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commended as an exquisite dainty to the wondering guests. In fact (dropping the silly metaphor) the reprints of those authors superintended by Sir E. Brydges have been, on the whole, such as to fully justify the imposing dogma of Dr. Johnson, “that they were sought after because they were scarce, and would not have become scarce had they been much esteemed *.” — But there were other neglected writers in that era besides Nicholas Breton, Robert Greene, and
In justice to Sir Egerton Brydges, it should be observed, that we are indebted to his zeal, and that of his unwearied coadjutor Mr. Haslewood, for much curious and interesting information relating to our early writers; of which Dr. Drake has known how to avail himself, without the labour of wading through the mass of rubbish, under which it has sometimes lain hid. The reviver of Wither's “ Shepherd's Hunting,” and “Fair Virtue,” (so ably panegyrized by Mr. Lamb) and of the learned Stanley's “ Poems,” and “ Translations from Moschus, Anacreon, &c.” deserves the poetical student's warmest thanks; and I have much pleasure in acknowledging that I owe my more intimate acquaintance with the following beautiful poem to Sir Egerton’s almost entire reprint of it in several numbers of the “Restituta.”
Thomas Watson, who surely merited Sir Egerton's best offices with the public on their behalf.Why did he not follow up his beautiful edition of Drayton's “ Nymphidia,” with some elegant selections from the lyrical parts of Jonson and Fletcher, or from the polished sonnets of Drummond of Hawthornden, recommended by one of his wonted tasteful mild introductions; wherein, as in the preface to Raleigh's Poems, he might have shown us “ that the poetry of that day was not an old fashioned uncouth monster, mounted on a lumbering Pegasus, dragon-winged, and leaden-hoofed; but that it as often wore a sylphlike form, with Attic vest, with faëry feet, and the butterfly's gilded wings?—This would have unfolded more talent and love of the divine art than printing in splendid quarto, with charming vignettes, such a trifle (pretty, but still a trifle) as Mr. Quillinan's juvenile poem of Dunluce Castle. But unhappily for the cause, of which he was a zealous, though injudicious champion, his likings took an oblique directionorient pearls lay neglected, while worthless beads
were gathered up, strung, and clasped with gold : and imitating Hamlet's sentiment, (“The less they deserve, the more merit is in your bountyuse them after your own honour and dignity”) Watson, Braithwaite, Constable, and Breton, were tricked out in splendid attire, befitting Jonson, or Chapman, or Marlowe, or Sidney, which so far from concealing their native meanness, set it forth in tenfold insignificance.
The rage for blindly reprinting works, merely because they were rare, is quenched; but it has had its use in creating a general spirit of investigation of the fine old writers of England, and Italy, which is gaining ground daily: and the effect of such search is visible in every department of literature*. “ The Retrospective Review," as far as it has appeared, is a considerable improvement on former publications of a similar nature; but in its poetic department, it pro
* Yet even at this time there are men of indurated, unpoetical minds, to whom the simple, majestic, weighty style of our noble translation of the Bible is “uncoutlı, vulgar,” and who clamour for an entire new version!!
fesses only to administer small doses by way of provocatives, while the object of the “ Select Poets" is to supply true adorers with copious draughts, unadulterated, from the well-head of the Sacred Waters. There are many would-be admirers who will perhaps expect the editor to draw also of every green ditch and muddy pond in the Delphian country, and their ostrich-stomachs may be balked in not finding any crude, tough, juiceless substances, whereon they may try their marvellous powers of digestion—but this selection is planned with a ruthless regard to intrinsic value, and the editor's opinion that age, when not dignified by worth, is most unreverend and despised, must be a death blow to their hopes. But somewhat too much of this. The author of the first part of the present poem demands attention.
The life of this blazing, though transitory meteor, is shrouded in great obscurity. The place and date of his birth, and the circumstances of his parents are alike unknown; Oldys says that he was born about the former part of the reign of Edward the Sixth, but this can hardly be correct; and the conjecture of Mr. Ellis, who places his birth about 1562, carries with it an air of greater probability. He was of Benet College, Cambridge, where he took the degree of B. A. in 1583, and of M. A. 1587; and on leaving the university he became, like his great cotemporary Shakspeare, at once an actor and writer for the stage. So vague and uncertain are all the notices we have of Marlow, that a late ingenious writer in the Monthly Review * has endeavoured to show that Marlow and Shakspeare may have been one and the same person! This paradox is sustained by some very specious arguments, but there is quite sufficient cotemporary evidence of Marlow's existence to overthrow it altogether. Thus Robert Greene in his Groatsworth of Wit addresses him, “ thou famous gracer of tragedians.” Francis Meres praises him together with Sidney, Spenser, Shakspeare, Daniel, &c. for having "mightily