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fragments of it, which I have recovered from his own manuscript, may be read in an appendix to the present volumes.
Much of Marlowe's play is necessarily derived from Virgil; * and, as those portions of the Æneid that relate to Dido are in a high degree truthful and passionate, the comparison which we are forced to make between them and the English tragedy is so unfavourable to the latter, that we are in some danger of estimating it below its real worth. But, though Marlowe's portrait of Dido be nearly as inferior to Virgil's as Hogarth’s Sigismonda is to Correggio's, and though the other characters of the play have little force or variety, our author must yet be allowed the praise of having engrafted on the Roman fable some well-imagined circumstances, and of having given to many passages, which are wholly unborrowed, such richness of colouring and such beauty of expression as the genuine poet only can bestow.
Nash, whose name has occurred more than once in this memoir, and whose partnership in Dido has just been mentioned, survived the publication of that tragedy for several years. If his Summer's Last Will and Testament, 1600, was not put forth by himself, his Lenten Stuffe, 1599, must be regarded as the piece with which he closed his literary career. In 1601 he was certainly deceased.t His talents as a writer were very considerable, and various; but his
♡ Vol. ïï,-Appendix ii.-The comedy Rivales, with which Prince Alasco had been entertained on the preceding night, was also by Gager; see Wood's Ath. Oxon. ii. 87, ed. Bliss. Of Gager's plays two only, I believe, have been printed,—Ulysses Redur, 1591, and Meleager, 1592. Meres mentions“ Doctor Gager of Oxforde," as one of the best for comedy amongst us," in a list of names where Shakespeare's occurs ! Palladis Tamia, &c, 1598, fol. 283.
* Marlowe is under no obligations either to the Didone of Dolce (first printed in 1547) or to the Didone of Cinthio (first printed in 1583),- Italian tragedies of some celebrity.
+ As is proved by one of the “ Cenotapbia” in Fitzgeoffrey's Affaniæ, &c, 1601.
strength is chiefly displayed in his prose-invectives, which, whatever be their offences against good taste and perhaps against good feeling, are scarcely to be paralleled for bitterness of sarcasm and volubility of language.* Like other wits of the day, he subsisted by his pen; and sometimes he did not scruple to employ it on subjects of the vilest ribaldry.t In Dekker's tract called A Knight's Conjuring, &c, 1607, he is introduced, together with Marlowe, Greene, and Peele, in the Elysian fields : but I now subjoin only a portion of the passage, because I have quoted it more fully elsewhere; I “Whil'st Marlow, Greene, and Peele had got under the shades of a large vyne, laughing to see Nash (that was but newly come to their colledge) still haunted with the sharpe and satyricall spirit that followed him heere upon earth.”
As the various editions of Marlowe's Ovid's Elegies,
* The lines on Nash in Drayton's Epistle to H. Reynolds have been frequently cited: but not so, I believe, the following epigram in Freeman's Rubbe and a great Cast, 1614 (Part Sec. Ep. 96);
“ Nash, had Lycambes on earth liuing beene
The time thou wast, his death had bin al one;
Vsde better or inore bitter gall in inke.” + See Davies's Wits Bedlam, 1617, Sig. F2, where a certain piece by Nash is mentioned as “ knowne to euery trull."-But in estimating Nash's character, we must not attach any importance to the following lines, which seem to have been dictated merely by friendship for the person addressed;
To Doctor Harvey of Cambridge.
Sir J. Harington's Epigrams, B. ii. Ep. 36, ed. folio. Account of Peele and his Writings, p. v. (prefixed to his Works), ed. 1829.
printed together with Davies's Epigrams, have no dates, we cannot determine in what years they were successively published. Of the three editions which I have collated (and others, I believe, exist) the volume entitled Epigrammes and Elegies by J. D. and C. M.,* containing only a portion of the Amores, and exhibiting a comparatively antiquated orthography, is undoubtedly the earliest. f A later edition which I have used, and which contains the Elegies complete, with their more objectionable passages rather heightened than softened down, is probably that which was burnt at Stationers' Hall by order of the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of London, in June, 1599. A much later edition, collated by me, is a re-impression of the one last mentioned, and appears to have been published about 1640. These three editions bear each the imprint“Middlebourgh"; but, whatever may have been the case with respect to the first two, the third is evidently the production of a London press.
* See vol. iii. 224 for the true description of that rare edition. My description of it, earlier in the same volume, p. 106, is not accurate, the copy which I first used having been wrongly done up by the binder.
+ Ritson says (under“ Davies') that these pieces were published " about 1596,” and afterwards (under“ Marlow ") in “ 1596.” Bibl. Poet. pp. 181, 276.
# We may wonder at the inconsistency of the book-inquisitors of those days, who condemned to the flames Marlowe's Ovid's Elegies, Marston's Metamorphosis of Pygmalion's Image, nay, even Hall's Satires, and yet spared Harington's Orlando Furioso, which equals the original in licentiousness and sometimes exceeds it in coarseness. The truth may be that “ the authorities” did not choose to meddle with a translation which was not only dedicated to the Virgin Queen, but had been executed at her desire. — Though Sir John took every sort of liberty with the original, omitting, altering, &c, and though (as innumerable passages shew) he wanted an eye for its charming picturesqueness, his Orlando Furioso did not deserve Jonson's sweeping censure, – that it, “ under all translations, was the worsi.” Conversations with Drummond, p. 3. ed. Shake. Soc.
This version of the Amores, taken altogether, does so little credit either to Marlowe's skill as a translator or to his scholarship, that one is almost tempted to believe it was never intended by him to meet the eye of the world, but was made, merely as a literary exercise, at an early period of life, when classical studies chiefly engaged his attention. We look in vain for the graces of Ovid. In many passages we should be utterly puzzled to attach a definite meaning to the words, if we had not the original at hand; and in many others the Latin is erroneously rendered, the mistranslations being sometimes extremely ludicrous. * I doubt if more can be said in praise of this version than that it is occasionally spirited and flowing.+ Of the XVth Elegy of the First Book there are two translations, the second, which is by B.J. (i, e. Ben Jonson) being, however, only an alteration of the first. I
The Epigrams, which accompany the Ovid's Elegies, are
* E. g. “ Snakes leap by verse from caves of broken mountains." (" Carmine dissiliunt, abruptis faucibus, angues.”)
vol. iii. 144. “ Ida, the seat of groves, did sing with corn." (" Ipse locus nemorum canebat frugibus Ide.")
vol. iii. 211. + These couplets remind us of Pope's Homer ; “ So the fierce troops of Thracian Rhesus fell, And captive horses bade their lord farewell.”
vol. iii. 128. “ What age of Varro's name shall not be told, And Jason's Argo, and the fleece of gold ?"
vol. iii. 140. This alteration of the preceding version was afterwards introduced into The Poetaster : see Jonson's Works, ii. 397, ed. Gifford, who insists that both these translations are by Jonson, the former being the rough sketch of the latter.
wholly* by John (afterwards, Sir John) Davies; a man so celebrated as the author of Nosce Teipsum, that I need not touch on his biography. Like other collections of the kind which appeared a little later, these Epigrams are, for the most part, satires in miniature. They possess some poignancy of ridicule and some vigour of expression, but hardly enough to justify the applauses which they once called forth ; † and they chiefly recommend themselves to readers of the present day, as illustrating the manners and “hu. mours” which prevailed towards the close of Elizabeth's reign. I have given them with the text considerably improved by means of one of the Harleian MSS. When Davies republished his poems in 1622, he did not admit a single Epigram into the volume; and what he thus deliberately rejected, he doubtless wished to be forgotten.
A paraphrase on the very elegant production of the PseudoMusæus f had been projected and was already partly com
* See vol. iii. 224.
+ They were probably widely circulated in manuscript before their appearance in print. See vol. 111, 227, 245, for notices of them from Guilpin's Skialetheia, &c, 1598, (where Davies is termed " our English Martiall,") from Sir J. Harington's Metamorphosis of Ajar, 1596, and from Bastard's Chrestoleros, &c, 1598. See also Meres's Palladis Tamiu, &c, 1598, fol. 284; Fitzgeoffrey's Affaniæ, &c, 1601, Sigs. B 3, E4; R. Carew's Epistle on the Excell. of the English Tongue, p. 13 (appended to his Survey of Cornwall, ed. 1769); and Jonson's Conversations with Drummond, pp. 15, 26, 37, (where mention is made of two epigrams not in the printed collection), ed. Shake. Soc.— In Jonson's xviii th Epigram is the line “ Davis and Weever, and the best have been” (i. e, and the best epigrammatists that have been), Works, viII. 161; where Gifford gives, without any addition of his own, a note by Whalley, who says that Jonson alludes to Davies of Hereford and to Weever's Funeral Monuments: but the allusion is to Sir John Davies's Epigrams and to Weever's Epigrams, 1599. . f “ Musæus station'd with his lyre
Supreme among th’ Elysian quire,