« ZurückWeiter »
When I come home we shall go to meat :
After I've been married o' Sunday.
Then we shall laugh, and dance, and sing,
To have been married o' Sunday.
At night betimes we shall go to bed,
But that I was married o' Sunday.
It appears to me that the preceding is by no means a discreditable production, either as regards spirit or simplicity, and it may be as old as the time of Shakespeare.
F. S. A. Manchester, 2 June, 1844.
Art. XX.—Early rarity of the works of Robert Greene.
Robert Greene, as most persons are aware, was the first author who mentioned Shakespeare in print-not indeed by his name, but under the designation of Shake-scene : the allusion is contained in the “Groatsworth of Wit," printed in 1592; and as it has been pointed out ever since the time of Tyrwhitt, and has been noticed by every recent biographer of our great dramatist, it is unnecessary here to say more regarding it. My reason for now taking up my pen is to point out an early proof, not so much of the popularity of Greene as an author, (which, indeed, requires no evidence) but of the scarcity of some of his works, even as early as 1602: it is well-known that when any of them are now sold, even if they consist of only a few leaves, they produce many guineas; and nine years after the death of their author, it seems, they were not ordinarily to be met with in booksellers’ shops, and that some difficulty might be experienced in procuring them.
This fact we have upon the testimony of Samuel Rowlands, a notorious and humorous pamphleteer of the time of Shakespeare, to whom has always been attributed a very pleasant tract, first published in 1602, under the title of
“ Tis merrie when Gossips meete. At London, printed by W. W., and are to be sold by George Loftus, at the Golden Ball, in Popes-head alley. 1602.”
There was another impression of it in 1609;' and as that edition was reprinted not very many years ago, and some of the members of the Shakespeare Society may be acquainted with
It came out again in 1619, when the title was thus altered, “Well met, Gossip : or, Tis merrie when Gossips meete. Newly enlarged, with divers merrie songs. London, Printed by I. W., for John Deane, and are to be sold at his shop, just under Temple-barre. 1619."
it, it will be only fit here to say to those who have not seen it, that it consists of a lively dialogue, in verse, between a Wife, a Widow, and a Maid, a Vintner here and there joining in the conversation. The edition of 1602 alone contains the portion of the little work to which I am anxious to direct attention; and its curiosity, in connection with the popular literature of the day generally, and with reference to the productions of Robert Greene in particular, will be seen at once. It is in the form of an introduction, and purports to be a conversation between a gentleman who goes into a bookseller's shop for the purpose of buying all Greene's works, and the apprentice who is attending to his master's business, and who wishes to induce the customer to purchase “ Tis merry when Gossips meete," then just issued from the press. It will be observed that it likewise contains a mention of Thomas Nash, and his “Pierce Penniless," and of various popular productions, some of which are known, and others irretrievably lost. I shall insert this part of Rowland's tract without further preface, confident that it will be read with interest by most of the members of the Shakespeare Society, and as a small contribution to its forthcoming “ Papers.”
A Conference betreene a Gentleman and a Prentice.
Prentice. What lacke you, Gentleman? See a new Booke new come forth, sir : buy a new Booke, sir.
Gentleman. New Booke say?st? Faith I can see no prettie thing come foorth to my humours liking. There are some old that I have more delight in then your new, if thou couldst helpe me to them.
Prentice. Troth, sir, I thinke I can shew you as many of all sorts as any in London, sir.
Reprinted by the Shakespeare Society from the earliest of three editions, in 1592.
Gentleman. Can’st helpe me to all Greene's Bookes in one volume? But I will haue them euery one, not any wanting.
Prentice. Sir, I haue most part of them, but I lack Connycatching, and some halfe dozen more : but I thinke I could procure them. There be in the Towne, I am sure, can fit you: haue
you all the parts of Pasquill, sir? Gentleman. All the parts? Why, I know but two, and those lye there vpon thy stalle: them I haue, but no other am I yet acquainted with.
Prentice. Oh, sir, then you haue but his Mad-cappe and his Fooles-cappe: there are others besides those. Looke you heere, a prettie Booke Ile assure you, sir: tis his Melancholy, sir: and ther's another, and you please, sir: heer’s Morall Philosophy, of the last edition.
Gentleman. What's that with Nashes name to it there?
Prentice. Marry, sir, 'tis Pierce Pennylesse, sir: I am sure you know it; it hath beene a broad a great while, sir.
Gentleman. Oh! thou say`st true, I know't passing well; is that it. But where's the new Booke thou telst me of, which is it?
Prentice. Marry, looke you, sir: this is a prettie odd conceit of a merrie meeting heere in London betweene a Wife, a Widdow, and a Mayde.
Gentleman. Merrie meeting? why that Title is stale. Ther's a Booke cald Tis merry when knaues meete, and ther's a Ballad Tis merry when Malt-men meete; and besides there's an olde Prouerbe The more the merrier. And therefore I thinke, sure, I haue seene it.
Prentice. You are deceiued, sir, Ile assure you ; for I will bee deposed vpon all the Bookes in my shoppe, that you haue not seene it. Tis another manner of thing then you take it to bee, sir ; for I am sure you are in loue, or at least will bee, with one of these three : or say you deale but with two, the Widdow and the Mayde, because the Wife is another mans commoditie ; is not a prettie thing to carry Wife, Mayde, and Widdou, in your pocket, when you may, as it were, conterre
and heare them talke togither, when you will ? nay, more, drinke togither ; yea, and that which is further matter, vtter their mindes, chuse Husbands, and censure complections, and all this in a quiet and friendly sort, betweene themselues and the pinte-pot, or the quart quantitie, without any swaggering or squabbling, till the Vintners pewter-bearer, in a Boyes humour, gaue out the laugh at them.
Gentleman. Thou say'st well: belike thy Booke is a coniuring kinde of Booke for the feminine Spirits, when a man may rayse three at once out of his pocket.
Prentice. Truely, sir ; Ile assure you you may make vertious vse of this Booke diuers wayes, if you haue the grace to vse it kindly. As for ensample, set alone priuately in your chamber reading of it, and per aduenture the time you bestow in viewing it will keepe you from Dice, Tauerne, Bawdy-house, and so foorth.
Gentleman. Nay, if your Booke be of such excellent qualitie and rare operation, wee must needes haue some traffique together. Heere, take your money,-ist six-pence? Prentice. I, certaine no lesse, sir: I thanke yee,
sir. Gentleman. What is this? an Epistle to it? Prentice. Yes, forsooth: yes, tis dedicated
“ To all the Pleasant conceited London Gentle-women, that are friends to mirth and enemie to dull Melancholy."
All this curious and amusing matter is wanting in the editions after the first in 1602, which assigns the stanzas “in commendations of this booke” (subscribed only I. S. in the impression of 1609) to John Strange. The edition of 1619 omits these verses, but, besides two new songs, has the following species of Prologue ::
“ BY YOUR LEAVE, READERS.
“ Kinde loving Friends, since thus our case doth stand, That we are fall'n into the Printer's hand;