George Peele's pastoral drama, first acted about 1581, includes a lament for "poor Colin." Peele's fable, in which Jove finally awards the golden ball to Queen Elizabeth, was later taken up by Richard Barnfield in Cynthia (1595), the first imitation of Spenser written in the Spenserian stanza. The 1584 publication was anonymous.
Gerard Langbaine: "Arraignment of Paris, a Pastoral, which I never saw; but it is ascribed by Kirkman to Mr. W. Shakespear" Account of the English Dramatick Poets (1691) 526.
Thomas Warton: "There is also, at least originating from the English Ovid, a pastoral play, presented by the queen's choir-boys, Peel's Arraignement of Paris, in 1584" History of English Poetry (1774-81; 1840) 3:337n.
Edmond Malone: "At this distance of time it is not easy to say to what part of Peele's conduct Spenser alludes [in Colin Clouts Come Home Againe], in the qualification of his encomium on this poet: but, I imagine, he was displeased at his having been personally introduced on the scene, under his assumed name of Colin, in a dramatick pastoral entitled The Arraignment of Paris, written by Peele, and represented before Queen Elizabeth in or before 1584. As Spenser's unfortunate passion for the lady whom he has concealed under the name of Rosalind, was, after the publication of his eclogues, well known, the application of this character to the new poet, as he was then called, must have been immediately made by the spectators, and he had some reason to be offended at being exhibited on the scene, as a hapless swain, actually dying for love; in addition to which serio-comick representation, his fellow-shepherds, Hobbinol, Diggon, and Thenot, bring his corpse on the stage, and while they are proceeding to his interment, sing a funeral dirge over it. 'The pangs of despised love,' however they may affect the bosom of pining youth, exciting but little sympathy in the mass of mankind, this exhibition had certainly a tendency to place him in a ludicrous light, and is perhaps alluded to under the words, 'Albe he envie at my rustick quill'" Plays and Poems of William Shakespeare (1790; 1821) 2:249-50.
William Beloe: "This writer flourished in the time of Elizabeth. He was a very good Poet, and produced four plays, or as some say, five; all are remarkably rare.... This piece has been attributed to Shakspeare; but its real author was George Peele" Anecdotes of Literature 1 (1807) 321, 345.
Thomas Campbell: "In the last twenty years of the sixteenth century, we come to a period when the increasing demand for theatrical entertainments produced play-writers by profession. The earliest of these appears to have been George Peele, who was the city poet and conductor of the civil pageants. His Arraignment of Paris came out in 1584. Nash calls him an Atlas in poetry. Unless we make allowance for his antiquity, the expression will appear hyperbolical; but, with that allowance, we may justly cherish the memory of Peele as the eldest genuine dramatic poet of our language. His David and Bethsabe is the earliest fountain of pathos and harmony that can be traced in our dramatic poetry. His fancy is rich and his feeling tender, and his conceptions of dramatic character have no inconsiderable mixture of solid veracity and ideal beauty" Specimens of the British Poets (1819; 1841) lviii.
Retrospective Review: "There is, in Peele's dramas, a voluptuousness of imagery, a pomp and stateliness of style, with a richness and amenity of versification, which distinguishes them from those of Greene and every other author" 3 (1821) 100.
William Minto: "The sprightly art of the Arraignment would seem but stale in a quotation. The most elaborate joke in it seems intended to ridicule the amorous pining of Spenser's Shepherd's Calendar. Colin is introduced bewailing the cruelty of Love, and commiserated by his friends Hobinol, Diggon, and Thenot: shortly afterwards his hearse is brought in, and shepherds sing welladay over his untimely death. His sweetheart Thestylis woos and is rejected by a 'foul crooked churl.' Our knowledge of the personal jealousies and friendships of the period is imperfect and perplexing; but it is probable that the 'Palin' whom Spenser mentions in Colin Clout as 'envying at his rustic quill' was George Peele, and that this was the expression of the envy" Characteristics of English Poets (1874) 319-24.
W. W. Greg: "The names are obviously borrowed from Shepheardes Calender, but while Colin is still the type of the helpless lover, there is no necessity to suspect any personal identification. The Arraignment was probably produced less than two years after the publication of Spenser's eclogues, and Peele, who was an Oxford man, may even have been ignorant of the authorship" Pastoral Poetry and Pastoral Drama (1906) 219.
Herbert E. Cory: "The earliest important attempt to follow Spenser was made by George Peele in his pretty drama, The Arraignment of Paris, published in 1584, but said to have been presented in 1581, only two years after the appearance of the Shepheards Calender. In this play a genuine formal eclogue is introduced in which Colin and his comrades mingle strangely with Paris, Oenone, and the stately Greek goddesses on Mount Ida. In the third act Diggon, Hobbonol, and Thenot talk with Colin as he is lamenting the cruelty of his love Thestylis. Peele gallantly revenges his master's misfortunes in love. For later, when we are shown poor Colin's grave, Thestylis is condemned by Venus to love an ill-favoured rustic who spurns her" "Spenserian Pastoral" PMLA 25 (1910) 243.
ACT. III. SCENA. I.
COLIN THENAMORED SHEEPHERD SINGETH HIS PASSION OF LOVE.
O gentle Love, ungentle for thy deede,
Thou makest my harte
A bloodie marke
With pearcyng shot to bleede.
Shoote softe sweete love, for feare thou shoote amysse,
For feare too keene
Thy arrowes beene,
And hit the harte, where my beloved is.
Too faire that fortune were, nor never I
Shalbe so blest
Among the rest
That Love shall ceaze on her by sympathye.
Then since with love my prayers beare no boot,
This doth remayne
To cease my payne,
I take the wounde, and dye at Venus foote.
ACT III. SCENA. II.
HOBINOL, DIGON, THENOT.
Poor Colin wofull man, thy life forespoke by love,
What uncouth fit, what maladie is this, that thou dost prove.
Or Love is voide of physicke cleane, or loves our common wracke,
That gives us bane to bring us lowe, and let us medicine lacke.
That ever love had reverence 'mong sillie sheepeherd swaines.
Belike that humour hurtes them most that most might be their paines.
Hobin, it is some other god that cheerisheth their sheepe,
For sure this love doth nothing else but make our herdmen weepe.
And what a hap is this I praye, when all our woods rejoyce,
For Colin thus to be denyed his yong and lovely choice.
She hight indeede so fresh and faire that well it is for thee,
Colin and kinde hath bene thy friende, that Cupid coulde not see.
And whether wendes yon thriveles swain, like to the stricken deere,
Seekes he dictamum for his wounde within our forrest here.
He wendes to greete the Queene of love, that in these woods doth wonne,
With mirthles layes to make complaint to Venus of her sonne.
A Colin, thou art all deceived, shee dallyes with the boy,
And winckes at all his wanton prankes, and thinkes thy love a toy.
Then leave him to his luckles love, let him abide his fate,
The sore is ranckled all too farre, our comforte coms to late.
Though Thestilis the Scorpion be that breakes his sweete assault,
Yet will Rhamnusia vengeance take on her disdainefull fault.
Lo yonder comes the lovely Nymphe, that in these Ida vales
Playes with Amyntas lustie boie, and coyes him in the dales.
Thenot, methinks her cheere is changed, her mirthfull lookes are layd,
She frolicks not: pray god, the lad have not beguide the mayde.
ACT. III. SCENA. III.
OENONE ENTRETH WITH A WREATH OF POPLAR ON HER HEADE. MANET PASTORES.
Beguilde, disdayned, and out of love: live longe thou Poplar-tree,
And let thy letters growe in length, to witnes this with mee.
A Venus, but for reverence unto thy sacred name,
To steale a sylly maydens love, I might account it blame.
And if the tales be true I heare, and blushe for to receite,
Thou dost me wrong to leave the playnes and dally out of sight.
False Paris, this was not thy vow, when thou and I were one,
To raung and chang old love for new: but now those days be gone.
But I will finde the goddesse out, that shee thy vow may reade,
And fill these woods with my lamentes, for thy unhappy deede.
So faire a face, so foule a thought to harbour in his breast,
Thy hope consum'd, poore Nymphe, thy hap is worse than all the rest.
A sheepeherds, you bin full of wiles, and whet your wits on bookes,
And wrap poor maydes with pypes and songes, and sweete alluring looks.
Mispeake not al, for his amisse, there bin that keepen flocks,
That never chose but once, nor yet beguiled love with mockes.
False Paris, he is none of those; his trothles doble deede,
Will hurt a many sheepeherds else that might go nigh to speede.
Poore Colin, that is ill for thee, that art as true in trust
To thy sweete smarte, as to his Nymphe Paris hath bin unjust.
A well is she hath Colin wonne, that nill no other love:
And woo is me, my lucke is losse, my paynes no pytie moove.
Farewell fair Nymphe, sith he must heale alone that gave the wound;
There growes no herbe of such effect upon Dame Nature's ground.
EXEUNT PASTORES. . . .
THE SHEPHERDS BRING IN COLIN'S HEARSE, SINGING,
Welladay Welladay: Poore Colin thou arte going to the grounde
The love whome Thestis hathe slaine,
Harde harte, faire face, fraughte with disdaine:
Disdaine in love a deadlie wounde.
Wounde her sweete Love, so deepe againe,
That shee may feele the dyeng paine
Of this unhappie shepherds swaine,
And dye for love as Colin died, as Colin died.
Shepherdes, abyde, let Colins corps bee wittnes of the paine
That Thestilis endures in love, a plague for her dysdaine.
Beholde the organ of our wrathe, this rusty churle is hee,
She dotes on his yllfavoured face, so much accurst is shee.
A FOULE CROKED CHURLE ENTERS, AND THESTILIS A FAIRE LASSE, WOOETH HIM. HE CRABEDLY REFUZETH HER, AND GOETHE OUT OF PLACE. SHE TARRIETH BEHINDE.
Ah, poore unhappy Thestlis, unpitied is thy paine.
Her fortune not unlyke to hers whome cruell thow hast slaine.
THESTILIS singeth, and the Shepherds replie.
The strange affects of my tormented harte,
Whome cruell love hath woefull prisoner caughte,
Whome cruel hate hathe into bondage broughte,
Whome wit no way of safe escape hath taughte,
Enforce me say in wittnes of my smarte,
There is no paine to foule distaine in hardy sutes of love.
There is no paine, &c.
Most cruell thou, of all that nature framed.
Most cruell, &c.
To kill thy love with thy disdaine.
To kill thy love with thy disdaine.
Cruell disdaine, so live thow named.
Cruell disdaine, &c.
And let me dye of Iphis paine.
A life too good for thy disdaine.
Sithe this my stars to me allot,
And thow thy love hast all forgot.
And thou, &c.
THE SHEPHERDS CARRY OUT COLIN'S HEARSE.
THE GRACE OF THIS SONG IS IN THE SHEPHERDS ECCO TO HER VERSE.
Now shepherds, bury Colins corps, perfume his herce with flowers,
And write what justice Venus did amid these woods of yours.
How now, how cheeres my Lovely boy, after this dump of love.
Such dumpes, sweete Lady, as bin these are deadly dumpes to prove.
Cease shepherde, there are other nues, after this melancholye:
My minde presumes some tempest toward upon the speache of Mercurie.
[sigs Cii-Ciii; Ciiiiv-D]