1807 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Day

Thomas Park, "The Parliament of Bees" Censura Literaria 3 (1807) 291-93.



This author, says Mr. Reed, had been a student in Caius College, Cambridge, and by the date of his works must have flourished in the reigns of James and Charles the First: but the precise time of his birth and death are not known. He wrote two dramatic pieces in conjunction with Marlow and Decker, and published six of his own; among which the Parliament of Bees is numbered in the old catalogues; but with little propriety, since it consists of what never could be adapted for theatrical representation, — a succession of twelve satirical colloquies in rhyme, without any continuity of character. The book is inscribed "To the worthy gentleman Mr. George Butler, professor of the arts liberal, and true patron of neglected poesie:" the following is perhaps its fairest specimen.

THE BOOKE TO THE READER.
In my commission I am charg'd to greet
And mildly kisse the hands of all I meet,
Which I must do, or never more be seene
About the fount of sacred Hippocrene.
Smooth-sockt Thalia takes delight to dance
I' th' schools of art; the door of ignorance
She sets a cross on; detractors she doth scorn,
Yet kneels to censure, so it be true-born.
I had rather fall into a beadle's hands
That reads, and with his reading understands,
Than some plush-Midas, that can read no further
But Bees! — whose penning? — Mew, this man doth murther
A writer's credit; and wrong'd poesie,
Like a rich diamond dropt into the sea,
Is by him lost for ever. Quite through read me,
Or 'mongst waste paper into pastboard knead me;
Presse me to death: so, though your churlish hands
Rob me of life, I'le save my paper lands
For my next heire, who with poetick breath
May in sad elegie record my death.
If so; I wish my epitaph may be
Only three words — Opinion murdered me!

T. P.