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If she bee faire, bee not jealous; for suspition cures not womens follies.
If she be wise, wrong her not; for if thou lovest others, shee will loath thee.
Let thy childrens nurture bee their richest portion: for wisdome is more precious then wealth.
Be not proude amongst thy poore neighbours; for a poore mans hate is perillous :
Nor too familiar with great men; for presumption winnes disdaine."
I here take my leave of Robert Greene, and I confess, not without reluctance. I have been highly entertained with many of his performances, I feel a great respect for his talents, much disgust at his profligacy, but a sincere concern for his misfortunes.
NEXT to the miserable and wretched Greene, I do not know who can follow with greater propriety than the man who knew him well, and who, perhaps, not altogether undeservedly, was, from principle, his determined and implacable adversary
The contests, squibs, and pamphlets, between Nash and Greene and Harvey, at one time
* occupieed no small share of public attention and
curiosity. - They proceeded finally to such extremities, that the arm of power interfered, and they were seized and prohibited.
The following Tract is particularly deserving attention. It throws light upon many passing circumstances and prevailing manners of our ancestors; it illustrates more or less of the popular writers and productions of the time; and it is often and particularly referred to by the critics and commentators, who have undertaken to explain and investigate the state of English Literature in the reign of Elizabeth and her immediate successor.
Of this writer, so well known in his time, the author of many repectable works, and of no inferior accomplishments in learning or talents, very imperfect accounts are to be found in any of our biographical compilations. He certainly deserves a place among the national records of his countrymen. The following work may thus be described :
of Four LETTERS
Especially touching Robert Greene, and other Poets by him abused.
But incidently of divers excellent persons, and some matters of note.
To all courteous mindes that will vouchsafe the reading
Lond. Imprinted by John Wolfe. 1592."
The language in which the author expresses himself concerning Greene, is so whimsical, and so truly characteristic of the times, that I shall annex it as a specimen of the entertainment to be expected from the perusal of the book itself, which is in the British Museum.
" Whiles I was thus, or to like effecte, resoluing with myselfe, and discoursing with some speciall frendes : not onely writing unto you, I was suddainely certified that the king of the paper stage (so that gentleman tearmed Greene) had played his last part, and was gone to Tarleton: whereof I protest, I was nothing glad, as was expected, but vnfainedly sory: as well because I could haue wished, he had taken his leaue with a more charetable farewell, as also because I was deprived of that remedy in law, that I entended against him, in the behalfe of my father, whose honest reputation I was in many
dueties to tender. Yet to some conceited witt that could take delight to discouer knaueries, or were a fitte person to augment the history of Conny-catchers: O Lord, what a pregnant occasion were here presented, to display leaud vanity in his lively coullours, and 10 decipher the very misteries of that base arte. Petty Cooseners are not worth the naming: he, they say, was the Monarch of Crosbiters, and the very Emperour of Shifters. I was altogether vn.
acquainted acquainted with the man, and never once saluted him by name; but who, in London, hath not heard of his dissolute and licentious living; his fonde disguisinge of a Master of Arte with ruffianly haire, vnseemely apparell, and more vnseemelye company, his vaine glorious and Thrasonicall brauinge : his piperly extemporizing, and Tarletonizing ; his apishe counterfeiting of euery ridiculous and absurd toy: his fine coosening of juglers, and fine jugling with cooseners; hys villainous cogging, and foisting; his mon. strous swearinge, and horrible forswearing ; his impious profaning of sacred textes ; his other scandalous and blasphemous rauinge; his riotous and outrageous surfeitinge : his continuall shifting of lodginges; his plausible musteringe, and banquettynge of roysterly acquaintaunce at his first comminge; his beggarly departing in euery hostisses debt; his infamous resorting to thc Banckeside, Shorditch, Southwarke, and other filthy hauntes : his obscure lurkinge in basest corners : his pawning of his sword, cloak, and what not, when money came short; his impudent pamphlettin, phantasticall interluding, and desperate libelling, when other coosening shiftes failed: his employinge of Ball, (surnamed Cuttinge Ball) till he was intercepted at Tiborne, to leauy a crew of his trustiest companions, to guarde him in daunger of Arrestes : bis keping of the foresaid Balls sister, a sorry ragged queane,
of whome he had his base sonne, Infortunatus Greene; his forsaking of his owne wife, too honest for such a husband; particulars are infinite : his contemning of superiours, deriding of other, and defying all good order? Compare base fellowes and noble men together, and what in a manner wanted he of the ruffianly, and variable nature of Catiline or Antony, but the honourable fortunes of Catiline and Antony? They that have seene much more than I have heard; (for so I am credibly infourmed) can relate straunge and almost incredible comedies of his monstrous disposition, wherewith I am not to infect the aire or defile this paper.
There be inough, and inough such histories, both dead and liuing; though youth be not corrupted, or age accloyed with his legendary. Truely I have beene ashamed to hear some ascertained reportes of hys most woefull, and rascall estate ; how the wretched fellow, or shall I say the prince of beggars, laid all to gage for some few shillinges; and was attended by lice; and would pittifully beg a penny pott of Malmesie; and could not gett any of his old acquaintance to comfortè or visite him in his extremity, but Mistris Appleby, and the mother of Infortunatus, Alas, even his * fellow writer, a proper young
* This person was Thomas Nash,