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By an enumeration of real circumstances, he gives us the following lively draught of the miserable tenement, yet ample services, of a poor copyholder.
Of one bay's breadth, god wot, a silly cote,
Whose thatched spars are furr'd with sluttish soote
His swine beneath, his pullen o'er the beame.
Stands straggling on the wastes of Holdernesse :
Or with greene cheeses when his sheepe are shorne:
The lord's acceptance of these presents is touched with much hu
The smiling landlord shewes a sunshine face,
In the second, he reprehends the incongruity of splendid edifices and worthless inhabitants.
Like the vaine bubble of Iberian pride,
That overcroweth all the world beside;
Which rear'd to raise the crazy monarch's fame,
When Maevio's first page of his poesy
Layes siege unto the backward buyer's grot, &c.
He then beautifully draws, and with a selection of the most picturesque natural circumstances, the inhospitality or rather desertion of an old magnificent rural mansion.
Beat the broad gates, a goodly hollow sound
The marble pavement, hid with desart weed,
Afterwards, the figure of FAMINE is thus imagined.
Like to the plane of many-sided squares
In the third, a satire is compared to the porcupine.
The satire should be like the porcupine,
That shoots sharp quills out in each angry line.m
This ingenious thought, though founded on a vulgar error, has been copied, among other passages, by Oldham. Of a true writer of satire, he says,
He'd shoot his quills just like a porcupine,
In the fourth and last of this Book, he enumerates the extravagances of a married spendthrift, a farmer's heir, of twenty pounds a year. He rides with two liveries, and keeps a pack of hounds.
In this age, the three modern languages were studied to affectation. In the Return from Parnassus, above quoted, a fashionable fop tells his Page, “Sirrah, boy, remember me when I come in Paul's Church-yard, to buy a Ronsard and Dubartas in French, an Aretine in Italian, and our hardest writers in Spanish," &c. act ii. sc. 3.
The motto on the front of the house
ΟΥΔΕΙΣ ΕΙΣΙΤΩ, which he calls a fragment of Plato's poetry, is a humorous alteration of Plato's ΟΥΔΕΙΣ ΑΚΑΘΑΡΤΟΣ ΕΙΣΙΤΩ.
1 B. v. 2.
m B. v. 3.
Apology for the foregoing Ode, &c. Works, vol. i. p. 97. edit. 1722. 12mo.
But whiles ten pound goes to his wife's new gowne,
The last Book, consisting of one long satire only, is a sort of epilogue to the whole, and contains a humorous ironical description of the effect of his satires, and a recapitulatory view of many of the characters and foibles which he had before delineated. But the scribblers seem to have the chief share. The character of Labeo, already repeatedly mentioned, who was some cotemporary poet, a constant censurer of our author, and who from pastoral proceeded to heroic poetry, is here more distinctly represented. He was a writer who affected compound epithets, which sir Philip Sydney had imported from France, and first used in his ARCADIA P. The character in many respects suits Chapman, though I do not recollect that he wrote any pastorals.
That Labeo reades right, who can deny,
The arts of composition must have been much practised, and a knowledge of critical niceties widely diffused, when observations of this kind could be written. He proceeds to remark, it was now customary for every poet, before he attempted the dignity of heroic verse, to try his strength by writing pastorals 9,
• B. v. 4.
? We have our author's opinion of Skelton in these lines of this satire, f. 83.
Well might these checks have fitted former
Though these lines bear a general sense, yet at the same time they seem to be connected with the character of Labeo, by which they are introduced. By the Carmelite, a pastoral writer ranked with Theocritus and Virgil, he means Man
But ere his Muse her weapon learn to wield,
Poems on petty subjects or occasions, on the death of a favourite bird or dog, seem to have been as common in our author's age, as at present. He says,
Should Bandell's throstle die without a song,
Downe in some ditch, without his exequies",
In the old comedy, the RETURN FROM PARNASSUS, we are told of a coxcomb who could bear no poetry "but fly-blown sonnets of his mistress, and her loving pretty creatures her monkey and her puppet"."
The following exquisite couplet exhibits our satirist in another and a more delicate species of poetry:
The Pyrrhic dance, performed in ar
In pursuance of the argument, he adds,
Folly itselfe and baldnes may be prais'd. An allusion to Erasmus's Moriæ Encomium, and the Encomium Calvitiei, written at the restoration of learning. Cardan also wrote an encomium on Nero, the Gout, &c.
In this Satire, Tarleton is praised as a poet, who is most commonly considered only as a comedian. Meres commends him for his facility in extemporaneous versification. Wit's Tr. f. 286.
I shall here throw together a few notices of Tarleton's poetry. "A new booke on English verse, entitled, Tarlton's Toyes," was entered Dec. 10, 1576, to R. Jones. Registr. Station. B. f. 136 b. See "Heruey's Foure Letters," 1592. p. 34. "Tarleton's devise uppon the unlooked for great snowe," is entered, in 1578. Ibid. f. 156 b. -A ballad called" Tarleton's Farewell," is entered in 1588. Ibid. f. 233 a.-" Tarleton's repentance just before his death," is entered in 1589. Ibid. f. 249 a. The next year, viz. 1590, Aug. 20, "A pleasant dittye dialogue-wise betweene Tarleton's ghost and Robyn Good fellowe," is entered to H. Carre. Ibid. f. 263 a. There is a transferred copy of Tarlton's Jests, I sup
pose Tarlton's Toyes, in 1607. Registr. C. f. 179 b. Many other pieces might be recited. [See supr. p. 388. note ".] See more of Tarleton, in Supplement to Shakspeare, i. pp. 55. 58. 59; and Old Plays, edit. 1778. Preface, p. lxii.
To what is there collected concerning Tarleton as a player, it may be added, that his ghost is one of the speakers, in that character, in Chettle's Kindharte's Dreame, printed about 1593. Without date, quarto. Signat. E. 3. And that in the Preface, he appears to have been also a musician. "Tarlton with his Taber taking two or three leaden friskes," &c. Most of our old comedians professed every part of the histrionic science, and were occasionally fidlers, dancers, and gesticulators. Dekker says, Tarleton, Kempe, nor Singer,
'ener plaid the Clowne more naturally." Dekker's Gul's Horne Booke, 1609, p. 3. One or two of Tarleton's Jests are mentioned in "The Discouerie of the Knights of the Poste," &c. By S. S. Lond. Impr. by G. S. 1597. 4to. bl. lett. In FitzGeoffrey's Cenotaphia, annexed to his Affania, 1601, there is a panegyric on Tarleton. Signat. N. 2. Tarleton and Greene are often mentioned as associates in Harvey's Four Letters, 1592. "Act iii. sc. 4.
Her lids like Cupid's bow-case, where he hides
One is surprised to recollect, that these satires are the production of a young man of twenty-three. They rather seem the work of an experienced master, of long observation, of study and practice in composition.
They are recited among the best performances of the kind, and with applause, by Francis Meres, a cotemporary critic, who wrote in 1598*. But whatever fame they had acquired, it soon received a check, which was never recovered. They were condemned to the flames, as licentious and immoral, by an order of bishop Bancroft in 1599. And this is obviously the chief reason why they are not named by our author in the SPECIALITIES of his Life, written by himself after his preferment to a bishoprick. They were, however, admired and imitated by Oldham; and Pope, who modernised Donne, is said to have wished he had seen Hall's satires sooner. But had Pope undertaken to modernise Hall, he must have adopted, because he could not have improved, many of his lines. Hall is too finished and smooth for such an operation. Donne, though he lived so many years later, was susceptible of modern refinement, and his asperities were such as wanted and would bear the chisel.
I was informed, by the late learned bishop of Glocester, that in a copy of Hall's Satires in Pope's library, the whole first satire of the sixth book was corrected in the margin, or interlined, in Pope's own hand; and that Pope had written at the head of that satire, OPTIMA
Milton, who had a controversy with Hall, as I have observed in a remonstrance called an APOLOGY FOR SMECTYMNUUS, published in 1641, rather unsuitably and disingenuously goes out of his way to attack these satires, a juvenile effort of his dignified adversary, and under every consideration alien to the dispute. Milton's strictures are more sarcastic than critical; yet they deserve to be cited, more especially as they present a striking specimen of those awkward attempts at humour and raillery, which disgrace his prose-works.
"Lighting upon this title of ToOTHLESS SATYRS, I will not conceal ye what I thought, readers, that sure this must be some sucking satyr, who might have done better to have used his coral, and made an end of breeding ere he took upon him to wield a satyr's whip. But when I heard him talk of scouring the shields of elvish knights', do not blame
B. vi. Pontan here mentioned, I presume, is Jovinianus Pontanus, an elegant Latin amatorial and pastoral poet of Italy, at the revival of learning.
* Wit's Treas. f. 282. It is extraordinary, that they should not have afforded any choice flowers to England's Parnassus, printed in 1600.
y Shaking of the Olive, or his Remain
ing Works, 1660. 4to. Nor are they here inserted.
A misquoted line in the Defiance to Envy, prefixed to the Satires. I will give the whole passage, which is a compliment to Spenser, and shows how happily Hall would have succeeded in the majestic march of the long stanza :