Primarily on account of his having made a transcript of Fletcher's Humorous Lieutenant for Sir Kenelm Digby, Ralph Crane is fairly well known to students of Elizabethan drama; but no one, I believe, has called attention to his interesting connection with the theater. On December 14, 1620, a “Poeme called The workes of Mercy, both Corporall and Spirituall, written by T. M.” was entered on the Stationers' Register, and in the next year the book was published (a copy of this edition is in the Bodleian) under the same title and with Crane's name on the title page. Another edition appeared under the title of The Pilgrimes NewYeares-Gift; Or, Fourteene Steps to the Throne of Glory. By the 7. Corporeall and 7. Spirituall Arts of Charitie, and those made Parallels. Preceding the very tedious poem in both editions is an interesting autobiographical preface which deserves to be quoted at some length. I quote from the undated copy in the British Museum.

The Citie had my birth: My Father free *
Of a much fam'd and Royall Company,
With good esteeme bore Offices of worth,
My Education past; I then went forth,
And tride the Ayre of diuers noble Counties,
There tasted some free fauors, gen'rous Bounties,
Yet could not find there (as th' euent exprest)
Sufficient grounding for my foote to rest,

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1 The dedication is dated November 27, 1625. Crane titled the manuscript Demetrius and Enanthe. In 1830 Dyce rather carelessly (see A. R. Waller's edition of Beaumont and Fletcher, II, 509-518) reprinted Crane's transcript, which in 1906 was in the library of Lord Harlech at Brogyntyn, Oswestry (ibid., p. vi). It is, says Mr. Waller, a beautiful specimen of Ralph Crane's caligraphy."

2 Transcript of Stationers' Register, IV, 6.

3 A former owner of the British Museum copy of this edition has written on one of the fly-leaves that he thinks this is the second or third edition and dates it ca. 1625; and Sir Francis Freeling, another former owner of the volume, has written his opinion that a first edition appeared in 1606. * Marginal note reads:

“ Marchant taylors.”



With Noah's first Doue (after much flight, much paine)
Vnto my Arke, (my Natiue home againe)
I backe return'd; but could not bring with me
The Oliue-leafe of faire Tranquilitie.

Much variation I have had since then,
With one blest gift (a ready writers pen)
The vse whereof (without vaine glory told)
Is not extinguish't yet (though I am old)
'Tis not extinct indeed: But yet (alas)
It's a cas'd Instrument, no sound it has:
Time hath worne out (with Teares I strike this straine)
Beliefe of what I can: now young ones raigne,
Whil'st I (too old to cry about the street
Worke for a Writer) no Imployment meet,
But all dismayed, and dis-ioyfull sit
As one had neither Pen, nor Hand, nor Wit:
Or as Ierusalems sad famish'd Mother,
Feed on mine owne begotten flesh; (no other)
Quite lost; vnlesse (in this) Speed meet Desire,
And hap doe answere hope. But I retire
To shew the Protean-changes, and the Chances,
My life hath touch'd at; as an Arrow glances,
And slides from ground to ground, yet neuer hits
The aymed Marke; so my vncertaine fits
Obserue with patience, 'twill not hurt at all:
(Experience is a doctrine medinall.

First was I seuen yeares-seruant, painfull Clarke,
Vnto a Clarke o' th Counsell; & did marke
Within the cõpasse of those hopeful yeers
The Goodnesse, and Nobility o’th Peeres;
Those Reuerend Lords, those Councellors of State
Vpon whose Vertues I must meditate
While I haue breath: and in my soule adore
These great Succeeders of those gone before:
Heauen fix thể in their Seates: long stand they thus
Like sheltring Cedars on Mount Lebanus:
Their Counsels blesse: al their decrees renown thể;
Their Soueraigns honor here: There Glory crown them.

Goe on my Zeale, & praise while thou art able
Each gracious Second of that honourd Table:
And as a thankfull Riuer that doth send
His Tribute to the Ocean, I commend
One special sacrifice (with heart sincere)

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Vnto his worth, whom I callid Master here:
May his In-urned Bones in quiet rest
Till the last sounding Trumpe, and then rise blest:
That (haplesse) thence I slipt (wanting firme hold)
I sadly sigh the fate; but leau't yntold:
Onely thus much (that no aspersion bide
Vpon my front) I did no talent hide.

The Signet and the Priuy Seale was next
Those deare Collegues, that giue me for my text
A field of honour, and shall be my Song
While Fame a Trumpet hath, or I a tongue:
The Gentlenesse which there I did possesse
Did make their goodnesse more, my sorrowes lesse:
But those sweet after-drops of comfort I
Sometimes receiu'd from thence, are now growne dry:
Those Conduit-pipes, that did my thirst allay
Are frozen vp: and now in the highway,
(Poore Trauellor) wounded, and robd I lye,
Vntill some good Samaritan come by,
And with the Wine, and Oyle of Ioy agin
Set me on Horsback, helpe me to some Inne.

To th’ Tribe of Leuy, (heau’ns chiefe Miracles)
I haue done seruice; with their Oracles,
Which so Diuine Instinction doth infuse,
For their bles'd sakes Ile make my soule their Muse
And pray with the best power, my Zeale affords
All happy Gifts to crowne their sacred words;
The Holy Ghost, (in Clouen tongues, and Fire)
Descend on them, when they good things desire.

But most of all doth my laborious hand
'Mongst the renown'd and learned Lawyers stand
A Monument; each Office and each Court
Vouchsafeing me such matter of report,
That if my voice to th' vtmost world could stretch
Euen thither should their Fames, & honors reach.

And some imployment hath my vsefull Pen,
Had 'mongst those ciuill well-deservuing Men,
That grace the Stage with honour and delight,
Of whose true honesties I much could write
But will compris’t (as in a Caske of Gold)

Vnder the Kingly-seruice they doe hold. ...
After a rather vivid description of the plague,” which left the
author in a very impoverished condition, Crane goes on to say

* Reprinted in Thomas Corser's Collectanea Anglo-Poetica, Part IV, 503-505.

that if he had died during the visitation-an end which he desired had come upon him

There was not one that could (for loue) be hir'd
T haue but en-sculpt't vpon a peece of stone
This simple Epitaph which I alone
Before-hand for my selfe, had thus compos'd,
And yet affect to haue it so dispos’d,
That some remembrance may remaine of me
By this my Swan-like, dying Elegie.

Behold a wonder (Friend) oh stay and read,
And make this spectacle thy President,
Here buried lies a Man, that is not dead,
Deaths dart was tipt with life: death then repent
And cease to vaunt: Thou hast not made him bow,
For (he thankes God) he neuer liu'd till now.

Though City, Countrie, Court, Church, laro & Stage
I haue pass'd thorough in my Pilgrimage,
Yet here I stand Fortunes Anatomie,
A spectacle of Times Inconstancy.

A man who so longed to be remembered after his journey through City, Countrie, Court, Church, law & Stage " should not be allowed to sink into oblivion until his connection with the stage has been investigated; for whereas he certainly does not deserve to be remembered on account of his moral poem, it is possible that he performed for dramatic history a more important task than transcribing Fletcher's play. Unfortunately I am too far removed from the material necessary for a serious attempt to determine whether Crane deserves to be remembered, but with the hope that some one more conveniently situated may be induced to investigate certain interesting possibilities, I shall make a few suggestions.

Crane's tribute to the actors who “grace the stage with honour and delight ... under the Kingly Seruice they doe hold” makes it clear that the author had been connected with the King's Men, who in 1619, or later, had brought out Fletcher's drama later copied by Crane for Sir Kenelm Digby. One would like to believe that the kindly members of this company, mindful of the sore straits to which their sometime associate had been reduced, responded to his appeal by allowing him to make use of Fletcher's popular play. Again, it is surely of considerable significance that


the King's Men should have employed such an expert caligrapher as Crane a man who also had considerable experience with the law and had been intimately associated with the Privy Council. It is also of some significance that this very efficient company should have discharged such a well-equipped person for a younger man. Finally, if Crane served for a while as playhouse copyistand surely he did-would not a careful study of his handwriting be of some service to such students as Mr. J. Dover Wilson in their endeavor to arrive at the original text of certain plays owned by the King's Men in 1623 or earlier? Is it not quite possible that some of the plays of Shakspere were set up from the beautiful handwriting of Crane rather than from the somewhat difficult autograph-granting that Sir Maunde Thompson and others are right in their contentions regarding this autograph of Shakspere himself? Such a question may deserve to be pronounced downright silly, but if anyone can prove it so by determining the exact relationship of Crane to the King's Men, then it has not been asked in vain.

The University of North Carolina.

8 Besides Demetrius and Enanthe, MS. Harleian 3357, dated December 1632 (see Dyce's ed. of Demetrius and Enanthe, pp. vii-viii), is in Crane's handwriting; as is perhaps also MS. Harleian 6930 (cf. Sir Sidney Lee in Dictionary Nat'l Biog. under "Crane ").

See his ingenious study in Shakespeare's Hand in the Play of Sir Thomas More (Cambridge, 1923), pp. 113 ff.

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