1844 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Dr. Thomas Lodge

Robert Chambers, in Cyclopaedia of English Literature (1844; 1850) 1:170-71.



THOMAS LODGE was an actor in London in 1584. He had previously been a servitor of Trinity college, Oxford (1573), and had accompanied Captain Clarke in his voyage to the Canary Islands. He first studied law at Lincoln's Inn, but afterwards practised medicine. He took the degree of M.D. at Avignon. In 1590, he published a novel called Rosalind, Euphues' Golden Legacy, in which he recommends the fantastic style of Lyly. From part of this work (the story of Rosalind) Shakspeare constructed his As You Like It. If we suppose that Shakspeare wrote first sketches of the "Winter's Tale" and "As You Like It," before 1592 (as he did of "Romeo and Juliet," "Hamlet," &c.), we may account for Greene's charge of plagiarism, by assuming that the words "beautified with our feathers," referred to the tales of "Pandosto" and "Rosalind." In 1594, Lodge wrote a historical play, the Wounds of Civil War, Lively set forth in the True Tragedies of Marius and Sylla; this play is heavy and uninteresting, but Lodge had the good taste to follow Marlow's Tamburlaine, in the adoption of blank verse. For example—

Ay, but the milder passions show the man;
For, as the leaf doth beautify the tree,
The pleasant flowers bedeck the painted spring,
Even so in men of greatest reach and power,
A mild and piteous thought augments renown.

The play, A Looking-Glass for London and England, written by Lodge and Greene, is directed to the defence of the stage. It applies the scriptural story of Nineveh to the city of London, and amidst drunken buffoonery, and clownish mirth, contains same powerful satirical writing. Lodge also wrote a volume of satires and other poems, translated Josephus, and penned a serious prose defence of the drama. He was living in 1600, as is proved by his obtaining that year a pass from the privy council, permitting himself and his friend, "Henry Savell, gent.," to travel into the archduke's country, "taking with them two servants," for the purpose of recovering some debts due them there. The actor and dramatist had now merged in the prosperous and wealthy physician: Lodge had profited by Greene's example and warning. According to Wood, Lodge died of the plague in September 1625.

It is impossible to separate the labours of Greene and Lodge in their joint play, but the former was certainly the most dramatic in his talents. In Lodge's "Rosalind," there is a delightful spirit of romantic fancy and a love of nature that marks the true poet. We subjoin some of his minor pieces.