Decker, Thomas

, a dramatic writer of very little value, flourished in the reign of James I. The exact periods of his birth and decease are not ascertained; but he could not have died young, as his earliest play bears date 1600, and his latest 1637. Mr. Oldys thinks that he was living in 1638, and that he was in the King’s-bench prison from 1613 to 1616, or longer. It is supposed he had acquired reputation even in the time of queen Elizabeth, whose decease and funeral he commemorates in his “Wonderful Year,1603. He was contemporary with Ben Jonson, with whom he quarrelled. Of this we have usually bad the following account: that “Jonson, who certainly could never ‘bear a rival near the throne,’ has, in his ‘ Poetaster,’ the Dnnciad of that author, among many Other poets whom he has satirised, been peculiarly severe on Decker, whom he has characterised under the name of Crispinus. This compliment Decker has amply repaid in his ‘ Satyromastix, or the untrussing a humourous Poet,’ in which, under the title of young Horace, he has made Ben the hero of his piece.” The provocation, however, on the part of Jonson is completely overthrown by Mr. Gilchrist, whose accurate research has established the fact that the Crispinus of Jonson was not Decker, but Marston. In the Biog. Dramatics, is a long list of forgotten plays by Decker; and his “Gull’s Hornbook,” a scarce little tract by him, was elegantly and curiously reprinted in 1813. 2


Cibber’s Lives Philips’s Theatrum, new edit. Warton’s Hist, of Poetry;, see Index. Preface to the new edition of the Gull’s Hornbook.