1817 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Robert Greene

Nathan Drake, in Shakespeare and His Times (1817; 1838) 304.



Of this ingenious and prolific writer, we have already related so many particulars, that nothing more can be wanting here, than a brief character of his poetical genius. Were his poetry collected from his various pamphlets and plays, of which nearly fifty are known to be extant, a most interesting little volume might be formed. The extreme rarity, however, of his productions, may render this an object of no easy attainment; but of its effect a pretty accurate idea may be acquired from what has been done by Mr. Beloe, who, in his Anecdotes of Literature, has collected many beautiful specimens from the following pieces of our author. Tullie's Love, 1616; Penelope's Web, 1601: Farewell to Follie, 1617; Never Too Late, 1590; History of Arbasto, 1617; Arcadia, or Menaphon, 1589; Orphanion, 1599; Philomela, 1592.

Though most of the productions of Greene were written to supply the wants of the passing hour, yet the poetical effusions scattered through his works betray few marks of haste or slovenliness, and many of them, indeed, may be classed among the most polished and eminent of their day. To much warmth and fertility of fancy, they add a noble strain of feeling and enthusiasm, together with many exquisite touches of the pathetic, and so many impressive lessons of morality, as, in a great measure, to atone for the licentiousness of several of his prose tracts.