1812 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Martin Parker

Joseph Haslewood, "The Poets' Blind Mans Bough" British Bibliographer 2 (1812) 430-36.



The Poets' Blind mans bough, or Have among you my blind Harpers: being A pretty medicine to cure the Dimme, Double, Envious, Partiall, and Diabolicall eyesight and Judgement of those Dogmaticall, Aenigmaticall, and now Gramatticall Authors who Lycentiously, without eyther Name, Lycence, Wit or Charity, have raylingly, falsely, and foolishly written a numerous rable of pestefrous Pamphelets in this present (and the precedent yeare, justly observed and charitably censured, By Martine Parker. Printed at London by F. Leach, for Henry Marsh, and are to be sold at his shop over against the golden Lyon Taverne in Princes street, 1641. qto. 8 leaves.

"To the truly jusicious Impartiall charitable, and imprejudicated Christian Reader of what quality, age or sex soever, the Authour dedicates his poore endevors, and referrs himselfe with the same:" is the head-title to a poem of eighteen lines, prefixed. Therein he declares the work intended to vindicate himself and "lyers to shame," who have filled "countrey, citie, court and campe, with lybells voyd of reason;" concluding

Still I hope good men will contented be,
With what is publish'd by (abus'd) M. P.
Who never wrot but in the just defence
Of's King and countrey; now's owne innocence.

Of the author, Martin Parker, the few scattered notices have been gathered by Mr. PARK in another place. The present vindicatory poem seems the result of repeated attacks by writers, whose local productions lie buried in the incongruous mass that issued from the press between 1640 and 1650: a mass that might occupy the life of a determined pioneer of literature to present a brief analysis of, and which has little to interest beyond personal scurrility on the one side, and the glosing arguments of the supporters of a commonwealth on the other. Parker, whose pretensions as a poet are little above mediocrity, contrives to introduce himself with precedence of the most esteemed favourites of the muse. He tells the nameless authors of slanderous Pasquils, though he might with "Iambean rimes ironicall" make ropes to hang them, yet his cruelty is not such, and he takes their abuses as jest, giving such ideots leave to write as eagles only take slight notice of crows. He says,

—my desire and whole intent is that,
Your folly being in generall aimed at.
Each on[e] may take his share of shame and say,
In doing this I have not shewed faire play:
For what is either more or lesse set forth
'Gainst persons in particular; what worth
Or fame among the vulgar it may win
Without the author's name, 't hath ever bin
Held as a lyebell both in law and sence;
Then he who writes (what e're be his pretence)
His name should justifie what he hath done
This maxim I have aiwaies thought upon:
Whatever yet was published by mee,
Was knowne by Martin Parker, or M. P.
All poets (as adition to their fames)
Have by their works eternized their names,
As Chaucer, Spencer, and that noble earle
Of Surrie, thought it the most precious pearle
That dick'd his honour, to subscribe to what
His high engenue ever amed at:
Sydney and Shakspire, Drayton, Withers and
Renowned Jonson glory of our land:
Deker, learn'd Chapman, Haywood, al thought good,
To have their names in publike understood;
And that sweet seraph of our nation, Quarles,
(In spight of each planatick cur that snarles)
Subscribes to his celestiall harmony,
While angels chant his dulcid melodie.
And honest John from the water to the land
Makes us all know and honour him by's hand;
And many more whose names I should have told
In their due place, in famous record inrould:
Have thought it honest honour to set downe
Their names or letters to what is theire owne.

He ridicules, as a liar, the inventor of a strange plot that was to give Archbishop Lawd "his free relaxation out of the Tower by necromantick spells;" and condemns the senseless libel on that prelate "Mercuries Message, named." These appear to have been the production of the same writer, whose name is afterwards given in the margin as John Thomas. Truth, zeal, or charity, are without effect, as the "brother here vituperates the brother:" and our author

—'bove all the rest hath wronged beene,
Tasting the bitter gall of hellish spleene,
Which these malignant serpents could eject
To make the world his innocence suspect,
In diverse pamphlets, what e're currish barker,
The authour was, he snarl'd at Martin Parter,
Nor Borealist by some brother pen['d,]
Yet father'd on a sect to this end,
To bring me in disgrace; as though I had,
Bin punisht heretofore for writing bad,
Calling me th' prelats poet and such tearmes,
Which nothing but his spight at all confirmes,
For I ne're wrot ith' Bishops cause so much,
As now I have on this occasion touch.
Another foolish idle defamation
That is intit'd the Popish proclamation,
The unnam'd authour (as in all a raylor)
Occasion takes to abuse me and John Taylor,
With Herbert, but wherefore I cannot tell,
Nor he himselfe that wrote it very well.

He accounts such "baregarden stuffe," cannot prove slander, although the lad who writes puts his name to it. A short postscript against the diurnals, finishes with

I have but broke the ice, some coadjuters
Will help to scourge these paper-persecuters.

J. H.