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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
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-
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.
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.
Making it dance with wanton majesty.
His arms and fingers, long and snowy-white, Betokening valour and excess of strength.”¶
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
Where'er I come the fatal sisters sweat,
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
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."
"Talking of stones, stars, plants, of fishes, flies,
times confounded. What should we think
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.'
§ 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.
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,
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.'