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Souereign of Beauty! like the Spray she grows
compass'd she is with Thorns and cankered flower. Yet were she willing to be pluck'd and worn She would be gathered though she grew on Thorn.
"Ah when she sings, all Musick else be still,
for none must be compared to her Note: Ne'er breath'd such Glee from Philomelas Bill,
nor from the Morning-singers swelling Throat: Ah, when she riseth from her blissfull Bed
she comforts all the World as doth the Sun, And at her sight the Nights foul Vapours fled;
when she is set the gladsome day is done. O glorious Sun! imagine me the West, Shine in my arms and set thou in my Breast!"
Morton . You said the lines were not contemptible; the last stanza is very rich and harmonious, and the whole is an elegant composition, with some very graceful turns.
Elliot. You over-rate it: it is good, but not quite so transcendent as you seem to think it. The two last lines are somewhat in Sir Richard Blackmore's vein.
Morton. You may be right, but whether right or wrong, I should not be inclined just now to contest the matter. I perceive that Greene gives us two mottos on the title-page of 1636: which did he usually adopt? Gascoigne, we know, had Tam Marti tarn Mercurio, and Whetstone Malgre la Fortune.
Bourne. Omne tulit punctum, &c. was Greene's ordinary motto to his early publications; but upon this point there is a singular letter by him prefixed to his " Perimedes the Black -Smith," 1588, from which you will not have forgotten that I formerly quoted two specimens of blank verse: it is a very curious epistle, as it relates to Greene's publications, friends and enemies: I will read it before I make a few quotations from " Dorastus and Fawnia." It is addressed " to the Gentlemen Readers Health," and is in these terms: "Gentlemen I dare not step awrye from my wonted method, first to appeale to your fauorable courtesies, which euer I haue found (howsoeuer plawsible) yet smothered with a milde silence: the small pamphlets that I haue thrust forth how you haue regarded them I know not, but that they haue been badly rewarded with any ill tearmes I neuer found, which makes me the more bold to trouble you and the more bound to rest yours euerye waie, as euer I haue done: I keepe my old course to palter vp something in Prose vsing mine old poesie still Omne tulit punctum, although lately two Gentlemen Poets made two mad men of Rome beate it out of their paper bucklers, and had it in derision, for that I could not make my verses iet vpon the stage in tragicall buskins, euerie worde filling the mouth like the faburden of Bo-Bell, daring God out of heauen with that Atheist Tamburlan, or blaspheming with the mad preest of the sonne."
Morton. That is very remarkable. Tamberlaine, I suppose, is the notorious tragedy by Marlow, and one would suppose, from what is said, that Greene was at this time upon bad terms with him.
Bourne. Had it been otherwise he would hardly have spoken as he has done of that " Atheist Tamburlann." Greene, a few lines afterwards, complains that it was said of him that he could not write blank verse, on which Marlow seems to have prided himself, for in the prologue to his " Tamberlaine" he notes the distinction in this respect between his tragedy and the productions of " rhyming motherwits."
Elliot. Greene's address really seems a very interesting one: let us hear the rest of it.
Bourne. He continues,—" But let me rather openly pocket vp the Asse at Diogenes hand, then wantonlye set out such impious instances of intolerable poetrie; such mad and scoffing poets that haue propheticall spirits, as bred of Merlins race: if there be anye in England that set the end of scollarisme in an Englishe blank verse, I thinke either it is the humor of a nouice that tickles them with self-loue, or to much frequenting the hot house (to vse a Germaine prouerbe) hath swet out all the greatest part of their wits, which wasts Gradatim, as the Italians say Poco ct poco. If I speake darkely, Gentlemen, and offende with this digression, I craue pardon in that I but answere in print what they haue offered on the Stage." Then he proceeds to speak merely of the particular work he is presenting to the world.
Elliot. It is not very easy to ascertain from the last sentence whether Greene had not been brought in some way or other upon the stage, or at least his productions ridiculed there.
Bourne. I do not draw either of these conclusions; I apprehend he alludes only to the bringing of blank verse upon the stage, to the writing of which " two Gentlemen Poets," it seems, had declared him incompetent. To contradict this opinion is probably the object of his blank verse poems inserted in his "Perimedes."
Morton. What does he mean when he says that the same " two Gentlemen Poets" made two " mad men of Rome" beat his motto " out of their paper bucklers?"
Bourne. Who the "two mad men of Rome" were, I know not, but by beating it "out of their paper bucklers," I understand, erasing it from their title-pages. These are questions which it is now very difficult to settle, and as I do not apprehend we should be at all the nearer by dwelling longer upon them, we will proceed to " Dorastus and Fawnia," in which you will not fail to bear in mind that—
Egistus is the same as Shakespeare's Polixenes.
Pandosto as Leontes.
Bellaria as Hermione.
Garinter is the same as Shakespeare's Mamillius.
Dorastus as Florizel.
Fawnia as Perdita.
This, with the general resemblance between the play and the story, will enable you to understand the relation of the extracts.
Elliot. You have remarked upon one principal discordance between "the Winter's Tale" and "Dorastus and Fawnia;"—do they run parallel in most other particulars?
Bourne. They do, excepting in one offensive incident, and that is, that Dorastus flying with his Fawnia, and arriving by accident at the Court of Pandosto, the father falls in love with his own daughter, and endeavours to seduce her: there was no necessity for this circumstance, and the consequence of it is, in addition to the destruction of his wife, that Pandosto is rendered unfit to enjoy the happiness of the young Prince and Princess when the ultimate discovery of Fawnia's birth is made, and he destroys himself. We have already seen that Francis Sabie turned the fable into blank verse, under the title of the "Fisherman's Tale," and "Flora's Fortune," in 1595. In the subsequent quotation Greene speaks of the innocent intimacy between Bellaria and Egistus, which led to the jealousy of Pandosto. "Bellaria (who in her time was the flowre of courtesie) willing to show how vnfainedly she loued her husband by her friends en