1598
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Sattyre VI. Hem nosti'n.

The Scourge of Villanie. Three Bookes of Satyres.

Rev. John Marston


John Marston's anonymous verse satire contains a comment on imitating Spenser's archaisms: "Another yet dares tremblingly come out, | But first he must invoke good Colyn Clout."

John Langhorne: "Marston was the cotemporary and rival of Bishop Hall; and though inferior in numbers, seems to have excelled him in force: but Hall, if we may credit his own account, was the first Satirist: 'I first adventure, follow me who list, | And be the second English satirist'" Review of Miscellaneous Pieces of Ancient English Poetry in Monthly Review 32 (April 1765) 315.

Town and Country Magazine: "It appears from these satires, (printed in the year 1598) that Spenser's Faerie Queene occasioned many publications in which fairies were the principal actors, viz. 'Go buy some ballads of the faery king'" 8 (October 1776) 537.

Thomas Warton: "It appears from John Marston's satires, entitled the SCOURGE OF VILLANIE, three bookes of satyres, and printed in the year 1598, that our Author's FAERIE QUEENE occasioned many publications in which fairies were the principal actors, viz. In Lectores. 'Go buy some ballad of the FAERIE KING.' And in another place, B. iii. sat. 6. 'At length some wonted steepe doth crowne | His new-falne lids; dreames, straight tenne pound to one | Out steps some FAERY with quick motion, | And tells him wonders of some flowrie vale | Awakes, straight rubs his eyes, and prints his tale.' And I have seen a romance, which seems to have been written soon after Spenser's poem, entitled, THE RED-ROSE KNIGHT; where the knight, after the example of prince Arthur, goes in search of the Fairy Queene" Observations on the Faerie Queene, cited in Todd, Works of Spenser (1805) 2:xcvn.

Literary Journal: "In his Satires he has frequently not only copied [Joseph] Hall's thought, but the very simile by which it was illustrated. His allusions to antient history are continually the same with Hall's; but his use of it is less philosophical.... Hall prefixed to his Satires a Defiance to Envy, and Marston prefaced his with a Poesy to Detraction" "Of Hall's Imitations" 3 (1 July 1804) 748-49.

John Payne Collier (quoting the Spenser passage): "Dryden says, that he could write severely with more ease than he could gently, and that is true, for his genius, as he asserts, was for satire; but Marston seems always to be making huge efforts to crush his antagonist, like the Giant in Spenser, instead of attacking him with a sharp weapon where he is least defensible" Poetical Decameron (1820) 1:253.

George Saintsbury: "John Marston, who out-Halled [Joseph] Hall in all his literary deeds, was, it would appear, member of a good Shropshire family which had passed into Warwickshire. He was educated at Coventry School, and a Brasenose College, Oxford, and passed early into London literary society, where he involved himself in the inextricable and not-much-worth-extricating quarrels which have left their mark in Jonson's and Dekker's dramas. In the first decade of the seventeenth century he wrote several remarkable plays, of which much greater literary merit than than the work now to be criticised [the satires]. Then he took orders, was presented to the living of Christchurch, and, like others of his time, seems to have forsworn literature as an unholy thing. He died in 1634. Here we are concerned only with two works of his — Pigmalion's Image and some Satires in 1598, followed in the same year by a sequel, The Scourge of Villany. In these works he calls himself 'W. Kinsayder,' a pen-name for which various explanations have been given. It is characteristic and rather comical that, while both the earlier Satires and The Scourge denounce lewd verse most fullmouthedly, Pigmalion's Image is a poem in the Venus and Adonis style which is certainly not inferior to its fellows in luscious descriptions. It was, in fact, with the Satires and much similar work, formally condemned and burnt in 1599. Both in Hall and in Marston industrious commentators have striven hard to identify the personages of the satire with famous living writers, and there may be a chance that some at least of their identifications (as of Marston's Turbio with Marlowe) are correct. But the exaggeration and insincerity, the deliberate 'society-journalism' (to adopt a detestable phrase for a corresponding thing of our own days), which characterise all this class of writing make the identifications of but little interest. In every age there are writers who delight in representing that age as the very worst of the history of the world, and in ransacking literature and imagination for accusations against their fellows. The sedate philosopher partly brings and partly draws the conviction that one time is very like another. Marston, however, has fooled himself and his readers to the very top of his and their bent; and even Churchill, restrained by a more critical atmosphere, has not come quite near his confused and only half-intelligible jumble of indictments for indecent practices and crude philosophy of the moral and metaphysical kind" History of Elizabethan Literature (1887; 1909) 153-54.

W. J. Courthope: "The failure of the attempt to extend the province of satire beyond the range of epigram is more conspicuous in the satires of John Marston than in those of Hall, in proportion as the attempt itself is more ambitious.... Though he claimed to be inspired by his hatred of the Titanic vices of his time, the subjects of his satire are for the most part the follies and extravagances of such persons as are lashed in the light epigrammatic verse of Davies and Hall — the hulking braggart, the whining sonneteer, the over-dressed gull, the gluttonous Puritan; he hints, however, at darker vices, and it is of course possible that under the names of Curio, Tubrio, Ruscus, Luxurio, he may have had in view particular persons of the 'Inglese Italiano' school" History of English Poetry (1895-1910) 3:68.

Louis R. Zocca: "Marston was to preserve this contempt for amatory literature, and in his satires there are frequent sneers at swooning lovers. He asks indignantly if his interlocutors dare class him with the 'Paphian shows,' or if they conceive that he will stoop to the common vogue: 'Thinkst thou that I in melting poesy | Will pamper itching sensuality?' He heaps scorn upon the common run of poetasters who call upon Colin Clout whenever they set out to write a poem" Elizabethan Narrative Poetry (1950) 282.



Curio, know'st me? Why, thou bottle-ale,
Thou barmy froth! O stay me, lest I raile
Beyond Nil ultra, to see this Butterflie,
This windie bubble taske my balladry
With sencelesse censure. Curio, know'st my spright?
Yet deem'st that in sad seriousness I write
Such nastie stuffe as is Pigmalion?
Such maggot-tainted lewd corruption?

Ha, now he glavers with his fawning snowte,
And swears; he thought, I meant but faintly flowte,
My fine smug ryme. O barbarous dropsie noule!
Think'st thou that Genius that attends my soule,
And guides my fist to scourge Magnifico's
Wil daigne my mind be ranck'd in Paphian showes?
Think'st thou, that I, which was create to whip
Incarnate fiends, will once vouchsafe to trip
A Paunis traverse? or will lispe (sweet love)
Or pule (Aye me) some female soule to move?
Think'st thou, that I in melting poesie
Will pamper itching sensualitie?
(That in the bodyes scumme all fatally
Intombes the soules most sacred faculty.)

Hence thou misjudging Censor: know I wrot
Those idle rimes to note the odious spot
And blemish that deformes the lineaments
Of moderne Poesies habiliments.
Oh that the beauties of Invention,
For want of Judgments disposition,
Should all be soyl'd! O that such treasurie,
Such straines of well-conceited poesie,
Should moulded be, in such a shapelesse forme,
That want of Art, should make such wit a scorne.

Here's one must invocate some lose-legg'd dame,
Some brothell drab, to helpe him stanzaes frame,
Or els (alas) his wits can have no vent,
To broch conceits industrious intent.
Another yet dares tremblingly come out;
But first he must invoke good Colyn Clout.

Yon's one hath yean'd a fearfull prodigie,
Some monstrous mishapen Balladry,
His guts are in his braines, huge Jobbernoule,
Right Gurnets-head, the rest without all soule.
Another walkes, is lazie, lyes him downe,
Thinkes, reades, at length some wonted sleep doth crowne
His new falne lids, dreames; straight, tenne pound to one,
Out steps some Fayery with quick motion,
And tells him wonders of some flowrie vale,
Awakes, straight, rubs his eyes, and prints his tale.

Yon's one whose straines have flowne so high a pitch,
That straight he flags and tumbles in a ditch.
His sprightly hote high-soring poesie
Is like that dreamed of Imagerie,
Whose head was gold, brest silver, brassie thigh,
Lead leggs, clay feete; O faire fram'd poesie.
Here's one, to get an undeserv'd repute
Of deepe deepe learning, all in fustian sute
Of ill-plac'd, farre-fetch'd words attiereth
His period, that sence forsweareth.

Another makes old Homer, Spencer cite
Like my Pigmalion, where, with rare delight
He cryes, O Ovid. This caus'd my idle quill,
The world's dull eares with such lewd stuffe to fill,
And gull with bumbast lines the witlesse sence
Of these odde naggs; whose pates circumference
Is fild with froth! O these same buzzing Gnats
That sting my sleeping browes, these Nilus Tats,
Halfe dung, that have their life from putrid slime,
These that do praise my loose lascivious rime:
For these same shades, I seriously protest,
I slubber'd up that Chaos indigest,
To fish for fooles, that stalke in goodly shape,
"What, though in velvet cloake, yet still an ape."
Capro reads, sweares, scrubs, and sweares againe,
Now by my soule an admirable straine,
Strokes up his haire, cryes Passing passing good,
Oh, there's a line incends his lustfull blood.

Then Muto comes, with his new glasse-set face,
And with his late kist-hand my booke dooth grace,
Straight reades, then smyles and lisps (tis prety good)
And praiseth that he never understood.
But roome for Flaccus, he'le my Satyres read.
Oh how I trembled straight with inward dread!
But when I saw him read my fustian,
And heard him swear I was a Pythian,
Yet straight recald, and sweares I did but quote
Out of Xilinum to that margents note,
I could scarce hold and keepe my selfe conceal'd,
But had well-nigh my selfe and all reveal'd.

Then straight comes Friscus, that neat gentleman,
That newe discarded Academian,
Who for he could cry (Ergo) in the schoole,
Straight-way, with his huge judgement dares controle
What soe'er he viewes, "that is prety, prety good,
That Epethite hath not that sprightly blood
Which should enforce it speake, that's Perseus vaine,
That's Juvenals, heere's Horrace crabbed straine,"
Though he nere read one line in Juvenall,
Or, in his life, his lazie eye let fall
On duskie Perseus. O, indignitie
To my respectlesse free-bred poesie.

Hence ye big-buzzing-little-bodied Gnats,
Yee tattling Ecchoes, huge-tongu'd pigmy brats,
I mean to sleepe, wake not my slumbring braine
With your malignant weake detracting vaine.

What though the sacred issue of my soule
I heare expose to Ideots controule?
What though I bare to lewd Opinion
Lay ope to vulgar profanation
My very Genius. Yet know my poesie
Doth scorne your utmost, rank'st indignitie.
My pate was great with child, and here tis eas'd,
Vexe all the world, so that thy selfe be pleas'd.

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