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for thou canst do it, no man better, no man so well: thou hast libertie tó reprove all, and name none. - Stop shallow water still running, it will rage ; tread on a worme, and it will turn; then blame not schollers, who are vexed with sharpe and bitter lines, if they reproove too much libertie of reproof."
George Peele , as Mr. Tyrwhitt has remarked, is next addressed. " And thou no leffe deferving than the other two, in some things rarer, in nothing inferior, driven, as my selfe, to extreame shifts , a little have I to say to thee : and were it not an idolatrous oath, I would sweare by sweet S. George, thou art unworthy better hap, fith thou dependest on so meane a stay. Bafe-minded men all three of you, if by niy misery you be not warned: for unto none of you, like me, fought those burs to cleave; those puppets, I meane, that speake from our mouths; those anticks garnisht in our colours. Is it not strange that I, to whom they all have bin beholding, is it not like that you, to whom they all have been beholding, shall (were yee in that case that I am now) be both of them at once forsaken? Yes, trust them not, for there is an upstart crow beautified with our feathers, that with his tygres heart wrapt in a players hide, supposes hee is as well able to bombafie out a blanke verse as the best of you; and being an absolute Johannes fac-totum, is in his own conceit the only Shake-scene in a countrey. O that I might intreat your rare wittes to be employed in more profitable courses; and let these apes imitate your past excellence, and never
more acquaynte them with your admired inventions.
This tract appears to have been written by Greene not long before his death ; for near the conclusion he says, “ Albeit weakness will scarce Suffer me to write, yet to my fellow-scollers about this city will I direct these few insuing lines. He died, according to Dr. Gabriel Harvey's account, on the third of September, 1592.
I have lately met with a very scarce pamphlet entitled Kind Harts Dreame, written by Henry Chettle , from the preface to which it appears that he was the editor of Greene's Groatsworth of Wit, and that it was published between September and December 1592. Our poet, we find, was not without reason displeased at the preceding allusion to him. As what Chettle says of him, correfponds with the character which all his contemporaries have given him, and the piece is tremely rare, I shall extract from the Address to the Gentlemen Readers, what relates to the subject before
. e o thol aths
" About three months since died M. Robert Greene, leaving many papers in sundry booksellers' hands, among others his Groatsworth of Wit, in which a letter written to divers play-makers is offensively by one or two of them taken; and
* Additions by Oldys to Winstanley's Lives of the Poets, MS.
? Probably in October , for on the Stationers' books I find The Repenlaunce of Robert Greene, Master of Arts , entered by John Danter, oa. 6, 1592. The full title of Greene's pamphlet is , " Greene's Groailworth of Wit bought with a Million of Repentance.
ad le aleve.
because on the dead they cannot be revenged, they wilfully forge in their conceites a living author: and after tosling it to and fro, no remedy but it must light on me. How I have, all the time of my conversing in printing, hindered the bitter inveighing against schollers, it hath been very well known; and how in that I dealt, I can sufficiently prove.
With neither of them that take offence was I acquainted, and with one of them [ Marlowe ] I care not if I never be. The other, [Shakspeare,] whom at that time I did not so much spare, as since I wish I had, for that as I have moderated the hate of living writers , and might have used my own discretion, (especially in such a case, the author being dead,) that I did not, I am as sorry as if the original fault had been my fault ; because my felfe have seen his demeanour no lefs civil than he excellent in the qualitie he profelles : Besides, divers of worship have reported his uprightness of dealing; which argues his honestie, and his facetious grace in writing, that approves his art. For the first, whose learning I reverence, and at the perusing of Greene's booke, strooke out what then in conscience I thought he in some displeafure writ; or had it been true, yet to publish it was intollerable; him I would wish to use no worse than I deserve. I had onely in the copy this share: it was il written, as sometime Greene's hand. was none of the best ; licensed it must bee, cre it could be printed, which could never bee, if it could not be read. To be brief, I writ it over, and as near as I could followed the copy; onely in that letter I put something out, but in the whole book not a word in; for I protest it was all Greenes,
not mine , nor Master Nashes, as some unjustly have affirmed. Neither was he the writer of an Epistle to The Second Part of Gerileon ; though by the workman's.error T. N. were set to the end : that I confess to be mine, and repent it not.
Thus, Gentlemen, having noted the private causes that made me nominate myself in print, being as well to purge Master Nase of what he did not, as to justifie what I did, and withall to confirm what M. Greene did, I beseech you to accept the publick cause, which is both the desire of
your delight and common benefit; for though the toye bee shadowed under the title of Kind Harts Dreame, it discovers the false hearts of divers that wake to commit mischief,” &c.
That I am right in supposing the two who took offence at Gretne's pamphlet were Marlowe and Shakspeare , whose names I have inserted in a preceding paragraph in crotchets , appears from the passage itself already quoted; for there was nothing in Greene's exhortation to Lodge and Peele, the other two persons addressed, by which either of them could possibly be offended. Dr. Farmer is of opinion that the second person addressed by Greene is not Lodge, but Nallie, who is often called Juvenal by the writers of that time ; but that he was not meant, is decisively proved by the extract from Chettle's pamphlet; for he never would have laboured to vindicate Nashe from being the writer of the Groatsworth of Wit, if any part of it had been profeffedly addressed to him.“
6 Nashe himself also takes some pains in an Epistle prefixed to Pierce Pennilesse &c. to vindicate himself from being the author of Greene's Groatsworth of Iit.
Besides, Lodge had written.a play in conjunction with Greene, called A Looking Glas for London and England , and was author of some fatirical pieces ; but we do not know that Nashe and Greene had ever written in conjunction.
Henry Chettie was himself a dramatick writer, and appears to have become acquainted with Shakspeare, or at least seen him, between Sept. 1592, and the following December. Shakspeare was at this time twenty-eight years old; and then we find from the testimony of this writer his demeanour was no less civil than he excellent in the qualitie he professed. From the subsequent paragraph.—“Divers of worfhip have reported his uprightness of dealing, which argues his honestie, and his facetious
in writing, that approves his art, —” it may be reasonably presumed, that he had exhibited more than one comedy on the stage before the end of the year 1592 , perhaps Love's Labour's Lost in a less perfect ftate than it now appears in, and A Midsummer Night's Dream.
In what time foever he became acquainted with the theatre, we may presume that he had not composed his first piece long before it was aded; for being early incumbered with a young family, and not in very affluent circumstances, it is improbable that he should have suffered it to lie in his closet, without endeavouring to derive some profit from it; and in the miserable state of the drama in those days the meanest of his genuine plays must have been a valuable acquisition, and would hardly have been refused by any of our ancient theatres.
In a Difertation on the Three Parts of King Henry VI. which I have subjoined to those plays, I