1753 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Dr. Thomas Lodge

Anonymous, in Cibber-Shiels, Lives of the Poets of Great Britain and Ireland (1753) 1:164-66.



THOMAS LODGE was descended from a family of his name living in Lincolnshire, but whether born there, is not ascertained. He made his first appearance at the university of Oxford about the year 1573, and was afterwards a scholar under the learned Mr. Edward Hobye of Trinity College; where, says Wood, making very early advances, his ingenuity began first to be observed, in several of his poetical compositions. After he had taken one degree in arts, and dedicated some time to reading the bards of antiquity, he gained some reputation in poetry, particularly of the satiric species; but being convinced how barren a soil poetry is, and how unlikely to yield a competent provision for its professors, he studied physic, for the improvement of which he went beyond sea, took the degree of Dr. of that faculty at Avignon, returned and was incorporated in the university in the latter end of Queen Elizabeth's reign: Afterwards settling in London, he practised physic with great success, and was particularly encouraged by the Roman Catholics, of which persuasion it is said he was.

Our author hath written

Alarm against Usurers, containing tried experiences against worldly abuses, London 1584.

History of Forbonius and Prisaeria, with Truth's Complaint over England.

Euphue's Golden Legacy.

The Wounds of a Civil War livelily set forth, in the true Tragedies of Marias and Sylla, London 1594.

Looking Glass for London and England, a Tragi-Comedy printed in 4to. London 1598, in an old black letter. In this play our author was assisted by Mr. Robert Green. The drama is founded upon holy writ, being the History of Jonah and the Ninevites, formed into a play. Mr. Langbain supposes they chose this subject, in imitation of others who had writ dramas on sacred themes long before them; as Ezekiel, a Jewish dramatic poet, writ the Deliverance of the Israelites out of Egypt: Gregory Nazianzen, or as some say, Apollinarius of Laodicea, writ the Tragedy of Christ's Passion; to these may be added Hugo Grotius, Theodore Beza, Petavius, all of whom have built upon the foundation of sacred history.

Treatise on the Plague, containing the nature, signs, and accidents of the same, London 1603.

Treatise in Defence of Plays. This (says Wood) I have not yet seen, nor his pastoral songs and madrigals, of which he writ a considerable number.

He also translated into English, Josephus's History of the Antiquity of the Jews, London 1602. The works both moral and natural of Seneca, London 1614. This learned gentleman died in the year 1625, and had tributes paid to his memory by many of his cotemporary poets, who characterised him as a man of very considerable genius. Winstanley has preserved an amorous sonnet of his, which we shall here insert.

If I music die, O let me chuse my death
Suck out my soul with kisses, cruel maid!
In thy breasts crystal balls, embalm my breath,
Dole it all out in sighs, when I am laid;
Thy lips on mine like cupping glasses clasp;
Let our tongues meet, and strive as they would sting:
Crush out my wind with one straight-girting grasp,
Stabs on my heart keep time while thou dost sing.
Thy eyes like searing irons burn out mine;
In thy fair tresses stifle me outright:
Like Circe, change me to a loathsome swine,
So I may live forever in thy sight.
Into heaven's joys can none profoundly see,
Except that first they meditate on thee.

When our author wishes to be changed into a loathsome swine, so he might dwell in sight of his mistress, he should have considered, that however agreeable the metamorphosis might be to him, it could not be so to her, to look upon such a loathsome object.