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“ The Grashopper foodless, helpless, and strengthless, got into the next brook, and in the yielding sand digged himself a pit; by which likewise he engraved this epitaph:
When Spring's green prime arrayed me with delight,
When first I saw the sun the day begin,
And then, day lost, I mourn'd Spring past; I wailid,
Then too, too late, I prais'd the Emmet's pain,
My wretched end may warn green springing youth,
Then blest are they that, like the toiling Ant,
“With this the Grashopper, yielding to the weather's extremity, died comfortless without remedy. Like him myself: like me, shall all that trust to friends' or time's inconstancy, Now faint I of my last infirmity, beseeching them that shall bury my body, to publish this last farewell, written with my wretched hand.
Fælicem fuisse infaustum.
"A Letter written to his Wife, found with this Book
"The remembrance of many wrongs offered thee, and thy unreproved virtues, adds greater sorrow to my miserable state than I can utter, or thou conceive. Neither is it lessened by consideration of thy absence, (though shame would let me hardly behold thy face), but exceedingly aggravated; for that I cannot (as I ought) to thy own self reconcile myself, that thou mightest witness my inward woe at this instant, that have made thee a woeful wife for so long a time. But equal heaven hath denied that comfort, giving at my last need, like succour as I have sought all my life: being in this extremity as void of help, as thou hast been of hope. Reason would, that after so long waste, I should not send thee a child to bring thee greater charge: but consider he is the fruit of thy womb, in whose face regard not the father's so much, as thy own perfections. He is yet green, and may grow straight, if he be carefully tended: otherwise apt enough (I fear me) to follow his father's folly. That I have offended thee highly, I know; that thou canst forget my injuries, I hardly believe: yet, persuade I myself, if thou saw my wretched estate, thou couldest not but lament it: nay, certainly I know thou wouldest. All my wrongs muster themselves about me; every evil at once plagues me. For my contempt of God, I am contemned of men; for my swearing and forswearing, no man will believe me; for my gluttony, I suffer hunger; for my drunkenness, thirst; for my adultery, ulcerous sores. Thus God hath cast me down, that I might be humbled, and punished for example of other sinners. And although he suffers me in this world to perish without succour, yet trust I in the world to come to find mercy, by the merits of my Saviour, to whom I commend thee, and commit my soul.
"Tbjr repentant ha>band for his d'uloyaltr,
I do not mean on the present occasion to give an analysis of the whole pamphlet. At signature C 4, begins "Roberto's Tale," with these words: "In the north parts there dwelt an old squire."
The following poem occurs at the back of signature E, introduced in this manner:
"Hereafter suppose me the said Roberto, and I will go on with that he promised: Greene will send you now his 'Groatsworth of Wit,' that never shewed a mite's worth in his life: and though no man now be by, to do me good, yet, ere I die, I by my repentance endeavour to do all men good.
Deceiv■ng world that with alluring toys,
Hast made my life the subject of thy scorn:
And scornest now to lend thy fading joys,
T' outlength my life, whom friends have left forlorn,
How well are they that die ere they be born,
And never see thy slights, which few men shun,
Till unawares they helpless are undone.
Oft have I sung of Love and of his fire,
But now I find that poet was advised,
Which made full feasts increasers of desire,
And proves weak Love was with the poor despis'd:
for when the life with food is not sufiie'd,
What thoughts of love, what motion of delight,
Witness my want the murderer of my wit,
My ravish'd sense of wonted fury reft,
Wants such conceit, as should in poems fit
Set down the sorrow wherein 1 am left:
But therefore have high heavens their gifts bereft,
Because so long they lent them me to use.
And I so long their bounty did abuse.
O, that a year were granted me to live,
Time loosely spent will not again be won,
My time is loosely spent, and 1 undone."
We are bound to believe, on the faitb of Chettle's solemn assertion, that these lines are the genuine production of Greene. They are written in a tone which raises a strong conviction of his sincerity. They exhibit also an ease and force of expression, which shew that his mind was, even at this period of sickness and bodily debility, sane and vigorous. The powers which thus, amid the seductions of habitual debauchery, could throw forth fruits so numerous and so forcible as the list of our Author's works exhibits, must have been endowed with no ordinary share of the gifts of Nature. The popularity which these writings attained in their own day, and long afterwards, is another proof of their attractive qualities.
"He was at this time," says Anthony Wood, "a Pastoral Sonnet Maker, and author of several things which were pleasing to men and women. They made much sport, and were valued among scholars; but since they have been mostly sold in Ballad-mongers' stalls."
I have before mentioned the lines addressed to Greene, in the character of John Harvey, who died before him. I here insert them:
John Harvey (the Physician's) welome to Robert Greene.
Come, fellow Greene, come to thy gaping grave,
Bid Vanity and Foolery farewell;
And overloud hast rung the bawdy bell.
No fitter house for busy folk to dwell;
Some other must those arrant stories tell:
Come on; I pardon thy offence to me;
A Fcol and a Physician may agree!
They are not to disease a buried elf.
The cause of Greene's death is said to have been eating pickled herrings, and drinking rhenish wine with them; at a banquet at which Tom Nash was present.
Such was the melancholy fate of Greene; a fate too similar to that, which has befallen many other unhappy sons of Genius. Like Marlow, and Otway, and Savage, and Boyse, death released him from that misery, into which debauchery had plunged the noblest talents. The memory of his works shall yet live, while his vices, which were most hurtful to himself, shall be forgiven, if not forgotten.
Alluding to “ The Art of Coney-catching."