1595
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

To Reverend Colin. Eclogue I.

A Fig for Momus: containing Pleasant Varietie, included in Satyres, Eclogues, and Epistles, by T. L. of Lincolnes Inne Gent.

Dr. Thomas Lodge


This is the first of four weighty eclogues addressed, respectively, to Spenser, an unidentified person, Drayton, and Daniel. Thomas Lodge published A Fig for Momus as "T. L." "For my Eclogues, I commend them to men of approved judgement, whose margents though I fill not with quotations, yet their matter and handling will show my diligence" Preface.

John Payne Collier: "Lodge, as we have seen, was an early author of Pastorals, in which, while acknowledging the superiority of his predecessor, he was not an imitator.... His pastoral inscribed to Spenser is addressed 'To the reverend Colin,' meaning not only revered, but applying the epithet to him as a poet of mature age, who had in a manner revived our ancient language, as well as our ancient forms and modes of thought. The poem has no special reference to our poet, but it was intended as an offering on his shrine; and the interlocutors are Ergasto and Damian; the latter, an old shepheard (always at that date another name for a poet) who regrets the change of times, and laments over 'the modern and new-fangled lays' that had usurped the place of the older poetry, which had given such delight when the Shepheardes Calender was originally printed. Two persons, spoken of as poets by Lodge, are here couched under the names of Amyntas and Ringde: by the first, Thomas Watson, who in 1585 had published a poem called 'Amyntas,' is intended; but for Ringde we know of no proprietor.... This excellent pastoral serves to thicken the proofs of the high estimation in which Spenser was then held even by poetical competitors" Poetical Works of Spenser (1862; 1875) 1:xci-xcii.

Herbert E. Cory: "Four dull eclogues" "Spenserian Pastoral" (1910) 245.

N. Burton Paradise: "The formal epistle in verse makes its first appearance in English in this volume, and it may well be that Lodge was the first English writer to experiment with the formal satire on the classical model" Thomas Lodge (1931) 116.

Charles Walters Whitworth, Jr.: "The general model is SC, Aprill, though the subject, the decline of poetry, is nearer that of October, and Damian's song is a mythical fable vaguely reminiscent in theme of Thenot's tale of the Oak and Briar in Februarie" Spenser Encyclopedia (1990) 438.



ERGASTO, DAMIAN.

ERGASTO.
Sing us that carroll (Damian)
Amintas soung when he began,
To follow Ringdes minstralsie,
And made us merrie melodie.

DAMIAN.
Yong lad, my strings are broke and spent,
My harpe, records no merriment,
The moderne and newfangled laies,
From auncestrie beare hence the praise;
Such strange Terpanders now professe,
To move both mirth, and heavines,
By every motion of the fingers,
That olde men seeme but sorie singers.

ERGASTO.
Let yong men boast what art they list,
Mine eares chiefe pleasure doth consist,
In hearing what concentfull laies
Our Fathers chaunted in their daies;
For often have I found this true,
The sence is olde, the words be newe:
What ere the yonger boast and brave,
Their worth, and wit, from eld they have:
Olde sence by upstarts newlie suted
In words ill warpt, is not reputed
The deede of him that formd the stile,
But his that did the sence compile.

DAMIAN.
Since thou canst argue so for age,
My voice with harpe some warre shall wage:
And I will sing thee such a lay
As erst I heard my Ringde play.
At Galateas wedding feast,
(Where sea to heave, his musicke ceast.)

CANTUS.
There was a time (or writers have missung)
Wherein our partiall mothers ballance hung
With equall poise: and fish, wild beastes, and birds,
Had use of reason, and of needfull words:
Wherein foure-footed beasts of savadge field,
(Who sought the state of winged fowles to wield)
Conspir'd, (the better to defence their states)
To chuse the fish, to be their mutuall mates:
Who vainly trusting to their fraile defence,
Consented quickly to the beastes pretence,
Supposing nature, equallie had lent
Like force in earth, as liquid element:
Hereon (ambition egging on the flocks
Of proud foure-footed beasts) the shoares, and rocks
Were fild with fish; and heaven, with shoutes and cries,
And gastlie breathings, almost lost his eies:
When all the foules, embatail'd in the aire
(Seeing their fortunes almost in despaire)
Be sought the Gods, (who all injustice hate)
To be assistant in this dire debate:
Jove, by a thunderclap a signall gave
Upon their prayers, they should good fortune have,
And speedily sent out the Southerne wind
To drive the waters from their bounds assind;
A murren on the beasts he thrilled downe:
Whilst thus the reverend judge doth threat and frowne,
The fowles they stoupe, and offering urgent blowes,
Finde hartles beastes, and each where liveles foes:
The fish, on waveles shore disperst, and left,
Of pride, and life, were all at once bereft:
The fowles prevaild, and fed them fat with pray,
And after victors like did flie away;
And beating off the aire with open wings
They tun'd this carroll to the woods and springs,
To beasts, to fish, (reserv'd from brunt of warre)
To all, that (with both factions mortall are)
Beware (O what soever race you bee)
(Too much ambitious in felicitie)
To strive to raise your fortunes through oppression,
Or count your neighbours purchase your possession,
For Gods revenge each impious attempt
Before the plague, or punishment be drempt:
Be sure the square whereby you build your states,
Must breake and faile, in dangers and debates;
For Nemesis hath every houre reserv'd
A plague for pride, that hath from justice swerv'd:
Oh you, whose calme, makes neighbours stormes seeme sore
Trie you your tides, before you trust your ore,
The surge may rise on sodaine ere you thinke,
And force you, (whilst you swim, secure) to sinke.
Who trustes to choice of proud consederate,
And failes in choice of faithfull friends estate;
Let him disclaime his armes, and claime foresight;
Lest he with beastes, mannage a beastlie fight.

ERGASTO.
In sooth this is a wittie lay
More pleasant then the verrelay,
The shepheard sings unto his sheepe
As soone as day begins to peepe.

DAMIAN.
Waigh not the words, but marke the worth,
Great flouds doe often issue forth
From humble waters, and deepe skill,
May flow from an impolisht quill.
Who waites for words, may get him hence,
For shepheards onely sing for sence.

[sigs B4-C2]