persons of 
all times since his own, as well as in it, Shakespere's humour and 
his use of it have been stumbling-blocks. Some of them have 
been less able to away with the use, some with the thing. 
Shakesperian* clowns are believed to be red rags to some experi- 
enced playwrights and accomplished wits of our own days : the 
porter in Macbeth, the gravediggers in Hamlet, the fool in Lear, 
even the humours in Love's Labour Lost and The Merchant of 
Venice have offended. I avow myself an impenitent Shakesperian 
in this respect also. The constant or almost constant presence 
of that humour which ranges from the sarcastic quintessence of 
lago, and the genial quintessence of Falstaff, through the fantasies 
of Feste and Edgar, down to the sheer nonsense which not unfre- 
quently occurs, seems to me not only delightful in itself, but, as 
I have hinted already, one of the chief of those spells by which 
Shakespere has differentiated his work in the sense of universality 
from that of all other dramatists. I have used the word nonsense, 
and I may be thought to have partly given up my case by it. But 


nonsense, as hardly any critic but Hazlitt has had the courage to 
avow openly, is no small part of life, and it is a part the relish 
of which Englishmen, as the same great but unequal critic justly 
maintains, are almost alone in enjoying and recognising. It is 
because Shakespere dares, and dares very frequently, simply 
desipere, simply to be foolish, that he is so pre-eminently wise. 
The others try to be always wise, and, alas ! it is not necessary to 
complete the antithesis. 

These three things restraint in the use of sympathy with 
suffering, restraint in the use of interest in voluptuous excess, and 
humour are, as it seems to me, the three chief distinguishing 
points in Shakespere's handling which are not found in any of 
his contemporaries, for though there is humour in not a few of 
these, none of them is a perfect humorist in the same sense. 
Here, as well a$ in that general range or width of subject and 
thought which attracted Dryden's eulogium, he stands alone. In 
other respects he shares the qualities which are perceptible almost 
throughout this wonderfully fertile department of literature ; but 
he shares them as infinitely the largest shareholder. It is 
difficult to think of any other poet (for with Homer we are de- 
prived of the opportunity of comparison) who was so completely 
able to meet any one of his contemporaries on that c&ntemporary's 
own terms in natural gift. I say natural gift because, though it is 
quite evident that Shakespere was a man of no small reading, 
his deficiencies in general education are too constantly recorded 
by tradition, and rendered too probable by internal evidence, to 
be ignored or denied by any impartial critic. But it is difficult 
to mention a quality possessed by any of the school (as it is loosely 
called), from Marlowe to Shirley, which he had not in greater 
measure ; while the infinite qualities which he had, and the others 
each in one way or another lacked, are evident. On only one 
subject religion is his mouth almost closed ; certainly, as the 
few utterances that touch it show, from no incapacity of dealing 
with it, and apparently from no other dislike than a dislike to 
meddle with anything outside of the purely human province of 


which he felt that he was universal master in short from an 
infinite reverence. 

It will not be expected that in a book like the present the 
whole space of which might very well be occupied, without any of 
the undue dilation which has been more than once rebuked, in 
dealing with Shakespere alone any attempt should be made to 
criticise single plays, passages, and characters. It is the less of a 
loss that in reality, as the wisest commentators have always either 
begun or ended by acknowledging, Shakespere is yr only * 
commentator on Shakespere. Even the passages which corrupt 
printing, or the involved fashion of speaking peculiar to the time, 
make somewhat obscure at first, will in almost every case yield to 
the unassisted cogitation of any ordinarily intelligent person ; and 
the results so reached are far more likely to be the true results - 
than the elaborate emendations which delight a certain class of 
editors. A certain amount of mere glossary is of course necessary, 
but otherwise the fewer corks and bladders the swimmer takes 
with him when he ventures into " the ocean which is Shakespere," 
the better. There are, however, certain common errors, some of 
which have survived even the last century of Shakespere-study 
and Shakespere-worship, which must perhaps be discussed. For 
in the case of the greatest writers, the business of the critic 
is much more to shovel away the rubbish of his predecessors than 
to attempt any accumulation of his own. The chief of these 
errors or rather that error which practically swallows up all the 
others and can produce them again at any time is that Shakespere 
was, if not exactly an inspired idiot, at any rate a mainly tentative 
if not purely unconscious artist, much of whose work is only not 
bad as art, while most, if not all of it, was originally produced with 
a minimum of artistic consciousness and design. This enormous 
error, which is protean in form, has naturally induced the counter 
error of a too great insistence on the consciousness and elaboration 
of Shakespere's art. The most elaborate theories of this art have 
been framed theories involving the construction of perhaps as 
much baseless fabric as anything else connected with the subject, 


which is saying a great deal. It appears to me in the highest 
degree improbable that Shakespere had before him consciously 
more than three purposes ; but these three I think that he con- 
stantly had, and that he was completely successful in achieving 
them. The first was to tell in every play a dramatically complete 
story ; the second was to work that story out by the means of 
purely human and probable characters ; and the third was to 
give such form and ornaments to the working out as might please 
the playgoers of his day. In pursuing the first two he was the 
poet or dramatist of all time. In pursuing the third he was the 
intelligent playwright. But (and here is the source of the 
common error) it by no means follows that his attention, and his 
successful attention, to his third purpose in any way interferes with, 
or degrades, his excellence as a pursuer of the first two. In the 
first place, it can escape no careful student that the merely play- 
wright part of Shakespere's work is (as is the case with no other 
dramatic author whatever) singularly separable. No generation 
since his death has had the slightest difficulty in adapting by far 
the greater part of his plays to use and popularity in its own day, 
though the adaptation may have varied in liberty and in good 
taste with the standards of the time. At the present day, while 
almost all other old dramatists have ceased to be acted at all, 
or are acted merely as curiosities, the adaptation of Shakespere 
has become more and more a process of simple omission (without 
the addition or alteration of anything) of parts which are either 
unsuited to modern manners or too long for modern patience. 
With the two usual exceptions, Pericles and Titus Andronicus 
(which, despite the great beauty of parts, are evidently less Shake- 
sperian as wholes than any others), there is not a single play of 
the whole number that could not be there are not many that 
have not been acted with success in our time. It would be 
difficult to find a stronger differentia from the work of the mere 
playwright, who invariably thinks first of the temporary conditions 
of success, and accordingly loses the success which is not 
temporary. But the second great difference of Shakespere is, 


that even what may be in comparison called the ephemeral 
and perishable parts of him have an extraordinary vitality, if 
not theatrical yet literary, of their own. The coarser scenes 
of Measure for Measure and The Comedy of Errors, the satire on 
fleeting follies in Love's Labour Lost, the uncomelier parts of All's 
Well that Ends Well, the Doll Tear-sheet business of Henry IV., 
the comic by-play of Troilus and Cressida, may seem mere wood, 
hay, and stubble in comparison with the nobler portions. Yet 
the fire of time has not consumed them : they are as delightful as 
ever in the library if not on the stage. 

Little or nothing need be said in defence of Shakespere as an 
artist from the attacks of the older or Unity criticism. That 
maleficent giant can now hardly grin at the pilgrims whom he 
once harassed. But there are many persons who, not dreaming 
of the Unities, still object in language less extravagant than 
Voltaire's or George the Third's, but with hardly less decision, 
to the " sad stuff," the fumier of Shakespere's admixture of 
comedy with tragedy, of his digressions and episodes, of his 
multifarious underplots and minor groups, and ramifications of 
interest or intrigue. The reply to this is not (as it might be, if 
any reply were not superfluous, in the case of the Unity objection) 
a reply of demonstration. If any person experienced in literature, 
and with an interest in it, experienced in life and with an interest 
in that, asserts that Caliban and Trinculo interfere with his en- 
joyment of Ferdinand and Miranda ; that the almost tragedy 
of Hero is marred for him by the comedy of Beatrice and the 
farce of Dogberry ; that he would have preferred A Midsummer 
Night's Dream without the tedious brief effort of Quince and his 
companions ; that the solemnity and passion of Hamlet and 
Macbeth cause in him a revulsion against the porter and the 
gravedigger ; that the Fool and Edgar are out of place in Lear, 
it is impossible to prove to him by the methods of any Euclid 
or of any Aldrich that he is wrong. The thing is essentially, if 
not wholly, a matter of taste. It is possible, indeed, to point 
out, as in the case of the Unities, that the objectors, if they will 


maintain their objection, must deny the position that the dramatic 
art holds up the mirror to Nature, and that if they deny it, the 
burden a burden never yet successfully taken up by any one of 
framing a new definition rests upon them. But this is only a 
partial and somewhat inconclusive argument, and the person 
who genuinely dislikes these peculiarities of Shakespere is like 
a man who genuinely dislikes wine or pictures or human faces, 
that seem delightful and beautiful to others. I am not aware of 
any method whereby I can prove that the most perfect claret is 
better than zoedone in flavour, or that the most exquisite creation 
of Botticelli or Lionardo is more beautiful than the cuts on the 
sides of railway novels. Again, it is matter of taste. 

It will be seen that I am not for my part afraid to avow myself 
a thorcfughgoing Shakesperian, who accepts the weak points of his 
master as well as the strong. It is often forgotten (indeed I do 
not know where I have seen it urged) that there is in Shakespere's 
case an excuse for the thousand lines that good Ben Jonson 
would have liked him to blot, an excuse which avails for no one 
else. No one else has his excuse of universality ; no one else 
has attempted to paint, much less has painted, the whole of life. 
It is because Shakespere has attempted this, and, in the judgment 
of at least some, has succeeded in it, that the spots in his sun 
are so different from the spots in all other suns. I do not know 
an unnatural character or an unnatural scene in Shakespere, even 
among those which have most evidently been written to the 
gallery. Everything in him passes, in some mysterious way, under 
and into that " species of eternity " which transforms all the 
great works of art, which at once prevents them from being mere 
copies of Nature, and excuses whatever there is of Nature in them 
that is not beautiful or noble. If this touch is wanting anywhere 
(and it is wanting very seldom), that, I take it, is the best, 
indeed the only, sign that that passage is not Shakespere's, that 
he had either made use of some other man's work, or that some 
other man had made use of his. If such passages were of more 
frequent occurrence, this argument might be called a circular one. 


But the proportion of such passages as I at least should exclude 
is so small, and the, difference between them and the rest is 
so marked, that no improper begging of the question can be 
justly charged. The plays in the Globe edition contain just 
a thousand closely -printed pages. I do not think that there 
are fifty in all, perhaps not twenty putting scraps and patches 
together in which the Shakesperian touch is wanting, and I do 
not think that that touch appears outside the covers of the 
volume once in a thousand pages of all the rest of English 
literature. The finest things of other men, of Marlowe, of 
Fletcher, of Webster (who no doubt comes nearest to the Shake- 
sperian touch, infinitely as he falls short of the Shakesperian 
range), might conceivably be the work of others. But the famous 
passages of Shakespere, too numerous and too well known to 
quote, could be no one else's. It is to this point that aesthetic 
criticism of Shakespere is constantly coming round with an 
almost monotonous repetition. As great as all others in their 
own points of greatness; holding points of greatness which no 
others even approach ; such is Shakespere. 

There is a certain difficulty most easily to be appreciated 
by those who have most carefully studied the literature of the 
period in question, and have most fully perceived the mistakes 
which confusion of exact date has induced in the consideration 
of the very complex subject before us in selecting dramatists to 
group with Shakespere. The obvious resource of taking him by 
himself would frustrate the main purpose of this volume, which is 
to show the general movement at the same time as the individual 
developments of the literature of 1560-1660. In one sense 
Shakespere might be included in any one of three out of the 
four chapters which we have here devoted to the Elizabethan 
dramatists. His earliest known, and probably much of his un- 
known work coincides with the period of tentative ; and his latest 
work overlaps very much of that period of ripe and somewhat 
over-ripe performance, at the head of which it has here been 
thought good to set Beaumont and Fletcher. But there is a 


group of four notable persons who appear to have especial rights 
to be classed with him, if not in greatness, yet in character of 
work, and in the influences which played on that work. They all, 
like him, took an independent part in the marvellous wit-combat 
of the last decade of Elizabeth, and they all like him survived,, 
though for different lengths of time, to set an example to the 
third generation. They are all, even the meanest of them, dis- 
tinctly great men, and free alike from the immaturity, visible 
even in Lyly and Marlowe, which marked some of their older 
contemporaries, and from the decadence, visible even in Fletcher 
and Massinger, which marred their younger followers. Further- 
more, they were mixed up, as regards one another, in an inextric- 
able but not uninteresting series of broils and friendships, to some 
part of which Shakespere himself may have been by no means 
a stranger. These reasons have seemed sufficient for separating 
them from the rest, and grouping them round the captain. They 
are Benjamin Jonson, George Chapman, John Marston, and 
Thomas Dekker. 

The history of B^n Jonson (the literary history that is to say, 
for the known facts of his life are simple enough) is curious and 
perhaps unique. Nothing is really known of his family ; but as, 
at a time when Scotchmen were not loved in England, he main- 
tained his Annandale origin, there should be, especially after Mr. 
Symonds's investigations as to his career, no doubt that he at 
least believed himself to be of Border extraction, as was also, 
it may be remembered, his great disciple, panegyrist, slanderer, 
and (with the substitution of an easy for a rugged temper), 
analogue, John Dryden. The fact of these two typical English- 
men being of half or whole Scotch descent will not surprise 
any one who does not still ignore the proper limits of England. 
Nobody doubts that his father (or rather stepfather, for he was a 
posthumous child, born 1573, and his mother married again) was 
a bricklayer, or that he went to Westminster School ; it seems 
much more dubious whether he had any claim to anything but 
an honorary degree from either university, though he received 


that from both. Probably he worked at bricklaying, though the 
taunts of his rivals would, in face of the undoubted fact of his 
stepfather's profession, by no means suffice to prove it Cer- 
tainly he went through the chequered existence of so many 
Elizabethan men of letters ; was a soldier in Flanders, an actor, a 
duellist (killing his man, and escaping consequences only by 
benefit of clergy), a convert to Romanism, a "revert" to the 
Anglican Church, a married man, a dramatist. The great play 
of Every Man in his Humour, afterwards very much altered, was 
perhaps acted first at the Rose Theatre in 1596, and it established 
Jonson's reputation, though there is no reasonable doubt that he 
had written other things. His complicated associations and 
quarrels with Dekker, Marston, Chapman, and others, have 
occupied the time of a considerable number of persons ; they 
lie quite beyond our subject, and it may be observed without 
presumption that their direct connection, even with the literary 
work (The Poetaster, Satiro-mastix, and the rest) which is usually 
linked to them, will be better established when critics have left 
off being uncertain whether A was B, or B, C. Even the most 
famous story of all (the disgrace of Jonson with others for 
Eastward Ho ! as a libel against the Scots, for which he was 
imprisoned, and, being threatened with mutilation, was by his 
Roman mother supplied with poison), though told by him- 
self, does not rest on any external evidence. What is certain 
is that Jonson was in great and greater request, both as a writer 
jjf masks and other divertissements for the Court, and as a head 
and chief^ of literary conviviality at the " Alermaid," and other 
famous taverns. Here, as he grew older, there grew up round 
him that "Tribe of Ben," or admiring clique of young literary 
men, which included almost all the most remarkable poets, except 
Milton, of the late Jacobean and early Caroline period, and 
which helped to spread his fame for at least two generations, and 
(by Waller's influence on Saint-Evremond) to make him the first 
English man of letters who was introduced by a great critic of 
the Continent to continental attention as a worker in the English 


vernacular. At last he was made Poet Laureate, and in 1 6 1 8 
he took a journey to Scotland, and stayed there for some time 
with Drummond of Hawthornden. The celebrated conversations 
noted by the host have been the very centre battle-ground of all 
fights about Ben Jonson's character. It is sufficient here to say that 
though Ben's chief defender, Gifford, may have been too hard on 
Drummond, it is difficult, if not impossible, to think that the 
"Notes of Conversations" were made in a friendly spirit. They 
contain for their bulk an extraordinary amount of interesting 
matter, and much sound criticism ; but which of us in modern 
days would care to have such " notes " taken ? A man thinks 
that there are faults in a friend's work, and in the usual exaggera- 
tion of conversation he says that it is "rubbish." The Drum- 
monds of this world note it down and it passes as a deliberate 
judgment He must be a fortunate man, or an exceptional recluse, 
who has not found some good-natured friend anticipate Drum- 
mond, and convey the crude expression (probably heightened in 
conveyance) direct to the person concerned. After this visit 
(which must have been at the end of 1618) Jonson suffered the 
calamity of having his study destroyed by fire, and lost much 
MS. work. He lived many years longer and retained his literary 
primacy, but was unfortunate in money matters, and even in 
reception of his work by the public, though the literary men of 
his day made no mistake about him. He died in 1637, and the 
last of the many stories clustering round his name is the famous 
one of the inscription, " Q rare Ben Jonson !" A year later, a 
tombeaU) or collection of funeral poems, entitled Jonsonus Virbtus, 
showed the estimate entertained of him by the best and brightest 
wits of the time. 

His life was thus a life of struggle, for he was never rich, and 
lived for the most part on the most unsatisfactory of all sources 
of income casual bounties from the king and others. It is not 
improbable that his favour with the Court and with_Templar society 
(which was then very unpopular with the middle classes), had 
something to do with the ill-reception of his later plays. But his 


literary influence r \vas very great, and with Donne he determined 
much of the course of English poetry for many years, andjetamed 
a great name even in the comparative eclipse of the "Giant 
Race" after the Restoration. It was only when the study of 
Shakespere became a favourite subject with persons of more 
industry than intelligence in the early eighteenth century, that a 
singular fabric of myth grew up round Ben Jonson. He was 
pictured as an incarnation of envy, hatred, malice, and all un- 
charitableness, directed in the first place towards Shakespere, and 
then towards all other literary craftsmen. William Gifford, his 
first competent editor, set himself to work to destroy this, and 
undoubtedly succeeded. But the acrimony with which Gifford 
tinctured all his literary polemic perhaps rather injured his treat- 
ment of the case ; even yet it may be doubted whether Ben 
Jonson has attained anything like his proper place in English 
literary history. 

Putting aside the abiding influence of a good long-continued 
course of misrepresentation, it is still not difficult to discover the 
source of this under-estimate, without admitting the worst view or 
even any very bad view of Ben Jonson's character, literary and 
personal. It may be granted that he was rough and arrogant, a 
scholar who pushed scholarship to the verge of pedantry, a critic 
who sometimes forgot that though a schoolmaster may be a critic, 
a^ critic should not be merel a schoolmaster. His work is 

saturated with thjU^ contempt of the profanum vulgus which the 
profanum vulgus (humanly enough) seldom fails to return. 
Moreover, it is extremely voluminous, and it is by no means equal. 
Of his eighteen plays, three only Every Man in his Humour, 
The Alchemist, and the charming fragment ot '1 'lie Sad S/iipherd 
aaji__be praised as wholes. His lovely Masques are probably un- 
read byall but a few scores, if so many, in each generation. 
His noble sinewy prose is, for the most part,unattractive _ in 
subject. Hisjninor poems, though not a few of them arejcnown 
even to smatterers in literature, are as a whole (or at least it 
would seem so) unknown. Yet his merits are extraordinary. 


" Never " in his plays (save The Sad Shepherd) " tender," and still 
more rarely " sublime," he yet, in words much better applied to 
him than to his pupil Dryden, "wrestles with and conquers time." 
\j Even his enemies admit his learning, his vigour, his astonishing 
power of work. What is less generally admitted, despite in one 
case at least the celebrity of the facts that prove it, is his ob- 
servation, his invention, and at times his anomalous and seemingly 
contradictory power of grace and sweetness. There is no more 
singular example of the proverb, " Out of the eater came forth 
meat, and out of the strong sweetness," which has been happily 
applied to Victor Hugo, than the composition, by the rugged 
author of Sejanus and Catiline, of The Dei>il is an Ass and 
Bartholomew Fair, of such things as 

" Here lies to each her parents ruth ;" 
or the magnificent song, 

" Drink to me only with thine eyes ;" 
or the crown and flower of all epitaphs, 

" Underneath this sable herse." 1 

But these three universally-known poems only express in quin- 
tpsspnre, ft quality of ynnsnn's which is spread all about hisjm'nor 
pieces, which appears again perfectly in The Sad ShepJierd, and 
which he seems to have kept out of his plays proper rather from 
bravado than for any other reason. His prose will be noticed 
separately in the next chapter, but it may be observed here that 
it is saturated with the same literary flavour which^pervades all 
_his work. None of his dramatic fellows wrote anything that 
can compare to it, just as none of them wrote anything that 
surpasses the songs and snatches injiis plays, and the best things I 
miscellaneous works. The one title which no competent 
criticism has ever grudged him is that of^best epitaph-writer in 
the English language, and only those who have"7ailed"t6 consider 
the difficulties and the charm of that class of composition will 

1 Ben is sometimes deprived of this, mejudice, most irreligiously. 


consider this faint praise. Nevertheless, it was no doubt upon 
drama that Jonson concentrated his powers, and the unfavourable 
judgments which have been delivered on him chiefly refer to 

A good deal of controversy has arisen out of the attribution 
to him, which is at least as old as The Return from Parnassus, of 
being minded to classicise the English drama. It is certain that 
he set a value on the Unities which no other English dramatist 
has set, and that in The ATcliemist at least he has given some- 
thing like a perfect example of them, which is at the same time 
an admirable play. Whether this attention is at all responsible 
for the defects which are certainly found in his work is a very 
large question. It cannot be denied that in that work, with perhaps 
the single exception just mentioned, the reader (it is, except in the 
case of Every Man in his Humour, generations since the playgoer 
had any opportunity of judging) finds a certain absence of sym- 
pathetic attraction, as well as, for all the formal unity of the pieces, 
a lack of that fusing poetic force which makes detail into a whole. 
The amazing strength of Jonson's genius, the power with which 
he has compelled all manner of unlikely elements into his service, 
is evident enough, but the result usually wants charm. The 
drawbacks are (always excepting The Alchemist] least perceptible 
in Every Man in his Humour, the first sprightly runnings (unless 
The Case is Altered is older) of Jonson's fancy, the freshest 
example of his sharp observation of "humours." Later he some- 
times overdid this observation, or rather he failed to bring its results 
sufficiently into poetic or dramatic form, and, therefore, is too 
much for an age and too little for all time. But Every Man in 
his Humour is really charming. Bobadil, Master Stephen, and 
Kitely attain to the first rank of dramatic characters, and others 
are not far behind them in this respect. The next play, Every 
Man out of his Humour, is a great contrast, being, as even the 
doughty Gifford admits, distinctly uninteresting as a whole, despite 
numerous fine passages. Perhaps a little of its want of attraction 
must be set down to a pestilent habit of Jonson's, which he had 


at one time thought of applying to Every Man in his Humour, 
the habit of giving foreign, chiefly Italian, appellations to his 
characters, describing, and as it were labelling them Deliro, 
Macilente, and the like. This gives an air of unreality, a figure- 
head and type character. Cynthia's Revels has the same 
defects, but is to some extent saved by its sharp raillery of 
euphuism. With The Poetaster Jonson began to rise again. I 
think myself that the personages and machinery of the Augustan 
Court would be much better away, and that the implied satire 
on contemporaries would be tedious if it could not, as it fortunately 
can, be altogether neglected. But in spite of these drawbacks, 
the piece is good. Of Sejanus and Jonson's later Roman play 
Catiline I think, I confess, better than the majority of critics 
appear to think. That they have any very intense tragic interest 
will, indeed, hardly be pretended, and the unfortunate but in- 
evitable comparison with Coriolanus and Julius Ccesar has done 
them great and very unjust harm. Less human than Shakespere's 
" godlike Romans " (who are as human as they are godlike), 
Jonson's are undoubtedly more Roman, and this, if it is not 
entirely an attraction, is in its way a merit. But it was not till 
after Sejanus that the full power of Jonson appeared. His three 
next plays, Volpone, Epicene, and The Alchemist, could not have 
been written by any one but himself, and, had they not been 
written, would have left a gap in English which nothing from any 
other literature could supply. If his attitude had been a little 
less virtuous and a little more sarcastic, Jonson would in these 
three plays have anticipated Swift Of the three, I prefer the 
first and the last the last being the best of all. Epicene or the 
Silent Woman was specially liked by the next generation because 
of its regularity, and of the skill with which the various humours I 
are all wrought into the main plot Both these things are un- 1 
deniable, and many of the humours are in themselves amusing I 
enough. But still there is something wanting, which is supplied I 
in Volpone and The Alchemist. It has been asked whether that j 
disregard of probability, which is one of Jonson's greatest faults, I 


does not appear in the recklessness with which "The Fox" ex- 
poses himself to utter ruin, not so much to gratify any sensual 
desire or obtain any material advantage, as simply to indulge his 
combined hypocrisy and cynicism to the very utmost. The 
answer to this question will very much depend on each reader's 
taste and experience. It is undeniable that there have been 
examples of perverse indulgence in wickedness for wickedness' 
sake, which, rare as they are, go far to justify the creation of 
Volpone. But the unredeemed villany of the hero, with whom 
it is impossible in any way to sympathise, and the sheer brutality 
of the fortune-hunting dupes who surround him, make it easier to 
admire than to like the play. I have little doubt that Jonson 
was to some extent sensible of this, for the comic episode or 
underplot of Sir Politick and Lady Would-be is very much more 
loosely connected with the centre interest (it is only by courtesy 
that it can be said to be connected at all), than is usual with 
him, and this is an argument in favour of its having been intro- 
duced as a makeweight. 

From the drawbacks of both these pieces The Alchemist is 
wholly free. Jonson here escaped his usual pitfall of the un- 
sympathetic, for the vices and follies he satirises are not loath- 
some, only contemptible at worst, and not always that. He 
found an opportunity of exercising his extraordinary faculty of 
concentration as he nowhere else did, and has given us in Sir 
Epicure Mammon a really magnificent picture of concupiscence, 
of sensual appetite generally, sublimed by heat of imagination 
into something really poetic. The triumvirate of adventurers, 
Subtle, Dol and Face (for Dol has virile qualities), are not 
respectable, but one does not hate them ; and the gulls are 
perfection. If any character could be spared it is the "Angry 
Boy," a young person whose humours, as Jonson himself 
admits of another character elsewhere, are " more tedious than 
diverting." The Alchemist was followed by Catiline, and Catiline 
by Bartholomew) Pair, a play in which singularly vivid and 
minute pictures of manners, very amusing sketches of character, 


and some capital satire on the Puritans, do not entirely redeem a 
profusion of the coarsest possible language and incident. The Devil 
is an Ass comes next in time, and though no single character is 
the equal of Zeal -of -the -land Busy in Bartholomew Fair, the 
play is even more amusing. The four last plays, The Staple 
of Neu>s, The Magnetic Lady, The New Inn, and The Tale of a 
Tub, which Jonson produced after long absence from the stage, 
were not successful, and were both unkindly and unjustly called 
by Dryden "Ben's dotages." AS for the charming SadShepherd, 
it was never acted, and is now unfinished, though it is believed that 
the poet completed it. It stands midway as a pastoral Feeric 
between his regular plays and the great collection of ingenious 
and graceful masques and entertainments, which are at the top 
of all such things in England (unless Comus be called a masque), 
and which are worth comparing with the ballets and spectacle 
pieces of Moliere. Perhaps a complete survey of Jonson's work 
Jndicates, as his greatest defer.r r the want of passion. He could 
V Y'C^ous, he could be dignified, lm~coiiid_be broadly humorous, 
and, as has been said, he could combine with these the apparently 
incompatible, or, at least, not closely-connected faculty of grace. 
Of jrniinn) nf riphirr thpr* r, nn trace in him^exrept in the 
jingle instance in fire mingled with earth of Sir Epicure 
Mammon. But the two following passages one from Sejanus, 
one from The Sad Shepherd will show his dignity and his 

pathos. No extract in brief could show his humour : 

^t" . 

Arr. " I would begin to study 'em, 1 if I thought 

They would secure me. May I pray to Jove 

In secret and be safe ? ay, or aloud, 

With open wishes, so I do not mention 

Tiberius or Sejanus ? Yes I must, 

If I speak out. 'Tis hard that. May I think 

And not be racked ? What danger is't to dream, 

Talk in one's sleep or cough ? Who knows the laws ? 

May I shake my head without a comment ? Say 

1 To wit the " arts" of suffering and being silent, by which his interlocutor 
Lepidus has explained his own safety from delation. 


It rains, or it holds up, and not be thrown 

Upon the Gemonies ? These now are things, 

Whereon men's fortune, yea, their fate depends. 

Nothing hath privilege 'gainst the violent ear. 

No place, no day, no hour, we see, is free, 

Not our religious and most sacred times 

From some one kind of cruelty : all matter, 

Nay, all occasion pleaseth. Madmen's rage, 

The idleness of drunkards, women's nothing, 

Jester's simplicity, all, all is good 

That can be catcht at. Nor is now the event 

Of any person, or for any crime 

To be expected ; for 'tis always one : 

Death, with some little difference of place 

Or time. What's this ? Prince Nero, guarded ! " 

"A spring, now she is dead ! of what? of thorns, 
Briars and brambles ? thistles, burs and docks ? 
Cold hemlock, yews ? the mandrake, or the box ? 
These may grow still ; but what can spring beside ? 
Did not the whole earth sicken when she died 
As if there since did fall one drop of dew, 
But what was wept for her ! or any stalk 
Did bear a flower, or any branch a bloom, 
After her wreath was made ! In faith, in faith, 
You do not fair to put these things upon me, 
Which can in no sort be : Earine 
Who had her very being and her name 
With the first knots or buddings of the spring, 
Born with the primrose and the violet 
(5r earliest roses blown : when Cupid smiled 
And Venus led the Graces out to dance, 
And all the flowers and sweets in nature's lap 
Leaped out and made their solemn conjuration 
To last but while she lived ! Do not I know 
How the vale withered the same day ? how Dove, 
Dean, Eye, and Erwash, Idel, Snite and Scare 
Each broke his urn, and twenty waters more 
That swelled proud Trent, shrunk themselves dry, that since 
No sun or moon, or other cheerful star, 
Looked out of heaven, but all the cope was dark 
As it were hung so for her exequies ! 
And not a voice or sound to ring her knell 


But of that dismal pair, the screeching owl 
And buzzing hornet ! Hark ! hark ! hark ! the foul 
Bird ! how she flutters with her wicker wings ! 
Peace ! you shall hear her screech. 

Cla. Good Karolin, sing, 

Help to divert this phant'sy. 

Kar. All I can : 

Sings -while A*.g. reads the song. 

' Though I am young and cannot tell 
Either what Death or Love is well, 
Yet I have heard they both bear darts 
And both do aim at human hearts : 
And then again, I have been told, 
Love wounds with heat, as Death with cold ; 
So that I fear they do but bring 
Extremes to touch and mean one thing. 

' As in a ruin we it call 
One thing to be blown up, or fall ; 
Or to our end, like way may have, 
By a flash of lightning or a wave : 
So Love's inflamed shaft or brand 
May kill as soon as Death's cold hand, 
Except Love's fires the virtue have 
To fright the frost out of the grave.' " 

Of no two contemporary men of letters in England can it be 
said that they were, intellectually speaking, so near akin as Ben 
Jonson and George Chapman. The translator of Homer was a 
good deal older than Jonson, and exceedingly little is known of 
his life. He was pretty certainly born near Hitchin in Hertford- 
shire, the striking situation of which points his reference to it 
even in these railroad days. The date is uncertain it may have 
been 1557, and was certainly not later than 1559 so that he 
was the oldest of the later Elizabethan school who survived into 
the Caroline period. He perhaps entered the University of Oxford 
in 1574. His first known work, The Shadow of Night^ dates from 
1 594 ; and a reference of Meres's shows that he was known for 
tragedy four years later. In 1 6 1 3 he, Jonson (a constant friend of his 


whose mutual fidelity refutes of itself the silly calumnies as to 
Jonson's enviousness, for of Chapman only, among his colleagues, 
was he likely to be jealous), and Marston were partners in the 
venture of Eastward Ho ! which, for some real or fancied slight 
on Scotland, exposed the authors to danger of the law. He was 
certainly a protege of Prince Henry, the English Marcellus, and he 
seems to have received patronage from a much less blameless 
patron, Carr, Earl of Somerset His literary activity was con- 
tinuous and equal, but it was in his later days that he attempted 
and won the crown of the greatest of English translators. 
" Georgius Chapmannus, Homed metaphrastes " the posy of his 
portrait runs, and he himself seems to have quite sunk any ex- 
pectation of fame from his original work in the expectation of 
remembrance as a translator of the Prince of Poets. Many 
other interesting traits suggest, rather than ascertain, themselves in 
reference to him, such as his possible connection with the early 
despatch of English troupes of players to Germany, and his 
adoption of contemporary French subjects for English tragedy. 
But of certain knowledge of him we have very little. What is 
certain is that, like Drayton (also a friend of his), hp sppms to 
have lived remote and afar from the miserable quarrels and 
jealousies of his time ; that, as has been already shown by dates, 
he was a kind of English Fontenelle in his overlapping of both 
ends of the great school of English poets ; and that absolutely 
no base personal gossip tarnishes his poetical fame. The splendid 
sonnet of Keats testifies to tb^ jnfl^n* which his work long had 
on those Englishmen who were unable to read Homer in the 
ori^inaL A fine essay of Mr. Swinburne's has done, for the first 
time, justice to his general literary powers, and a very ingenious 
and, among such hazardous things, unusually probable conjecture 
of Mr. Minto's identifies him with the " rival_poet " of Shakespere's 
Sonnets. But these are adventitious claims to fame. What is 
not subject to such deduction is the assertion that Chapman 
was a great Englishman who, while exemplifying the traditional 
claim of great Englishmen to originality, independence, and 


versatility of work, escaped at once the English tendency to 
lack of scholarship, and to ignorance of contemporary con- 
tinental achievements, was entirely free from the fatal Philis- 
tinism in taste and In politics, and in other matters, which has been 
the curse 6f our race, was a Koyalist, a lover, a scholar, and has 
left us at once one of the most voluminous and peculiar collec- 
tions of work that stand to the credit of any literary man of his 
country. It may be that his memory has gained by escaping the 
danger of such revelations or scandals as the Jonson confessions 
to Drummond, and that the lack of attraction to the ordinary 
reader in his work has saved him from that comparison which (it 
has perhaps been urged ad nauseam) is the bane of just literary 
judgment To those who always strive to waive all such con- 
siderations, these things will make but little difference. 

The only complete edition of Chapman's works dates from 
our own days, and its three volumes correspond to a real division 
of subject. Although, in common with all these writers, Chapman 
has had much uncertain and some improbable work fathered on 
him, his certain dramas supply one of the most interesting studies 
in our period. As usual with every one except Shakespere and 
(it is a fair reason for the relatively disproportionate estimate of 
these so long held) Beaumont and Fletcher, they are extremely un- 
equal. Not a certain work of Chapman is void of interest. The 
famous Eastward Ho ! (one of the liveliest comedies of the period 
dealing with London life) was the work of three great writers, 
and it is not easy to distribute its collaboration. That it is not 
swamped with "humours" may prove that Jonson's learned sock 
was put on by others. That it is neither grossly indecent nor 
extravagantly sanguinary, shows that Marston had not the chief 
hand in it, and so we are left to Chapman. What he could do 
is not shown in the list of his own certain plays till All Fools. 
The Blind Beggar of Alexandria (1596 ?) and An Humorous Day 's 
Mirth show that singular promiscuousness that heaping together 
of scenes without order or connection which we have noticed in 
the first dramatic period, not to mention that the way in which 


the characters speak, of themselves, not as " I " but by their 
names in the third person, is also unmistakable. But All Fools 
is a much more noteworthy piece, and though Mr. Swinburne 
may have praised it rather highly, it would certainly take place 
in a collection of the score best comedies of the time not written 
by Shakespere. The Gentleman Usher and Monsieur d' Olive belong 
to the same school of humorous, not too pedantic comedy, and 
then we come to the strange series of Chapman's French trage- 
dies, Bussy d'Ambois, The Revenge of Bussy d'Ambois, Byron's 
Conspiracy, The Tragedy of Charles, Duke of Byron, and The 
Tragedy of Philip Chabot, Admiral of France. These singular 
plays stand by themselves. Whether the strong influence which 
Marloweexercised on Chapman led the later poet (who it must 
be remembered was not the younger) to continue The Massacre of 
Paris, or what other cause begat them, cannot now be asserted or 
even guessed without lost labour. A famous criticism of Dryden's 
attests his attention to them, but does not, perhaps, to those who 
have studied Dryden deeply, quite express the influence which 
Chapman had on the leader of post-Restoration tragedy. As plays, 
the whole five are models of what plays should not be ; in parts, 
they are models of what plays should be. Then Chapman re- 
turned to the humour-comedy and produced two capital specimens 
of it in May-Day and The Widow's Tears. Alphonsus, Emperor of 
Germany, which contains long passages of German, and Revenge for 
Honour, two tragedies which were not published till long after Chap- 
man's death, are to my mind very dubiously his. Mr. Swinburne, in 
dealing with them, availed himself of the hypothesis of a mellowing, 
but at the same time weakening of power by age. It may be so, 
and I have not the slightest intention of pronouncing decidedly 
on the subject. They bear to my mind much more mark of 
the decadent period of Charles I., when the secret of blank 
verse was for a time lost, and when even men who had lived in 
personal friendship with their great predecessors lapsed into the 
slipshod stuff that we find in Davenant, in his followers, and 
among them even in the earlier plays of Dryden. It is, of 


course, true that this loosening and slackening of the standard 
betrays itself even before the death of Chapman, which happened 
in 1634. But I cannot believe that the author of Bussy (fAmbois 
(where the verse is rude enough but never lax) and the contem- 
porary or elder of Shakespere, Marlowe, and all the great race, 
could ever have been guilty of the slovenliness which, throughout, 
marks Rewnge for Honour. 

The second part of Chapman's work, his original verse, is 
much inferior in bulk and in interest of matter to the first and 
third. Yet, is it not perhaps inferior to eitheTln giving evidence 
of the author's peculiarities ; while the very best thing he ever 
wrote (a magnificent passage in The Tears of Peace] is contained 
in it Its component parts are, however, sufficiently odd. It 
opens with a strange poem called The Shadow of Ni^ht. which 
Mr. Swinburne is not wrong in classing among the obscurest 
works in English. The mischievous fashion of enigmatic writing, 
already glanced at in the section on satire, was perhaps an 
offshoot of euphuism ; and certainly Chapman, who never exhibits 
much taint of euphuism proper, here out-Herods Herod and out- 
Tourneurs Tourneur. It was followed by an equally singular 
attempt at the luscious school of which Venus and Adonis is The 
most famous. Ovid's Banquet of Sense has received high praise 
from critics whom I esteem. For my own part I should say that 
it is the most curious instance of a radically unpassionatenature, 
trying to lash itself into passion, that our language contains. Then 
Chapman tried an even bolder flight in the same dialect the 
continuation of Marlowe's n"fjnHh o d Ht~<\ and fjyrff In this 
attempt, either by sheer force of his sinewy athletics, or by 
some inspiration derived from the " Dead Shepherd," his pre- 
decessor^he did not fail, curious as is the contrast of the two 
^artcu The Tejirs of Peace, which contains his finest work, is in 
honour of Prince Henry a worthy work on a worthy subject, 
which was followed up later by an epicedium on the prince's 
lamented death. Besides some epigrams and sonnets, the chief 
other piece of this division is the disastrous Aqdromffla Liberaja, 


which unluckily celebrates the nuptials stained with murder, 
adultery, and crime of all sorts of Frances Howard and 
Robert Carr. It is in Chapman's most allusive and thorniest 
style, but is less interesting intrinsically than as having given 
occasion to an indignant prose vindication by the poet, which, 
considering his self-evident honesty, is the most valuable document 
in existence for explaining the apparently grovelling panegyric of 
the sixteenth and seventeenth century. It makes clear (what 
indeed an intelligent reader might gather for himself) that the 
traditional respect for rank and station, uniting with the tendency 
to look for patterns and precedents in the classics for almost 
everything, made of these panegyrics a kind of school exercise, in 
which the excellence of the subject was taken for granted, and 
the utmost hyperbole of praise was only a " common form " of 
composition, to which the poet imparted or added what grace of 
style or fancy he could, with hardly a notion of his ascriptions 
being taken literally. 

But if Chapman's dramas have been greatly undervalued, and 
if his original poems are an invaluable help to the study of the 
time, there is no doubt that it is as a translator that he made and, 
kept the strongest hold on the English mind. He himself spoke 
of his Homeric translations (which he began as early as 1598, 
doing also Hesiod, some Juvenal, and some minor fragments, 
Pseudo-VirgilianTr etrarchian and others) as "the \vprk that he 
was Jx>rn to do." His version, with all its faults. outlived^tRe 
popularity even of Pope, was for more than two centuries the 
resort ot all wno, unable to re'ad ureek, wished to know wnat the 
Greek was, and, despite the finical scholarship of the present day, 
is likely to survive all the attempts made with us. I speak with 
all humility, but as having learnt Homer from Homer himself, and 
not from any translation, prose or verse. I am perfectly aware of 
Chapman's outrageous liberties, of his occasional unfaithfulness 
(for a libertine need not necessarily be unfaithful in translation), 
and of the condescension to his own fancies and the fancies of 
his age, wnich oDscures" not more perhaps than some condescen- 


sions which nearness and contemporary influences prevent some 
of us from seeing the character of the original. But at the 
same time, either I have no skill in criticism, and have been 
reading Greek for fifty years to none effect, _pr Chapman is 
far nearer Homer than any modern translator in any modern 
language? He 15 Rearer in the Iliad than in the Odyssey 
an advantage resulting from his choice of vehicle. In the 
Odyssey he chose the heroic couplet, which never can give the 
rise alld fall uf tile" hexameter Injhe Iliad, after some hesitation 
between the two (he began as early as 1598), he preferred the 
fourteener, which, at its best, is the hexameter's nearest substitute. 
With Chapman it is not always at its best very far from it. If 
he never quite relapses into the sheer doggerel of the First Period, 
he sometimes comes perilously near to it. But he constantly lifts 
hjs^ wings and^soars in a quite cTifTerent measure which, when 
he keeps it up lor a little, gives a narrative vehicle unsurpassed. 
and hardly equalled, in English poetry for variation of movement 
and steady forward flow combined. The one point in which the 
Homeric hexameter is unmatched among metres is its combina- 
tion of steady advance with innumerable ripples and eddies in its 
course, and it is here that Chapman (though of course not fully) 
can partly match it. It is, however, one of the testimonies 
to the supreme merit of the Homeric poerqs that every age 
seems to try to imitate them in its own special mannerisms, 
and that, consequently, no age is satisfied with the attempts 
of another. It is a second, that those who know the original 
demur at all. 

The characteristics of Chapman, then, are very much those of 
Jonson with a difference. Both had the same incapacity: of 
unlaboured and forceless art, the same insensibility to passion, 
the same inability to rise above mere humours and contemporary 
o^cIilU^ inlu lllii 1'egion ot universal poetry. Both had the same 
extensive learning, the same immense energy, |hp samp (jf jj must 
be said) arrogance and contempt of the vulgar. In casual strokes, 
though not in sustained grasp, Chapman was Jonson's superior ; 


but unlike Jonson he had no lyric gift, and unlike Jonson he let his 
learning and his ambitious thought clog and obscure the flow of 
his English. Nor does he show in any of his original work the 
creative force of his younger friend. With the highest opinion 
reasonably possible of Chapman's dramas, we cannot imagine him 
for a moment composing a Volpone or an Alchemist even a 
Bartholomew Fair ; while he was equally, or still more, incap- 
able of Jonson's triumphs in epigram and epitaph, in song and 
ode. A certain shapelessness is characteristic of everything that 
Chapman did an inability, as Mr. Swinburne (to whom every one 
who now writes on Chapman must acknowledge indebtedness), 
has said, "to clear his mouth of pebbles, and his brow of fog." 
His long literary life, which must have exceeded half a century, 
and his great learning, forbid our setting this down as it may be 
set in the case of many of his contemporaries, and especially in 
the case of those two to whom we are now coming, as due to 
youth, to the imperfect state of surrounding culture, to want of 
time for perfecting his work, and so forth. He is the " Begue 
de Vilaines," the heroic Stammerer of English literature a man 
who evidently had some congenital defec*t which all his fire and 
force, all his care and curiosity, could not overcome. Yet are 
his doings great, and it is at least probable that if he had felt 
less difficulty in original work, he would not have been prompted 
to set about and finish the noble work of translation which is 
among the best products of an unsatisfactory kind, and which will 
outlive the cavils of generations of etymologists and aorist-grinders. 
He has been so little read that four specimens of his different 
manners the early " tenebrous " style of The Shadow of Night, 
the famous passage from Bussy cTAmbois which excited Lamb's 
enthusiasm, and a sample from both Iliad and Odyssey may be 
given : 

" In this vast thicket (whose description's task 
The pens of fairies and of fiends would ask : 
So more than human-thoughted horrible) 
The souls of such as lived implausible, 


In happy empire of this goddess' glories, 

And scorned to crown her fanes with sacrifice, x 

Did ceaseless walk ; exspiring fearful groans, 

Curses and threats for their confusions. 

Her darts, and arrows, some of them had slain : 

Others her dogs eat, painting her disdain, 

After she had transformed them into beasts : 

Others her monsters carried to their nests, 

Rent them in pieces, and their spirits sent 

To this blind shade, to wail their banishment. 

The huntsmen hearing (since they could not hear) 

Their hounds at fault, in eager chase drew near, 

Mounted on lions, unicorns, and boars, 

And saw their hounds lie licking of their sores 

Some yearning at the shroud, as if they chid 

Her stinging tongues, that did their chase forbid : 

By which they knew the game was that way gone. 

Then each man forced the beast he rode upon, 

T' assault the thicket ; whose repulsive thorns 

So gall'd the lions, boars, and unicorns, 

Dragons and wolves, that half their courages 

Were spent in roars, and sounds of heaviness : 

Yet being the princeliest, and hardiest beasts, 

That gave chief fame to those Ortygian forests, 

And all their riders furious of their sport, 

A fresh assault they gave, in desperate sort : 

And with their falchions made their way in wounds, 

The thicket open'd, and let in the hounds." 

Bu. " What dismal change is here ; the good old Friar 

Is murther'd, being made known to serve my love ; 

And now his restless spirit would forewarn me 

Of some plot dangerous and imminent. 

Note what he wants ? He wants his upper weed, 

He wants his life and body ; which of these 

Should be the want he means, and may supply me 

With any fit forewarning ? This strange vision 

(Together with the dark prediction 

Used by the Prince of Darkness that was raised 

By this embodied shadow) stir my thoughts 

With reminiscion of tire spirit's promise, 

1 The rhyme, bad as it is, is not unprecedented. 


Who told me, that by any invocation 

I should have power to raise him, though it wanted 

The powerful words and decent rites of art ; 

Never had my set brain such need of spirit 

T' instruct and cheer it ; now, then, I will claim 

Performance of his free and gentle vow 

T' appear in greater light and make more plain 

His rugged oracle. I long to know 

How my dear mistress fares, and be inform'd 

What hand she now holds on the troubled blood 

Of her incensed lord. Methought the spirit 

(When he had utter'd his perplex'd presage) 

Threw his changed countenance headlong into clouds, 

His forehead bent, as it would hide his face, 

He knock'd his chin against his darken'd breast, 

And struck a churlish silence through his powers. 

Terror of darkness ! O, thou king of flames ! 

That with thy music-footed horse dost strike 

The clear light out of crystal on dark earth, 

And hurl'st instructive fire about the world, 

Wake, wake, the drowsy and enchanted night 

That sleeps with dead eyes in this heavy riddle ; 

Or thou great prince of shades where never sun 

Sticks his far darted beams, whose eyes are made 

To shine in darkness, and see ever best 

Where sense is blindest : open now the heart 

Of thy abashed oracle, that for fear 

Of some ill it includes, would fain lie hid, 

And rise thou with it in thy greater light." 

"For Hector's glory still he stood, and ever went about 
To make him cast the fleet such fire, as never should go out ; 
Heard Thetis' foul petition, and wished in any wise 
The splendour of the burning ships might satiate his eyes. 1 
From him yet the repulse was then to be on Troy conferred, 
The honour of it given the Greeks ; which thinking on, he stirr'd 
With such addition of his spirit, the spirit Hector bore 
To burn the fleet, that of itself was hot enough before. 
But now he fared like Mars himself, so brandishing his lance 
As, through the deep shades of a wood, a raging fire should glance, 

1 This line alone would suffice to exhibit Chapman's own splendour at his 



Held up to all eyes by a hill ; about his lips a foam 

Stood as when th' ocean is enraged ; his eyes were overcome 

With fervour and resembled flames, set off by his dark brows, 

And from his temples his bright helm abhorred lightnings throws ; 

For Jove, from forth the sphere of stars, to his state put his own 

And all the blaze of both the hosts confined in him alone. 

And all this was, since after this he had not long to live, 

This lightning flew before his death, which Pallas was to give 

(A small time thence, and now prepared) beneath the violence 

Of great Pelides. In meantime, his present eminence 

Thought all things under it ; and he,, still where he saw the stands 

Of greatest strength and bravest arm'd, there he would prove his hands, 

Or no where ; offering to break through, but that passed all his power 

Although his will were past all theirs, they stood him like a tower 

Conjoined so firm, that as a rock, exceeding high and great, 

And standing near the hoary sea, bears many a boisterous threat 

Of high-voiced winds and billows huge, belched on it by the storms ; 

So stood the Greeks great Hector's charge, nor stirred their battellous forms.' 

" This the Goddess told, 
And then the morning in her throne of gold 
Surveyed the vast world ; by whose orient light 
The nymph adorn'd me with attires as bright, 
Her own hands putting on both shirt and weed 
Robes fine, and curious, and upon my head 
An ornament that glittered like a flame ; 
Girt me in gold ; and forth betimes I came 
Amongst my soldiers, roused them all from sleep, 
And bade them now no more observance keep 
Of ease, and feast, but straight a shipboard fall, 
For now the Goddess had inform'd me all. 
Their noble spirits agreed ; nor yet so clear 
Could I bring all off, but Elpenor there 
His heedless life left. He was youngest man 
Of all my company, and one that wan 
Least fame for arms, as little for his brain ; 
Who (too much steep'd in wine and so made fain 
To get refreshing by the cool of sleep, 
Apart his fellows plung'd in vapours deep, 
And they as high in tumult of their way) 
Suddenly waked and (quite out of the stay 
A sober mind had given him) would descend 
A huge long ladder, forward, and an end 


Fell from the very roof, full pitching on 
The dearest joint his head was placed upon, 
Which quite dissolved, let loose his soul to hell. " 

With regard to Marston (of whose little -known personality 
something has been said in connection with his satires) I find 
myself somewhat unable to agree with the generality of critics, 
who seem to me to have been rather taken in by his blood- 
and-thunder work, his transpontine declamation against tyrants, 
and his affectation of a gloomy or furious scorn against mankind. 
The uncouthness, as well as the suspicion of insincerity, which 
we noted in his satirical work, extend, as it seems to me, also to 
his dramas ; and if we class him as a worker in horrors with 
Marlowe earlier, and with Webster and Ford later, the chief 
result will be to show his extreme inferiority to them. He is 
even below Tourneur in this respect, while, like Tourneur, he is 
exposed to the charge of utterly neglecting congruity and propor- 
tion. With him we relapse not merely from the luminous 
perfection of Shakespere, from the sane order of work which was 
continued through Fletcher, and the best of Fletcher's followers, 
but from the more artificial unity of Jonson, back into the chaotic 
extravagances of the First Period. Marston, like the rest, is fond 
of laughing at Jeronimo, but his own tragic construction and 
some of his own tragic scenes are hardly less bombastic, and 
scarcely at all less promiscuous than the tangled horrors of that 
famous melodrama. Marston, it is true, has lucid intervals 
even many of them. Hazlitt has succeeded in quoting many 
beautiful passages, one of which was curiously echoed in the next 
age by Nat. Lee, in whom, indeed, there was a strong vein of 
Elizabethan melodrama. The sarcasm on philosophical study in 
What You Will is one of the very best things of its own kind in 
the range of English drama, light, sustained, not too long nor too 
short, in fact, thoroughly " hit off." 

"Delight my spaniel slept, whilst I baused 1 leaves, 
Tossed o'er the dunces, pored on the old print 

1 Kissed. 


Of titled words, and still my spaniel slept. 

Whilst I wasted lamp oil, bated my flesh, 

Shrunk up my veins, and still my spaniel slept, 

And still I held converse with Zabarell, 

Aquinas, Scotus, and the musty saws 

Of antique Donate : still my spaniel slept. 

Still on went I : first an sit anima, 

Then, an' 'twere mortal. O hold, hold ! 

At that they are at brain buffets, fell by the ears, 

Amain [pell-mell] together still my spaniel slept. 

Then whether 'twere corporeal, local, fixed, 

Ex traduce ; but whether 't had free will 

Or no, hot philosophers 

Stood banding factions all so strongly propped, 

I staggered, knew not which was firmer part ; 

But thought, quoted, read, observed and pried, 

Stuffed noting-books, and still my spaniel slept. 

At length he waked and yawned, and by yon sky 

For aught I know, he knew as much as I." 

There is real pathos in Antonio and Mellida, and real satire in 
Parasitaster and The Malcontent. Hazlitt (who had a very high 
opinion of Marston) admits that the remarkable inequalities of this 
last piece "seem to show want of interest in the subject." This is 
an odd explanation, but .1 suspect it is really only an anticipation 
in more favourable words of my own theory, that Marston's tragic 
and satiric moods were not really sincere ; that he was a clever man 
who found a fashion of satire and a fashion of blood-and-thunder 
tragedy prevailing, and threw himself into both without much or 
any heart in the matter. This is supported by the curious fact 
that almost all his plays (at least those extant) were produced 
within a very few years, 16021607, though he lived some thirty 
years after the latter date, and quite twenty after his last dated 
appearances in literature, The Insatiate Countess, and Eastward 
Ho! That he was an ill-tempered person with considerable 
talents, who succeeded, at any rate for a time, in mistaking his 
ill-temper for sczva indignatio^ and his talents for genius, is not, 
I think, too harsh a description of Marston. In the hotbed of 
the literary influences of the time, these conditions of his produced 


some remarkable fruit. But when the late Professor Minto 
attributes to him " amazing and almost Titanic energy," men- 
tions " life " several times over as one of the chief character- 
istics of his personages (I should say that they had as much life as 
violently-moved marionettes), and discovers "amiableand admirable 
characters " among them, I am compelled not, of course, to be 
positive that my own very different estimate is right, but to 
wonder at the singularly different way in which the same things 
strike different persons, who are not as a rule likely to look at 
them from very different points of view. 

Marston's plays, however, are both powerful enough and 
famous enough to call for a somewhat more detailed notice. 
Antonio and Mellida, the earliest and if not the best as a whole, 
that which contains the finest scenes and fragments, is in two parts 
the second being more properly called The Revenge of Antonio. 
The revenge itself is of the exaggerated character which was* so 
popular with the Elizabethan dramatists, but in which (except in 
the famous Cornwall and Gloucester scene in Lear) Shakespere 
never indulged after his earliest days. The wicked tyrant's 
tongue is torn out, his murdered son's body is thrown down before 
him, and then the conspirators, standing round, gibe, curse, and 
rant at him for a couple of pages before they plunge their swords 
into his body. This goodly conclusion is led up to by a 
sufficient quantity of antecedent and casual crimes, together with 
much not very excellent fooling by a court gull, Balurdo, who 
might be compared with Shakespere's fools of the same kind, 
to the very great advantage of those who do not appreciate the 
latter. The beautiful descriptive and reflective passages which, 
in Lamb's Extracts, gave the play its reputation, chiefly occur 
towards the beginning, and this is the best of them : 

And. " Why man, I never was a Prince till now. 

'Tis not the bared pate, the bended knees, 

Gilt tipstaves, Tyrian purple, chairs of state, 
Troops of pied butterflies, that flutter still 

In greatness summer, that confirm a prince : 


'Tis not the unsavoury breath of multitudes, 
Shouting and clapping, with confused din ; 
That makes a prince. No, Lucio, he's a king, 
A true right king, that dares do aught save wrong, 
Fears nothing mortal, but to be unjust, 
Who is not blown up with the flattering puffs 
Of spungy sycophants : who stands unmov'd 
Despite the jostling of opinion : 
Who can enjoy himself, maugre the throng 
That strive to press his quiet out of him : 
Who sits upon Jove's footstool as I do 
Adoring, not affecting majesty : 
W'hose brow is wreathed with the silver crown 
Of clear content : this, Lucio, is a king, 
And of this empire, every man's possessed 
That's worth his soul." 

Sophonisba, which followed, is much less rambling, but as 
bloody and extravagant. The scene where the witch Erichtho 
plays Succubus to Syphax, instead of the heroine, and in 
her form, has touches which partly, but not wholly, redeem 
its extravagance, and the end is dignified and good. What 
You Will, a comedy of intrigue, is necessarily free from Mar- 
ston's worst faults, and here the admirable passage quoted 
above occurs. But the main plot which turns not only on 
the courtship, by a mere fribble, of a lady whose husband is sup- 
posed to be dead, and who has very complacently forgotten all 
about him, but on a ridiculous plot to foist a pretender off as 
the dead husband itself is simply absurd. The lack of proba- 
bility, which is the curse of the minor Elizabethan drama, 
hardly anywhere appears more glaringly. Parasitaster, or The 
Fawn, a satirical comedy, is much better, but the jealous hatred 
of The Dutch Courtesan is again not made probable. Then came 
Marston's completes! work in drama, The Malcontent, an anticipa- 
tion, after Elizabethan fashion, of Le Misanthrope and The Plain 
Dealer. Though not free from Marston's two chief vices of 
coarseness and exaggerated cynicism, it is a play of great merit, 
and much the best thing he has done, though the reconciliation, 


at the end, of such a husband and such a wife as Piero and 
Aurelia, between whom there is a chasm of adultery and murder, 
again lacks verisimilitude. It is to be observed that both in The 
Fawn and The Malcontent there are disguised dukes a fact not 
testifying any very great originality, even in borrowing. Of 
Eastward Ho ! we have already spoken, and it is by no means 
certain that The Insatiate Countess is Marston's. His reputation 
would not lose much were it not. A fabliau-Vke underplot of 
the machinations of two light-o'-love citizens' wives against their 
husbands is not unamusing, but the main story of the Countess 
Isabella, a modern Messalina (except that she adds cruelty to the 
vices of Messalina) who alternately courts lovers and induces their 
successors to assassinate them, is in the worst style of the whole 
time the tragedy of lust that is not dignified by the slightest 
passion, and of murder that is not excused by the slightest poetry 
of motive or treatment. Though the writing is not of the lowest 
order, it might have been composed by any one of some thirty or 
forty writers. It was actually attributed at the time to William 
Barksted, a minor poet of some power, and I am inclined to 
think it not Marston's, though my own estimate of him is, as will 
have been seen, not so high as some other estimates. It is 
because those estimates appear to me unduly high that I have 
rather accentuated the expression of my own lower one. For the 
last century, and perhaps longer, the language of hyperbole has 
been but too common about our dramatists, and I have known 
more than one case in which the extravagant praise bestowed 
upon them has, when students have come to the works them- 
selves, had a very disastrous effect of disappointment It is, 
therefore, all the more necessary to be candid in criticism where 
criticism seems to be required. 

As to the last of our good company, there is fortunately very 
little risk of difference of opinion. A hundred years ago Thomas 
Dekker was probably little more than a name to all but professed 
students of Elizabethan literature, and he waited longer than any 
of his fellows for due recognition by presentation of his work in 


a complete form. It was not until the year 1873 that his plays 
were collected ; it was not till eleven years later that his prose 
works had the same honour. Yet, since attention was directed to 
Dekker in any way, the best authorities have been unanimous in 
his praise. Lamb's famous outburst of enthusiasm, that he had 
" poetry enough for anything," has been soberly endorsed by two 
full generations of the best judges, and whatever differences of 
detail there may be as to his work, it is becoming more and more 
the received, and correctly -received opinion, that, as his col- 
laborator Webster came nearest to Shakespere in universalising 
certain types in the severer tragedy, so Dekker has the same 
honour on the gently pathetic side. Yet this great honour is 
done to one of the most shadowy personalities in literature. We 
have four goodly volumes of his plays and five of his other works ; 
yet of Thomas Dekker, the man, we know absolutely less 
than of any one of his shadowy fellows. We do not know when 
he was born, when he died, what he did other than writing in 
the certainly long space between the two unknown dates. In 
1637 he was by his own words a man of threescore, which, as 
it has been justly remarked, may mean anything between fifty-five 
and seventy. He was in circumstances a complete contrast to 
his fellow-victim in Jonson's satire, Marston. Marston was appa- 
rently a gentleman born and bred, well connected, well educated, 
possessed of some property, able to make testamentary disposi- 
tions, and probably in the latter part of his life, when Dekker 
was still toiling at journalism of various kinds, a beneficed clergy- 
man in country retirement Dekker was, it is to be feared, what 
the arrogance of certain members of the literary profession has 
called, and calls, a gutter-journalist a man who had no regular 
preparation for the literary career, and who never produced 
anything but hand-to-mouth work. Jonson went so far as to 
say that he was a "rogue;" but Ben, though certainly not a 
rogue, was himself not to be trusted when he spoke of people 
that he did not like ; and if there was any but innocent roguery 
in Dekker he has contrived to leave exactly the opposite im- 

v DEKKER 201 

pression stamped on every piece of his work. And it is particu- 
larly interesting to note, that constantly as he wrote in collabor- 
ation, one invariable tone, and that the same as is to be found 
in his undoubtedly independent work, appears alike in plays 
signed with him by persons so different as Middleton and Webster, 
as Chettle and Ford. When this is the case, the inference is 
certain, according to the strictest rules of logic. We can define 
Dekker's idiosyncrasy almost more certainly than if he had never 
written a line except under his own name. That idiosyncrasy 
consists, first, of an exquisite lyrical faculty, which, in the songs 
given in all collections of extracts, equals, or almost equals, that 
of Shakespere ; secondly, of a faculty for poetical comedy, for 
the comedy which transcends and plays with, rather than grasps 
and exposes, the vices and follies of men ; thirdly, for a touch of 
pathos again to be evened only to Shakespere's ; and lastly, for 
a knack of representing women's nature, for which, except in the 
master of all, we may look in vain throughout the plentiful dramatic 
literature of the period, though touches of it appear in Greene's 
Margaret of Fressingfield, in Heywood, in Middleton, and in 
some of the anonymous plays which have been fathered indiffer- 
ently, and with indifferent hopelessness of identification, on some 
of the greatest of names of the period, on some of the meanest, 
and on an equal number of those that are neither great nor mean. 
Dekker's very interesting prose works we shall treat in the 
next chapter, together with the other tracts into whose class they 
fall, and some of his plays may either go unnoticed, or, with those 
of the dramatists who collaborated with him, and whose (notably 
in the case of The Roaring Girl] they pretty evidently were more 
than his. His own characteristic pieces, or those in which his 
touch shows most clearly, though they may not be his entirely, 
are The Shoemaker's Holiday, Old Fortunatus, Satiromastix, 
Patient Grissil, The Honest Whore, The Whore of Babylon, If it 
be not Good the Deinl is in it, The Virgin Martyr, Match me in 
London, The Sons Darling, and The Witch of Edmonton. In 
every one of these the same characteristics appear, but the strangely 


composite fashion of writing of the time makes them appear in 
differing measures. The Shoemaker's Holiday is one of those 
innumerable and yet singular pieces in which the taste of the 
time seems to have so much delighted, and which seem so odd 
to modern taste, pieces in which a plot or underplot, as the case 
may be, of the purest comedy of manners, a mere picture of the 
life, generally the lower middle-class life of the time, is united 
with hardly a thought of real dramatic conjunction to another 
plot of a romantic kind, in which noble and royal personages, 
with, it may be, a dash of history, play their parts. The crown- 
ing instance of this is Middleton's Mayor of Queenborough ; but 
there are scores and hundreds of others, and Dekker specially 
affects it. The Shoemaker s Holiday is principally distinguished by 
the directness and raciness of its citizen sketches. Satiromastix 
(the second title of which is " The Untrussing of the Humorous 
Poet") is Dekker's reply to The Poetaster, in which he endeavours 
to retort Jonson's own machinery upon him. With his customary 
disregard of congruity, however, he has mixed up the personages 
of Horace, Crispinus, Demetrius, and Tucca, not with a Roman 
setting, but with a purely romantic story of William Rufus and Sir 
Walter Tyrrel, and the king's attempt upon the fidelity of Tyrrel's 
bride. This incongruous mixture gives one of the most charm- 
ing scenes of his pen, the apparent poisoning of Celestina by her 
father to save her honour. But as Lamb himself candidly con- 
fessed, the effect of this in the original is marred, if not ruined, 
by the farcical surroundings, and the more farcical upshot of the 
scene itself, the poisoning being, like Juliet's, a mere trick, though 
very differently fortuned. In Patient Grissil the two exquisite 
songs, " Art thou poor " and " Golden slumbers kiss thine eyes," 
and the sympathetic handling of Griselda's character (the one 
of all others to appeal to Dekker) mark his work. In all the 
other plays the same notes appear, and there is no doubt that 
Mr. Swinburne is wholly right in singling out from The Witch of 
Edmonton the feminine characters of Susan, Winifred, and the 
witch herself, as showing Dekker's unmatched command of the 

v DEKKER 203 

colours in which to paint womanhood. In the great debate as to the 
authorship of The Virgin Martyr, everything is so much con- 
jecture that it is hard to pronounce authoritatively. Gifford's cool 
assumption that everything bad in the play is Dekker's, and every- 
thing good Massinger's, will not hold for a moment ; but, on the 
other side, it must be remembered that since Lamb there has 
been a distinct tendency to depreciate Massinger. All that can 
be said is, that the grace and tenderness of the Virgin's part are 
much more in accordance with what is certainly Dekker's than 
with what is certainly Massinger's, and that either was quite capable 
of the Hircius and Spungius passages which have excited so much 
disgust and indignation disgust and indignation which perhaps 
overlook the fact that they were no doubt inserted with the 
express purpose of heightening, by however clumsily designed a 
contrast, the virgin purity of Dorothea the saint. 

It will be seen that I have reserved Old Fortunatus and The 
Honest Whore for separate notice. They illustrate, respectively, 
the power which Dekker has in romantic poetry, and his com- 
mand of vivid, tender, and subtle portraiture in the characters, 
especially, of women. Both, and especially the earlier play, ex- 
hibit also his rapid careless writing, and his ignorance of, or 
indifference to, the construction of a clear and distinctly outlined 
plot. Old Fortunatus tells the well-known story of the wishing 
cap and purse, with a kind of addition showing how these fare in 
the hands of Fortunatus's sons, and with a wild intermixture 
(according to the luckless habit above noted) of kings and lords, 
and pseudo-historical incidents. No example of the kind is more 
chaotic in movement and action. But the interlude of Fortune 
with which it is ushered in is conceived in the highest romantic 
spirit, and told in verse of wonderful effectiveness, not to mention 
two beautiful songs ; and throughout the play the allegorical or 
supernatural passages show the same character. Nor are the 
more prosaic parts inferior, as, for instance, the pretty dialogue 
of Orleans and Galloway, cited by Lamb, and the fine passage 
where Andelocia says what he will do "to-morrow." 


Fort. " No more : curse on : your cries to me are music, 
And fill the sacred roundure of mine ears 
With tunes more sweet than moving of the spheres. 
Curse on : on our celestial brows do sit 
Unnumbered smiles, which then leap from their throne 
When they see peasants dance and monarchs groan. 
Behold you not this Globe, this golden bowl, 
This toy call'd world at our Imperial feet ? 
This world is Fortune's ball wherewith she sports. 
Sometimes I strike it up into the air, 
And then create I Emperors and Kings. 
Sometimes I spurn it : at which spurn crawls out 
That wild beast multitude : curse on, you fools. 
Tis I that tumble Princes from their thrones, 
And gild false brows with glittering diadems. 
'Tis I that tread on necks of conquerors, 
And when like semi-gods they have been drawn, 
In ivory chariots to the capitol, 
Circled about with wonder of all eyes 
The shouts of every tongue, love of all hearts 
Being swoll'n with their own greatness, I have prick'd 
The bladder of their pride, and made them die, 
As water bubbles, without memory. 
I thrust base cowards into honour's chair, 
Whilst the true spirited soldier stands by 
Bare headed, and all bare, whilst at his scars 
They scoff, that ne'er durst view the face of wars. 
I set an Idiot's cap on virtue's head, 
Turn learning out of doors, clothe wit in rags 
And paint ten thousand images of loam 
In gaudy silken colours : on the backs 
Of mules and asses I make asses ride 
Only for sport, to see the apish world 
Worship such beasts with sound idolatry. 
This Fortune does, and when this is done, 
She sits and smiles to hear some curse her name, 
And some with adoration crown her fame. 

And. " To-morrow? ay to-morrow thou shall buy them. 
To-morrow tell the Princess I will love her, 
To-morrow tell the King I'll banquet him, 
To-morrow, Shadow, will I give thee gold, 
To-morrow pride goes bare, and lust a-cold. 


To-morrow will the rich man feed the poor, 
And vice to-morrow virtue will adore. 
To-morrow beggars shall be crowned kings. 
This no-time, morrow's time, no sweetness sings. 
I pray thee hence : bear that to Agripyne." 

The whole is, as a whole, to the last degree crude and un- 
digested, but the ill-matured power of the writer is almost the 
more apparent. 

The Honest Whore, in two parts, is, as far as general character 
goes, a mixed comedy of intrigue and manners combining, or 
rather uniting (for there is little combination of them), four themes 
first, the love of Hippolito for the Princess Infelice, and his vir- 
tuous motions followed by relapse; secondly, the conversion by him 
of the courtesan Bellafront, a damsel of good family, from her evil 
ways, and her marriage to her first gallant, a hairbrained courtier 
named Matheo ; thirdly, Matheo's ill-treatment of Bellafront, her 
constancy and her rejection of the temptations of Hippolito, who 
from apostle has turned seducer, with the humours of Orlando 
Friscobaldo, Bellafront's father, who, feigning never to forgive her, 
watches over her in disguise, and acts as guardian angel to her 
reckless and sometimes brutal husband ; and lastly, the other 
humours of a certain marvellously patient citizen who allows his 
wife to hector him, his customers to bully and cheat him, and 
who pushes his eccentric and unmanly patience to the point 
of enduring both madhouse and jail. Lamb, while ranking a 
single speech of Bellafront's very high, speaks with rather oblique 
approval of the play, and Hazlitt, though enthusiastic for it, admires 
chiefly old Friscobaldo and the ne'er-do-weel Matheo, My own 
reason for preferring it to almost all the non-tragical work of the 
time out of Shakespere, is the wonderful character of Bellafront, 
both in her unreclaimed and her reclaimed condition. In both 
she is a very woman not as conventional satirists and conven- 
tional encomiasts praise or rail at women, but as women are. If 
her language in her unregenerate days is sometimes coarser than 
is altogether pleasant, it does not disguise her nature, the very 


nature of such a woman misled by giddiness, by curiosity, by love 
of pleasure, by love of admiration, but in no thorough sense 
depraved. Her selection of Matheo not as the instrument of her 
being " made an honest woman," not apparently because she had 
any love for him left, or had ever had much, but because he was 
her first seducer, is exactly what, after a sudden convincing of sin, 
such a woman would have done; and if her patience under the long 
trial of her husband's thoughtlessness and occasional brutality seem 
excessive, it will only seem so to one who has been unlucky in 
his experience. Matheo indeed is a thorough good-for-nothing, and 
the natural man longs that Bellafront might have been better 
parted ; but Dekker was a very moral person in his own way, and 
apparently he would not entirely let her Imogen gone astray as 
she is off her penance. 



ONE name so far dominates the prose literature of the last years 
of Elizabeth, and that of the whole reign of James, that it has 
probably alone secured attention in the general memory, except 
such as may be given to the purple patches (of the true Tyrian 
dye, but not extremely numerous) which decorate here and there 
the somewhat featureless expanse of Sir Walter Raleigh's History 
of the World. That name, it is scarcely necessary to say, is the 
name of Francis Bacon. Bacon's eventful life, his much debated 
character, his philosophical and scientific position, are all matters 
beyond our subject. But as it is of the first importance in study- 
ing that subject to keep dates and circumstances generally, if 
not minutely, in view, it may be well to give a brief summary of 
his career. He was born in 1561, the son of Sir Nicholas 
Bacon, Lord Keeper ; he went very young to Cambridge, and 
though early put to the study of the law, discovered an equally early 
bent in another direction. He was unfortunate in not obtaining the 
patronage then necessary to all men not of independent fortune. 
Though Elizabeth was personally familiar with him, she gave him" 
nothing of importance whether owing p the jealousy of his 
uncle and cousin, Burleigh and Robert Cecil, is a point not quite 
certain. The patronage of Essex did him very little good, and 
drew him into the worst action of his life. But after Elizabeth's 
death, and when a man of middle age, he at last began to mount 


the ladder, and came with some rapidity to the summit of his 
profession, being made Lord Chancellor, and created Baron 
Verulam and Viscount St. Alban. The title Lord Bacon he never 
bore in strictness, but it has been consecrated by the use of many 
generations, and it is perhaps pedantry to object to it. Entangled 
as a courtier in the rising hatred of the Court felt by the popular 
party, exposed by his own carelessness, if not by actual venality 
in office, to the attacks of his enemies, and weakly supported, if 
supported at all, by the favourite Buckingham (who seems to have 
thought that Bacon took too much upon himself in state affairs), 
he lost, in 1621, all his places and emoluments, and was heavily 
fined. The retirement of his last few years produced much literary 
fruit, and he died (his death being caused or hastened by an 
injudicious experiment) in 1626. 

Great as is the place that Bacon occupies in English literature, 
he occupies it, as it were, malgre lui. Unlike almost all the 
greatest men of his own and even of the preceding generation, 
he seems to have thought little of the capacities, and less of 
the chances of the English language. He held (and, unluckily 
for him, expressed his opinion in writing) that "these modern 
languages will at one time or the other play the bankrupt with 
books," and even when he wrote in the despised vernacular he 
took care to translate his work, or have it translated, into Latin 
in order to forestall the oblivion he dreaded. Nor is this his 
only phrase of contempt towards his mother-tongue the tongue 
which in his own lifetime served as a vehicle to a literature 
compared with which the whole literary achievement of Latin 
antiquity is but a neat school exercise, and which in every point 
but accomplished precision of form may challenge comparison 
with Greek itself. This insensibility of Bacon's is characteristic 
enough, and might, if this were the place for any such subtlety, be 
connected with the other defects of his strangely blended, character 
his pjis^llanimity_, hi lack of passion (let any one read the Essay 
on Love, and remember that some persons, not always inmates 
of lunatic asylums, have held that Bacon wrote the plays of 


Shakespere), his love of empty pomp and display, and so 

But the English language which he thus despised had a noble 
and worthy revenge on Bacon. Of his Latin works hardly any- 
thing but the Novum Organum is now read even for scholastic 
purposes, and it is not certain that, but for the saving influences 
of academical study and prescription, even that might not slip 
out of the knowledge of all but specialists. But with the wider 
and wider spread and study of English the Essays and The 
Advancement of Learning are read ever more and more, and the 
only reason that The History of Henry VII., The New Atlantis, and 
the Sylva Sylvarum do not receive equal attention, lies in the 
comparative obsoleteness of their matter, combined with the fact 
that the matter is the chief thing on which attention is bestowed 
in them. Even in the two works noted, the Essays and The 
Advancement, which can go both together in a small volume, 
Bacon shows himself at his very greatest in all respects, and 
(ignorant or careless as he was of the fact) as one of the greatest 
writers of English prose before the accession of Charles I. 

The characteristics of style in these two works are by no 
means the same ; but between them they represent fairly enough 
the characteristics of all Bacon's English prose. It might indeed 
be desirable in studying it to add to them the Henry the Seventh, 
which is a model of clear historical narration, not exactly 
picturesque, but never dull ; and though not exactly erudite, yet 
by no means wanting in erudition, and exhibiting conclusions 
which, after two centuries and a half of record-grubbing, have not 
been seriously impugned or greatly altered by any modern his- 
torian. In this book, which was written late, Bacon had, of 
course, the advantage of his long previous training in the actual 
politics of a school not very greatly altered since the time he was 
describing, but this does not diminish the credit due to him for 
formal excellence. 

The Essays which Bacon issued for the first time, to the 
number of ten, in 1597, when he was, comparatively speaking, 


a young man, which he reissued largely augmented in 1612, and 
yet again just before his death, in their final and fullest con- 
dition are not so much in the modern sense essays as collec- 
tions of thoughts more or less connected. We have, indeed, the 
genesis of them in the very interesting commonplace book called 
the Promus [butler or storekeeper] of Elegancies, the publication 
of which, as a whole, was for some reason or other not under- 
taken by Mr. Spedding, and is due to Mrs. Henry Pott. Here 
we have the quaint, but never merely quaint, analogies, the apt 
quotations, the singular flashes of reflection and illustration, which 
characterise Bacon, in their most unformed and new-born condi- 
tion. In the Essays they are worked together, but still senten- 
tiously, and evidently with no attempt at sustained and fluent 
connection of style. That Montaigne must have had some influ- 
ence on Bacon is. of course, certain ; though few things can be 
more unlike than the curt severity, of the scheme of the English 
essays and the interminable diffuseness of the French. Yet here 
and there are passages in Montaigne which might almost be the 
work of a French Bacon, and in Bacon passages which might 
easily be the work of an English Montaigne. In both there is 
the same odd mixture of dignity and familiarity the familiarity 
predominating in Montaigne, the dignity in Bacon and in both 
there is the union of a rich fancy and a profound interest in 
ethical questions, with a curious absence of passion and enthusiasm 
a touch, as it may almost be called, of Philistinism, which in 
Bacon's case contrasts most strangely with his frequently gorgeous 
language, and the evident richness of his imagination, or at -least 
his fancy. 

The scheme and manner of these essays naturally induced a 
sententious and almost undeveloped manner of writing. An 
extraordinary number of separate phrases and sentences, which 
have become the common property of all who use the language, 
and are probably most often used without any clear idea of their 
author, may be disinterred from them, as well as many striking 
images and pregnant thoughts, which have had less general cur- 


rency. But the compression of them (which is often so great that 
they might be printed sentence by sentence like verses of the 
Bible) prevents the author from displaying his command of a 
consecutive, elaborated, and harmonised style. What command 
he had of that style may be found, without looking far, in the 
Henry the Seventh^ in the Atlantis, and in various minor works, 
some originally written in Latin and translated, such as the 
magnificent passage which Dean Church has selected as describ- 
ing the purpose- and crown of the Baconian system. In such 
passages the purely oratorical faculty which he undoubtedly had 
(though like all the earlier oratory of England, with rare exceptions, 
its examples remain a mere tradition, and hardly even that) dis- 
plays itself; and one cannot help regretting that, instead of going 
into the law, where he never attained to much technical excel- 
lence, and where his mere promotion was at first slow, and was 
no sooner quickened than it brought him into difficulties and 
dangers, he had not sought the safer and calmer haven of the 
Church, where he would have been more at leisure to " take all 
knowledge to be his province;" would have been less tempted 
to engage in the treacherous, and to him always but half- con- 
genial, business of politics, and would have forestalled, and per- 
haps excelled, Jeremy Taylor as a sacred orator. If Bacon be 
Jeremy's inferior .in exuberant gorgeousness, he is very much his 
superior in order and proportion, and quite his equal in sudden 
flashes of a quaint but illuminative rhetoric. For after all that 
has-been said of Bacon and his philosophy, he was a rhetorician 
ratherjthan_a philosopher. Half Jthe puzzlement which has arisen 
in the efforts to get something exact out of the stately periods 
and splendid promises of the Novum Organum and its companions 
has arisen from oversight of this eminently rhetorical character ; 
and this character is the chief property of his style. It may 
seem presumptuous to extend the charges of want of depth which 
were formulated by good authorities in law and physics against 
Bacon in his own day, yet he is everywhere "not deep." He is 
stimulating beyond the recorded power of any other man except 


Socrates ; he is inexhaustible in analogy and illustration, full of 
wise saws, and of instances as well ancient as modern. But he 
is by no means an accurate expositor, still less a powerful reasoner, 
and his style is exactly suited to his mental gifts ; now luminously 
fluent, now pregnantly brief; here just obscure enough to kindle 
the reader's desire of penetrating the obscurity, there flashing 
with ornament which perhaps serves to conceal a flaw in the reason- 
ing, but which certainly serves to allure and retain the attention 
of the student. All these characteristics are the characteristics 
rather of the great orator than of the great philosopher. His 
constant practice in every kind of literary composition, and in the 
meditative thought which constant literary composition perhaps 
sometimes tempts its practitioners to dispense with, enabled him 
to write on a vast variety of subjects, and in many different styles. 
But of these it will always be found that two were most familiar 
to him, the short sententious apothegm, parallel, or image, which 
suggests and stimulates even when it does not instruct, and the 
half-hortatory half-descriptive discours d'ouverture, where the writer 
is the unwearied panegyrist of promised lands not perhaps to be 
identified with great ease on any chart. 1 

Aparallel in the Plutarchian manner between Bacon and Raleigh 
would in many ways be pleasant, but only one point of it concerns 
us here, that both had been happier and perhaps had done greater 
things had they been simple men of letters. Unlike Bacon, who, 
though he wrote fair verse, shows no poetical bent, Raleigh was homo 
utriusque lingua, and his works in verse, unequal as they are, oc- 
casionally touch the loftiest summits of poetry. It is very much the^- 
same in his prose. His minor books, mostly written hurriedly, and 
for a purpose, have hardly any share of the graces of style; and his 
masterpiece, the famous History of the World, is made up of short 
passages of the most extraordinary beauty, and long stretches of 
monotonous narration and digression, showing not much grace 
of style, and absolutely no sense of proportion or skill in arrange- 

1 Of Bacon in prose, as of Spenser, Shakespere, and Milton in verse, it 
does not seem necessary to give extracts, and for the same reason. 


menL The contrast is so strange that some have sought to see 
in the undoubted facts that Raleigh, in his tedious prison labours, 
had assistants and helpers (Ben Jonson among others), a reason 
for the superior excellence of such set pieces as the Preface, the 
Epilogue, and others, which are scattered about the course of the 
work. But independently of the other fact that excellence of the 
most diverse kind meets us at every turn, though it also deserts us 
at every turn, in Raleigh's varied literary work, and that it would 
be absurd to attribute all these passages to some " affable familiar 
ghost," there is the additional difficulty that in none of his 
reported helpers' own work do the peculiar graces of the purple 
passages of the History occur. The immortal descant on 
mortality with which the book closes, and which is one of the 
highest achievements of English prose, is not in the least like 
Jonson, not in the least like Selden, not in the least like any 
one of whose connection with Raleigh there is record. Donne 
might have written it ; but there is not the smallest reason for 
supposing that he did, and many for being certain that he did 
not. Therefore, it is only fair to give Raleigh himself the credit 
for this and all other passages of the kind. Their character and, 
at the same time, their comparative rarity are both easily explic- 
able. They are all obviously struck off in moments of excitement 
moments when the writer's variable and fanciful temperament 
was heated to flashing -point and gave off almost spontaneously 
these lightnings of prose as it gave, on other occasions, such 
lightnings of poetry as The Faerie Queene sonnet, as " the Lie," 
and as the other strange jewels (cats' eyes and opals, rather than 
pearls or diamonds), which are strung along with very many 
common pebbles on Raleigh's poetical necklace. In style they 
anticipate Browne (who probably learnt not a little from them) 
more than any other writer ; and they cannot fairly be said to 
have been anticipated by any Englishman. The low and stately 
music of their cadences is a thing, except in Browne, almost 
unique, and it is not easy to trace it to any peculiar mannerism 
of vocabulary or of the arrangement of words. But Raleigh's 


usual style differs very little from that of other men of his day, 
who kept clear at once of euphuism and burlesque. Being chiefly 
narrative, it is rather plainer than Hooker, who has some few 
points of resemblance with Raleigh, but considerably freer from 
the vices of desultoriness and awkward syntax, than most writers of 
the day except Hooker. But its most interesting characteristic to 
the student of literature must always be the way in which it leads 
up to, without in the least foretelling, the bursts of eloquence already 
referred to. Even Milton's alternations of splendid imagery with 
dull and scurrilous invective, are hardly so strange as Raleigh's 
changes from jog-trot commonplace to almost inspired declamation, 
if only for the reason that they are much more intelligible. It 
must also be mentioned that Raleigh, like Milton, seems to have 
had little or no humour. 

The opening and closing passages of the History are almost 
universally known ; a quainter, less splendid, but equally charac- 
teristic one may be given here though Mr. Arber has already 
extracted it : 

" The four complexions resemble the four elements ; and the seven ages of 
man, the seven planets. Whereof our infancy is compared to the moon ; in 
which we seem only to live and grow, as plants. 

" The second age, to Mercury ; wherein we are taught and instructed. 

" Our third age, to Venus ; the days of Love, Desire and Vanity. 

" The fourth, to the Sun ; the strong, flourishing and beautiful age of man's 

" The fifth, to Mars ; in which we seek honour and victory ; and in which 
our thoughts travel to ambitious ends. 

" The sixth age is ascribed to Jupiter; in which we begin to take account 
of our times, judge of ourselves, and grow to the perfection of our under- 

" The last and seventh, to Saturn ; wherein our days are sad and overcast ; 
and in which we find by dear and lamentable experience, and by the loss which 
can never be repaired, that, of all our vain passions and affections past, the 
sorrow only abideth. Our attendants are sicknesses and variable infirmities : 
and by how much the more we are accompanied with plenty, by so much the 
more greedily is our end desired. Whom, when Time hath made unsociable to 
others, we become a burden to ourselves : being of no other use than to hold 
the riches we have from our successors. In this time it is, when we, for the 


most part (and never before) prepare for our Eternal Habitation, which we 
pass on unto with many sighs, groans and sad thoughts : and in the end (by 
the workmanship of Death) finish the sorrowful business of a wretched life. 
Towards which we always travel, both sleeping and waking. Neither have 
those beloved companions of honour and riches any power at all to hold us any 
one day by the glorious promise of entertainments : but by what crooked path 
soever we walk, the same leadeth on directly to the House of Death, whose 
doors lie open at all hours, and to all persons. " 

But great as are Bacon and Raleigh, they cannot approach, as 
writers of prose, the company of scholarly divines who produced 
what is probably the greatest prose work in any language the 
Authorised Version of the Bible in English. Now that there is 
at any rate some fear of this masterpiece ceasing to be what it 
has been for three centuries the t school and training ground of 
every man and woman of English speech in the noblest uses of 
English tongue -every one who values that mother tongue is more 
especially bound to put on record his own allegiance to it. The 
work of the Company appears to have been loyally performed in | 
common ; and it is curious that such an unmatched result should 
have been the result of labours thus combined, and not, as far as 
is known, controlled by any one guiding spirit. Among the trans- 
lators were many excellent writers, an advantage which they 
possessed in a much higher degree than their revisers in the 
nineteenth century, of whom few would be mentioned among the 
best living writers of English by any competent authority. But, 
at the same time, no known translator under James has left any- 
thing which at all equals in strictly literary merit the Authorised 
Version, as it still is and as long may it be. The fact is, however, 
less mysterious after a little examination than it may seem at 
first sight. Putting aside all questions as to the intrinsic value of 
the subject-matter as out of our province, it will be generally 
admitted that the translators had in the greater part of the Old 
Testament, in a large part of the Apocrypha, and in no small part 
of the New Testament, matter as distinguished from form, of very 
high literary value to begin with in their originals. In the second 
place, they had, in the Septuagint and in the Vulgate, versions 


also of no small literary merit to help them. In the third place, 
they had in the earlier English versions excellent quarries of suit- 
able English terms, if not very accomplished models of style. 
These, however, were not in any way advantages peculiar to 
themselves. The advantages which, in a manner at least, were 
peculiar to themselves may be divided into two classes. They 
were in the very centre of the great literary ferment of which in 
this volume I am striving to give a history as little inadequate as 
possible. They had in the air around them an English purged 
of archaisms and uncouthnesses, fully adapted to every literary 
purpose, and yet still racy of the soil, and free from that burden 
of hackneyed and outworn literary platitudes and commonplaces 
with which centuries of voluminous literary production have 
vitiated and loaded the English of our own day. They were not 
afraid of Latinising, but they had an ample stock of the pure ver- 
nacular to draw on. These things may be classed together. On 
the other side, but equally healthful, may be put the fact that the 
style and structure of the originals and earlier versions, and 
especially that verse division which has been now so unwisely 
abandoned, served as safeguards against the besetting- sin of all 
prose writers of their time, the habit of indulging in long wander- 
ing sentences, in paragraphs destitute of proportion and of grace, 
destitute even of ordinary manageableness and shape. The 
verses saved them from that once for all ; while on the other 
hand their own taste, and the help given by the structure of the 
original in some cases, prevented them from losing sight of the 
wood for the trees, and omitting to consider the relation of verse 
to verse, as well as the antiphony of the clauses within the verse. 
Men without literary faculty might no doubt have gone wrong ; 
but these were men of great literary faculty, whose chief liabilities 
to error were guarded against precisely by the very conditions in 
which they found their work. The hour had come exactly, and 
so for once had the men. 

The result of their labours is so universally known that it is 
not necessary to say very much about it ; but the mere fact of 


the universal knowledge carries with it a possibility of under- 
valuation. In another place, dealing with the general subject of 
English prose style, I have selected the sixth and seventh verses of 
the eighth chapter of Solomon's Song as the best example known to 
me of absolutely perfect English prose harmonious, modulated, 
yet in no sense trespassing the limits of prose and becoming 
poetry. I have in the same place selected, as a companion 
passage from a very different original, the Charity passage of the 
First Epistle to the Corinthians, which has been so miserably 
and wantonly mangled and spoilt by the bad taste and ignorance 
of the late revisers. I am tempted to dwell on this because it is 
very germane to our subject. One of the blunders which spoils 
this passage in the Revised Version is the pedantic substitution 
of "mirror" for "glass," it having apparently occurred to some 
wiseacre that glass was not known to the ancients, or at least used 
for mirrors. Had this wiseacre had the slightest knowledge of 
English literature, a single title of Gascoigne's, " The Steel Glass," 
would have dispensed him at once from any attempt at emen- 
dation ; but this is ever and always the way of the sciolist. 
Fortunately such a national possession as the original Authorised 
Version, when once multiplied and dispersed by the press, is out 
of reach of vandalism. The improved version, constructed on 
very much the same principle as Davenant's or Ravenscroft's 
improvements on Shakespere, may be ordered to be read in 
churches, and substituted for purposes of taking oaths. But the 
original (as it may be called in no burlesque sense such as that 
of a famous story) will always be the text resorted to by scholars 
and men of letters for purposes of reading, and will remain the 
authentic lexicon, the recognised source of English words and 
constructions of the best period. The days of creation ; the 
narratives of Joseph and his brethren, of Ruth, of the final 
defeat of Ahab, of the discomfiture of the Assyrian host of Sen- 
nacherib ; the moral discourses of Ecclesiastes and Ecclesiasticus 
and the Book of Wisdom ; the poems of the Psalms and the 
prophets ; the visions of the Revelation, a hundred other pas- 


sages which it is unnecessary to catalogue, will always be the 
tie plus ultra of English composition in their several kinds, and 
the storehouse from which generation after generation of writers, 
sometimes actually hostile to religion and often indifferent to it, 
will draw the materials, and not unfrequently the actual form of 
their most impassioned and elaborate passages. Revision after 
revision, constructed in corrupt following of the transient and 
embarrassed phantoms of ephemeral fashion in scholarship, may 
sink into the Great Mother of Dead Dogs after setting right a 
tense here, and there transferring a rendering from text to margin 
or from margin to text. But the work of the unrevised version will 
remain unaffected by each of these futile exercitations. All the 
elements, all the circumstances of a translation as perfect as can 
be accomplished in any circumstances and with any elements, 
were then present, and the workers were worthy of the work. The 
plays of Shakespere and the English Bible are, and will ever be, the 
twin monuments not merely of their own period, but of the per- 
fection of English, the complete expressions of the literary capacities 
of the language, at the time when it had lost none of its pristine 
vigour, and had put on enough but not too much of the 
adornments and the limitations of what may be called literary 

The boundary between the prose of this period and that which 
we shall treat later as " Caroline " is not very clearly fixed. Some 
men, such as Hall and Donne, whose poetical work runs parallel 
to that in prose which we are now noticing, come as prose writers 
rather under the later date ; others who continued to write till 
long after Elizabeth's death, and even after that of James, seem, 
by their general complexion, to belong chiefly to the earlier day. 
The first of these is Ben Jonson, whose high reputation in other 
ways has somewhat unduly damaged, or at least obscured, his 
merits as a prose writer. His two chief works in this kind are his 
English Grammar, in which a sound knowledge of the rules of 
English writing is discovered, and the quaintly named Explorata or 
Discoveries and Timber a collection of notes varying from a mere 


aphorism to a respectable essay. In these latter a singular power of 
writing prose appears. The book was not published till after 
Ben's death, and is thought to have been in part at least written 
during the last years of his life. But there can be no greater 
contrast than exists between the prose style usual at that time a 
style tourmente, choked with quotation, twisted in every direction 
by allusion and conceit, and marred by perpetual confusions of 
English with classical grammar and the straightforward, vigorous 
English of these Discoveries. They come, in character as in time, 
midway between Hooker and Dryden, and they incline rather to 
the more than to the less modern form. Here is found the prose 
character of Shakespere which, if less magniloquent than that in 
verse, has a greater touch of sheer sincerity. Here, too, is an 
admirable short tractate on Style which exemplifies what it 
preaches ; and a large number of other excellent things. Some, 
it is true, are set down in a short-hand fashion as if (which 
doubtless they were) they were commonplace-book notes for 
working up in due season. But others and perhaps the majority 
(they all Baconian-wise have Latin titles, though only one or two 
have the text in Latin) are written with complete attention to 
literary presentment; seldom though sometimes relapsing into 
loose construction of sentences and paragraphs, the besetting sin 
of the day, and often presenting, as in the following, a model of 
sententious but not dry form : 

" We should not protect our sloth with the patronage of difficulty. It is 
a false quarrel against nature that she helps understanding but in a few, when 
the most part of mankind are inclined by her thither, if they would take the 
pains ; no less than birds to fly, horses to run, etc., which if they lose it is 
through their own sluggishness, and by that means become her prodigies, not 
her children. I confess nature in children is more patient of labour in study 
than in age ; for the sense of the pain, the judgment of the labour is absent, 
they do not measure what they have done. And it is the thought and con- 
sideration that affects us more than the weariness itself. Plato was not con- 
tent with the learning that Athens could give him, but sailed into Italy, for 
Pythagoras' knowledge : and yet not thinking himself sufficiently informed, 
went into Egypt, to the priests, and learned their mysteries. He laboured, so 
must we. Many things may be learned together and performed in one point 


of time ; as musicians exercise their memory, their voice, their fingers, and 
sometimes their head and feet at once. And so a preacher, in the invention 
of matter, election of words, composition of gesture, look, pronunciation, 
motion, useth all these faculties at once : and if we can express this variety 
together, why should not divers studies, at divers hours, delight, when the 
variety is able alone to refresh and repair us ? As when a man is weary of 
writing, to read ; and then again of reading, to write. Wherein, howsoever 
we do many things, yet are we (in a sort) still fresh to what we begin ; we are 
recreated with change as the stomach is with meats. But some will say, this 
variety breeds confusion, and makes that either we lose all or hold no more 
than the last. Why do we not then persuade husbandmen that they should 
not till land, help it with marie, lime, and compost ? plant hop gardens, prune 
trees, look to beehives, rear sheep, and all other cattle at once ? It is easier 
to do many things and continue, than to do one thing long." 

No other single writer until we come to the pamphleteers 
deserves separate or substantive mention ; but in many divisions 
of literature there were practitioners who, if they have not kept 
much notoriety as masters of style, were well thought of even in 
that respect in their day, and were long authorities in point of 
matter. The regular theological treatises of the time present 
nothing equal to Hooker, who in part overlapped it, though the 
Jesuit Parsons has some name for vigorous writing. In history, 
Knolles, the historian of the Turks, and Sandys, the Eastern 
traveller and sacred poet, bear the bell for style among their 
fellows, such as Hayward, Camden, Spelman, Speed, and Stow. 
Daniel the poet, a very good prose writer in his way, was also a 
historian of England, but his chief prose work was his Defence of 
Rhyme. He had companions in the critical task ; but it is curious 
and by no means uninstructive to notice, that the immense creative 
production of the time seems to have to a great extent smothered 
the theoretic and critical tendency which, as yet not resulting in 
actual performance, betrayed itself at the beginning of the period 
in Webbe and Puttenham, in Harvey and Sidney. The example 
of Eden in collecting and Englishing travels and voyages was 
followed by several writers, of whom two, successively working and 
residing, the elder at Oxford, and the younger at Cambridge, made 
the two greatest collections of the kind in the language for interest 


of matter, if not for perfection of style. These were Richard 
Hakluyt and Samuel Purchas, a venerable pair. The perhaps 
overpraised, but still excellent Characters of the unfortunate Sir 
Thomas Overbury and the prose works, such as the Counterblast 
and Demonology, of James I., are books whose authors have 
made them more famous than their intrinsic merits warrant, and in 
the various collections of " works " of the day, older and newer, 
we shall find examples nearly as miscellaneous as those of the 
class of writers now to be noticed. Of all this miscellaneous 
work it is impossible to give examples, but one critical passage 
from Daniel, and one descriptive from Hakluyt may serve : 

" Methinks we should not so soon yield up our consents captive to the 
authority of antiquity, unless we saw more reason ; all our understandings are 
not to be built by the square of Greece and Italy. We are the children of 
nature as well as they, we are not so placed out of the way of judgment but 
that the same sun of discretion shineth upon us ; we have our portion of the 
same virtues, as Well as of the same vices, et Catilinam quocunque in populo 
videas, quocunque sub axe. Time and the turn of things bring about these 
faculties according to the present estimation ; and, res temporibus, non tempore 
rebus servire opportet. So that we must never rebel against use ; quern penes 
arbitrium est, et vis et norma loquendi. It is not the observing of trochaics 
nor their iambics, that will make our writings aught the wiser : all their poesy 
and all their philosophy is nothing, unless we bring the discerning light of 
conceit with us to apply it to use. It is not books, but only that great book 
of the world, and the all-overspreading grace of Heaven that makes men truly 
judicial. Nor can it but touch of arrogant ignorance to hold this or that nation 
barbarous, these or those times gross, considering how this manifold creature 
man, wheresoever he stand in the world, hath always some disposition of worth, 
entertains the order of society, affects that which is most in use, and is eminent 
in some one thing or other that fits his humour or the times. The Grecians 
held all other nations barbarous but themselves ; yet Pyrrhus, when he saw 
the well ordered marching of the Romans, which made them see their pre- 
sumptuous error, could say it was no barbarous manner of proceeding. The 
Goths, Vandals, and Longobards, whose coming down like an inundation 
overwhelmed, as they say, all the glory of learning in Europe, have yet left 
us still their laws and customs, as the originals of most of the provincial con- 
stitutions of Christendom ; which, well considered with their other courses of 
government, may serve to clear them from this imputation of ignorance. And 
though the vanquished never speak well of the conqueror, yet even through 


the unsound coverings of malediction appear these monuments of truth, as 
argue well their worth, and proves them not without judgment, though without 
Greek and Latin." 

" To speak somewhat of these islands, being called, in old time, Insults 
fortune, by the means of the flourishing thereof. The fruitfulness of them doth 
surely exceed far all other that I have heard of. For they make wine better 
than any in Spain : and they have grapes of such bigness that they may be 
compared to damsons, and in taste inferior to none. Fcr sugar, suckets, 
raisons of the sun, and many other fruits, abundance : for rosin, and raw 
silk, there is great store. They want neither corn, pullets, cattle, nor yet 
wild fowl. 

' ' They have many camels also : which, being young, are eaten of the 
people for victuals ; and being old, they are used for carriage of necessities. 
Whose property is, as he is taught, to kneel at the taking of his load, and the 
unlading again ; of understanding very good, but of shape very deformed ; 
with a little belly ; long misshapen legs ; and feet very broad of flesh, without 
a hoof, all whole saving the great toe ; a back bearing up like a molehill, a 
large and thin neck, with a little head, with a bunch of hard flesh which 
Nature hath given him in his breast to lean upon. This beast liveth hardly, 
and is contented with straw and stubble ; but of strong force, being well able 
to carry five hundredweight. 

" In one of these islands called Ferro, there is, by the reports of the 
inhabitants, a certain tree which raineth continually ; by the dropping whereof 
the inhabitants and cattle are satisfied with water : for other water have they 
none in all the island. And it raineth in such abundance that it were in- 
credible unto a man to believe such a virtue to be in a tree ; but it is known 
to be a Divine matter, and a thing ordained by God : at Whose power therein, 
we ought not to marvel, seeing He did, by His Providence (as we read in the 
Scriptures) when the Children of Israel were going into the Land of Promise, 
feed them with manna from heaven, for the space of forty years. Of these 
trees aforesaid, we saw in Guinea many ; being of great height, dropping con- 
tinually ; but not so abundantly as the other, because the leaves are narrower 
and are like the leaves of a pear tree. About these islands are certain flitting 
islands, which have been oftentimes seen ; and when men approach near them, 
they vanished : as the like hath been of these now known (by the report of 
the inhabitants) which were not found but of a long time, one after the other ; 
and, therefore, it should seem he is not yet born, to whom God hath appointed 
the finding of them. 

" In this island of Teneriff, there is a hill called the Pike, because it is 
piked ; which is, in height, by their report, twenty leagues : having, both 
winter and summer, abundance of snow on the top of it. This Pike may be 


seen, in a clear day, fifty leagues off ; but it sheweth as though it were a black 
cloud a great height in the element. I have heard of none to be compared 
with this in height ; but in the Indies I have seen many, and, in my judg- . 
ment, not inferior to the Pike : and so the Spaniards write." 

One of the most remarkable developments of English prose 
at the time, and one which has until very recently been almost 
inaccessible, except in a few examples, to the student who has not 
the command of large libraries, while even by such students it 
has seldom been thoroughly examined, is the abundant and very 
miscellaneous collection of what are called, for want of a better 
name, Pamphlets. The term is not too happy, but there is no other 
(except the still less happy Miscellany) which describes the* thing." 4\fl^ 
It consists of a vast mass of purely popular literature, seldom 
written with any other aim than that of the modern journalist 
That is to say, it was written to meet a current demand, to deal 
with subjects for one reason or other interesting at the moment, 
and, as a matter of course, to bring in some profit to the writer. 
These pamphlets are thus as destitute of any logical community of 
subject as the articles which compose a modern newspaper a 
production the absence of which they no doubt supplied, and of 
which they were in a way the forerunners. Attempts to classify 
their subjects could only end in a hopeless cross division. They 
are religious very often ; political very seldom (for the fate of the 
luckless Stubbes in his dealings with the French marriage was not 
suited to attract) ; politico-religious in at least the instance of one 
famous group, the so-called Martin Marprelate Controversy; 'moral 
constantly; in very many, especially the earlier instances, narrative, 
and following to a large extent in the steps of Lyly and Sidney ; 
besides a large class of curious tracts dealing with the manners, 
and usually the bad side of the manners, of the town. Of the 
vast miscellaneous mass of these works by single unimportant or 
unknown authors it is almost impossible to give any account here, 
though valuable instances will be found of them in Mr. Arber's 
English Garner. But the works of the six most important individual 
writers of them Greene, Nash, Harvey, Dekker, Lodge, Breton 


(to whom might be added the verse-pamphleteer, but in no sense 
poet, Rowlands) areluckily now accessible as /"holes, Lodge and 
Rowlands having been published, or at least privately printed for 
subscribers, by the Hunterian Club of Glasgow, and the other 
five by the prolific industry of Dr. Grosart The reprints of 
Petheram and of Mr. Arber, with new editions of Lyly arid others, 
have made most of the Marprelate tracts accessible. Some notice 
of these collections will not only give a fair idea of the entire 
miscellaneous prose of the Elizabethan period, but will also fill a 
distinct gap in most histories of it. It will not be necessary to 
enter into much personal detail about their authors, for most of 
them have been noticed already in other capacities, and of Breton 
and Rowlands very little indeed is known. Greene and Lodge 
stand apart from their fellows in this respect, that their work is, in 
some respects at any rate, much more like literature and less like 
journalism, though by an odd and apparently perverse chance, 
this difference has rather hurt than saved it in the estimation of 
posterity. For the kind of literature which both wrote in this 
way has gone out of fashion, and its purely literary graces are 
barely sufficient to save it from the point of view of form ; while 
the bitter personalities of Nash, and the quaint adaptations of 
bygone satire to contemporary London life in which Dekker 
excelled, have a certain lasting interest of matter. On the other 
hand, the two companions of Marlowe have the advantage (which 
they little anticipated, and would perhaps less have relished) of 
surviving as illustrations of Shakespere, of the Shakescene who, 
decking himself out in their feathers, has by that act rescued 
Pandosto and Euphues* Golden Legacy from oblivion by associating 
them with the immortality of As You Like It and The Winter's 

Owing to the different forms in which this fleeting and unequal 
work has been reprinted, it is not very easy to decide off-hand on 
the relative bulk of the authors' works. But the palm in this 
respect must be divided between Robert Greene and Nicholas 
Breton, the former of whom fills eleven volumes of loosely-printed 


crown octavo, and the latter (in prose only) a thick quarto of very 
small and closely-printed double columns. Greene, who began 
his work early under the immediate inspiration first of his travels 
and then of Lyly's Euphues, started, as early as 1583, with 
Mamillia, a Looking-Glass for the Ladies of England, which, both 
in general character and in peculiarities of style, is an obvious copy 
of Euphues. The Mirror of Modesty is more of a lay sermon, 
based on the story of Susanna. The Tritameron of Love is a 
dialogue without action, but Arbasto, or the Anatomic of Fortune 
returns to the novel form, as does The Card of Fancy. Planeto- 
machia is a collection of stories, illustrating the popular astrological 
notions, with an introduction on astrology generally. Penelope's 
Web is another collection of stories, but The Spanish Masquerado 
is one of the most interesting of the series. Written just at the 
time of the Armada, it is pure journalism a livre de drconstance 
composed to catch the popular temper with aid of a certain actual 
knowledge, and a fair amount of reading. Then Greene returned 
to euphuism in Menaphon, and in Euphucs, his Censure to 
Philautus ; nor are Perimedes the Blacksmith and Tully's Love much 
out of the same line. The Royal Exchange again deviates, being a 
very quaint collection, quaintly arranged, of moral maxims, apoph- 
thegms, short stories, etc., for the use, of the citizens. Next, the 
author began the curious series, at first perhaps not very sincere, 
but certainly becoming so at last, of half-personal reminiscences 
and regrets, less pointed and well arranged than Villon's, but 
remarkably similar. The first and longest of these was Greene's 
Never too Late, with its second part Francesco's Fortunes. Greene's 
Metamorphosis is Euphuist once more, and Greene's Mourning Gar- 
ment and Greene's Farewell to Folly are the same, with a touch of 
personality. Then he diverged into the still more curious series on 
"conny-catching" rooking, gulling, cheating, as we should call 
it. There are five or six of these tracts, and though there is not 
a little bookmaking in them, they are unquestionably full of 
instruction as to the ways of the time. Philomela returns once 
more to euphuism, but Greene is soon back again with A Quip 
ii Q 


for an Upstart Courtier, a piece of social satire, flying rather 
higher than his previous attempts. The zigzag is kept up in 
Orpharion, the last printed (at least in the only edition now known) 
of the author's works during his lifetime. Not till after his death 
did the best known and most personal of all his works appear, the 
famous Groafs Worth of Wit Bought with a Million of Repent- 
ance, in which the "Shakescene" passage and the exhortation to 
his friends to repentance occur. Two more tracts in something 
the same style Greene's Repentance and Greene's Vision fol- 
lowed. Their genuineness has been questioned, but seems to be 
fairly certain. 

This full list to which must be added the already mentioned 
Pandosto, the Triumph of Time, or Dorastus and Fawnia, and the 
translated Debate between Folly and Love of a certainly not scanty 
life-work (Greene died when he was quite a young man, and wrote 
plays besides) has been given, because it is not only the earliest, 
but perhaps the most characteristic of the whole. Despite the 
apparently unsuitable forms, it is evident that the writer is striving, 
without knowing it, at what we call journalism. But fashion and 
the absence of models cramp and distort his work. Its main 
features are to be found in the personal and satirical pieces, in 
the vivid and direct humanity of some touches in the euphuist 
tract-romances, in the delightful snatches of verse which inter- 
sperse and relieve the heterogeneous erudition, the clumsy dia- 
logue, and the rococo style. The two following extracts give, 
the first a specimen of Greene's ornate and Euphuist style from 
Orpharion, the second a passage from his autobiographical or 
semi-autobiographical confesssions in the Groafs Worth : 

" I am Lydia that renowned Princess, whose never matched beauty seemed 
like the gorgeous pomp of Phoebus, too bright for the day : rung so strongly out 
of the trump of Fame as it filled every ear with wonder : Daughter to Astolpho, 
the King of Lydia : who thought himself not so fortunate for his diadem, sith 
other kings could boast of crowns, nor for his great possessions, although 
endued with large territories, as happy that he had a daughter whose excellency 
in favour stained Venus, whose austere chastity set Diana to silence with a 
blush. Know whatsoever thou art that standest attentive to my tale, that the 


ruddiest rose in all Damasco, the whitest lilies in the creeks of Danuby, might 
not if they had united their native colours, but have bashed at the vermilion 
stain, flourish'd upon the pure crystal of my face : the Marguerites of the 
western Indies, counted more bright and rich than that which Cleopatra 
quaffed to Anthony, the coral highest in his pride upon the Afric shores, might 
well be graced to resemble my teeth and lips, but never honoured to over- 
reach my pureness. Remaining thus the mirror of the world, and nature's 
strangest miracle, there arrived in our Court a Thracian knight, of personage 
tall, proportioned in most exquisite form, his face but too fair for his qualities, 
for he was a brave and a resolute soldier. This cavalier coming amongst 
divers others to see the royalty of the state of Lydia, no sooner had a glance 
of my beauty, but he set down his staff, resolving either to perish in so sweet 
a labyrinth, or in time happily to stumble out with Theseus. He had not 
stayed long in my father's court, but he shewed such knightly deeds of chivalry 
amongst the nobility, lightened with the extraordinary sparks of a courageous 
mind, that not only he was liked and loved of all the chief peers of the realms, 
but the report of his valour coming to my father's ears, he was highly honoured 
of him, and placed in short time as General of his warlike forces by land. 
Resting in this estimation with the king, preferment was no means to quiet 
his mind, for love had wounded so deep, as honour by no means might remedy, 
that as the elephants can hardly be haled from the sight of the waste, or the 
roe buck from gazing at red cloth, so there was no object that could so much 
allure the wavering eyes of this Thracian called Acestes, as the surpassing 
beauty of the Princess Lydia, yea, so deeply he doted, that as the Chameleon 
gorgeth herself with gazing into the air, so he fed his fancy with staring on 
the heavenly face of his Goddess, so long dallying in the flame, that he 
scorched his wings and in time consumed his whole body. Being thus passionate, 
having none so familiar as he durst make his confidant he fell thus to debate 
with himself." 

" On the other side of the hedge sat one that heard his sorrow, who getting 
over, came towards him, and brake off his passion. When he approached, he 
saluted Roberto in this sort : Gentleman, quoth he (for so you seem) I have by 
chance heard you discourse some part of your grief ; which appeareth to be 
more than you will discover, or I can conceit. But if you vouchsafe such 
simple comfort as my ability will yield, assure yourself, that I will endeavour 
to do the best, that either may procure your profit, or bring you pleasure : the 
rather, for that I suppose you are a scholar, and pity it is men of learning 
should live in lack. 

" Roberto wondering to hear such good words, for that this iron age affords 
few that esteem of virtue ; returned him thankful gratulations and (urged by 
necessity) uttered his present grief, beseeching his advice how he might be 
employed. ' Why, easily,' quoth he, 'and greatly to your benefit : for men of 


my profession get by scholars their whole living. ' ' What is your profession ?' 
said Roberto. 'Truly, sir,' said he, 'I am a player.' 'A player!' quoth 
Roberto. ' I took you rather for a gentleman of great living, for if by outward 
habit men should be censured, I tell you, you would be taken for a substantial 
man. ' ' So am I, where I dwell ' (quoth the player) ' reputed able, at my pro- 
per cost, to build a windmill. What though the world once went hard with 
me, when I was fain to carry my playing fardel a foot-back ; Tempora mutan- 
tur, I know you know the meaning of it better than I, but I thus construe it ; 
it is otherwise now ; for my very share in playing apparel will not be sold for 
two hundred pounds.' 'Truly' (said Roberto) 'it is strange that you should 
so prosper in that vain practise, for that it seems to me your voice is nothing 
gracious.' 'Nay, then,' said the player, ' I mislike your judgment : why, I am 
as famous for Delphrigas, and the King of Fairies, as ever was any of my time. 
The twelve labours of Hercules have I terribly thundered on the stage, and 
placed three scenes of the devil on the highway to heaven.' 'Have ye so?' 
(said Roberto) 'then I pray you, pardon me.' ' Nay more' (quoth the player) 
' I can serve to make a pretty speech, for I was a country author, passing at a 
moral, for it was I that penn'd the moral of man's wit, the Dialogue of Dives, 
and for seven years' space was absolute interpreter of the puppets. But now 
my Almanach is out of date. 

The people make no estimation 
Of morals teaching education. 

Was not this pretty for a plain rhyme extempore ? if ye will ye shall have 
more.' 'Nay, it is enough,' said Roberto, 'but how mean you to use me?' 
' Why, sir, in making plays,' said the other, ' for which you shall be well paid, 
if you will take the pains." 

These same characteristics, though without the prevailing 
and in part obviously sincere melancholy which marks Greene's 
regrets, also distinguish Lodge's prose work to such an extent 
that remarks on the two might sometimes be made simply inter- 
changeable. But fortune was kinder to Lodge than to his friend 
and collaborator. Nor does he seem to have had any occasion 
to "tread the burning marl" in company with conny-catchers and 
their associates. Lodge began with critical and polemical work 
an academic if not very urbane reply to Stephen Gosson's 
School of Abuse; but in the Alarum against Usurers, which 
resembles and even preceded Greene's similar work, he took to 
the satirical-story-form. Indeed, the connection between Lodge 


and Greene was so close, and the difficulty of ascertaining the 
exact dates of their compositions is so great, that it is impossible 
to be sure which was the precise forerunner. Certainly if Lodge 
set Greene an example in the Alarum against Usurers, he fol- 
lowed Greene's lead in Forbonius and Prisceria some years after- 
wards, having written it on shipboard in a venture against the 
Spaniards. Lodge produced much the most famous book of the 
euphuist school, next to Euphues itself, as well as the best known 
of this pamphlet series, in Rosalynde or Euphues' Golden Legacy, 
from which Shakespere took the story of As You Like It, and of 
which an example follows : 

" 'Ah Phoebe,' quoth he, 'whereof art thou made, that thou regardest not 
thy malady ? Am I so hateful an object, that thine eyes condemn me for an 
abject ? or so base, that thy desires cannot stoop so low as to lend me a graci- 
ous look ? My passions are many, my loves more, my thoughts loyalty, and 
my fancy faith : all devoted in humble devoir to the service of Phoebe ; and 
shall I reap no reward for such fealties ? The swain's daily labours is quit with 
the evening's hire, the ploughman's toil is eased with the hope of corn, what 
the ox sweats out at the plough he fatteneth at the crib : but unfortunate 
Montanus 1 hath no salve for his sorrows, nor any hope of recompense for the 
hazard of his perplexed passions. If Phoebe, time may plead the proof of my 
truth, twice seven winters have I loved fair Phoebe : if constancy be a cause to 
further my suit, Montanus' thoughts have been sealed in the sweet of Phoebe's 
excellence, as far from change as she from love : if outward passions may dis- 
cover inward affections, the furrows in my face may discover the sorrows of my 
heart, and the map of my looks the grief of my mind. Thou seest (Phoebe) 
the tears of despair have made my cheeks full of wrinkles, and my scalding 
sighs have made the air echo her pity conceived in my plaints ; Philomel hear- 
ing my passions, hath left her mournful tunes to listen to the discourse of 
miseries. I have portrayed in every tree the beauty of my mistress, and the 
despair of my loves. What is it in the woods cannot witness my woes ? and 
who is it would not pity my plaints ? only Phoebe. And why ? Because I am 
Montanus, and she Phoebe : I a worthless swain, and she the most excellent of 
all fairies. Beautiful Phoebe ! oh might I say pitiful, then happy were I though 
I tasted but one minute of that good hap. Measure Montanus, not by his 
fortunes, but by his loves, and balance not his wealth but his desires, and lend 
but one gracious look to cure a heap of disquieted cares : if not, ah if Phoebe 
cannot love, let a storm of frowns end the discontent of my thoughts, and so 

1 The Silvius, it may be just necessary to observe, of As You Like It. 


let me perish in my desires, because they are above my deserts : only at my 
death this favour cannot be denied me, that all shall say Montanus died for 
love of hard hearted Phoebe.' At these words she filled her face full of frowns 
and made him this short and sharp reply. 

" ' Importunate shepherd, whose loves are lawless because restless : are 
thy passions so extreme, that thou canst not conceal them with patience ? or 
art thou so folly-sick, that thou must needs be fancy-sick, and in thy affection 
tied to such an exigent as none serves but Phoebe ? Well, sir, if your market 
can be made nowhere else, home again, for your mart is at the fairest. Phoebe 
is no lettuce for your lips, and her grapes hang so high, that gaze at them you 
may, but touch them you cannot. Yet Montanus I speak not this in pride, 
but in disdain : not that I scorn thee, but that I hate love : for I count it as 
great honour to triumph over fancy as over fortune. Rest thee content there- 
fore Montanus, cease from thy loves, and bridle thy looks, quench the sparkles 
before they grow to a farther flame ; for in loving me, thou shall but live by 
loss, and what thou utterest in words are all written in the wind. Wert thou 
(Montanus) as fair as Paris, as hardy as Hector, as constant as Troilus, as 
loving as Leander, Phoebe could not love, because she cannot love at all : and 
therefore if thou pursue me with Phcebus, I must flic with Daphne.' " 

This book seems to have been very successful, and Lodge began to 
write pamphlets vigorously, sometimes taking up the social satire, 
sometimes the moral treatise, sometimes (and then most happily) 
the euphuist romance, salted with charming poems. His last 
prose work in this kind (he wrote other things later) was the 
pretty and prettily-named Margarite of America, in 1596. 

The names of Nash and Harvey are intertwined even more 
closely than those of Greene and Lodge ; but the conjunction is 
not a grasp of friendship but a grip of hatred a wrestle, not an 
embrace. The fact of the quarrel has attracted rather dispro- 
portionate attention from the days of Isaac Disraeli onwards ; 
and its original cause is still extremely obscure and very unim- 
portant. By some it is connected, causally as well as accidentally, 
with the Martin Marprelate business ; by some with the fact that 
Harvey belonged to the inner Sidneian clique, Nash to the outer 
ring of professional journalists and Bohemians. It at any rate 
produced some remarkable varieties of the pamphlet, and demon- 
strated the keen interest which the world takes in the proceedings 
of any couple of literary men who choose to abuse and befoul 


one another. Harvey, though no mean scholar, was in mere 
writing no match for Nash ; and his chief answer to the latter, 
Pierces Supererogation, is about as rambling, incoherent, and 
ineffective a combination of pedantry and insolence as need be 
wished for. It has some not uninteresting, though usually very 
obscure, hints on literary matters. Besides this, Harvey wrote 
letters to Spenser with their well-known criticism and recom- 
mendation of classical forms, and Foure Letters Touching Robert 
Greene and Others : with the Trimming of Thomas Nash, Gentle- 
man. A sample of him, not in his abusive -dull, but in his 
scholarly-dull manner, may be given : 

"Mine own rules and precepts of art, I believe will fall out not greatly 
repugnant, though peradventure somewhat different : and yet I am not so 
resolute, but I can be content to reserve the copying out and publishing 
thereof, until I have a little better consulted with my pillow, and taken some 
further advice of Madame Sperienza. In the mean time, take this for a general 
caveat, and say I have revealed one great mystery unto you : I am of opinion, 
there is no one more regular and justifiable direction, either for the assured 
and infallible certainty of our English artificial prosody particularly, or generally 
to bring our language into art, and to frame a grammar or rhetoric thereof; 
than first of all universally to agree upon one and the same orthography in 
all points conformable and proportionate to our common natural prosody : 
whether Sir Thomas Smithies in that respect be the most perfit, as surely 
it must needs be very good ; or else some other of profounder learning and 
longer experience, than Sir Thomas was, shewing by necessary demonstra- 
tion, wherein he is defective, will undertake shortly to supply his wants and 
make him more absolute. Myself dare not hope to hop after him, till I see 
something or other, to or fro, publicly and authentically established, as it 
were by a general council, or Act of Parliament : and then peradventure, 
standing upon firmer ground, for company sake, I may adventure to do as 
others do. Interim, credit me, I dare give no precepts, nor set down any 
certain general art : and yet see my boldness, I am not greatly squeamish of 
my Particular Examples, whereas he that can but reasonably skill of the one, 
will give easily a shrewd guess at the other : considering that the one fetcheth 
his original and offspring from the other. In which respect, to say troth, we 
beginners have the start, and advantage of our followers, who are to frame 
and conform both their examples and precepts, according to precedent which 
they have of us : as no doubt Homer or some other in Greek, and Ennius, or 
I know not who else in Latin, did prejudice, and overrule those that followed 


them, as well for the quantities of syllables, as number of feet, and the like : 
their only examples going for current payment, and standing instead of laws, 
and rules with the posterity." 

In Harvey, more perhaps than anywhere else in prose, ap- 
pears the abusive exaggeration, not humorous or Rabelaisian, 
but simply rancorous and dull, which mars so much Elizabethan 
work. In order not to fall into the same error ourselves, we 
must abstain from repeating the very strong language which has 
sometimes been applied to his treatment of dead men, and such 
dead men as Greene and Marlowe, for apparently no other fault 
than their being friends of his enemy Nash. It is sufficient to 
say that Harvey had all the worst traits of " donnishness," with- 
out having apparently any notion of that dignity which sometimes 
"half excuses the don. He was emphatically of Mr. Carlyle's 
"acrid-quack" genus. 

Thomas Nash will himself hardly escape the charge of acrid- 
ity, but only injustice or want of discernment will call him a 
quack. Unlike Harvey, but like Greene and Lodge, he was a 
verse as well as a prose writer. But his verse is in comparison 
unimportant. Nor was he tempted to intersperse specimens of 
it in his prose work. The absolutely best part of that work the 
Anti-Martinist pamphlets to be noticed presently is only attributed 
to him conjecturally, though the grounds of attribution are very 
strong. But his characteristics are fully evident in his undoubted 
productions. The first of these in pamphlet form is the very 
odd thing called Pierce Penniless [the name by which Nash 
became known], his Supplication to the Devil. It is a kind of 
rambling condemnation of luxury, for the most part delivered in the 
form of burlesque exhortation, which the mediaeval sermons joyeux 
had made familiar in all European countries. Probably some allu- 
sions in this refer to Harvey, whose pragmatical pedantry may have 
in many ways annoyed Nash, a Cambridge man like himself. At 
any rate the two soon plunged into a regular battle, the documents 
of which on Nash's side are, first a prognostication, something 
in the style of Rabelais, then a formal confutation of the Four 


Letters, and then the famous lampoon entitled Have with you to 
Saffron Walden [Harvey's birthplace], of which here is a speci- 
men : 

" His father he undid to furnish him to the Court once more, where pre- 
senting himself in all the colours of the rainbow, and a pair of moustaches 
like a black horse tail tied up in a knot, with two tufts sticking out on each 
side, he was asked by no mean personage, Unde hac insania ? whence pro- 
ceedeth this folly or madness ? and he replied with that weather-beaten piece 
of a verse out of the Grammar, Semel insanivimus oiftnes, once in our days 
there is none of us but have played the idiots ; and so was he counted 
and bade stand by for a Nodgscomb. He that most patronized him, prying 
more searchingly into him, and finding that he was more meet to make 
sport with than any way deeply to be employed, with fair words shook him 
off, and told him he was fitter for the University, than for the Court or his 
turn, and so bade God prosper his studies, and sent for another Secretary to 

" Readers, be merry; for in me there shall want nothing I can do to make 
you merry. You see I have brought the Doctor out of request at Court, and 
it shall cost me a fall, but I will get him hooted out of the University too, ere 
I give him over. What will you give me when I bring him upon the Stage in 
one of the principalest Colleges in Cambridge ? Lay any wager with me, and 
I will ; or if you lay no wager at all, I'll fetch him aloft in Pedantius, that 
exquisite Comedy in Trinity College ; where under the chief part, from which 
it took his name, as namely the concise and firking finicaldo fine School 
master, he was full drawn and delineated from the sole of his foot to the crown 
of his head. The just manner of his phrase in his Orations and Disputations 
they stuffed his mouth with, and no Buffianism throughout his whole books, 
but they bolstered out his part with ; as those ragged remnants in his four 
familiar epistles 'twixt him and Senior Imnierito, raptim scripta, noste 
manum et stylum, with innumerable other of his rabble-routs : and scoffing his 
Musarum Lachryma with Flebo amorem meum etiam musarum lachrymis ; 
which, to give it his due, was a more collachrymate wretched Treatise than 
my Piers Penniless, being the pitifulest pangs that ever any man's Muse 
breathed forth. I leave out half; not the carrying up of his gown, his nice 
gait on his pantofHes, or the affected accent of his speech, but they personated. 
And if I should reveal all, I think they borrowed his gown to play the part in, 
the more to flout him. Let him deny this (and not damn himself) for his life 
if he can. Let him deny that there was a Shew made at Clare Hall of Mm 
and his two brothers, called, 

" Tarra, rantantara turba tumultuosa Trigonum 
Tri-Harveyorum Tri-harmonia 


Let him deny that there was another Shew made of the little Minnow his 
brother, Dodrans Dick, at Peter-house called, 

" Duns furens. Dick Harvey in a frensy. 

Whereupon Dick came and broke the College glass windows ; and Doctor 
Perne (being then either for himself or deputy Vice-Chancellor) caused him to 
be fetched in, and set in the Stocks till the Shew was ended, and a great part 
of the night after." 

The Terrors of the Night, a discourse of apparitions, for 
once, among these oddly-named pieces, tells a plain story. Its 
successor, Christ's Tears oz>er Jerusalem, Nash's longest book, 
is one of those rather enigmatical expressions of repentance 
for loose life whichwere so common at_the time, and which, 
according to the charity of the reader, may be attributed to 
real feeling, to a temporary access of Katzen- jammer, or to 
downright hypocrisy, bent only on manufacturing profitable 
"copy," and varying its style to catch different tastes. The 
most unfavourable hypothesis is probably unjust, and a cer- 
tain tone of sincerity also runs through the next book, The 
Unfortunate Traveller, in which Nash, like many others, inveighs 
against the practice of sending young Englishmen to be cor- 
rupted abroad. It is noteworthy that this (the place of which in 
the history of the novel has been rather exaggerated) is the oldest 
authority for the romance of Surrey and Geraldine ; but it is 
uncertain whether this was pure invention on Nash's part or not. 
Nash's Lenten Stuff is very interesting, being a panegyric on Great 
Yarmouth and its famous staple commodity (though Nash was 
actually born at Lowestoft). 

In Nash's work we find a style both of treatment and lan- 
guage entirely different from anything of Greene's or Lodge's. 
He has no euphuism, his forte being either extravagant burlesque 
(in which the influence of Rabelais is pretty directly perceptible, 
while he himself acknowledges indebtedness to some other sources, 
such as Bullen or Bullein, a dialogue writer of the preceding gener- 
ation), or else personal attack, boisterous and unscrupulous, but 
often most vigorous and effective. Diffuseness and want of keep- 


ing to the point too frequently mar Nash's work ; but when he 
shakes himself free from them, and goes straight for his enemy or 
his subject, he is a singularly forcible writer. In his case more 
than in any of the others, the journalist born out of due time is 
perceptible. He had perhaps not much original message for the 
world. But he had eminently the trick both of damaging con- 
troversial argument made light to catch the popular taste, and of 
easy discussion or narrative. The chief defects of his work would 
probably have disappeared of themselves if he had had to write 
not pamphlets, but articles. He did, however, what he could ; 
and he is worthy of a place in the history of literature if only for 
the sake of Have with yott to Saffron Walden the best example 
of its own kind to be found before the end of the seventeenth 
century, if not the beginning of the eighteenth. 

Thomas Dekker was much less of a born prose writer than 
his half-namesake, Nash. His best work, unlike Nash's, was 
done in verse, and, while he was far Nash's superior, not merely 
in poetical expression but in creative grasp of character, he was 
entirely destitute of Nash's incisive and direct faculty of invective. 
Nevertheless his work, too, is memorable among the prose work 
of the time, and for special reasons. His first pamphlet (accord- 
ing to the peculiarity already noted in Rowlands's case) is not 
prose at all, but verse yet not the verse of which Dekker had real 
mastery, being a very lamentable ballad of the destruction of Jeru- 
salem, entitled Canaan's Calamity (1598). The next, The Wonder- 
ful Year, is the account of London in plague time, and has at 
least the interest of being comparable with, and perhaps that of 
having to some extent inspired, Defoe's famous performance. 
Then, and of the same date, follows a very curious piece, the 
foreign origin of which has not been so generally noticed as that 
of Dekker's most famous prose production. The Bachelor's 
Banquet is in effect only a free rendering of the immortal fifteenth 
century satire, assigned on no very solid evidence to Antoine de 
la Salle, the Quinze Joyes de Manage, the resemblance being 
kept down to the recurrence at the end of each section of the 


same phrase, " in Lob's pound," which reproduces the less gro- 
tesque " dans la nasse " of the original. But here, as later, the 
skill with which Dekker adapts and brings in telling circum- 
stances appropriate to his own day deserves every acknowledg- 
ment. Dekker's Dreame is chiefly verse and chiefly pious ; and 
then at a date somewhat later than that of our present period, 
but connected with it by the fact of authorship, begins a very 
interesting series of pieces, more vivid if somewhat less well 
written than Greene's, and connected with his " comiy-catching " 
course. The Bellman of London, Lanthorn and Candlelight, A 
Strange Horse-Race, The Seven Deadly Sins of London, News from 
Hell, The Double P.P., and The Gull's Hornbook, are all pam- 
phlets of this class ; the chief interest resting in News from Hell 
(which, according to the author's scheme, connects itself with Nash's 
Pierce Penniless, and is the devil's answer thereto) and The Guffs 
Hornbook (1609). This last, the best known of Dekker's work, 
is an Englishing of the no less famous Grobianus of Frederick 
Dedekind, and the same skill of adaptation which was noticed in 
The Bachelor's Banquet is observable here. The spirit of these 
works seems to have been so popular that Dekker kept it up in 
The Dead Term [long vacation], Work for Armourers (which, how- 
ever, is less particular and connects itself with Nash's sententious 
work), The Raven 's Almanack, and A Rod for Runaways (1625). 
The Four Birds of Noah's Ark, which Dr. Grosart prints last, is of 
a totally different character, being purely a book of piety. It is 
thus inferior in interest to the series dealing with the low life of 
London, which contains most curious studies of the ancient 
order of ragamuffins (as a modern satirist has pleasantly called 
them), and bears altogether marks of greater sincerity than the 
parallel studies of other writers. For about Dekker, hack and 
penny-a-liner as he undoubtedly was, there was a simplicity, a 
truth to nature, and at the same time a faculty of dramatic pre- 
sentation in which Greene, Lodge, and Nash were wholly want- 
ing ; and his prose pamphlets smack of these good gifts in their 
measure as much as The Honest Whore. Indeed, on the whole, 


he seems to be the most trustworthy of these chroniclers of the 
English picaroons ; and one feels disposed to believe that if the 
things which he tells did not actually happen, something very like 
them was probably happening every day in London during the 
time of " Eliza and our James." For the time of Eliza and our 
James was by no means a wholly heroic period, and it only loses, 
not gains, by the fiction that every man of letters was a Spenser 
and every man of affairs a Sidney or even a Raleigh. Extracts 
from The Seven Deadly Sins and The Gull's Hornbook may be 
given : 

" O Candle-light ! and art thou one of the cursed crew? hast thou been 
set at the table of Princes and Noblemen ? have all sorts of people done rever- 
ence unto thee, and stood bare so soon as ever they have seen thee ? have 
thieves, traitors, and murderers been afraid to come in thy presence, because 
they knew thee just, and that thou wouldest discover them ? And art thou 
now a harbourer of all kinds of vices ? nay, dost thou play the capital Vice 
thyself? Hast thou had so many learned Lectures read before thee, and is the 
light of thy understanding now clean put out, and have so many profound 
scholars profited by thee ? hast thou done such good to Universities, been such 
a guide to the lame, and seen the doing of so many good works, yet dost thou 
now look dimly, and with a dull eye, upon all goodness ? What comfort have 
sick men taken (in weary and irksome nights) but only in thee ? thou hast 
been their physician and apothecary, and when the relish of nothing could 
please them, the very shadow of thee hath been to them a restorative consola- 
tion. The nurse hath stilled her wayward infant, shewing it but to thee : 
What gladness hast thou put into mariners' bosoms when thou hast met them 
on the sea ! What joy into the faint and benighted traveller when he has met 
thee on the land ! How many poor handicraftsmen by thee have earned the 
best part of their living ! And art thou now become a companion for drunk- 
ards, for leachers, and for prodigals ? Art thou turned reprobate ? thou wilt 
burn for it in hell. And so odious is this thy apostasy, and hiding thyself from 
the light of the truth, that at thy death and going out of the world, even they 
that love thee best will tread thee under their feet : yea, I that have thus 
played the herald, and proclaimed thy good parts, will now play the crier and 
call thee into open court, to arraign thee for thy misdemeanours." 

" For do but consider what an excellent thing sleep is : it is so inestim- 
able a jewel that, if a tyrant would give his crown for an hour's slumber, it 
cannot be bought : of so beautiful a shape is it, that though a man lie with an 
Empress, his heart cannot be at quiet till he leaves her embracements to be at 


rest with the other : yea, so greatly indebted are we to this kinsman of death, 
that we owe the better tributary, half of our life to him : and there is good 
cause why we should do so : for sleep is that golden chain that ties health and 
our bodies together. Who complains of want ? of wounds ? of cares ? of great 
men's oppressions ? of captivity ? whilst he sleepeth ? Beggars in their beds 
take as much pleasure as kings : can we therefore surfeit on this delicate Am- 
brosia ? can we drink too much of that whereof to taste too little tumbles us 
into a churchyard, and to use it but indifferently throws us into Bedlam ? No, 
no, look upon Endymion, the moon's minion, who slept three score and fifteen 
years, and was not a hair the worse for it. Can lying abed till noon (being 
not the three score and fifteenth thousand part of his nap) be hurtful ? 

' ' Besides, by the opinion of all philosophers and physicians, it is not good 
to trust the air with our bodies till the sun with his flame-coloured wings hath 
fanned away the misty smoke of the morning, and refined that thick tobacco- 
breath which the rheumatic night throws abroad of purpose to put out the eye 
of the element : which work questionless cannot be perfectly finished till the 
sun's car-horses stand prancing on the very top of highest noon : so that then 
(and not till then) is the most healthful hour to be stirring. Do you require 
examples to persuade you ? At what time do Lords and Ladies use to rise but 
then ? Your simpering merchants' wives are the fairest lyers in the world : 
and is not eleven o'clock their common hour? they find (no doubt) unspeakable 
sweetness in such lying, else they would not day by day put it so in practice. 
In a word, mid-day slumbers are golden ; they make the body fat, the skin 
fair, the flesh plump, delicate and tender ; they set a russet colour on the 
cheeks of young women, and make lusty courage to rise up in men ; they make 
us thrifty, both in sparing victuals (for breakfasts thereby are saved from the 
hell-mouth of the belly) and in preserving apparel ; for while we warm us in 
our beds our clothes are not worn. 

" The casements of thine eyes being then at this commendable time of the 
day newly set open, choose rather to have thy wind-pipe cut in pieces than to 
salute any man. Bid not good-morrow so much as to thy father, though he 
be an emperor. An idle ceremony it is and can do him little good ; to thyself 
it may bring much harm : for if he be a wise man that knows how to hold his 
peace, of necessity must he be counted a fool that cannot keep his tongue. " 

The voluminous work in pamphlet kind of Nicholas Breton, 
still more the verse efforts closely akin to it of Samuel Rowlands, 
John Davies of Hereford and some others, must be passed over 
with very brief notice. Dr. Grosart's elaborate edition of the 
first-named has given a vast mass of matter very interesting to the 
student of literature, but which cannot be honestly recommended 


to the general reader. Breton, whose long life and perpetual 
literary activity fill up great part of our whole period, was an 
Essex gentleman of a good family (a fact which he never forgot), 
and apparently for some time a dependent of the well-known 
Countess of Pembroke, Sidney's sister. A much older man than 
most of the great wits of Elizabeth's reign, he also survived most 
of them, and his publications, if not his composition, cover a full 
half century, though he was nel mezzo del cammin at the date of 
the earliest. He was probably born some years before the middle 
of the sixteenth century, and certainly did not die before the first 
year of Charles I. If we could take as his the charming lullaby of 
The Arbour of Amorous Devices he would stand (if only as a kind 
of " single-speech") high as a poet. But I fear that Dr. Grosart's 
attribution of it to him is based on little external and refuted by 
all internal evidence. His best certain thing is the pretty 
" Phillida and Cory don " idyll, which may be found in England's 
Helicon or in Mr. Ward's Poets. But I own that I can never 
read this latter without thinking of two lines of Fulke Greville's 
in the same metre and on no very different theme 

" O'er enamelled meads they went, 
Quiet she, he passion-rent," 

which are simply worth all the works of Breton, prose and verse, 
unless we count the Lullaby, put together. In the mots rayon- 
nants, the mots de himiere, he is sadly deficient. But his work 
(which is nearly as plentiful in verse as in prose) is, as has been 
said, very interesting to the literary student, because it shows better 
perhaps than anything else the style of literature which a man, dis- 
daining to condescend to burlesque or bawdry, not gifted with any 
extraordinary talent, either at prose or verse, but possessed of a 
certain literary faculty, could then produce with a fair chance of 
being published and bought. It cannot be said that the result 
shows great daintiness in Breton's public. The verse, with an 
improvement in sweetness and fluency, is very much of the 
doggerel style which was prevalent before Spenser ; and the prose, 


though showing considerable faculty, if not of invention, yet of 
adroit imitation of previously invented styles, is devoid of dis- 
tinction and point. There are, however, exercises after Breton's 
own fashion in almost every popular style of the time euphuist 
romances, moral treatises, packets of letters, collections of jests 
and short tales, purely religious tractates, characters (after the 
style later illustrated by Overbury and Earle), dialogues, maxims, 
pictures of manners, collections of notes about foreign countries, 
in fact, the whole farrago of the modern periodical. The 
pervading characteristics are Breton's invariable modesty, his 
pious and, if I may be permitted to use the word, gentlemanly 
spirit, and a fashion of writing which, if not very pointed, pictur- 
esque, or epigrammatic, is clear, easy, and on the whole rather 
superior, in observance of the laws of grammar and arrangement, 
to the work of men of much greater note in his day. 

The verse pamphlets of Rowlands (whom I have not studied 
as thoroughly as most others), Davies, and many less volu- 
minous men, are placed here with all due apology for the 
liberty. They are seldom or never of much formal merit, but 
they are interesting, first, because they testify to the hold which 
the mediaeval conception of verse, as a general literary medium 
as suitable as prose and more attractive, had upon men even at 
this late time ; and secondly, because, like the purely prose pam- 
phlets, they are full of information as to the manners of the 
time. For Rowlands I may refer to Mr. Gosse's essay. John 
Davies of Hereford, the writing-master, though he has been 
carefully edited for students, and is by no means unworthy of 
study, has had less benefit of exposition to the general reader. 
He was not a genius, but he is a good example of the rather dull 
man who, despite the disfavour of circumstance, contrives by 
much assiduity and ingenious following of models to attain a 
certain position in literature. There are John Davieses of Here- 
ford in every age, but since the invention and filing of news- 
papers their individuality has been not a little merged. The 
anonymous journalist of our days is simply to the historian such 


and such a paper, volume so-and-so, page so much, column this 
or that. The good John Davies, living in another age, still 
stands as nominis umbra, but with a not inconsiderable body of 
work to throw the shadow. 

One of the most remarkable, and certainly one of not the 
least interesting developments of the 'Elizabethan pamphlet 
remains to be noticed. This is the celebrated series of " Martin 
Marprelate " tracts, with the replies which they called forth. 
Indeed the popularity of this series may be said to have given a 
great impulse to the whole pamphleteering system. It is some- 
what unfortunate that this interesting subject has never been 
taken up in full by a dispassionate historian of literature, 
sufficiently versed in politics and in theology. In mid-nineteenth 
century most, but by no means all of the more notable tracts 
were reprinted by John Petheram, a London bookseller, whose 
productions have since been issued under the well-known im- 
print of John Russell Smith, the publisher of the Library of 
Old Authors. This gave occasion to a review in The Christian 
Remembrancer, afterwards enlarged and printed as a book by 
Mr. Maskell, a High Churchman who subsequently seceded to the 
Church of Rome. This latter accident has rather unfavourably 
and unfairly affected later judgments of his work, which, however, 
is certainly not free from party bias^. It has scarcely been less 
unlucky that the chief recent dealers with the matter, Professor 
Arber (who projected a valuable reprint of the whole series in 
his English Scholars' Library, and who prefaced it with a quite 
invaluable introductory sketch), and Dr. Grosart, who also included 
divers Anti-Martinist tracts in his privately printed Works of 
Nashe, are very strongly prejudiced on the Puritan side. 1 Between 
these authorities the dispassionate inquirer who attacks the texts 
for himself is likely to feel somewhat in the position of a man who 
exposes himself to a cross fire. The Martin Marprelate contro- 
versy, looked at without prejudice but with sufficient information, 

1 This prejudice is naturally still stronger in some American writers, 
notably Dr. Dexter, 

II. R 


shows itself as a very early example of the reckless violence of 
private crotcheteers on the one hand, and of the rather consider- 
able unwisdom of the official defenders of order on the other. 
" Martin's " method was to a certain extent an anticipation of the 
famous move by which Pascal, fifty years later, "took theology 
out of the schools into drawing-rooms," except that Martin and 
his adversaries transferred the venue rather to the tap-room than 
to the drawing-room. The controversy between the framers of 
the Church of England in its present state, and the hot gospellers 
who, with Thomas Cartwright at their head, denied the proposi- 
tion (not deniable or denied now by any sane and scholarly dis- 
putant) that church discipline and government are points left to 
a great extent undefined in the Scriptures, had gone on for years 
before Martin appeared. Cartwright and Whitgift had fought, 
with a certain advantage of warmth and eloquence on Cartwright's 
side, and with an immense preponderance of logical cogency on 
Whitgift's. Many minor persons had joined in the struggle, and 
at last a divine, more worthy than wise, John Bridges, Dean of 
Salisbury, had produced on the orthodox side one of those 
enormous treatises (it had some fifteen hundred quarto pages) 
which are usually left unread by the side they favour, and which 
exasperate the side they oppose. The ordinary law of the time, 
moreover, which placed large powers in the hands of the bishops, 
and especially entrusted them with a rigid and complete censor- 
ship of the press, had begun to be put in force severely against 
the more outspoken partisans. Any one who will take the trouble 
to read the examination of Henry Barrow, which Mr. Arber has 
reprinted, 1 or even the "moderate" tracts of Nicholas Udall, which 
in a manner ushered in the Marprelate controversy, will probably 
be more surprised at the long-suffering of the judges than at the 
sufferings of their prisoners. Barrow, in a long and patient 

1 Arbcr, Introductory Sketch, p. 40 sqq. All the quotations and references 
which follow will be found in Arber's and Petheram's reprints or in Grosart's 
Nash, vol. I. If the works cited are not given as Wholes in them, the fact will 
be noted. (See also Mr. Bond's Lyly.) 


examination before the council, of which the Bishop of London 
and the Archbishop of Canterbury were members, called them to 
their faces the one a "wolf," a "bloody persecutor," and an 
"apostate," the other "a monster" and~ 7r the second beast that 
is spoken of in the Revelations." The "moderate" Udall, after 
publishing a dialogue (in which an Anglican bishop called 
Diotrephes is represented, among other things, as planning 
measures against the Puritans in consort with a papist and an 
usurer), further composed a Demonstration of Discipline in 
which, writing, according to Mr. Arber, "without any satire or 
invective," he calls the bishops merely qua bishops, " the wretched 
fathers of a filthy mother," with abundant epithets to match, and 
rains down on every practice of the existing church government 
such terms as "blasphemous," "damnable," "hellish," and the 
like. To the modern reader who looks at these things with the 
eyes of the present day, it may of course seem that it would have 
been wiser to let the dogs bark. But that was not the principle 
of the time : and as Mr. Arber most frankly admits, it was certainly 
not the principle of the dogs themselves. The Puritans claimed 
for themselves a not less absolute right to call in the secular arm 
if they could, and a much more absolute certainty and righteous- 
ness for their tenets than the very hottest of their adversaries. 

Udall was directly, as well as indirectly, the begetter of the 
Martin Marprelate controversy : though after he got into trouble 
in connection with it, he made a sufficiently distinct expression of 
disapproval of the Martinist methods, and it seems to have been 
due more to accident and his own obstinacy than anything else 
that he died in prison instead of being obliged with the honour- 
able banishment of a Guinea chaplaincy. His printer, Walde- 
grave, had had his press seized and his license withdrawn for 
Diotrephes, and resentment at this threw what, in the existing 
arrangements of censorship and the Stationers' monopoly, was a 
very difficult thing to obtain command of a practical printer 
into the hands of the malcontents. Chief among these mal- 
contents was a certain Reverend John Penry, a Welshman by 


birth, a member, as was then not uncommon, of both universities, 
and the author, among other more dubious publications, of a 
plea, intemperately stated in parts, but very sober and sensible at 
bottom, for a change in the system of allotting and administering 
the benefices of the church in Wales. Which plea, be it observed 
in passing, had it been attended to, it would have been better 
for both the church and state of England at this day. The 
pamphlet l contained, however, a distinct insinuation against the 
Queen, of designedly keeping Wales in ignorance and subjection 
an insinuation which, in those days, was equivalent to high 
treason. The book was seized, and the author imprisoned 
(1587). Now when, about a year after, and in the very height 
of the danger from the Armada, Waldegrave's livelihood was 
threatened by the proceedings above referred to, it would appear 
that he obtained from the Continent, or had previously secreted 
from his confiscated stock, printing tools, and that he and Penry, 
at the house of Mistress Crane, at East Molesey, in Surrey, printed 
a certain tract, called, for shortness, " The Epistle." 2 This tract, 
of the authorship and character of which more presently, created 
a great sensation. It was immediately followed, the press being 

1 Large extracts from it are given by Arber. 

2 As the titles of these productions are highly characteristic of the style of 
the controversy, and, indeed, are sometimes considerably more poignant than 
the text, it may be well to give some of them in full as follows : 

The Epistle. Oh read over D. John Bridges, for it is a worthy work : Or 
an Epitome of the first book of that right worshipful-volume, written against the 
Puritans, in the defence of the noble Clergy, by as worshipful a Priest, John 
Bridges, Presbyter, Priest or Elder, Doctor of Divillity (sic), and Dean of 
Sarum, Wherein the arguments of the Puritans are wisely presented, that 
when they come to answer M. Doctor, they must needs say something that 
hath been spoken. Compiled for the behoof and overthrow of the Parsons 
Fyckers and Currats [sic] that have learnt their catechisms, and are past 
grace : by the reverend and worthy Martin Marprelate, gentleman, and dedi- 
cated to the Confocation [sic] house. The Epitome is not yet published, but 
it shall be when the Bishops are at convenient leisure to view the same. In 
the mean time let them be content with this learned Epistle. Printed, 
oversea, in Europe, within two furlongs of a Bouncing Priest, at the cost 
and charges of M. Marprelate, gentleman. 



shifted for safety to the houses of divers Puritan country gentle- 
men, by the promised Epitome. So great was the stir, that a 
formal answer of great length was put forth by " T. C." (well 
known to be Thomas Cooper, Bishop of Winchester), entitled, 
An Admonition to the People of England. The Martinists, from 
their invisible and shifting citadel, replied with perhaps the 
cleverest tract of the whole controversy, named, with deliberate 
quaintness, Hay any Work for Cooper'}' 1 (" Have You any Work 
for the Cooper ? " said to be an actual trade London cry). Thence- 
forward the melee of pamphlets, answers, " replies, duplies, quadru- 
plies," became in small space indescribable. Petheram's prospectus 
of reprints (only partially carried out) enumerates twenty-six, almost 
all printed in the three years 1588-1590; Mr. Arber, including 
preliminary works, counts some thirty. The perambulating press 
was once seized (at Newton Lane, near Manchester), but Martin 
was not silenced. It is certain (though there are no remnants 
extant of the matter concerned) that Martin was brought on the 
stage in some form or other, and though the duration of the 
controversy was as short as its character was hot, it was rather 
suppressed than extinguished by the death of Udall in prison, 
and the execution of Penry and Barrow in 1593. 

The actual authorship of the Martinist Tracts is still purely a 
matter of hypothesis. Penry has been the general favourite, and 
perhaps the argument from the difference of style in his known 
works is not quite convincing. The American writer Dr. Dexter, 

1 Hay any work for Cooper, or a brief pistle directed by way of an hublica- 
tion [sic] to the reverend bishops, counselling them if they will needs be barrelled 
up for fear of smelling in the nostrils of her Majesty and the State, that they 
would use the advice of Reverend Martin for the providing of their Cooper ; 
because the Reverend T. C. (by which mystical letters is understood either the 
bouncing parson of East Meon or Tom Cokes his chaplain), hath shewed him- 
self in his late admonition to the people of England to be an unskilful and 
beceitful [sic] tub-trimmer. Wherein worthy Martin quits him like a man, I 
warrant you in the modest defence of his self and his learned pistles, and 
makes the Cooper's hoops to fly ofF, and the bishops' tubs to leak out of all cry. 
Penned and compiled by Martin the metropolitan. Printed in Europe, not 
far from some of the bouncing priests. 


a fervent admirer, as stated above, of the Puritans, is for 
Barrow. Mr. Arber thinks that a gentleman of good birth named 
Job Throckmorton, who was certainly concerned in the affair, was 
probably the author of the more characteristic passages. Fantastic 
suggestions of Jesuit attempts to distract the Anglican Church have 
also been made, attempts sufficiently refuted by the improba- 
bility of the persons known to be concerned lending themselves 
to such an intrigue, for, hotheads as Penry and the rest were, 
they were transparently honest. On the side of the defence, 
authorship is a little better ascertained. Of Cooper's work there 
is no doubt, and some purely secular men of letters were oddly 
mixed up in the affair. It is all but certain that John Lyly wrote 
the so-called Pap with a Hatchet?- which in deliberate oddity of 
phrase, scurrility of language, and desultoriness of method out- 
vies the wildest Martinist outbursts. The later tract, An Almond 
for a Parrot? which deserves a very similar description, may not 
improbably be the same author's ; and Dr. Grosart has reasonably 
attributed four anti-Martinist tracts (A Countercuffto Martin Junior 
\Martin Junior was one of the Marprelate treatises], PasquiFs 
Return, Martin's Months Mind, and PasqutTs Afiology), to Nash. 
But the discussion of such questions comes but ill within the 
limits of such a book as the present. 

The discussion of the characteristics of the actual tracts, as 

1 Pap with a Hatchet, alias A fig for my godson ! or Crack me this nut, or 
A country cuff that is a sound box of the ear for the idiot Martin for to hold his 
peace, seeing the patch will take no warning. Written by one that dares call 
a clog a dog, and made to prevent Martin's dog-days. Imprinted by John-a- 
noke and John-a-stile for the baylive [sic\ of Withernam, cum privilegio 
perennitatis ; and are to be sold at the sign of the crab-tree-cudgel in Thwack- 
coat Lane. A sentence. Martin hangs fit for my mowing. 

2 An Almond for a Parrot, or Cuthbert Curryknaves alms. Fit for the 
knave Martin, and the rest of those impudent beggars that cannot be content to 
stay their stomachs with a benefice, but they will needs break their fasts with 
our bishops. Rimarwn sum pleitus. Therefore beware, gentle reader, you 
catch not the hicket with laughing. Imprinted at a place, not far from a place, 
by the assigns of Signior Somebody, and are to be sold at his shop in Trouble- 
knave Street at the sign of the Standish. 


they present themselves and whosoever wrote them, is, on the 
other hand, entirely within our competence. On the whole the 
literary merit of the treatises has, I think, been overrated. The 
admirers of Martin have even gone so far as to traverse Penry's 
perfectly true statement that in using light, not to say ribald, 
treatment "of a serious subject, he was only following [Marnix de 
Sainte Aldegonde and] other Protestant writers, and have attributed 
to him an almost entire originality of method, owing at most 
something to the popular " gags " of the actor Richard Tarleton, 
then recently dead. This is quite uncritical. An exceedingly 
free treatment of sacred and serious affairs had been characteristic 
of the Reformers from Luther downward, and the new Martin 
only introduced the variety of style which any writer of consider- 
able talents is sure to show. His method, at any rate for a time, 
is no doubt sufficiently amusing, though it is hardly effective. 
Serious arguments are mixed up with the wildest buffoonery, and 
unconscious absurdities (such as a solemn charge against the 
unlucky Bishop Aylmer because he used the phrase " by my faith," 
and enjoyed a game at bowls) with the most venomous assertion 
or insinuation of really odious offences. The official answer to 
the Epistle and the Epitome has been praised by no less a person 
than Bacon 1 for its gravity of tone. Unluckily Dr. Cooper was 
entirely destitute of the faculty of relieving argument with humour. 
He attacks the theology of the Martinists with learning and logic 
that leave nothing to desire ; but unluckily he proceeds in pre- 
cisely the same style to deal laboriously with the quips assigned 
by Martin to Mistress Margaret Lawson (a noted Puritan shrew 
of the day), and with mere idle things like the assertion that Whit- 
gift "carried Dr. Feme's cloakbag." The result is that, as has 
been said, the rejoinder Hay any Work for Cooper shows Martin, 
at least at the beginning, at his very best. The artificial simplicity 
of his distortions of Cooper's really simple statements is not un- 
worthy of Swift, or of the best of the more recent practitioners of 

1 In his Advertisement Touching the Controversies of the Church of England 
(Works. Folio, 1753, ii. p. 375). 


the grave and polite kind of political irony. But this is at the 
beginning, and soon afterwards Martin relapses for the most part 
into the alternation between serious argument which will not hold 
water and grotesque buffoonery which has little to do with the 
matter. A passage from the Epistle lampooning Aylmer, Bishop 
of London, and a sample each of Pap with a Hatchet and the 
Almond, will show the general style. But the most characteristic 
pieces of all are generally too coarse and too irreverent to be 
quotable : 

" Well now to mine eloquence, for I can do it I tell you. Who made the 
porter of his gate a dumb minister ? Dumb John of London. Who abuseth 
her Majesty's subjects, in urging them to subscribe contrary to law ? John of 
London. Who abuseth the high commission, as much as any ? John London 
(and D. Stanhope too). Who bound an Essex minister, in 2oo/. to wear the 
surplice on Easter Day last ? John London. Who hath cut 
down the elms at Fulham? John London. Who is a carnal ril make you 
defender of the breach of the Sabbath in all the places of his ""T>ofit dumb 

.-._-, , , , John, except you 

abode? John London. Who forbiddeth men to humble i ea ve terse- 

themselves in fasting and prayer before the Lord, and then can cuti*g. 
say unto the preachers, now you were best to tell the people 
that we forbid fasts ? John London. Who goeth to bowls upon the Sabbath ? 
Dumb Dunstical John of good London hath done all this. I will for this time 
leave this figure, and tell your venerable masterdoms a tale worth the hearing : 
J had it at the second hand : if he that told it me added anything, I do not 
commend him, but I forgive him : The matter is this. A man dying in 
Fulham, made one of the Bishop of London's men his executor. The man had 
bequeathed certain legacies unto a poor shepherd in the town. The shepherd 
could get nothing of the Bishop's man, and therefore made his moan unto a 
gentleman of Fulham, that belongeth to the court of requests. The gentle- 
man's name is M. Madox. The poor man's case came to be tried in the Court 
of Requests. The B. man desired his master's help : Dumb John wrote to 
the masters of requests to this effect, and I think these were his words : 

' My masters of the requests, the bearer hereof being my man, hath a 
cause before you : inasmuch as I understand how the matter standeth, I pray 
you let my man be discharged the court, and I will see an agreement made. 
Fare you well.' The letter came to M. D. Dale, he answered it in this sort : 

' My Lord of London, this man delivered your letter, I pray you give 
him his dinner on Christmas Day for his labour, and fare you well.' 

" Dumb John not speeding this way, sent for the said M. Madox : he came, 
some rough words passed on both sides, Presbyter John said, Master Madox was 


very saucy, especially seeing he knew before whom he spake : namely, the Lord 
of Fulham. Whereunto the gentleman answered that he had been a poor free- 
holder in Fulham, before Don John came to be L. there, hoping also to be so, 
when he and all his brood (my Lady his daughter and all) should be gone. At 
the hearing of this speech, the wasp got my brother by the nose, which made 
him in his rage to affirm, that he would be L. of Fulham as long as he lived in 
despite of all England. Nay, soft there, quoth M. Madox, except her Majesty. 
I pray you, that is my meaning, call dumb John, and I tell thee Madox that 
thou art but a Jack to use me so : Master Madox replying, said that indeed his 
name was John, and if every John were a Jack, he was content to be a Jack 
(there he hit my L. over the thumbs). The B. growing in choler, said that 
Master Madox his name did shew what he was, for saith he, thy name is mad 
ox, which declareth thee to be an unruly and mad beast. M. Madox answered 
again, that the B. name, if it were descanted upon, did most significantly shew 
his qualities. For said he, you are called Elmar, but you may be better called 
marelm, for you have marred all the elms in Fulham : having cut them all 
down. This far is my worthy story, as worthy to be printed, as any part of 
Dean John's book, I am sure. " 

" To the Father and the two Sons, 

" HUFF, RUFF, and SNUFF, 1 

" the three tame ruffians of the Church, which take pepper 

"in the nose, because they cannot 

" mar Prelates : 

' ' greeting. 

" Room for a royster ; so that's well said. Ach, a little farther for a good 
fellow. Now have at you all my gaffers of the railing religion, 'tis I that 
must take you a peg lower. I am sure you look for more work, you shall have 
wood enough to cleave, make your tongue the wedge, and your head the 
beetle. I'll make such a splinter run into your wits, as shall make them 
ramkle till you become fools. Nay, if you shoot books like fools' bolts, I'll 
be so bold as to make your judgments quiver with my thunderbolts. If you 
mean to gather clouds in the Commonwealth, to threaten tempests, for your 
flakes of snow, we'll pay you with stones of hail ; if with an easterly wind you 
bring caterpillers into the Church, with a northern wind we'll drive barrens 
into your wits. 

' ' We care not for a Scottish mist, though it wet us to the skin, you shall 
be sure your cockscombs shall not be missed, but pierced to the skulls. I 
profess railing, and think it as good a cudgel for a martin, as a stone for a dog, 
or a whip for an ape, or poison for a rat. 

1 Well-known stage characters in Preston's Cambyses. 


" Yet find fault with no broad terms, for I have measured yours with mine, 
and I find yours broader just by the list. Say not my speeches are light, for 
I have weighed yours and mine, and I find yours lighter by twenty grains than 
the allowance. For number you exceed, for you have thirty ribald words for 
my one, and yet you bear a good spirit. I was loth so to write as I have done, 
but that I learned, that he that drinks with cutters, must not be without his ale 
daggers ; nor he that buckles with Martin, without his lavish terms. 

" Who would curry an ass with an ivory comb? Give the beast thistles for 
provender. I do but yet angle with a silken fly, to see whether martins will 
nibble ; and if I see that, why then I have worms for the nonce, and will give 
them line enough like a trout, till they swallow both hook and line, and then, 
Martin, beware your gills, for I'll make you dance at the pole's end. 

" I know Martin will with a trice bestride my shoulders. Well, if he ride 
me, let the fool sit fast, for my wit is very hickish ; which if he spur with his 
copper reply, when it bleeds, it will all to besmear their consciences. 

" If a martin can play at chess, as well as his nephew the ape, he shall 
know what it is for a scaddle pawn to cross a Bishop in his own walk. Such 
diedappers must be taken up, else they'll not stick to check the king. Rip up 
my life, discipher my name, fill thy answer as full of lies as of lines, swell like 
a toad, hiss like an adder, bite like a dog, and chatter like a monkey, my pen 
is prepared and my mind ; and if ye chance to find any worse words than you 
brought, let them be put in your dad's dictionary. And so farewell, and be 
hanged, and I pray God ye fare no worse. 

"Yours at an hour's warning, 


"By this time I think, good-man Puritan, that thou art persuaded, that I 
know as well as thy own conscience thee, namely Martin Makebate of 
England, to be a most scurvy and beggarly benefactor to obedience, and per 
consequents, to fear neither men, nor that God Who can cast both body and soul 
into unquenchable fire. In which respect I neither account you of the Church, 
nor esteem of your blood, otherwise than the blood of Infidels. Talk as long 
as you will of the joys of heaven, or pains of hell, and turn from yourselves 
the terror of that judgment how you will, which shall bereave blushing iniquity 
of the fig-leaves of hypocrisy, yet will the eye of immortality discern of your 
painted pollutions, as the ever-living food of perdition. The humours of my 
eyes are the habitations of fountains, and the circumference of my heart the 
enclosure of fearful contrition, when I think how many souls at that moment 
shall carry the name of Martin on their foreheads to the vale of confusion, in 
whose innocent blood thou swimming to hell, shall have the torments of ten 
thousand thousand sinners at once, inflicted upon thee. There will envy, 
malice, and dissimulation be ever calling for vengeance against thee, and incite 
whole legions of devils to thy deathless lamentation. Mercy will say unto 


thee, I know thee not, and Repentance, what have I to do with thee ? All 
hopes shall shake the head at thee, and say : there goes the poison of purity, 
the perfection of impiety, the serpentine seducer of simplicity. Zeal herself 
will cry out upon thee, and curse the time that ever she was mashed by thy 
malice, who like a blind leader of the blind, sufFeredst her to stumble at every 
step in Religion, and madest her seek in the dimness of her sight, to murder 
her mother the Church, from whose paps thou like an envious dog but yester- 
day pluckedst her. However, proud scorner, thy whorish impudency may 
happen hereafter to insist in the derision of these fearful denunciations, and 
sport thy jester's pen at the speech of my soul, yet take heed least despair be 
predominant in the day of thy death, and thou instead of calling for mercy to 
thy Jesus, repeat more oftener to thyself, Sic morior damnatus ut Judas ! 
And thus much, Martin, in the way of compassion, have I spoke for thy 
edification, moved thereto by a brotherly commiseration, which if thou be not 
too desperate in thy devilish attempts, may reform thy heart to remorse, and 
thy pamphlets to some more profitable theme of repentance." 

If Martin Marprelate is compared with theEpistoltz Obscurorum 
Virorum earlier, or the Satire Menippee very little later, the want 
of polish and directness about contemporary English satire will 
be strikingly apparent. At the same time he does not compare 
badly with his own antagonists. The divines like Cooper are, 
as has been said, too serious. The men of letters like Lyly and 
Nash are not nearly serious enough, though some exception may 
be made for Nash, especially if PasquiFs Apology be his. They 
out-Martin Martin himself in mere abusiveness, in deliberate 
quaintness of phrase, in fantastic vapourings and promises of the 
dreadful things that are going to be done to the enemy. They 
deal some shrewd hits at the glaring faults of their subject, his 
outrageous abuse of authorities, his profanity, his ribaldry, his 
irrelevance ; but in point of the three last qualities there is not 
much to choose between him and them. One line of counter attack 
they did indeed hit upon, which was followed up for generations 
with no small success against the Nonconformists, and that is the 
charge of hypocritical abuse of the influence which the Noncon- 
formist teachers early acquired over women. The germs of the 
unmatched passages to this effect in The Tale of a Tub may be 
found in the rough horseplay of Pap with a Hatchet and An 


Almond for a Parrot. But the spirit of the whole controversy is 
in fact a spirit of horseplay. Abuse takes the place of sarcasm, 
Rabelaisian luxuriance of words the place of the plain hard hit- 
ting, with no flourishes or capers, but with every blow given 
straight from the shoulder, which Dryden and Halifax, Swift and 
Bentley, were to introduce into English controversy a hundred 
years later. The peculiar exuberance of Elizabethan litera- 
ture, evident in all its departments, is nowhere more evident 
than in this department of the prose pamphlet, and in no 
section of that department is it more evident than in the Tracts 
of the Martin Marprelate Controversy. Never perhaps were 
more wild and whirling words used about any exceedingly serious 
and highly technical matter of discussion; and probably most readers 
who have ventured into the midst of the tussle will sympathise 
with the adjuration of Plain Percivall the Peacemaker of England 
(supposed to be Richard Harvey, brother of Gabriel, who was 
himself not entirely free from suspicion of concernment in the 
matter), " My masters, that strive for this supernatural art of 
wrangling, let all be husht and quiet a-God's name." It is need- 
less to say that the disputants did not comply with Plain 
Percivall's request. Indeed they bestowed some of their choicest 
abuse on him in return for his advice. Not even by the casting 
of the most peacemaking of all dust, that of years and the grave, 
can it be said that these jars at last compacta quiescunt. For it is 
difficult to find any account of the transaction which does not 
break out sooner or later into strong language. 



I HAVE chosen, to fill the third division of our djamatic chapters, 
seven chief writers of distinguished individuality," reserving a 
certain fringe of anonymous plays and of less famous person- 
alities for the fourth and last. The seven exceptional persons 
are Beaumont and Fletcher, Webster, Middleton, Heywood, Tour- 
neur, and Day. It would be perhaps lost labour to attempt to 
make out a severe definition, shutting these off on the one hand 
from their predecessors, on the other from those that followed 
them. We must be satisfied in such cases with an approach 
to exactness, and it is certain that while most of the men just 
named had made some appearance in the latest years of Eliza- 
beth, and while one or two of them lasted into the earliest years 
of Charles, they all represent, in their period of flourishing and 
in the character of their work, the Jacobean age. In some of 
them, as in Middleton and Day, the Elizabethan type prevails ; 
in others, as in Fletcher, a distinctly new flavour a flavour not 
perceptible in Shakespere, much less in Marlowe appears. But 
in none of them is that other flavour of pronounced decadence, 
which appears in the work of men so great as Massinger and 
Ford, at all perceptible. We are still in the creative period, and 
in some of the work to be now noticed we are in a comparatively 
unformed stage of it. It has been said, and not unjustly said, 
that the work of Beaumont and Fletcher belongs, when looked at 


on one side, not to the days of Elizabeth at all, but to the later 
seventeenth century ; and this is true to the extent that the post- 
Restoration dramatists copied Fletcher and followed Fletcher 
very much more than Shakespere. But not only dates but other 
characteristics refer the 'vork of Beaumont and Fletcher to a dis- 
tinctly earlier period than the work of their, in some sense, suc- 
cessors Massinger and Ford. 

It will have been observed that I cleave to the old-fashioned 
nomenclature, and speak of " Beaumont and Fletcher." Until 
very recently, when two new editions have made their appearance, 
there was for a time a certain tendency to bring Fletcher into 
greater prominence than his partner, but at the same time and on 
the whole to depreciate both. I am in all things but ill-disposed 
to admit innovation without the clearest and most cogent proofs ; 
and although the comparatively short life of Beaumont makes it 
impossible that he should have taken part in some of the fifty-two 
plays traditionally assigned to the partnership (we may perhaps 
add Mr. Bullen's remarkable discovery of Sir John Barneveldt, 
in which Massinger probably took Beaumont's place), I see no 
reason to dispute the well-established theory that Beaumont con- 
tributed at least criticism, and probably original work, to a large 
number of these plays ; and that his influence probably survived 
himself in conditioning his partner's work. And I am also 
disposed to think that the plays attributed to the pair have 
scarcely had fair measure in comparison with the work of their 
contemporaries, which was so long neglected. Beaumont and 
Fletcher kept the stage kept it constantly and triumphantly 
till almost, if not quite, within living memory ; while since the 
seventeenth century, and since its earlier part, I believe that very 
few plays of Dekker's or Middleton's, of Webster's or of Ford's, have 
been presented to an English audience. This of itself constituted 
at the great revival of interest in Elizabethan literature something 
of a prejudice in favour of les oublies et les dedaignes^ and this 
prejudice has naturally grown stronger since all alike have been 
banished from the stage. The Copper Captain and the Humorous 


Lieutenant, Bessus and Monsieur Thomas, are no longer on the 
boards to plead for their authors. The comparative depreciation 
of Lamb and others is still on the shelves to support their rivals. 
Although we still know but little about either Beaumont or 
Fletcher personally, they differ from most of their great contem- 
poraries by having come of " kenned folk," and by having to all 
appearance, industrious as they were, had no inducement to write 
for money. Francis Beaumont was born at Gracedieu, in Leices- 
tershire in 1584. He was the son of a chief-justice; his family 
had for generations been eminent, chiefly in the law ; his brother, 
Sir John Beaumont, was not only a poet of some merit, but a man 
of position, and Francis himself, two years before his death in 
1616, married a Kentish heiress. He was educated at Broadgates 
Hall (now Pembroke College), Oxford, and seems to have made 
acquaintance with John Fletcher soon after quitting the University. 
Fletcher was five years older than his friend, and of a clerical 
family, his father being Bishop of London, and his uncle, Giles 
Fletcher (the author of Lido), a dignitary of the Church. The 
younger Giles Fletcher and his brother Phineas were thus cousins 
of the dramatist. Fletcher was a Cambridge man, having been 
educated at Benet College (at present and indeed originally 
known as Corpus Christi). Little else is known of him except 
that he died of the plague in 1625, nine years after Beaumont's 
death, as he had been born five years before him. These two 
men, however, one of whom was but thirty and the other not fifty 
when he died, have left by far the largest collection of printed 
plays attributed to any English author. A good deal of dispute 
has been indulged in as to their probable shares, the most likely 
opinion being that Fletcher was the creator and Beaumont (whose 
abilities in criticism were recognised by such a judge as Ben 
Jonson) the critical and revising spirit. About a third of the 
whole number have been supposed to. represent Beaumont's 
influence more or less directly. These include the two finest, 
The Maid's Tragedy and Philaster ; while as to the third play, 
which may be put on the same level, The Two Noble Kinsmen, 


early assertion, confirmed by a constant catena of the best critical 
authority, maintains that Beaumont's place was taken by no less a 
collaborator than Shakespere. Fletcher, as has been said, wrote 
in conjunction with Massinger (we know this for certain from Sir 
Aston Cokaine), and with Rowley and others, while Shirley seems 
to have finished some of his plays. Some modern criticism has 
manifested a desire to apply the always uncertain and usually 
unprofitable tests of separation to the great mass of his work. 
With this we need not busy ourselves. The received collection 
has quite sufficient idiosyncrasy of its own as a whole to make 
it superfluous for any one, except as a matter of amusement, to 
try to split it up. 

Its characteristics are, as has been said, sufficiently marked, 
both in defects and in merits. The comparative depreciation 
which has come upon Beaumont and Fletcher naturally fixes on 
the defects. There is in the work of the pair, and especially in 
Fletcher's work when he wrought alone, a certain loose fluency, 
an ungirt and relaxed air, which contrasts very strongly with the 
strenuous ways of the elder playwrights. This exhibits itself not 
in plotting or playwork proper, but in style and in versification 
(the redundant syllable predominating, and every now and then 
the verse slipping away altogether into the strange medley between 
verse and prose, which we shall find so frequent in the next and 
last period), and also in the characters. We quit indeed the 
monstrous types of cruelty, of lust, of revenge, in which many 
of the Elizabethans proper and of Fletcher's own contem- 
poraries delighted. But at the same time we find a decidedly 
lowered standard of general morality a distinct approach to- 
wards the fay ce qite voudras of the Restoration. We are also 
nearer to the region of the commonplace. Nowhere appears that 
attempt, to grapple with the impossible, that wrestle with the 
hardest problems, which Marlowe began, and which he taught to 
some at least of his followers. And lastly despite innumerable 
touches of tender and not a few of heroic poetry the actual 
poetical value of the dramas at their best is below that of the best 


work of the preceding time, and of such contemporaries as 
Webster and Dekker. Beaumont and Fletcher constantly delight, 
but they do not very often transport, and even when they do, it 
is with a less strange rapture than that which communicates itself 
to the reader of Shakespere passim, and to the readers of many 
of Shakespere's fellows here and there. 

This, I think, is a fair allowance. But, when it is made, a 
goodly capital whereon to draw still remains to our poets. In 
the first place, no sound criticism can possibly overlook the 
astonishing volume and variety of their work. No doubt they 
did not often (if they ever did) invent their fables. But they 
have never failed to treat them in such a way as to make them 
original, and this of itself shows a wonderful faculty of invention 
and constitutes an inexhaustible source of pleasure. This pleasure 
is all the more pleasurable because the matter is always presented 
in a thoroughly workmanlike form. The shapelessness, the inco- 
herence, the necessity for endless annotation and patching together, 
which mar so many even of the finest Elizabethan plays, have no 
place in Beaumont and Fletcher. Their dramatic construction 
is almost narrative in its clear and easy flow, in its absence of 
puzzles and piecings. Again, their stories are always interesting, 
and their characters (especially the lighter ones) always more or 
less attractive. It used to be fashionable to praise their "young 
men," probably because of the agreeable contrast which they pre- 
sent with the brutality of the Restoration hero ; but their girls are 
more to my fancy. They were not straightlaced, and have left some 
sufficiently ugly and (let it be added) not too natural types of 
sheer impudence, such as the Megra of Philaster. Nor could 
they ever attain to the romantic perfection of Imogen in one 
kind, of Rosalind in another, of Juliet in a third. But for portraits 
of pleasant English girls not too squeamish, not at all afraid of 
love-making, quite convinced of the hackneyed assertion of the 
mythologists that jests and jokes go in the train of Venus, but 
true-hearted, affectionate, and of a sound, if not a very nice 
morality, commend me to Fletcher's Dorotheas, and Marys, and 
n S 


Celias. Add to this the excellence of their comedy (there is 
little better comedy of its kind anywhere than that of A King and 
no King, of the Humorous Lieutenant, of Rule a Wife and have a 
Wife}, their generally high standard of dialogue verse, their 
charming songs, and it will be seen that if they have not the 
daemonic virtue of a few great dramatic poets, they have at any 
rate very good, solid, pleasant, and plentiful substitutes for it. 

It is no light matter to criticise more than fifty plays in 
not many times fifty lines ; yet something must be said about 
some of them at any rate. The .play which usually opens the 
series, The Maid's Tragedy, is perhaps the finest "of all on the 
purely tragic side, though its plot is a little improbable, and to 
modern notions not very agreeable. Hazlitt disliked it much ; and 
though this is chiefly to be accounted for by the monarchical tone 
of it, it is certainly faulty in parts. It shows, in the first place, the 
authors' greatest dramatic weakness a weakness common indeed 
to all their tribe except Shakespere the representation of sudden 
and quite insufficiently motived moral revolutions ; and, secondly, 
another fault of theirs in the representation of helpless and rather 
nerveless virtue punished without fault of its own indeed, but also 
without any effort. The Aspatia of The Maid's Tragedy and the 
Bellario of Philaster, pathetic as they are, are also slightly irritat- 
ing. Still the pathos is great, and the quarrel or threatened 
quarrel of the friends Amintor and Melantius, the horrible trial 
put upon Amintor by his sovereign and the abandoned Evadne, 
as well as the whole part of Evadne herself when she has once 
been (rather improbably) converted, are excellent. A passage of 
some length from the latter part of the play may supply as well 
as another the sufficient requirement of an illustrative extract : 

Evad. ' ' O my lord ! 
Amin. How now ? 

Evcui. My much abused lord ! (A'neels.) 
Amin. This cannot be. 
Evad. I do not kneel to live, I dare not hope it ; 

The wrongs I did are greater ; look upon me 

Though I appear with all my faults. Amin. Stand up. 


This is a new way to beget more sorrow. 

Heav'n knows, I have too many ; do not mock me ; 

Though I am tame and bred up with my wrongs 

Which are my foster-brothers, I may leap 

Like a hand-wolf into my natural wildness 

And do an outrage : pray thee, do not mock me. 
Evad. My whole life is so leprous, it infects 

All my repentance : I would buy your pardon 

Though at the highest set, even with my life : 

That slight contrition, that's no sacrifice 

For what I have committed. Amin. Sure I dazzle. 

There cannot be a Faith in that foul woman 

That knows no God more mighty than her mischiefs : 

Thou dost still worse, still number on thy faults 

To press my poor heart thus. Can I believe 

There's any seed of virtue in that woman 

Left to shoot up, that dares go on in sin 

Known, and so known as thine is ? O Evadne ! 

'Would, there were any safety in thy sex, 

That I might put a thousand sorrows off, 

And credit thy repentance ! But I must not ; 

Thou'st brought me to that dull calamity, 

To that strange misbelief of all the world 

And all things that are in it ; that, I fear 

I shall fall like a tree, and find my grave, 

Only remembering that I grieve. 
Evad. My lord, 

Give me your griefs : you are an innocent, 

A soul as white as Heav'n. Let not my sins 

Perish your noble youth : I do not fall here 

To shadows by dissembling with my tears 

(As, all say, women can) or to make less 

What my hot will hath done, which Heav'n and you 

Knows to be tougher than the hand of time 

Can cut from man's remembrance ; no, I do not ; 

I do appear the same, the same Evadne 

Drest in the shames I liv'd in ; the same monster : 

But these are names of honour, to what I am ; 

I do present myself the foulest creature 

Most pois'nous, dang'rous, and despis'd of men, 

Lerna e'er bred, or Nilus : I am hell, 

Till you, my dear lord, shoot your light into me 


The beams of your forgiveness : I am soul-sick ; 

And wither with the fear of one condemn'd, 

Till I have got your pardon. Amin. Rise, Evadne. 

Those heavenly Powers, that put this good into thee, 

Grant a continuance of it : I forgive thee ; 

Make thyself worthy of it, and take heed, 

Take heed, Evadne, this be serious ; 

Mock not the Pow'rs above, that can and dare 

Give thee a great example of their justice 

To all ensuing eyes, if that thou playest 

With thy repentance, the best sacrifice. 

Evad. I have done nothing good to win belief, 

My life hath been so faithless ; all the creatures 
Made for Heav'n's honours, have their ends, and good ones, 
All but the cozening crocodiles, false women ; 
They reign here like those plagues, those killing sores, 
Men pray against ; and when they die, like tales 
111 told, and unbeliev'd they pass away 
And go to dust forgotten : But, my lord, 
Those short days I shall number to my rest, 
(As many must not see me) shall, though late 
(Though in my evening, yet perceive a will,) 
Since I can do no good, because a woman, 
Reach constantly at something that is near it ; 
I will redeem one minute of my age, 
Or, like another Niobe, I'll weep 
Till I am water. 

Amin. I am now dissolv'd. 

My frozen soul melts : may each sin thou hast 

Find a new mercy ! rise, I am at peace : 

Hadst thou been thus, thus excellently good, 

Before that devil king tempted thy frailty, 

Sure, thou hadst made a star. Give me thy hand ; 

From this time I will know thee, and as far 

As honour gives me leave, be thy Amintor. 

When we meet next, I will salute thee fairly 

And pray the gods to give thee happy days. 

My charity shall go along with thee 

Though my embraces must be far from thee. 

I should ha' kill'd thee, but this sweet repentance 

Locks up my vengeance, for which thus I kiss thee, 

The last kiss we must take," 


The beautiful play of Philaster has already been glanced at ; it 
is sufficient to add that its detached passages are deservedly the 
most famous of all. The insufficiency of the reasons of Philaster's 
jealousy may be considered by different persons as affecting to a 
different extent the merit of the piece. In these two pieces tra- 
gedy, or at least tragi-comedy, has the upper hand ; it is in the next 
pair as usually arranged (for the chronological order of these plays 
is hitherto unsolved) that Fletcher's singular vis comica appears. 
A King and no King has a very serious plot ; and the loves of 
Arbaces and Panthea are most lofty, insolent, and passionate. 
But the comedy of Bessus and his two swordsmen, which is fresh 
and vivid even after Bobadil and Parolles (I do not say Falstaff, 
because I hold it a vulgar error to consider Falstaff as really a 
coward at all), is perhaps more generally interesting. As for The 
Scornful Lady it is comedy pure and simple, and very excellent 
comedy too. The callousness of the younger Loveless an ugly 
forerunner of Restoration manners injures it a little, and the 
instantaneous and quite unreasonable conversion of the usurer 
Morecraft a little more. But the humours of the Lady herself (a 
most Molieresque personage), and those of Roger and Abigail, 
with many minor touches, more than redeem it. The plays which 
follow 1 are all comical and mostly farcical. The situations, rather 
than the expressions of The Custom of the Country, bring it under 
the ban of a rather unfair condemnation of Dryden's, pronounced 
when he was quite unsuccessfully trying to free the drama of him- 
self and his contemporaries from Collier's damning charges. But 
there are many lively traits in it. The Elder Brother is one of 
those many variations on cedant arma toga which men of 
letters have always been somewhat prone to overvalue ; but the 
excellent comedy of The Spanish Curate is not impaired by the 
fact that Dryden chose to adapt it after his own fashion in The 
Spanish Friar. In Wit Without Money, though it is as usual 
amusing, the stage preference for a " roaring boy," a senseless 

1 It may perhaps be well to mention that the references to " volumes " are 
to the ten-volume edition of 1750, by Theobald, Seward, and others. 


crack-brained spendthrift, appears perhaps a little too strongly. 
The Beggar's Bush is interesting because of its early indications 
of cant language, connecting it with Brome's Jovial Crew, and 
with Dekker's thieves' Latin pamphlets. But the faults and the 
merits of Fletcher have scarcely found better expression anywhere 
than in The Humorous Lieutenant. Celia is his masterpiece in 
the delineation of the type of girl outlined above, and awkward as 
her double courtship by Demetrius and his father Antigonus is, 
one somehow forgives it, despite the nauseous crew of go-betweens 
of both sexes whom Fletcher here as elsewhere seems to take a 
pleasure in introducing. As for the Lieutenant he is quite charm- 
ing ; and even the ultra-farcical episode of his falling in love with 
the king owing to a philtre is well carried off. Then follows the 
delightful pastoral of The Faithful Shepherdess, which ranks with 
Jonson's Sad Shepherd and with Comus, as the three chiefs of its 
style in English. The Loyal Subject falls a little behind, as also 
does The Mad Lover; but Rule a Wife and have a Wife again 
rises to the first class. Inferior to Shakespere in the power of 
transcending without travestying human affairs, to Jonson in 
sharply presented humours, to Congreve and Sheridan in rattling 
fire of dialogue, our authors have no superior in half-farcical, half- 
pathetic comedy of a certain kind, and they have perhaps nowhere 
shown their power better than in the picture of the Copper 
Captain and his Wife. The flagrant absurdity of The Laws of 
Candy (which put the penalty of death on ingratitude, and appa- 
rently fix no criterion of what ingratitude is, except the decision of 
the person who thinks himself ungratefully treated), spoils a play 
which is not worse written than the rest But in The False One, 
based on Egyptian history just after Pompey's death, and Valen- 
tinian, which follows with a little poetical license the crimes and 
punishment of that Emperor, a return is made to pure tragedy 
in both cases with great success. The magnificent passage which 
Hazlitt singled out from The False One is perhaps the author's or 
authors' highest attempt in tragic declamation, and may be con- 
sidered to have stopped not far short of the highest tragic poetry. 


" ' Oh thou conqueror, 

Thou glory of the world once, now the pity : 

Thou awe of nations, wherefore didst thou fall thus ? 

^'liat poor fate followed thee, and plucked thee on 

To trust thy sacred life to an Egyptian ? 

The life and light of Rome to a blind stranger, 

That honourable war ne'er taught a nobleness 

Nor worthy circumstance show'd what a man was ? 

That never heard thy name sung but in banquets 

And loose lascivious pleasures ? to a boy 

That had no faith to comprehend thy greatness 

No study of thy life to know thy goodness ? . . . . 

Egyptians, dare you think your high pyramides 

Built to out-dure the sun, as you suppose, 

Where your unworthy kings lie rak'd in ashes, 

Are monuments fit for him ! No, brood of Nilus, 

Nothing can cover his high fame but heaven ; 

No pyramid set off his memories, 

But the eternal substance of his greatness, 

To which I leave him. ' " 

The chief fault of Valentinian is that the character of Maxi- 
mus is very indistinctly drawn, and that of Eudoxia nearly un- 
intelligible. These two pure tragedies are contrasted with two 
comedies, The Little French Lawyer and Monsieur Thomas, which 
deserve high praise. The fabliau-motive of the first is happily 
contrasted with the character of Lamira and the friendship of 
Clerimont and Dinant ; while no play has so many of Fletcher's 
agreeable young women as Monsieur Thomas. The Bloody 
Brother, which its title speaks as sufficiently tragical, comes 
between two excellent comedies, The Chances and The Wild Goose 
Chase, which might serve as well as any others for samples of the 
whole work on its comic side. In The Chances the portrait of the 
hare-brained Don John is the chief thing; in The Wild Goose 
Chase, as in Monsieur Thomas, a whole bevy of lively characters, 
male and female, dispute the reader's attention and divide his pre- 
ference. A Wife for a Month sounds comic, but is not a little 
alloyed with tragedy ; and despite the pathos of its central situation, 
is marred by some of Fletcher's ugliest characters the characters 


which Shakespere in Pandarus and the nurse in Romeo and Juliet 
took care to touch with his lightest finger. The Lover's Progress, 
a doubtful tragedy, and The Pilgrim, a good comedy (revived at 
the end of the century', as was The Prophetess with certain help 
from Dryden), do not require any special notice. Between these 
two last comes The Captain, a comedy neither of the best nor yet 
of the worst. The tragi-comic Queen of Corinth is a little heavy ; 
but in Bonduca we have one of the very best of the author's 
tragedies, the scenes with Caratach and his nephew, the boy 
Hengo, being full of touches not wholly unworthy of Shakespere. 
The Knight of the Burning Pestle (where Fletcher, forsaking his 
usual fantastic grounds of a France that is scarcely French, and 
an Italy that is extremely un-Italian, comes to simple pictures of 
London middle-class life, such as those of Jonson or Middleton) 
is a very happy piece of work indeed, despite the difficulty of 
working out its double presentment of burlesque knight-errantry 
and straightforward comedy of manners. In Loves Pilgrimage, 
with a Spanish subject and something of a Spanish style, there is 
not enough central interest, and the fortunes by land and sea of 
The Double Marriage do not make it one of Fletcher's most inter- 
esting plays. But The Maid in the Mill and The Martial Maid 
are good farce, which almost deserves the name of comedy ; and 
The Knight of Malta is a romantic drama of merit. In Women 
Pleased the humours of avarice and hungry servility are ingeni- 
ously treated, and one of the starveling Penurio's speeches is 
among the best-known passages of all the plays, while the anti- 
Puritan satire of Hope-on-High Bomby is also noteworthy. The 
next four plays are less noticeable, and indeed for two volumes, of 
the edition referred to, we come to fewer plays that are specially 
good. The Night Walker ; or, The Little Thief, though not very 
probable in its incidents, has a great deal of lively business, and 
is particularly noteworthy as supplying proof of the singular popu- 
larity of bell -ringing with all classes of the population in the 
seventeenth century, a popularity which probably protected many 
old bells in the mania for church desecration. Not much can 


be said for The Woman's Prize, or, The Tamer Tamed, an 
avowed sequel, and so to speak, antidote to The Taming of the 
Shrew, which chiefly proves that it is wise to let Shakespere 
alone. The authors have drawn to some extent on the Lysistrata 
to aid them, but have fallen as far short of the fun as of the 
indecency of that memorable play. With The Island Princess we 
return to a fair, though not more than a fair level of romantic tragi- 
comedy, but The Noble Gentleman is the worst play ever attributed 
(even falsely) to authors of genius. The subject is perfectly 
uninteresting, the characters are all fools or knaves, and the 
means adopted to gull the hero through successive promotions to 
rank, and successive deprivations of them (the genuineness of 
neither of which he takes the least trouble to ascertain), are pre- 
posterous. The Coronation is much better, and The Sea Voyage, 
with a kind of Amazon story grafted upon a hint of The Tempest, 
is a capital play of its kind. Better still, despite a certain loose- 
ness both of plot and moral, is The Coxcomb, where the heroine 
Viola is a very touching figure. The extravagant absurdity of 
the traveller Antonio is made more probable than is sometimes 
the case with our authors, and the situations of the whole join 
neatly, and pass trippingly. Wit at Several Weapons deserves a 
somewhat similar description, and so does The fair Maid of the 
Inn ; while Cupid's Revenge, though it shocked the editors of 1750 
as a pagan kind of play, has a fine tragical zest, and is quite true 
to classical belief in its delineation of the ruthlessness of the 
offended Deity. Undoubtedly, however, the last volume of this 
edition supplies the most interesting material of any except the 
first. Here is The Two Noble Kinsmen, a play founded on the 
story of Palamon and Arcite, and containing what I think irrefrag- 
able proofs of Shakespere's writing and versification, though I am 
unable to discern anything very Shakesperian either in plot or char- 
acter. Then comes the fine, though horrible tragedy of Thierry 
and Theodoret, in which the misdeeds of Queen Brunehault find 
chroniclers who are neither squeamish nor feeble. The beautiful 
part of Ordella in this play, though somewhat sentimental and 


improbable (as is always the case with Fletcher's very virtuous 
characters) ranks at the head of its kind, and is much superior to 
that of Aspasia in The Maid's Tragedy. The Woman Hater, said 
to be Fletcher's earliest play, has a character of rare comic, or at 
least farcical virtue in the smell-feast Lazarillo with his Odyssey in 
chase of the Umbrana's head (a delicacy which is perpetually 
escaping him) ; and The Nice Valour contains, in Chamont and his 
brother, the most successful attempts of the English stage at 
the delineation of the point of honour gone mad. Not so much, 
perhaps, can be said for An Honest Man's Fortune, which, with 
a mask and a clumsy, though in part beautiful, piece entitled 
Four Plays in One, makes up the tale. But whosoever has gone 
through that tale will, if he has any taste for the subject, admit 
that such a total of work, so varied in character, and so full of 
excellences in all its variety, has not been set to the credit of any 
name or names in English Ikerature, if we except only Shake- 
spere. Of the highest and most terrible graces, as of the sweetest 
and most poetical, Beaumont and Fletcher may have little to set 
beside the masterpieces of some other men ; for accomplished, 
varied, and fertile production, they need not fear any com- 

It has not been usual to put Thomas Middleton in the front 
rank among the dramatists immediately second to Shakespere ; 
but I have myself no hesitation in doing so. If he is not such a 
poet as Webster, he is even a better, and certainly a more versa- 
tile, dramatist ; and if his plays are inferior as plays to those of 
Fletcher and Massinger, he has a mastery of the very highest 
tragedy, which neither of them could attain. Except the best 
scenes of The White Devil, and The Duchess of Malfi, there is 
nothing out of Shakespere that can match the best scenes of 
The Changeling; while Middleton had a comic faculty, in which, 
to all appearance, Webster was entirely lacking. A little more is 
known about Middleton than about most of his fellows. He was 
the son of a gentleman, and was pretty certainly born in London 
about 1570. It does not appear that he was a university man, 

vii MIDDLETON 267 

hut he seems to have been at Gray's Inn. His earliest known 
work was not dramatic, and was exceedingly bad. In 1597 he 
published a verse paraphrase of the Wisdom of Solomon, which 
makes even that admirable book unreadable ; and if, as seems 
pretty certain, the Microcynicon of two years later is his, he is 
responsible for one of the worst and feeblest exercises in the 
school never a very strong one of Hall and Marston. Some 
prose tracts of the usual kind are not better ; but either at the 
extreme end of the sixteenth century, or in the very earliest years 
of the next, Middleton turned his attention to the then all absorb- 
ing drama, and for many years was (chiefly in collaboration) a 
busy playwright. We have some score of plays which are either 
his alone, or in greatest part his. The order of their composition 
is very uncertain, and as with most of the dramatists of the period, 
not a few of them never appeared in print till long after the 
author's death. He was frequently employed in composing 
pageants for the City of London, and in 1620 was appointed city 
chronologer. In 1624 Middleton got into trouble. His play, The 
Game of Chess, which was a direct attack on Spain and Rome, 
and a personal satire on Gondomar, was immensely popular, but 
its nine days' run was abruptly stopped on the complaint of the 
Spanish ambassador ; the poet's son, it would seem, had to appear 
before the Council, and Middleton himself was (according to tra- 
dition) imprisoned for some time. In this same year he was 
living at Newington Butts. He died there in the summer of 
1627, and was succeeded as chronologer by Ben Jonson. His 
widow, Magdalen, received a gratuity from the Common Council, 
but seems to have followed her husband in a little over a 

Middleton's acknowledged, or at least accepted, habit of 
collaboration in most of the work usually attributed to him, and 
the strong suspicion, if not more than suspicion, that he collabor- 
ated in other plays, afford endless opportunity for the exercise of 
a certain kind of criticism. By employing another kind we can 
discern quite sufficiently a strong individuality in the work that 


is certainly, in part or in whole, his ; and we need not go farther. 
He seems to have had three different kinds of dramatic aptitude, 
in all of which he excelled. The larger number of his plays 
consist of examples of the rattling comedy of intrigue and man- 
ners, often openly representing London life as it was, some- 
times transplanting what is an evident picture of home manners 
to some foreign scene apparently for no other object than to make 
it more attractive to the spectators. To any one at all acquainted 
with the Elizabethan drama their very titles speak them. These 
titles are Blurt Master Constable, Michaelmas Term, A Trick to 
Catch the Old One, The Family of Love [a sharp satire on the 
Puritans], A Mad World, my Masters, No Wit no Help Like a 
Womatfs, A Chaste Maid in Cheapside, Anything for a Quiet 
Life, More Dissemblers besides Women. As with all the humour- 
comedies of the time, the incidents are not unfrequently very 
improbable, and the action is conducted with such intricacy and 
want of clearly indicated lines, that it is sometimes very difficult 
to follow. At the same time, Middleton has a faculty almost 
peculiar to himself of carrying, it might almost be said of hustling, 
the reader or spectator along, so that he has no time to stop and 
consider defects. His characters are extremely human and lively, 
his dialogue seldom lags, his catastrophes, if not his plots, are 
often ingenious, and he is never heavy. The moral atmosphere 
of his plays is not very refined, by which I do not at all mean 
merely that he indulges in loose situations and loose language. 
All the dramatists from Shakespere downwards do that ; and 
Middleton is neither better nor worse than the average. But in 
striking contrast to Shakespere and to others, Middleton has no 
kind of poetical morality in the sense in which the term poetical 
justice is better known. He is not too careful that the rogues 
shall not have the best of it ; he makes his most virtuous and his 
vilest characters hobnob together very contentedly ; and he is, 
in short, though never brutal, like the post-Restoration school, 
never very delicate. The style, however, of these works of his 
did not easily admit of such delicacy, except in the infusion of a 


strong romantic element such as that which Shakespere almost 
always infuses. Middleton has hardly done it more than once 
in the charming comedy of The Spanish Gipsy, and the result 
there is so agreeable that the reader only wishes he had done it 

Usually, however, when his thoughts took a turn of less levity 
than in these careless humorous studies of contemporary life, he 
devoted himself not to the higher comedy, but to tragedy of a 
very serious class, and when he did this an odd phenomenon 
generally manifested itself. In Middleton's idea of tragedy, as in 
that of most of the playwrights, and probably all the playgoers of 
his day, a comic underplot was a necessity ; and, as we have seen, 
he was himself undoubtedly able enough to furnish such a plot. 
But either because he disliked mixing his tragic and comic veins, 
or for some unknown reason, he seems usually to have called in 
on such occasions the aid of Rowley, a vigorous writer of farce, 
who had sometimes been joined with him even in his comic work. 
Now, not only was Rowley little more than a farce writer, but he 
seems to have been either unable to make, or quite careless of 
making, his farce connect itself in any tolerable fashion with the 
tragedy of which it formed a nominal part. The result is seen in 
its most perfect imperfection in the two plays of The Mayor of 
Queenborough and The Changeling, both named from their comic 
features, and yet containing tragic scenes, the first of a very high 
order, the second of an order only overtopped by Shakespere at 
his best. The humours of the cobbler Mayor of Queenborough 
in the one case, of the lunatic asylum and the courting of its 
keeper's wife in the other, are such very mean things that they 
can scarcely be criticised. But the desperate love of Vortiger for 
Rowena in The Mayor, and the villainous plots against his chaste 
wife, Castiza, are real tragedy. Even these, however, fall far 
below the terrible loves, if loves they are to be called, of Beatrice- 
Joanna, the heroine of The Changeling, and her servant, instrument, 
and murderer, De Flores. The plot of the tragic part of this play 
is intricate and not wholly savoury. It is sufficient to say that 


Beatrice having enticed De Flores to murder a lover whom she 
does not love, that so she may marry a lover whom she does love, 
is suddenly met by the murderer's demand of her honour as the 
price of his services. She submits, and afterwards has to purchase 
fresh aid of murder from him by a continuance of her favours 
that she may escape detection by her husband. Thus, roughly 
described, the theme may look like the undigested horrors of 
Lust's Dominion, of The Insatiate Countess, and of The Revenger's 
Tragedy. It is, however, poles asunder from them. The girl, 
with her southern recklessness of anything but her immediate 
desires, and her southern indifference to deceiving the very man 
she loves, is sufficiently remarkable, as she stands out of the 
canvas. But De Flores, the broken gentleman, reduced to 
the position of a mere dependant, the libertine whose want of 
personal comeliness increases his mistress's contempt for him, the 
murderer double and treble dyed, as audacious as he is treacherous, 
and as cool and ready as he is fiery in passion, is a study worthy 
to be classed at once with lago, and interior only to lago in their 
class. The several touches with which these two characters and 
their situations are brought out are as Shakesperian as their 
conception, and the whole of that part of the play in which they 
figure is one of the most wonderful triumphs of English or of any 
drama. Even the change of manners and a bold word or two 
here and there, may not prevent me from giving the latter part of 
the central scene : 

Beat. "Why, 'tis impossible them canst be so wicked, 
Or shelter such a cunning cruelty, 
To make his death the murderer of my honour ! 
Thy language is so bold and vicious, 
I cannot see which way I can forgive it 
With any modesty. 
De F. Pjsh ! l you forget yourself : 

A woman dipped in blood, and talk of modesty ! 
Beat. O misery of sin ! would I'd been bound 

1 In orig. "Push,"cf. "Tush." 


Perpetually unto my living hate 

In that Pisacquo, than to hear 1 these words. 

Think but upon the distance that creation 

Set 'twixt thy blood and mine, and keep thee there. 
De F. Look but unto your conscience, read me there ; 

'Tis a true book, you'll find me there your equal : 

Pish ! fly not to your birth, but settle you 

In what the act has made you ; you're no more now. 

You must forget your parentage to me ; 

You are the deed's creature ; 2 by that name 

You lost your first condition, and I shall urge 3 you 

As peace and innocency has turn'd you out, 

And made you one with me. 
Beat. With thee, foul villain ! 
De F. Yes, my fair murderess : do you urge me ? 

Though thou writ'st maid, thou whore in thine affection ! 

'Twas changed from thy first love, and that's a kind 

Of whoredom in thy heart : and he's changed now 

To bring thy second on, thy Alsemero, 

Whom by all sweets that ever darkness tasted 

If I enjoy thee not, thou ne'er enjoyest ! 

I'll blast the hopes and joys of marriage, 

I'll confess all ; my life I rate at nothing. 
Beat. De Flores ! 
De F. I shall rest from all (lover's) 4 plagues then, 

I live in pain now ; that [love] shooting eye 

Will burn my heart to cinders. 
Beat. O sir, hear me ! 
De F. She that in life and love refuses me, 

In death and shame my partner she shall be. 
Beat, (kneeling}. Stay, hear me once for all : I make thee master 

Of all the wealth I have in gold and jewels ; 

Let me go poor unto my bed with honour 

And I am rich in all things. 
De F. Let this silence thee ; 

The wealth of all Valencia shall not buy 

My pleasure from me. 

1 Rather than hear. - A trisyllable, as in strictness it ought to be. 

3 =;" claim." 

4 This omission and the substitution in the next line are due to Dyce, and 
may be called certissima emendatio. 


Can you weep Fate from its determined purpose ? 
So soon may you weep me. 
Beat. Vengeance begins ; 

Murder, I see, is followed by more sins : 
Was my creation in the womb so curst 
It must engender with a viper first ? 

De F. (raising her). Come, rise and shroud your blushes in my bosom, 
Silence is one of pleasure's best receipts. 
Thy peace is wrought for ever in this yielding. 
'Las, how the turtle pants ! thou'lt love, anon 
What thou so fear'st and faint'st to venture on." 

Two other remarkable plays of Middleton's fall with some 
differences under the same second division of his works. 
These are The Witch and Women Beu>are Women. Except 
for the inevitable and rather attractive comparison with 
Macbeth, The Witch is hardly interesting. It consists of three 
different sets of scenes most inartistically blended, an awkward 
and ineffective variation on the story of Alboin, Rosmunda and 
the skull for a serious main plot, some clumsy and rather 
unsavoury comic or tragi-comic interludes, and the witch scenes. 
The two first are very nearly worthless ; the third is intrinsically, 
though far below Macbeth, interesting enough and indirectly more 
interesting because of the questions which have been started, as 
to the indebtedness of the two poets to each other. The best 
opinion seems to be that Shakespere most certainly did not copy 
Middleton, nor (a strange fancy of some) did he collaborate with 
Middleton, and that the most probable thing is that both borrowed 
their names, and some details from Reginald Scot's Discovery of 
Witchcraft. Women Beware Women on the other hand is one 
of Middleton's finest works, inferior only to The Changeling in 
parts, and far superior to it as a whole. The temptation of Bianca, 
the newly-married wife, by the duke's instrument, a cunning and 
shameless woman, is the title -theme, and in this part again 
Middleton's Shakesperian verisimilitude and certainty of touch 
appear. The end of the play is something marred by a slaughter 
more wholesale even than that of Hamlet, and by no means so 


well justified. Lastly, A Fair Quarrel must be mentioned, because 
of the very high praise which it has received from Lamb and others. 
This praise has been directed chiefly to the situation of the 
quarrel between Captain Ager and his friend, turning on a question 
(the point of family honour), finely but perhaps a little tediously 
argued. The comic scenes, however, which are probably Rowley's, 
are in hi^ best vein of bustling swagger. 

I have said that Middleton, as it seems to me, has not been 
fully estimated. It is fortunately impossible to say the same of 
Webster, and the reasons of the difference are instructive. 
Middleton's great fault is that he never took trouble enough 
about his work. A little trouble would have made The Change- 
ling or Women Beware Women, or even The Spanish Gipsy, worthy 
to rank with all but Shakespere's very masterpieces. Webster 
also was a collaborator, apparently an industrious one; but he 
never seems to have taken his work lightly. He had, moreover, 
that incommunicable gift of the highest poetry in scattered phrases 
which, as far as we can see, Middleton had not. Next to nothing 
is known of him. He may have been parish clerk of St. Andrew's, 
Holborn ; but the authority is very late, and the commentators 
seemed to have jumped at it to explain Webster's fancy for details 
of death and burial a cause and effect not sufficiently pro- 
portioned. Mr. Dyce has spent much trouble in proving that he 
could not have been the author of some Puritan tracts published 
a full generation after the date of his masterpieces. Heywood 
tells us that he was generally called "Jack," a not uncommon 
thing when men are christened John. He himself has left us a 
few very sententiously worded prefaces which do not argue great 
critical taste. We know from the usual sources (Henslowe's 
Diaries) that he was a working furnisher of plays, and from many 
rather dubious title-pages we suppose or know some of the plays 
he worked at. Northward Ho ! Westward Ho ! andStrJb/m 
Wyatt are pieces of dramatic journalism in which he seems to 
have helped Uekker.. He adapted, with additions, Marston's Mal- 
content, which is, in a crude way, very much in his own vein ; he 


contributed (according to rather late authority) some charming 
scenes (elegantly extracted, on a hint of Mr. Gosse's, by a recent 
editor) to A Cure for a Cuckold, one of Rowley's characteristic and 
not ungenial botches of- humour-comedy ; he wrote a bad pageant 
or two, and some miscellaneous verses. But we know nothing 
of his life or death, and his fame rests on four plays, in which 
no other writer is either known or even hinted to have had a 
hand, and which are in different ways of the first order of interest, 
if not invariably of the first order of merit. These are The 
Duchess of Malfi, The White Devil, The DemTs Law Case, and 
Appius and Virginia, 

Of Appius and Virginia the best thing to be said is to 
borrow Sainte-Beuve's happy description of Moliere's Don Garde 
de Navarre, and to call it an essai pale et noble. Webster is 
sometimes very close to Shakespere ; but to read Appius and 
Virginia, and then to read Julius C<zsar or Coriolanus, is to 
appreciate, in perhaps the most striking way possible, the uni- 
versality which all good judges from Dryden downwards have 
recognised in the prince of literature. Webster, though he was 
evidently a good scholar, and even makes some parade of scholar- 
ship, was a Romantic to the core, and was all abroad in these 
classical measures. The Devirs Law Case sins in the opposite 
way, being hopelessly undigested, destitute of any central interest, 
and, despite fine passages, a mere " salmagundi." There remain 
the two famous plays of The White Devil or Vittoria Corombona 
and 77/i? Duchess of Malfi plays which were rarely, if ever, 
acted after their author's days, and of which the earlier and, to 
my judgment, better was not a success even then, but which 
the judgment of three generations has placed at the very head of 
all their class, and which contain magnificent poetry. 

I have said that in my judgment The White Devil is the better 
of the two ; I shall add that it seems to me very far the better. 
Webster's plays are comparatively well known, and there is no 
space here to tell their rather intricate arguments. It need only 
be said that the contrast of the two is striking and unmistakable ; 



and that Webster evidently meant in the one to indicate the 
punishment of female vice, in the other to draw pity and terror by 
the exhibition of the unprevented but not unavenged sufferings 
of female virtue. Certainly both are excellent subjects, and if 
the latter seem the harder, we have Imogen and Bellafront to 
show, in the most diverse material, and with the most diverse 
setting possible, how genius can manage it. With regard to The 
White Devil, it has been suggested with some plausibility that 
it wants expansion. Certainly the action is rather crowded, and 
the recourse to dumb show (which, however, Webster again 
permitted himself in The Duchess} looks like a kind of shorthand 
indication of scenes that might have been worked out. Even 
as it is, however, the sequence of events is intelligible, and 
the presentation of character is complete. Indeed, if there is 
any fault to find with it, it seems to me that Webster has sinned 
rather by too much detail than by too little. We could spare 
several of the minor characters, though none are perhaps quite 
so otiose as Delio, Julio, and others in The Duchess of Malfi. 
We feel (or at least I feel) that Vittoria's villainous brother 
Flamineo is not as lago and Aaron and De Flores are each in 
his way, a thoroughly live creature. We ask ourselves (or I ask 
myself) what is the good of the repulsive and not in the least 
effective presentment of the Moor Zanche. Cardinal Monticelso 
is incontinent of tongue and singularly feeble in deed, for no 
rational man would, after describing Vittoria as a kind of pest to 
mankind, have condemned her to a punishment which was 
apparently little more than residence in a rather disreputable 
but by no means constrained boarding-house, and no omnipotent 
pope would have let Ludivico loose with a clear inkling of his 
murderous designs. But when these criticisms and others are 
made, The White Devil remains one of the most glorious works 
of the period. Vittoria is perfect throughout ; and in the justly- 
lauded trial scene she has no superior on any stage. Brachiano 
is a thoroughly life-like portrait of the man who is completely 
besotted with an evil woman. Flamineo I have spoken of, and 


not favourably ; yet in literature, if not in life, he is a triumph ; 
and above all the absorbing tragic interest of the play, which it 
is impossible to take up without finishing, has to be counted in. 
But the real charm of The White Devil is the wholly miraculous 
poetry in phrases and short passages which it contains. Vittoria's 
dream of the yew-tree, almost all the speeches of the unfortunate 
Isabella, and most of her rival's, have this merit. But the most 
wonderful flashes of poetry are put in the mouth of the scoundrel 
Flamineo, where they have a singular effect. The famous dirge 
which Cornelia sings can hardly be spoken of now, except in 
Lamb's artfully simple phrase <r l never saw anything like it," and 
the final speeches of Flamineo and his sister deserve the same 
endorsement. Nor is even the proud farewell of the Moor 
Zanche unworthy. It is impossible to describe the " whirl of 
spirits " (as the good old-fashioned phrase has it) into which the 
reading of this play sets the reader, except by saying that the 
cause of that whirl is the secret of the best Elizabethan writers, 
and that it is nowhere, out of Shakespere, better exemplified than 
in the scene partly extracted from Middleton, and in such passages 
of Vittoria Corombona as the following : 

Cor. " Will you make me such a fool ? here's a white hand : 

Can blood so soon be wash'd out ? let me see ; 

When screech-owls croak upon the chimney-tops 

And the strange cricket i' the oven sings and hops, 

When yellow spots do on your hands appear, 

Be certain then you of a corse shall hear. 

Out upon 't, how 'tis speckled ! 'h'as handled a toad, sure. 

Cowslip-water is good for the memory : 

Pray, buy me three ounces of 't. 
Flam. I would I were from hence. 
Cor. Do you hear, sir ? 

I'll give you a saying which my grand-mother 

Was wont, when she heard the bell toll, to sing o'er 

Unto her lute. 

Flam. Do, an' you will, do. 
Cor, ' Call for the robin-red-breast and the wren, 

[Cornelia doth this in several forms of distraction. 


Since o'er shady groves they hover, 

And with leaves and flowers do cover 

The friendless bodies of unburied men. 

Call unto his funeral dole 

The ant, the field mouse, and the mole, 

To rear him hillocks that shall keep him warm 

And (when gay tombs are robb'd) sustain no harm, 

But keep the wolf far thence, that's foe to men, 

For with his nails he'll dig them up again.' 

They would not bury him 'cause he died in a quarrel ; 

But I have an answer for them : 

' Let holy Church receive him duly 

Since he paid the church-tithes truly. ' 

His wealth is summ'd, and this is all his store. 

This poor men get, and great men get no more. 

Now the wares are gone, we may shut up shop. 

Bless you, all good people. 

Flam. I have a strange thing in me, to the which 
I cannot give a name, without it be 
Compassion. I pray, leave me. 

This night I'll know the utmost of my fate ; 
I'll be resolved what my rich sister means 
To assign me for my service. I have liv'd 
Riotously ill, like some that live in court, 
And sometimes when my face was full of smiles 
Have felt the maze of conscience in my breast. 
Oft gay and honoured robes those tortures try : 
We think cag'd birds sing when indeed they cry. 

Enter Brachiand s ghost, in his leather cassock and breeches, and boots ; with 
a cowl ; in his hand a pot of lily flowers, with a skull in^t. 

Ha ! I can stand thee : nearer, nearer it. 

What a mockery hath death made thee ! thou look'st sad. 

In what place art thou ? in yon starry gallery ? 

Or in the cursed dungeon ? No ? not speak ? 

Pray, sir, resolve me, what religion's best 

For a man to die in ? or is it in your knowledge 

To answer me how long I have to live ? 

That's the most necessary question. 

Not answer ? are you still like some great men 


That only walk like shadows up and down, 
And to no purpose ? Say : 

[The Ghost throws earth upon him and shows him the skull. 
What's that ? O, fatal ! he throws earth upon me ! 
A dead man's skull beneath the roots of flowers ! 
I pray [you], speak, sir : our Italian Church-men 
Make us believe dead men hold conference 
With their familiars, and many times 
Will come to bed to them, and eat with them. 

[Exit GHOST. 

He's gone ; and see, the skull and earth are vanished. 
This is beyond melancholy. I do dare my fate 
To do its worst. Now to my sister's lodging 
And sum up all these horrors : the disgrace 
The prince threw on me ; next the piteous sight 
Of my dead brother ; and my mother's dotage ; 
And last this terrible vision : all these 
Shall with Vittoria's bounty turn to good, 
Or I will drown this weapon in her blood." 


The Duchess of Malfi is to my thinking very inferior full of 
beauties as it is. In the first place, we cannot sympathise with 
the duchess, despite her misfortunes, as we do with the " White 
Devil." She is neither quite a virtuous woman (for in that case 
she would not have resorted to so much concealment) nor a frank 
professor of " All for Love." Antonio, her so-called husband, 
is an unromantic and even questionable figure. Many of the minor 
characters, as already hinted, would be much better away. Of 
the two brothers the Cardinal is a cold-blooded and uninteresting 
debauchee and murderer, who sacrifices sisters and mistresses 
without any reasonable excuse. Ferdinand, the other, is no doubt 
mad enough, but not interestingly mad, and no attempt is made 
to account in any way satisfactorily for the delay of his vengeance. 
By common consent, even of the greatest admirers of the play, 
the fifth act is a kind of gratuitous appendix of horrors stuck on 
without art or reason. But the extraordinary force and beauty 
of the scene where the duchess is murdered ; the touches of 
poetry, pure and simple, which, as in the The White Devil, are 


scattered all over the play ; the fantastic accumulation of terrors 
before the climax ; and the remarkable character of Bosola, justify 
the high place generally assigned to the work. True, Bosola 
wants the last touches, the touches which Shakespere would 
have given. He is not wholly conceivable as he is. But as a 
"Plain Dealer" gone wrong, a "Malcontent" (Webster's work 
on that play very likely suggested him), turned villain, a man 
whom ill-luck and fruitless following of courts have changed from 
a cynic to a scoundrel, he is a strangely original and successful 
study. The dramatic flashes in the play would of themselves 
save it. "I am Duchess of Malfi still," and the other famous 
one "Cover her face; mine eyes dazzle; she died young," 
often as they have been quoted, can only be quoted again. 
They are of the first order of their kind, and, except the 
"already my De Flores ! " of The Changeling, there is nothing 
in the Elizabethan drama out of Shakespere to match them. 

There is no doubt that some harm has been done to Thomas 
Heywood by the enthusiastic phrase in which Lamb described 
him as "a prose Shakespere." The phrase itself is in the 
original quite carefully and sufficiently explained and qualified. 
But unluckily a telling description of the kind is sure to go far, 
while its qualifications remain behind ; and (especially since a 
reprint by Pearson in the year 1874 made the plays of Heywood, 
to which one or two have since been added more or less con- 
jecturally by the industry of Mr. Bullen, accessible as a whole) 
a certain revolt has been manifested against the encomium. This 
revolt is the .effect of haste. " A prose Shakespere " suggests to 
incautious readers something like Swift, like Taylor, like Carlyle, 
something approaching in prose the supremacy of Shakespere 
in verse. But obviously that is not what Lamb meant. Indeed 
when one remembers that if Shakespere is anything, he is a poet, 
the phrase may run the risk of receiving an under not an over 
valuation. It is evident, however, to any one who reads Lamb's 
remarks in full and carefully it is still more evident to any one 
who without much caring what Lamb or any one else has said, 


reads Heywood for himself what he did mean. He was looking 
only at one or two sides of the myriad-sided one, and he justly 
saw that Heywood touched Shakespere on these sides, if only in 
an incomplete and unpoetic manner. What Heywood has in 
common with Shakespere, though his prosaic rather than poetic 
treatment brings it out in a much less brilliant way, is his sym- 
pathy with ordinary and domestic character, his aversion from the 
fantastic vices which many of his fellows were prone to attribute 
to their characters, his humanity, his kindness. The reckless 
tragedy of blood and massacre, the reckless comedy of revelry and 
intrigue, were always repulsive to him, as far as we can judge 
from the comparatively scanty remnant of the hundreds of plays in 
which he boasted that he had had a hand, if not a chief hand. 
Besides these plays (he confesses to authorship or collaboration 
in two hundred and twenty) he was a voluminous writer in prose 
and verse, though I do not myself pretend to much knowledge of 
his non-dramatic work. Its most interesting part would have 
been a Lives of the Poets, which we know that he intended, 
and which could hardly have failed to give much information 
about his famous contemporaries. As it is, his most remarkable 
and best-known work, not contained in one of his dramas, is the 
curious and constantly quoted passage half complaining that all 
the chief dramatists of his day were known by abbreviations of 
their names, but characteristically and good-humouredly ending 
with the license 

" I hold he loves me best who calls me Tom." 

We have unfortunately no knowledge which enables us to call 
him many names except such as are derived from critical exam- 
ination of his works. Little, except that he is said to have been a 
Lincolnshire man and a Fellow of Peterhouse, is known of his 
history. His masterpiece, The Woman killed with Kindness 
(in which a deceived husband, coming to the knowledge of 
his shame, drives his rival to repentance, and his wife to re- 
pentance and death, by his charity), is not wholly admirable. 

vii HEYWOOD 281 

Shakespere would have felt, more fully than Heywood, the 
danger of presenting his hero as something of a wittol without 
sufficient passion of religion or affection to justify his tolerance. 
But the pathos is so great, the sense of " the pity of it " is so 
simply and unaffectedly rendered, that it is impossible not to 
rank Heywood very high. The most famous " beauties " are in 
the following passage : 

Anne. " O with what face of brass, what brow of steel, 
Can you unblushing speak this to the face 
Of the espoused wife of so dear a friend ? 
It is my husband that maintains your state, 
Will you dishonour him that in your power 
Hath left his whole affairs ? I am his wife, 
Is it to me you speak ? 

Wendoll. " O speak no more : 

For more than this I know and have recorded 

Within the red -leaved table of my heart. 

Fair and of all beloved, I was not fearful 

Bluntly to give my life unto your hand, 

And at one hazard all my worldly means. 

Go, tell your husband ; he will turn me off 

And I am then undone : I care not, I, 

'Twas for your sake. Perchance in rage he'll kill me ; 

I care not, 'twas for you. Say I incur 

The general name of villain through the world, 

Of traitor to my friend. I care not, I. 

Beggary, shame, death, scandal and reproach 

For you I'll hazard all why, what care I ? 

For you I'll live and in your love I'll die." 

Anne capitulates with a suddenness which has been generally 
and rightly pronounced a blot on the play ; but her husband is 
informed by a servant and resolves to discover the pair. The 
action is prolonged somewhat too much, and the somewhat 
unmanly strain of weakness in Frankford is too perceptible ; but 
these scenes are full of fine passages, as this : 

Fr. "A general silence hath surprised the house, 
And this is the last door. Astonishment, 


Fear and amazement beat J upon my heart 

Even as a madman beats upon a drum. 

O keep my eyes, you heavens, before I enter, 

From any sight that may transfix my soul : 

Or if there be so black a spectacle, 

O strike mine eyes stark blind ! Or if not so, 

Lend me such patience to digest my grief 

That I may keep this white and virgin hand 

From any violent outrage, or red murder, 

And with that prayer I enter." 

A subsequent speech of his 

' ' O God, O God that it were possible 
To undo things done," 

hardly comes short of the touch which would have given us 
instead of a prose Shakespere a Shakespere indeed ; and all the 
rest of the play, as far as the main plot is concerned, is full of 

In the great number of other pieces attributed to him, written 
in all the popular styles, except the two above referred to, merits 
and defects are mixed up in a very curious fashion. Never 
sinking to the lowest depth of the Elizabethan playwright, in- 
cluding some great ones, Heywood never rises to anything like 
the highest height. His chronicle plays are very weak, showing 
no grasp of heroic character, and a most lamentable slovenliness 
of rhythm. Few things are more curious than to contrast with 
Henry VI. (to which some critics will allow little of Shakespere's 
work) and Richard III. the two parts of Edward IV., in which 
Heywood, after a manner, fills the gap. There are good lines 
here and there, and touching traits ; but the whole, as a 
whole, is quite ludicrously bad, and "written to the gallery," 
the City gallery, in the most innocent fashion. If You Know 
Not Me You Know Nobody, or The Troubles of Queen Elizabeth, 
also in two parts, has the same curious innocence, the same 
prosaic character, but hardly as many redeeming flashes. Its 

1 First ed. " Play," which I am half inclined to prefer. 

vil HEYWOOD 283 

first part deals with Elizabeth's real "troubles," in her sister's 
days ; its second with the Armada period and the founding of 
the Royal Exchange. Eor Heywood, unlike most of the dra- 
matists, was always true to the City, even to the eccentric extent 
of making, in The Four Prentices of London, Godfrey of Bouillon 
and his brethren members of the prentice -brotherhood. His 
classical and allegorical pieces, such as The Golden Age and its 
fellows, are most tedious and not at all brief. The four of 
them (The Iron Age has two parts) occupy a whole volume of 
the reprint, or more than four hundred closely printed pages ; 
and their clumsy dramatisation of Ovid's Metamorphoses, with 
any other classical learning that Heywood could think of thrust 
in, presents (together with various minor pieces of a some- 
what similar kind) as striking a contrast with Troilus and Cres- 
sida, as Edward IV. does with Henry VI. His spectacles and 
pageants, chiefly in honour of London (London's Jus Honorarium, 
with other metaphorical Latin titles of the same description) 
are heavy, the weakness of his versification being especially 
felt in such pieces. His strength lies in the domestic and con- 
temporary drama, where his pathos had free play, unrestrained by 
the necessity of trying to make it rise to chivalrous or heroic 
height, and where his keen observation of his fellow-men made him 
true to mankind in general, at the same time that he gave a vivid 
picture of contemporary manners. Of this class of his plays A 
Woman killed with Kindness is undoubtedly the chief, but it has 
not a few companions, and those in a sufficiently wide and varied 
class of subject. The Fair Maid of the Exchange is, perhaps, 
not now found to be so very delectable and full of mirth as it is 
asserted to be on its title-page, because it is full of that improb- 
ability and neglect of verisimilitude which has been noted as the 
curse of the minor Elizabethan drama. The" "Cripple of Fen- 
church," the real hero of the piece, is a very unlikely cripple ; 
the heroines chop and change their affections in the most sur- 
prising manner ; and the characters generally indulge in that curi- 
ous self- description and soliloquising in dialogue which is never 


found in Shakespere, and is found everywhere else. But it is 
still a lively picture of contemporary manners. We should be 
sorry to lose The Fair Maid of the West with its picture of 
Devonshire sailors, foreign merchants, kings of Fez, Bashaws of 
various parts, Italian dukes, and what not. The two parts make 
anything but a good play, but they are decidedly interesting, 
and their tone supports Mr. Bullen's conjecture that we owe to 
Hey wood the, in parts, admirable play of Dick of Devonshire, a 
dramatisation of the quarter- staff feats in Spain of Richard 
Peake of Tavistock. The English Traveller may rank with A 
Woman killed with Kindness as Heywood's best plays (there is, 
indeed, a certain community of subject between them), but A 
Maidenhead well Lost, and The Witches of Lancashire, are not 
far behind it ; nor is A Challenge for Beauty. We can hardly 
say so much for Love's Mistress, which dramatises the story of 
Cupid and Psyche, or for The Wise Woman of Hogsdon ( Hoxton), 
a play rather of Middleton's type. But in The Royal King and 
Loyal Subject, and in Fortune by Land and Sea, the author shows 
again the sympathy with chivalrous character and adventure which 
(if he never can be said to be fully up to its level in the matter of 
poetic expression) was evidently a favourite and constant motive 
with him. In short, Heywood, even at his worst, is a writer 
whom it is impossible not to like. His very considerable talent, 
though it stopped short of genius, was united with a pleasant and 
genial temper, and little as we know of his life, his dedications 
and prefaces make us better acquainted with his personality than 
we are with that of much more famous men. 

No greater contrast is possible than that between our last two 
names Day and Tourneur. Little is known of them : Day was 
at Cambridge in 1592-3 ; Tourneur shared in the Cadiz voyage of 
1625 and died on its return. Both, it is pretty certain, were young 
men at the end of Elizabeth's reign, and were influenced strongly 
by the literary fashions set by greater men than themselves. But 
whereas Day took to the graceful fantasticalities of Lyly and to 
the not very savage social satire of Greene, Tourneur (or Turner) 


addressed himself to the most ferocious school of sub-Marlovian 
tragedy, and to the rugged and almost unintelligible satire of 
Marston. Something has been said of his effort in the latter vein, 
the Transformed Metamorphosis. His two tragedies, The Atheisfs 
Tragedy and The Revenger's Tragedy, have been rather variously 
judged. The concentration of gloomy and almost insane vigour 
in The Revenger's Tragedy, the splendid poetry of a few passages 
which have long ago found a home in the extract books, and the 
less separable but equally distinct poetic value of scattered lines 
and phrases, cannot escape any competent reader. But, at 
the same time, I find it almost impossible to say anything 
for either play as a whole, and here only I come a long way 
behind Mr. Swinburne in his admiration of our dramatists. 
The Atheisfs Tragedy is an inextricable imbroglio of tragic 
and comic scenes and characters, in which it is hardly possible 
to see or follow any clue ; while the low extravagance of all 
the comedy and the frantic rant of not a little of the tragedy 
combine to stifle the real pathos of some of the characters. The 
Revenger's Tragedy is on a distinctly higher level ; the determi- 
nation of Vindice to revenge his wrongs, and the noble and hap- 
less figure of Castiza, could not have been presented as they are 
presented except by a man with a distinct strain of genius, both 
in conception and execution. But the effect, as a whole, is 
marred by a profusion of almost all the worst faults of the drama 
of the whole period from Peele to Davenant. The incoherence 
and improbability of the action, the reckless, inartistic, butcherly 
prodigality of blood and horrors, and the absence of any kind of 
redeeming interest of contrasting light to all the shade, though 
very characteristic of a class, and that no small one, of Eliza- 
bethan drama, cannot be said to be otherwise than characteristic 
of its faults. As the best example (others are The Insatiate 
Countess, Chettle's Hoffmann, Lust's Dominion, and the singular 
production which Mr. Bullen has printed as The Distracted 
Emperor] it is very well worth reading, and contrasting with 
the really great plays of the same class, such as The Jew of 


Malta and Titus Andronicus, where, though the horrors are still 
overdone, yet genius has given them a kind of passport. But 
intrinsically it is mere nightmare. 

Of a very different temper and complexion is the work of 
John Day, who may have been a Cambridge graduate, and was 
certainly a student of Gonville and Caius, as he describes him- 
self on the title-page of some of his plays and of a prose 
tract printed by Mr. Bullen. He appears to have been dead 
in 1640, and the chief thing positively known about him is that 
between the beginning of 1598 and 1608 he collaborated in 
the surprising number of twenty-one plays (all but The Blind 
Beggar of Bethnal Green unprinted) with Haughton, Chettle, 
Dekker, and others. The Parliament of Bees, his most famous 
and last printed work, is of a very uncommon kind in English 
being a sort of dramatic allegory, touched with a singularly 
graceful and fanciful spirit. It is indeed rather a masque than 
a play, and consists, after the opening Parliament held by the 
Master, or Viceroy Bee (quaintly appearing in the original, which 
may have been printed in 1607, though no copy seems now dis- 
coverable earlier than 1641, as "Mr. Bee"), of a series of 
characters or sketches of Bee-vices and virtues, which are very 
human. The termination, which contains much the best poetry 
in the piece, and much the best that Day ever wrote, introduces 
King Oberon giving judgment on the Bees from " Mr. Bee " down- 
wards and banishing offenders. Here occurs the often-quoted 
passage, beginning 

" And whither must these flies be sent ?" 
and including the fine speech of Oberon 

" You should have cried so in your youth." 

It should be observed that both in this play and elsewhere 
passages occur in Day which seem to have been borrowed or 
stolen from or by other writers, such as Dekker and Samuel 
Rowley ; but a charitable and not improbable explanation of this 
has been found in the known fact of his extensive and intricate 

vii DAY 287 

collaboration. The Isle of Gulls, suggested in a way by the 
Arcadia, though in general plan also fantastic and, to use a 
much abused but decidedly convenient word, pastoral, has a 
certain flavour of the comedy of manners and of contemporary 
satire. Then we have the quaint piece of Humour out of Breath, 
a kind of study in the for once conjoined schools of Shakespere 
and .Jonson an attempt at a combination of humorous and 
romantic comedy with some pathetic writing, as here : 

" [O] Early sorrow art got up so soon ? 
What, ere the sun ascendeth in the east ? 
O what an early waker art thou grown ! 
But cease discourse and close unto thy work. 
Under this drooping myrtle will I sit, 
And work awhile upon my corded net ; 
And as I work, record my sorrows past, 
Asking old Time how long my woes shall last. 
And first but stay ! alas ! what do I see ? 
Moist gum-like tears drop from this mournful tree ; 
And see, it sticks like birdlime ; 'twill not part, 
Sorrow is even such birdlime at my heart. 
Alas ! poor tree, dost thou want company ? 
Thou dost, I see't, and I will weep with thee ; 
Thy sorrows make me dumb, and so shall mine, 
It shall be tongueless, and so seem like thine. 
Thus will I rest my head unto thy bark, 
Whilst my sighs ease my sorrows." 

Something the same may be said of Law Tricks, or Who would 
have Thought it? which has, however, in the character of the 
Count Horatio, a touch of tragedy. Another piece of Day's is 
in quite a different vein, being an account in dramatised form 
of the adventures of the three brothers Shirley a kind of play 
which, from Sir Thomas Stukeley downwards, appears to have 
been a very favourite one with Elizabethan audiences, though 
(as might indeed be expected) it was seldom executed in a very 
successful manner. Lastly, or first, if chronological order is 
taken, comes The Blind Beggar of Bethnal Green, written by 
Day in conjunction with Chettle, and ranging itself with the half 


historical, half romantic plays which were, as has been pointed 
out above, favourites with the first school of dramatists. It 
seems to have been very popular, and had a second and third 
part, not now extant, but is by no means as much to modern 
taste as some of the others. Indeed both Day and Tourneur, 
despite the dates of their pieces, which, as far as known, are 
later, belong in more ways than one to the early school, and 
show how its traditions survived alongside of the more perfect 
work of the greater masters. Day himself is certainly not a 
great master indeed masterpieces would have been impossible, 
if they would not have been superfluous, in the brisk purveying 
of theatrical matter which, from Henslowe's accounts, we see 
that he kept up. He had fancy, a good deal of wit, considerable 
versatility, and something of the same sunshiny temper, with less 
of the pathos, that has been noticed in Heywood. If he wrote 
The Maiifs Metamorphosis (also ascribed conjecturally to Lyly), 
he did something less dramatically good, but perhaps poetically 
better, than his other work ; and if, as has sometimes been 
thought, 1 The Return from Parnassus is his, he is richer still. 
But even without these, his existing poetical baggage (the least 
part of the work which we know he accomplished) is more than 
respectable, and shows more perhaps than that of any other 
distinctly minor writer the vast amount of loose talent of mis- 
cellaneous inspiration which was afloat in the air of his time.. 

1 I agree with Professor Hales in thinking it very improbable. 



THE reign of James I. is not, in mere poetry, quite such a 
brilliant period as it is in drama. The full influence of Donne 
and of Jonson, which combined to produce the exquisite if not 
extraordinarily strong school of Caroline poets, did not work in 
it. Of its own bards the best, such as Jonson himself and Dray- 
ton, were survivals of the Elizabethan school, and have accord- 
ingly been anticipated here. Nevertheless, there were not a few 
verse-writers of mark who may be most conveniently assigned to 
this time, though, as was the case with so many of their contem- 
poraries, they had sometimes produced work of note before the 
accession of the British Solomon, and sometimes continued to 
produce it until far into the reign of his son. Especially there 
are some of much mark who fall to be noticed here, because 
their work is not, strictly speaking, of the schools that flourished 
under Elizabeth, or of the schools that flourished under Charles. 
We shall not find anything of the first interest in them ; yet in 
one way or in another there were few of them who were unworthy 
to be contemporaries of Shakespere. 

Joshua Sylvester is one of those men of letters whom accident 
rather than property seems to have made absurd. He has existed 
in English literature chiefly as an Englisher of the Frenchman Du 
Bartas, whom an even greater ignorance has chosen to regard as 
something grotesque. Du Bartas is one of the grandest, if also one 



of the most unequal, poets of Europe, and Joshua Sylvester, his 
translator, succeeded in keeping some of his grandeur if he even 
added to his inequality. His original work is insignificant compared 
with his translation ; but it is penetrated with the same qualities. 
He seems to have been a little deficient in humour, and his portrait 
crowned with a singularly stiff laurel, throated with a stiffer ruff, 
and clothed, as to the bust, with a doublet so stiff that it looks like 
textile armour is not calculated to diminish the popular ridicule. 
Yet is Sylvester not at all ridiculous. He was certainly a Kent- 
ish man, and probably the son of a London clothier. His birth 
is guessed, on good grounds, at 1563 ; and he was educated at 
Southampton under the famous refugee, Saravia, to whom he 
owed that proficiency in French which made or helped his fame. 
He did not, despite his wishes, go to either university, and was 
put to trade. In this he does not seem to have been prosperous ; 
perhaps he gave too much time to translation. He was probably 
patronised by James, and by Prince Henry certainly. In the 
last years of his life he was resident secretary to the English com- 
pany of Merchant Venturers at Middleburgh, where he died on 
the 28th September 1618. He was not a fortunate man, but 
his descendants seem to have flourished both in England, the 
West Indies and America. As for his literary work, it requires 
no doubt a certain amount of good will to read it. It is volu- 
minous, even in the original part not Very original, and constantly 
marred by that loquacity which, especially in times of great 
inspiration, comes upon the uninspired or not very strongly in- 
spired. The point about Sylvester, as about so many others of 
his time, is that, unlike the minor poets of our day and of some 
others, he has constant flashes constant hardly separable, but 
quite perceivable, scraps, which show how genially heated the 
brain of the nation was. Nor should it be forgotten that his Du 
Bartas had a great effect for generations. The man of pure 
science may regret that generations should have busied them- 
selves about anything so thoroughly unscientific ; but with that 
point of view we are unconcerned. The important thing is that 


the generations in question learnt from Sylvester to take a 
poetical interest in the natural world. 

John Davies of Hereford, who must have been born at about 
the same time as Sylvester, and who certainly died in the same 
year, is another curiosity of literature. He was only a writing- 
master, a professor of the curious, elaborate penmanship which 
is now quite dead, and he seems at no time to have been a man 
of wealth. But he was, in his vocation or otherwise, familiar with 
very interesting people, both of the fashionable and the literary 
class. He succeeded, poor as he was, in getting thrice married 
to ladies born ; and, though he seems to have been something of 
a coxcomb, he was apparently as little of a fool as coxcombry 
will consist with. His work (of the most miscellaneous character 
and wholly in verse, though in subject as well as treatment often 
better suiting prose) is voluminous, and he might have been 
wholly treated (as he has already been referred to) with the verse 
pamphleteers, especially Rowlands, of an earlier chapter. But 
fluent and unequal as his verse is obviously the production of 
a man who had little better to offer than journalism, but for 
whom the times did not provide the opening of a journalist 
there is a certain salt of wit in it which puts him above the mere 
pamphleteers. His epigrams (most of which are contained in 
The Scourge of Folly, undated, like others of his books) are by 
no means despicable ; the Welsh ancestors, whom he did not 
fail to commemorate, seem to have endowed him with some 
of that faculty for lampooning and "flyting" which distin- 
guished the Celtic race. That they are frequently lacking in 
point ought hardly to be objected to him ; for the age had 
construed the miscellaneous examples of Martial indulgently, 
and Jonson in his own generation, and Herrick after him (two 
men with whom Davies cannot compare for a moment in general 
power), are in their epigrams frequently as pointless and a good 
deal coarser. His variations on English proverbs are also remark- 
able. He had a respectable vein of religious moralising, as the 
following sonnet from Wifs Pilgrimage will show : 


" When Will doth long to effect her own desires, 
She makes the Wit, as vassal to the will, 
To do what she, howe'er unright, requires, 
Which wit doth, though repiningly, fulfil. 
Yet, as well pleased (O languishing wit !) 
He seems to effect her pleasure willingly, 
And all his reasons to her reach doth fit ; 
So like the world, gets love by flattery. 
That this is true a thousand witnesses, 
Impartial conscience, will directly prove; 
Then if we would not willingly transgress, 
Our will should swayed be by rules of love, 
Which holds the multitude of sins because 
Her sin morally to him his servants draws. " 

The defect of Davies, as of not a few of his contemporaries, is 
that, having the power of saying things rememberable enough, he 
set himself to wrap them up and merge them in vast heaps of 
things altogether unrememberable. His successors have too 
often resembled him only in the latter part of his gift. 
His longer works (Mirum in Modum, Sutnma Totalis, Micro- 
cosmus, The Holy Rood, Humours Heaven on Earth, are some 
of their eccentric titles) might move simple wonder if a 
century which has welcomed The Course of Time, and Yesterday, 
To-day, and For Ever, not to mention examples even more recent 
than these, had any great reason to throw stones at its fore- 
runners. But to deal with writers like Davies is a little difficult in 
a book which aims both at being nothing if not critical, and at 
doing justice to the minor as well as to the major luminaries of 
the time : while the difficulty is complicated by the necessity of 
not saying ditto to the invaluable labourers who have reintroduced 
him and others like him to readers. I am myself full of the 
most unfeigned gratitude to my friend Dr. Grosart, to Professor 
Arber, and to others, for sparing students, whose time is the least 
disposable thing they have, visits to public libraries or begging at 
rich men's doors for -the sight of books. I should be very sorry 
both as a student and as a lover of literature not to possess 


Davies, Breton, Sylvester, Quarles, and the rest, and not to read 
them from time to time. But I cannot help warning those who 
are not professed students of the subject that in such writers they 
have little good to seek; I cannot help noting the difference 
between them and other writers of a very different order, and 
above all I cannot help raising a mild protest against the en- 
comiums which are sometimes passed on them. Southey, in that 
nearly best of modern books unclassified, The Doctor, has a story 
of a glover who kept no gloves that were not " Best." But when 
the facts came to be narrowly inquired into, it was found that 
the ingenious tradesman had no less than five qualities " Best," 
" Better than Best," " Better than better than Best," " Best of 
All," and the " Real Best." Such language is a little delusive, 
and when I read the epithets of praise which are sometimes 
lavished, not by the same persons, on Breton and Watson, I ask 
myself what we are to say of Spenser and Shakespere. 

Dayies has no doubt also suffered from the fact that he had a 
contemporary of the same name and surname, who was not only 
of higher rank, but of considerably greater powers. Sir John 
Davies was a Wiltshire man of good family : his mother, Mary 
Bennet of Pyt-house, being still represented by the Benett-Stan- 
fords of Dorsetshire and Brighton. Born about 1569, he was a 
member of the University of Oxford, and a Templar ; but appears 
to have been anything but a docile youth, so that both at 
Oxford and the Temple he came to blows with the authorities. 
He seems, however, to have gone back to Oxford, and to have 
resided there till close of middle life ; some if not most of his 
poems dating thence. He entered Parliament in i6oi,and after 
figuring in the Opposition during Elizabeth's last years, was taken 
into favour, like others in similar circumstances, by James. Im- 
mediately after the latter's accession Davies became a law officer 
for Ireland, and did good and not unperilous service there. He 
was mainly resident in Ireland for some thirteen years, producing 
during the time a valuable " Discovery of the Causes of the Irish 
Discontent." For the last ten years of his life he seems to have 


practised as serjeant-at-law in England, frequently serving as 
judge or commissioner of assize, and he died in 1626. His 
poetical work consists chiefly of three things, all written before 
1600. These are Nosce Tetpsum, or the immortality of the 
soul, in quatrains, and as light as the unsuitableness of the subject 
to verse will allow ; a singularly clever collection of acrostics 
called Astraea, all making the name of Elizabetha Regina ; and 
the Orchestra, or poem on dancing, which has made his fame. 
Founded as it is on a mere conceit the reduction of all natural 
phenomena to a grave and regulated motion which the author 
calls dancing it is one of the very best poems of the school of 
Spenser, and in harmony of metre (the seven-lined stanza) and 
grace of illustration is sometimes not too far behind Spenser 
himself. An extract from it may be fitly followed by one of the 
acrostics of Astraea : 

" As the victorious twins of Leda and Jove, 
(That taught the Spartans dancing on the sands 
Of swift Eurotas) dance in heaven above, 
Knit and united with eternal bands ; 
Among the stars, their double image stands, 
Where both are carried with an equal pace, 
Together jumping in their turning race. 

" This is the net, wherein the sun's bright eye, 
Venus and Mars entangled did behold ; 
For in this dance, their arms they so imply, 
As each doth seem the other to enfold. 
What if lewd wits another tale have told 
Of jealous Vulcan, and of iron chains ! 
Yet this true sense that forged lie contains. 

" These various forms of dancing Love did frame, 
And besides these, a hundred millions more ; 
And as he did invent, he taught the same : 
With goodly gesture, and with comely show, 
Now keeping state, now humbly honouring low. 
And ever for the persons and the place 
He taught most fit, and best according grace.'* 


" Each day of thine, sweet month of May, 
Love makes a solemn Holy Day. 
I will perform like duty ; 
Since thou resemblest every way 
Astraea, Queen of Beauty. 
Both you, fresh beauties do partake, 
Either's aspect, doth summer make, 
Thoughts of young Love awaking, 
Hearts you both do cause to ache ; 
And yet be pleased with aching. 
Right dear art thou, and so is She, 
Even like attractive sympathy 
Gains unto both, like dearness. 
I ween this made antiquity 
Name thee, sweet May of majesty, 
As being both like in clearness." 

The chief direct followers of Spenser were, however, Giles 
and Phineas Fletcher, and William Browne. The two first 
were, as has been said, the cousins of John Fletcher the dramatist, 
and the sons of Dr. Giles Fletcher, the author of Lida. The 
exact dates and circumstances of their lives are little known. 
Both were probably born between 1580 and 1590. Giles, though 
the younger (?), died vicar of Alderton in Suffolk in 1623 : Phineas, 
the elder (?), who was educated at Eton and King's College, 
Cambridge (Giles was a member of Trinity College in the same 
university), also took orders, and was for nearly thirty years 
incumbent of Hilgay-in-the-Fens, dying in 1650. 

Giles's extant work is a poem in four cantos or parts, generally 
entitled Chrisfs Victory and Triumph. He chose a curious and 
rather infelicitous variation on the Spenserian stanza ababbccc, keep- 
ing the Alexandrine but missing the seventh line, with a lyrical 
interlude here and there. The whole treatment is highly allegori- 
cal, and the lusciousness of Spenser is imitated and overdone. 
Nevertheless the versification and imagery are often very beauti- 
ful,, as samples of the two kinds will show : 

" The garden like a lady fair was cut 
That lay as if she slumber'd in delight, 


And to the open skies her eyes did shut ; 

The azure fields of Heav'n were 'sembled right 

In a large round, set with the flow'rs of light : 

The flow'rs-de-luce, and the round sparks of dew, 

That hung upon their azure leaves did shew 

Like twinkling stars, that sparkle in the evening blue. 

" Upon a hilly bank her head she cast, 
On which the bower of Vain-delight was built, 
White and red roses for her face were placed, 
And for her tresses marigolds were spilt : 
Them broadly she displayed like flaming gilt, 
Till in the ocean the glad day were drowned : 
Then up again her yellow locks she wound, 
And with green fillets in their pretty cauls them bound. 

"What should I here depaint her lily hand, 
Her veins of violets, her ermine breast, 
Which there in orient colours living stand : 
Or how her gown with living leaves is drest, 
Or how her watchman, armed with boughy crest, 
A wall of prim hid in his bushes bears 
Shaking at every wind their leafy spears 
While she supinely sleeps, nor to be waked fears." 

; See, see the flowers that below, 
Now as fresh as morning blow, 
And of all the virgin rose, 
That as bright Aurora shows : 
How they all unleaved die, 
Losing their virginity ; 
Like unto a summer shade, 
But now born and now they fade. 
Everything cloth pass away, 
There is danger in delay. 
Come, come gather then the rose, 
Gather it, or it you lose. 
All the sand of Tagus' shore 
Into my bosom casts his ore : 
All the valleys' swimming corn 
To my house is yearly borne : 
Every grape of every vine 
Is gladly bruis'd to make me wine, 


While ten thousand kings, as proud, 
To carry up my train have bow'd, 
And a world of ladies send me 
In my chambers to attend me. 
All the stars in Heaven that shine, 
And ten thousand more, are mine : 
Only bend thy knee to me, 
Thy wooing shall thy winning be." 

The Purple Island, Phineas Fletcher's chief work, is an alle- 
gorical poem of the human body, written in a stanza different only 
from that of Chrisfs Victory in being of seven lines only, the 
quintett of Giles being cut down to a regular elegiac quatrain. 
This is still far below the Spenserian stanza, and the colour is 
inferior to that of Giles. Phineas follows Spenser's manner, 
or rather his mannerisms, very closely indeed, and in detached 
passages not unsuccessfully, as here, where the transition from 
Spenser to Milton is marked : 

" The early morn lets- out the peeping day, 
And strew'd his path with golden marigolds : 
The Moon grows wan, and stars fly all away. 
Whom Lucifer locks up in wonted folds 
Till light is quench'd, and Heaven in seas hath flung 
The headlong day : to th' hill the shepherds throng 
And Thirsil now began to end his task and song : 

" ' Who now, alas ! shall teach my humble vein, 
That never yet durst peep from covert glade, 
But softly learnt for fear to sigh and plain 
And vent her griefs to silent myrtle's shade ? 
Who now shall teach to change my oaten quill 
For trumpet 'larms, or humble verses fill 
With graceful majesty, and lofty rising skill? 

" 'Ah, thou dread Spirit ! shed thy holy fire, 
Thy holy flame, into my frozen heart ; 
Teach thou my creeping measures to aspire 
And swell in bigger notes, and higher art : 
Teach my low Muse thy fierce alarms to ring, 
And raise my soft strain to high thundering, 
Tune thou my lofty song ; thy battles must I sing. 


" ' Such as thou wert within the sacred breast 
Of that thrice famous poet, shepherd, king ; 
And taught'st his heart to frame his cantos best 
Of all that e'er thy glorious works did sing ; 
Or as, those holy fishers once among, 
Thou flamedst bright with sparkling parted tongues ; 
And brought'st down Heaven to Earth in those all-conquering songs. 

But where both fail is first in the adjustment of the harmony of 
the individual stanza as a verse paragraph, and secondly in the 
management of their fable. Spenser has everywhere a certain 
romance-interest both of story and character which carries off in its 
steady current, where carrying off is needed, both his allegorising 
and his long descriptions. The Fletchers, unable to impart this 
interest, or unconscious of the necessity of imparting it, lose them- 
selves in shallow overflowings like a stream that overruns its bank. 
But Giles was a master of gorgeous colouring in phrase and 
rhythm, while in The Purple Island there are detached passages not 
quite unworthy of Spenser, when he is not at his very best that 
is to say, worthy of almost any English poet. Phineas, moreover, 
has, to leave Britain's Ida alone, a not inconsiderable amount 
of other work. His Piscatory Eclogues show the influence of 
The Shepherd's Calendar as closely as, perhaps more happily than, 
The Purple Island shows the influence of The Faerie Queene, and 
in his miscellanies there is much musical verse. It is, however, 
very noticeable that even in these occasional poems his vehicle is 
usually either the actual stanza of the Island, or something 
equally elaborate, unsuited though such stanzas often are to the 
purpose. These two poets indeed, though in poetical capacity 
they surpassed all but one or two veterans of their own generation, 
seem to have been wholly subdued and carried away by the 
mighty flood of their master's poetical production. It is probable 
that, had he not written, they would not have written at all ; yet 
it is possible that, had he not written, they would have produced 
something much more original and valuable. It ought to be 
mentioned that the influence of both upon Milton, directly and 


as handing on the tradition of Spenser, was evidently very great. 
The strong Cambridge flavour (not very perceptible in Spenser 
himself, but of which Milton is, at any rate in his early poems, 
full) comes out in them, and from Christ's Victory at any rate the 
poet of Lycidas, the Ode on the Nativity, and Paradise Regained, 
apparently " took up," as the phrase of his own day went, not a 
few commodities. 

The same rich borrower owed something to William Browne, 
who, in his turn, like the Fletchers, but with a much less extensive 
indebtedness, levied on Spenser. Browne, however, was free from 
the genius loci, being a Devonshire man born and of Exeter 
College, Oxford, by education. He was born, they say, in 
1591, published the first part of Britannia's Pastorals in 1613, 
made many literary and some noble acquaintances, is thought 
to have lived for some time at Oxford as a tutor, and either in 
Surrey or in his native county for the rest of his life, which 
is (not certainly) said to have ended about 1643. Browne was 
evidently a man of very wide literary sympathy, which saved him 
from falling into the mere groove of the Fletchers. He was a 
personal friend and an enthusiastic devotee of Jonson, Drayton, 
Chapman. He was a student of Chaucer and Occleve. He was 
the dear friend and associate of a poet more gifted but more un- 
equal than himself, George Wither. All this various literary 
cultivation had the advantage of keeping him from being a 
mere mocking-bird, though it did not quite provide him with 
any prevailing or wholly original pipe of his own. Britannia's 
Pastorals (the third book of which remained in MS. for more 
than two centuries) is a narrative but extremely desultory poem, 
in fluent and somewhat loose couplets, diversified with lyrics 
full of local colour, and extremely pleasant to read, though hope- 
lessly difficult to analyse in any short space, or indeed in any 
space at all. Browne seems to have meandered on exactly as 
the fancy took him ; and his ardent love for the country, his 
really artistic though somewhat unchastened gift of poetical de- 
scription and presentment enabled him to go on just as he 


pleased, after a fashion, of which here are two specimens in 

different measures : 

" ' May first 

(Quoth Marin) swains give lambs to thee ; 
And may thy flood have seignory 
Of all floods else ; and to thy fame 
Meet greater springs, yet keep thy name. 
May never newt, nor the toad 
Within thy banks make their abode ! 
Taking thy journey from the sea 
May'st thou ne'er happen in thy way 
On nitre or on brimstone mine, 
To spoil thy taste ! This spring of thine, 
Let it of nothing taste but earth, 
And salt conceived in their birth. 
Be ever fresh ! Let no man dare 
To spoil thy fish, make lock or wear, 
But on thy margent still let dwell 
Those flowers which have the sweetest smell. 
And let the dust upon thy strand 
Become like Tagus' golden sand. 
Let as much good betide to thee 
As thou hast favour shew'd to me. ' " 

' ' Here left the bird the cherry, and anon 
Forsook her bosom, and for more is gone, 
Making such speedy flights into the thick ' 
That she admir'd he went and came so quick. 
Then, lest his many cherries should distaste, 
Some other fruit he brings than he brought last. 
Sometime of strawberries a little stem 
Oft changing colours as he gather'd them, 
Some green, some white, some red, on them infus'd, 
These lov'd, these fear'd, they blush'd to be so us'd. 
The peascod green, oft with no little toil 
He'd seek for in the fattest, fertil'st soil 
And rend it from the stalk to bring it to her, 
And in her bosom for acceptance woo her. 
No berry in the grove or forest grew 
That fit for nourishment the kind bird knew, 
Nor any powerful herb in open field 
To serve her brood the teeming earth did yield, 


But with his utmost industry he sought it, 
And to the cave for chaste Marina brought it." 

The Shepherd's Pipe, besides reproducing Occleve, is in parts 
reminiscent of Chaucer, in parts of Spenser, but always character- 
ised by the free and unshackled movement which is Browne's 
great charm ; and the same characteristics appear in the few 
minor poems attributed ^o him. Browne has been compared to 
Keats, who read and loved him, and there are certainly not a few 
points of resemblance. Of Keats's higher or more restrained 
excellences, such as appear in the finest passages of St. Agnes' Eve, 
and Hyperion, in the Ode to a Grecian Urn, and such minor 
pieces as In a Drear-Nighted December, Browne had nothing. 
But he, like Keats, had that kind of love of Nature which is 
really the love of a lover ; and he had, like Keats, a wonderful 
gift of expression of his love. 1 Nor is he ever prosaic, a praise 
which certainly cannot be accorded to some men of far greater 
repute, and perhaps of occasionally higher gifts both in his own 
time and others. The rarest notes of Apollo he has not, but he 
is never driven, as the poet and friend of his, to whom we next 
come, was often driven, to the words of Mercury. This special 
gift was not very common at the time ; and though that 
time produced better poets than Browne, it is worth noting in 

1 Something of the same love, but unluckily much less of the same gift, 
occurs in the poems of a friend of Browne's once hardly known except by some 
fair verses on Shakespere ("Renowned Spenser," etc.), but made fully 
accessible by Mr. R. Warwick Bond in 1893. This was William Basse, a 
retainer of the Wenman family near Thame, the author, probably or certainly, 
of a quaint defence of retainership, Sword and Buckler (1602), and of other 
poems Pastoral Elegies, Urania, Polyhymnia, etc. together with an exceed- 
ingly odd piece, The Metamorphosis of the Walnut- Tree of Boarstall, which 
is not quite like anything else of the time. Basse, who seems also to have 
spelt his name "Bas," and perhaps lived and wrote through the first forty or 
fifty years of the seventeenth century, is but a moderate poet. Still he is not 
contemptible, and deserves to rank as a member of the Spenserian, family on 
the pastoral side ; while the Walnut- Tree, though it may owe something to 
The Oak and the Brere, has a quaintness which is not in Spenser, and not 
perhaps exactly anywhere else. 


him. He may never reach the highest poetry, but he is always 
a poet. 

The comparative impotence of even the best criticism to 
force writers on public attention has never been better illustrated 
than in the case of George Wither himself. The greater part of a 
century has passed since Charles Lamb's glowing eulogy of him 
was written, and the terms of that eulogy have never been con- 
tested by competent authority. Yet there is no complete col- 
lection of his work in existence, and there is no complete collection 
even of the poems, saving a privately printed one which is in- 
accessible except in large libraries, and to a few subscribers. 
His sacred poem's, which are not his best, were indeed reprinted 
in the Library of Old Authors ; and one song of his, the famous 
" Shall I Wasting in Despair," is universally known. But the 
long and exquisite poem of Philarete was not generally known 
(if it is generally known now, which may be doubted) till Mr. 
Arber reprinted it in the fourth volume of his English Garner. 
Nor can Fidelia and The Shepherd's Hunting, things scarcely 
inferior, be said to be familiar to the general reader. For this 
neglect there is but one excuse, and that an insufficient one, con- 
sidering the immense quantity of very indifferent contemporary 
work which has had the honour of modern publication. What 
the excuse is we shall say presently. Wither was born at Brent- 
worth, in the Alresford district of Hampshire (a district after- 
wards delightfully described by him), on nth June 1588. His 
family was respectable ; and though not the eldest son, he had aj. 
one time some landed property. He was for two years at Magdalen 
College, Oxford, of which he speaks with much affection, but 
was removed before taking his degree. After a distasteful ex- 
perience of farm work, owing to reverses of fortune in his family 
he came to London, entered at Lincoln's Inn, and for some years 
haunted the town and the court. In 1 6 1 3 he published his Abuses 
Stript and Whipt, one of the general and rather artificial satires 
not unfashionable at the time. For this, although the book has 
no direct personal reference that can be discovered, he was im- 



prisoned in the Marshalsea ; and there wrote the charming poem 
of The Shepherd's Hunting, 1615, and probably also Fidelia^ an 
address from a faithful nymph to an inconstant swain, which, 
though inferior to The Shepherd's Hunting and to Philarete in the 
highest poetical worth, is a signal example of Wither's copious 
and brightly-coloured style. Three years later came the curious 
personal poem of the Motto, and in 1622 Philarete itself, which 
was followed in the very next year by the Hymns and Songs of the 
Church. Although Wither lived until 2d May 1667, and was 
constantly active with -his pen, his Hallelujah, 1641, another 
book of sacred verse, is the only production of his that has 
received or that deserves much praise. The last thirty years of 
his long life were eventful and unfortunate. After being a 
somewhat fervent Royalist, he suddenly changed his creed at the 
outbreak of the great rebellion, sold his estate to raise men for 
the Parliament, and was active in its cause with pen as well as 
with sword. Naturally he got into trouble at the Restoration 
(as he had previously done with Cromwell), and was im- 
prisoned again, though after a time he was released. At an 
earlier period he had been in difficulties with the Stationers' 
Company on the subject of a royal patent which he had received 
from James, and which was afterwards (though still fruitlessly) 
confirmed by Charles, for his Hymns. Indeed, Wither, though a 
man of very high character, seems to have had all his life what 
men of high character not unfrequently have, a certain facility for 
getting into what is vulgarly called hot-water. 

The defect in his work, which has been referred to above, and 
which is somewhat passed over in the criticisms of Lamb and others, 
is its amazing inequality. This is the more remarkable in that 
evidence exists of not infrequent retouching on his part with 
the rather unusual result of improvement a fact which would 
seem to show that he possessed some critical faculty. Such 
possession, however, seems on the other hand to be quite incom- 
patible with the production of the hopeless doggerel which he not 
infrequently signs. The felicity of language and the command 


of rhythmical effect which he constantly displays, are extraordinary, 
as for instance in the grand opening of his first Canticle : 

" Come kiss me with those lips of thine, 
For better are thy loves than wine ; 

And as the poured ointments be 
Such is the savour of thy name, 

And for the sweetness of the same 
The virgins are in love with thee. " 

Compare the following almost unbelievable rubbish 

" As we with water wash away 

Uncleanness from our flesh, 

And sometimes often in a day 

Ourselves are fain to wash." 

Even in his earlier and purely secular work there is something, 
though less of this inequality, and its cause is not at all dubious. 
No poet, certainly no poet of merit, seems to have written with 
such absolute spontaneity and want of premeditation as Wither. 
The metre which was his favourite, and which he used with most 
success the trochaic dimeter catalectic of seven syllables lends 
itself almost as readily as the octosyllable to this frequently fatal 
fluency; but in Wither's hands, at least in his youth and early 
manhood, it is wonderfully successful, as here : 

"And sometimes, I do admire 
All men burn not with desire. 
Nay, I muse her servants are not 
Pleading love : but O they dare not : 
And I, therefore, wonder why 
They do not grow sick and die. 
Sure they would do so, but that, 
By the ordinance of Fate, 
There is some concealed thing 
So each gazer limiting, 
He can see no more of merit 
Than beseems his worth and spirit. 
For, in her, a grace there shines 
That o'erdaring thoughts confines, 

Vlii WITHER 305 

Making worthless men despair 

To be loved of one so fair. 

Yea the Destinies agree 

Some good judgments blind should be : 

And not gain the power of knowing 

Those rare beauties, in her growing. 

Reason doth as much imply, 

For, if every judging eye 

Which beholdeth her should there 

Find what excellences are ; 

All, o'ercome by those perfections 

Would be captive to affections. 

So (in happiness unblest) 

She for lovers should not rest." 

Nor had he at times a less original and happy command of 
the rhymed decasyllabic couplet, which he sometimes handles 
after a fashion which makes one almost think of Dryden, and 
sometimes after a fashion (as in, the lovely description of Alresford 
Pool at the opening of Philarete) which makes one think of more 
modern poets still. Besides this metrical proficiency and gift, 
Wither at this time (he thought fit to apologise for it later) had a 
very happy knack of blending the warm amatory enthusiasm of his 
time with sentiments of virtue and decency. There is in him 
absolutely nothing loose or obscene, and yet he is entirely free 
from the milk-and-water propriety which sometimes irritates the 
reader in such books as Habington's Castara. Wither is never 
mawkish, though he is never loose, and the swing of his verse at 
its best is only equalled by the rush of thought and feeling which 
animates it. As it is perhaps necessary to justify this high opinion, 
we may as well give the " Alresford Pool " above noted. It is 
like Browne, but it is better than anything Browne ever did ; 
being like Browne, it is not unlike Keats ; it is also singularly 
like Mr. William Morris. 

" For pleasant was that Pool ; and near it, then, 
Was neither rotten marsh nor boggy fen. 
It was not overgrown with boisterous sedge, 
Nor grew there rudely, then, along the edge 


A bending willow, nor a prickly bush, 
Nor broad-leafed flag, nor reed, nor knotty rush : 
But here, well ordered, was a grove with bowers ; 
There, grassy plots, set round about with flowers. 
Here, you might, through the water, see the land 
Appear, strewed o'er with white or yellow sand. 
Yon, deeper was it ; and the wind, by whiffs, 
Would make it rise, and wash the little cliffs ; 
On which, oft pluming, sate, unfrighted then 
The gagling wild goose, and the snow-white swan, 
With all those flocks of fowl, which, to this day 
Upon those quiet waters breed and play. " 

When to this gift of description is added a frequent inspiration of 
pure fancy, it is scarcely surprising that 

" Such a strain as might befit 
Some brave Tuscan poet's wit," 

to borrow a couplet of his own, often adorns Wither's verse. 

Two other poets of considerable interest and merit belong to 
this period, who are rather Scotch than English, but who have 
usually been included in histories of English literature Drum- 
mond of Hawthornden, and Sir William Alexander, Earl of 
Stirling. Both, but especially Drummond, exhibit equally with 
their English contemporaries the influences which produced the 
Elizabethan Jacobean poetry ; and though I am not myself 
disposed to go quite so far, the sonnets of Drummond have 
sometimes been ranked before all others of the time except 

William Drummond was probably born at the beautiful seat 
whence he derived his designation, on i3th December 1585. 
His father was Sir John Drummond, and he was educated in 
Edinburgh and in France, betaking himself, like almost all young 
Scotchmen of family, to the study of the law. He came back to 
Scotland from France in 1610, and resided there for the greater 
part of his life, though he left it on at least two occasions for long 
periods, once travelling on the continent for eight years to recover 
from the grief of losing a lady to whom he was betrothed, and 


once retiring to avoid the inconveniences of the Civil War. 
Though a Royalist, Drummond submitted to be requisitioned 
against the Crown, but as an atonement he is said to have died 
of grief at Charles I.'s execution in 1649. The most famous in- 
cidents of his life are the visit that Ben Jonson paid to him, and 
the much discussed notes of that visit which Drummond left in 
manuscript. It would appear, on the whole, that Drummond was 
an example of a well-known type of cultivated dilettante, rather 
effeminate, equally unable to appreciate Jonson's boisterous ways 
and to show open offence at them, and in the same way equally 
disinclined to take the popular side and to endure risk and loss 
in defending his principles. He shows better in his verse. His 
sonnets are of the true Elizabethan mould, exhibiting the 
Petrarchian grace and romance, informed with a fire and aspiring 
towards a romantic ideal beyond the Italian. Like the older 
writers of the sonnet collections generally, Drummond intersperses 
his quatorzains with madrigals, lyrical pieces of various lengths, 
and even with what he calls " songs," that is to say, long poems 
in the heroic couplet. He was also a skilled writer of elegies, 
and two of his on Gustavus Adolphus and on Prince Henry have 
much merit. Besides the madrigals included in his sonnets he 
has left another collection entitled " Madrigals and Epigrams," 
including pieces both sentimental and satirical. As might be 
expected the former are much better than the latter, which have 
the coarseness and the lack of point noticeable in most of the 
similar work of this time from Jonson to Herrick. We have also 
of his a sacred collection (again very much in accordance with 
the practice of his models of the preceding generation), entitled 
Flowers of Sion, and consisting, like the sonnets, of poems of various 
metres. One of these is noticeable as suggesting the metre of 
Milton's " Nativity," but with an alteration of line number and 
rhyme order which spoils it. Yet a fourth collection of miscel- 
lanies differs not much in constitution from the others, and Drum- 
mond's poetical work is completed by some local pieces, such as 
Forth Feasting^ some hymns and divine poems, and an attempt 


in Macaronic called Polemo-Middenia, which is perhaps not his 
He was also a prose writer, and a tract, entitled The Cypress Grove, 
has been not unjustly ranked as a kind of anticipation of Sir 
Thomas Browne, both in style and substance. Of his verse a 
sonnet and a madrigal may suffice, the first of which can be 
compared with the Sleep sonnet given earlier : 

" Sleep, Silence' child, sweet father of soft rest, 
Prince whose approach peace to all mortals brings, 
Indifferent host to shepherds and to kings, 
Sole comforter of minds which are oppressed ; 
Lo, by thy charming rod, all breathing things 
Lie slumb'ring, with forgetfulness possess'd, 
And yet o'er me to spread thy drowsy wings 
Thou spar'st, alas ! who cannot be thy guest. 
Since I am thine, O come, but with that face 
To inward light, which thou art wont to show, 
With feigned solace ease a true felt woe ; 
Or if, deaf god, thou do deny that grace, 
Come as thou wilt, and what thou wilt bequeath : 
I long to kiss the image of my death. " 

" To the delightful green 
Of you, fair radiant een, 
Let each black yield, beneath the starry arch. 
Eyes, burnish'd Heavens of love, 
Sinople ' lamps of Jove, 

Save all those hearts which with your flames you parch 
Two burning suns you prove ; 
All other eyes, compared with you, dear lights 
Are Hells, or if not Hells, yet dumpish nights. 
The heavens (if we their glass 
The sea believe) are green, not perfect blue ; 
They all make fair, whatever fair yet was, 
And they are fair because they look like you." 

Sir William Alexander, a friend and countryman of Drum- 
mond (who bewailed him in more than one mournful rhyme of 
great beauty), was born in 1580 of a family which, though it had 
for some generations borne the quasi-surname Alexander, is said 

1 In heraldry (but not English heraldry) "green." 

viii STIRLING 309 

to have been a branch of the Clan Macdonald. Alexander early 
took to a court life, was much concerned in the proposed planting 
of Nova Scotia, now chiefly remembered from its connection with 
the Order of Baronets, was Secretary of State for Scotland, and 
was raised to the peerage. He died in 1640. Professor Masson 
has called him " the second-rate Scottish sycophant of an in- 
glorious despotism." He might as well be called "the faithful 
servant of monarchy in its struggle with the encroachments of 
Republicanism," and one description would be as much question- 
begging as the other. But we are here concerned only with his 
literary work, which was considerable in bulk and quality. It 
consists chiefly of a collection of sonnets (varied as usual with 
madrigals, etc.), entitled Aurora; of a long poem on Doomsday 
in an eight-lined stanza ; of a Paraenesis to Prince Henry ; and 
of four "monarchic tragedies" on Darius, Croesus, Alexander, 
and Ccesar, equipped with choruses and other appliances of the 
literary rather than the theatrical tragedy. It is perhaps in these 
choruses that Alexander appears at his best ; for his special forte 
was grave and stately declamation, as the second of the follow- 
ing extracts will prove. The first is a sonnet from Aurora : 

" Let some bewitched with a deceitful show, 
Love earthly things unworthily esteem'd, 
And losing that which cannot be redeemed 
Pay back with pain according as they owe : 
But I disdain to cast my eyes so low, 
That for my thoughts o'er base a subject seem'd, 
Which still the vulgar course too beaten deem'd ; 
And loftier things delighted for to know. 
Though presently this plague me but with pain, 
And vex the world with wondering at my woes : 
Yet having gained that long desired repose 
My mirth may more miraculous remain. 
That for the which long languishing I pine, 
It is a show, but yet a show divine." 

" Those who command above, 
High presidents of Heaven, 


By whom all things do move, 
As they have order given, 
What worldling can arise 
Against them to repine ? 
Whilst castled in the skies 
With providence divine ; 
They force this peopled round, 
Their judgments to confess, 
And in their wrath confound 
Proud mortals who transgress 
The bounds to them assigned 
By Nature in their mind. 

' ' Base brood of th' Earth, vain man, 
Why brag'st thou of thy might ? 
The Heavens thy courses scan, 
Thou walk'st still in their sight ; 
Ere thou wast born, thy deeds 
Their registers dilate, 
And think that none exceeds 
The bounds ordain'd by fate ; 
What heavens would have thee to, 
Though they thy ways abhor, 
That thou of force must do, 
And thou canst do no more : 
This reason would fulfil, 
Their work should serve their will. 

" Are we not heirs of death, 
In whom there is no trust ? 
Who, toss'd with restless breath, 
Are but a drachm of dust ; 
Yet fools whenas we err, 
And heavens do wrath contract, 
If they a space defer 
Just vengeance to exact, 
Pride in our bosom creeps, 
And misinforms us thus 
That love in pleasure sleeps 
Or takes no care of us : 
' The eye of Heaven beholds 
What every heart enfolds. ' " 


Not a few of his other sonnets are also worth reading, and 
the unpromising subject of Doomsday (which connects itself in 
style partly with Spenser, but perhaps still more with The Mirror 
for Magistrates), does not prevent it from containing fine pas- 
sages. Alexander had indeed more power of sustained versifica- 
tion than his friend Drummond, though he hardly touches the 
latter in point of the poetical- merit of short isolated passages 
and poems. Both bear perhaps a little too distinctly the com- 
plexion of " Gentlemen of the Press " men who are composing 
poems because it is the fashion, and because their education, 
leisure, and elegant tastes lead them to prefer that form of occupa- 
tion. But perhaps what is most interesting about them is the way 
in which they reproduce on a smaller scale the phenomenon pre- 
sented by the Scotch poetical school of the fifteenth century. 
That school, as is well known, was a direct offshoot from, or fol- 
lowing of the school of Chaucer, though in Dunbar at least it 
succeeded in producing work almost, if not quite, original in 
form. In the same way, Drummond and Alexander, while able 
to the full to experience directly the foreign, and especially 
Italian influences which had been so strong on the Elizabethans, 
were still in the main followers of the Elizabethans themselves, 
and formed, as it were, a Scottish moon to the English sun of 
poetry. There is little or nothing that is distinctively national 
about them, though in their following of the English model they 
show talent at least equal to all but the best of the school they 
followed. But this fact, joined to those above noted, helps, no 
doubt, to give an air of want of spontaneity to their verse an air 
as of the literary exercise. 

There are other writers who might indifferently come in this 
chapter or in that on Caroline poetry, for the reign of James was 
as much overlapped in this respect by his son's as by Elizabeth's, 
and there are others who need but slight notice, besides yet 
others a great multitude who can receive no notice at all. 
The doggerel of Taylor, the water-poet (not a bad prose writer), re- 
ceived both patronage and attention, which seem to have annoyed 


his betters, and he has been resuscitated even in our own 
times* Francis Beaumont, the coadjutor of Fletcher, has left 
independent poetical work which, on the whole, confirms the 
general theory that the chief execution of the joint plays must 
have been his partner's, but which (as in the Letter to Benjonson 
and the fine stoicism of The Honest Man's Fortune) contains 
some very good things. His brother, Sir John Beaumont, who 
died not so young as Francis, but at the comparatively early age 
of forty-four, was the author of a historical poem on Bosworth 
Field, as well as of minor pieces of higher merit, including some 
remarkable critical observations on English verse. Two famous 
poems, which every one knows by heart, the "You Meaner 
Beauties of the Night" of Sir Henry Wotton and the "Tell Me 
no more how fair She is " of Bishop Henry King, are merely per- 
fect examples of a style of verse which was largely if not often 
quite so perfectly practised by lesser or less known men, as well 
as by greater ones. 1 

There is, moreover, a class of verse which has been referred 
to incidentally before, and which may very likely be referred to in- 
cidentally again, but which is too abundant, too characteristic, and 
too charming not to merit a place, if no very large one, to itself. 
I refer to the delightful songs which are scattered all over the plays 
of the period, from Greene to Shirley. As far as Shakespere is 
concerned, these songs are well enough known, and Mr. Palgrave's 
Treasury, with Mr. Bullen's and Bell's Songs from the Dramatists, 
have given an inferior currency, but still a currency, to the best of 
the remainder. The earlier we have spoken of. But the songs 
of Greene and his fellows, though charming, cannot compare with 
those of the more properly Jacobean poets. To name only the 

1 The most interesting collection and selection of verse of this class and time 
is undoubtedly Dr. Hannah's well-known and charming but rather oddly 
entitled Poems of Raleigh, Wotton, and other Courtly Poets in the Alcline Series. 
I say oddly entitled, because though Raleigh and Wotton were certainly 
courtiers, it would be hard to make the name good of some of the minor 


best of each, Ben Jonson gives us the exquisite "Queen and 
Huntress," which is perhaps the best-known piece of his whole 
work ; the pleasant " If I freely may discover," and best of all 
unsurpassed indeed in any language for rolling majesty of 
rhythm and romantic charm of tone " Drink to me only with 
thine eyes." Again the songs in Beaumont and Fletcher stand 
very high, perhaps highest of all next to Shakespere's in respect 
of the " woodnote wild." If the snatch of only half articulate 
poetry of the " Lay a garland on my hearse," of The Maid's 
Tragedy, is really Fletcher's, he has here equalled Shakespere 
himself. We may add to it the fantastic and charming " Beauty 
clear and fair," of The Elder Brother, the comic swing of " Let 
the bells ring," and " The fit's upon me now ;" all the songs with- 
out exception in The Faithful Shepherdess, which is much less a 
drama than a miscellany of the most delightful poetry ; the lively 
war-song in The Mad Lover, to which Dryden owed not a little ; the 
catch, " Drink to-day and drown all sorrow ;" the strange song of 
the dead host in The Lover's Progress ; the exquisite " Weep no 
more," of The Queen of Corinth ; the spirited " Let the mill go 
round," of The Maid in the Mill ; the " Lovers rejoice," of 
Cupid 's Revenge ; the " Roses, their sharp spines being gone," 
which is one of the most Shakesperean things of The Two Noble 
Kinsmen ; the famous " Hence, all you vain-delights," of The Nice 
Valour, which Milton expanded into // Penseroso, and the laugh- 
ing song of the same play. This long catalogue only contains a 
part of the singularly beautiful song work of the great pair of 
dramatists, and as an example we may give one of the least 
known from The Captain : 

" Tell me, dearest, what is love ? 
'Tis a lightning from above ; 
'Tis an arrow, 'tis a fire, 
'Tis a boy they call Desire. 
'Tis a grave, 
Gapes to have 
Those poor fools that long to prove. 


" Tell me more, are women true? 
Yes, some are, and some as you. 
Some are willing, some are strange 
Since you men first taught to change. 

And till troth 

Be in both, 
All shall love to love anew. 

" Tell me more yet, can they grieve? 
Yes, and sicken sore, but live, 
And be wise, and delay 
When you men are as wise as they. 
Then I see, 
Faith will be 
Never till they both believe." 

The dirge of Vittoria Corombona and the preparation for death 
of The Duchess of Malfi are Webster's sole but sufficient contribu- 
tions to the list. The witch songs of Middleton's Witch, and the 
gipsy, or rather tramp, songs of More Dissemblers besides Women 
and The Spanish Gipsy, have very high merit. The songs of Patient 
Grissell, which are pretty certainly Dekker's, have been noticed 
already. The otherwise worthless play of The Thracian Wonder, 
attributed to Webster and Rowley, contains an unusual number 
of good songs. Heywood and Massinger were not great at songs, 
and the superiority of those in The Sun's Darling over the songs 
in Ford's other plays, seems to point to the authorship of Dekker. 
Finally, James Shirley has the song gift of his greater predecessors. 
Every one knows " The glories of our blood and state," but this is 
by no means his only good song ; it worthily closes the list of the 
kind a kind which, when brought together and perused sepa- 
rately, exhibits, perhaps, as well as anything else of equal com- 
pass, the extraordinary abundance of poetical spirit in the age. 
For songs like these are not to be hammered out by the most 
diligent ingenuity, not to be spun by the light of the most assidu- 
ously fed lamp. The wind of such inspiration blows where, and 
only where, it listeth. 



DURING the second and third quarters of the seventeenth century, 
or (to take literary rather than chronological dates) between the 
death of Bacon and the publication of 'Absalom and Achitophel, there 
existed in England a quintet of men of letters, of such extraordi- 
nary power and individuality, that it may be doubted whether 
any other period of our own literature can show a group equal to 
them ; while it is certain that no other literature, except, perhaps, 
in the age of Pericles, can match them. They were all, except 
Hobbes (who belonged by birth, though not by date and character 
of writing, to an earlier generation than the rest), born, and they 
all died, within a very few years of each other. All were prose 
writers of the very highest merit ; and though only one was a poet, 
yet he had poetry enough to spare for all the five. Of the others, 
Clarendon, in some of the greatest characteristics of the historian, 
has been equalled by no Englishman, and surpassed by few 
foreigners. Jeremy Taylor has been called the most eloquent of 
men ; and if this is a bold saying, it is scarcely too bold. Hobbes 
stands with Bacon and Berkeley at the head of English-speaking 
philosophers, and is, if not in general grasp, in range of ideas, or 
in literary polish, yet in acuteness of thought and originality of 
expression, perhaps the superior of both his companions. The 
excellence of Browne is indeed more purely literary and intensely 
artistic first of all a matter of expression rather than of sub- 


stance, while he is perhaps more flawed than any of them by 
the fashionable vices of his time. Yet, as an artist, or rather 
architect, of words in the composite and florid style, it is vain to 
look anywhere for his superior. 

John Milton the greatest, no doubt, of the five, if only be- 
cause of his mastery of either harmony was born in London on 
9th December 1608, was educated at Cambridge, studied at home 
with unusual intensity and control of his own time and bent ; 
travelled to Italy, returned, and engaged in the somewhat unex- 
pected task of school-keeping ; was stimulated, by the outbreak of 
the disturbances between king and parliament, to take part with 
extraordinary bitterness in the strife of pamphlets on the repub- 
lican and anti-prelatical side, defended the execution of the king 
in his capacity of Latin secretary to the Government (to which he 
had been appointed in 1649); was struck with blindness, lay hid 
at the Restoration for some time in order to escape the Royalist 
vengeance (which does not seem very seriously to have threatened 
him), composed and published in 1667 the great poem of Paradise 
Lost, followed it with that of Paradise Regained, did not a little 
other work in prose and poetry, and died on 8th November 1674. 
He had been thrice married, and his first wife had left him within 
v a month of her marriage, thereby occasioning the singular series 
of pamphlets on divorce, the theories of which, had she not re- 
turned, he had, it is said, intended to put into practice on his own 
responsibility. The general abstinence from all but the barest 
biographical outline which the scale of this book imposes is 
perhaps nowhere a greater gain than in the case of Milton. 
His personal character was, owing to political motives, long 
treated with excessive rigour. The reaction to Liberal politics 
early in the nineteenth century substituted for this rigour a some- 
what excessive admiration, and even now the balance is hardly 
restored, as may be seen from the fact that a late biographer of 
his stigmatises his first wife, the unfortunate Mary Powell, as "a 
dull and common girl," without a tittle of evidence except the bare 
fact of her difference with her husband, and some innuendoes 

ix MILTON 317 

(indirect in themselves, and clearly tainted as testimony) in 
Milton's own divorce tracts. On the whole, Milton's character 
was not an amiable one, nor even wholly estimable. It is prob- 
able that he never in the course of his whole life did anything 
that he considered wrong ; but unfortunately, examples are not 
far to seek of the facility with which desire can be made to con- 
found itself with deliberate approval. That he was an exacting, 
if not a tyrannical husband and father, that he held in the most 
peremptory and exaggerated fashion the doctrine of the superi- 
ority of man to woman, that his egotism in a man who had actu- 
ally accomplished less would be half ludicrous and half disgusting, 
that his faculty of appreciation beyond his own immediate tastes 
and interests was small, that his intolerance surpassed that of an 
inquisitor, and that his controversial habits and manners outdid the 
license even of that period of controversial abuse, these are propo- 
sitions which I cannot conceive to be disputed by any competent 
critic aware of the facts. If they have ever been denied, it is 
merely from the amiable but uncritical point of view which blinks 
all a man's personal defects in consideration of his literary genius. 
That we cannot afford to do here, especially as Milton's personal 
defects had no small influence on his literary character. But 
having honestly set down his faults, let us now turn to the plea- 
santer side of the subject without fear of having to revert, except 
cursorily, to the uglier. 

The same prejudice and partisanship, however, which have 
coloured the estimate of Milton's personal character have a little 
injured the literary estimate of him. It is agreed on all hands 
that Johnson's acute but unjust criticism was directed as much by 
political and religious prejudice as by the operation of narrow and 
mistaken rules of prosody and poetry; and all these causes 
worked together to produce that extraordinary verdict on Lycidas, 
which has been thought unintelligible. But it would be idle to 
contend that there is not nearly as much bias on the other side 
in the most glowing of his modern panegyrists Macaulay and 
Landor. It is, no doubt, in regard to a champion so formidable, 


both as ally and as enemy, difficult to write without fear or favour, 
but it must be attempted. 

Milton's periods of literary production were three. In each of 
them he produced work of the highest literary merit, but at the 
same time singularly different in kind. In the first, covering the 
first thirty years of his life, he wrote no prose worth speaking of, but 
after juvenile efforts, and besides much Latin poetry of merit, pro- 
duced the exquisite poems of E Allegro and // Penseroso, the Hymn 
on the Nativity, the incomparable Lycidas, the Comus (which I have 
the audacity to think his greatest work, if scale and merit are con- 
sidered), and the delicious fragments of the Arcades. Then his 
style abruptly changed, and for another twenty years he devoted 
himself chiefly to polemical pamphlets, relieved only by a few 
sonnets, whose strong originality and intensely personal savour 
are uniform, while their poetical merit varies greatly. The third 
period of fifteen years saw the composition of the great epics of 
Paradise Z<?,r/and Paradise Regained, and of the tragedy of Samson 
Agonistes, together with at least the completion of a good deal of 
prose, including a curious History of England, wherein Milton 
expatiates with a singular gusto over details which he must have 
known, and indeed allows that he knew, to be fabulous. The 
production of each of these periods may be advantageously dealt 
with separately and in order. 

Milton's Latin compositions both in prose and verse lie 
rather outride of our scope, though they afford a very interesting 
subject It is perhaps sufficient to say that critics of such 
different times, tempers, and attitudes towards their subject as 
Johnson and the late Rector of Lincoln, critics who agree in 
nothing except literary competence, are practically at one as to 
the remarkable excellence of Milton's Latin verse at its best. It 
is little read now, but it is a pity that any one who can read 
Latin should allow himself to be ignorant of at least the beautiful 
Epitaphium Damonis on the poet's friend, Charles Diodati. 

The dates of the few but exquisite poems of the first period 
are known with some but not complete exactness. Milton was 

ix MILTON 319 

not an extremely precocious poet, and such early exercises as he 
has preserved deserve the description of being rather meritorious 
than remarkable. But in 1629, his year of discretion, he struck 
his own note first and firmly with the hymn on the " Nativity." 
Two years later the beautiful sonnet on his three-and-twentieth 
year followed. L Allegro and // Penseroso date not before, but 
probably not much after, 1632; Comus dating from 1634, and 
Lycidas from 1637. All these were written either in the later 
years at Cambridge, or in the period of independent study at 
Horton in Buckinghamshire chiefly in the latter. Almost 
every line and word of these poems has been commented on and 
fought over, and I cannot undertake to summarise the criticism 
of others. Among the greater memorabilia of the subject is 
that wonderful Johnsonism, the description of Lycidas as " harsh, 
the rhymes uncertain, and the numbers unpleasing ; " among the 
minor, the fact that critics have gravely quarrelled among them- 
selves over the epithet " monumental " applied to the oak in 
// Penseroso, when Spenser's " Builder Oak " (Milton was a 
passionate student of Spenser) would have given them the key at 
once, even if the same phrase had not occurred, as I believe it 
does, in Chaucer, also a favourite of Milton's. We have only 
space here for first-hand criticism. 

This body of work, then, is marked by two qualities : an extra- 
ordinary degree of poetic merit, and a still more extraordinary ori- 
ginality of poetic kind. Although Milton is always Milton, it would 
be difficult to find in another writer five poems, or (taking the 
Allegro and its companion together) four, so different from each 
other and yet of such high merit. And it would be still more diffi- 
cult to find poems so independent in their excellence. Neither 
the influence of Jonson nor the influence of Donne the two 
poetical influences in the air at the time, and the latter especially 
strong at Cambridge produced even the faintest effect on Milton. 
We know from his own words, and should have known even if he 
had not mentioned it, that Shakespere and Spenser were* his 
favourite studies in English ; yet, save in mere scattered phrases. 


none of these poems owes anything to either. He has teachers 
but no models ; masters, but only in the way of learning how to 
do, not what to do. The " certain vital marks," of which he 
somewhat arrogantly speaks, are indeed there. I do not myself 
see them least in the poem on the " Nativity," which has been the 
least general favourite. It shows youth in a certain inequality, in 
a slight overdose of ornament, and especially in a very inartistic 
conclusion. But nowhere even in Milton does the mastery of 
harmonies appear better than in the exquisite rhythmical arrange- 
ment of the piece, in the almost unearthly beauty of the exordium, 
and in the famous stanzas beginning " The oracles are dumb." It 
must be remembered that at this time English lyric was in a very 
rudimentary and ill-organised condition. The exquisite snatches 
in the dramatists had been snatches merely ; Spenser and his 
followers had chiefly confined themselves to elaborate stanzas of 
full length lines, and elsewhere the octo-syllabic couplet, or the 
quatrain, or the dangerous " eights and sixes," had been chiefly 
affected. The sestines and canzons and madrigals of the sonnet- 
eers, for all the beauty of their occasional flashes, have nothing 
like the gracious and sustained majesty of the "Nativity " piece. 
For technical perfection in lyric metre, that is not so much to be 
sung as said, this ode has no precedent rival. As for L Allegro 
and // Penseroso, who shall praise them fitly ? They are among the 
few things about which there is no difference of opinion, which 
are as delightful to childhood as to criticism, to youth as to age. 
To dwell on th'eir technical excellences (the chief of which is 
the unerring precision with which the catalectic and acatalectic 
lines are arranged and interchanged) has a certain air of imper- 
tinence about it. Even a critical King Alfonso El Sabio could 
hardly think it possible that Milton might have taken a hint here, 
although some persons have, it seems, been disturbed because 
skylarks do not come to the window, just as others are troubled 
because the flowers in Lycidas do not grow at the same time, and 
because they think they could see stars through the "starproof" 
trees of the Arcades, 

i\ MILTON 321 

The fragments of the masque just mentioned consist only of 
three songs and an address in rhymed couplets. Of the songs, 

those ending 

Such a rural queen, 
All Arcadia hath not seen, 

are equal to anything that Milton has done ; the first song and 
the address, especially the latter, do not fall far below them. 
But it is in Connis that, if I have any skill of criticism, Milton's 
poetical power is at its greatest height. Those who judge poetry 
on the ground of bulk, or of originality of theme, or of anything 
else extra-poetical, much more those (the greater number) who 
simply vary transmitted ideas, may be scandalised at this assertion, 
but that will hardly matter much. And indeed the indebtedness 
of Comus in point of subject (it is probably limited to the Odyssey, 
which is public property, and to George Peele's Old Wives' Ta/e, 
which gave little but a few hints of story) is scarcely greater than 
that of Paradise Lost ; while the form of the drama, a kind nearly 
as venerable and majestic as that of the epic, is completely filled. 
And in Connis there is none of the stiffness, none of the longueurs, 
none of the almost ludicrous want of humour, which mar the larger 
poem. Humour indeed was what Milton always lacked ; had he 
had it, Shakespere himself might hardly have been greater. The 
plan is not really more artificial than that of the epic ; though in 
the latter case it is masked to us by the scale, by the grandeur of 
the personages, and by the familiarity of the images to all men 
who have been brought up on the Bible. The versification, as 
even Johnson saw, is the versification of Paradise Lost, and to my 
fancy at any rate it has a spring, a variety, a sweep and rush of 
genius, which are but rarely present later. As for its beauty in 
parts, quis vituperavit ? It is impossible to single out passages, for 
the whole is golden. The entering address of Comus, the song 
"Sweet Echo," the descriptive speech of the Spirit, and the 
magnificent eulogy of the "sun-clad power of chastity," would be 
the most beautiful things where all is beautiful, if the unapproach- 
able " Sabrina fair " did not come later, and were not sustained 



before and after, for nearly two hundred lines of pure nectar. If 
poetry could be taught by the reading of it, then indeed the 
critic's advice to a poet might be limited to this : " Give your days 
and nights to the reading of Comus" 

The sole excuses for Johnson's amazing verdict on Lyridas are 
that it is not quite so uniformly good, and that in his strictures 
on its " rhyme " and " numbers " he was evidently speaking from 
the point of view at which the regular couplet is regarded as 
the ne plus ultra of poetry. There are indeed blotches in it. 
The speech of Peter, magnificently as it is introduced, and 
strangely as it has captivated some critics, who seem to think that 
anything attacking the Church of England must be poetry, is out 
of place, and in itself is obscure, pedantic, and grotesque. There 
is some over-classicism, and the scale of the piece does not admit 
the display of quite such sustained and varied power as in Comus. 
But what there is, is so exquisite that hardly can we find fault 
with Mr. Pattison's hyperbole when he called Lycidas the " high- 
water mark of English poetry." High-water mark even in the 
physical world is a variable limit. Shakespere constantly, and 
some other poets here and there in short passages go beyond 
Milton. But in the same space we shall nowhere find anything 
that can outgo the passage beginning " Alas what boots it," down 
to "head of thine," and the whole conclusion from "Return 
Alpheus." For melody of versification, for richness of images, 
for curious felicity of expression, these cannot be surpassed. 

" But O the heavy change " to use an irresistible quotation, 
the more irresistible that the change is foreshadowed in Lycidas 
itself from the golden poetry of these early days to the prose of 
the pamphlets. It is not that Milton's literary faculty is less 
conspicuous here, or less interesting. There is no English prose 
before him, none save Taylor's and Browne's in his time, and 
absolutely none after him that can compare with the finest 
passages of these singular productions. The often quoted 
personal descriptions of his aims in life, his early literary studies, 
his views of poetry and so forth, are almost equal in the " other 



harmony of prose " to Comus and Lycidas. The deservedly famous 
Areopagitica is full of the most splendid concerted pieces of prose- 
music, and hardly anywhere from the Tractate of Reformation 
Touching Church Discipline to the History of Britain, which he 
revised just before his death, is it possible to read a page without 
coming across phrases, passages, and even whole paragraphs, which 
are instinct with the most splendid life. But the difference 
between Milton's poetry and his prose is, that in verse he is 
constantly under the restraint (sometimes, in his later work 
especially, too much under the restraint) of the sense of style ; 
while in his prose he seems to be wholly emancipated from it 
Even in his finest passages he never seems to know or to care 
how a period is going to end. He piles clause on clause, links 
conjunction to conjunction, regardless of breath, or sense, or the 
most ordinary laws of grammar. The second sentence of his first 
prose work contains about four hundred words, and is broken in 
the course of them like a wounded snake. In his very highest 
flights he will suddenly drop to grotesque and bathos ; and there 
is no more difficult task (hand inexpertus loquor) than the selection 
from Milton of any passage of length which shall not contain 
faults of which a modern schoolboy or gutter-journalist would be 
ashamed. Nor is the matter made much better by the considera- 
tion that it is not so much ignorance as temper which is the 
cause of this deformity. Lest it be thought that I speak harshly, 
let me quote from the late Mr. Mark Pattison, a strong sympathiser 
with Milton's politics, in complete agreement if not with his 
religious views, yet with his attitude towards dominant ecclesi- 
asticism, and almost an idolater of him from the purely literary 
point of view. " In Eikonoclastes" Milton's reply to Eikon 
Basilike, Mr. Pattison says, and I do not care to attempt any 
improvement on the words, " Milton is worse than tedious : his 
reply is in a tone of rude railing and insolent swagger which 
would have been always unbecoming, but which at this moment 
was grossly indecent." Elsewhere (and again I have nothing 
to add) Mr. Pattison describes Milton's prose pamphlets as " a 


plunge into the depths of vulgar scurrility and libel below the 
level of average gentility and education." But the Rector of 
Lincoln has not touched, or has touched very lightly, on the 
fault above noted, the profound lack of humour that these 
pamphlets display. Others have been as scurrilous, as libellous, 
as unfair; others have prostituted literary genius to the composition 
of paid lampoons ; but some at least of them have been saved by 
the all-saving sense of humour. As any one who remembers the 
dreadful passage about the guns in Paradise Lost must know, the 
book of humour was to Milton a sealed book. He has flashes of 
wit, though not many ; his indignation of itself sometimes makes 
him really sarcastic. But humorous he is never. 

Destitute of this, the one saving grace of polemical literature, 
he plunged at the age of thirty-three into pamphlet writing. With 
a few exceptions his production in this kind may be thrown into 
four classes, the Areopagitica and the Letter to Hartlib (much the 
best of the whole) standing outside. The first class attacks prelatical 
government, and by degrees glides, under the guise of apologetics 
for the famous Smectymnuus, into a fierce and indecent controversy 
with Bishop Hall, containing some of the worst examples of the 
author's deplorable inability to be jocular. Then comes the divorce 
series, which, with all its varied learning, is chiefly comic, owing to 
Milton's unfortunate blindness to the fact that he was trying to 
make a public question out of private grievances of the particular 
kind which most of all demand silence. Next rank the pieces 
composing the Apologia of regicide, the Eikonoclastes, the con- 
troversy with Salmasius (written in Latin), and the postscript 
thereto, devoted to the obscure Morus. And lastly come the 
pamphlets in which, with singular want of understanding of the 
course of events, Milton tried to argue Monk and the weary 
nation out of the purpose to shake off the heavy yoke of so-called 
liberty. The History of Britain, the very agreeable fragment on 
the History of Muscovy, the late Treatise Against Popery, in which 
the author holds out a kind of olive branch to the Church of 
England, in the very act of proclaiming his Arianism, and the 



two little masterpieces already referred to, are independent of any 
such classification. Yet even in them sometimes, as always in the 
others, furor arma ministrat ; and supplies them as badly as if he 
were supplying by contract. 

Nevertheless both Milton's faults and his merits as a prose 
writer are of the most remarkable and interesting character. The 
former consist chiefly in the reckless haste with which he con- 
structs (or rather altogether neglects the construction of) his 
periods and sentences, in an occasional confusion of those rules 
of Latin syntax which are only applicable to a fully inflected 
language with the rules necessary in a language so destitute of 
inflections as English, and in a lavish and sometimes both need- 
less and tasteless adaptation of Latin words. All these were 
faults of the time, but it is true that they are faults which Milton, 
like his contemporaries Taylor and Browne, aggravated almost 
wilfully. Of the three Milton, owing no doubt to the fury which 
animated him, is by far the most faulty and uncritical. Taylor 
is the least remarkable of the three for classicisms either of 
syntax or vocabulary \ and Browne's excesses in this respect are 
deliberate. Milton's are the effect of blind passion. Yet the 
passages which diversify and relieve his prose works are far more 
beautiful in their kind than anything to be found elsewhere in 
English prose. Though he never trespasses into' purely poetical 
rhythm, the solemn music of his own best verse is paralleled in 
these ; and the rugged and grandiose vocabulary (it is particularly 
characteristic of Milton that he mixes the extremest vernacular 
with the most exquisite and scholarly phrasing) is fused and 
moulded with an altogether extraordinary power. Nor can we 
notice less the abundance of striking phrase, now quaint, now 
grand, now forcible, which in short clauses and " jewels five words 
long " occurs constantly, even in the passages least artistically 
finished as wholes. There is no English prose author whose 
prose is so constantly racy with such a distinct and varied savour 
as Milton's. It is hardly possible to open him anywhere after 
the fashion of the Sortes Virgiliance without lighting on a line 


or a couple of lines, which for the special purpose it is impossible 
to improve. And it might be contended with some plausibility 
that this abundance of jewels, or purple patches, brings into 
rather unfair prominence the slips of grammar and taste, the 
inequalities of thought, the deplorable attempts to be funny, the 
rude outbursts of bargee invective, which also occur so numerously. 
One other peculiarity, or rather one result of these peculiarities, 
remains to be noticed ; and that is that Milton's prose is essen- 
tially inimitable. It would be difficult even to caricature or to 
parody it ; and to imitate it as his verse, at least his later verse, 
has been so often imitated, is simply impossible. 

The third and, in popular estimation, the most important 
period of Milton's production was again poetical. The character- 
istics of the poetry of the three great works which illustrate it 
are admittedly uniform, though in Samson Agonistes they exhibit 
themselves in a harder, drier, more ossified form than in the two 
great epics. This relation is only a repetition of the relation 
between Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained themselves on the 
one hand, and the poems of twenty years earlier, especially Comus 
and Lycidas, on the other. The wonderful Miltonic style, so arti- 
ficial and yet such a triumph of art, is evident even so early 
as the ode on the " Nativity," and it merely developed its own 
characteristics up to the Samson of forty years later. That it is 
a real style and not merely a trick, like so many others, is best 
shown by the fact that it is very hard, if not impossible, to 
analyse it finally into elements. The common opinion charges 
Milton with Latinising heavily ; and so he does. But we open 
Paradise Lost at random, and we find a dozen lines, and not the 
least beautiful (the Third Day of Creation), without a word in 
them that is not perfectly simple English, or if of Latin origin, 
naturalised long before Milton's time, while the syntax is also 
quite vernacular. Again it is commonly thought that the habits 
of antithesis and parallelism, of omission of articles, of reversing 
the position of adjectives and adverbs, are specially Miltonic. 
Certainly Milton often indulges in them ; yet in the same way 



the most random dipping will find passages (and any number of 
them) where no one of these habits is particularly or eminently 
present, and yet which every one would recognise as Miltonic. 
As far as it is possible to put the finger on one peculiarity which 
explains part of the secret of Milton's pre-eminence, I should 
myself select his unapproached care and felicity in building what 
may be called the verse-paragraph. The dangers of blank verse 
(Milton's preference for which over rhyme was only one of his 
numerous will-worships) are many ; but the two greatest lie in 
easily understood directions. With the sense generally or fre- 
quently ending as the line ends (as may be seen in the early 
dramatists and in many bad poets since), it becomes intolerably stiff 
and monotonous. With the process of enjambement or over- 
lapping, promiscuously and unskilfully indulged (the commonest 
fault during the last two centuries), it is apt to degenerate into 
a kind of metrical and barely metrical prose, distinguished from 
pro^e proper by less variety of cadence, and by an occasional 
awkward sacrifice of sense and natural arrangement to the 
restrictions which the writer accepts, but by which he knows 
not how to profit. Milton has avoided both these dangers by 
adhering to what I have ventured to call the verse-paragraph 
that is to say, by arranging the divisions of his sense in divisions 
of verse, which, albeit identical and not different in their verse 
integers, are constructed with as much internal concerted variety 
as the stanzas or strophes of a so-called Pindaric ode. Of the 
apparently uniform and monotonous blank verse he has made an 
instrument of almost protean variety by availing himself of the 
infinite permutations of cadence, syllabic sound, variety of feet, 
and adjustment of sense to verse. The result is that he has, it 
may almost be said, made for himself out of simple blank verse 
all the conveniences of the line, the couplet, and the stanza, 
punctuating and dividing by cadence, not rhyme. No device that 
is possible within his limits even to that most dangerous one of 
the pause after the first syllable of a line which has " enjambed " 
from the previous one is strange to him, or sparingly used by 


him, or used without success. And it is only necessary to con- 
trast his verse with the blank verse of the next century, especially 
in its two chief examples, Thomson and Young, great verse-smiths 
both of them, to observe his superiority in art. These two, 
especially Thomson, try the verse-paragraph system, but they 
do it ostentatiously and clumsily. Thomson's trick of ending 
such paragraphs with such lines as " And Thule bellows through 
her utmost isles," often repeated with only verbal substitutions, 
is apt to make the reader think with a smile of the breath of 
relief which a man draws after a serious effort. " Thank heaven 
that paragraph's done ! " the poet seems to be saying. Nothing 
of the kind is ever to be found in Milton. It is only on examin- 
ation that the completeness of these divisions is perceived. They 
are linked one to another with the same incomparably artful 
concealment of art which links their several and internal clauses. 
And thus it is that Milton is able to carry his readers through 
(taking both poems together) sixteen books of epic, without much 
narrative interest, with foregone conclusions, with long passages 
which are merely versifications of well-known themes, and with 
others which the most favourable critics admit to be, if not exactly 
dull, yet certainly not lively. Something the same said 
of Samson, though here a decided stiffening and mannerising of 
the verse is to some extent compensated by the pathetic and 
human interest of the story. It is to be observed, however, that 
Milton has here abused the redundant syllable (the chief purely 
poetical mistake of which he has been guilty in any part of his 
work, and which is partly noticeable in Comns), and that his 
choric odes are but dry sticks in comparison with Lyridas. 

It may be thought strange that I should say little or nothing 
of the subject of these immortal poems. But, in the first place, 
those critics of poetry who tell us that "all depends on the sub- 
ject " seem to forget that, according to this singular dictum, there 
is no difference between poetry and prose between an epic and 
a blue-book. I prefer having been brought up at the feet of 
Logic to stick to the genus and differentia of poetry, and not to 

ix MILTON 329 

its accidents. Moreover, the matter of Paradise Lost and its 
sequel is so universally known that it becomes unnecessary, and 
has been so much discussed that it seems superfluous, to rediscuss 
it. The inquiries into Milton's indebtedness to forerunners 
strike me as among the idlest inquiries of the kind which is 
saying a great deal. Italians, Frenchmen, Dutchmen, English- 
men even, had doubtless treated the Creation and the Fall, Adam 
and Satan, before him. Perhaps he read them ; perhaps he 
borrowed from them. What then ? Does any one believe 
that Andreini or Vondel, Sylvester or Du Bartas, could have 
written, or did in any measurable degree contribute to the 
writing of Paradise Lost? If he does he must be left to his 

Reference may perhaps be made to some remarks in Chapter 
IV. on the comparative position of Milton in English poetry with 
the only two writers who can be compared to him, if bulk and 
majesty of work be taken into consideration, and not merely occa- 
sional bursts of poetry. Of his own poetical powers I trust that 
I shall not be considered a niggard admirer, because, both in the 
character of its subject (if we are to consider subjects at all) and 
in its employment of rhyme, that greatest mechanical aid of 
the poet, The Faerie Queene seems to me greater, or because 
Milton's own earlier work seems to me to rank higher than 
Paradise Lost. The general opinion is, of course, different ; and 
one critic of no mean repute, Christopher North, has argued that 
Paradise Lost is the only " great poem " in existence. That 
question need not be argued here. It is sufficient to say that 
Milton is undoubtedly one of the few great poets in the history 
of the world, and that if he falls short of Homer, Dante, and 
Shakespere, it is chiefly because he expresses less of that 
humanity, both universal and quintessential, which they, and 
especially the last, put into verse. Narrowness is his fault But^ 
_the intense individuality which often accompanies narrowness is 
his great virtue:^a_yirtug^ which no po^, whirh nn writer either 
in verse or prose, has ever kid in greater measure than he. and 


which hardly any has been able to express with more varied and 
exquisite harmony. 

Jeremy Taylor, the ornament and glory of the English pulpit, 
was born at Cambridge in 1613. He was the son of a barber, 
but was well educated, and was able to enter Caius College as a 
sizar at thirteen. He spent seven years there, and took both 
degrees and orders at an unusually early age. Apparently, how- 
ever, no solid endowment was offered him in his own university, 
and he owed such preferment as he had (it was never very great) 
to a chance opportunity of preaching at St. Paul's and a recom- 
mendation to Laud. That prelate to whom all the infinite 
malignity of political and sectarian detraction has not been able 
to deny the title of an encourager, as few men have encouraged 
them, of learning and piety took Taylor under his protection, 
made him his chaplain, and procured him incorporation at Oxford, 
a fellowship at All Souls, and finally the rectory of Uppingham. 
To this Taylor was appointed in 1638, and next year he married 
a lady who bore him several sons, but died young. Taylor early 
joined the king at Oxford, and is supposed to have followed his 
fortunes in the field; it is certain that his rectory, lying in a 
Puritan district, was very soon sequestrated, though not by any 
form of law. What took him into Wales and caused him to 
marry his second wife, Joanna Brydges (an heiress on a small 
scale, and said to have been a natural daughter of Charles I.), 
is not known. But he sojourned in the principality during the 
greater part of the Commonwealth period, and was much patron- 
ised by the Earl of Carbery, who, while resident at Golden 
Grove, made him his chaplain. He also made the acquaintance 
of other persons of interest, the chief of whom were, in London 
(which he visited not always of his own choice, for he was more 
than once imprisoned), John Evelyn, and in Wales, Mrs. Kathe- 
rine Philips, "the matchless Orinda," to whom he dedicated one 
of the most interesting of his minor works, the Measure and 
Offices of Friendship. Not long before the Restoration he was 
offered, and strongly pressed to accept, the post of lecturer at 


Lisburn, in Ireland. He does not seem to have taken at all 
kindly to the notion, but was over-persuaded, and crossed the 
Channel. It was perhaps owing to this false step that, when the 
Restoration arrived, the preferment which he had in so many 
ways merited only came to him in the tents of Kedar. He was 
made Bishop of Down and Connor, held that see for seven years, 
and died (after much wrestling with Ulster Presbyterians and 
some domestic misfortune) of fever in 1667. 

His work is voluminous and always interesting ; but only a 
small part of it concerns us directly here, as exhibiting him at 
his best and most peculiar in the management of English prose. 
He wrote, it should be said, a few verses by no means destitute 
of merit, but they are so few, in comparison to the bulk of his 
work, that they may be neglected. Taylor's strong point was not 
accuracy of statement or logical precision. His longest work, the 
Ductor Dubitantium, an elaborate manual of casuistry, is con- 
stantly marred by the author's inability to fix on a single point, 
and to keep his argumentation close to that. In another, the 
Unum Necessarhtm, or Discourse on Repentance, his looseness 
of statement and want of care in driving several horses at once, 
involved him in a charge of Pelagianism, or something like it, 
which he wrote much to disprove, but which has so far lasted as 
to justify modern theologians in regarding m's ideas on this and 
other theological points as, to say the least, confused. All over 
his work inexact quotation from memory, illicit argumentation, 
and an abiding inconsistency, mar the intellectual value, affecting 
not least his famous Liberty of Prophesying, or plea for tolera- 
tion against the new Presbyterian uniformity, the conformity of 
which treatise with modern ideas has perhaps made some persons 
slow to recognise its faults. These shortcomings, however, are 
not more constant in Taylor's work than his genuine piety, his 
fervent charity, his freedom from personal arrogance and preten- 
tiousness, and his ardent love for souls ; while neither shortcom- 
ings nor virtues of this kind concern us here so much as the extra- 
ordinary rhetorical merits which distinguish all his work more or 


less, and which are chiefly noticeable in his Sermons, especially 
the Golden Grove course, and the funeral sermon on Lady 
Carbery, in his Contemplations of the State of Man, and in parts 
of his Life of Christ, and of the universaHy popular and admirable 
tractates on Holy Living and Holy Dying. 

Jeremy Taylor's style is emphatically and before all things 
florid and ornate. It is not so elaborately quaint as Browne's ; 
it is not so stiffly splendid as Milton's ; it is distinguished from 
both by a much less admixture of Latinisms ; but it is impossible 
to call it either verbally chastened or syntactically correct. Cole- 
ridge an authority always to be differed with cautiously and 
under protest holds indeed a different opinion. He will have 
it that Browne was the corruptor, though a corruptor of the 
greatest genius, in point of vocabulary, and that, as far as syntax 
is concerned, in Jeremy Taylor the sentences are often extremely 
long, and yet are generally so perspicuous in consequence of their 
logical structure that they require no re perusal to be understood. 
And he will have the same to be true not only of Hooker (which 
may pass), but of Milton, in reference to whom admirers not less 
strong than Coleridge hold that he sometimes forgets the period 

It must be remembered that Coleridge in these remarks was 
fighting the battle <5f the recoverers of our great seventeenth 
century writers against the devotees of "correctness," and that in 
the very same context he makes the unpardonable assertion that 
Gibbon's manner is "the worst of all," and that Tacitus "writes 
in falsetto as compared to Tully." This is to " fight a prize " in 
the old phrase, not to judge from the catholic and universal 
standpoint of impartial criticism ; and in order to reduce Cole- 
ridge's assertions to that standard we must abate nearly as much 
from his praise of Taylor as from his abuse of Gibbon an abuse, 
by the way, which is strangely contrasted with praise of " Junius." 
It is not true that, except by great complaisance of the reader, 
Jeremy Taylor's long sentences are at once understandable. They 
may, of course, and generally can be understood kata to semaino 


menon, as a telegram with half the words left out may at the other 
end of the scale be understood. But they constantly withstand 
even a generous parser, even one who is to the fullest extent 
ready to allow for idiom and individuality. They abuse in parti- 
cular the conjunction to a most enormous extent coupling by 
its means propositions which have no logical connection, which 
start entirely different trains of thought, and which are only 
united because carelessness and fashion combined made it un- 
necessary for the writer to take the little extra trouble necessary 
for their separation. Taylor will, in the very middle of his finest 
passages, and with hardly so much as a comma's break, change 
oratio obliqua to oratio recta, interrupt the sequence of tenses, 
make his verbs agree with the nearest noun, irrespective of 
the connection, and in short, though he was, while in Wales, 
a schoolmaster for some time, and author of a grammatical 
treatise, will break Priscian's head with the calmest uncon- 
cern. It is quite true that these faults mainly occur in his more 
rhetorical passages, in his exercises rather of spoken than of 
written prose. But that, as any critic who is not an advocate 
must see, is no palliation. The real palliation is that the time 
had not yet aroused itself to the consciousness of the fact that 
letting English grammar at one moment go to the winds 
altogether,, and at the next subjecting it to the most inappropriate 
rules and licenses of Latin, was not the way to secure the estab- 
lishment of an accomplished and generally useful English prose. 
No stranger instance of prejudice can be given than that Cole- 
ridge, on the point of asking, and justly, from Dryden " a stricter 
grammar," should exalt to the skies a writer compared to whom 
Dryden is grammatically impeccable. 

But a recognition of the fact that Taylor distinctly belongs to 
the antinomians of English prose, or at least to those guiltless 
heathens who lived before the laws of it had been asserted, can 
not in any competent critic dull the sense of the wonderful beauty 
of his style. It has been said that this beauty is entirely of the 
florid and ornate order, lending itself in this way easily enough to 


the witty and well-worded, though unjust and ungenerous censure 
which South pronounced on it after the author's death. It may 
or may not be that the phrases there censured, " The fringes of the 
north star," and "The dew of angels' wings,'^ and "Thus have I 
seen a cloud rolling in its airy mansion," are not of that "apos- 
tolic plainness " that a Christian minister's speech should have. 
But they and their likes are extremely beautiful save that in 
literature no less than in theology South has justly perstringed 
Taylor's constant and most unworthy affectation of introducing a 
simile by " so I have seen." In the next age the phrase was 
tediously abused, and in the age after, and ever since, it became 
and has remained mere burlesque ; but it was never good ; and 
in the two fine specimen passages which follow it is a distinct 
blot : 

The Prayers of Anger and of Lust. 

" Prayer is the peace of our spirit, the stillness of our thoughts, the even- 
ness of recollection, the seat of meditation, the rest of our cares, and the calm 
of our tempest. Prayer is the issue of a quiet mind, of untroubled thoughts ; 
it is the daughter of charity and the sister of meekness ; and he that prays to 
God with an angry that is a troubled and discomposed spirit, is like him 
that retires into a battle to meditate and sets up his closet in the outquarters of 
an army, and chooses a frontier garrison to be wise in. Anger is a perfect 
alienation of the mind from prayer, and therefore is contrary to that attention 
which presents our prayers in a right line to God. For so have I seen a lark 
rising from his bed of grass, soaring upwards and singing as he rises and hopes 
to get to Heaven and climb above the clouds ; but the poor bird was beaten 
back with the loud sighings of an eastern wind and his motion made irregular 
and inconstant, descending more at every breath of the tempest than it could 
recover by the vibration and frequent weighing of his wings ; till the little crea- 
ture was forced to sit down and pant and stay till the storm was over ; and 
then" it made a prosperous flight and did rise and sing as if it had learned music 
and motion from an angel as he passed sometimes through the air about his 
ministries here below. So is the prayer of a good man : when his affairs have 
required business, and his business was matter of discipline, and his discipline 
was to pass upon a sinning person, or had a design of charity, his duty met 
with infirmities of a man and anger was its instrument, and the instrument 
became stronger than the prime agent and raised a tempest and overruled the 
man ; and then his prayer was broken and his thoughts troubled. 


" For so an impure vapour begotten of the slime of the earth by the 
fevers and adulterous heats of an intemperate summer sun, striving by the 
ladder of a mountain to climb to heaven and rolling into various figures by an 
uneasy, unfixed revolution, and stopped at the middle region oT the air, being 
thrown from his pride and attempt of passing towards the seat of the stars 
turns into an unwholesome flame and, like the breath of hell, is confined into 
a prison of darkness and a cloud, till it breaks into diseases, plagues and mil- 
dews, stinks and blastings. So is the prayer of an unchaste person. It strives 
to climb the battlements of heaven, but because it is a flame of sulphur salt 
and bitumen, and was kindled in the dishonourable regions below, derived from 
Hell and contrary to God, it cannot pass forth to the element of love ; but 
ends in barrenness and murmurs, fantastic expectations and trifling imaginative 
confidences ; and they at last end in sorrows and despair." 

Indeed, like all very florid writers, Taylor is liable to eclipses of 
taste ; yet both the wording of his flights and the occasion of them 
(they are to be found passim in the Sermons) are almost wholly 
admirable. It is always a great and universal idea never a mere 
conceit that fires him. The shortness and dangers of life, the 
weakness of children, the fragility of women's beauty and men's 
strength, the change of the seasons, the vicissitudes of empires, 
the impossibility of satisfying desire, the disgust which follows 
satiety these are, if any one chooses, commonplace enough ; yet 
it is the observation of all who have carefully studied literature, 
and the experience of all who have observed their own thoughts, 
that it is always in relation to these commonplaces that the most 
beautiful expressions and the noblest sentiments arise. The 
uncommon thought is too likely if not too certain to be an un- 
common conceit, and if not worthless, yet of inferior worth. 
Among prose writers Taylor is unequalled for his touches of this 
universal material, for the genius with which he makes the common 
uncommon. For instance, he has the supreme faculty of always 
making the verbal and the intellectual presentation of the thought 
alike beautiful, of appealing to the ear and the mind at the same 
time, of never depriving the apple of gold of its picture of silver. 
Yet for all this the charge of over-elaboration which may justly be 
brought against Browne very rarely hits Taylor. He seldom or 
never has the appearance which ornate writers of all times, and of 


his own more especially, so often have, of going back on a thought 
or a phrase to try to better it of being stimulated by actu-al or 
fancied applause to cap the climax. His most beautiful passages 
come quite suddenly and naturally as the subject requires and as 
the thought strikes light in his mind. Nor are they ever, as 
Milton's so often are,- marred by a descent as rapid _as their rise. 
He is never below a certain decent level ; he may return to 
earth from heaven, but he goes no lower, and reaches even his 
lower level by a quiet and equable sinking. As has been fully 
allowed, he has grave defects, the defects of his time. But from 
some of these he was conspicuously free, and on the whole no one 
in English prose (unless it be his successor here) has so much 
command of the enchanter's wand as Jeremy Taylor. 

Sir Thomas Browne was born in the heart of London in 1605, 
his father (of whom little is known except one or two anecdotes 
corresponding with the character of the son) having been a 
merchant of some property, and claiming descent from a good 
family in Cheshire. This father died when he was quite young, 
and Browne is said to have been cheated by his guardians ; but 
he was evidently at all times of his life in easy circumstances, and 
seems to have had no complaint to make of his stepfather, Sir 
Thomas Button. This stepfather may at least possibly have 
been the hero of the duel with Sir Hatton Cheeke, which Mr. 
Carlyle has made famous. With him Browne visited Ireland, 
having previously been brought up at Winchester and at Broad- 
gates Hall, which became, during his own residence, Pembroke 
College, at Oxford. Later he made the usual grand tour. Then 
he took medical degrees ; practised it is said, though on no very 
precise evidence, both in Oxfordshire and Yorkshire ; settled, why 
is not known, at Norwich; married in 1641 Dorothy Mileham, a 
lady of good family in his adopted county ; was a steady Royalist 
through the troubles ; acquired a great name for medical and 
scientific knowledge, though he was not a Fellow of the Royal 
Society; was knighted by Charles II. in 1662, and died in 1682. 
His first literary appearance had been made forty years earlier in 



a way very common in French literary history, but so uncommon 
in English as to have drawn from Johnson a rather unwontedly 
illiberal sneer. At a time unknown, but by his own account 
before his thirtieth year (therefore before 1635), Browne had 
written the Religio Medici. It was, according to the habit of the 
time, copied and handed about in MS. (there exist now five MS. 
copies showing remarkable differences with each other and the 
printed copies), and in 1642 it got into print. A copy was sent 
by Lord Dorset to the famous Sir Kenelm Digby, then under 
confinement for his opinions, and the husband of Venetia wrote 
certain not very forcible and not wholly complimentary remarks 
which, as Browne was informed, were at once put to press. A 
correspondence ensued, and Browne published an authorised 
copy, in which perhaps a little " economy " might be noticed. 
The book made an extraordinary impression, and was widely 
translated and commented on in foreign languages, though its 
vogue was purely due to its intrinsic merits, and not at all to the 
circumstances which enabled Milton (rather arrogantly and not 
with absolute truth) to boast that " Europe rang from side to 
side " with his defence of the execution of Charles I. Four 
years later, in 1646, Browne published his largest and in every 
sense most popular book, the Pseudodoxia Epidemica or Enquiry 
into Vulgar Errors. Twelve more years passed before the 
greatest, from a literary point of view, of his works, the Hydrio- 
taphia or Urn-Burial, a magnificent descant on the vanity of 
human life, based on the discovery of certain cinerary urns in 
Norfolk, appeared, in company with the quaint Garden of Cyrus, 
a half-learned, half-fanciful discussion of the mysteries of the 
quincunx and the number five. Nor did he publish anything more 
himself; but two collections of posthumous works were issued 
after his death, the most important item of which is the Christian 
Morals, and the total has been swelled since by extracts from his 
MSS., which at the death of his grandson and namesake in 1710 
were sold by auction. Most fortunately they were nearly all 
bought by Sir Hans Sloane, and are to this day in the British 


Museum. Browne's good luck in this respect was completed by 
the devotion of his editor, Simon Wilkin, a Norwich bookseller 
of gentle blood and good education, who produced (1855) after 
twelve years' labour of love what Southey has justly called the 
best edited book in the English language. Not to mention other 
editions, the Religio Medici, which exhibits, owing to its history, 
an unusual variation of text, has been, together with the Christian 
Morals, separately edited with great minuteness by Dr. Greenhill. 
Nor is it unimportant to notice that Johnson, during his period 
of literary hack-work, also edited Sir Thomas Browne, and wrote 
what Wilkin's good taste has permitted to be still the standard 
text of his Life. 

The work of this country doctor is, for personal savour, for 
strangeness, and for delight, one of the most notable things in 
English literature. It is not of extraordinary voluminousness, 
for though swollen in Wilkin's edition by abundant editorial 
matter, it fills but three of the well-known volumes of Bohn's 
series, and, printed by itself, it might not much exceed two 
ordinary library octavos ; but in character and interest it yields 
to the work of no other English prose writer. It may be 
divided, from our point of view, into two unequal parts, the 
smaller of which is in truth of the greater interest. The Vulgar 
Errors, those of the smaller tracts which deal with subjects of 
natural history (as most of them do), many of the commonplace 
book entries, the greater part of the Garden of Cyrus, and most 
of the Letters, are mainly distinguished by an interest of matter 
constantly increased, it is true, by the display of the author's 
racy personality, and diversified here and there by passages also 
displaying his style to the full, but in general character not differ- 
ing from the works of other curious writers in the delightful 
period which passed between the childish credulity of mediaeval 
and classical physics and the arid analysis of the modern 
"scientist." Sir Thomas_Browne _was_ of a certain natural 
scepticism of temperament (a scepticism which, as displayed in 
relation to jpmeY maTters fn "the Religio Medici, very unjustly 



brought upon him the reproach of religious unorthodoxy) ; he 
was a trained and indefatigable observer of facts, and he was by 
no means prepared to receive authority as final in any extra- 
religious matters. But he had a thoroughly literary, not to say 
poetical idiosyncrasy; he was both by nature and education disposed 
to seek for something more than that physical explanation which, 
as the greatest of all anti-supernatural philosophers has observed, 
merely pushes ignorance a little farther back ; and he was pos- 
sessed of an extraordinary fertility of imagination which made 
comment, analogy, and amplification both easy and delightful to 
him. He was, therefore, much more disposed except in the face 
of absolutely conclusive evidence to rationalise than to deny a 
vulgar error, to bring explanations and saving" Tiarrses to it5~aid, 
than to cut it adrifflfRerly". In this part ot his work his" dis- 
tinguishing graces and peculiarities of style appear but sparingly 
and not eminently. In the other division, consisting of the 
Religio Medici, the Urn -Burial, the Christian Morals, and the 
Letter to a Friend, his strictly literary peculiarities, as being less 
hampered by the exposition of matter, have freer scope ; and it 
must be recollected that these literary peculiarities, independently 
of their own interest, have been a main influence in determining 
the style of two of the most remarkable writers of English prose in 
the two centuries immediately succeeding Browne. It has been 
said that Johnson edited him somewhat early ; and all the best 
authorities are > in accord that the Johnsonian Latinisms, differ- 
ently managed as they are, are in all probability due more to the 
following if only to the unconscious following of Browne than 
to anything else. The second instance is more indubitable still 
and more happy. It detracts nothing from the unique charm of 
" Elia," and it will be most clearly recognised by those who 
know " Elia " best, that Lamb constantly borrows from Browne, 
that the mould and shape of his most characteristic phrases is 
frequently suggested directly by Sir Thomas, and that though there 
seldom can have been a follower who put more of his own in his 
following, it may be pronounced with confidence, " no Browne, no 


Lamb," at least in the forms in which we know the author of 
" Elia " best, and in which all those who know him best, though 
they may love him always, love him most. Yet Browne is not a 
very easy author to " sample." A few splendid sustained pas- 
sages, like the famous one in the Urn-Burial, are universally 
known, but he is best in flashes. The following, from the 
Christian Morals, is characteristic enough : 

" Punish not thyself with pleasure ; glut not thy sense with palative de- 
lights ; nor revenge the contempt of temperance by the penalty of satiety. 
Were there an age of delight or any pleasure durable, who would not honour 
Volupia ? but the race of delight is short, and pleasures have mutable faces. 
The pleasures of one age are not pleasures in another, and their lives fall short 
of our own. Even in our sensual days the strength of delight is in its seldom- 
ness or rarity, and sting in its satiety : mediocrity is its life, and immoderacy 
its confusion. The luxurious emperors of old inconsiderately satiated them- 
selves with the dainties of sea and land till, wearied through all varieties, their 
refections became a study with them, and they were fain to feed by invention : 
novices in true epicurism ! which by mediocrity, paucity, quick and healthful 
appetite, makes delights smartly acceptable ; whereby Epicurus himself found 
Jupiter's brain in a piece of Cytheridian cheese, and the tongues of nightingales 
in a dish of onions. Hereby healthful and temperate poverty hath the start of 
nauseating luxury ; unto whose clear and naked appetite every meal is a feast, 
and in one single dish the first course of Metellus ; who are cheaply hungry, 
and never lose their hunger, or advantage of a craving appetite, because obvious 
food contents it ; while Nero, half famish'd, could not feed upon a piece of 
bread, and, lingering after his snowed water, hardly got down an ordinary cup 
of Calda. By such circumscriptions of pleasure the contemned philosophers 
reserved unto themselves the secret of delight, which the Helluos of those days 
lost in their exorbitances. In vain we study delight : it is at the command of 
every sober mind, and in every sense born with us ; but Nature, who teacheth 
us the rule of pleasure, instructeth also in the bounds thereof and where its line 
expireth. And therefore temperate minds, not pressing their pleasures until 
the sting appeareth, enjoy their contentations contentedly and without regret, 
and so escape the folly of excess, to be pleased unto displacency. " 

" Bring candid eyes unto the perusal of men's works, and let not Zoilism 
or detraction blast well-intended labours. He that endureth no faults in men's 
writings must only read his own, wherein for the most part all appeareth white. 
Quotation mistakes, inadvertency, expedition and human lapses, may make not 
only moles but warts in learned authors, who notwithstanding, being judged by 



the capital matter, admit not of disparagement. I should unwillingly affirm 
that Cicero was but slightly versed in Homer, because in his work De Gloria 
he ascribed those verses unto Ajax which were delivered by Hector. What if 
Plautus, in the account of Hercules, mistaketh nativity for conception ? Who 
would have mean thoughts of Apollinaris Sidonius, who seems to mistake the 
river Tigris for Euphrates ; and, though a good historian and learned Bishop 
of Auvergne, had the misfortune to be out in the story of David, making men- 
tion of him when the ark was sent back by the Philistines upon a cart, which 
was before his lime ? Though I have no great opinion of Machiavel's learn- 
ing, yet I shall not presently say that he was but a novice in Roman History, 
because he was mistaken in placing Commodus after the Emperor Severus. 
Capital truths are to be narrowly eyed, collateral lapses and circumstantial de- 
liveries not to be too strictly sifted. And if the substantial subject be well 
forged out, we need not examine the sparks which irregularly fly from it. " 

Coleridge, as we have seen, charges Browne with corrupting 
the style of the great age. The charge is not just in regard to 
either of the two great faults which are urged against the style, 
strictly speaking ; while it is hardly just in reference to a minor 
charge which is brought against what is not quite style, namely, 
the selection and treatment of the thought The two charges 
first referred to are Latinising of vocabulary and disorderly syntax 
of sentence. In regard to the first, Browne Latinises somewFat 
more than Jeremy Taylor, hardly at all more than Milton, though 
he does not, like Milton, contrast and relieve his Latinisms by 
indulgence in vernacular terms of the most idiomatic kind ; and 
he is conspicuously free from the great fault both of Milton and 
of Taylor the clumsy -conglomeration of clauses which turns a 
sentence into a paragraph, and makes a badly ordered paragraph 
of it after all. Browne's sentences, especially those of the books 
regularly prepared for the press by him, are by no means long 
and are usually very perspicuous, being separable in some cases 
into shorter sentences by a mere mechanical repunctuation which, 
if tried on Taylor or Milton, would make nonsense. To say that 
they are sometimes longer than they should be, and often 
awkwardly co-ordinated, is merely to say that he wrote when he 
wrote ; but he by no means sins beyond his fellows. In regard 
to Latinisms his case is not so good. He constantly uses such 


words as '"clarity" for "clearness," "ferity" for "fierceness" or 
"wildness," when nothing is gained by the exotic form. Dr. 
Greenhill's useful glossary to the Religio and the Morals exhibits 
in tabular form not merely such terms as " abbreviatures," 
" aequilibriously," " bivious," " convincible," " exantlation," and 
hundreds of others with which there is no need to fill the page, 
but also a number only less considerable of those far more objec- 
tionable usages which take a word generally understood in one 
sense (as, for instance, " equable," " gratitudes," and many others), 
and by twisting or translation of its classical equivalents and 
etymons give it some quite new sense in English. It is true 
that in some case the usual sense was not then firmly established, 
but Browne can hardly be acquitted of wilfully preferring the 

Yet this hybrid and bizarre vocabulary is so admirably married 
to the substance of the writing that no one of taste can find fault 
with it. For Browne (to come to the third point mentioned 
above), though he never descends or diverges whichever word 
may be preferred to the extravagant and occasionally puerile 
conceits which even such writers as Fuller and Glanville cannot 
resist, has a quaintness at least equal to theirs. In no great 
writer is the unforeseen so constantly happening. Every one who 
has "wrfffen on Trim has quoted the famous termination of the 
Garden of Cyrus, where he determines that it is time to go to 
bed, because " to keep our eyes open longer were but to act our 
antipodes. The huntsmen are up in America, and they are al- 
ready past their first sleep in Persia." A fancy so whimsical as 
this, and yet so admirable in its whimsies, requires a style in 
accordance ; and the very sentence quoted, though one of the 
plainest of Browne's, and showing clearly that he does not always 
abuse Latinising, would hardly be what it is without the word 
" antipodes." So again in the Christian Morals, " Be not stoically 
mistaken in the quality of sins, nor commutativety iniquitous in 
the valuation of transgressions." No expression so terse and yet 
so striking could dispense with the classicism and the catachresis 



of "stoically." And so it is everywhere with Browne. His manner 
is exactly proportioned to his matter ; his exotic and unfamiliar 
vocabulary to the strangeness and novelty of his thoughts. He 
can never be really popular ; but for the meditative reading of 
instructed persons he is perhaps the most delightful of English 
prosemen. . 

There are probably few English writers in regard to whom 
the judgment of critics, usually ranked as competent, has varied 
more than in regard to Edward Hyde, Earl of Clarendon. To some 
extent this is easily intelligible to any one who, with some equip- 
ment, reads any considerable quantity of his work ; but it would 
be idle to pretend that the great stumbling-block of all criti- 
cism the attention to matter rather than to form has had 
nothing to do with it. Clarendon, at first not a very zealous 
Royalist, was the only man of decided literary genius who, with 
contemporary knowledge, wrote the history of the great debate 
between king and commonwealth. The effect of his history in 
deciding the question on the Royalist side was felt in England for 
more than a century ; and since popular judgment has somewhat 
veered round to the other side, its chief exponents have found it 
necessary either to say as little as possible about Clarendon or to 
depreciate him. His interesting political history cannot be de- 
tailed here. Of a good Cheshire family, but not originally 
wealthy, he was educated as a lawyer, was early adopted into the 
" tribe of Ben," and was among the first to take advantage of the 
opening which the disputes between king and parliament gave to 
men of his birth, education, and gifts. At first he was a moderate 
opponent of the king's attempts to dispense with parliament ; but 
the growing evidence that the House of Commons was seeking 
to increase its own constitutional power at the expense of the 
prerogative, and especially the anti-Church tendencies of the 
parliamentary leaders, converted him at first into a moderate and 
then into a strong Royalist. One of the chief of the king's con- 
stitutional advisers, he was after the Restoration the most dis- 
tinguished by far of those Cavaliers who had parliamentary and 


constitutional experience ; and with the title and office of Chan- 
cellor, he exercised a practical premiership during the first seven 
years of the Restoration. But ill-fortune, and it must be confessed 
some unwisdom, marked his government. He has been often 
and truly said to have been a statesman of Elizabeth, born three- 
quarters of a century too late. He was thought by the public to 
be arbitrary, a courtier, and even to some extent corrupt. He 
seemed to the king to be a tiresome formalist and censor, who 
was only scrupulous in resisting the royal will. So he was 
impeached ; and, being compelled to quit the kingdom, spent 
the last seven years of his life in France. His great works, 
begun during his first exile and completed during his second, 
are the History of the Rebellion and his own Life, the former 
being by much the more important though the latter (divided 
into a " Life " and a " Continuation," the last of which starts 
from the Restoration) contains much interesting and important 
biographical and historical matter. The text of these works was 
conveyed by his heirs to the University of Oxford, and long 
remained an exception to the general rule of the terminableness 
of copyright. 

Clarendon is a very striking example of the hackneyed remark, 
that in some cases at any rate men's merits are their own and their 
faults those of their time. His literary merits are, looked at by 
themselves, of nearly the highest kind. He is certainly the best 
English writer (and may challenge any foreigner without much 
fear of the result) in the great, difficult, and now almost lost art 
of character- (or, as it was called in his time, portrait-) drawing 
that is to say, sketching in words the physical, moral, and mental, 
but especially the moral and mental, peculiarities of a given 
person. Not a few of these characters of his are among the 
well-known "beauties" justified in selection by the endorse- 
ment of half a dozen generations. They are all full of life ; and 
even where it may be thought that prejudice has had something 
to do with the picture, still the subject lives, and is not a mere 
bundle of contradictory or even of superficially compatible char- 


acteristics. Secondly, Clarendon is at his best an incomparable 
narrator. Many of his battles, thougli related with apparent 
coolness, and without the slightest attempt to be picturesque, 
may rank as works of art with his portraits, just as the portraits 
and battle pieces of a great painter may rank together. The 
sober vivid touches, the little bits of what the French call repor- 
tage or mere reproduction of the actual words and deeds of the 
personages, the elaborate and carefully-concealed art of the com- 
position, all deserve the highest praise. Here, for instance, is a 
fair average passage, showing Clarendon's masterly skill in sum- 
mary narration and his equally masterly, though, as some hold, 
rather unscrupulous faculty of insinuating depreciation : 

" Since there will be often occasion to mention this gentleman, Sir Richard 
Granvil, in the ensuing discourse, and because many men believed that he was 
hardly dealt with in the next year, where all the proceedings will be set down 
at large, it will not be unfit in this place to say somewhat of him, and of the 
manner and merit of his entering into the king's service some months before 
the time we are now upon. He was of a very ancient and worthy family in 
Cornwall which had in several ages produced men of great courage, and very 
signal in their fidelity to and service of the crown ; and was himself younger 
brother (though in his nature, or humour not of kin to him) to the brave Sir 
Basil Granvil who so courageously lost his life at the battle of Lansdowne. 
Being a younger brother and a very young man, he went into the Low Coun- 
tries to learn the profession of a soldier ; to which he had devoted himself 
under the greatest general of that age, Prince Maurice, and in the regiment of 
my Lord Vere, who was general of all the English. In that service he was 
looked upon as a man of courage and a diligent officer, in the quality of a cap- 
tain, to which he attained after four years' service. About this time, in the 
end of the reign of King James, the war broke out between England and Spain ; 
and in the expedition to Cadiz this gentleman served as a major to a regiment 
of foot, and continued in the same command in the war that shortly after fol- 
lowed against France ; and at the Isle of Rhe insinuated himself into the very 
good graces of the Duke of Buckingham, who was the general in that mission ; 
and after the unfortunate retreat from thence was made colonel of a regiment 
with general approbation and as an officer that well deserved it. 

" His credit increased every day with the duke : who, out of the generosity 
of his nature, as a most generous person he was, resolved to raise his fortune ; 
towards the beginning of which, by his countenance and solicitation, he pre- 
vailed with a rich widow to marry him, who had been a lady of extraordinary 


beauty, which she had not yet outlived ; and though she had no great dower 
by her husband, a younger brother of the Earl of Suffolk, yet she inherited a 
fair fortune of her own near Plymouth, and was besides very rich in a personal 
estate, and was looked upon as the richest marriage of the West. This lady, 
by the duke's credit, Sir Richard Granvil (for he was now made a knight and 
baronet) obtained, and was thereby possessed of a plentiful estate upon the 
borders of his own country, and where his own family had great credit and 
authority. The war being now at an end and he deprived of his great patron, 
[he] had nothing to depend upon but the fortune of his wife : which, though 
ample enough to have supported the expense a person of his quality ought to 
have made, was not large enough to satisfy his vanity and ambition, nor so 
great as he upon common reports had possessed himself by her. By being not 
enough pleased with her fortune he grew displeased with his wife, who, being 
a woman of a haughty and imperious nature and of a wit superior to his, quickly 
resented the disrespect she received from him and in no respect studied to make 
herself easy to him. After some years spent together in those domestic un- 
sociable contestations, in which he possessed himself of all her estate as the 
sole master of it, without allowing her out of her own any competency for her- 
self, and indulged to himself all those licenses in her own house which to 
women are most grievous, she found means to withdraw herself from him ; and 
was with all kindness received into that family in which she had before been 
married and was always very much respected." 

To superficial observers, or observers who have convinced 
themselves that high lights and bright colourings are of the 
essence of the art of the prose writer, Clarendon may seem 
tame and jejune. He is in reality just the contrary. His 
wood is tough enough and close-grained enough, but there 
is plenty of sap coursing through it. In yet a third respect, 
which is less closely connected with the purely formal aspect 
of style, Clarendon stands, if not pre-eminent, very high among 
historians. This is his union of acute penetration and vigor- 
ous grasp in the treatment of complicated events. It has been 
hinted that he seems to have somewhat lost grasp, if not pene- 
tration, after the Restoration. But at the time of his earlier 
participation in public affairs, and of his composition of the 
greater part of his historical writings, he was in the very vigour 
and prime of life ; and though it may be that he was " a Janus of 
one face," and looked rather backward than forward, even then 


he was profoundly acquainted with the facts of English history, 
with the character of his countrymen, and with the relations of 
events as they happened. It may even be contended by those 
who care for might-have-beens, that but for the headlong revolt 
against Puritanism, which inspired the majority of the nation 
with a kind of carnival madness for many years after 1660, and 
the strange deficiency of statesmen of even moderately respectable 
character on both sides (except Clarendon himself, and the fairly 
upright though time-serving Temple, there is hardly a respectable 
man to be found on any side of politics for forty years), Claren- 
don's post-Restoration policy itself would not have been the failure 
that it was. But it is certain that on the events of his own 
middle age he looked with the keenest discernment, and with the 
widest comprehension. 

Against these great merits must be set a treble portion of the 
great defect which, as we have said, vitiates all the English prose 
work of his time, the unconscious or wilful ignoring of the very 
fundamental principles of sentence- and paragraph-architecture. 
His mere syntax, in the most restricted sense of that word, is not 
very bad ; he seldom indulges out of mere incuria in false con- 
cords or blunders over a relative. But he is the most offending 
soul alive at any time in English literature in one grave point. 
No one has put together, or, to adopt a more expressive phrase, 
heaped together such enormous paragraphs; no one has linked 
clause on clause, parenthesis on parenthesis, epexegesis on exegesis, 
in such a bewildering concatenation of inextricable entanglement. 
Sometimes, of course, the difficulty is more apparent than real, and 
by simply substituting full stops and capitals for his colons and 
conjunctions, one may, to some extent, simplify the chaos. But 
it is seldom that this is really effective : it never produces really 
well balanced sentences and really well constructed paragraphs ; 
and there are constant instances in which it is not appli- 
cable at all. It is not that the jostling and confused relatives 
are as a rule grammatically wrong, like the common blunder 
of putting an "and which" where there is no previous "which" 


expressed or implied. They, simply, put as they are, bewilder 
and muddle the reader because the writer has not taken the 
trouble to break up his sentence into two or three. This 
is, of course, a very gross abuse, and except when the talents 
above noticed either fuse his style into something better, or by 
the interest they excite divert the attention of the reader, it con- 
stantly makes Clarendon anything but agreeable reading, and 
produces an impression of dryness and prolixity with which he is 
not quite justly chargeable. The plain truth is that, as has been 
said often before, and may have to be said more than once again, 
the sense of proportion and order in prose composition was not 
born. The famous example the awful example of Oliver 
Cromwell's speeches shows the worst-known instance of this ; but 
the best writers of Cromwell's own generation far better educated 
than he, professed men of letters after a fashion, and without the 
excuse of impromptu, or of the scurry of unnoted, speech some- 
times came not far behind him. 

Against one great writer of the time, however, no such charge 
can be justly brought. Although much attention has recently been 
given to the philosophical opinions of Hobbes, since the unjust pre- 
judice against his religious and political ideas wore away, and 
since the complete edition of his writings published at last in 
1843 by Sir William Molesworth made him accessible, the extra- 
ordinary merits of his style have on the whole had rather less than 
justice done to them. He was in many ways a very singular 
person. Born at Malmesbury in the year of the Armada, he was 
educated at Oxford, and early in the seventeenth century was 
appointed tutor to the eldest son of Lord Hardwick, afterwards 
Earl of Devonshire. For full seventy years he was on and off in 
the service of the Cavendish family ; but sometimes acted as 
tutor to others, and both in that capacity and for other reasons 
lived long abroad. In his earlier manhood he was much in the 
society of Bacon, Jonson, and the literary folk of the English 
capital ; and later he was equally familiar with the society (rather 
scientific than literary) of Paris. In 1647 he was appointed 


mathematical tutor to the Prince of Wales ; but his mathematics 
were not his most fortunate acquirement, and they involved him 
in long and acrimonious disputes with Wallis and others disputes, 
it may be said, where Hobbes was quite wrong. The publication 
of his philosophical treatises, and especially of the Leviathan, 
brought him into very bad odour, not merely on political grounds 
(which, so long as the Commonwealth lasted, would not have been 
surprising), but for religious reasons ; and during the last years 
of his life, and for long afterwards, " Hobbist " was, certainly 
with very little warrant from his writings, used as a kind of polite 
equivalent for atheist. He was pensioned after the Restoration, 
and the protection of the king and the Earl of Devonshire kept 
him scatheless, if ever there was any real danger. Hobbes, how- 
ever, was a timid and very much self-centred person, always fancying 
that plots were being laid against him. He died at the great age 
of ninety-two. 

This long life was wholly taken up with study, but did not 
produce a very large amount of original composition. It is true 
that his collected works fill sixteen volumes ; but they are loosely 
printed, and much space is occupied with diagrams, indices, and 
such like things, while a very large proportion of the matter 
appears twice over, in Latin and in English. In the latter case 
Hobbes usually wrote first in Latin, and was not always his 
own translator; but it would appear that he generally revised 
the work, though he neither succeeded in obliterating nor per- 
haps attempted to obliterate the marks of the original vehicle. 
His earliest publication was a singularly vigorous, if not always 
scholastically exact, translation of Thucydides into English, which 
appeared in 1629. Thirteen years later he published in Paris 
the De Give, which was shortly followed by the treatise on Human 
Nature and the De Corpore Politico. The latter of these was to a 
great extent worked up in the famous Leviathan, or the Matter, 
Pmt'er, and Form of a Commonwealth, which appeared in 1651. 
The important De Corpore, which corresponds to the Leviathan 
on the philosophical side, appeared in Latin in 1655, in English 


next year. Besides minor works, Hobbes employed his old age 
on a translation of Homer into verse, and on a sketch of the 
Civil Wars called Behemoth. 

His verse is a mere curiosity, though a considerable curiosity. 
The chief of it (the translation of Homer written in the quatrain, 
which his friend Davenant's Gondibert had made popular) is com- 
pletely lacking in poetical quality, of which, perhaps, no man ever 
had less than Hobbes ; and it is written on a bad model. But 
it has so much of the nervous bull-dog strength which, in literature 
if not in life, was Hobbes's main characteristic, that it is some- 
times both a truer and a better representative of the original than 
some very mellifluous and elegant renderings. It is as a prose 
writer, however, that Hobbes made, and that he will keep, his 
fame. With his principles in the various branches of philosophy 
we have little or nothing to do. In choosing them he manifested, 
no doubt, something of the same defiance of authority, and the same 
self-willed preference for his own not too well-educated opinion, 
which brought him to grief in his encounter with Wallis. But 
when he had once left his starting points, his sureness of -reasoning, 
his extreme perspicacity, and the unerring clearness and certainty 
with which he kept before . him, and expressed exactly what he 
meant, made him at once one of the greatest thinkers and one of 
the greatest writers of England. Hobbes never " pays himself 
with words," never evades a difficulty by becoming obscure, never 
meanders on in the graceful allusive fashion of many philosophers, 
a fashion for which the prevalent faults of style were singularly 
convenient in his time. He has no ornament, he does not seem 
to aim at anything more than the simplest and most straight- 
forward presentation of his views. But this very aim, assisted by 
his practice in writing the terse and clear, if not very elegant, 
Latin which was the universal language of the literary Europe of 
his time, suffices to preserve him from most of the current sins. 
Moreover, it is fair to remember that, though the last to die, 
he was the first to be born of the authors mentioned in this 
chapter, and that he may be supposed, late as he wrote, to have 


formed his style before the period of Jacobean and Caroline 

Almost any one of Hobbes's books would suffice to illustrate 
his style ; but the short and interesting treatise on Human Nature, 
perhaps, shows it at its best. The author's exceptional clearness 
may be assisted by his lavish use of italics ; but it is not 
necessary to read far in order to see that it is in reality quite 
independent of any clumsy mechanical device. The crabbed but 
sharply outlined style, the terse phrasing, the independence of 
all after-thoughts and tackings-on, manifest themselves at once to 
any careful observer. Here for instance is a passage, perhaps his 
finest, on Love, followed by a political extract from another 
work : 

" Of love, by which is to be understood the joy man taketh in the fruition 
of any present good, hath been spoken already in the first section, chapter 
seven, under which is contained the love men bear to one another or pleasure 
they take in one another's company : and by which nature men are said to be 
sociable. But there is another kind of love which the Greeks call'E/ws, and 
is that which we mean when we say that a man is in love : forasmuch as this 
passion cannot be without diversity of sex, it cannot be denied but that it par- 
ticipateth of that indefinite love mentioned in the former section. But there is 
a great difference betwixt the desire of a man indefinite and the same desire 
limited ad hunc : and this is that love which is the great theme of poets : but, 
notwithstanding their praises, it must be defined by the word need : for it is a 
conception a man hath of his need of that one person desired. The cause of 
this passion is not always nor for the most part beauty, or other quality in the 
beloved, unless there be withal hope in the person that loveth : whicli may be 
gathered from this, that in great difference of persons the greater have often 
fallen in love with the meaner, but not contrary. And from hence it is that 
for the most part they have much better fortune in love whose hopes are built 
on something in their person than those that trust to their expressions and ser- 
vice ; and they that care less than they that care more : which not perceiving, 
many men cast away their services as one arrow after another, till, in the end, 
together with their hopes, they lose their wits." 

"There are some who therefore imagine monarchy to be more grievous 
than democracy, because there is less liberty in that than in this. If by liberty 
they mean an exemption from that subjection which is due to the laws, that is, 
the commands of the people ; neither in democracy nor in any other state of 


government whatsoever is there any such kind of liberty. If they suppose 
liberty to consist in this, that there be few laws, few prohibitions, and those 
too such that, except they were forbidden, there could be no peace ; then I 
deny that there is more liberty in democracy than in monarchy ; for the one as 
truly consisteth with such a liberty as the other. For although the word 
liberty may in large and ample letters be written over the gates of any city 
whatsoever, yet it is not meant the subjects' but the city's liberty ; neither can 
that word with better right be inscribed on a city which is governed by the 
people than that which is ruled by a monarch. But when private men or sub- 
jects demapd liberty under the name of liberty, they ask not for liberty but 
domination : which yet for want of understanding they little consider. For if 
every man would grant the same liberty to another which he desires for him- 
self, as is commanded by the law of nature, that same natural state would re- 
turn again in which all men may by right do all things ; which if they knew 
they would abhor, as being worse than all kinds of civil subjection whatsoever. 
But if any man desire to have his single freedom, the rest being bound, what 
does he else demand but to have the dominion?" 

It may be observed that Hobbes's sentences are by no means 
very short as far as actual length goes. He has some on a 
scale which in strictness is perhaps hardly justifiable. But what 
may generally be asserted of them is that the author for the most 
part is true to that great rule, of logic and of style alike, which 
ordains that a single sentence shall be, as far as possible, the 
verbal presentation of a single thought, and not the agglomeration 
and sweeping together of a whole string and tissue of thoughts. 
It is noticeable, too, that Hobbes is very sparing of the adjective 
the great resource and delight of flowery and discursive writers. 
Sometimes, as in the famous comparison of human life to a race 
(where, by the way, a slight tendency to conceit manifests itself, 
and makes him rather force some of his metaphors), his concise- 
ness assumes a distinctly epigrammatic form ; and it is constantly 
visible also in his more consecutive writings. 

In the well-known passage on Laughter as "a passion of 
sudden glory" the writer may be charged with allowing his 
fancy too free play ; though I, for my part, am inclined to con- 
sider the explanation the most satisfactory yet given of a difficult 
phenomenon. But the point is the distinctness with which 


Hobbes puts this novel and, at first sight, improbable idea, the 
apt turns and illustrations (standing at the same time far from the 
excess of illustration and analogy, by which many writers of his 
time would have spun it out into a chapter if not into a treatise), 
the succinct, forcible, economical adjustment of the fewest words 
to the clearest exposition of thought. Perhaps these things strike 
the more as they are the more unlike the work in juxtaposition 
with which one finds them ; nor can it be maintained that 
Hobbes's style is suitable for all purposes. Admirable for argu- 
ment and exposition, it is apt to become bald in narration, and 
its abundance of clearness, when translated to less purely intel- 
lectual subjects, may even expose it to the charge of being thin. 
Such a note as that struck in the Love passage above given is 
rare, and sets one wondering whether the dry-as-dust philosopher 
of Malmesbury, the man who seems to have had hardly any 
human frailties except vanity and timidity, had himself felt the 
bitterness of counting on expressions and services, the madness 
of throwing away one effort after another to gain the favour of 
the beloved. But it is very seldom that any such suggestion is 
provoked by remarks of Hobbes's. His light is almost always 
dry ; and in one sense, though not in another, a little malignant. 
Yet nowhere is there to be found a style more absolutely suited, 
not merely to the author's intentions but to his performances a 
form more exactly married to matter. Nor anywhere is there to 
be found a writer who is more independent of others. He may 
have owed something to his friend Jonson, in whose Timber there 
are resemblances to Hobbes ; but he certainly owed nothing, and 
in all probability lent much, to the Drydens, and Tillotsons, and 
Temples, who in the last twenty years of his own life reformed 
English prose. 

2 A 



THERE are few periods of poetical development in English literary 
history which display, in a comparatively narrow compass, such 
well-marked and pervading individuality as the period of Caroline 
poetry, beginning, it may be, a little before the accession of 
Charles I., but terminating as a producing period almost before 
the real accession of his son. The poets of this period, in which 
but not of which Milton is, are numerous and remarkable, and 
at the head of them all stands Robert Herrick. 

Very little is really known about Herrick's history. That he 
was of a family which, distinguished above the common, but not 
exactly reaching nobility, had the credit of producing, besides 
himself, the indomitable Warden Heyrickofthe Collegiate Church 
of Manchester in his own times, and the mother of Swift in the 
times immediately succeeding his, is certain. That he was born 
in London in 1591, that he went to Cambridge, that he had a 
rather stingy guardian, that he associated to some extent with the 
tribe of Ben in the literary London of the second decade of the 
century, is also certain. At last and rather late he was appointed 
to a living at Dean Prior in Devonshire, on the confines of the 
South Hams and Dartmoor. He did not like it, being of that 
class of persons who cannot be happy out of a great town. After 
the Civil War he was deprived, and his successor had not the 
decency (the late Dr. Grosart, constant to his own party, made 



a very unsuccessful attempt to defend the delinquent) to pay him 
the shabby pittance which the intruders were supposed to fur- 
nish to the rightful owners of benefices. At the Restoration he 
too was restored, and survived it fifteen years, dying in 1674 ; but 
his whole literary fame rests on work published a quarter of a 
century before his death, and pretty certainly in great part written 
many years earlier. 

The poems which then appeared were divided, in the 
published form, into two classes : they may be divided, for 
purposes of poetical criticism, into three. The Hesperides 
(they are dated 1648, and the Noble Numbers or sacred 
poems 1647; but both appeared together) consist in the 
first place of occasional poems, sometimes amatory, sometimes 
not ; in the second, of personal epigrams. Of this second class 
no human being who has any faculty of criticism can say any 
good. They are supposed by tradition to have been composed 
on parishioners : they may be hoped by charity (which has in this 
case the support of literary criticism) to be merely literary exer- 
cises bad imitations of Martial, through Ben Jonson. They 
are nastier than the nastiest work of Swift ; they are stupider 
than the stupidest attempts of Davies of Hereford ; they are 
farther from the author's best than the worst parts of Young's 
Odes are from the best part of the Night Thoughts. It is 
impossible without producing specimens (which God forbid that 
any one who has a respect for Herrick, for literature, and for 
decency, should do) to show how bad they are. Let it only be 
said that if the worst epigram of Martial were stripped of Martial's 
wit, sense, and literary form, it would be a kind of example of 
Herrick in this vein. 

In his two other veins, but for certain tricks of speech, it is 
almost impossible to recognise him for the same man. The 
secular vigour of the Hesperides, the spiritual vigour of the Noble 
Numbers, has rarely been equalled and never surpassed by any 
other writer. I cannot agree with Mr. Gosse that Herrick is in 
any sense " a Pagan." They had in his day shaken off the merely 


ascetic temper of the Middle Ages, and had not taken upon 
them the mere materialism of the Aufklarung, or the remorse- 
ful and satiated attitude of the late eighteenth and nineteenth 
century. I believe that the warmest of the Julia poems and 
the immortal " Litany " were written with the same integrity of 
feeling. Here was a man who was grateful to the upper powers 
for the joys of life, or who was sorrowful and repentant towards 
the upper powers when he felt that he had exceeded in enjoying 
those joys, but who had no doubt of his gods, and no shame 
in approaching them. The last the absolutely last if we take 
his death-date of those poets who have relished this life heartily, 
while heartily believing in another, was Robert Herrick. There 
is not the slightest reason to suppose that the Hesperides were 
wholly peches de jeunesse and the Noble Numbers wholly pious 
palinodes. Both simply express, and express in a most vivid and 
distinct manner, the alternate or rather varying moods of a man 
of strong sensibilities, religious as well as sensual. 

Of the religious poems the already-mentioned " Litany," while 
much the most familiar, is also far the best. There is nothing in 
English verse to equal it as an expression of religious fear > while 
there is also nothing in English verse to equal the "Thanksgiv- 
ing," also well known, as an expression of religious trust. The 
crystalline simplicity of Herrick's style deprives his religious poems 
of that fatal cut-and-dried appearance, that vain repetition of 
certain phrases and thoughts, which mars the work of sacred 
poets generally, and which has led to an unjustly strong censure 
being laid on them by critics, so different from each other as Dr. 
Johnson and Mr. Matthew Arnold. As the alleged Paganism of 
some of Herrick's sacred poems exists only in the imagination of 
readers, so the alleged insincerity is equally hypothetical, and 
can only be supported by the argument (notoriously false to 
history and to human nature) that a man who could write the 
looser Hesperides could not sincerely write the Noble Numbers. 
Every student of the lives of other men every student of his 
own heart knows, or should know, that this is an utter mistake. 



Undoubtedly, however, Herrick's most beautiful work is to 
be found in the profane division, despite the admixture of the 
above-mentioned epigrams, the dull foulness of which soils the 
most delightful pages to such an extent that, if it were ever allow- 
able to take liberties with an author's disposition of his own work, 
it would be allowable and desirable to pick these ugly weeds out 
of the garden and stow them away in a rubbish heap of appendix 
all to themselves. Some of the best pieces of the Hesperides are 
even better known than the two well-known Noble Numbers above 
quoted. The "Night Piece to Julia," the "Daffodils," the 
splendid " To Anthea," (" Bid me to live "), " The Mad Maid's 
Song " (worthy of the greatest of the generation before Herrick), 
the verses to Ben Jonson, those to Electra ("I dare not ask a 
kiss "), the wonderful " Burial Piece to Perilla," the " Grace for 
a Child," the "Corinna Maying" (the chief of a large division of 
Herrick's poems which celebrate rustic festivals, superstitions, 
and folklore generally), the epitaph on Prudence Baldwin, and 
many others, are justly included in nearly all selections of Eng- 
lish poetry, and many of them are known by heart to every one 
who knows any poetry at all. One or two of the least well known 
of them may perhaps be welcome again : 

" Good morrow to the day so fair, 

Good morning, sir, to you ; 
Good morrow to mine own torn hair 
Bedabbled with the dew. 

" Good morning to this primrose too, 

Good morrow to each maid ; 
That will with flowers the tomb bestrew 
Wherein my love is laid. 

" Ah, woe is me, woe, woe is me, 

Alack and well-a-day ! 
For pity, sir, find out that bee 
That bore my love away. 

" I'll seek him in your bonnet brave , 
I'll seek him in your eyes ; 


Nay, now I think, they've made his grave 
I' th' bed of strawberries. 

I'll seek him there : I know ere this 
The cold, cold earth doth shake him ; 

But I will go, or send a kiss 
By you, sir, to awake him. 

Pray hurt him not ; though he be dead 
He knows well who do love him, 

And who with green turfs rear his head, 
And who do rudely move him. 

He's soft and tender, pray take heed, 
With bands of cowslips bind him, 

And bring him home ; but 'tis decreed 
That I shall never find him." 

" I dare not ask a kiss ; 

I dare not beg a smile ; 
Lest having that or this, 

I might grow proud the while. 

" No, no the utmost share 

Of my desire shall be 
Only to kiss that air 

That lately kissed thee." 

" Here, a little child, I stand 
Heaving up my either hand : 
Cold as paddocks though they be 
Here I lift them up to Thee, 
For a benison to fall 
On our meat and on us all. 


But Herrick's charm is everywhere except in the epigrams. 
It is very rare to find one of the hundreds of little poems which 
form his book destitute of the peculiar touch of phrasing, the 
eternising influence of style, which characterises the poetry of this 
particular period so remarkably. The subject may be the merest 
trifle, the thought a hackneyed or insignificant one. But the 
amber to enshrine the fly is always there in larger or smaller, in 



clearer or more clouded, shape. There has often been a certain 
contempt (connected no doubt with certain general critical errors 
as they seem to me, with which I shall deal at the end of this 
chapter) flavouring critical notices of Herrick. I do not think 
that any one who judges poetry as poetry, who keeps its several 
kinds apart and does not demand epic graces in lyric, dramatic 
substance in an anthqlogia, could ever feel or hint such a con- 
tempt. Whatever Herrick may have been as a man (of which 
we know very little, and for which we need care less), he was a 
most exquisite and complete poet in his own way, neither was 
that way one to be lightly spoken of. 

Indissolubly connected with Herrick in age, in character, and 
in the singularly unjust criticism which has at various times been 
bestowed on him, is Thomas Carew. His birth-date has been 
very differently given as 1587 and (that now preferred) 1598; 
but he died nearly forty years before the author of the Hesperides, 
and nearly ten before the Hesperides themselves were published, 
while his own poems were never collected till after his own death. 
He was of a Gloucestershire branch of the fajnous Devon- 
shire family of Carew, Gary, or Cruwys, was of Mertmn College, 
Oxford, and the Temple, travelled, followed the Court, was a 
disciple of Ben Jonson, and a member of the learned and 
accomplished society of Clarendon's earlier days, obtained a 
place in the household of Charles I., is said by his friend 
Hyde to have turned to devotion after a somewhat libertine 
life, and died in 1639, before the evil days of triumphant 
Puritanism, felix opportunitate mortis. He wrote little, and the 
scantiness of his production, together with the supposed pains it 
cost him, is ridiculed in Suckling's doggerel " Sessions of the 
Poets." But this reproach (which Carew shares with Gray, and 
with not a few others of the most admirable names in literature), 
unjust as it is, is less unjust than the general tone of criticism on 
Carew since. The locus classicus of depreciation both in regard 
to him and to Herrick is to be found, as might be expected, in 
one of the greatest, and one of the most wilfully capricious and 


untrustworthy of English critics, in Hazlitt I am sorry to say 
that there can be little hesitation in setting down the extraordi- 
nary misjudgment of the passage in question (it occurs in the 
sixth Lecture on Elizabethan Literature), in part, at least, to the 
fact that Herrick, Carew, and Crashaw, who are summarily damned 
in it, were Royalists. If there were any doubt about the matter, 
it would be settled by the encomium bestowed in the very same 
passage on Marvell, who is, no doubt, as Hazlitt says, a true poet, 
but who as a poet is but seldom at the highest height of the 
authors of "The Litany," "The Rapture," and '"The Flaming 
Heart." Hazlitt, then, while on his way to tell us that Herrick's 
two best pieces are some trivial anacreontics about Cupid and the 
Bees things hackneyed through a dozen literatures, and with no 
recommendation but a borrowed prettiness while about, I say, to 
deny Herrick the spirit of love or wine, and in the same breath 
with the dismissal of Crashaw as a " hectic enthusiast," informs 
us that Carew was " an elegant Court trifler," and describes his 
style as a " frequent mixture of the superficial and common- 
place, with far-fetched and improbable conceits." 

What Carew really is, and what he may be peremptorily 
declared to be in opposition even to such a critic as Hazlitt, is 
something quite different. He is one of the most perfect masters 
of lyrical form in English poetry. He possesses a command of 
the overlapped heroic couplet, which for sweep and rush of 
rhythm cannot be surpassed anywhere.. He has, perhaps in a 
greater degree than any poet of that time of conceits, the 
knack of modulating the extravagances of fancy by the control of 
reason, so that he never falls into the unbelievableness of Donne, 
or Crashaw, or Cleveland. He had a delicacy, when he chose 
to be delicate, which is quintessential, and a vigour which is 
thoroughly manly. Best of all, perhaps, he had the intelligence 
and the self-restraint to make all his poems wholes, and not 
mere congeries of verses. There is always, both in the scheme 
of his meaning and the scheme of his metre, a definite plan of 
rise and fall, a concerted effect. That these great merits were 

X CAREW 361 

accompanied by not inconsiderable defects is true. Carew lacks 
the dewy freshness, the unstudied grace of Herrick. He is even 
more frankly and uncontrolledly sensual, and has paid the usual 
and inevitable penalty that his best poem, The Rapture, is, for 
the most part, unquotable, while another, if he carried out its 
principles in this present year of grace, would run him the risk of 
imprisonment with hard labour. His largest attempt the masque 
called Ccelum Britannicum is heavy. His smaller poems, beau- 
tiful as they are, suffer somewhat from want of variety of subject. 
There is just so much truth in Suckling's impertinence that the 
reader of Carew sometimes catches himself repeating the lines of 
Carew's master, " Still to be neat, still to be drest," not indeed 
in full agreement with them, but not in exact disagreement. One 
misses the " wild civility " of Herrick. This acknowledgment, I 
trust, will save me from any charge of overvaluing Carew. 

A man might, however, be easily tempted to overvalue him, 
who observes his beauties, and who sees how, preserving the force, 
the poetic spell, of the time, he was yet able, without in the least 
descending to the correctness of Waller and his followers, to intro- 
duce into his work something also preserving it from the weaknesses 
and inequalities which deface that of almost all his contempo- 
raries, and which, as we shall see, make much of the dramatic 
and poetical work of 1630-1660 a chaos of slipshod deform- 
ity to any one who has the sense of poetical form. It is an un- 
wearying delight to read and re-read the second of his poems, the 
" Persuasions to Love," addressed to a certain A. L. That the sen- 
timent is common enough matters little ; the commonest things in 
poetry are always the best. But the delicate interchange of the 
catalectic and acatalectic dimeter, the wonderful plays and changes 
of cadence, the opening, as it were, of fresh stops at the beginning 
of each new paragraph of the verse, so that the music acquires a 
new colour, the felicity of the several phrases, the cunning heighten- 
ing of the passion as the poet comes to " Oh ! love me then, and 
now begin it," and the dying fall of the close, make up to me, at least, 
most charming pastime. It is not the same kind of pleasure, no 


doubt, as that given by such an outburst as Crashaw's, to be 
mentioned presently, or by such pieces as the great soliloquies of 
Shakespere. Any one may say, if he likes to use words which 
are question-begging, when not strictly meaningless, that it is not 
such a " high " kind But it is a kind, and in that kind perfect. 
Carew's best pieces, besides The Rapture, are the beautiful 
"Ask me no more," the first stanza of which is the weakest; the 
fine couplet poem, " The Cruel Mistress/' whose closing distich 

" Of such a goddess no times leave record, 

That burned the temple where she was adored "- 

Dryden conveyed with the wise and unblushing boldness which 
great poets use ; the " Deposition from love," written in one of 
those combinations of eights and sixes, the melodious charm of 
which seems to have died with the seventeenth century ; the 
song, " He that loves a rosy cheek," which, by the unusual mor- 
ality of its sentiments, has perhaps secured a fame not quite due 
to its poetical merits ; the epitaph on Lady Mary Villers ; the 
song " Would you know what's soft ? " the song to his inconstant 
mistress : 

" When thou, poor excommunicate 

From all the joys of love, shalt see 

The full reward, and glorious fate 

Which my strong faith shall purchase me, 

Then curse thine own inconstancy. 

" A fairer hand than thine shall cure 
That heart which thy false oaths did wound ; 
And to my soul, a soul more pure 
Than thine, shall by love's hand be bound, 
And both with equal glory crown' d. 

" Then shalt thou weep, entreat, complain 
To Love, as I did once to thee ; 
When all thy tears shall be as vain 
As mine were then, for thou shalt be 
Damn'd for thy false apostacy. "- 

the pleasant pictures of the country houses of Wrest and Sax- 
ham ; the charming conceit of " Red and white roses " : 

x CAREW 363 

' ' Read in these roses the sad story 
Of my hard fate and your own glory : 
In the white you may discover 
The paleness of a fainting lover ; 
In the red, the flames still feeding 
On my heart with fresh wounds bleeding. 
The white will tell you how I languish, 
. And the red express my anguish : 

The white my innocence displaying 
The red my martyrdom betraying. 
The frowns that on your brow resided 
Have those roses thus divided ; 
Oh ! let your smiles but clear the weather 
And then they both shall grow together. "- 

and lastly, though it would be easy to extend this already long 
list of selections from a by no means extensive collection of 
poems, the grand elegy on Donne. By this last the reproach of 
vain and amatorious trifling which has been so often levelled at 
Carevv is at once thrown back and blunted. No poem shows 
so great an influence on the masculine panegyrics with which 
Dryden was to enrich the English of the next generation, and 
few are fuller of noteworthy phrases. The splendid epitaph 
which closes it 

" Here lies a king that ruled as he thought fit 
The universal monarchy of wit "- 

is only the best passage, not the only good one, and it may be 
matched with a fine and just description of English, ushered by 
a touch of acute criticism. 

" Thou shalt yield no precedence, but of time, 
And the blind fate of language, whose tuned chime 
More charms the outward sense : yet thou mayst claim 
From so great disadvantage greater fame. 
Since to the awe of thine imperious wit 
Our troublesome language bends, made only fit 
With her tough thick-ribbed hoops to gird about 
Thy giant fancy, which had proved too stout 
For their soft melting phrases. " 


And it is the man who could write like this that Hazlitt calls an 
"elegant Court trifler !" 

The third of this great trio of poets, and with them the most 
remarkable of our whole group, was Richard Crashaw. He com- 
pletes Carew and Herrick both in his qualities and (if a kind of 
bull may be permitted) in his defects, after a fashion almost unex- 
ampled elsewhere and supremely interesting. Hardly any one of 
the three could have appeared at any other time, and not one but is 
distinguished from the others in the most marked way. Herrick, 
despite his sometimes rather obtrusive learning, is emphatically 
the natural man. He does not show much sign of the influence 
of good society, his merits as well as his faults have a singular 
unpersonal and, if I may so say, terrcefilian connotation. Carew 
is a gentleman before all ; but a rather profane gentleman. 
Crashaw is religious everywhere. Again, Herrick and Carew, 
despite their strong savour of the fashion of the time, are eminently 
critics as well as poets. Carew has not let one piece critically 
unworthy of him pass his censorship : Herrick (if we exclude the 
filthy and foolish epigrams into which he was led by corrupt 
following of Ben) has been equally careful. These two bards 
may have trouble with the censor morum, the censor literarum 
they can brave with perfect confidence. It is otherwise with 
Crashaw. That he never, as far as can be seen, edited the bulk 
of his work for press at all matters little or nothing. But there is 
not in his work the slightest sign of the exercise of any critical faculty 
before, during, or after production. His masterpiece, one of the 
most astonishing things in English or any other literature, comes 
without warning at the end of The Flaming Heart, For page 
after page the poet has been poorly playing on some trifling 
conceits suggested by the picture of Saint Theresa and a seraph. 
First he thinks the painter ought to have changed the attributes ; 
then he doubts whether a lesser change will not do ; and always 
he treats his subject in a vein of grovelling and grotesque conceit 
which the boy Dryden in the stage of his elegy on Lord 
Hastings would have disdained. And then in a moment, in 



the twinkling of an eye, without warning of any sort, the 
metre changes, the poet's inspiration catches fire, and there 
rushes up into the heaven of poetry this marvellous rocket 
of song : 

" Live in these conquering leaves : live all the same ; 
And walk through all tongues one triumphant flame ; 
Live here, great heart ; and love, and die, and kill ; 
And bleed, and wound, and yield, and conquer still. 
Let this immortal life where'er it comes 
Walk in a crowd of loves and martyrdoms. 
Let mystic deaths wait on't ; and wise souls be 
The love-slain witnesses of this life of thee. 
O sweet incendiary ! show here thy' art, 
Upon this carcase of a hard cold heart ; 
Let all thy scatter'd shafts of light, that play 
Among the leaves of thy large books of day, 
Combin'd against this breast at once break in, 
And take away from me myself and sin ; 
This gracious robbery shall thy bounty be 
And my best fortunes such fair spoils of me. 
O thou undaunted daughter of desires ! 
By all thy pow'r of lights and fires ; 
By all the eagle in thee, all the dove ; 
By all thy lives and deaths of love ; 
By thy large draughts of intellectual day ; 
And by thy thirsts of love more large than they ; 
By all thy brim-fill'd bowls of fierce desire ; 
By thy last morning's draught of liquid fire ; 
By the full kingdom of that final kiss 
That seized thy parting soul, and seal'd thee his ; 
By all the heavens thou hast in him, 
(Fair sister of the seraphim) 
By all of him we have in thee ; 
Leave nothing of myself in me. 
Let me so read thy life, that I 
Unto all life of mine may die." 

The contrast is perhaps unique as regards the dead colourless- 
ness of the beginning, and the splendid colour of the end. But 
contrasts like it occur all over Crashaw's work. 


He was a much younger man than either of the poets with 
whom we have leashed him, and his birth year used to be put 
at 1616, though Dr. Grosart has made it probable that it was 
three years earlier. His father was a stern Anglican clergyman of 
extremely Protestant leanings, his mother died when Crashaw 
was young, but his stepmother appears to have been most un- 
novercal. Crashaw was educated at Charterhouse, and then went 
to Cambridge, where in 1637 he became a fellow of Peterhouse, and 
came in for the full tide of high church feeling, to which (under 
the mixed influence of Laud's policy, of the ascetic practices of the 
Ferrars of Gidding, and of a great architectural development after- 
wards defaced if not destroyed by Puritan brutality) Cambridge 
was even more exposed than Oxford. The outbreak of the civil 
war may or may not have found Crashaw at Cambridge ; he was 
at any rate deprived of his fellowship for not taking the covenant 
in 1643, an d driven into exile. Already inclined doctrinally 
and in matters of practice to the older communion, and despair- 
ing of the resurrection of the Church of England after her suffer- 
ings at the hands of the Parliament, Crashaw joined the Church of 
Rome, and journeyed to its metropolis. He was attached to the 
suit of Cardinal Pallotta, but is said to have been shocked by 
Italian manners. The cardinal procured him a canonry at 
Loretto, and this he hastened to take up, but died in 1649 with 
suspicions of poison, which are not impossibly, but at the same 
time by no means necessarily true. His poems had already 
appeared under the double title of Steps to the Temple (sacred), 
and Delights of the Muses (profane), but not under his own editor- 
ship, or it would seem with his own choice of title. Several other 
editions followed, one later than his death, with curious illus- 
trations said to be, in part at least, of his own design. Manu- 
script sources, as in the case of some other poets of the time, 
have considerably enlarged the collection since. But a great 
part of it consists of epigrams (in the wide sense, and almost 
wholly sacred) in the classical tongues, which were sometimes 
translated by Crashaw himself. These are not always correct in 


style or prosody, but are often interesting. The famous line in 
reference to the miracle of Cana, 

" Vidit et erubuit nympha pudica Deum," 

is assigned to Crashaw as a boy at Cambridge; of his later 
faculty in the same way the elaborate and, in its way, beautiful 
poem entitled Bulla (the Bubble) is the most remarkable. 

Our chief subject, however, is the English poems proper, sacred 
and profane. In almost all of these there is noticeable an extraordi- 
nary inequality, the same in kind, if not in degree, as that on which 
we have commented in the case of The Flaming Heart. Crashaw 
is never quite so great as there ; but he is often quite as small. 
His exasperating lack of self-criticism has sometimes led selectors 
to make a cento out of his poems notably in the case of the 
exceedingly pretty " Wishes to His Unknown Mistress," beginning, 
" Whoe'er she be, That not impossible she, That shall command 
my heart and me " a poem, let it be added, which excuses this 
dubious process much less than most, inasmuch as nothing in it 
is positively bad, though it is rather too long. Here is the open- 
ing, preceded by a piece from another poem, "A Hymn to Saint 
Theresa " : 

" Those rare works, where thou shalt leave writ 
Love's noble history, with wit 
Taught thee by none but him, while here 
They feed our souls, shall clothe thine there. 
Each heavenly word by whose hid flame 
Our hard hearts shall strike fire, the same 
Shall flourish on thy brows and be 
Both fire to us and flame to thee : 
Whose light shall live bright, in thy face 
By glory, in our hearts by grace. 

" Thou shalt look round about, and see 
Thousands of crown 'd souls throng to be 
Themselves thy crown, sons of thy vows : 
The virgin births with which thy spouse 
Made fruitful thy fair soul ; go now 
And with them all about thee, bow 


To Him, ' Put on' (He'll say) ' put on, 
My rosy love, that thy rich zone, 
Sparkling with the sacred flames, 
Of thousand souls whose happy names 
Heaven heaps upon thy score, thy bright 
Life brought them first to kiss the light 
That kindled them to stars. ' And so 
Thou with the Lamb thy Lord shall go, 
And whereso'er He sets His white 
Steps, walk with Him those ways of light. 
Which who in death would live to see 
Must learn in life to die like thee." 

" Whoe'er she be, 
That not impossible she, 
That shall command my heart and me ; 

" Where'er she lie, 

Lock'd up from mortal eye, 
In shady leaves of destiny ; 

" Till that ripe birth 
Of studied Fate stand forth, 
And teach her fair steps to our earth : 

" Till that divine 
Idea take a shrine 
Of crystal flesh, through which to shine : 

" Meet you her, my wishes 
Bespeak her to my blisses, 
And be ye call'd, my absent kisses." 

The first hymn to Saint Theresa, to which The Flaming Heart 
is a kind of appendix, was written when Crashaw was still an 
Anglican (for which he did not fail, later, to make a characteristic 
and very pretty, though quite unnecessary, apology). It has no 
passage quite up to the Invocation Epiphonema, to give it the 
technical term of the later poem. But it is, on the contrary, good 
almost throughout, and is, for uniform exaltation, far the best of 
Crashaw's poems. Yet such uniform exaltation must be seldom 
sought in him. It is in his little bursts, such as that in the 
stanza beginning, " O mother turtle dove," that his charm consists. 


Often, as in verse after verse of The Weeper, it has an unearthly 
delicacy and witchery which only Blake, in a few snatches, has 
ever equalled ; while at other times the poet seems to invent, in 
the most casual and unthinking fashion, new metrical effects and 
new jewelries of diction which the greatest lyric poets since 
Coleridge, Shelley, Lord Tennyson, Mr. Swinburne have rather 
deliberately imitated than spontaneously recovered. Yet to all 
this charm there is no small drawback. The very maddest and 
most methodless of the " Metaphysicals " cannot touch Crashaw 
in his tasteless use of conceits. When he, in The Weeper just 
above referred to, calls the tears of Magdalene " Wat'ry brothers," 
and " Simpering sons of those fair eyes," and when, in the most 
intolerable of all the poet's excesses, the same eyes are called 
"Two waking baths, two weeping motions, Portable and com- 
pendious oceans," which follow our Lord about the hills of Galilee, 
it is almost difficult to know whether to feel most contempt or 
indignation for a man who could so write. It is fair to say that 
there are various readings and omissions in the different edi- 
tions which affect both these passages. Yet the offence is that 
Crashaw should ever have written them at all. Amends, however, 
are sure to be made before the reader has read much farther. 
Crashaw's longest poems a version of Marini's Sospetto (T Herode, 
and one of the rather overpraised "Lover and Nightingale" 
story of Strada are not his best ; the metre in which both are 
written, though the poet manages it well, lacks the extraordinary 
charm of his lyric measures. It does not appear that the "Not 
impossible she " ever made her appearance, and probably for a 
full half of his short life Crashaw burnt only with religious fire. 
But no Englishman has expressed that fire as he has, and none in 
his expression of any sentiment, sacred and profane, has dropped 
such notes of ethereal music. At his best he is far above singing, 
at his worst he is below a very childish prattle. But even then 
he is never coarse, never offensive, not very often actually dull ; 
and everywhere he makes amends by flowers of the divinest 
poetry. Mr. Pope, who borrowed not a little from him, thought, 
II ? 6 


indeed, that you could find nothing of " The real part of poetry " 
(correct construction and so forth) in Crashaw ; and Mr. Hayley 
gently rebukes Cowley (after observing that if Pope borrowed from 
Crashaw, it was " as the sun borrows from the earth ") for his "glow- 
ing panegyrick." Now, if the real part of poetry is anywhere in 
Hayley, or quintessentially in Pope, it certainly is not in Crashaw. 
The group or school (for it is not easy to decide on either 
word, and objections might be taken to each) at the head of 
which Herrick, Carew, and Crashaw must be placed, and which 
included Herbert and his band of sacred singers, included also 
not a few minor grojaps, sufficiently different from each other, but 
all marked off sharply from the innovating and classical school of 
Waller and his followers, which it is not proposed to treat in this 
volume. All, without exception, show the influence in different 
ways of Ben Jonson and of Donne. But each has its own 
peculiarity. We find these peculiarities, together with anticipations 
of post-Reformation characteristics, mixed very curiously in the 
miscellanies of the time. These are interesting enough, and may 
be studied with advantage, if not also with pleasure, in the principal 
of them, Wit's Recreations ( 1 640). This, with certain kindred works 
( Wit Restored, and the very unsavoury Musarum DelicitE of Sir 
John Mennis and Dr. Smith), has been more than once repub- 
lished. In these curious collections, to mention only one instance, 
numerous pieces of Herrick's appeared with considerable vari- 
ants from the text of the Hesperides ; and in their pages things 
old and new, charming pastoral poems, vers de societe 1 of very 
unequal merit, ballads, satires, epigrams, and a large quantity 
of mere scatology and doggerel, are heaped together pell-mell. 
Songs from the dramatists, especially Fletcher, make their ap- 
pearance, sometimes with slight variants, and there are forms of 
the drinking song in Gammer Gurtorts Needle long after, and of 
Sir John Suckling's "Ballad on a Wedding," apparently some- 
what before, their respective publication in their proper places. 
Here is the joke about the wife and the almanack which reckless 
tradition has told of Dryden ; printed when Lady Elizabeth 


Howard was in the nursery, and Dryden was not yet at West- 
minster. Here we learn how, probably about the second or third 
decade of the century, the favourite authors of learned ladies were 
" Wither, Draiton, and Balzack " (Guez de Balzac of the Letters), 
a very singular trio ; and how some at least loved the " easy 
ambling" of Heywood's prose, but thought that he "grovelled on 
the stage," which it must be confessed he not uncommonly did. 
Wit Restored contains the charming " Phillida flouts Me," with 
other real " delights." Even Milton makes his appearance in these 
collections, which continued to be popular for more than a century, 
and acquired at intervals fresh vogue from the great names of 
Dryden and Pope. 

Neglecting or returning from these, we may class the minor 
Caroline poets under the following heads. There are belated 
Elizabethans like Habington, sacred poets of the school of Herbert, 
translators like Stanley, Sherburne, and Quarles, philosophico- 
theological poets like Joseph Beaumont and More, and poets 
of society, such as Lovelace and Suckling, whose class degener- 
ated into a class of boon companion song - writers, such as 
Alexander Brome, and, at the extremity of our present period, 
Charles Cotton, in whose verse (as for the matter of that in the 
famous muses of Lovelace and Suckling themselves) the rapidly 
degenerating prosody of the time is sometimes painfully evident. 
This is also apparent (though it is compensated by much exquisite 
poetry, and on the strictly lyric side rarely offends) in the work of 
Randolph, Corbet, Cartwright, Chamberlayne of the Pharonntda, 
Sidney Godolphin, Shakerley Marmion, Cleveland, Benlowes, 
Kynaston, John Hall, the enigmatic Chalkhill, Patrick Carey, 
Bishop King. These about exhaust the list of poets who must 
be characterised here, though it could be extended. Cowley, 
Marvell, and Waller fall outside our limits. 

George Herbert, the one popular name, if we except Lovelace 
and Suckling, of the last paragraph, was born at Montgomery Castle 
in 1593, of the great house now represented in the English peerage 
by the holders of the titles of Pembroke, Carnarvon, and Powis. 


George was the younger brother of the equally well-known Lord Her- 
bert of Cherbury ; and after being for some years public orator at 
Cambridge, turned, it is said, on some despite or disappointment, 
from secular to sacred business, accepted the living of Bemer- 
ton, and after holding it for a short time, died in 1633. Walton's 
Life was hardly needed to fix Herbert in the popular mind, for 
his famous volume of sacred poems, The Temple, would have done 
so, and has done so far more firmly. It was not his only book 
by any means; he had displayed much wit as quite a boy in 
counter-lampooning Andrew Melville's ponderous and impudent 
Anti-Tami-Cami-Categoria, an attack on the English universities; 
and afterwards he wrote freely in. Greek, Latin, and English, 
both in prose and verse. Nothing, however, but The Temple has 
held popular estimation, and that has held it firmly, being as 
much helped by the Tractarian as by the Romantic movement. 
It may be confessed without shame and without innuendo that 
Herbert has been on the whole a greater favourite with readers 
than with critics, and the reason is obvious. He is not prodigal 
of the finest strokes of poetry. To take only his own contem- 
poraries, and undoubtedly pupils, his gentle moralising and 
devotion are tame and cold beside the burning glow of Crashaw, 
commonplace and popular beside the intellectual subtlety and, now 
and then, the inspired touch of Vaughan. But he never drops into 
the flatness and the extravagance of both these writers, and his 
beauties, assuredly not mean in themselves, and very constantly 
present, are both in kind and in arrangement admirably suited to 
the average comprehension. He is quaint and conceited; but 
his quaintnesses and conceits are never beyond the reach of any 
tolerably intelligent understanding. He is devout, but his devo- 
tion does not transgress into the more fantastic regions of piety. 
He is a mystic, but of the more exoteric school of mysticism. 
He expresses common needs, common thoughts, the everyday 
emotions of the Christian, just sublimated sufficiently to make 
them attractive. The fashion and his own taste gave him a 
pleasing quaintness, which his good sense kept from being ever 


obscure or offensive or extravagant. The famous " Sweet day so 
cool, so calm, so bright," and many short passages which are 
known to every one, express Herbert perfectly. The thought is 
obvious, usual, in no sense far fetched. The morality is plain and 
simple. The expression, with a sufficient touch of the daintiness 
of the time, has nothing that is extraordinarily or ravishingly 
felicitous whether in phrasing or versing. He is, in short, a poet 
whom all must respect ; whom those that are in sympathy with his 
vein of thought cannot but revere ; who did England an inestim- 
able service, by giving to the highest and purest thoughts that 
familiar and abiding poetic garb which contributes so much to fix 
any thoughts in the mind, and of which, to tell the truth, poetry 
has been much more prodigal to other departments of thought by 
no means so well deserving. But it is impossible to call him a 
great poet even in his own difficult class. The early Latin hymn 
writers are there to show what a great religious poet must be like. 
Crashaw, if his genius had been less irregular and jaculative, might 
have been such. Herbert is not, and could not have been. 
With him it is an almost invariable custom to class Vaughan the 
"Silurist," and a common one to unite George Sandys, the 
traveller, translator of Ovid, and paraph rast of the Psalms and 
other parts of the Bible. Sandys, an older man than Herbert by 
fifteen, and than Vaughan by more than forty years, published 
rather late, so that he "came as a sacred poet after Herbert, and 
not long before Vaughan. He was son of the Archbishop of York, 
and brother of that Edwin Sandys who was a pupil of Hooker, 
and who is said to have been present on the melancholy occasion 
when the judicious one was "called to rock the cradle." He is 
interesting for a singular and early mastery of the couplet, which 
the following extract will show : 

"O Thou, who all things hast of nothing made, 
Whose hand the radiant firmament displayed, 
With such an undiscerned swiftness hurled 
About the steadfast centre of the world ; 
Against whose rapid course the restless sun, 
And wandering flames in varied motions run, 


Which heat, light, life infuse ; time, night, and day 
Distinguish ; in our human bodies sway : 
That hung'st the solid earth in fleeting air 
Veined with clear springs which ambient seas repair. 
In clouds the mountains wrap their hoary heads ; 
Luxurious valleys clothed with flowery meads ; 
Her trees yield fruit and shade ; with liberal breasts 
All creatures she, their common mother, feasts." 

Henry Vaughan was born in 1622, published Poems in 1646 (for 
some of which he afterwards expressed a not wholly necessary 
repentance), Olor Iscanus (from Isca Silurum) in 1651, and 
Silex Scintillans, his best-known book, in 1650 and 1655. He 
also published verses much later, and did not die till 1695, being 
the latest lived of any man who has a claim to appear in this book, 
but his aftergrowths were not happy. To say that Vaughan is a 
poet of one poem would not be true. But the universally known 

" They are all gone into the world of light " 

is so very much better than anything else that he has done that 
it would be hardly fair to quote anything else, unless we could 
quote a great deal. Like Herbert, and in pretty obvious imita- 
tion of him, he set himself to bend the prevailing fancy for quips 
and quaintnesses into sacred uses, to see that the Devil should not 
have all the best conceits. But he is not so uniformly successful, 
though he has greater depth and greater originality of thought. 

Lovelace and Suckling are inextricably connected together, 
not merely by their style of poetry, but by their advocacy of 
the same cause, their date, and their melancholy end. Both 
(Suckling in 1609, Lovelace nine years later) were born to 
large fortunes, both spent them, at least partially, in the 
King's cause, and both died miserably, Suckling, in 1642, 
by his own hand, his mind, according to a legend, unhinged 
by the tortures of the Inquisition ; Lovelace, two years before 
the Restoration, a needy though not an exiled cavalier, in 
London purlieus. Both have written songs of quite marvellous 
and unparalleled exquisiteness, and both have left doggerel which 


would disgrace a schoolboy. Both, it may be suspected, held 
the doctrine which Suckling openly champions, that a gentleman 
should not take too much trouble about his verses. The result, 
however, was in Lovelace's case more disastrous than in Suck- 
ling's. It is not quite true that Lovelace left nothing worth read- 
ing but the two immortal songs, "To Lucasta on going to the 
Wars " and " To Althea from Prison ; " and it is only fair to say 
that the corrupt condition of his text is evidently due, at least in 
part, to incompetent printing and the absence of revision. " The 
Grasshopper " is almost worthy of the two better-known pieces, 
and there are others not far below it. But on the whole any one 
who knows those two (and who does not ?) may neglect Lovelace 
with safety. Suckling, even putting his dramatic work aside, is 
not to be thus treated. True, he is often careless in the bad 
sense as well as in the good, though the doggerel of the " Sessions " 
and some other pieces is probably intentional. But in his own 
vein, that of coxcombry that is not quite cynical, and is quite in- 
telligent, he is marvellously happy. The famous song in Aglaura, 
the Allegro to Lovelace's Penseroso, "Why so pale and wan, 
fond lover?" is scarcely better than "'Tis now since I sat down 
before That foolish fort a heart," or " Out upon it ! I have loved 
Three whole days together." Nor in more serious veins is the 
author to be slighted, as in "The Dance;" while as for the 
" Ballad on a Wedding," the best parts of this are by common 
consent incomparable. Side by side by these are to be found, as 
in Lovelace, pieces that will not even scan, and, as not in Lovelace 
(who is not seldom loose but never nasty), pieces of a dull and 
disgusting obscenity. But we do not go to Suckling for these ; 
we go to him for his easy grace, his agreeable impudence, his 
scandalous mock -disloyalty (for it is only mock -disloyalty after 
all) to the "Lord of Terrible Aspect," whom all his elder con- 
temporaries worshipped so piously. Suckling's inconstancy and 
Lovelace's constancy may or may not be equally poetical, there 
is some reason for thinking that the lover of Althea was actually 
driven to something like despair by the loss of his mistress. But 


that matters to us very little. The songs remain, and remain yet 
unsurpassed, as the most perfect celebrations, in one case of 
chivalrous devotion, in the other of the coxcomb side of gallantry, 
that literature contains or is likely ever to contain. The song- 
writing faculty of the English, which had broken out some half 
century before, and had produced so many masterpieces, was near 
its death, or at least near the trance from which Burns and Blake 
revived it more than a century later, which even Dryden's super- 
human faculty of verse could only galvanise. But at the last it 
threw off by the mouths of men, who otherwise seem to have had 
very ordinary poetical powers, this little group of triumphs in song, 
to which have to be added the raptures equally strange and sweet, 
equally unmatched of their kind, but nobler and more masculine 
of the " Great Marquis," the few and wonderful lines of Mon- 
trose. To quote " My dear and only love, I pray," or " Great, 
good, and just, could I but rate," would be almost as much an 
insult to the reader as to quote the above-mentioned little master- 
pieces of the two less heroic English cavaliers. 

Quarles, More, and Joseph Beaumont form, as it were, a kind 
of appendix to the poetry of Herbert and Vaughan an appendix 
very much less distinguished by poetical power, but very interest- 
ing as displaying the character of the time and the fashion (strange 
enough to us moderns) in which almost every interest of that time 
found its natural way into verse. The enormous popularity of 
Francis Quarles's Emblems and Enchiridion accounts to some 
extent for the very unjust ridicule which has been lavished on 
him by men of letters of his own and later times. But the silly 
antithesis of Pope, a writer who, great as he was, was almost as 
ignorant of literary history as his model, Boileau, ought to pre- 
judice no one, and it is strictly true that Quarles's enormous 
volume hides, to some extent, his merits. Born in 1592 at 
Romford, of a gentle though not very distinguished family, which 
enters into that curious literary genealogy of Swift, Dryden, and 
Herrick, he was educated at Cambridge, became cup-bearer to 
the ill-fated and romantically renowned " Goody Palsgrave," held 



the post which Middleton and Jonson had held, of chronologer to 
the city of London, followed the King to Oxford to his loss, 
having previously had losses in Ireland, and died early in 1644, 
leaving his memory to be defended in a rather affecting document 
by his widow, Ursula. Quarles was a kind of journalist to whom 
the vehicle of verse came more easily than the vehicle of prose, 
and the dangers of that state of things are well known. A mere 
list of his work (the Enchiridion is in prose, and a good thing too) 
would far exceed any space that can be given to him here. All 
Quarles's work is journey-work, but it is only fair to note the 
frequent wealth of fancy, the occasional felicity of expression, 
which illustrate this wilderness. 

More and Beaumont were not, like Quarles, poetical mis- 
cellanists and periodical writers ; but they seem to have shared 
with him the delusion that poetry is an instrument of all work. 
Henry More, a man well connected and who might have risen, 
but who preferred to pass the greater part of a long and studious 
life as a fellow of Christ's College, Cambridge, is best known as 
a member of the theological school, indifferently called the Cam- 
bridge Platonists and the Cambridge Latitudinarians. His chief 
work in verse is a great philosophical poem, entitled the Song 
of the Soul, with such engaging sub-titles as Psychozoia, Psycha- 
thanasia^ Antipsychopannychia, and Antimonopsychia. I shall not, 
I hope, be suspected of being ignorant of Greek, or disinclined to 
metaphysics, if I say that the Song of the Soul appears to me a 
venerable mistake. A philosophical controversy carried on in 
this fashion 

" But contradiction, can that have place 

In any soul ? Plato affirms ideas ; 

But Aristotle, with his pugnacious race, 

As idle figments stiffly them denies," 

seems to me to be a signal instance of the wrong thing in the 
wrong place. It is quite true that More has, as Southey says, 
"lines and passages of sublime beauty." A man of his time, 
actuated by its noble thought, trained as we know More to have 


been in the severest school of Spenser, and thus habituated to the 
heavenly harmonies of that perfect poet, could hardly fail to 
produce such. But his muse is a chaotic not a cosmic one. 

Something the same may be said of Joseph Beaumont, a 
friend of Crashaw, and like him ejected from Peterhouse, son-in- 
law of Bishop Wren, and, later, head of Jesus College. Beaumont, 
a strong cavalier and an orthodox churchman, was a kind of 
adversary of More's, whose length and quaintness he has exceeded, 
while he has almost rivalled his learning in Psyche or Love's 
Mystery, a religious poem of huge dimensions, first published in 
1648 and later in 1702. Beaumont, as both fragments of this vast 
thing and his minor poems show, had fancy, taste, and almost 
genius on opportunity ; but the prevailing mistake of his school, 
the idea that poetry is a fit vehicle for merely prosaic expression, 
is painfully apparent in him. 

First, for various reasons, among the nondescripts of the 
Caroline school, deserves to be mentioned William Habington, 
a Roman Catholic gentleman of good upper middle-class station, 
whose father was himself a man of letters, and had some trouble 
in the Gunpowder Plot. He was born at Hindlip Hall, near 
Worcester, in the year of the plot itself, courted and married 
Lucy Herbert, daughter of his neighbour, Lord Powis, and 
published her charms and virtues in the collection called Castara, 
first issued in 1634. Habington also wrote a tragic comedy, 
The Queen of Aragon, and some other work, but died in middle 
life. It is upon Castara that his fame rests. To tell the truth 
it is, though, as had been said, an estimable, yet a rather irritating 
work. That Habington was a true lover every line of it shows ; 
that he had a strong infusion of the abundant poeticai inspiration 
then abroad is shown by line after line, though hardly by poem 
after poem, among its pieces. His series of poems on the death 
of his friend Talbot is full of beauty. His religion is sincere, 
fervent, and often finely expressed; though he never rose to 
Herbert's pure devotion, or to Crashaw's flaming poetry. One of 
the later Castara poems may be given : 


' ' We saw and woo'd each other's eyes, 
My soul contracted then with thine, 
And both burnt in one sacrifice, 
By which our marriage grew divine. 

" Let wilder youths, whose soul is sense, 

Profane the temple of delight, 
And purchase endless penitence, 

With the stolen pleasure of one night. 

" Time's ever ours, while we despise 

The sensual idol of our clay, 
For though the sun do set and rise, 
We joy one everlasting day. 

" Whose light no jealous clouds obscure, 

While each of us shine innocent, 
The troubled stream is still impure ; 
With virtue flies away content. 

" And though opinions often err, 

We'll court the modest smile of fame, 
For sin's black danger circles her, 
Who hath infection in her name. 

"Thus when to one dark silent room 

Death shall our loving coffins thrust : 
P'ame will build columns on our tomb, 
And add a perfume to our dust." 

But Castara is a real instance of what some foreign critics very 
unjustly charge on English literature as a whole a foolish and 
almost canting prudery. The poet dins the chastity of his 
mistress into his readers' heads until the readers in self-defence 
are driven to say, "Sir, did any one doubt it?" He protests 
the freedom of his own passion from any admixture of fleshly 
influence, till half a suspicion of hypocrisy and more than half a 
feeling of contempt force themselves on the hearer. A relentless 
critic might connect these unpleasant features with the uncharit- 
able and more than orthodox bigotry of his religious poems. Yet 
Habington, besides contributing much agreeable verse to the 
literature of the period, is invaluable as showing the counterside 
to Milton, the Catholic Puritanism which is no doubt inherent in 


the English nature, and which, had it not been for the Reforma- 
tion, would probably have transformed Catholicism in a very 
strange fashion. 

There is no Puritanism of any kind in a group it would 
hardly be fair to call them a school of " Heroic " poets to whom 
very little attention has been paid in histories of literature hitherto, 
but who lead up not merely to Davenant's Gondibert and Cowley's 
Davideis, but to Paradise Lost itself. The " Heroic " poem was 
a kind generated partly by the precepts of the Italian criticism, 
including Tasso, partly by the practice of Tasso himself, and 
endeavouring to combine something of the unity of Epic with 
something and more of the variety of Romance. It may be 
represented here by the work of Chalkhill, Chamberlayne, 
Marmion, and Kynaston. John Chalkhill, the author of Thealma 
and Clearchus, was, with his work, introduced to the public in 
1683 by Izaak Walton, who styles him "an acquaintant and friend 
of Edmund Spenser." If so, he must have been one of the first 
of English poets to adopt the very loose enjambed decasyllabic 
couplet in which his work, like that of Marmion and still more 
Chamberlayne, is written. His poem is unfinished, and the 
construction and working-up of the story are looser even than 
the metre ; but it contains a great deal of charming description 
and some very poetical phrase. 

Much the same may be said of the Cupid and Psyche (1637) 
of the dramatist Shakerley Marmion (v. inf.), which follows the 
original of Apuleius with alternate closeness and liberty, but is 
always best when it is most original. The Leoline and Sydanis 
(1642) of Sir Francis Kynaston is not in couplets but in rhyme- 
royal a metre of which the author was so fond that he even 
translated the Troilus and Cressida of Chaucer into Latin, retain- 
ing the seven-line stanza and its rhymes. Kynaston, who was a 
member of both universities and at one time proctor at Cambridge, 
was a man interested in various kinds of learning, and even started 
an Academy or Museum Minerva of his own. In Leoline and 
Sydanis he sometimes comes near to the mock heroic, but in his 


lyrics called Cynthiades\i& comes nearer still to the best Caroline cry. 
One or two of his pieces have found their way into anthologies, but 
until the present writer reprinted his works 1 he was almost unknown. 

The most important by far, however, of this group is William 
Chamberlayne, a physician of Shaftesbury, who, before or during 
the Civil War, began and afterwards finished (publishing it in 
1659) the very long heroic romance of Pharonnida, a story of the 
most involved and confused character but with episodes of great 
vividness and even sustained power : a piece of versification 
straining the liberties of enjambement in line and want of con- 
nection in syntax to the utmost ; but a very mine of poetical 
expression and imagery. Jewels are to be picked up on every page 
by those who will take the trouble to do so, and who are hot 
offended by the extraordinary nonchalance of the composition. 

The Theophila of Edward Benlowes (i6o3?-i676) was printed 
in 1652 with elaborate and numerous engravings by Hollar, which 
have made it rare, and usually imperfect when met with. Ben- 
lowes was a Cambridge man (of St. John's College) by education, 
but lived latterly and died at Oxford, having been reduced from 
wealth to poverty by the liberality which made his friends 
anagrammatise his name into "Benevolus." His work was 
abused as an awful example of the extravagant style by Butler 
(Character of a Small Poet\ and by Warburton in the next century; 
but it was never reprinted till the date of the collection just noted. 
It is a really curious book, displaying the extraordinary diffusion 
of poetical spirit still existing, but in a hectic and decadent con- 
dition. Benlowes a Cleveland with more poetry and less clever- 
ness, or a very much weaker Crashaw uses a monorhymed triplet 
made up of a heroic, an octosyllable, and an Alexandrine which 
is as wilfully odd as the rest of him. 

Randolph, the youngest and not the least gifted of the tribe 

1 In Minor Caroline Poets, vols. i. and ii. (Oxford, 1905-6). An important 
addition to the religious verse of the time was made by Mr. Dobell with the 
Poems (London, 1903) of Thomas Traherne, a follower of Herbert, with some 
strange anticipations of Blake. 


of Ben, died before he was thirty, after writing some noteworthy 
plays, and a certain number of minor poems, which, as it has 
been well observed, rather show that he might have done anything, 
than that he did actually do something. Corbet was Bishop first 
of Oxford and then of Norwich, and died in 1635. Corbet's work 
is of that peculiar class which is usually, though not always, due 
to " University Wits," and which only appeals to people with a con- 
siderable appreciation of humour, and a large stock of general 
information. It is always occasional in character, and rarely 
succeeds so well as when the treatment is one of distinct persiflage. 
Thus the elegy on Donne is infinitely inferior to Carew's, and 
the mortuary epitaph on Arabella Stuart is, for such a subject and 
from the pen of a man of great talent, extraordinarily feeble. The 
burlesque epistle to Lord Mordaunt on his journey to the North 
is great fun, and the "Journey into France," though, to borrow 
one of its own jokes, rather "strong," is as good. The 
" Exhortation to Mr. John Hammond," a ferocious satire on the 
Puritans, distinguishes itself from almost all precedent work of the 
kind by the force and directness of its attack, which almost 
anticipates Dryden. And Corbet had both pathetic and 
imaginative touches on occasion, as here : 

"What I shall leave thee none can tell, 
But all shall say I wish thee well, 
I wish thee, Vin, before all wealth, 
Both bodily and ghostly health ; 
Nor too much wealth, nor wit, come to thee, 
So much of either may undo thee. 
I wish thee learning, not for show, 
Enough for to instruct and know ; 
Not such as gentlemen require 
To prate at table, or at fire. 
I wish thee all thy mother's graces, 
Thy father's fortunes, and his places. 
I wish thee friends, and one at court, 
Not to build on, but support 
To keep thee, not in doing many 
Oppressions, but from suffering any. 


I wish thee peace in all thy ways, 
Nor lazy nor contentious days ; 
And when thy soul and body part 
As innocent as now those art." 

Cartwright, a short-lived man but a hard student, shows best 
in his dramas. In his occasional poems, strongly influenced by 
Donne, he is best at panegyric, worst at burlesque and epigram. 
In " On a Gentlewoman's Silk Hood " and some other pieces he 
may challenge comparison with the most futile of the meta- 
physicals ; but no one who has read his noble elegy on Sir Bevil 
Grenvil, unequal as it is, will think lightly of Cartwright. Sir 
Edward Sherburne was chiefly a translator in the fashionable 
style. His original poems were those of a very inferior Carew 
(he even copies the name Celia), but they are often pretty. 
Alexander Brome, of whom very little is known, and who must not 
be confounded with the dramatist, was a lawyer and a cavalier 
song-writer, who too frequently wrote mere doggerel ; but on the 
other hand, he sometimes did not, and when he escaped the evil 
influence, as in the stanzas " Come, come, let us drink," " The 
Trooper," and not a few others, he has the right anacreontic vein. 

As for Charles Cotton, his " Virgil Travesty " is deader than 
Scarron's, and deserves to be so. The famous lines which Lamb 
has made known to every one in the essay on " New Year's Day " 
are the best thing he did. But there are many excellent things 
scattered about his work, despite a strong taint of the mere 
coarseness and nastiness which have been spoken of. And though 
he was also much tainted with the hopeless indifference to pro- 
sody which distinguished all these belated cavaliers, it is note- 
worthy that he was one of the few Englishmen for centuries to 
adopt the strict French forms and write rondeaux and the like. 
On the whole his poetical power has been a little undervalued, 
while he was also dexterous in prose. 

Thomas Stanley has been classed above as a translator because 
he would probably have liked to have his scholarship thus brought 
into prominence. It was, both in ancient and modern tongues, 


very considerable. His History of Philosophy was a classic for 
a very long time ; and his edition of ^schylus had the honour of 
revision within the nineteenth century by Person and by Butler. 
It is not certain that Bentley did not borrow from him ; and his 
versions of Anacreon, of various other Greek lyrists, of the later 
Latins, and of modern writers in Spanish and Italian are most 
remarkable. But he was also an original poet in the best 
Caroline style of lyric ; and his combination of family (for he was 
of the great Stanley stock), learning, and genius gave him a high 
position with men of letters of his day. Sidney Godolphin, who 
died very young fighting for the King in Hopton's army, had no 
time to do much ; but he has been magnificently celebrated by 
no less authorities than Clarendon and Hobbes, and fragments of 
his work, which has only recently been collected, have long been 
known. None of it, except a commendatory poem or two, was 
printed in his own time, and very little later ; while the MSS. 
are not in very accomplished form, and show few or no signs of 
revision by the author. Some, however, of Godolphin's lyrics are 
of great beauty, and a couplet translation of the Fourth sEneid 
has as much firmness as Sandys or Waller. Another precocious 
poet whose life also was cut short, though less heroically, and on 
the other side of politics, was John Hall, a Cambridge man, who 
at barely twenty (1645-6) issued a volume of poems and another, 
Horce Vaciva, of prose essays, translated Longinus, did hack-work 
on the Cromwellian side, and died, it is said, of loose and lazy 
living. Hall's poems are of mixed kinds sacred and profane, 
serious and comic and the best of them, such as " The Call " 
and " The Lure," have a slender but most attractive vein of 
fantastic charm. Patrick Carey, again, a Royalist and brother of 
the famous Lord Falkland, brought up as a Roman Catholic but 
afterwards a convert to the Church of England, left manuscript 
pieces, human and divine, which were printed by Sir Walter Scott 
in 1819, and are extremely pleasant; while Bishop King, though 
not often at the height of his well-known t; Tell me no more how 
fair she is," never falls below a level much above the average. 



Devil. It is in fact a not unskilful working up of some well-tried 
theatrical motives, but has no great literary merit. The tragedy 
of Ovid, a regular literary tragedy in careful if not very powerful 
blank verse, is Cokain's most ambitious effort. Like his other 
work it is clearly an " echo " in character. 

A more interesting and characteristic example of the "deca- 
dence " is Henry Glapthorne. When the enthusiasm excited by 
Lamb's specimens, Hazlitt's, and Coleridge's lectures for the 
Elizabethan drama, was fresh, and everybody was hunting for new 
examples of the style, Glapthorne had the doubtful luck to be made 
the subject of a very laudatory article in the Retrospective Review, 
and two of his plays were reprinted. He was not left in this hon- 
ourable but comparatively safe seclusion, and many years later, in 
1874, all his plays and poems as known were issued by them- 
selves in Mr. Pearson's valuable series of reprints. Since then 
Glapthorne has become something of a butt ; and Mr. Bullen, in 
conjecturally attributing td him a new play, The Lady Mother, takes 
occasion to speak rather unkindly of him. As usual it is a case of 
ni cet exces (Thonncur ni cette indignite. Personally, Glapthorne has 
some of the interest that attaches to the unknown. Between 
1639 and 1643, or for the brief space of four years, it is clear 
that he was a busy man of letters. He published five plays (six 
if we admit The Lady Mother], which had some vogue, and sur- 
vived as an acted poet into the Restoration period ; he pro- 
duced a small but not despicable collection of poems of his own ; 
he edited those of his friend Thomas Beedome ; he was himself a 
friend of Cotton and of Lovelace. But of his antecedents and of 
the life that followed this short period of literary activity we know 
absolutely nothing. The guess that he was at St. Paul's School 
is a .mere guess ; and in the utter and total absence of the least 
scrap of biographical information about him, his editor has thought 
it worth while to print in full some not unamusing but perfectly 
irrelevant documents concerning the peccadillos of a certain 
George Glapthorne of Whittlesea, who was certainly a contem- 
porary and perhaps a relation. Henry Glapthorne as a writer is 

II 2 E 


remarkable, and shows that it was owing to no poverty or 
awkwardness that he chose to be so much of a borrower. In 
his usual style, where a mere framework of original may enclose a 
score or more quotations, translated or not (the modern habit of 
translating Burton's quotations spoils, among other things, the 
zest of his own quaint habit of adding, as it were, in the same 
breath, a kind of summary or paraphrase in English of what he 
has said in Latin or Greek), he was not superior to his time in 
the loose construction of sentences ; but the wonder is that his 
fashion of writing did not make him even inferior to it. One of his 
peculiar tricks the only one, perhaps, which he uses to the 
extent of a mannerism is the suppression of the conjunctions 
" or " and " and," which gives a very quaint air to his strings of 
synonyms. But an example will do more here than much 
analysis : 

" And why then should baseness of birth be objected to any man? Who 
thinks worse of Tully for being Arpinas, an upstart ? or Agathocles, that 
Sicilian King, for being a potter's son ? Iphicrates and Marius were meanly 
born. What wise man thinks better of any person for his nobility ? as he * 
said in Machiavel, omnes eodem patre nati, Adam's sons, conceived all and 
born in sin, etc. We are by nature all as one, all alike, if you see us naked ; 
let us wear theirs, and they our clothes, and what's the difference ? To speak 
truth, as Bale did of P. Schalichius, / more esteem thy worth, learning, honesty, 
than thy nobility ; honour thee more that thou art a writer, a doctor of divinity, 
than earl of the Hunnes, baron ofSkradine, or hast title to such and such provinces, 
etc. Thou art more fortunate and great (so Jovius writes to Cosmus Medices, then 
Duke of Florence) for thy virtues than for thy lovely wife and happy children, 
friends, fortunes, or great Duchy of Tuscany. So I account thee, and who doth 
not so indeed ? Abdalonymus was a gardener, and yet by Alexander for his 
virtues made King of Syria. How much better is it to be born of mean 
parentage and to excel in worth, to be morally noble, which is preferred before 
that natural nobility by divines, philosophers, and politicians, to be learned, 
honest, discreet, well qualified to be fit for any manner of employment in 
country and commonwealth, war and peace, than to be degeneres Neoplolemi as 
so many brave nobles are, only wise because rich, otherwise idiots, illiterate, 

1 Burton, with others of the time, constantly wrote "he" as the equivalent 
of the classical demonstratives. Modern, but not better, use prefers " the 
man," or something similar. 


so many faults in Massinger, I should protest against the rather 
low estimate of him which critics from Lamb downwards have 
generally given. Yet I do so protest It is true that he has 
not the highest flashes either of verbal poetry or of dramatic 
character-drawing ; and though Hartley Coleridge's dictum that 
he had no humour has been exclaimed against, it is only verbally 
wrong. It is also true that in him perhaps for the first time we 
perceive, what is sure to appear towards the close of a period, 
a distinct touch of literary borrowing evidence of knowledge 
and following of his forerunners. Yet he had a high, a varied, 
and a fertile imagination. He had, and was the last to have, an 
extensive and versatile command of blank verse, never perhaps 
reaching the most perfect mastery of Marlowe or of Shakespere, 
but singularly free from monotony, and often both harmonious 
and dignified. He could deal, and deal well, with a large range 
of subjects ; and if he never ascends to the height of a De Flores 
or a Bellafront, he never descends to the depths in which both 
Middleton and Dekker too often complacently wallow. Unless 
we are to count by mere flashes, he must, I think, rank after 
Shakespere, Fletcher, and Jonson among his fellows ; and this 
I say, honestly avowing that I have nothing like the enthusiasm 
for him that I have for Webster, or for Dekker, or for Middleton. 
We may no doubt allow too much for bulk of work, for sustained 
excellence at a certain level, and for general competence as against 
momentary excellence. But we may also allow far too little ; and 
this has perhaps been the general tendency of later criticism in 
regard to Massinger. It is unfortunate that he never succeeded 
in making as perfect a single expression of his tragic ability as 
he did of his comic, for the former was, I incline to think, the 
higher of the two. But many of his plays are lost, and many 
of those which remain come near to such excellence. It is by 
no means impossible that Massinger may have lost incomparably 
by the misdeeds of the constantly execrated, but never to be 
execrated enough, minion of that careless herald. 

As in the case of Clarendon, almost absolutely contradictory 
U 3 P 


opinions have been delivered, by critics of great authority, about 
John Ford. In one of the most famous outbursts of his generous 
and enthusiastic estimate of the Elizabethan period, Lamb has 
pronounced Ford to be of the first order of poets. Mr Swin- 
burne, while bringing not a few limitations to this tremendous 
eulogy, has on the whole supported it in one of the most brilliant 
of his prose essays ; and critics as a rule have bowed to Lamb's 
verdict. On the other hand, Hazlitt (who is "gey ill to differ 
with " when there are, as here, no extra-literary considerations to 
reckon) has traversed that verdict in one of the most damaging 
utterances of commonsense, yet not commonplace, criticism any- 
where to be found, asking bluntly and pointedly whether the 
exceptionableness of the subject is not what constitutes the merit 
of Ford's greatest play, pronouncing the famous last scene of The 
Broken Heart extravagant, and fixing on "a certain perversity of 
spirit " in Ford generally. It is pretty clear that Hartley Coleridge 
(who might be paralleled in our own day as a critic, who seldom 
went wrong except through ignorance, though he had a sublime 
indifference as to the ignorance that sometimes led him wrong) 
was of no different opinion. It is not easy to settle such a 
quarrel. But I had the good fortune to read Ford before I had 
read anything except Hartley Coleridge's rather enigmatic verdict 
about him, and in the many years that have passed since I have 
read him often again. The resulting opinion may not be excep- 
tionally valuable, but it has at least stood the test of frequent 
re-reading of the original, and of reading of the main authorities 
among the commentators. 

John Ford, like Fletcher and Beaumont, but unlike almost all 
others of his class, was a person not compelled by need to write 
tragedies, comedies of , any comic merit he could never have 
written, were they his neck verse at Hairibee. His father was a man 
of good family and position at Ilsington in Devon. His mother 
was of the well-known west-country house of the Pophams. He 
was born (?) two years before the Armada, and three years after 
Massinger. He has no university record, but was a member of the 



Middle Temple, and takes at least some pains to assure us that he 
never wrote for money. Nevertheless, for the best part of thirty 
years he was a playwright, and he is frequently found collaborat- 
ing with Dekker, the neediest if nearly the most gifted gutter-play- 
wright of the time. Once he worked with Webster in a play (The 
Murder of the Son upon the Mother) which must have given the 
fullest possible opportunity to the appetite of both for horrors. 
Once he, Rowley, and Dekker combined to produce the strange 
masterpiece (for a masterpiece it is in its own undisciplined way) 
of the Witch of Edmonton, where the obvious signs of a play 
hastily cobbled up to meet a popular demand do not obscure the 
talents of the cobblers. It must be confessed that there is much 
less of Ford than of Rowley and Dekker in the piece, except 
perhaps its comparative regularity and the quite unreasonable 
and unintelligible bloodiness of the murder of Susan. In The 
Sun's Darling, due to Ford and Dekker, the numerous and 
charming lyrics are pretty certainly Dekker's ; though we could 
pronounce on this poinrwith more confidence if we had the two 
lost plays, The Fairy Knight and The Bristowe Merchant, in which 
the same collaborators are known to have been engaged. The 
Fancies, Chaste and Noble, and The Lady's Trial which we have, 
and which are known to be Ford's only, are but third-rate work 
by common consent, and Love's Sacrifice has excited still stronger 
opinions of condemnation from persons favourable to Ford. This 
leaves us practically four plays upon which to base jour estimate 
Tis Pity She's a Whore, The Lover's Melancholy, The broken 
Heart, and Perkin Warbeck. The last-named I shall take the 
liberty of dismissing summarily with the same borrowed descrip- 
tion as Webster's Appius and Virginia. Hartley Coleridge, 
perhaps willing to make up if he could for a general distaste 
for Ford, volunteered the strange judgment that it is the best 
specimen of the historic drama to be found out of Shakespere ; 
and Hazlitt says nothing savage about it. I shall say nothing 
more, savage or otherwise. The Lover's Melancholy has been to 
almost all its critics a kind of lute-case for the very pretty version 


of Strada's fancy about the nightingale, which Crashaw did better ; 
otherwise it is naught. We are, therefore, left with 'Tis Pity She's 
a Whore and The Broken Heart. For myself, in respect to the 
first, after repeated readings and very careful weighings of what 
has been said, I come back to my first opinion to wit, that the 
Annabella and Giovanni scenes, with all their perversity, all their 
availing themselves of what Hazlitt, with his unerring instinct, 
called "unfair attractions," are among the very best things of 
their kind. Of what may be thought unfair in them I shall 
speak a little later ; but allowing for this, the sheer effects of 
passion the " All for love and the world well lost," the shut- 
ting out, not instinctively or stupidly, but deliberately, and with 
full knowledge, of all other considerations except the dictates of 
desire have never been so rendered in English except in Romeo 
and Juliet and Antony and Cleopatra. The comparison of course 
brings out Ford's weakness, not merely in execution, but in 
design ; not merely in accomplishment, but in the choice of 
means for accomplishment. Shakespere had no need of the 
haut gout of incest, of the unnatural horrors of the heart on the 
dagger. But Ford had ; and he in a -way (I do not say fully) 
justified his use of these means. 

The Broken Heart stands far lower. I own that I am with 
Hazlitt, not Lamb, on the question of the admired death scene 
of Calantha. In the first place, it is certainly borrowed from 
Marston's Malcontent ; in the second, it is wholly unnatural ; in 
the third, the great and crowning point of it is not, as Lamb 
seemed to think, Calantha's sentimental inconsistency, but the 
consistent and noble death of Orgilus. There Ford was at 
home, and long as it is it must be given : 

Cal. " Bloody relator of thy stains in blood, 

For that thou hast reported him, whose fortunes 
And life by thee are both at once snatch'd from him, 
With honourable mention, make thy choice 
Of what death likes thee best, there's all our bounty. 
But to excuse delays, let me, dear cousin. 

FORD 405 

Intreat you and these lords see execution 
Instant before you part. 
Near. Your will commands us. 

Org. One suit, just queen, my last : vouchsafe your clemency 
That by no common hand I be divided 
From this my humble frailty. 
Cal. To their wisdoms 

Who are to be spectators of thine end 

I make the reference : those that are dead 

Are dead ; had they not now died, of necessity 

They must have paid the debt they owed to nature, 

One time or other. Use dispatch, my lords ; 

We'll suddenly prepare our coronation. 

[Exeunt CAL., PHIL., and CHRIS. 
Arm. 'Tis strange, these tragedies should never touch on 

Her female pity. 
Bass. She has a masculine spirit, 

And wherefore should I pule, and, like a girl, 
Put ringer in the eye ? Let's be all toughness 
Without distinction betwixt sex and sex. 
Near. Now, Orgilus, thy choice ? 

Org. To bleed to death. 
Arm. The executioner ? 
Org. Myself, no surgeon ; 

I am well skilled in letting blood. Bind fast 
This arm, that so the pipes may from their conduits 
Convey a full stream ; here's a skilful instrument : 

[Shou>s his dagger. 

Only I am a beggar to some charity 
To speed me in this execution 
By lending the other prick to the other arm 
When this is bubbling life out. 
Bass. I am for you, 

It most concerns my art, my care, my credit, 
Quick, fillet both his arms. 
Org. Gramercy, friendship ! 

Such courtesies are real which flow cheerfully 

Without an expectation of requital. 

Reach me a staff in this hand. If a proneness 

[ They give him a staff. 
Or custom in my nature, from my cradle 
Had been inclined to fierce and eager bloodshed, 


A coward guilt hid in a coward quaking, 
Would have betray'd me to ignoble flight 
And vagabond pursuit of dreadful safety : 
But look upon my steadiness and scorn not 
The sickness of my fortune ; which since Bassanes 
Was husband to Penthea, had lain bed-rid. 
We trifle time in words : thus I show cunning 
In opening of a vein too full, too lively. 

[Pierces the vein with his dagger. 

Arm. Desperate courage ! 

Near. Honourable infamy ! 

Hem. I tremble at the sight. 

Gron. Would I were loose ! 

Bass. It sparkles like a lusty wine new broach'd ; 

The vessel must be sound from which it issues. 
Grasp hard this other stick I'll be as nimble 
But prithee look not pale Have at ye ! stretch out 
Thine arm with vigour and unshaken virtue. 

[Opens the vein. 

Good ! oh I envy not a rival, fitted 
To conquer in extremities : this pastime 
Appears majestical ; some high-tuned poem 
Hereafter shall deliver to posterity 
The writer's glory, and his subjects triumph. 
How is't man ? droop not yet. 
Org. I feel no palsies, 

On a pair-royal do I wait in death : 

My sovereign as his liegeman ; on my mistress 

As a devoted servant ; and on Ithocles 

As if no brave, yet no unworthy enemy : 

Nor did I use an engine to entrap 

His life out of a slavish fear to combat 

Youth, strength, or cunning ; but for that I durst not 

Engage the goodness of a cause on fortune 

By which his name might have outfaced my vengeance. 

Oh, Tecnicus, inspired with Phrebus' fire ! 

I call to mind thy augury, 'twas perfect ; 

Revenge proves its own executioner. 

When feeble man is lending to his mother 

The dust he was first framed in, thus he totters. 

Bass. Life's fountain is dried up. 
Org. So falls the standard 

xi FORD 


Of my prerogative in being a creature, 

A mist hangs o'er mine eyes, the sun's bright splendour 

Is clouded in an everlasting shadow. 

Welcome, thou ice that sit'st about my heart, 

No heat can ever thaw thee. 


The perverse absurdity of a man like Orgilus letting Pen- 
thea die by the most horrible of deaths must be set aside : his 
vengeance (the primary absurdity granted), is exactly and wholly 
in character. But if anything could be decisive against Ford 
being "of the first order of poets," even of dramatic poets, it 
would be the total lack of interest in the characters of Calantha 
and Ithocles. Fate -disappointed love seems (no doubt from 
something in his own history) to have had a singular attraction 
for Lamb; and the glorification, or, as it were, apotheosis of it 
in Calantha must have appealed to him in one of those curious 
and illegitimate ways which every critic knows. But the mere 
introduction of Bassanes would show that Ford is not of the first 
order of poets. He is a purely contemptible character, neither 
sublimed by passion of jealousy, nor kept whole by salt of comic 
exposition ; a mischievous poisonous idiot who ought to have had 
his brains knocked out, and whose brains would assuredly have 
been knocked out, by any Orgilus of real life. He is absolutely 
unequal to the place of central personage, and causer of the 
harms, of a romantic tragedy such as 77^? Broken Heart. 

I have said " by any Orgilus of real life," but Ford has little 
to do with real life ; and it is in this fact that the insufficiency of 
his claim to rank among the first order of poets lies. He was, 
it is evident, a man of the greatest talent, even of great genius, 
who, coming at the end of a long literary movement, exemplified 
the defects of its decadence. I could compare him, if there was 
here any space for such a comparison, to Baudelaire or Flaubert 
with some profit ; except that he never had Baudelaire's perfect 
sense of art, and that he does not seem, like Flaubert, to have 
laid in, before melancholy marked him for her own, a sufficient 
stock of living types to save him from the charge of being a mere 


study -student. There is no Frederic, no M. Homais, in his 
repertory. Even Giovanni even Orgilus, his two masterpieces, 
are, if not exactly things of shreds and patches, at any rate 
artificial persons, young men who have known more of books 
than of life, and who persevere in their eccentric courses with 
almost more than a half knowledge that they are eccentric. 
Annabella is incomplete, though there is nothing, except her love, 
unnatural in her. The strokes which draw her are separate 
imaginations of a learned draughtsman, not fresh transcripts from 
the living model Penthea and Calantha are wholly artificial ; 
a live Penthea would never have thought of such a fantastic 
martyrdom, unless she had been insane or suffering from green- 
sickness, and a live Calantha would have behaved in a perfectly 
different fashion, or if she had behaved in the same, would have 
been quit for her temporary aberration. We see (or at least I 
think I see) in Ford exactly the signs which are so familiar to us 
in our own day, and which repeat themselves regularly at the end 
of all periods of distinct literary creativeness the signs of excen- 
tricite voulue. The author imagines that " all is said " in the 
ordinary way, and that he must go to the ends of the earth 
to fetch something extraordinary. If he is strong enough, as 
Ford was, he fetches it, and it is something extraordinary, and 
we owe him, with all his extravagance, respect and honour for his 
labour. But we can never put him on the level of the men who, 
keeping within ordinary limits, achieve masterpieces there. 

Ford an Elizabethan in the strict sense for nearly twenty 
years did not suffer from the decay which, as noted above, set in 
in regard to versification and language among the men of his own 
later day. He has not the natural trick of verse and phrase 
which stamps his greatest contemporaries unmistakably, and even 
such lesser ones as his collaborator, Dekker, with a hardly mistak- 
able mark ; but his verse is nervous, well proportioned, well 
delivered, and at its best a noble medium. He was by general 
consent utterly incapable of humour, and his low-comedy scenes 
are among the most loathsome in the English theatre. His 


lyrics are not equal to Shakespere's or Fletcher's, Dekker's or 
Shirley's, but they are better than Massinger's. Although he 
frequently condescended to the Fletcherian license of the re- 
dundant syllable, he never seems to have dropped (as Fletcher 
did sometimes, or at least allowed his collaborators to drop) 
floundering into the Serbonian bog of stuff that is neither verse 
nor prose. He showed indeed (and Mr. Swinburne, with his usual 
insight, has noticed it, though perhaps he has laid rather too much 
stress on it) a tendency towards a severe rule-and-line form both 
of tragic scheme and of tragic versification, which may be taken 
to correspond in a certain fashion (though Mr. Swinburne does 
not notice this) to the " correctness " in ordinary poetry of Waller 
and his followers. Yet he shows no sign of wishing to discard 
either the admixture of comedy with tragedy (save in The Broken 
Heart, which is perhaps a crucial instance), or blank verse, or the 
freedom of the English stage in regard to the unities. In short, 
Ford was a person distinctly deficient in initiative and planning 
genius, but endowed with a great executive faculty. He wanted 
guidance in all the greater lines of his art, and he had it not ; 
the result being that he produced unwholesome and undecided 
work, only saved by the unmistakable presence of poetical faculty. 
I do not think that Webster could ever have done anything 
better than he did : I think that if Ford had been born twenty 
years earlier he might have been second to Shakespere, and at 
any rate the equal of Ben Jonson and of Fletcher. But the 
flagging genius of the time made its imprint on his own genius, 
which was of the second order, not the first 

The honour of being last in the great succession of 
Elizabethan dramatists is usually assigned to James Shirley. 1 
Though last, Shirley is only in part least, and his plays 
deserve more reading than has usually fallen to their lot. 
Not only in the general character of his plays a character 

1 There was a contemporary, Henry Shirley, who was also a playwright. 
His only extant play, The Martyred Soldier, a piece of little merit, has been 
reprinted by Mr. Bullen. 


hardly definable, but recognisable at once by the reader but by 
the occurrence of such things as the famous song, " The glories 
of our blood and state," and not a few speeches and tirades, 
Shirley has a right to his place ; as he most unquestionably has 
also by date. He was born in London in 1596, was educated 
at Merchant Tailors' School, and was a member of both univer- 
sities, belonging to St. John's College at Oxford, and to Catherine 
Hall at Cambridge. Like other dramatists he vacillated in religion, 
with such sincerity as to give up a living to which, having been 
ordained, he had been presented. He was a schoolmaster for a 
time, began to write plays about the date of the accession of 
Charles I., continued to do so till the closing of the theatres, then 
returned to schoolmastering, and survived the Restoration nearly 
seven years, being buried at St. Giles's in 1666. He appears to 
have visited Ireland, and at least one monument of his visit 
remains in the eccentric play of St. Patrick for Ireland. He 
is usually credited with thirty-nine plays, to which it is under- 
stood that others, now in MS., have to be added, while he 
may also have had a hand in some that are printed but 
not attributed to him. Shirley was neither a very great nor 
a very strong man ; and without originals to follow, it is prob- 
able that he would have done nothing. But with Fletcher and 
Jonson before him he was able to strike out a certain line of 
half-humorous, half-romantic drama, and to follow it with curious 
equality through his long list of plays, hardly one of which is 
very much better than any other, hardly one of which falls below 
a very respectable standard. He has few or no single scenes or 
passages of such high and sustained excellence as to be specially 
quotable ; and there is throughout him an indefinable flavour as 
of study of his elders and betters, an appearance as of a highly 
competent and gifted pupil in a school, not as of a master and 
leader in a movement The palm is perhaps generally and rightly 
assigned to The Lady of Pleasure^ 1635, a play bearing some faint 
resemblances to Massinger's City Madam, and Fletcher's Noble 
Gentleman (Shirley is known to have finished one or two plays of 

xi SHIRLEY 411 

Fletcher's), and in its turn the original, or at least the forerunner 
of a long line of late seventeenth and eighteenth century plays 
on the extravagance and haughtiness and caprice of fine ladies. 
Shirley indeed was much acted after the Restoration, and exhibits, 
though on the better side, the transition of the older into the 
newer school very well. Of his tragedies The Traitor has the 
general suffrage, and perhaps justly. One of Shirley's most 
characteristic habits was that not of exactly adapting an old play, 
but of writing a new one on similar lines accommodated to the 
taste of his own day. He constantly did this with Fletcher, and 
once in The Cardinal he was rash enough to endeavour to im- 
prove upon Webster. His excuse may have been that he was 
evidently in close contact with the last survivors of the great 
school, for besides his work with or on Fletcher, he collaborated 
with Chapman in the tragedy of Chabot and the comedy of The 
Ball the latter said to be one of the earliest loci for the use of the 
word in the sense of an entertainment. His versification profited 
by this personal or literary familiarity. It is occasionally lax, and 
sins especially by the redundant syllable or syllables, and by the ugly 
break between auxiliary verbs and their complements, prepositions 
and their nouns, and so forth. But it never falls into the mere 
shapelessness which was so common with his immediate and younger 
contemporaries. Although, as has been said, long passages of high 
sustained poetry are not easily producible from him, two short 
extracts from The Traitor will show his style favourably, but not 
too favourably. Amidea, the heroine, declares her intention 

" To have my name 
Stand in the ivory register of virgins, 
When I am dead. Before one factious thought 
Should lurk within me to betray my fame 
To such a blot, my hands shall mutiny 
And boldly with a poniard teach my heart 
To weep out a repentance. " 

And this of her brother Florio's is better still 
" Let me look upon my sister now : 
Still she retains her beauty, 


Death has been kind to leave her all this sweetness. 

Thus in a morning have I oft saluted 

My sister in her chamber : sat upon 

Her bed and talked of many harmless passages. 

But now 'tis night, and a long night with her: 

I shall ne'er see these curtains drawn again 

Until we meet in heaven. " 

Here the touch, a little weakened it may be, but still the 
touch of the great age, is perceptible, especially in the last lines, 
where the metaphor of the "curtains," common enough in itself 
for eyelids, derives freshness and appositeness from the previous 
mention of the bed. But Shirley is not often at this high tragic 
level His supposed first play, Love Tricks, though it appeared 
nearly forty years before the Restoration, has a curious touch of 
post -Restoration comedy in its lively, extravagant, easy farce. 
Sometimes, as in The Witty Fair One, he fell in with the grow- 
ing habit of writing a play mainly in prose, but dropping into 
verse here and there, though he was quite as ready to write, as in 
The Wedding, a play .in verse with a little prose. Once he 
dramatised the Arcadia bodily and by name. At another time 
he would match a downright interlude like the Contention for 
Honour and Riches with a thinly-veiled morality like Honoria and 
Mammon. He was a proficient at masques. The Grateful 
Servant, The Royal Master, The Duke's Mistress, The Doubtful 
Heir, The Constant Maid, The Humorous Courtier, are plays 
whose very titles speak them, though the first is much the best. 
The Changes or Love in a Maze was slightly borrowed from by 
Dryden in The Maiden Queen, and Hyde Park, a very lively piece, 
set a fashion of direct comedy of manners which was largely 
followed, while The Brothers and The Gamester are other good 
examples of different styles. Generally Shirley seems to have 
been a man of amiable character, and the worst thing on record 
about him is his very ungenerous gibing dedication of The Bird 
in a Cage to Prynne, then in prison, for his well-known attack 
on the stage, a piece of retaliation which, if the enemy had not 
been " down," would have been fair enough. 


Perhaps Shirley's comedy deserves as a whole to be better 
spoken of than his tragedy. It is a later variety of the same kind 
of comedy which we noted as written so largely by Middleton, 
a comedy of mingled manners, intrigue, and humours, improved 
a good deal in coherence and in stage management, but destitute 
of the greater and more romantic touches which emerge from 
the chaos of the earlier style. Nearly all the writers whom I 
shall now proceed to mention practised this comedy, some better, 
some worse ; but no one with quite such success as Shirley at his 
best, and no one with anything like his industry, versatility, and 
generally high level of accomplishment. It should perhaps be 
said that the above-mentioned song, the one piece of Shirley's 
generally known, is not from one of his more characteristic 
pieces, but from The Contention of Ajax and Ulysses, a work of 
quite the author's latest days. 

Thomas Randolph, the most gifted (according to general esti- 
mate rather than to specific performance) of the Tribe of Ben, 
was a much younger man than Shirley, though he died more than, 
thirty years earlier. Randolph was born near Daventry in 1605, 
his father being a gentleman, and Lord Zouch's steward. He was 
educated at Westminster, and at Trinity College, Cambridge, of 
which he became a fellow, and he was also incorporated at Oxford. 
His life is supposed to have been merry, and was certainly short, 
for he died, of what disease is not known, in his thirtieth year. 
He left, however, no inconsiderable literary results ; and if his 
dramas are not quite so relatively good as his poems (there is 
certainly none of them which is in its own kind the equal of the 
fine answer to Ben Jonson's threat to leave the stage and the Ode 
to Anthony Stafford), still they are interesting and show a strong 
intellect and great literary facility. The two earliest, Aristippus 
and The Conceited Pedlar, the first a slight dramatic sketch, the 
second a monologue, are eminent examples of the class of 
university, not to say of undergraduate, wit ; but far stronger and 
fuller of promise than most specimens of that class. The Jealous 
Lovers, a play with classical nomenclature, and at first seeming 


to aim at the Terentian model, drifts off ihto something like the 
Jonsonian humour-comedy, of which it gives some good studies, 
but hardly a complete example. Much better are The Muses' 
Looking- Glass and Amyntas, in which Randolph's academic 
schemes and names do not hide his vivid and fertile imagination. 
The Muses' Looking-Glass, a play vindicating the claim of the 
drama in general to the title, is a kind of morality, but a morality 
carried off with infinite spirit, which excuses the frigid nature of 
the abstractions presented in it, and not seldom rises to the height 
of real comedy. The scene between Colax and Dyscolus, the pro- 
fessional flatterer and the professional snarler, is really excellent : 
and others equally good might be picked out. Of the two I am 
inclined to think that this play shows more natural genius in the 
writer for its style, than the pretty pastoral of Amyntas, which has 
sometimes been preferred to it. The same penchant for comedy 
appears in Down with Knavery, a very free and lively adaptation 
of the Plutus of Aristophanes. There is no doubt that Randolph's 
work gives the impression of considerable power. At the same 
time it is fair to remember that the author's life was one very con- 
ducive to precocity, inasmuch as he underwent at once the three 
stimulating influences of an elaborate literary education, of en- 
dowed leisure to devote himself to what literary occupations he 
pleased, and of the emulation caused by literary society. Jonson's 
friendship seems to have acted as a forcing-house on the literary 
faculties of his friends, and it is quite as possible that, if Randolph 
had lived, he would have become a steady-going soaker or a 
diligent but not originally productive scholar, as that he would 
have produced anything of high substantive and permanent value. 
It is true that many great writers had not at his age done such good 
work ; but then it must be remembered that they had also pro- 
duced little or nothing in point of bulk. It may be plausibly 
argued that, good as what Randolph's first thirty years gave is, it 
ought to have been better still if it was ever going to be of the 
best. But these excursions into possibilities are not very profit- 
able, and the chief excuse for indulging in them is that Randolph's 


critics and editors have generally done the same, and have as a 
rule perhaps pursued the indulgence in a rather too enthusiastic 
and sanguine spirit. What is not disputable at all is the example 
given by Randolph of the powerful influence of Ben on his 
" tribe." 

Very little is known of another of that tribe, Richard Brome. 
He was once servant to Ben Jonson, who, though in his own old 
age he was himself an unsuccessful, and Brome a very successful, 
dramatist, seems always to have regarded him with favour, and not 
to have been influenced by the rather illiberal attempts of 
Randolph and others to stir up bad blood between them. Brome 
deserved this favour, and spoke nobly of his old master even after 
Ben's death. He himself was certainly dead in 1653, when some 
of his plays were first collected by his namesake (but it would 
seem not relation), Alexander Brome. The modern reprint of his 
dramas takes the liberty, singular in the collection to which it 
belongs, of not attempting any kind of critical or biographical 
introduction, and no book of reference that I know is much more- 
fertile, the latest authority the Dictionary of National Biography, 
in which Brome is dealt with by the very competent hand of 
the Master of Peterhouse having little enough to tell. Brome's 
work, however, speaks for itself and pretty distinctly to all who 
care to read it. It consists, as printed (for there were others now 
lost or uncollected), of fifteen plays, all comedies, all bearing a 
strong family likeness, and all belonging to the class of comedy 
just referred to that is to say, a cross between the style of Jonson 
and that of Fletcher. Of the greater number of these, even if 
there were space here, there would be very little to say beyond this 
general description. Not one of them is rubbish ; not one of them 
is very good ; but all are readable, or would be if they had re- 
ceived the trouble spent on much far inferior work, of a little 
editing to put the mechanical part of their presentation, such as 
the division of scenes, stage directions, etc., in a uniform and 
intelligible condition. Their names (A Mad Couple -well Matched, 
The Sparagus Garden, The City /F/V,andso forth) tell a good deal 


about their most common form; while in The Lovesick Court, and 
one or two others, the half-courtly, half-romantic comedy of 
Fletcher takes the place of urban humours. One or two, such as 
The Queen and Concubine, attempt a statelier and tragi-comic 
style, but this was not Brome's forte. Sometimes, as in The' Anti- 
podes, there is an attempt at satire and comedy with a purpose. 
There are, however, two plays which stand out distinctly above 
the rest, and which are the only plays of Brome's known to any 
but diligent students of this class- of literature. These are The 
Northern Lass and A Jovial Crew. The first differs from its 
fellows only as being of the same class, but better ; and the dialect 
of the ingenue Constance seems to have been thought interesting 
and pathetic. The Jovial Crew, with its lively pictures of gipsy 
life, is, though it may have been partly suggested by Fletcher's 
Beggar's Bush, a very pleasant and fresh comedy. It seems to 
have been one of its author's last works, and he speaks of himself 
in it as " old." 

Our two next figures are of somewhat minor importance. Sir 
Aston Cokain or Cockaine, of a good Derbyshire family, was born 
in 1608, and after a long life died just before the accession of 
James II. He seems (and indeed positively asserts himself) to 
have been intimate with most of the men of letters of 
Charles I.'s reign; and it has been unkindly suggested that 
posterity would have been much more indebted to him if he had 
given us the biographical particulars, which in most cases are so 
much wanted concerning them, instead of wasting his time on 
translated and original verse of very little value, and on dramatic 
composition of still less. As it is, we owe to him the knowledge 
of the not unimportant fact that Massinger was a collaborator of 
Fletcher. His own plays are distinctly of the lower class, though 
not quite valueless. The Obstinate Lady is an echo of Fletcher 
and Massinger ; Trappolin Creduto Principe, an adaptation of an 
Italian farce, is a good deal better, and is said, with various stage 
alterations, to have held the boards till within the present century 
under the title of A Duke and no Duke, or The Duke and the 



Devil. It is in fact a not unskilful working up of some well-tried 
theatrical motives, but has no great literary merit The tragedy 
of Ovid, a regular literary tragedy in careful if not very powerful 
blank verse, is Cokain's most ambitious effort. Like his other 
work it is clearly an " echo " in character. 

A more interesting and characteristic example of the "deca- 
dence " is Henry Glapthorne. When the enthusiasm excited by 
Lamb's specimens, Hazlitt's, and Coleridge's lectures for the 
Elizabethan drama, was fresh, and everybody was hunting for new 
examples of the style, Glapthorne had the doubtful luck to be made 
the subject of a very laudatory article in the Retrospective Revieu>, 
and two of his plays were reprinted. He was not left in this hon- 
ourable but comparatively safe seclusion, and many years later, in 
1874, all his plays and poems as known were issued by them- 
selves in Mr. Pearson's valuable series of reprints. Since then 
Glapthorne has become something of a butt ; and Mr. Bullen, in 
conjecturally attributing to him a new play, The Lady Mother, takes 
occasion to speak rather unkindly of him. As usual it is a case of 
ni cet exces d'honneur ni cette indignite. Personally, Glapthorne has 
some of the interest that attaches to the unknown. Between 
1639 and 1643, or for the brief space of four years, it is clear 
that he was a busy man of letters. He published five plays (six 
if we admit The Lady Mother], which had some vogue, and sur- 
vived as an acted poet into the Restoration period; he pro- 
duced a small but not despicable collection of poems of his own ; 
he edited those of his friend Thomas Beedome ; he was himself a 
friend of Cotton and of Lovelace. But of his antecedents and of 
the life that followed this short period of literary activity we know 
absolutely nothing. The guess that he was at St. Paul's School 
is a mere guess ; and in the utter and to^al absence of the least 
scrap of biographical information about him, his editor has thought 
it worth while to print in full some not unamusing but perfectly 
irrelevant documents concerning the peccadillos of a certain 
George Glapthorne of Whittlesea, who was certainly a contem- 
porary and perhaps a relation. Henry Glapthorne as a writer is 

II 2 E 


certainly not great, but he is as certainly not contemptible. His 
tragedy of Albertus Wallenstein is not merely interesting as show- 
ing a reversion to the practice, almost dropped in his time (per- 
haps owing to censorship difficulties), of handling contemporary 
historical subjects, but contains passages of considerable poetical 
merit. His Argalus and Parthenia, a dramatisation of part 
of the Arcadia, caught the taste of his day, and, like the Wal- 
lenstein, is poetical if not dramatic. The two comedies, The 
Hollander and Wit in a Constable, are of the school which 
has been so frequently described, and not of its strongest, but at 
the same time not of its weakest specimens. Love's Privilege, 
sometimes held his best play, is a rather flabby tragi- comedy of 
the Fletcher-Shirley school. In short, Glapthorne, without being 
positively good, is good enough to have made it surprising that 
he is not better, if the explanation did not present itself pretty 
clearly. Though evidently not an old man at the time of writing 
(he has been guessed, probably enough, to have been a contem- 
porary of Milton, and perhaps a little older or a little younger), 
his work has the clear defects of age. It is garrulous and given 
to self-repetition (so much so that one of Mr. Bullen's reasons 
for attributing The Lady Mother to Glapthorne is the occurrence 
in it of passages almost literally repeated in his known work) ; it 
testifies to a relish of, and a habituation to, the great school, 
coupled with powers insufficient to emulate the work of the great 
school itself; it is exactly in flavour and character the last not 
sprightly runnings of a generous liquor. There is nowhere in it 
the same absolute flatness that occurs in the lesser men of the 
Restoration school, like the Howards and Boyle ; the ancient gust 
is still too strong for that. It does not show the vulgarity which 
even Davenant (who a? a dramatist was ten years Glapthorne's 
senior) too often displays. But we feel in reading it that the 
good wine has gone, that we have come to that which is worse. 

I have mentioned Davenant; and though he is often classed 
with, and to some extent belongs to the post-Reformation school, 
he is ours for other purposes than that of mere mention. His 


Shakespere travesties (in one of which he was assisted by a 
greater than he), and even the operas and "entertainments" 
with which he not only evaded the prohibition of stage plays 
under the Commonwealth, but helped to produce a remarkable 
change in the English drama, do not concern us. But it must 
be remembered that Davenant's earlier, most dramatic, and most 
original playmaking was done at a time far within our limits. 
When the tragedy of Albonine (Alboin) was produced, the 
Restoration was more than thirty years distant, and Jonson, 
Chapman, Dekker, and Marston men in the strictest sense of 
the Elizabethan school were still living, and, in the case of all 
but Marston, writing. The Cruel Brother, which, though printed 
after, was licensed before, dates three years earlier ; and between 
this time and the closing of the theatres Davenant had ten plays 
acted and printed coincidently with the best work of Massinger, 
Shirley, and Ford. Nor, though his fame is far below theirs, is the 
actual merit of these pieces (the two above mentioned, The Wits, 
News from Plymouth, The Fair Favourite, The Unfortunate Lovers, 
etc.), so much inferior as the fame. The chief point in which 
Davenant fails is in the failing grasp of verse above noted. This 
is curious and so characteristic that it is worth while to give an 
example of it, which shall be a fair average specimen and not of 

the worst : 

" O noble maid, what expiation can 
Make fit this young and cruel soldier for 
Society of man that hath denied 
The genius of triumphant glorious war 
With such a rape upon thy liberty ! 
Or what less hard than marble of 
The Parian rock can'st thou believe my heart, 
That nurst and bred him my disciple in 
The camp, and yet could teach his valour no 
More tenderness than injured Scytheans' use 
When they are wroth to a revenge ? But he 
Hath mourned for it : and now Evandra thou 
Art strongly pitiful, that dost so long 
Conceal an anger that would kill us both." 

Love and Honour, 1649. 


Here we have the very poetical counterpart of the last of Jaques' 
ages, the big manly voice of the great dramatists sinking into a 
childish treble that stutters and drivels over the very alphabet of 
the poetical tongue. 

In such a language as this poetry became impossible, and it 
is still a matter for wonder by what trick of elocution actors can 
have made it tolerable on the stage. Yet it was certainly tolerated. 
And not only so, but, when the theatre came to be open again, 
the discontent with blank verse, which partly at least drove Dryden 
and others into rhyme, never seems to have noticed the fact that 
the blank verse to which it objected was execrably bad. When 
Dryden returned to the more natural medium, he wrote it not in- 
deed with the old many-voiced charm of the best Elizabethans, 
but with admirable eloquence and finish. Yet he himself in his 
earliest plays staggered and slipped about with the rest, and I do 
not remember in his voluminous critical remarks anything going 
to show that he was consciously aware of the slovenliness into 
which his master Davenant and others had allowed themselves 
and their followers to drop. 

One more example and we shall have finished at once with 
those dramatists of our time whose work has been collected, and 
with the chief names of the decadence. Sir John Suckling, who, 
in Mr. Swinburne's happy phrase 

" Stumbled from above 
And reeled in slippery roads of alien art," 

is represented in the English theatre by four plays, Aglaura, 
Brennoralt, The Sad One, and the comedy of The Goblins. Of 
the tragedies some one, I forget who, has said truly that their names 
are the best thing about them. Suckling had a fancy for 
romantic names, rather suggesting sometimes the Minerva press 
of a later time, but still pretty. His serious plays, however, have 
all the faults, metrical and other, which have been noticed in 
Davenant, and in speaking of his own non-dramatic verse ; and 
they possess as well serious faults as dramas a combination of 


extravagance and dulness, a lack of playwright's grasp, an absence 
in short of the root of the matter. How far in other directions 
besides mere versification he and his fellows had slipped from 
the right way, may be perhaps most pleasantly and quite fully 
discovered from the perusal, which is not very difficult, of his 
tragi-comedy or extravaganza, The Goblins. There are several 
good points about this play an abundance of not altogether 
stagey noble sentiment, an agreeable presentment of fresh and 
gallant youths, still smacking rather of Fletcher's madcap but 
heart-sound gallants, and not anticipating the heartless crudity of 
the cubs of the Restoration, a loveable feminine character, and so 
forth. But hardly a clever boy at school ever devised anything 
so extravagantly puerile as the plot, which turns on a set of 
banished men playing at hell and devils in caverns close to a 
populous city, and brings into the action a series of the most 
absurd escapes, duels, chance-meetings, hidings, findings, and all 
manner of other devices for spinning out an unnatural story. Many 
who know nothing more of Suckling's plays know that Aglaura 
enjoys the eccentric possession of two fifth acts, so that it can be 
made a tragedy or a tragi-comedy at pleasure. The Sad One, 
which is unfinished, is much better. The tragedy of Brennoralt 
has some pathos, some pretty scenes, and some charming songs ; 
but here again we meet with the most inconceivably bad verse, 
as here a passage all the more striking because of its attempt, 
wilful or unconscious, to echo Shakespere : 

" Sleep is as nice as woman ; 
The more I court it, the more it flies me. 
Thy elder brother will be kinder yet, 
Unsent-for death will come. To-morrow ! 
Well, what can to-morrow do ? 
'Twill cure the sense of honour lost ; 
I and my discontents shall rest together, 
What hurt is there in this ? But death against 
The will is but a slovenly kind of potion ; 

And though prescribed by Heaven, it goes against men's stomachs. 
So does it at fourscore too, when the soul's 


Mewed up in narrow darkness : neither sees nor hears. 

Pish ! 'tis mere fondness in our nature. 

A certain clownish cowardice that still 

Would stay at home and dares not venture 

Into foreign countries, though better than 

Its own. Ha ! what countries ? for we receive 

Descriptions of th' other world from our divines 

As blind men take relations of this from us : 

My thoughts lead me into the dark, and there 

They'll leave me. I'll no more on it. Within ! " 

Such were the last notes of the concert which opened with the 
music, if not at once of Hamlet and Othello, at any rate of 
Tamburlaine. and Faustits. 

To complete this sketch of the more famous and fortunate 
dramatists who have attained to separate presentation, we must 
give some account of lesser men and of those wholly anonymous 
works which are still to be found only in collections such as 
Dodsley's, or in single publications. As the years pass, the list of 
independently published authors increases. Mr. Bullen, who 
issued the works of Thomas Nabbes and of Davenport, has 
promised those of W. Rowley. Nabbes, a member of the Tribe 
of Ben, and a man of easy talent, was successful in comedy only, 
though he also attempted tragedy. Microcosmus (1637), his 
best-known work, is half-masque, half-morality, and has consider- 
able merit in a difficult kind. The Bride, Covent Garden, 
Tottenham Court, range with the already characterised work of 
Brome, but somewhat lower. Davenport's range was wider, and 
the interesting history of King John and Matilda, as well as the 
lively comedy of The City Nightcap, together with other work, 
deserved, and have now received, collection. William Rowley was 
of a higher stamp. His best work is probably to be found in the 
plays wherein, as mentioned more than once, he collaborated with 
Middleton, with Massinger, with Webster, with Fletcher, with 
Dekker, and in short with most of the best men of his time. It 
would appear that he was chiefly resorted to for comic under- 
plots, in which he brought in a good deal of horse-play, and 



a power of reporting the low-life humours of the London of his 
day more accurate than refined, together with not a little stock- 
stage wit, such as raillery of Welsh and Irish dialect But in 
the plays which are attributed to him alone, such as A New 
Wonder, a Woman Nei'er Vexed, and A Match at Midnight, he 
shows not merely this same vis comica and rough and ready 
faculty of hitting off dramatic situations, but an occasional touch 
of true pathos, and a faculty of knitting the whole action well 
together. He has often been confused with a half namesake, 
Samuel Rowley, of whom very little is known, but who in his 
chronicle play When you see Me you know Me, and his romantic 
drama of The Noble Spanish Soldier, has distinctly outstripped 
the ordinary dramatists of the time. Yet another collected drama- 
tist, who has long had a home in Dodsley, and who figures rather 
curiously in a later collection of " Dramatists of the Restora- 
tion," though his dramatic fame was obtained many years before, 
was Shakerley Mawnion, author of the pretty poem of Cupi$ and 
Psyche, and a " son " of Ben Jonson. Marmion's three plays, of 
which the best known is The Antiquary, are fair but not exces- 
sively favourable samples of the favourite play of the time, a 
rather broad humour-comedy, which sometimes conjoined itself 
with, and sometimes stood aloof from, either a romantic and tragi- 
comical story or a downright tragedy. 

Among the single plays comparatively few are of the latter 
kind. The Miseries of Enforced Marriage, a domestic tragi- 
comedy, connects itself with the wholly tragical Yorkshire Tragedy, 
and is a kind of introduction to it. These domestic tragedies (of 
which another is A Warning to Fair Women} were very popular 
at the time, and large numbers now lost seem to have been pro- 
duced by the dramatisation of notable crimes, past and present. 
Their class is very curiously mixed up with the remarkable and, 
in one sense or another, very interesting class of the dramas attri- 
buted, and in general estimation falsely attributed, to Shakespere. 
According to the fullest list these pseudo-Shakesperian plays 
number seventeen. They are Fair Em, The Merry Devil oj 


Edmonton, Edward ///., The Birth of Merlin, The Troublesome 
Reign of King John, A Warning to Fair Women, The Arraign- 
ment of Paris, Arden of Feversham, Mucedorus, George a Green 
the Pinner of Wakefield, The Two Noble Kinsmen, The London 
Prodigal, Thomas Lord Cromwell, Sir John Oldcastle, The Puritan 
or the Widow of Wailing Street, The Yorkshire Tragedy, and 
Locrine. Four of these, Edward III,, The Merry Devil of Edmon- 
ton, Arden of Feversham, and The Two Noble Kinsmen, are in 
whole or parts very far superior to the rest. Of that rest The 
Yorkshire Tragedy, a violent and bloodthirsty little piece showing 
the frantic cruelty of the ruined gambler, Calverley, to his wife and 
children, is perhaps the most powerful, though it is not in the 
least Shakesperian. But the four have claims, not indeed of 
a strong, but of a puzzling kind. In Edward III. and The 
Two Noble Kinsmen there are no signs of Shakespere either in 
plot, character-drawing, or general tone. But, on the contrary, 
there are in both certain scenes where the- versification and 
dialogue are so astonishingly Shakesperian that it is almost im- 
possible to account for the writing of them by any one else than 
Shakespere. By far the larger majority of critics declare for the 
part authorship of Shakespere in The Two Noble Kinsmen; I avow 
myself simply puzzled. On the other hand, I am nearly sure that 
he did not write any part of Edward III., and I should take it 
to be a case of a kind not unknown in literature, where some 
writer of great but not very original faculty was strongly affected 
by the Shakesperian influence, and wrote this play while under it, 
but afterwards, either by death or diversion to non-literary employ- 
ments, left no other monument of himself that can be traced or 
compared with it. The difficulty with Arden of Feversham and 
The Merry Devil is different. We shall presently speak of the 
latter, which, good as it is, has nothing specially Shakesperian 
about it, except a great superiority in sanity, compactness, pleasant 
human sentiment, and graceful verse, to the ordinary anonymous 
or named work of the time. But Arden of Feversham is a very 
different piece of work. It is a domestic tragedy of a peculiarly 


atrocious kind, Alice Arden, the wife, being led by her passion for a 
base paramour, Mosbie, to plot, and at last carry out, the murder of 
her husband. Here it is not that the versification has much 
resemblance to Shakespere's, or that single speeches smack of 
him, but that the dramatic grasp of character both in principals 
and in secondary characters has a distinct touch of his almost 
unmistakable hand. Yet both in the selection and in the treat- 
ment of the subject the play definitely transgresses those principles 
which have been said to exhibit themselves so uniformly and so 
strongly in the whole great body of his undoubted plays. There 
is a perversity and a dash of sordidness which are both wholly 
un-Shakesperian. The only possible hypothesis on which it 
could be admitted as Shakespere's would be that of an early 
experiment thrown off while he was seeking his way in a 
direction where he found no thoroughfare. But the play is a 
remarkable one, and deserves the handsome and exact reproduc- 
tion which Mr. Bullen has given it. The Second Maiden's Tra- 
gedy, licensed 1611, but earlier in type, is one of the gloomy 
pity-and-terror pieces which were so much affected in the earlier 
part of the period, but which seem to have given way later in 
the public taste to comedy. It is black enough to have been 
attributed to Tourneur. The Queen of Aragon, by Habington, 
though in a different key, has something of the starchness rather 
than strength which characterises Castara. A much higher level 
is reached in the fine anonymous tragedy of Nero, where at least 
one character, that of Petronius, is of great excellence, and where 
the verse, if a little declamatory, is of a very high order of decla- 
mation. The strange piece, first published by Mr. Bullen, and 
called by him The Distracted Emperor, a tragedy based partly on 
the legend of Charlemagne and Fastrada, again gives us a speci- 
men of horror-mongering. The Return from Parnassus (see note, p. 
81), famous for its personal touches and its contribution to Shake- 
spere literature, is interesting first for the judgments of contempo- 
rary writers, of which the Shakespere passages are only the chief; 
secondly, for its evidence of the jealousy between the universities 


and the players, who after, in earlier times, coming chiefly on the 
university wits for their supplies, had latterly taken to provide for 
themselves ; and thirdly, for its flashes of light on university and 
especially undergraduate life. The comedy of Wily Beguiled has 
also a strong university touch, the scholar being made triumphant 
in it ; and Lingua, sometimes attributed to Anthony Brewer, is 
a return, though a lively one, to the system of personification and 
allegory. The Dumb Knight, of or partly by Lewis Machin, belongs 
to the half-romantic, half-farcical class ; but in The Merry Devil of 
Edmonton, the authorship of which is quite unknown, though 
Shakespere, Drayton, and other great names have been put 
forward, a really delightful example of romantic comedy, strictly 
English in subject, and combining pathos with wit, appears. The 
Merry Devil probably stands highest among all the anonymous 
plays of the period on the lighter side, as Arden of Feversham 
does on the darker. Second to it as a comedy comes Porter's 
Two Angry Women of Abingdon (1599), with less grace and 
fancy but almost equal lightness, and a singularly exact picture 
of manners. With Ram Alley, attributed to the Irishman 
Lodowick Barry, we come back to a much lower level, that of 
the bustling comedy, of which something has been said generally 
in connection with Middleton. To the same class belong Haugh- 
ton's pleasant Englishmen for my Money, a good patriot play, where 
certain foreigners, despite the father's favour, are ousted from 
the courtship of three fair sisters ; Woman is a Weathercock, and 
Amends for Ladies (invective and palinode), by Nathaniel Field 
(first one of the little eyasses who competed with regular actors, 
and then * himself an actor and playwright) ; " Green's Tu 
Quoque" or The City Gallant, attributed to the actor Cook, and 
deriving its odd first title from a well-known comedian of the 
time, and the catchword which he had to utter in the play -itself ; 
The Hog hath Lost his Pearl, a play on the name of a usurer whose 
daughter is married against his will, by Taylor ; The Heir and The 
Old Couple, by Thomas May, more famous still for his Latin 
versification ; the rather over-praised Ordinary of Cartwright, Ben 


Jonson's most praised son ; The City Match by Dr. Jasper Mayne. 
All these figure in the last, and most of them have figured in the 
earlier editions of Dodsley, with a few others hardly worth sepa- 
rate notice. Mr. Bullen's delightful volumes of Old Plays add 
the capital play of Dick of Devonshire (see ante), the strange 
Two Tragedies in One of Robert Yarington, three lively comedies 
deriving their names from originals of one kind or another, 
Captain Underwit, Sir Giles Goosecap, and Dr. Dodipoll, with 
one or two more. One single play remains to be mentioned, 
both because of its intrinsic merit, and because of the con- 
troversy which has arisen respecting the question of priority 
between it and Ben Jonson's Alchemist. This is Albumazar, attri- 
buted to one Thomas Tomkis, and in all probability a university 
play of about the middle of James's reign. There is nothing in 
it equal to the splendid bursts of Sir Epicure Mammon, or the all 
but first-rate comedy of Face, Dol, and Subtle, and of Abel 
Brugger ; but Giffbrd, in particular, does injustice to it, and it is 
on the whole a very fair specimen of the work of the time. 
Nothing indeed is more astonishing than the average goodness 
of that work, even when all allowances are made ; and unjust as 
such a mere enumeration as these last paragraphs have given 
must be, it would be still more unjust to pass over in silence 
work so varied and so full of talent. 1 

1 A note may best serve for the plays of Thomas Goff (1591-1629), acted 
at his own college, Christ Church, but not published till after his death. 
The three most noteworthy, The Raging Turk, The Courageous Turk, and the 
Tragedy of Orestes, were republished together in 1656, and a comedy, The 
Careless Shepherdess, appeared in the same year. The tragedies, and especi- 
ally The Raging Turk, have been a byword for extravagant frigidity, though, 
as they have never been printed in modern times, and as the originals are rare, 
they have not been widely known at first hand. A perusal justifies the worst 
that has been said of them : though Goff wrote early enough to escape the 
Caroline dry-rot in dramatic versification. His lines are stiff, but they usually 



THE greatest, beyond all doubt, of the minor writers of the Caroline 
period in prose is Robert Burton. Less deliberately quaint than 
Fuller, he is never, as Fuller sometimes is, puerile, and the greater 
concentration of his thoughts and studies has produced what 
Fuller never quite produced, a masterpiece. At the same time 
it must be confessed that Burton's more leisurely life assisted to 
a great extent in the production of his work. The English colle- 
giate system would have been almost sufficiently justified if it had 
produced nothing but The Anatomy of Melancholy ; though there 
is something ironical, no doubt, in the fact that this ideal fruit of 
a studious and endowed leisure was the work of one who, being 
a beneficed clergyman, ought not in strictness to have been a 
resident member of a college. Yet, elsewhere than in Oxford 
or Cambridge the book could hardly have grown, and it is as 
unique as the institutions which produced it. 

The author of the Anatomy was the son of Ralph Burton of 
Lindley in Leicestershire, where he was born on the 8th of Feb- 
ruary 1577. He was educated at Sutton Coldfield School, and 
thence went to Brasenose College, Oxford. He became a student 
of Christchurch the equivalent of a fellow in 1599, and seems 
to have passed the whole of the rest of his life there, though he 
took orders and enjoyed together or successively the living of St. 
Thomas in Oxford, the vicarage of Walsby in Lincolnshire, and 

CHAP, xii BURTON 429 

the rectory of Segrave in Leicestershire, at both of which latter 
places he seems to have kept the minimum of residence, though 
tradition gives him the character of a good churchman, and 
though there is certainly nothing inconsistent with that character 
in the Anatomy. The picture of him which Anthony a Wood 
gives at a short second hand is very favourable ; and the attempts 
to harmonise his "horrid disorder of melancholy " with his "very 
merry, facete, and juvenile company," arise evidently from almost 
ludicrous misunderstanding of what melancholy means and is. 
As absurd, though more serious, is the traditionary libel obviously 
founded on the words in his epitaph (Cui vitam et mortem dedit 
melancholia), that having cast his nativity, he, in order not to be out 
as to the time of his death, committed suicide. As he was sixty- 
three (one of the very commonest periods of death) at the time, 
the want of reason of the suggestion equals its want of charity. 
_ The offspring in English of Burton's sixty -three years of 
humorous study of men and books is Tfie Anatomy of Melancholy, 
first printed in 1621, and enlarged afterwards by the author. 
A critical edition of the Anatomy, giving these enlargements 
exactly with other editorial matter, is very much wanted ; but 
even in the rather inedited condition in which the book, old and 
new, is usually found, it is wholly acceptable. Its literary history 
is rather curious. Eight editions of it appeared in half a century 
from the date of the first, and then, with other books of its time, 
it dropped out of notice except by the learned. Early in the pre- 
sent century it was revived and reprinted with certain modern- 
isations, and four or five editions succeeded each other at no 
long interval. The copies thus circulated seem to have satisfied 
the demand for many years, and have been followed without 
much alteration in some later issues. 

The book itself has been very variously judged. Fuller, in 
one of his least worthy moments, called it " a book of philology." 
Anthony Wood, hitting on a notion which has often been borrowed 
since, held that it is a convenient commonplace book of classical 
quotations, which, with all respect to Anthony's memory (whom 


I am more especially bound to honour as a Merton man), is a 
gross and Philistine error. Johnson, as was to be expected, 
appreciated it thoroughly. Ferriar in his Illustrations of Sterne 
pointed out the enormous indebtedness of Tristram Shandy to 
Democritus Junior. Charles Lamb, eloquently praising the 
" fantastic great old man," exhibited perhaps more perversity than 
sense in denouncing the modern reprints which, after all, are not 
like some modern reprints (notably one of Burton's contempo- 
rary, Felltham, to be noticed shortly), in any real sense garbled. 
Since that time Burton has to some extent fallen back to the base 
uses of a quarry for half- educated journalists; nevertheless, all 
fit readers of English literature have loved him. 

The book is a sufficiently strange one at first sight ; and it is 
perhaps no great wonder that uncritical readers should have been 
bewildered by the bristling quotations from utterly forgotten 
authorities which, with full and careful reference for the most 
part, stud its pages, by its elaborate but apparently futile 
marshalling in " partitions " and " members," in " sections " and 
" subsections," and by the measureless license of digression which 
the author allows himself. It opens with a long epistle, filling 
some hundred pages in the modern editions, from Democritus 
Junior, as the author calls himself, to the reader an epistle which 
gives a true foretaste of the character and style of the text, though, 
unlike that text, it is not scholastically divided. The division 
begins with the text itself, and even the laziest reader will find 
the synopses of Burton's " partitions " a curious study. It is 
impossible to be, at least in appearance, more methodical, and 
all the typographical resources of brackets (sub-bracketed even 
to the seventh or eighth involution) and of reference letters 
are exhausted in order to draw up a conspectus of the causes, 
symptoms, nature, effects, and cure of melancholy. This method 
is not exactly the method of madness, though it is quite possible 
for a reader to attach more (as also less) importance to it than 
it deserves. It seems probable on the whole that the author, 
with the scholastic habits of his time, did actually draw out a 

xii BURTON 43, 

programme for the treatment of his subject in some form not 
very different from these wonderful synopses, and did actually 
endeavour to keep to it, or at any rate to work on its lines within 
the general compass of the scheme. But on each several head 
(and reducing them to their lowest terms the heads are legion) 
he allowed himself the very widest freedom of digression, not 
merely in extracting and applying the fruits of his notebook, but 
in developing his own thoughts, a mine hardly less rich if less 
extensive than the treasures of the Bodleian Library which are 
said to have been put at his disposal. 

The consequence is, that the book is one quite impossible to 
describe in brief space. The melancholy of which the author 
treats, and of which, no doubt, he was in some sort the victim, is 
very far from being the mere Byronic or Wertherian disease which 
became so familiar some hundred years ago. On the other hand, 
Burton being a practical, and, on the whole, very healthy English- 
man, it came something short of " The Melencolia that trans- 
cends all wit," the incurable pessimism and quiet despair which 
have been thought to be figured or prefigured in Durer's famous 
print. Yet it approaches, and that not distantly, to this latter. 
It is the Vanity of Vanities of a man who has gone, in thought at 
least, over the whole round of human pleasures and interests, and 
who, if he has not exactly found all to be vanity, has found each 
to be accompanied by some amari aliquid. It is at the same 
time the frankly expressed hypochondria of a man whose bodily 
health was not quite so robust as his mental constitution. It is 
the satiety of learning of a man who, nevertheless, knows that 
learning, or at least literature, is the only cure for his disease. 

In mere style there is perhaps nothing very strongly character- 
istic in Burton, though there is much that is noteworthy in the 
way in which he adapts his style to the peculiar character of his 
book. Like Rabelais, he has but rarely occasion to break through 
his fantastic habit of stringing others' pearls on a mere string of 
his own, and to set seriously to the composition of a paragraph 
of wholly original prose. But when he does, the effect is 


remarkable, and shows that it was owing to no poverty or 
awkwardness that he chose to be so much of a borrower. In 
his usual style, where a mere framework of original may enclose a 
score or more quotations, translated or not (the modern habit of 
translating Burton's quotations spoils, among other things, the 
zest of his own quaint habit of adding, as it were, in the same 
breath, a kind of summary or paraphrase in English of what he 
has said in Latin or Greek), he was not superior to his time in 
the loose construction of sentences ; but the wonder is that his 
fashion of writing did not make him even inferior to it. One of his 
peculiar tricks the only one, perhaps, which he uses to the 
extent of a mannerism is the suppression of the conjunctions 
" or " and " and," which gives a very quaint air to his strings of 
synonyms. But an example will do more here than much 
analysis : 

" And why then should baseness of birth be objected to any man? Who 
thinks worse of Tully for being Arpinas, an upstart ? or Agathocles, that 
Sicilian King, for being a potter's son ? Iphicrates and Marius were meanly 
born. What wise man thinks better of any person for his nobility ? as he 1 
said in Machiavel, omnes eodem patre nati, Adam's sons, conceived all and 
born in sin, etc. We are by nature all as one, all alike, if you see us naked ; 
let us -wear theirs, and they our clothes, and what's the difference ? To speak 
truth, as Bale did of P. Schalichius, / more esteem thy worth, learning, honesty, 
than thy nobility ; honour thee more that thou art a writer, a doctor of divinity, 
than earl of the Hunnes, baron ofSkradine, or hast title to such and such provinces, 
etc. Thou art more fortunate and great (so Jovius writes to Cosmus Medices, then 
Duke of Florence) for thy virtues than for thy lovely wife and happy children, 
friends, fortune?, or great Duchy of Tuscany. So I account thee, and who doth 
not so indeed ? Abdalonymus was a gardener, and yet by Alexander for his, 
virtues made King of Syria. How much better is it to be born of mean 
parentage and to excel- in worth, to be morally noble, which is preferred before 
that natural nobility by divines, philosophers, and politicians, to be learned, 
honest, discreet, well qualified to be fit for any manner of employment in 
country and commonwealth, war and peace, than to be degeneres Neoptolemi as 
so many brave nobles are, only wise because rich, otherwise idiots, illiterate, 

1 Burton, with others of the time, constantly wrote "he" as the equivalent 
of the classical demonstratives. Modern, but not better, use prefers " the 
man," or something similar. 


unfit for any manner of service ? Udalricus, Earl of Cilia, upbraided John 
Huniades with the baseness of his birth ; but he replied, In te Cilietisis comi- 
tatus turpiter exstinguitur, in me gloriose Bistricensis exoritnr ; thine earldom 
is consumed with riot ; mine begins with honour and renown. Thou hast had 
so many noble ancestors; what is that to thee? Vi x ea nostra voco ; when 
thou art a disard 1 thyself, quid prodest Pontice longo stemtnate censeri ? etc. 
I conclude, hast thou a sound body and a good soul, good bringing up ? Art 
thou virtuous, honest, learned, well qualified, religious? Are thy conditions 
good ? Thou art a true nobleman, perfectly noble though born of Thersites, 
dummodo hi sis Aeacidcz similis non natus sed factus, noble /car' t%o-xty,for 
neither sword, nor fire, nor water ; nor sickness, nor outward violence, nor the 
devil himself can take thy good parts from thee. Be not ashamed of thy birth 
then ; thou art a gentleman all the world over, and shall be honoured, whenas 
he, strip him of his fine clothes, dispossess him of his wealth, is a funge 2 
(which Polynices in his banishment found true by experience, gentry was not 
esteemed), like a piece of coin in another country, that no man will take, and 
shall be contemned. Once more, though thou be a barbarian born at Tonton- 
teac, a villain, a slave, a Saldanian negro, or a rude Virginian in Dasamon- 
quepeuc, 3 he a French monsieur, a Spanish don, a seignior of Italy, I care 
not how descended, of what family, of what order baron, count, prince if 
thou be well qualified and he not but a degenerate Neoptolemus, I tell thee in 
a word thou art a man and he is a beast." 

Such, in his outward aspects, is Burton ; but of him, even 
more than of most writers, it may be said that a brick of the 
house is no sample. Only by reading him in the proper sense, 
and that with diligence, can his great learning, his singular wit 
and fancy, and the general view of life and of things belonging to 
life, which informs and converts to a whole his learning, his wit, 
and his fancy alike, be properly conceived. For reading either con- 
tinuous or desultory, either grave or gay, at all times of life and 
in all moods of temper, there are few authors who stand the test of 
practice so well as the author of The Anatomy of Melancholy. 

Probably, however, among those who can taste old authors, 
there will always be a friendly but irreconcilable difference as to 

1 A " dizzard" = a blockhead. Said to be connected with "dizzy." 

2 Fungus, mushroom. 

3 Saldania is Saldanha Bay. As for Tontonteac and Dasamonquepeuc, I 
shall imitate the manly frankness of the boy in Henry V., and say, " I do not 
know what is the French for fer, and ferret, and firk." 

II 3 * 


the merits of Fuller and Burton, when compared together. There 
never can be any among such as to the merits of Fuller, con- 
sidered in himself. Like Burton, he was a clerk in orders ; but 
his literary practice, though more copious than that of the author 
of The Anatomy, divorced him less from the discharge of his 
professional duties. He was born, like Dryden, but twenty-two 
years earlier, in 1608, at Aldwinkle in Northamptonshire, and in 
a parsonage there, but of the other parish (for there are two close 
together). He was educated at Cambridge, and, being made 
prebendary of Salisbury, and vicar of Broadwindsor, almost as 
soon as he could take orders, seemed to be in a fair way of 
preferment. He worked as a parish priest up to "1640, the year 
of the beginning of troubles, and the year of his first important 
book, The Holy War. But he was a staunch Royalist, though 
by no means a bigot, and he did not, like other men of his time, 
see his way to play Mr. Facing-both-ways. For a time he was a 
preacher in London, then he followed the camp as chaplain to 
the victorious army of Hopton, in the west, then for a time again 
he was stationary at Exeter, and after the ruin of the Royal cause 
he returned to London, where, though he did not recover his 
benefices, he was leniently treated, and even, in 1655, obtained 
license to preach. Nevertheless, the Restoration would probably 
have brought him promotion, but he lived not long enough to 
receive it, dying on the i5th of August 1661. He was an 
extremely industrious writer, publishing, besides the work already 
mentioned, and not a few minor pieces (The Holy and Profane 
State, Thoughts and Contemplations in Good, Worse; and Better 
Times, A Pisgah-sight of Palestine}, an extensive Church History 
of Britain, and, after his death, what is perhaps his masterpiece, 
The Worthies of England, an extraordinary miscellany, quartering 
the ground by counties, filling, in the compactest edition, two 
mighty quartos, and containing perhaps the greatest account of 
miscellaneous fact to be found anywhere out of an encyclopedia, 
conveyed in a style the quaintest and most lively to be found 
anywhere out of the choicest essayists of the language. 



A man of genius who adored Fuller, and who owes to him more 
than to any one else except Sir Thomas Browne, has done, in small 
compass, a service to his memory which is not easily to be paralleled. 
Lamb's specimens from Fuller, most of which are only two or 
three lines long, and none a pageful, for once contradict the 
axiom quoted above as to a brick and a house. So perfectly has 
the genius of selector and author coincided, that not having myself 
gone through the verification of them, I should hardly be sur- 
prised to find that Lamb had used his faculty of invention. Yet 
this would not matter, for they are perfectly Fullerian. Although 
Fuller has justly been praised for his method, and although he 
never seems to have suffered his fancy to run away with him to 
the extent of forgetting or wilfully misrepresenting a fact, the 
conceits, which are the chief characteristic of his style, are 
comparatively independent of the subject. Coleridge has asserted 
that " Wit was the stuff and substance of his intellect," an asser- 
tion which (with all the respect due to Coleridge) would have 
been better phrased in some such way as this, that nearly the 
whole force of his intellect concentrated itself upon the witty 
presentation of things. He is inimitably figurative, and though 
his figures seldom or never fail to carry illumination of the 
subject with them, their peculiar character is sufficiently indicated 
by the fact that they can almost always be separated from the 
subject and from the context in which they occur without any 
damage to their own felicity. To a thoroughly serious person, to 
a person like Lord Chesterfield (who was indeed very serious in 
his own way, and abhorred proverbial philosophy), or to one who 
cannot away with the introduction of a quip in connection with a 
solemn subject, and who thinks that indulgence in a gibe is a clear 
proof that the writer has no solid argument to produce, Fuller 
must be nothing but a puzzle or a disgust. That a pious and 
earnest divine should, even in that day of quaintness, compare 
the gradual familiarisation of Christians with the sacraments of 
the Church to the habit of children first taking care of, and then 
neglecting a pair of new boots, or should describe a brother clerk 


as " pronouncing the word damn with such an emphasis as left a 
dismal echo in his auditors' ears a good while longer," seems, 
no doubt, to some excellent people, unpardonable, and almost 
incomprehensible. Yet no one has ever impeached the sincerity 
of Fuller's convictions, and the blamelessness of his life. That a 
grave historian should intersperse the innumerable trivialities of 
the Worthies may be only less shocking. But he was an eminent 
proof of his own axiom, " That an ounce of mirth, with the same 
degree of grace, will serve God farther than a pound of sadness." 
Fuller is perhaps the only writer who, voluminous as he is, will 
not disappoint the most superficial inquirer for proofs of the 
accuracy of the character usually given to him. Nobody perhaps 
but himself, in trying to make the best of the Egyptian bondage 
of the Commonwealth, would have discovered that the Church, 
being unrepresented by any of the four hundred and odd members 
of Cromwell's Parliament, was better off than when she had 
Archbishops, Bishops, and a convocation all to herself, urging, 
" what civil Christian would not plead for a dumb man," and so 
enlisting all the four hundred and odd enemies as friends and 
representatives. But it is impossible to enter fully on the subject 
of Fuller's quips. What may fairly be said of them is, that while 
constantly fantastic, and sometimes almost childish, they are never 
really silly ; that they are never, or hardly ever in bad taste ; and 
that, quaint and far fetched as they are, there is almost always 
some application or suggestion which saves them from being mere 
intellectual somersaults. The famous one of the " Images of God 
cut in ebony," is sufficient of itself to serve as a text. There is 
in it all the good side of the emancipation propaganda with an 
entire freedom from the extravagance, the vulgarity, the in- 
justice, the bad taste which marked that propaganda a century 
and more afterwards, when taken up by persons very different 
from Fuller. Perhaps it may be well to give an extract of some 
length from him : 

" A lady big with child was condemned to perpetual imprisonment, and in 
the dungeon was delivered of a son, who continued with her till a boy of some 

xii FULLER 437 

bigness. It happened at one time he heard his mother (for see neither of them 
could, as to decern in so dark a place) bemoan her condition. 

" Why, mother (said the child) do you complain, seeing you want nothing 
you can wish, having clothes, meat, and drink sufficient ? Alas ! child (re- 
turned the mother), I lack liberty, converse with Christians, the light of the 
sun, and many things more, which thou, being prison-born, neither art nor can 
be sensible of in thy condition. 

" The post-tiati, understand thereby such striplings born in England since 
the death of monarchy therein, conceive this land, their mother, to be in a good 
estate. For one fruitful harvest followeth another, commodities are sold at 
reasonable rates, abundance of brave clothes are worn in the city, though not 
by such persons whose birth doth best become, but whose purses can best 
bestow them. 

" But their mother, England, doth justly bemoan the sad difference betwixt 
her present and former condition ; when she enjoyed full and free trade with- 
out payment of taxes, save so small they seemed rather an acknowledgment of 
-their allegiance than a burden to their estate ; when she had the court of a 
king, the House of Lords, yea, and the Lord's house, decently kept, constantly 
frequented, without falsehood in doctrine, or faction in discipline. God of 
His goodness restore unto us so much of these things as may consist with His 
glory and our good." 

" I saw a servant maid, at the command of her mistress, make, kindle, and 
blow a fire. Which done, she was posted away about other business, whilst 
her mistress enjoyed the benefit of the fire. Yet I observed that this servant, 
whilst industriously employed in the kindling thereof, got a more general, 
kindly, and continuing heat than her mistress herself. Her heat was only by 
her, and not in her, staying with her no longer than she stayed by the chimney ; 
whilst the warmth of the maid was inlaid, and equally diffused through the 
whole body. 

' ' An estate suddenly gotten is not so lasting to the owner thereof as what 
is duly got by industry. The substance of the diligent, saith Solomon, Prov. 
xii. 27, is precious. He cannot be counted poor that hath so many pearls, 
precious brown bread, precious small beer, precious plain clothes, etc. A 
comfortable consideration in this our age, wherein many hands have learned 
their lesson of labour, who were neither born nor bred with it." 

The best judges have admitted that, in contradistinction to 
this perpetual quipping, which is, as far as it goes, of his time, the 
general style of Fuller is on the whole rather more modern than 
the styles of his contemporaries. It does not seem that this is 
due to deliberate intention of shortening and proportioning his 


prose ; for he is as careless as any one of the whole century 
about exact grammatical sequence, and seems to have had 
no objection on any critical grounds to the long disjointed 
sentence which was the curse of the time. But his own ruling 
passion insensibly disposed him to a certain brevity. He liked 
to express his figurative conceits pointedly and antithetically ; 
and point and antithesis are the two things most incompatible 
with clauses jointed ad infinitum in Clarendon's manner, with 
labyrinths of "whos" and "whiches" such as too frequently 
content Milton and Taylor. Poles asunder from Hobbes, not 
merely in his ultimate conclusions but in the general quality of 
his mind, he perhaps comes nearest to the author of the treatise 
on Human Nature in clear, sensible, unambiguous presentation 
of the thing that he means to say; and this, joined to his fecundity 
in illustration of every kind, greatly helps the readableness of his 
books. No work of his as a working out of an original concep- 
tion can compete with The Anatomy of Melancholy ; but he is as 
superior in minor method to Burton as he is inferior in general 

The remainder of the minor Carolines must be dismissed 
rapidly. A not unimportant position among the prose writers 
of this time is occupied by Edward Herbert, Lord Herbert of 
Cherbury, the elder brother of George Herbert the poet. He 
was born in 1583, and finished his life ingloriously, and indeed 
discreditably, during the troubles of the civil war, on the 2oth of 
August 1648. His earlier career is elaborately if not exactly 
truthfully recorded in his Autobiography, and its details have been 
carefully supplemented by his latest editor, Mr. Lee. His literary 
activity was various and considerable. His greatest work a 
treatise which has been rashly called the foundation of English 
deism, but which rather expresses the vague and not wholly 
unorthodox doubt expressed earlier by Montaigne, and by con- 
temporaries of Herbert's own, such as La Mothe le Vayer was 
written in Latin, and has never been translated into English. 
He was an English verse writer of some merit, though inferior 


to his brother. His ambitious and academic History of Henry 
VIII. is a regular and not unsuccessful effort in English prose, 
prompted no doubt by the thorough-going courtiership which 
ranks with his vanity and want of stability on the most unfavour- 
able aspect of Herbert's character. But posterity has agreed 
to take him as an English writer chiefly on the strength of the 
Autobiography, which remained in manuscript for a century and 
more, and was published by Horace Walpole, rather against the 
will of Lord Powis, its possessor and its author's representative. 
It is difficult to say that Lord Powis was wrong, especially con- 
sidering that Herbert never published these memoirs, and seems 
to have written them as much as anything else for his own 
private satisfaction. It may be doubted whether there is any 
more astounding monument of coxcombry in literature. Herbert 
is sometimes cited as a model of a modern knight-errant, of an 
Amadis born too late. Certainly, according to his own account, 
all women loved and all men feared him; but for the former 
fact we have nothing but his own authority, and in regard to the 
latter we have counter evidence which renders it exceedingly 
doubtful. He was, according to his own account, a desperate 
duellist. But even by this account his duels had a curious habit 
of being interrupted, in the immortal phrase of Mr. Winkle, by 
" several police constables ; " while in regard to actual war the 
exploits of his youth seem not to have been great, and those of 
his age were wholly discreditable, inasmuch as being by pro- 
fession an ardent Royalist, he took the first opportunity to make, 
without striking a blow, a profitable composition with the Par- 
liament. Nevertheless, despite the drawbacks of subject-matter, 
the autobiography is a very interesting piece of English prose. 
The narrative style, for all its coxcombry and its insistence on 
petty details, has a singular vivacity ; the constructions, though 
sometimes incorrect (" the edict was so severe as they who trans- 
gressed were to lose their heads "), are never merely slovenly; and 
the writer displays an art, very uncommon in his time, in the alter- 
nation of short and long sentences and the general adjustment 


of the paragraph. Here and there, too, there are passages of 
more elevated style which give reason for regretting that the 
De Veritate was not written in English. It is very much to be 
feared that the chief reason for its being written in Latin was. a 
desire on the author's part to escape awkward consequences by 
an appearance of catering for philosophers and the learned only. 
It must be admitted that neither of the two great free-thinking 
Royalists, Hobbes and Herbert, is a wholly pleasant character ; 
but it may be at least said for the commoner (it cannot be said 
for the peer) that he was constant to his principles, and that if 
somewhat careful of his skin, he never seems to have been 
tempted to barter his conscience for it as Herbert did. 

Hardly any other writer among the minor Caroline prosaists 
is important enough to justify a substantive notice in a work 
which has already reached and almost exceeded the limits 
accorded to it. The excellent style of Cowley's Essays, which 
is almost more modern than the work of Dryden and Tillotson, 
falls in great part actually beyond the limits of our time ; and 
by character, if not by date, Cowley is left for special treatment 
in the following volume. He sometimes relapses into what 
may be called the general qualities with their accompanying 
defects of Elizabethan prose a contempt of proportion, clear- 
ness, and order ; a reckless readiness to say everything that is in 
the writer's mind, without considering whether it is appropriate or 
not ; a confusion of English and classical grammar, and occasion- 
ally a very scant attention even to rules which the classical gram- 
mars indicate yet more sternly than the vernacular. But as a rule 
he is distinguished for exactly the opposite of all these things. Much 
less modern than Cowley, but still of a chaster and less fanciful 
style than most of his contemporaries, is the famous Protestant 
apologist, Chillingworth a man whose orderly mind and freedom 
from anything like enthusiasm reflected themselves in the easy 
balance of his style. Sanderson, Pearson, Baxter, the two former 
luminaries of the Church, the latter one of the chief literary 
lights of Nonconformity, belong more or less to the period, as does 



Bishop Hall. Baxter is the most colloquial, the most fanciful, 
and the latest, of the three grouped together ; the other two are 
nearer to the plainness of Chillingworth than to the ornateness 
of Jeremy Taylor. Few English prose writers again are better 
known than Izaak Walton, though it might be difficult to prove 
that in matter of pure literature he stands very high. The engag- 
ing character of his subjects, and the still more engaging display 
of his own temper and mode of thought which he makes in 
almost every sentence, both of his Complete Angler and of his 
hardly less known Lives, account for the survival and constant 
popularity of books which are neither above nor below the better 
work of their time in literary form. Walton was born in 1593 
and died ninety years later. His early manhood was spent in 
London as a " linen-draper," but in friendly conversation with 
the best clerical and literary society. In 1643 he retired from 
London to avoid the bustle of the Civil War, and the Complete 
Angler appeared in 1653. Another writer contemporary with 
Walton, though less long-lived, James Howell, has been the sub- 
ject of very varying judgments ; his appeal being very much of 
the same kind as Walton's, but addressed to a different and 
narrower class of persons. He was born in i594(?) of a fair Welsh 
family, was educated at Jesus College, Oxford, was employed 
more than once on confidential business errands on the Con- 
tinent, entered Parliament, was made Clerk of the Council, was 
imprisoned for years in the Fleet during the Civil War, received at 
the Restoration the post of Historiographer, and died in 1666. 
He wrote all manner of things, but has chiefly survived as the 
author of a large collection of Familiar Letters, which have been 
great favourites with some excellent judges. They have some- 
thing of the agreeable garrulousness of Walton. But Howell 
was not only much more of a gossip than Izaak ; he was also 
a good deal of a coxcomb, while Walton was destitute of even 
a trace of coxcombry. In one, however, as in the other, the 
attraction of matter completely outdoes the purely literary attrac- 
tion. The reader is glad to hear at first hand what men thought 


of Raleigh's execution ; how Ben Jonson behaved in his cups ; 
how foreign parts looked to a genuine English traveller early in 
the seventeenth century, and so forth. Moreover, the book was 
long a very popular one, and an unusual number of anecdotes 
and scraps passed from it into the general literary stock of Eng- 
lish writers. But Howell's manner of telling his stories is not 
extraordinarily attractive, and has something self-conscious and 
artificial about it which detracts from its interest. The Charac- 
ters of Overbury were followed and, no doubt, imitated by John 
Earle, afterwards Bishop of Salisbury, and a man of some im- 
portance. Earle, who was a fellow of Merton, called his sketches 
Microcosmography. Nothing in them approaches the celebrated 
if perhaps not quite genuine milkmaid of Overbury ; but they 
give evidence of a good deal of direct observation often expressed 
in a style that is pointed, such as the description of a bowling green 
as a place fitted for " the expense of time, money, and oaths." 
The church historian and miscellanist Heylin belongs also to the 
now fast multiplying class of professional writers who dealt with 
almost any subject as it might seem likely to hit the taste of the 
public. The bold and fantastic speculations of Bishop Wilkins and 
Sir Kenelm Digby, and the Oceana or Ideal Republic (last of a long 
line) of James Harrington (not to be confounded with the earlier Sir 
John Harington, translator of Ariosto), deserve some notice. The 
famous Eikon Basilike (the authorship of which has perhaps of late 
years been too confidently ascribed to Dr. Gauden independently, 
rather than to the king, edited by Gauden) has considerable literary 
merit. Last of all has to be mentioned a curious book, which 
made some noise at its appearance, and which, though not 
much read now, has had two seasons of genuine popularity, 
and is still highly thought of by a few good judges. This is the 
Resolves of Owen Feltham or Felltham. Not much is known of 
the author except that he was of a respectable family in East 
Anglia, a family which seems to have been especially seated in 
the neighbourhood of Lowestoft. Besides the Resolves he wrote 
some verse, of which the most notable piece is a reply to Ben 



Jonson's famous ode to himself ("Come Leave the Loathed Stage ") 
a reply which even such a sworn partisan as Gifford admits to 
be at least just if not very kind. Felltham seems also to have 
engaged in controversy with another Johnson, a Jesuit, on theo- 
logical subjects. But save for the Resolves he would be totally 
forgotten. The estimate of their value will differ very much, as 
the liking for not very original discussion of ethical subjects and 
sound if not very subtle judgment on them overpowers or not in 
the reader a distaste for style that has no particular distinction, 
and ideas which, though often wholesome, are seldom other than 
obvious. Wordsworth's well-known description of one of his own 
poems, as being " a chain of extremely valuable thoughts," applies 
no doubt to the Resolves, which, except in elegance, rather re- 
semble the better-known of Cicero's philosophical works. More- 
over, though possessing no great elegance, they are not inelegant ; 
though it is difficult to forget how differently Bacon and Browne 
treated not dissimilar subjects at much the same time. So 
popular were they that besides the first edition (which is undated, 
but must have appeared in or before 1628, the date of the 
second), eleven others were called for up to 1709. But it was not 
for a hundred years that they were again printed, and then the 
well-meaning but misguided zeal of their resuscitator led him not 
merely to modernise their spelling, etc. (a venial sin, if, which 
I am not inclined very positively to lay down, it is a sin at all), 
but to "improve" their style, sense, and sentiment by omission, 
alteration, and other tamperings with the text, so as to give 
the reader not what Mr. Felltham wrote early in the seventeenth 
century, but what Mr. Cummings thought he ought to have written 
early in the nineteenth. 

This chapter might easily be enlarged, and indeed, as Dryden 
says, shame must invade the breast of every writer of literary 
history on a small scale who is fairly acquainted with his subject, 
when he thinks how many worthy men men much worthier than 
he can himself ever pretend to be he has perforce omitted. Any 
critic inclined to find fault may ask me where is the ever-memor- 


able John Hales ? Where is Tom Coryat, that most egregious 
Odcombian ? and Barnabee of the unforgotten, though scandal- 
ous, Itinerary? Where is Sir Thomas Urquhart, quaintest of 
cavaliers, and not least admirable of translators, who not only 
rendered Rabelais in a style worthy of him, who not only wrote 
in sober seriousness pamphlets with titles, which Master Francis 
could hardly have bettered in jest, but who composed a pedi- 
gree of the Urquhart family nominatim up to Noah and Adam, 
and then improvised chimney pieces in Cromarty Castle, com- 
memorating the prehistoric ancestors whom he had excogitated ? 
Where are the great Bishops from Andrewes and Cosin onwards, 
and the lesser Theologians who wrangled, and the Latitudi- 
narians who meditated, and the historians with Whitelocke at 
their head, and the countless writers of countless classes of books 
who multiplied steadily as time went on? It can only be 
answered that they are not, and that almost in the nature of 
things they cannot be here. It is not that they are not intrin- 
sically interesting ; it is not merely that, being less intrinsically 
interesting than some of their forerunners or contemporaries, they 
must give way when room is limited. It is that even if their 
individual performance were better than that of earlier men, even 
if there were room and verge enough for them, they would less 
concern the literary historian. For to him in all cases the later 
examples of a style are less important than the earlier, merely 
because they are late, because they have had forerunners whom, 
consciously or unconsciously, they have (except in the case of a 
great genius here and there) imitated, and because as a necessary 
consequence they fall into the numerus into the gross as they 
would themselves have said who must be represented only by 
choice examples and not enumerated or criticised in detail. 


A CONCLUSION, like a preface, is perhaps to some extent an old- 
fashioned thing; and it is sometimes held that a writer does 
better not to sum up at all, but to leave the facts which he has 
accumulated to make their own way into the intelligence of his 
readers. I am not able to accept this view of the matter. In 
dealing with such a subject as that which has been handled in the 
foregoing pages, it is at least as necessary that the writer should 
have something of ensemble in his mind as that he should look 
carefully into facts and dates and names. And he can give no 
such satisfactory evidence of his having possessed this ensemble, 
as a short summary of what, in his idea, the whole period looks 
like when taken at a bird's-eye view. For he has (or ought to 
have) given the details already ; and his summary, without in 
the least compelling readers to accept it, must give them at least 
some means of judging whether he has been wandering over a 
plain trackless to him, or has been pursuing with confidence a 
well-planned and well-laid road. 

At the time at which our period begins (and which, though 
psychological epochs rarely coincide exactly with chronological, 
is sufficiently coincident with the accession of Elizabeth), it can- 
not be said with any precision that there was an English literature 
at all. There were eminent English writers, though perhaps one 
only to whom the first rank could even by the utmost complai- 
sance be opened or allowed. But there was no literature, in the 


sense of a system of treating all subjects in the vernacular, accord- 
ing to methods more or less decidedly arranged and accepted by 
a considerable tradition of skilled craftsmen. Something of the 
kind had partially existed in the case of the Chaucerian poetic ; 
but it was an altogether isolated something. Efforts, though 
hardly conscious ones, had been made in the domain of prose by 
romancers, such as the practically unknown Thomas Mallory, by 
sacred orators like Latimer, by historians like More, by a few 
struggling miscellaneous writers. Men like Ascham, Cheke, 
Wilson, and others had, perhaps with a little touch of patronage, 
recommended the regular cultivation of the English tongue ; and 
immediately before the actual accession of Elizabeth the publica- 
tion of Tottel's Miscellany had shown by its collection of the best 
poetical work of the preceding half century the extraordinary effect 
which a judicious xenomania (if I may, without scaring the purists 
of language, borrow that useful word from the late Karl Hille- 
brand) may produce on English. It is to the exceptional fertilising 
power of such influences on our stock that we owe all the marvel- 
lous accomplishments of the English tongue, which in this respect 
itself at the head of the Teutonic tongues by an almost un- 
approachable distance stands distinguished with its Teutonic 
sisters generally from the groups of languages with which it is 
most likely to be contrasted. Its literary power is originally less 
conspicuous than that of the Celtic and of the Latin stocks ; the 
lack, notorious to this day, of one single original English folk-song 
of really great beauty is a rough and general fact which is per- 
fectly borne out by all other facts. But the exquisite folk- 
literature of the Celts is absolutely unable either by itself or with 
the help of foreign admixture to arrive at complete literary perfec- 
tion. And the profound sense of form which characterises the 
Latins is apparently accompanied by such a deficiency of origi- 
nality, that when any foreign model is accepted it receives hardly 
any colour from the native genius, and remains a cultivated exotic. 
The less promising soil of Anglo-Saxon idiom waited for the 
foreign influences, ancient and modern, of the Renaissance to act 


upon it, and then it produced a crop which has dwarfed all the 
produce of the modern world, and has nearly, if not quite, equalled 
in perfection, while it has much exceeded in bulk and length of 
flowering time, the produce of Greece. 

The rush of foreign influences on the England of Elizabeth's 
time, stimulated alike by the printing press, by religious move- 
ments, by the revival of ancient learning, and by the habits of travel 
and commerce, has not been equalled in force and volume by 
anything else in history. But the different influences of different 
languages and countries worked with very different force. To 
the easier and more generally known of the classical tongues 
must be assigned by far the largest place. This was only natural 
at a time when to the inherited and not yet decayed use of 
colloquial and familiar Latin as the vehicle of business, of litera- 
ture, and of almost everything that required the committal of 
written words to paper, was added the scholarly study of its 
classical period from the strictly humanist point of view. If we 
could assign marks in the competition, Latin would have to 
receive nearly as many as all its rivals put together; but Greek 
would certainly not be second, though it affected, especially in the 
channel of the Platonic dialogues, many of the highest and most 
gifted souls. In the latter part of the present period there were 
probably scholars in England who, whether their merely philological 
attainments might or might not pass muster now, were far better 
read in the actual literature of the Greek classics than the very 
philologists who now disdain them. Not a few of the chief matters 
in Greek literature the epical grandeur of Homer, the tragic 
principles of the three poets, and so forth made themselves, at 
first or second hand, deeply felt. But on the whole Greek did 
not occupy the second place. That place was occupied by 
Italian. It was Italy which had touched the spring that let loose 
the poetry of Surrey and Wyatt ; Italy was the chief resort of 
travelled Englishmen in the susceptible time of youth ; Italy pro- 
vided in Petrarch (Dante was much less read) and Boccaccio, in 
Ariosto and Tasso, an inexhaustible supply of models, both in 


prose and verse. Spain was only less influential because Spanish 
literature was in a much less finished condition than Italian, 
and perhaps also because political causes made the following of 
Spaniards seem almost unpatriotic. Yet the very same causes 
made the Spanish language itself familiar to far more English- 
men than are familiar with it now, though the direct filiation 
of euphuism on Spanish originals is no doubt erroneous, and 
though the English and Spanish dramas evolved themselves in 
lines rather parallel than connected. 

France and Germany were much (indeed infinitely) less in- 
fluential, and the fact is from some points of view rather curious. 
Both were much nearer to England than Spain or Italy ; there 
was much more frequent communication with both ; there was 
at no time really serious hostility with either ; and the genius of 
both languages was, the one from one side, the other from the 
other, closely connected with that of English. Yet in the great 
productions of our great period, the influence of Germany is only 
perceptible in some burlesque matter, such as Eulenspiegel and 
Grobianus, in the furnishing of a certain amount of supernatural 
subject-matter like the Faust legend, and in details less important 
still. French influence is little greater ; a few allusions of " E. 
K." to Marot and Ronsard ; a few translations and imitations by 
Spenser, Watson, and others ; the curious sonnets of Zcpheria ; a 
slight echo of Rabelais here and there ; some adapted songs to 
music ; and a translated play or two on the Senecan model. 1 

But France had already exercised a mighty influence upon 
England ; and Germany had very little influence to exercise 
for centuries. Putting aside all pre-Chaucerian influence which 
may be detected, the outside guiding force of literary English 
literature (which was almost exclusively poetry) had been French 
from the end of the fourteenth century to the last survivals of the 

1 Some, like my friend Mr. Lee, would demur to this, especially as regards 
the sonnet. But Desportes, the chief creditor alleged, was himself an in- 
finite borrower from the Italians. Soothern, an early but worthless sonneteer, 
c. 1584, did certainly imitate the French. 


Scoto-Chaucerian school in Hawes, Skelton, and Lindsay. True, 
France had now something else to give ; though it must be re- 
membered that her great school coincided with rather than pre- 
ceded the great school of England, that the Defense et Illustration 
de la Langue Franfaise was but a few years anterior to Tottel's 
Miscellany, and that, except Marot and Rabelais (neither of 
whom was neglected, though neither exercised much formal in- 
fluence), the earlier French writers of the sixteenth century had 
nothing to teach England. On the other hand, Germany was 
utterly unable to supply anything in the way of instruction in 
literary form ; and it was instruction in literary form which was 
needed to set the beanstalk of English literature growing even 
unto the heavens. Despite the immense advantage which the 
English adoption of German innovations in religion gave the 
country of Luther, that country's backwardness made imitation 
impossible. Luther himself had not elaborated anything like a 
German style ; he had simply cleared the vernacular of some of 
its grossest stumbling-blocks and started a good plain fashion of 
sentence. That was not what England wanted or was likely to 
want, but a far higher literary instruction, which Germany could 
not give her and (for the matter of that) has never been in a 
position to give her. The models which she sought had to be 
sought elsewhere, in Athens, in old Rome, in modern Tuscany. 

But it would probably be unwise not to make allowance for a 
less commonplace and more "metaphysical" explanation. It was 
precisely because French and German had certain affinities with 
English, while Italian and Spanish, not to mention the classical 
tongues, were strange and exotic, that the influence of the latter 
group was preferred. The craving for something not familiar, 
for something new and strange, is well known enough in the 
individual ; and nations are, after all, only aggregates of indi- 
viduals. It was exactly because the models of the south were so 
utterly divided from the isolated Briton in style and character 
that he took so kindly to them, and that their study inspired him 
so well. There were not, indeed, wanting signs of what mischief 


might have been done if English sense had been less robust and 
the English genius of a less stubborn idiosyncrasy. Euphuism, 
the occasional practice of the Senecan drama, the preposterous 
and almost incredible experiments in classical metre of men not 
merely like Drant and Harvey, but like Sidney and Spenser, 
were sufficiently striking symptoms of the ferment which was 
going on in the literary constitution of the country. But they 
were only harmless heat-rashes, not malignant distempers, and 
the spirit of England won through them, with no loss of general 
health, probably with the result of the healthy excretion of many 
peccant humours which might have been mischievous if driven 
in. Even the strongest of all the foreign forces, the just admira- 
tion of the masterpieces of classical antiquity, was not in any way 
hurtful ; and it is curious enough that it is only in what may be 
called the autumn and, comparatively speaking, the decadence of 
the period that anything that can be called pedantry is observed. 
It is in Milton and Browne, not in Shakespere and Hooker, that 
there is an appearance of undue domination and " obsession " 
by the classics. 

The subdivisions of the period in which these purely literary 
influences worked in combination with those of the domestic and 
foreign policy of England (on which it is unnecessary here to dilate), 
can be drawn with tolerable precision. They are both better 
marked and more important in verse than in prose. For it can- 
not be too often asserted that the age, in the wide sense, was, 
despite many notable achievements in the sermo pedestris^ not an 
age of prose but an age of poetry. The first period extends (tak- 
ing literary dates) from the publication of TottePs Miscellany to 
that of The Shepherd's Calendar. It is not distinguished by much 
production of positive value. In poetry proper the writers pur- 
sue and exercise themselves upon the track of Surrey, Wyatt, and 
the other authors whom Grimoald, or some other, collected; 
acquiring, no doubt, a certain facility in the adjustment to iambic 
and other measures of the altered pronunciation since Chaucer's 
time ; practising new combinations in stanza, but inclining too 


much to the doggerel Alexandrines and fourteeners (more dog- 
gerel still when chance or design divided them into eights and 
sixes); repeating, without much variation, images and phrases 
directly borrowed from foreign models ; and displaying, on the 
whole, a singular lack of inspiration which half excuses the mis- 
taken attempt of the younger of them, and of their immediate 
successors, to arrive at the desired poetical medium by the use of 
classical metres. Among men actually living and writing at this 
time Lord Buckhurst alone displays a real poetical faculty. Nor 
is the case much better in respect of drama, though here the 
restless variety of tentative displays even more clearly the vigor- 
ous life which underlay incomplete performance, and which 
promised better things shortly. The attempt of Gorboduc and 
a few other plays to naturalise the artificial tragedy, though a 
failure, was one of those failures which, in the great literary " rule 
of false," help the way to success ; the example of Ralph Roister 
Doister and Gammer Gurton's Needle could not fail to stimulate 
the production of genuine native farce which might any day be- 
come la bonne comedie. And even the* continued composition of 
Moralities showed signs of the growing desire for life and indi- 
viduality of character. Moreover, the intense and increasing 
liking for the theatre in all classes of society, despite the dis- 
couragement of the authorities, the miserable reward offered to 
actors and playwrights, and the discredit which rested on the 
vocations of both, was certain in the ordinary course of things 
to improve the supply. The third division of literature made 
slower progress under less powerful stimulants. No emulation, 
like that which tempted the individual graduate or templar to 
rival Surrey in addressing his mistress's eyebrow, or Sackville in 
stately rhyming on English history, acted on the writers of prose. 
No public demand, like that which produced the few known and 
the hundred forgotten playwrights of the first half of Elizabeth's 
reign, served as a hotbed. But it is the great secret of prose 
that it can dispense with such stimulants. Everybody who 
wished to make his thoughts known began, with the help of the 


printing press, to make them known ; and the informal use of 
the vernacular, by dint of this unconscious practice and of the 
growing scholarship both of writers and readers, tended insen- 
sibly to make itself less of a mere written conversation and more 
of a finished prose style. Preaching in English, the prose pam- 
phlet, and translations into the vernacular were, no doubt, the 
three great schoolmasters in the disciplining of English prose. 
But by degrees all classes of subjects were treated in the natural 
manner, and so the various subdivisions of prose style ora- 
torical, narrative, expository, and the rest slowly evolved and 
separated themselves, though hardly, even at the close of the 
time, had they attained the condition of finish. 

The year 1580 may be fixed on with almost mathematical 
accuracy as the date at which the great generation of Elizabethan 
writers first showed its hand with Lyly's Euphues in prose and 
Spenser's Shepherd's Calendar in verse. Drama was a little, 
but not more than a little, later in showing the same signs of 
rejuvenescence ; and from that time forward till the end of the 
century not a year passed without the appearance of some 
memorable work or writer; while the total production of the 
twenty years exceeds in originality and force, if not always in 
artistic perfection of form, the production of any similar period 
in the world's history. The group of University Wits, following 
the example of Lyly (who, however, in drama hardly belongs to 
the most original school), started the dramas of history, of 
romance, of domestic life ; and, by fashioning through their 
leader Marlowe the tragic decasyllabic, put into the hands of the 
still greater group who succeeded them an instrument, the power 
of which it is impossible to exaggerate. Before the close of the 
century they had themselves all ceased their stormy careers ; but 
Shakespere was in the full swing of his activity; Ben Jonson 
had achieved the freshest and perhaps capital fruit of his study of 
humours ; Dekker, Webster, Middleton, Chapman, and a crowd of 
lesser writers had followed in his steps. In poetry proper the mag- 
nificent success of The Faerie Queene had in one sense no second ; 



but it was surrounded with a crowd of productions hardly inferior 
in their own way, the chief being the result of the great and 
remarkable sonnet outburst of the last decade of the century. 
The doggerel of the earlier years had almost entirely disappeared, 
and in its place appeared the perfect concerted music of the 
stanzas (from the sonnet and the Spenserian downwards), the 
infinite variety of the decasyllabic, and the exquisite lyric snatches 
of song in the dramatists, pamphleteers, and music-book writers. 
Following the general law already indicated, the formal advance 
in prose was less, but an enormous stride was made in the direc- 
tion of applying it to its various uses. The theologians, with 
Hooker at their head, produced almost the first examples of the 
measured and dignified treatment of argument and exposition. 
Bacon (towards the latter end it is true) produced the earliest 
specimens of his singular mixture of gravity and fancy, pregnant 
thought and quaint expression. History in the proper sense was 
hardly written, but a score of chroniclers, some not deficient in 
narrative power, paved the way for future historians. In imagina- 
tive and miscellaneous literature the fantastic extravagances of 
Lyly seemed as though they might have an evil effect. In reality 
they only spurred ingenious souls on to effort in refining prose, 
and in one particular direction they had a most unlocked for 
result. The imitation in little by Greene, Lodge, and others, of 
their long-winded graces, helped to popularise the pamphlet, and 
the popularisation of the pamphlet led the way to periodical 
writing an introduction perhaps of doubtful value in itself, 
but certainly a matter of no small importance in the history of 
literature. And so by degrees professional men of letters arose 
men of letters, professional in a sense, which had not existed 
since the days of the travelling Jongleurs of the early Middle 
Ages. These men, by working for the actors in drama, or by 
working for the publishers in the prose and verse pamphlet (for 
the latter form still held its ground), earned a subsistence which 
would seem sometimes to have been not a mere pittance, and 
which at any rate, when folly and vice did not dissipate it, kept 


them alive. Much nonsense no doubt has been talked about 
the Fourth Estate ; but such as it is, for good or for bad, it prac- 
tically came into existence in these prolific years. 

The third period, that of vigorous manhood, may be said to 
coincide roughly with the reign of James I., though if literary 
rather than political dates be preferred, it might be made to 
begin with the death of Spenser in 1599, and to end with the 
damnation of Ben Jonson's New Inn just thirty years later. In 
the whole of this period till the very last there is no other sign of 
decadence than 'the gradual dropping off in the course of nature 
of the great men of the preceding stage, not a few of whom, 
however, survived into the next, while the places of those who fell 
were taken in some cases by others hardly below the greatest, such 
as Beaumont and Fletcher. Many of the very greatest works of 
what is generally known as the Elizabethan era the later dramas 
of Shakespere, almost the whole work of Ben Jonson, the later 
poems of Drayton, Daniel, and Chapman, the plays of Webster 
and Middleton, and the prose of Raleigh, the best work of 
Bacon, the poetry of Browne and Wither date from this time, 
while the astonishingly various and excellent work of the two 
great dramatists above mentioned is wholly comprised within it. 
And not only is there no sign of weakening, but there is hardly a 
sign of change. A slight, though only a slight, depression of the 
imaginative and moral tone may be noticed or fancied in those who, 
like Fletcher, are wholly of the period, and a certain improvement in 
general technical execution testifies to longer practice. But Webster 
might as well have written years earlier (hardly so well years later) 
than he actually did ; and especially in the case of numerous 
anonymous or single works, the date of which, or at least of their 
composition, is obscure, it is very difficult from internal evidence 
of style and sentiment to assign them to one date rather than to 
another, to the last part of the strictly Elizabethan or the first 
part of the strictly Jacobean period Were it not for the occasional 
imitation of models, the occasional reference to dated facts, it 
would be not so much difficult as impossible. If there seems to 



be less audacity of experiment, less of the fire of youth, less of 
the unrestrainable restlessness of genius eager to burst its way, 
that, as has been already remarked of another difference, may not 
improbably be mainly due to fancy, and to the knowledge that 
the later efforts actually were later as to anything else. In prose 
more particularly there is no change whatever. Few new experi- 
ments in style were tried, unless the Characters of Overbury and 
Earle may be called such. The miscellaneous pamphlets of the 
time were written in much the same fashion, and in some cases 
by the same men, as when, forty years before Jonson summoned 
himself to " quit the loathed stage," Nash had alternately laughed 
at Gabriel Harvey, and savagely lashed the Martinists. The 
graver writers certainly had not improved upon, and had not 
greatly changed, the style in which Hooker broke his lance with 
Travers, or descanted on the sanctity of law. The humour-comedy 
of Jonson, the romantic drame of Fletcher, with the marmoreally- 
finished minor poems of Ben, were the nearest approaches of 
any product of the time to novelty of general style, and all three 
were destined to be constantly imitated, though only in the last 
case with much real success, during the rest of our present period. 
Yet the post -Restoration comedy is almost as much due to 
Jonson and Fletcher as to foreign models, and the influence of 
both, after long failing to produce anything of merit, was not im- 
perceptible even in Congreve and Vanbrugh. 

Of the fourth period, which practically covers the reign of 
Charles I. and the interregnum of the Commonwealth, no 
one can say that it shows no signs of decadence, when the 
meaning of that word is calculated according to the cautions 
given above in noticing its poets. Yet the decadence is not 
at all of the kind which announces a long literary dead 
season, but only of that which shows that the old order is 
changing to a new. Nor if regard be merely had to the great 
names which adorn the time, may it seem proper to use the 
word decadence at all. To this period belong not only Milton, 
but Taylor, Browne, Clarendon, Hobbes (four of the greatest 


names in English prose), the strange union of learning in matter 
and quaintness in form which characterises Fuller and Burton, 
the great dramatic work of Massinger and Ford. To it also be- 
longs the exquisite if sometimes artificial school of poetry which 
grew up under the joint inspiration of the great personal influence 
and important printed work of Ben Jonson on the one hand, and 
the subtler but even more penetrating stimulant of the unpub- 
lished poetry of Donne on the other a school which has pro- 
duced lyrical work not surpassed by that of any other school or 
time, and which, in some specially poetical characteristics, may 
claim to stand alone. 

If, then, we speak of decadence, it is necessary to describe 
with some precision what is meant, and to do so is not difficult, 
for the signs of it are evident, not merely in the rank and file of 
writers (though they are naturally most prominent here), but to 
some extent in the great illustrations of the period themselves. 
In even the very best work of the time there is a want of the pecu- 
liar freshness and spontaneity, as of spring water from the rock, 
which characterises earlier work. The art is constantly admirable, 
but it is almost obtrusively art a proposition which is universally 
true even of the greatest name of the time, of Milton, and which 
applies equally to Taylor and to Browne, to Massinger and to Ford, 
sometimes even to Herrick (extraordinary as is the grace which he 
manages to impart), and almost always to Carew. The lamp is 
seldom far off, though its odour may be the reverse of disagreeable. 
But in the work which is not quite so excellent, other symptoms 
appear which are as decisive and less tolerable. In the poetry 
of the time there appear, side by side with much exquisite 
melody and much priceless thought, the strangest blotches, already 
more than once noticed, of doggerel, of conceits pushed to the 
verge of nonsense and over the verge of grotesque, of bad 
rhyme and bad rhythm which are evidently not the result of 
mere haste and creative enthusiasm but of absolutely defective 
ear, of a waning sense of harmony. In the drama things are much 
worse. Only the two dramatists already mentioned, with the 



doubtful addition of Shirley, display anything like great or original 
talent. A few clever playwrights do their journey-work with 
creditable craftsmanship. But even this characteristic is wanting 
in the majority. The plots relapse into a chaos almost as great 
as that of the drama of fifty years earlier, but with none of its 
excuse of inexperience and of redeeming purple patches. The 
characters are at once uninteresting and unpleasant ; the measure 
hobbles and staggers ; the dialogue varies between passages of 
dull declamation and passages of almost duller repartee. Per- 
haps, though the prose names of the time are greater than those 
of its dramatists, or, excluding Milton's, of its poets, the signs of 
something wrong are clearest in prose. It would be difficult to 
find in any good prose writer between 1580 and 1625 the shame- 
less anomalies of arrangement, the clumsy distortions of grammar, 
which the very greatest Caroline writers permit themselves in the 
intervals, and sometimes in the very course of their splendid 
eloquence ; while, as for lesser men, the famous incoherences of 
Cromwell's speeches are hardly more than a caricature of the 
custom of the day. 

Something has yet to be said as to the general characteristics 
of this time characteristics which, scarcely discernible in the 
first period, yet even there to be traced in such work as that of 
Surrey and Sackville, emerge into full prominence in the next, 
continue with hardly any loss in the third, and are discernible 
even in the "decadence " of the fourth. Even yet they are not 
universally recognised, and it appears to be sometimes thought that 
because critics speak with enthusiasm of periods in which, save at 
rare intervals, and as it were by accident, they are not discern- 
ible at all, such critics are insensible to them where they occur. 
Never was there a grosser mistake. It is said that M. Taine, in 
private conversation, once said to a literary novice who rashly 
asked him whether he liked this or that, " Monsieur, en litte>a- 
ture j'aime tout." It was a noble and correct sentiment, though 
it might be a little difficult for the particular critic who formulated 
it to make good his claim to it as a motto. The ideal critic un- 


doubtedly does like everything in literature, provided that it is 
good of its kind. He likes the unsophisticated tentatives of the 
earliest minstrel poetry, and the cultivated perfection of form of 
Racine and Pope ; he likes the massive vigour of the French and 
English sixteenth centuries, and the alembicated exquisiteness 
of Catullus and Carew ; he does not dislike Webster because 
he is not Dryden, or Young because he is not Spenser ; he 
does not quarrel with Sophocles because he is not ^Eschylus, or 
with Hugo because he is not Heine. But at the same time 
it is impossible for him not to recognise that there are certain 
periods where inspiration and accomplishment meet in a fashion 
which may be sought for in vain at others. These are the great 
periods of literature, and there are perhaps only five of them, 
with five others which may be said to be almost level. The five 
first are the great age of Greek literature from ^Eschylus to Plato, 
the great ages of English and French literature in the sixteenth 
and seventeenth centuries, the whole range of Italian literature 
from Dante to Ariosto, and the second great age of English from 
the Lyrical Ballads to the death of Coleridge. It is the super- 
eminent glory of English that it counts twice in the reckoning. 
The five seconds are the Augustan age of Latin, the short but 
brilliant period of Spanish literary development, the Romantic 
era in France, the age of Goethe in Germany, including Heine's 
earlier and best work, and (with difficulty, and by allowance 
chiefly of Swift and Dryden) the half century from the appearance 
of Absalom and Achitophel to the appearance of Gulliver and The 
Duntiad in England. Out of these there are great men but no 
great periods, and the first class is distinguished from the second, 
not so much by the fact that almost all the greatest literary 
names of the world are found in it, as because it is evident 
to a careful reader that there was more of the general spirit 
of poetry and of literature diffused in human brains at these 
times than at any other. It has been said more than once 
that English Elizabethan literature may, and not merely in 
virtue of Shakespere, claim the first place even among the first 



class. The full justification of this assertion could only be given 
by actually going through the whole range of the literature, book 
in hand. The foregoing pages have given it as it were in precis, 
rather than in any fuller fashion. And it has been thought better 
to devote some of the space permitted to extract as the only pos- 
sible substitute for this continual book-in-hand exemplification. 
Many subjects which might properly form the subject of excursus 
in a larger history have been perforce omitted, the object being to 
give, not a series of interesting essays on detached points, but a con- 
spectus of the actual literary progress and accomplishment of the 
century, from 1557 to 1660. Such essays exist already in great 
numbers, though some no doubt are yet to write. The extra- 
ordinary influence of Plato, or at least of a more or less indistinctly 
understood Platonism, on many of the finer minds of the earlier 
and middle period, is a very interesting point, and it has been 
plausibly connected with the fact that Giordano Bruno was for 
some years a resident in England, and was acquainted with the 
Greville-Sidney circle at the very time that that circle was almost 
the cradle of the new English literature. The stimulus given not 
merely by the popular fancy for rough dramatic entertainments, 
but by the taste of courts and rich nobles for masques a taste 
which favoured the composition of such exquisite literature as 
Ben Jonson's and Milton's masterpieces is another side subject 
of the same kind. I do not know that, much as has been written 
on the Reformation, the direct influence of the form which the 
Reformation took in England on the growth of English literature 
has ever been estimated and summarised fully and yet briefly, 
so as to show the contrast between the distinctly anti-literary 
character of most of the foreign Protestant and the English 
Puritan movement on the one side, and the literary tendencies of 
Anglicanism on the other. The origins of Euphuism and of that 
later form of preciousness which is sometimes called Gongorism 
and sometimes Marinism have been much discussed, but the last 
word has certainly not been said on them. For these things, 
however (which are merely quoted as examples of a very numer- 


ous class), there could be found no place here without excluding 
other things more centrally necessary to the unfolding of the 
history. And therefore I may leave what I have written with a 
short final indication of what seems to me the distinguishing mark 
of Elizabethan literature. That mark is not merely the presence 
of individual works of the greatest excellence, but the diffusion 
throughout the whole work of the time of a vivida vis, of flashes 
of beauty in prose and verse, which hardly any other period can 
show. Let us open one of the songbooks of the time, Dowland's 
Second Book of Airs, published in the central year of our period, 
1600, and reprinted by Mr. Arber. Here almost at random we 
hit upon this snatch 

" Come ye heavy states of night, 
Do my father's spirit right ; 
Soundings baleful let me borrow, 
Burthening my song with sorrow : 
Come sorrow, come ! Her eyes that sings 
By thee, are turned into springs. 

" Come you Virgins of the night 
That in dirges sad delight, 
Quire my anthems ; I do borrow 
Gold nor pearl, but sounds of sorrow. 
Come sorrow, come ! Her eyes that sings 
By thee, are turned into springs. " 

It does not matter who wrote that the point is its occurrence in 
an ordinary collection of songs to music neither better nor worse 
than many others. When we read such verses as this, or as the 
still more charming Addiess to Love given on page 122, there is 
evident at once the non so che which distinguishes this period. 
There is a famous story of a good-natured conversation between 
Scott and Moore in the latter days of Sir Walter, in which 
the two poets agreed that verse which would have made a fortune 
in their young days appeared constantly in magazines without 
being much regarded in their age. No sensible person will mis- 
take the meaning of the apparent praise. It meant that thirty 
years of remarkable original production and of much study of 


models head made possible and common a standard of formal 
merit which was very rare at an earlier time. Now this standard 
of formal merit undoubtedly did not generally exist in the days 
of Elizabeth. But what did generally exist was the " wind blowing 
where it listeth," the presence and the influence of which are 
least likely to be mistaken or denied by those who are most 
strenuous in insisting on the importance and the necessity of 
formal excellence itself. I once undertook for several years the 
criticism of minor poetry for a literary journal, which gave more 
room than most to such things, and during the time I think I 
must have read through or looked over probably not much less 
than a thousand, certainly not less than five or six hundred 
volumes. I am speaking with seriousness when I say that nothing 
like the note of the merely casual pieces quoted or referred to 
above was to be detected in more than at the outside two or three 
of these volumes, and that where it seemed to sound faintly some 
second volume of the same author's almost always came to smother 
it soon after. There was plenty of quite respectable poetic 
learning : next to nothing of the poetic spirit. Now in the period 
dealt with in this volume that spirit is everywhere, and so are its 
sisters, the spirits of drama and of prose. They may appear in 
full concentration and lustre, as in Hamlet or The Faerie Queene; 
or in fitful and intermittent flashes, as in scores and hundreds of 
sonneteers, pamphleteers, playwrights, madrigalists, preachers. But 
they are always not far off. In reading other literatures a man 
may lose little by obeying the advice of those who tell him only 
to read the best things : in reading Elizabethan literature by 
obeying he can only disobey that advice, for the best things are 
everywhere. 1 

1 In the twenty years which have passed since this book was first published, 
monographs on most of the points indicated on p. 459 have appeared, both in 
England and America. 



Single plays, poems, etc., not mentioned in this Index will be found in the collections referred 
to under the headings Arber, Bullen, Farmer, Grosart, Hazlitt, Park, Simpson. 

Alexander, Sir William. See Stirling. 

Arber, E. , English Garner, vols. i.-viii. , Birmingham and London, 1877-96. 

Also new editions in redistributed volumes by Lee, Collins, and others. 
Ascham, Roger, Toxophilus. Ed. Arber, London, 1868. 

The Schoolmaster. Ed. Arber, London, 1870. 

Works. Ed. Giles, 4 vols. , London, 1865. 

Bacon, Francis, Works of. 3 vols. folio, London, 1753. 

Barnabee's Journal. By R. Braithwaite. Ed. Haslewood and Hazlitt, London, 

Barnes, Barnabe, Parthenophil and Parthenophe. In Gosart's Occasional 

Issues, vol. i. 

The Devil's Charter. Ed. M'Kerrow, Louvain. 
Barnfield, Richard, Poems. Ed. Arber, Birmingham, 1882. 
Basse, William, Poems of. Ed. Bond, London, 1893. 
Beaumont, Francis, Poems of. In Chalmers's British Poets, vol. vi. 
Beaumont, Sir John, Poems of. In Chalmers's British Poets, vol. vi. 
Beaumont, Joseph, Poems of. Ed. Grosart, 2 vols. Privately printed, 1880. 
Beaumont and Fletcher, Dramatic Works of. 10 vols., London, 1750. 2 vols., 
Ed. Darley, London, 1859. n vols., Ed. Dyce, London, 1843. Two 
new editions in progress now (1907) one Ed. Bullen, London, the other 
Ed. Waller, Cambridge. 

Benlowes, Edward, Theophila. In Minor Caroline Poets, vol. i. , Oxford, 1905. 
Bible. The Holy Bible, Authorised Version, Oxford, 1851. 

Revised Version, Oxford, 1885. 

Breton, Nicholas, Works of. Ed. Grosart, 2 vols. Privately printed, 1879. 
Brome, Alexander, Poems of. In Chalmers's Poets, vol. vi. 
Brome, Richard, Plays of. 3 vols., London, 1873. 
Brooke, Fulke Greville, Lord, Works of. Ed. Grosart, 4 vols. Privately 

printed, 1870. 
Browne, Sir Thomas, Works of. Ed. Wilkin, 3 vols., London, 1880. 

Religio Medici. Ed. Greenhill, London, 1881. 
Browne, William, Poems of. In Chalmers's British Poets, vol. vi. 
Also 2 vols. Ed. Hazlitt, London, 1868. 
Also Ed. Goodwin, 2 vols., London, 1894. 


Bullen, A. H., Old Plays, 4 vols. , London, 1882-85. 

Ditto, New Series. Vols. i. ii. iii. , London, 1887-90. 

Lyrics from Elizabethan Song-books, 2 vols., 1887-88. Ditto, Romances, 
1890. Ditto, Dramatists, 1890. 

Speculum Amantis, 1891. 

Davison's Poetical Rhapsody, 2 vols., 1891. 

England's Helicon. London, 1887. 

Arden of Feversham. London, 1887. 
Burton, Robert, The Anatomy of Melancholy. 2 vols. , London, 1821. 

Carey, Patrick. In Minor Caroline Poets, vol. ii. , Oxford, 1906. 
Carew, Thomas, Poems of. Edinburgh, 1824. 

Also in Chalmers's Poets, vol. v. 

Also Ed. Hazlitt, London, 1868. 

Cartwright, William, Poems of. In Chalmers's Poets, vol. vi. 
Chalkhill, John, Thealma and Clearchus. In Minor Caroline Poets, vol. ii. 
Chalmers, A., British Poets, 21 vols., London, 1810. 
Chamberlayne, William, Pbaronnida. In Minor Caroline Poets, vol. i. 
Chapman, George, Works of. 3 vols., London, 1875. 
Churchyard, T. No complete edition. Some things reprinted by Collier and in 


Clarendon, Edward Hyde, Earl of. Works, i vol., Oxford, 1843. 
Cleveland, John. Contemporary edd. numerous but puzzling and untrustworthy. 

A recent one by J. M. Berdan, New York, n.d. 
Cokain, Sir Aston, Plays of. Edinburgh, 1874. 
Constable, Henry, Diana. In Arber's English Garner, vol. ii. 
Corbet, Bishop, Poems of. In Chalmers's Poets, vol. v. 
Cotton, Charles, Poems of. In Chalmers's Poets, vol. vi. 
Crashaw, Richard, Poems of. Ed. Grosart, 2 vols. Privately printed, 1872. 

Also in Chalmers's British Poets, vol. vi. 

Also Ed. Waller, Cambridge, 1904. 

Daniel, Samuel, Delia. In Arber's English Garner, vol. iii. 

Also Works of. In Chalmers's British Poets, vol. iii. 

Also Works of. Ed. Grosart, 5 vols. Privately printed, 1885-96. 
Davenant, Sir William, Dramatic Works of. 5 vols., Edinburgh, 1872-73. 

Poems of. Chalmers's British Poets, vol. iv. 
Davies, Sir John, Poems of. In Chalmers's British Poets, vol. v. 
Davies, John, of Hereford, Works. Ed. Grosart, 2 vols. Privately printed, 1878. 
Day, John, Works of. Ed. Bullen. Privately printed, 1881. 
Dekker, Thomas, Dramatic Works of. 4 vols., London, 1873. 

Prose Works of. 5 vols. Ed. Grosart. Privately printed, 1884-86. 
Donne, John, Poems of. Ed. Grosart, 2 vols. Privately printed, 1872. 

Also Ed. Chambers, 2 vols., London, 1896. 
Drayton, Michael, Idea. In Arber's English Garner, vol. vi. 

Works of. In Chalmers's British Poets, vol. iv. 
Drummond, William, Poems of. In Chalmers's British Poets, vol. v. 

Also Published for the^laitland Club. Edinburgh, 1832. 
Dyer, Sir Edward, Poems of. In Hannah's Courtly Poets. 

Early English Dramatists. Ed. Farmer, vols. i.-ix. , London, 1905-6. 

Eden, Richard, The First Three English Books on America. Ed. Arber, 

Birmingham, 1885. 

Elizabethan Critical Essays. Ed. G. Smith, 2 vols., Oxford, 1904. 
Elizabethan Sonnets, Ed. Lee, 2 vols., London, 1904. 


Felltham, Owen, Resolves. London, 1820 (but see p. 443). 

Fletcher, Giles, Licia. In Grosart's Occasional Issues, vol. ii. 

Fletcher, Giles, the younger, Poems of. In Chalmers's British Poets, vol. vi. 

Fletcher, Phineas, Poems of. In Chalmers's British Poets, vol. vi. 

Ford, John, Works of. Ed. Hartley Coleridge, London, 1859. 

Fuller, Thomas, Worthies of England. Ed. Nichols, 2 vols. 410, London, 1811. 

Thoughts in Good Times. London, 1885. 

Holy and Profane State. London, 1642. 

Church History. London, 1655. 

Gascoigne, George, Works of. Ed. Hazlitt, London, 1868. 

Also in Chalmers's British Poets, vol. ii. 
Gifford, Humphrey, A Posy of Gillyflowers. In Grosart's Occasional Issues, 

vol. i. 

Glapthorne, Henry, Works of. 2 vols., London, 1874. 
Godolphin, Sidney, Poems of. In Minor Caroline Poets, vol. ii. 
Goff, Thomas, Plays. London, 1656. 

Googe, Barnabe, Eclogues, Epitaphs, and Sonnets. Ed. Arber, London, 1871. 
Greene, Robert, Dramatic Works of. Ed. Dyce, London, 1883. 

Also Ed. Collins, 2 vols., Oxford, 1905. 

Also Complete Works of. Ed. Grosart, 13 vols. Privately printed, 1881-86. 
Griffin, Bartholomew, Fidessa. In Grosart's Occasional Issues, vol. ii. 
Grosart, A. B. , Fuller Worthies Library. Chertsey Worthies Library. 

Occasional Issues. Privately printed, v.d. 
Guilpin, Edward, Skialetheia. In Grosart's Occasional Issues, vol. vi. 

Habington, William, Castara. Ed. Arber, London, 1870. 

Also in Chalmers's Poets, vol. vi. 
Hakluyt, Richard, The Voyages, etc. , of the English Nation : Edinburgh. 

Also a later edition, Glasgow. 
Hales, John, Works of. 3 vols., Glasgow, 1765. 
Hall, John, Poems of. In Minor Caroline Poets, vol. ii. 
Hall, Joseph, Virgidemiarum, etc. In Grosart's Occasional Issues, vol. ix. 

Also in Chalmers's Poets, vol. v. 
Hannah, Dr., Poems of Raleigh, Wotton, and other Courtly Poets. Aldine 

Series, London, 1885. 

Harvey, Gabriel, Works. Ed. Grosart, 3 vols. Privately printed, 1884-85. 
Hazlitt, W. C. , Dodsley's Old Plays, 15 vols., London, 1874-76. 

Shakespere's Library. 6 vols. , London, 1875. 
Herbert, Edward, Lord Herbert of Cherbury, Autobiography. Ed. Lee, London, 


Herbert, George, Poems of. Ed. Grosart, London, 1876. 
Herrick, Robert, Poems of. Ed. Grosart, 3 vols., London, 1876. 

Also Ed. Pollard, 2 vols., London, 1891 ; and Ed. Saintsbury, 2 vols., 

London, 1893. 
Heywood, Thomas, Dramatic Works of. 6 vols. , London, 1874. 

Pleasant Dialogues, etc. Ed. Bang, Louvain, 1903. 
Hobbes, Thomas, Works. Ed. Molesworth, 16 vols/,' London, 1839-45. 
Hooker, Richard, Ecclesiastical Polity. 3 vols., Oxford, 1820. 
Howell, James, Familiar Letters. The Eleventh Edition, London, 1754. 
Howell, Thomas, The Arbour of Amity. In Grosart's Occasional Issues, vol. viii. 

J. C., Alcilia. In Grosart's Occasional Issues, vol. viii. 

Also in Arber's English Garner, vol. iv. 
Jonson, Ben, Works of. Ed. Cunningham, 3 vols., London, n.d. 

II 2H 


Knolles, Richard, History of the Turks. Third Edition, London, 1621. 
Kyd, Thomas, Cornelia. In Hazlitt's Dodsley, vol. v. 

Jeronimo, (?) in do. vol. iv. 

The Spanish Tragedy, in do. vol. v. 

Works. Ed. Boas, Oxford, 1900. 
Kynaston, Sir Francis, Poems of. In Minor Caroline Poets, vol. ii. 

Lodge, Thomas, Euphues' Golden Legacy in Shakespere's Library, vol. ii., 

London, 1875. 

Lovelace, Richard, Poems of. Ed. Hazlitt, London, 1864. 
Lyly, John, Euphues. Ed. Arber, London, 1868. 

Dramatic Works. Ed. Fairholt, 2 vols. , London, 1858. 

Complete Works. Ed. Bond, 3 vols. , Oxford, 1902. 
Lynch, Diella. In Grosart's Occasional Issues, vol. iv. 

Marlowe, Christopher, Works of. Ed. Dyce, London, 1859. 

Also Ed. Bullen, 3 vols., London, 1887. 
Marmion, Shakerley, Plays of. Edinburgh, 1874. 

Cupid and Psyche. In Minor Caroline Poets, vol. ii. 
Marprelate, Martin, Tracts by and against. See text. 

The Epistle. Ed. Petheram. 

Also Ed. Arber, The English Scholars' Library. 

Diotrephes, by N. Udall. Ed. Arber. 

Demonstration of Discipline, by N. Udall. Ed. Arber. 

An Admonition to the People of England, by T. C. Ed. Petheram. 

Also Ed. Arber. 

Hay any Work for Cooper. Ed. Petheram. 

Pap with a Hatchet. Ed. Petheram. 

An Almond for a Parrot. Ed. Petheram. 

A Counter-Cuff to Martin Junior, etc. , in Works of Nash. 'Ed. Grosart. 

Plain Percival, the Peacemaker of England. Ed. Petheram. 
Marston, John, Works of. Ed. Halliwell, 3 vols., London, 1856. 

Also Ed. Bullen, 3 vols., London, 1885. 

Poems of. In Grosart's Occasional Issues, vol. xi. 
Massinger, Philip. Ed. Hartley Coleridge, London, 1859. 
Middleton, Thomas, Dramatic Works of. Ed. Bullen, 8 vols., London, 1886. 
Milton, John, Poems of. In Chalmers's British Poets, vol. vii. 

Prose Works of. 2 vols., Philadelphia, 1847. 

Ed. Masson, 3 vols. , London, 1890. 
Minor Caroline Poets, vols. i. and ii., Oxford, 1905-6. 
Mirror for Magistrates, The. Ed. Hazlewood, 3 vols., London, 1815. 
Miscellanies, Seven Poetical. Ed. Collier, London, 1867. 

Some in Heliconia. ^ 

More, Henry, Poems of. Ed. Grosart. Privately printed, 1878. 
Mulcaster, Richard, Positions. Ed. Quick, London, 1888. 

Nabbes, Thomas, Works of. In Bullen's Old Plays, New Series, vols. i. and ii. 
Nash, Thomas, Works of. Ed. Grosart, 6 vols. Privately printed, 1883-85. 
Ed. M'Kerrow, 4 vols. , London, 1904. 

Park, T. , Heliconia. 3 vols., London, 1814. 
Peele, George, Works of. Ed. Dyce, London, 1883. 
Percy, W. , Ccelia. In Grosart's Occasional Issues, vol. iv. 
Puttenham, George, The Art of English Poesy. Ed. Arber, London, 1869. 
Also in G. Smith, Elizabethan Critical Essays. 


Quarles, Francis. Ed. Grosart, 3 vols. Privately printed, 1880-81. 

Raleigh, Sir Walter, History of the World. 6 vols., London, 1820. 

Poems of. In Hannah's Courtly Poets. 

Randolph, Thomas, Works of. Ed. Hazlitt. 2 vols. , London, 1875. 
Return from Parnassus, The. Edited by W. Macray, Oxford, 1886. 
Rowlands, Samuel, Works of. Ed. Gosse, 3 vols., Glasgow, 1880 (Hunterian 


Sackville, Thomas, Lord Buckhurst, Works of. Ed. Sack ville- West, London, 

Sandys, George, [Sacred] Poetical Works of. Ed. Hooper, 2 vols., London, 

Shakespere, William, Works of. Globe edition, London, 1866. 

Doubtful plays. Ed. Warnke and Proescholdt, Halle. 

Also Ed. Hazlitt, London, n.d. * 

Sherburne, Sir Edward, Poems of. In Chalmers's Poets, vol. vi. 
Shirley, James, Plays of. Ed. Gifford and Dyce, 6 vols., London, 1833. 
Sidney, Philip, Poetical Works. Ed. Grosart, 2 vols. , London, 1873. 

An Apology for Poetry. Ed. Arber, London, 1868. 

Arcadia. Ed. Sommer, London, 1891. 

Simpson, R. , The School of Shakespere, 2 vols., London, 1878. 
Smith, T. , Chloris. In Grosart's Occasional Issues, vol. iv. 
Southwell, Robert, Poems. Ed. Grosart. Printed for private circulation. 
Spenser, Edmund. Ed. Todd, London, 1853. 

Also Ed. Morris and Hales, London, 1873. 

Also Ed. Grosart, vols. i.-ix. Privately printed, 1882-87. 
Stanley, T. , Poems. Partly reprinted, London, 1814. 
Stanyhurst, Richard, The First Four Books of the ^Eneid. Ed. Arber, London, 


Still, John, Gammer Gurton's Needle. In Hazlitt's Dodsley, vol. iii. 
Stirling, William Alexander, Earl of, Poems of. In Chalmers's British Poets, 

vol. v. 

Suckling, Sir John, Works of. Ed. Hazlitt, 2 vols., London, 1874. 
Surrey, Earl of. See Tottel's Miscellany. 

Also in Chalmers's British Poets, vol. ii. 
Sylvester, Joshua, Works of. Ed. Grosart, 2 vols. Privately printed, 1880. 

Taylor, Jeremy, Works of. 3 vols., London, 1844. 
Tottel's Miscellany. f Ed. Arber, London, 1870. 
Tourneur, Cyril, Works of. Ed. Collins, 2 vols., London, 1878. 
Traherne, Thomas, Poems. Ed. Dobell, London, 1903. 
Turberville, George, Poems of. In Chalmers's British Poets, vol. ii. 
Tusser, Thomas. Ed. Mavor, London, 1812. 
Also by English Dialect Society, 1878. 

Udall, N., Ralph Roister DoisteTv In Hazlitt's Dodsley, vol. iii. 

Vaughan, Henry. Ed. Grosart. Privately printed. 4 vols., 1868-71. 

Also Silex Scintillans. Facsimile of ist edition. Ed. Clare, London, 1885. 
Also 2 vols. , Ed. Chambers, London, 1896. 

Walton, Izaak, The Complete Angler. London, 1825. 

Lives. London, 1842. 
Warner, William, Albion's England. In Chalmers's British Poets, vol. iv. 


Watson, Thomas, Poems. Ed. Arber, London, 1870. 

Webbe, William, A Discourse of English Poetry. Ed. Arber, London, 1870. 

Also in G. Smith, Elizabethan Critical Essays. 
Webster, John, Works of. Ed. Dyce, London, 1859. 
Wither, George, Hymns and Songs of the Church. Ed. Farr, London, 1856. 

Hallelujah. Ed. Farr, London, 1857. 

Philarete, in Arber's English Garner, vol. iv. 

Fidelia, in Arber's English Garner, vol. vi. 

Poems generally in Spenser Society's issues. 
Wotton, Sir Henry, Poems of. In Hannah's Courtly Poets. 
Wyatt, Sir Thomas. See Tottel's Miscellany. 




Albumazar, 427. 

Alexander, Sir William. See Stirling. 

Andrewes, Bishop Lancelot (1555-1626), 


Arden of Fever sham, 425. 
t Ascham, Roger (1515-1568), 30-33. 

B_acon, Francis, Lord (1561-1626), 207- 


Barnabee's Journal, 444. 

Barnes, Barnabe( 1569 7-1609), 108, 109. 

Barnfield, Richard (1574-1627), his 

Poems, 117, 118. 
Basse, William (d. 1653?), 301. 
Baxter, Richard (1615-1691), 440. 
Beaumont, Francis (1584-1616), his 

Poems, 312. See also Beaumont and 

Beaumont, Sir John (1583-1627), his 

Poems, 312. 

Beaumont, Joseph (1616-1699), 378. 
Beaumont and Fletcher, 255-266. 
Benlowes, Edward (1603 ?-i676), 381. 
Bible, The English, Authorised and Re- 
vised versions, 215-218. 
Breton, Nicholas (1545 ?- 1626?), his 

verse, 128 ; his prose pamphlets, 

Brome, Richard ( ?-i652?), 415, 

Brooke, Fulke Greville, Lord (1554- 

1628), 98-100. 
Browne, Sir Thomas (1605-1682), 336- 

343 ; his Life, 336, 337 ; his~Works 

and Style, 338-343. 
Browne, William (1591-1643?), his 

Life and Poems, 299-302. 
Bruno, Giordano, his influence, 102, 

Burton, Robert (1577-1640), 428-433. 

Cambyses, 62, 249, note. 

Campion, Thomas ( 7-1619), 34, 

120 sq., 156, note. 

Carew, Thomas (15987-1639), 359-364. 
Carey, Patrick ( 7- ?), 384. 
Caroline Poetry, A Discussion of the 

Merits and Defects of, 386-393. 
Cartwright, William (1611-1643), n ' s 

Poems, 383 ; his Plays. 427. 
Chalkhill, John ( ?- ?), 380. 
Chamberlayne, William (1619-1689), 

Chapman, George (15597-1634), his- 

Life, Poems, and Translations, 184- 

Chillingworth, William (1602-1644), 

Churchyard, Thomas (15207-1604), 17- 

18, 27, note. 
Clarendon, Edward Hyde, Earl of (1609- 

1674), his Life, Works, and Style, 


Cleveland, John (1613-1658), 385 
Cokain, Sir Aston (1608-1684), 416, 


Constable, Henry (1562-1613), 113. 
Corbet, Bishop (1582-1635), his Poems, 


Coryat, Thomas (15777-1617), 444. 
Cosin, Bishop (1594-1672), 444. 
Cotton, Charles (1630-1687), his Poems, 

383- 384- 

Cowley's Prose, 440. 
Crashaw, Richard (16137-1649), his 

Life and Poems, 364-370. 
Critics, Elizabethan, 33-35. 

Daniel, Samuel (1562-1619), his Son-- 
nets, 113, 114; his other Poems, 
135-139 ; his Prose, 220-222. 

Davenant, Sir William (1606-1668). 
419, 420. 

Davenport, Robert ( 7-1655?). 422- 



Davies, John, of Hereford (1565 ?-i6i8), 

Davies, Sir John (1569-1626), his Life 
and Poems, 293-295. 

Day, John ( ?- ?), his Plays, 

" Decadence," 391, 394, 455'4S7- 

Dekker, Thomas (15707-1641?), his 
Plays and Songs, 201-206; his 
Pamphlets, 235-238. 

Distracted Emperor, The, 425. 

Donne, John (1573-1631), his Satires 
and other Poems, 144-150. 

Drama, Elizabethan, general character- 
istics, 50-53. 

Dramatic Periods, Division of, 50, 51. 

Drayton, Michael (1563-1631), bis Son- 
nets, 114, 115 ; his other Poems, 139- 

Drummond, William, of Hawthornden 
(1585-1649), 306-308. 

Earle, Bishop (1601 7-1665), 442. 

Ecclesiastical Polity, the, 46 sq. 

Eden, Richard (1521 7-1576), his geo- 
graphical work, 33. 

Edward III. , 424. 

Edwards, Richard (15237-1566), drama- 
tist and miscellanist, 25, 26, 62. 

Eikon Basilike, 442. 

Euphues and Euphuism, 37-40. 

Fair Em, 73, 424. 

Felltham, Owen (1602?- 1668 7), 442, 

Field, Nathaniel (1587-1633), his Plays, 

Fitz-Geoffrey, Charles (1575-1638), his 

Poem on Drake, 131. 
Fletcher, Giles, the elder (1549-1611), 

Fletcher, Giles and Phineas, Poems of, 


Fletcher, John (1579-1625). See Beau- 
mont and Fletcher. 
Ford, John (1586?- ?), his Plays, 

Fuller, Thomas (1608-1661), 433-438. 

Gammer Gurtori s Needle, 55-57. 
Gascoigne, George (15257-1577), 16-18. 
Gifford, Humphrey ( 7- ?), his 
Posy of Gillyflowers, 129. 

Gilpin or Guilpin, Edward ( 7- 

?), his Skialetheia, 155. 
Glapthorne, Henry ( ?- ?), 417, 


Godolphin, Sidney (1610-1643), 3 8 4- 
Goff, Thomas (1591-1629), 427, note. 
Googe, Barnabe (15407-1594), 18-20. 
Gosson, Stephen (1554-1624), 34. 
Greene, Robert (1560-1592), Life and 

Plays, 72-74 ; Prose, 224-228. 
Griffin, Bartholomew ( 7-i6o2?), 

his Fidessa, 116. 
Grimald or Grimoald, Nicholas (1519?- 

1562?), 3-8. 
Grove, Matthew ( 7- ?), his 

Poems, 130. 

Habington, William (1605-1654), his 
Castara, 378 - 380 ; his Queen of 
Aragon, 425. 

Hakluyt, Richard (15527-1616), his 
Voyages, 220-222. 

Hales, John (1584-1656), 444. 

Hall, John (1627-1656), 384. 

Hall, Joseph (15747-1650), his Satires, 


Herbert, George (i593- l6 33). 371-373- 
Herbert, Lord, of Cherbury(i583-i648), 


Heroic Poem, the, 380. 
Herrick, Robert (1591-1674), his Life 

and Poems, 354-359. 
Heywood, Thomas ( 7-1650?), his 

Life and Works, 270-284. 
Historical Poems, 131. 
Hobbes, Thomas (1588-1679), his Life, 

Works, and Style, 348-353. 
Hooker, Richard (15547-1600), 44-49 ; 

his Life, 44 ; his Prose Style, 46-48. 
Howell, James (1594 7- 1666), 441, 442. 
Howell, Thomas ( 7- ?), his 

Poems, 130. 

J. C. , his Alcilia, 115. 

Jeronimo, and The Spanish Tragedy, 74, 


Jonson, Ben (1573-1637), his Life, 
Poems, and Plays, 174-184 ; his 
Prose, 216. 

Kyd, Thomas (iSS7?-i595?)- 74- 75. 

8 r, note. 
Kynaston, Sir Francis (1587-1642), 

380, 381. 



Lodge, Thomas (1558 7-1625), his Plays 
70 ; his Poems, 109-111 ; his Satires 
145 ; his Prose Pamphlets, 228-230. 

Lovelace, Richard (1618-1658), his 
Poems, 374-376. 

Lyly, John (15547-1606?), 36-40, 65- 
68 ; his Life, 36 ; Euphues and Euphu- 
ism, 37-40 ; his Plays, 65-68. 

Lynch, Richard ( ?- ?), his 
Diella, 116. 

Manuscript, habit of keeping Poems in, 2. 

Markham, Gervase (1568 7-1637), his 
Poem on The Revenge, 131. 

Marlowe, Christopher (1564-1593), his 
Life and Plays, 76-79. 

Marmion, Shakerley (1603-1639), hi 
Poems and Plays, 380, 423. 

Marston, John (15757-1634), his Life 
and Satires, 153-155 ; his Plays, 195- 

Martin Marprelate, sketch of the Contro- 
versy and account of the principal 
tracts, 241-252. 

Massinger, Philip (1583-1640), his Plays, 

Merry Devil of Edmonton, The, 426. 

Metre, Classical, the fancy for, and its 
reasons, 22, 25. 

Metre, English, must be scanned by 
Classical Rules, 14. 

Middleton, Thomas (15707-1627), his 
Life and Works, 266-273. 

Milton, John (1608-1674), 316-330; his 
Life and Character, 316, 317 ; 
Divisions of his Work, 318 ; his early 
Poems, 318-322 ; his Prose, 322- 
326 ; his later Poems, 326-329. 

Mirror for Magistrates, The, 11-15. 

Miscellany, Tottel's, i-io ; a starting- 
point, 2 ; its Authorship and Composi- 
tion, 3 ; Wyatt's and Surrey's Con- 
tributions to it, 4-8 ; Grimald and 
minor authors, 8-9 ; Metrical and 
Material Characteristics, 9, 10. 

Miscellanies, the early Elizabethan, sub- 
sequent to Tottel's, 25-27. 
Miscellanies, Caroline and later, 370. 
Miseries of Enforced Marriage, The, 423. 
More, Henry (1614-1687), his Song of 
the Soul, 377, 378. 

Nabbes, Thomas ( 
Plays, 422. 

7), his 

Nash, Thomas (1567-1601), his Plays, 

70 ; his Prose Works, 2^2-211; 
Nero, 425. 
North's Plutarch, 33. 

Oxford, Edward, Earl of (1550-1604), 
his Poems, 127-128. 

Pearson, Bishop (1613-1686), 440. 

Peele, George (15587-1597), his Life 
and Plays, 70-72. 

Percy, William (1575-1648), his Calia. 

Pharonnida, 381. 

Plays, early nondescript, 62. 

Poetry, 95-96. 

Prose, the Beginnings of Modern 
English, 28-30. 

Prosody, Weakness of the Early Eliza- 
bethans in, 9. 

Pseudo-Shakesperian Plays, 424, 425. 

Puttenham, George (15327-1590), 34. 

Quarles, Francis (1592-1644), 376, 377. 

Raleigh, Sir Walter (15527-1618), his 

Verse, 125-127 ; his Prose, 212-215. 
Ralph Roister Doister, 54, 55. 
Randolph, Thomas (1605-1635), his 

Poems, 382 ; his Plays, 413-415. 
Return from Parnassus, The, 81, 426. 
Rowlands, Samuel (15707-1630?), 238, 


Rowley, Samuel ( ?- ?), 423. 
Rowley, William (15857-1642?), his 

Plays, 422. 

Sackville, Thomas, Lord Buckhurst 
(1536-1608), his Life and Works, u- 
15 ; the Induction and Complaint of 
Buckingham, 12-15; Gorboduc, 57-60. 

Sanderson, Bishop (1587-1663), 440. 

Sandys, George (1578-1644). 373. 

Satirists, the Elizabethan, 144-156. 

Second Maiden s Tragedy, The, 425. 

Senecan Drama, the, 58-61. 

Shakespere, William (1564-1616), 157- 
173 ; his Life, 158 ; his Works and 
their Reputation, 159, 160 ; their 
divisions, 160, 161 (1573-1636); the 
Early Poems, 161 ; the Sonnets, 161- 
164 ; the Plays, 164-173 ; the ''Doubt- 
ful " Plays. 424-425. 

Sherburne, Sir Edward (1618-1702), his 
Poems, 383. 



Shirley, Henry ( 7-1627), 409, note. 

Shirley, James (1596-1666), his Plays, 

Sidney, Sir Philip (1554-1586), his 
Prose, 40-43 ; his Prose style, 42 ; 
his Verse, 100-105. 

Smith, William (i546?-i6i8?), his 
Chloris, 1 1 6. 

Songs, Miscellaneous, from the Drama- 
tists and Madrigal Writers, 121-125, 


Sonneteers, the Elizabethan, 97. 

Southwell, Robert (1561 7-1595), his 
Poems, 119. 

Spenser, Edmund (15527-1599), 82-96; 
his Life, 83-85 ; The Shepherd's Calen- 
dar, 86 ; the Minor Poems, 87 ; The 
Faerie Queene, 88-93 ; the Spenserian 
Stanza, 90 ; Spenser's Language, 91 ; 
his Comparative Rank in English 
Poetry, 93-96. 

Stanley, Thomas (1625-1678), 383, 384. 

Stanyhurst, Richard (1547-1618), 23-25. 

Still, John (1543 7- 1 608), his Gammer 
Gurton's Needle, 55-57. 

Stirling, Sir William Alexander, Earl of 
(15677-1640), 308-311. 

Suckling, Sir John (1609-1642), his 
Poems, 374-376 ; his Plays, 420-422. 

Surrey, Lord Henry Howard, Earl of 
(15177-1547), 6-8. 

Sylvester, Joshua (1563-1618), his Du 
Bartas, etc., 289-291. 

Taylor, Jeremy (1613-1667), 330-336 ; 
his Life, 330, 331 ; his Works and 
Style, 33 J -33 6 - 
Theophila, 381. 

Tottel' s Miscellany. See Miscellany. 
Tourneur, Cyril (15757-1626?), his 

Poems, 155-156 ; his Plays, 284, 285. 
Traherne, Thomas (16367-1674), 381, 

Translators, the Early Elizabethan, 21, 


Turberville,George(i54o?-i6io), 18-19. 
Two Angry Women, The, 426. 
Two Noble Kinsmen, The, 424. 

Udall, Nicholas (1505-1556), his Ralph 

Roister Doister, 54, 55. 
University Wits, the, 60-8 1. 
Urquhart, Sir Thomas (1611-1660), 


Vaughan, Henry (1622-1695), 374-375, 

393, note. 
Version, the Authorised, 215-218. 

Walton, Izaak (1593-1683), 441. 
Warner, William (1558-1609), 122- 

Watson, Thomas (15577-1592), 105- 


Webbe, William ( 7- 7), 34. 
Webster, John (15807-1625 7), his Life 

and Works, 273-279. 
Willoughby's Avisa, no, in. 
Wither, George (1588-1667), Life and 

Poems, 302-306. 
Wit's Recreations, 370. 
Wyatt, Sir Thomas (15037-1542), 4-6. 

Yorkshire Tragedy, The, 424. 
Zepheria, 112. 


Printed by R. & R. CLARK, LIMITED, Edinburgh. 



Saintsbury, George Edward 
421 Bateman 

S3 A history of Elizabethan 

1920 literature. C 9th ed. D 
cop. 2 


This file was acquired from New York : H. Holt and company, 1910., and it is in the public domain. It is re-distributed here as a part of the Alex Catalogue of Electronic Texts ( by Eric Lease Morgan (Infomotions, Inc.) for the purpose of freely sharing, distributing, and making available works of great literature. Its Infomotions unique identifier is englishliteratur00scheuoft, and it should be available from the following URL:

Infomotions, Inc.

Infomotions Man says, "Give back to the 'Net."