1790 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Dr. Thomas Lodge

Edmond Malone, in Plays and Poems of William Shakespeare (1790; 1821) 2:250-52.



Under the name of Alcon, who [in Colin Clouts Come Home Againe] is exhorted to attempt something of a higher strain than love-verses, I believe was shadowed Thomas Lodge, then a student in physick, and an admired poet; a man whose learning and profession Spenser must have respected. Alcon, like Corydon, is one of Virgil's shepherds; but Spenser, while he employed this pastoral name, thus familiarized to every classical reader, appears to have had particularly in his contemplation a very popular play, entitled The Looking-glasse for London and England, and written by Lodge in conjunction with Robert Greene, then deceased. In this drama, which had been frequently performed in 1591, and the following year, one of the characters is named Alcon. The moral and religious turn of this piece, probably, particularly recommended it to Spenser, and induced him to take Lodge's poetical name from thence rather than from any of his other productions. Lodge had also written a great number of lays or short amatory poems, some of which are found dispersed in his various novels, and some published unmixed with prose; and the advice here given to him to attempt "some matter of more skill," appears to have had due weight; for in the middle of the year 1595, he gave the publick a small volume of moral satires and epistles. Previously to the appearance of Colin Clout, he had propitiated Spenser by a paper of verses, prefixed to a collection of sonnets and elegies, published in 1595, which is now so extremely rare, that I shall subjoin the Induction to it (as it is called) in a note, on account of the high and very elegant eulogy on Spenser that it contains, which well entitled Lodge to this great poet's notice.