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There is nothing which gives a poetical description more interest than obscure allusions to ancient circumstances of National History, which, when softened by the veil of Time, allow the imagination its full range, and give it room enough to trace its characters with a freedom and wildness that satisfy a picturesque and romantic taste. With what skill and vividness does the following short poem touch the chords of the fancy, and set them into play!
Of Autumn beams, but the once lovely sky
Big with portentous gloom lours heavily,
While many a mystic train to charm the eye
Of forms from death recalled come floating by,
Of the long silent hunter's cheering horn;
And bold FINELLA decks the scenes forlorn;
R. P. G.
• Who contrived the assassination of Kenneth II. in revenge for that monarch's murder of her son at Scone.
September 7, 1813. 3 A dark day, with rain by fits, and a stirring wind,
which begins already to shake the leaves from the trees, renews something of an Autumnal vigour of mind. Fancy loves to recall the dead from their graves, and converse not only with their books, but their persons.
Robert GREENE and his Writings have been among the objects of research of literary curiosity for eighty years. So far back I have seen a note of Oldys registering his anxious inquiries about them: for even then they rarely occurred even to a diligent collector. Large prices are now given even for his most trifling pamphlets. Mr. Haslewood, in “ Censura Literaria,” viii. p. 380, has given a Memoir of this author, in which he has endeavoured to rescue his character from the obloquies so generally thrown on it.
I must confess, that in the posthumous pamphlet, entitled, “Greene's Groats-worth of Wit, bought with a Million of Repentance," 1592, of which there were
six more editions between 1600 and 1637, there are passages which give too much reason to think that the vicious character, which has been given by most biographers, of this unhappy author, is too well founded. Mr. Haslewood had probably not seen the pamphlet here spoken of, when he drew up his very interesting account.
This poet was born at Norwich, and was educated at Cambridge, where he took the degree of A.M. in 1583. He died in September, 1592, probably not more than thirty years old.
. Whatever may be said of Greene's conduct, there S is a simplicity and purity of sentiment and imagery,
in many of his pastoral poems, which in my opinion are convincing evidence that his mind at least was capable of virtuous impressions, and never entirely abandoned.
There is a pliancy and ductility in genius, which too often yields to the pressure of circumstances, and falls into those snares which a sterner and duller temperament is proof against. I mention this as some little extenuation (not excuse) of his irregularities.
Dr. Gabriel Harvey, the friend of Spenser, and antagonist of Tom Nash, was the author of “ Four Letters and certain Sonnets, especially touching Robert Greene, and other Parties by Him abused," 1592, in which are some admirable lines, entitled, “ John Harvey (the Physician's) welcome to Robert Greene."a
* See “ D'Israeli's Calamities of Authors," ii. p. 18. See also in the same volume, p. 235, “ The Dying Author's supposed Letter to his Wife Dol."
I shall copy some of the latter pages of “ The Groats-worth of Wit."
“To those Gentlemen, his quondam Acquaintance, that spend
their Wits in making Plays, Robert GREENE wisheth a
better Exercise, and Wisdom to prevent his Extremities.
“If woeful experience may move you, gentlemen, to beware, or unheard of wretchedness intreat you will look back with sorrow on your time past, and endeavour with repentance to spend that which is to come: Wonder not, (for with thee will I first begin) thou famous gracer of tragedians, that Greene, who hath said with thee, like the fool in his heart, “There is no God,' should now give glory unto his greatness; for penetrating is his power, his hand lies heavy upon me, he hath spoken unto me with a voice of thunder, and I have left; he is a God that can punish enemies. Why should thy excellent wit, his gift, be so blinded, that thou shouldest give no glory to the giver? Is it pestilent Machivilian policy that thou hast studied? O, punish folly! What are bis rules but mere confused mockeries, able to extirpate in small time, the generation of mankind. For if sic colo, sic jubeo, hold in those that are able to command; and ifs it be lawful, fas et nefas, to do any thing that is beneficial; only tyrants should possess the earth! and they, striving to exceed in tyranny, should each to other be a slaughterman: till the
mightiest out living all, one stroke were left for Death, that in Sone age man's life should end. The brother of this diabolical
atheism is dead, and in his life had never the felicity he aimed at; but as he began in craft, lived in fear, and ended in despair. Quam inscrutabilia sunt Dei judicia! This murderer of many
This alludes to Christopher Marlow, whom Malone pronounces “ the most popular and admired dramatic poet of that age, previous to the appearance of Shakespeare." Aubrey says, he was killed by Ben Jonson,
brethren, had his conscience seared like Cain: this betrayer of him that gave his life for him, inherited the portion of Judas: this Apostata perished as ill as Julian! and wilt thou, my friend, be his disciple? Look unto me, by him persuaded to that liberty; and thou shalt find it an infernal bondage. I know the least of my demerits merit this miserable death; but wilful striving against known truth, exceedeth all the terrors of my soul. Defer not (with me) till this last point of extremity: for little knowest thou, how in the end thou shalt be visited.
“With thee I join young Juvenal,' that biting Satirist, that lastly with me together writ a comedy. Sweet boy, might I advise thee, be advised, and get not many enemies by bitter words: inveigh against vain men, for thou canst do it, no man so well: thou hast a liberty to reprove all, and name none; for one being spoken to, all are offended; none being blamed, no man is injured. Stop shallow water still running, it will rage; tread on a worm, it will turn: then blame not scholars who are vexed with sharp and bitter lines, if they reprove thy too much liberty of reproof.
“And thoud no less deserving than the other two, in some things rarer, in nothing inferior, driven (as myself) to extreme shifts, a little have I to say to thee: and were it not an idolatrous oath, I should swear by sweet St. George, thou art unworthy better hap, since thou dependest on so mean a stay. Base minded men, all three of you, if by my misery ye be not warned; for unto none of you (like me) sought those burs to cleave: those puppets (I mean) that speak from our mouths, those antics garnished in our colours. Is it not strange that I, to whom they all have been beholding: is it not like that you, to whom they all have been beholding, shall (were ye in that
• Dr. Thomas Lodge, from whose Satires a long extract may be found in “ Beloe's Anecdotes.” Dr. Farmer, however, thought that Nash was the person intended.
d George Peele.