1866 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. John Marston

John Payne Collier, "Scourge of Villanie" in Bibliographical and Critical Account of the Rarest Books (1866) 2:320-22 & n.



A second edition of these satires was printed in the following year, without the name of any stationer or bookseller. This caution no doubt arose out of an order made by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of London on the 4th of June, 1599, under which Marston's Satires, Davys's Epigrams, and some other works of a similar kind were burned at Stationers' Hall. A decree was also then issued that "no satires or epigrams should be printed hereafter."

The main difference between the editions of The Scourge of Villanie in 1598 and 1599 is, that the latter contains an additional satire personally directed against Hall, produced by an epigram which Hall had "caused to be pasted to the latter page of every Pigmalion that came to the stationers of Cambridge."

Marston dedicates this volume "To Detraction," and at the end of the satires he inserts an invocation "To everlasting Oblivion." Few authors, however, seem to have been fonder of notoriety, although he affected to despise himself as well as his contemporaries. He subscribes a prose address "To those that seeme judiciall perusers," W. Kinsayder. In the comedy of The Return from Parnassus, 1606, Marston is called "Monsieur Kinsayder" and in his own play, What you Will, 1607, he applies the same name to one of his snarling characters.

The satires in The Scourge of Villanie are of precisely the same description as those which follow Pigmalions Image in the former volume, and they excited much attention. The first clumsy couplet,

I beare the scourge of just Rhamnusia,
Lashing the lewdnes of Britainia,

was afterwards often thrown in Marston's teeth. In a prose address at the end of the volume, signed Theriomastix, he protests against its being supposed that he taxed particular persons, and not general vices.

We have no account of Marston's death, nor in what year it occurred. An original letter from him, relating to the arrest of the five members in 1641, shows that he was then living. In the edition of Shakspeare, 1858, Vol. I. p. 179, this letter is printed, but under the erroneous impression that it referred to the Gunpowder Plot. Six of Marston's plays were collected and reprinted in 1633, 8vo, but his name is not found in any part of the volume, and it does not include all his dramas. In 1642 there was certainly a John Marston in the Church, for then was published A Sermon preached at St. Margaretts in Westminster, &c. by John Marston, Master of Arts, and Rector of St. Mary Magdalene at Canterbury.