1866 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Martin Parker

John Payne Collier, "The Poet's Blind mans bough" in Bibliographical and Critical Account of the Rarest Books (1866) 3:123-25.



A very badly printed, and not well-penned tract, which the author could not have looked at while it was going through the press, or such gross blunders as it contains could never have escaped him. It certainly was by no means the common practice of our old authors to correct their own proofs, and hence the frequent and glaring mistakes. The following error, even in the name of the author, was not set right, although the rhyme detects it:—

In diverse pamphlets, what ere currish barker
The authour was, he snarl'd at Martin Parter.

The object of Parker was to reply with severity to some anonymous scribblers, who had assailed him, especially as one of the defenders of Laud, whose imprisonment is thus mentioned:—

But (as friends) I friendly them advise,
That if hereafter they write any lyes,
Let them more likely be then that which was
Composed by some short hayr'd, long ear'd Ass,
Of a strange plot (beyond imagination)
To give the Arch Bishop his free relaxation
Out of the Tower by Necromantick spells:
Themselves did only knew it, but none els.

He asserts that he had never written anything anonymously:—

What ever yet was published by mee
Was knowne by Martin Parker, or M. P.;

and he follows it up by stating that such had been the usual, and honest, course of his predecessors and contemporaries. He mentions Chaucer, Spenser, and the Earl of Surrey, and then adds:—

Sydney and Shakspire, Drayton, Withers, and
Renowned Jonson, glory of our land,
Deker, learn'd Chapman, Haywood, althought good
To have their names in publike understood,

as well as Quarles and Taylor, the water-poet, which last he afterwards again introduces. It seems that all the attacks upon Parker had not been anonymous, since he places the name of John Thomas, in the margin, as the writer of at least some of them. In a Postscript Parker makes an evident allusion to The Scourge for Paper Persecutors by John Davies of Hereford, (see Vol. I. p. 229,) which, having been originally printed about 1610, had been reprinted in 1625, and was composed in something like the same spirit, and not with a very different purpose.

All Parker's productions were more or less popular, and it cannot be said that he wrote beyond, or above, the period in which he lived. He used his pen to please the multitude, and not to elevate it. His Robin Conscience or Conscionable Robin, "in English meeter," came out in 1635 as a chap-book, and for its satirical turn deserves praise; but Harry White, his Humour, in prose, has little to recommend it. It has no date, and we are disposed to place it late in the author's career. Both these have been reprinted.