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“ But where ye doubt, the truth not knowing,
Believing the best, good may be growing.
be a fruitful follower.”
Nothing can be clearer than this.
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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;
Careless even to prevent his exequy,
Ing. Pity it is that gentler wits should breed,
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,
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,
Jud. What, Monsieur Kinsayder, put up man, put up for
Ing. Christopher Marlowe~
Jud. Marlowe was happy in his buskin’d Muse;
Ing. Our theatre hath lost, Pluto hath got
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,
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,