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semblance which renders a caricature most effective: "I was altogether unacquainted with the man, and never once saluted him by name: but who in London hath not heard of his dissolute and licentious living; his fond disguising of a Master of Art with ruffianly hair, unseemly apparel, and more unseemly company; his vainglorious and Thrasonical braving; his fripperly extemporizing and Tarletonizing; his apish counterfeiting of every ridiculous and absurd toy; his fine cozening of jugglers, and finer juggling with cozeners; his villainous cogging and foisting; his monstrous swearing and horrible forswearing; his impious profaning of sacred texts; his other scandalous and blasphemous raving; his riotous and outrageous surfeiting; his continual shifting of lodgings; his plausible mustering and banqueting of roysterly acquaintance at his first coming; his beggarly departing in every hostess's debt; his infamous resorting to the Bankside, Shoreditch, Southwark, and other filthy haunts; his obscure lurking in basest corners; his pawning of his sword, cloak, and what not, when money came short; his impudent pamphleting, fantastical interluding, and desperate libelling, when other cozening shifts failed?"* This is the bitterness of revenge, not softened even by the penalty which the wretched man had paid for his offence, dying prematurely in misery and solitariness, and writing from his lodging at a poor shoemaker's these last touching lines to the wife whom he had abandoned: "Doll, I charge thee by the love of our youth, and by my soul's rest, that thou wilt see this man paid for if he and his wife had not succoured me, I had died in the streets." As a writer he was one amongst the most popular of his day. His little romances of some fifty pages each were the delight of readers for amusement, for half a century. They were the companions of the courtly and the humble, ―eagerly perused by the scholar of the University and the apprentice of the City. They reached the extreme range of popularity. In Anthony Wood's time they were "mostly sold on ballad-monger's stalls ;" and Sir Thomas Overbury describes his Chambermaid

* Four Letters, &c., 1592.'

as reading "Greene's works over and over." Some of these tales are full of genius, illregulated no doubt, but so pregnant with invention, that Shakspere in the height of his fame did not disdain to avail himself of the stories of his early contemporary. The dramatic works of Greene were probably much more numerous than the few which have come down to us; and the personal character of the man is not unaptly represented in these productions. They exhibit great pomp and force of language; passages which degenerate into pure bombast from their ambitious attempts to display the power of words; slight discrimination of character; incoherence of incident; and an entire absence of that judgment which results in harmony and proportion. His extravagant pomp of language was the characteristic of all the writers of the early stage except Shakspere; and equally so were those attempts to be humorous which sank into the lowest buffoonery. In the lyrical pieces which are scattered up and down Greene's novels, there is occasionally a quiet beauty which exhibits the real depths of the man's genius. Amidst all his imperfections of character, that genius is fully acknowledged by the best of his contemporaries.

THOMAS LODGE was Greene's senior in age, and greatly his superior in conduct. He had been a graduate of Oxford; next a player, though probably for a short time; was a member of Lincoln's Inn; and, finally, a successful physician of the name of Thomas Lodge is held to be identical with Lodge the poet. He was the author of a tragedy, "The Wounds of Civil War: lively set forth in the true Tragedies of Marius and Sylla.' He had become a writer for the stage before the real power of dramatic blank verse had been adequately conceived. His lines possess not the slightest approach to flexibility; they invariably consist of ten syllables, with a pause at the end of every line-"each alley like its brother;" the occasional use of the triplet is the only variety. Lodge's tragedy has the appearance of a most correct and laboured performance; and the result is that of insufferable tediousness. In conjunction with Greene he wrote 'A Looking Glass for

It is

London,' one of the most extraordinary pro- | the heavenly Bull by the dewlap." ductions of that period of the stage, the cha- | he who despises the "idiot art-masters that racter of which is evidently derived not from any desire of the writers to accommodate themselves to the taste of an unrefined audience, but from an utter deficiency of that common sense which could alone recommend their learning and their satire to the popular apprehension. For pedantry and absurdity "The Looking Glass for London' is unsurpassed. Lodge, as well as Greene, was a writer of little romances; and here he does not disdain the powers of nature and simplicity. The early writers for the stage, indeed, seem one and all to have considered that the language of the drama was conventional; that the expressions of real passion ought never there to find a place; that grief should discharge itself in long soliloquies, and anger explode in orations set forth upon the most approved forms of logic and rhetoric. There is some of this certainly in the prose romances of Greene and Lodge. Lovers make very long protestations, which are far more calculated to display their learning than their affection. This is the sin of most pastorals. But nature sometimes prevails, and we meet with a touching simplicity, which is the best evidence of real power. Lodge, as well as Greene, gave a fable to Shakspere.

Another of the chosen companions of Robert Greene was THOMAS NASH, who in his "beardless years" had thrown himself upon the town, having forfeited the honours which his talents would have commanded in the due course of his University studies. In an age before that of newspapers and reviews, this young man was a pamphleteering critic; and very sharp, and to a great extent very just, is his criticism. The drama, even at this early period, is the bow of Apollo for all ambitious poets. It is Nash who, in the days of Locrine, and Tamburlaine, and perhaps Andronicus, is the first to laugh at "the servile imitation of vainglorious tragedians, who contend not so seriously to excel in action, as to embowel the clouds in a speech of comparison; thinking themselves more than initiated in poets' immortality if they but once get Boreas by the beard, and

intrude themselves to our ears as the alchy-
mists of eloquence, who, mounted on the
stage of arrogance, think to outbrave better
pens with the swelling bombast of bragging
blank verse."+ In a year or two Nash was
the foremost of controversialists. There are
few things in our language written in a
bitterer spirit than his pamphlets in the
"Marprelate" controversy, and his letters to
Gabriel Harvey. Greene, as it appears to us,
upon his deathbed warned Nash of the dan-
ger of his course: With thee [Marlowe]
I join young Juvenal, that biting satirist,
that lastly with me together writ a comedy.
Sweet boy, might I advise thee, be advised,
and get not many enemies by bitter words :
inveigh against vain men, for thou canst do
it, no man better, no man so well thou hast
a liberty to reprove all, and name none: for
one being spoken to, all are offended; none
being blamed, no man is injured. Stop shal-
low water still running, it will rage; tread
on a worm, and it will turn: then blame not
scholars who are vexed with sharp and bitter
lines, if they reprove thy too much liberty of
reproof." It is usual to state that Thomas
Lodge is the person thus addressed.
say Malone and Mr. Dyce. The expression,
"that lastly with me together writ a comedy,"
is supposed to point to the union of Greene
and Lodge in the composition of 'The Look-
ing-Glass for London.' But it is much easier
to believe that Greene and Nash wrote a
comedy which is unknown to us, than that
Greene should address Lodge, some years his
elder, as "young Juvenal," and "sweet boy."
Neither have we any evidence that Lodge
was a biting satirist," and used "bitter
words" and personalities never to be for-
given. We hold that the warning was meant
for Nash. It was given in vain; for he spent
his high talents in calling others rogue and
fool, and having the words returned upon him
with interest; bespattering, and bespattered.


That impatient spirit, with the flashing eye and the lofty brow, is CHRISTOPHER MARLOWE. It is he who addressed his first audience in Epistle prefixed to Greene's 'Menaphon.' + Ibid.

One of

words which told them that one of high pre- | petual trumpet, perpetual scarlet. tensions was come to rescue the stage from the courtiers of Tamburlaine says,— the dominion of feebleness and buffoonery :"You see, my lord, what working words he hath."

"From jiggling veins of rhyming mother wits, As such conceits as clownage keeps in pay, We'll lead you to the stately tent of war, Where you shall hear the Scythian Tamburlaine,

Threat'ning the world with high astounding terms."*

His daring was successful. It is he who is accounted the "famous gracer of tragedians."+ It is he who has "gorgeously invested with rare ornaments and splendid habiliments the English tongue." It is he who. after his tragical end, was held

"Fit to write passions for the souls below."§

It is he of the "mighty line."|| The name of Tamburlaine was applied to Marlowe himself by his contemporaries. It is easy to imagine that he might be such a man as he has delighted to describe in his Scythian Shepherd:

"Of stature tall, and straightly fashioned, Like his desire lift upward and divine; So large of limbs, his joints so strongly knit, Such breadth of shoulders as might mainly bear

Old Atlas' burthen.

Pale of complexion, wrought in him with passion,

Thirsting with sovereignty and love of arms.
His lofty brows in folds do figure death,
And in their smoothness amity and life;
About them hangs a knot of amber hair,
Wrapped in curls, as fierce Achilles' was,
On which the breath of heaven delights to

Making it dance with wanton majesty.

His arms and fingers, long and snowy-white, Betokening valour and excess of strength.Ӧ

The essential character of his mind was that of a lofty extravagance, shaping itself into words that may be likened to the trumpet in music, and the scarlet in painting-per

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Where'er I come the fatal sisters sweat,
And grisly death, by running to and fro,
To do their ceaseless homage to my sword;
And here, in Afric, where it seldom rains,
Since I arriv'd with my triumphant host,
Have swelling clouds, drawn from wide-gasp-
ing wounds,

Been oft resolv'd in bloody, purple showers, A meteor that might terrify the earth, And make it quake at every drop it drinks."* Through five thousand lines have we the same pompous monotony, the same splendid exaggeration, the same want of truthful

simplicity. But the man was in earnest. His poetical power had nothing in it of affectation and pretence. There is one speech of Tamburlaine which unveils the inmost mind of Tamburlaine's author. It is by far the highest passage in the play, revealing to us something nobler than the verses which "jet on the stage in tragical buskins, every word filling the mouth like the faburden of Bow-Bell.".

"Nature that form'd us of four elements, Warring within our breasts for regiment, Doth teach us all to have aspiring minds; Our souls, whose faculties can comprehend The wondrous architecture of the world, And measure every wandering planet's course, Still climbing after knowledge infinite, And always moving as the restless spheres, Will us to wear ourselves, and never rest, Until we reach the ripest fruit of all."++ The "ripest fruit of all," with Tamburlaine, was an "earthly crown;" but with Marlowe, there can be little doubt, the "climbing after knowledge infinite" was to be rewarded with wisdom, and peace, the fruit of wisdom. But he sought for the "fruit" in dark and for**Tamburlaine,' Part I., Act v ++ Ibid. Part I., Act II.

bidden paths. He plunged into the haunts
of wild and profligate men, lighting up their
murky caves with his poetical torch, and
gaining nothing from them but the renewed
power of scorning the unspiritual things of
our being, without the resolution to seek for
wisdom in the daylight track which every
man may tread. If his life had not been
fatally cut short, the fiery spirit might have
learnt the value of meekness, and the daring
sceptic have cast away the bitter "fruit
of half-knowledge. He did not long survive
the fearful exhortation of his dying com-
panion, the unhappy Greene:-"Wonder not,
thou famous gracer of tragedians, that Greene,
who hath said with thee, like the fool in his
heart, there is no God, should now give glory
unto His greatness: for penetrating is His
power, His hand lies heavy upon me, He hath
spoken unto me with a voice of thunder, and
I have felt He is a God that can punish ene-
mies. Why should thy excellent wit, His gift,
be so blinded that thou shouldest give no glory
to the giver?" Marlowe resented the accu-
sation which Greene's words conveyed. We
may hope that he did more; that he felt,
to use other words of the same memorable
exhortation, that the "liberty" which he
sought was an "infernal bondage."


to. Nash, "he is but a little fellow, but he hath one of the best wits in England.”‡ The little man knew

"What hell it is in suing long to bide."
He had been a dreary time waiting and pe-
titioning for the place of Master of the
Revels. In his own peculiar phraseology he
tells the Queen, in one of his petitions,-
"For these ten years I have attended with
an unwearied patience, and now I know not
what crab took me for an oyster, that in the
middest of your sunshine, of your most gra-
cious aspect, hath thrust a stone between the
shells to rate me alive that only live on dead
hopes."§ Drayton described him truly, at a
later period, when poetry had asserted her
proper rights, as

"Talking of stones, stars, plants, of fishes, flies,
Playing with words, and idle similies."
Lyly was undoubtedly the predecessor of
Shakspere. His 'Alexander and Campaspe,'
acted not only at Court but at the Black-
friars, was printed as early as 1584. It is
not easy to understand how a popular au-
dience could ever have sat it out; but the
incomprehensible and the excellent are some-

times confounded. What should we think
of a prologue, addressed to a gaping pit, and
hushing the cracking of nuts into silence,
which commences thus ?" They that fear
the stinging of wasps make fans of peacocks'
tails, whose spots are like eyes : and Lepidus,
which could not sleep for the chattering of
birds, set up a beast whose head was like a
dragon: and we, which stand in awe of re-
port, are compelled to set before our owl
Pallas's shield, thinking by her virtue to
cover the other's deformity." Shakspere
was a naturalist, and a true one; but Lyly
was the more inventive, for he made his own
natural history. The epilogue to the same

Eloquent and witty JOHN LYLY" was called, by a bookseller who collected his plays some forty years or more after their appearance, "the only rare poet of that time, the witty, comical, facetiously quick, and unparalleled John Lyly, Master of Arts." Such is the puff-direct of a title-page of 1632. The title-pages and the puffs have parted company in our day, to carry on their partnership in separate fields, and sometimes looking loftily on each other, as if they were not twin-brothers. He it was that took hold of the somewhat battered and clipped but sterling coin of our old language, and, mint-play informs the confiding audience that ing it afresh, with a very sufficient quantity of alloy, produced a sparkling currency, the very counters of court compliment. It was truly said, and it was meant for praise, that he "hath stepped one step further than any either before or since he first began the witty discourse of his 'Euphues.'"+ According * Meres. + Webbe's Discourse of English Poetry, '1586.

"Where the rainbow toucheth the tree no

caterpillars will hang on the leaves; where the glow-worm creepeth in the night no adder will go in the day." Alexander and Campaspe' is in prose. The action is little,

Apology of Pierce Pennilesse.'

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§ Petition to the Queen in the Harleian MSS.: Dodsley's Old Plays, 1825, vol. ii.


Without the vices of men of higher talent, he had to endure poverty and disappointment, doomed to spin his "pithy sentences and gallant tropes" for a thankless Court and a neglectful multitude; and, with a tearful merriment, writing to his Queen, “In all humility I intreat that I may dedicate to your Sacred Majesty Lyly de Tristibus, wherein shall be seen patience, labours, and misfortunes."

the talk is everything. Hephæstion exhorts | hard one.
Alexander against the danger of love, in a
speech that with very slight elaboration
would be long enough for a sermon. Apelles
soliloquizes upon his own love for Campaspe
in a style so insufferably tedious, that we
could wish to thrust the picture that he
sighs over down his rhetorical throat (even
as Pistol was made to swallow the leek), if
he did not close his oration with one of the
prettiest songs of our old poetry:—

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Cupid and my Campaspe play'd

At cards for kisses, Cupid paid;

THOMAS KYD was the author of 'Jeronimo,' which men long held as the only best and judiciously penned play in Europe." Wherever performed originally, the principal character was adapted to an actor of very small stature. It is not impossible that a precocious boy, one of the children of Growing on 's cheek (but none knows how), Paul's, might have filled the character.

He stakes his quiver, bow, and arrows, His mother's doves and team of sparrows; Loses them, too; then down he throws The coral of his lip, the rose

With these the crystal of his brow, And then the dimple of his chin; All these did my Campaspe win. At last he set her both his eyes, She won, and Cupid blind did rise. O Love! has she done this to thee? What shall, alas! become of me?" The dramatic system of Lyly is a thing unique in its kind. He never attempts to deal with realities. He revels in pastoral and mythological subjects. He makes his gods and goddesses, his nymphs and shepherds, all speak a language which common mortals would disdain to use. In prose or in verse, they are all the cleverest of the clever. They are, one and all, passionless beings, with no voice but that of their showman. But it is easy to see how a man of considerable talent would hold such things to be the proper refinements to banish for ever the vulgarities of the old comedy. He had not the genius to discover that the highest drama was essentially for the people; and that its foundations must rest upon the elemental properties of mankind, whether to produce tears or laughter that should command a lasting and universal sympathy. Lyly came too early, or too late, to gather any enduring fame; and he lived to see a new race of writers, and one towering above the rest, who cleared the stage of his tinselled puppets, and filled the scene with noble copies of humanity. His fate was a

Jeronimo the Spanish marshal, and Balthazar the Prince of Portugal, thus exchange compliments :

"Balthazar. Thou inch of Spain,

Thou man, from thy hose downward scarce so


Thou very little longer than thy beard, Speak not such big words; they'll throw thee down,

Little Jeronimo: words greater than thyself! It must be.

Jeronimo. And thou, long thing of Portugal, why not?

Thou that art full as tall

As an English gallows, upper beam and all,
Devourer of apparel, thou huge swallower,
My hose will scarce make thee a standing

What! have I almost quited you?"

There can be no doubt that Jeronimo,' whatever remodelling it may have received, belongs essentially to the early stage. There is killing beyond all reasonable measure. Lorenzo kills Pedro, and Alexandro kills Rogero: Andrea is also killed, but he does not so readily quit the scene. After a decent interval, occupied by talk and fighting, the man comes again in the shape of his own ghost, according to the following stagedirection: "Enter two, dragging of ensigns; then the funeral of Andrea: next

* Jonson's Induction to Cynthia's Revels.'

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