« PreviousContinue »
quisite to induce a fals propositio: although thou wilt say it is a part of Rethorike to argue A Persona, yet is it a practise of small honestie to conclude without occasion: if thy cause wer good, I doubt not but in so large & ample a discourse as thou hadst to handle, thou mightst had left the honor of a gentleman inuiolate. But thy base degree, subiect to seruile attempts, measureth all things according to cauelling capacitie, thinking because nature hath bestowed vpo thee a plausible discourse, thou maist in thy sweet termes present the sowrest & falsest reportes yu canst imagine."
Morton. Lbdge does not seem disposed to retort upon Gosson much of the abuse he had not scrupled to heap upon Lodge.
Bourne. He deals with Gosson very good humouredly, telling a story (and citing Petrarch as his authority), of a nobleman who went into a gentleman's stable, and was struck by the servant, who did not know his rank on account of "his plaine coat," but who afterwards most humbly apologized when he saw the gentleman, to his great astonishment, dining with his master: Lodge applies it thus. "So at this instant esteeme I, M, Gosson hath dealt with me, who not mesuring me by my birth, but by y subiect I hadled, like Will Summer striking him y' stood next him, hath vpbraided me in person whe he had no quarrell but to my cause, & therein pleaded his owne indiscretio, & loded me with intollerable in
iurie." All this you will not deny is very remarkable, and well worth reading, more particularly as the tract was scarcely ever heard of before.
Morton. Most assuredly in a biographical point of view, and as connected with the history of the stage, it is highly interesting. But what does Lodge mean by talking so much about his "birth," and the " offspring from whence he came?"
Elliot. It is clear enough; he claims to be descended of a good family.
Bourne. Certainly, yet nothing of his family is known; but it is said that he came out of Lincolnshire. There is a small 12mo tract, called "The Mirror of Modesty" (different from Robert Greene's, and probably published soon afterwards in imitation of his title), by T. Salter, which is dedicated to Sir Thomas Lodge; and it is not impossible that Thomas Lodge the poet was of that family: but this is mere vague conjecture, and I have nothing at all to confirm it.
Morton. Does Lodge say no more about Gosson than what you have read?
Bourne. Yes; after two or three classical allusions, rather in the pedantic style of the times, comparing him to Nicanor, he concludes by again complimenting Gosson on his facility in composition. "Whose actions, my reprouer, I will now fit to thee, who hauing slandered me without cause, I will no otherwise reuenge it but by this meanes; that now in publike I confesse thou hast a good pen, and if thou keepe thy Methode in discourse, and leaue thy slandering without cause, there is no doubt but thou shalt bee commended for thy coppye, and praised for thy stile." Now I have a right to say, that this is an important tract, and not the less so because its peculiar value was not known before.
Elliot. The whole of the address places Lodge's character in a very candid and amiable point of view.
Morton. And making a few allowances, it is written in a very unpretending and pleasing vein. It makes one long to look at the body of the tract such an epistle introduces.
Bourne. If you please, we will not do so now, as it would throw us completely out of our course: suppose we reserve it as the first subject of examination to-morrow.
Morton. Following it up by a conclusion of our inquiries regarding the stage—with all my heart.
Elliot. And mine; but just this moment, on the page opposite to that where Lodge's address concludes, my eye caught the name of Barnabe Rich, in large characters—what is that?
Bourne. He has two stanzas "in praise of the author." They were friends, and Lodge in the same way praises Rich's "Don Simonides," 1581. The lines before us purport to be written by "Barnabe Rich, Gentleman Souldier," a character of which he was not a little proud: they are not good, but as they relate to Gosson, and, in fact, contain a pun on his name, we may very fitly read them now.
"If that which warnes the young beware of vice, And schooles the olde to shunne vnlawfull gaine;
If pleasant stile and method may suffice,
I thinke thy trauaile merits thanks for paine:
That both the subiect and thy stile is good,
Thou needs not feare the scoffes of Momus brood.
"If thus it be, good Lodge, continue still;
Thou needst not feare Goose sonne or Ganders hisse,
Whose rude reportes past from a slaundrous quill,
Elliot. Much cannot be said in favour of Rich's pun, yet I dare say it answered the purpose.
Bourne. It might turn the laugh against Gosson for a time, though not quite so good as Tom Nash's pun, when in his " Lenten Stuff," 1599, he dignifies a red herring with the name of Scali-ger. Five other stanzas, prefixed by " John Jones Gentleman," are not worth reading: he was a physician, and wrote several medical tracts, and calls Lodge, in 1584, " a youth." We will now close the " Alarum against Usurers" until to-morrow.
Morton. On turning over the leaves of the two first books of Gosson's "Ephemerides of Phialo," 1579, I have found a short metrical translation from Ovid without rhyme. He has therefore some claim to be noticed among the earliest writers of blank verse.
Bourne. He has, but that is a mere scrap, which I certainly forgot when we were upon that subject. I, however, made a more important omission of Queen Elizabeth, who has translated a chorus of one of Seneca's tragedies into blank verse, though it hardly comes within the class of undramatic blank verse. You will find it inserted in Park's "Royal and Noble Authors," 1.102, so that the circumstance was of the less consequence.
Elliot. Dismissing that, what tract respecting stage plays are we next to see 1
Bourne. One which is interspersed with more poetical scraps than are usually found in works of the kind, though no blank verse. Chaucer and Brandt's " Stultifera Navis in English," are cited in it as authorities. The title is sufficiently explanatory, "A Treatise wherein Dicing, Dauncing, Vaine playes or Enterluds with other idle pastimes &c. commonly vsed on the Sabboth day are reproued," &c. "Made Dialogue wise by John Northbrooke," &c. 4to..
Morton. That, I apprehend, is one of the most notorious of the pieces against the stage. . .
Bourne. It has not been unfrequently alluded to,