“ But where ye doubt, the truth not knowing,

Believing the best, good may be growing.
In judging the best, 110 harm at the least :
In judging the worst, no good at the best.
But best in these things it seenieth to nie,
To make po judgment upon ye;
But as the church does judge or take then,
So do ye receive or forsake them.
And so be you sure you cannot err,

be a fruitful follower.”

Nothing can be clearer than this.

« first pub

The RETURN FROM PARNASSUS was licly acted,” as the title-page imports, “ by the Students in St. John's College, in Cambridge.” It is a very singular, a very ingenious, and as I think, a very interesting performance. It contains criticisms on contemporary authors, strictures on living manners, and the earliest denunciation (I know of) of the miseries and unprofitableness of a scholar's life. The only part I object to in our author's criticism is his abuse of Marston; and that, not because he says what is severe, but because he says what is not true of him. Anger may sharpen our insight into men's defects ; but nothing should make us blind to their excellences. The whole passage is, however, so curious in itself (like the Edinburgh Review lately published for the year 1755) that I cannot forbear quoting a great part of it. We find in the list of candidates for praise many a


That like a trumpet, makes the spirits dance:"

there are others that have long since sunk to the bottom of the stream of time, and no Humane Society of Antiquarians and Critics is ever likely to fish them up again.

“ Read the names,” says Judicio.

Ingenioso. So I will, if thou wilt help me to censure them. Edmund Spenser,

John Marston, Henry Constable,

Kit. Marlowe, Thomas Lodge,

William Shakespear;"and Samuel Daniel,

one Churchyard [who Thomas Watson,

is consigned to an unMichael Drayton,

timely grave.] John Davis,

“ Good men and true, stand together, hear your censure : what's thy judgment of Spenser?

Jud. A sweeter swan than ever sung in Po;
A shriller nightingale than ever blest
The prouder groves of self-admiring Rome.
Blithe was each valley, and each shepherd proud,
While he did chaunt his rural minstrelsy.
Attentive was full many a dainty ear:
Nay, hearers hung upon his melting tongue,
While sweetly of his Faëry Queen he sung ;
While to the water's fall be tuned her fame,
And in each bark engrav'd Eliza's name.
And yet for all, this unregarding soil
Unlaced the line of bis desired life,
Denying maintenance for his dear relief;

[ocr errors]

Careless even to prevent his exequy,
Scarce deigning to shut up bis dying eye.

Ing. Pity it is that gentler wits should breed,
Where thick-skinn'd chuffs laugh at a scbolar's need.
But softly may our honour'd ashes rest,
That lie by merry Chaucer’s noble chest.

But I pray thee proceed briefly in thy censure, that I may be proud of niyself, as in the first, so in the last, my censure may jump with thine. Henry Constable, Samuel Daniel, Thomas Lodge, Thomas Watson.

Jud. Sweet Constable doth take the wondering ear,
And lays it up in willing prisonment:
Sweet honey-dropping Daniel doth wage
War with the proudest big Italian,
That melts his heart in sugar'd sonnetting,
Only let himn more sparingly make use
Of others' wit, and use his own the more,
That well may scorn base imitation.
For Lodge and Watson, men of some desert,
Yet subject to a critic's marginal:
Lodge for his oar in every paper boat,
He that turns over Galen every day,
To sit and simper Euphues' legacy.

Ing. Michael Drayton.

Jud. Drayton's sweet Muse is like a sanguine dye, Able to ravish the rash gazer's eye.

Ing. However, he wants one true note of a poet of our times; and that is this, he cannot swagger in a tavern, nor domineer in a hot-house. John Davis

Jud. Acute John Davis, I affect thy rhymes,
That jerk in hidden charms these looser times':
Thy plainer verse, thy unaffected vein,
Is graced with a fair and sweeping train.
John Marston-

[ocr errors]

Jud. What, Monsieur Kinsayder, put up man, put up for

Methinks he is a ruffian in his style,
Withouten bands or garters' ornament.
He quaffs a cup of Frenchman's helicon,
Then royster doyster in his oily terms
Cuts, thrusts, and foins at whomsoe'er he meets,
And strews about Ram-alley meditations.
Tut, what cares he for modest close-couch'd terms,
Cleanly to gird our looser libertines ?
Give him plain naked words stript from their shirts,
That might beseem plain-dealing Aretine.

Ing. Christopher Marlowe~

Jud. Marlowe was happy in his buskin’d Muse;
Alas! unhappy in his life and end.
Pity it is that wit so ill should dwell,
Wit lent from heaven, but vices sent from hell.

Ing. Our theatre hath lost, Pluto hath got
A tragic penman for a dreary plot.
Benjamin Jonson.

Jud. The wittiest fellow of a bricklayer in England.

Ing. A mere empirick, one that gets what he hath by ohservation, and makes only nature privy to what he endites: so slow an inventor, that he were better betake himself to his old trade of bricklaying, a blood whoreson, as confident now in making of a book, as he was in times past in laying of a brick. William Shakespear.

Jud. Who loves Adonis' love, or Lucrece' rape,
His sweeter verse contains heart-robbing life,
Could but a graver subject bim content,
Without love's lazy foolish languishment."


passage might seem to ascertain the date of the piece, as it must be supposed to have been written before Shakespear had become known as a dramatic poet. Yet he afterwards introduces Kempe the actor talking with Burbage, and saying, “ Few (of the University) pen plays well : they smell too much of that writer Ovid, and of that writer Metamorphosis, and talk too much of Proserpina and Jupiter. Why here's our fellow Shakespear puts them all down ; aye, and Ben Jonson too.”—There is a good deal of discontent in all this ; but the author complains of want of success in a former attempt, and appears not to have been on good terms with fortunè. The miseries of a poet's life form one of the favourite topics of The Return from Parnassus, and are treated, as if by some one who had “ felt them knowingly.” Thus Philomusus and Studioso chaunt their griefs in concert.

Phil. Banu'd be those hours, when 'mongst the learned

throng, By Granta's muddy bank we whilom sung.

Stud. Bann'd be that hill which learned wits adore, Where erst we spent our stock and little store.

Phil. Bann'd be those inusty mews, where we have spent Our youthful days in paled languishment.

Stud. Bann'd be those cozening arts that wrought our woe, Making us wandering pilgrims to and fro.

Phil. Curst be our thoughts whene'er they dream of hope; Bann'd be those haps that henceforth flatter us, When mischief dogs us still, and still for aye,

« VorigeDoorgaan »