Greene, Robert

, an English poet and miscellaneous iter of the Elizabethan age, and memorable for his tants and imprudence, was a native of Norwich, and born ubout 1560. His father appears to have been a citizen of Norwich, the fabricator of his own fortune, which it is thought he had accumulated by all the tricks of selfishness and narrow prudence. He educated his son, however, as a scholar, at St. John’s college, Cambridge. Here he took the degree of A. B. in 1578, and for some time travelled into Italy and Spain. Ou his return, he took his master’s degree at Clare-hall, in 1583, and was incorporated in the same at Oxford in 1588, no inconsiderable proof that | hiproficiency in his studies had been very conspicuous, and that there was nothing at this time grossly objectionable in his moral demeanour. It is supposed that he took orders after his return from his travels, and that he was the same Robert Greene who was presented to the village of Tollesbury, in Essex, June 19, 1584. If this be the case, it is probable that he did not long reside, or was perhaps driven from Tollesbury, by his irregular life, the greater part of which was spent in London. Here, from some passages cited by Mr. Beloe, it would appear that he gave himself up to writing plays and love pamphlets, and from the date of his “Myrrour of Modestie,1584, it is probable that from this time he became an author by profession; but as four years after he was incorporated M. A. at Oxford, we are still willing to believe that his career of folly had not commenced so soon, or been so generally known as it was some time after. It was his fate to fall among dissolute companions, who, though men of genius like himself, probably encouraged each other in every sensual enjoyment. Among these were Christopher Mario w, George Peele, and Thomas Nash; for Dr. Thomas Lodge, another of their associates, is not loaded with the same stigma. “The history of genius,” says one of our authorities, with equal justice and feeling, “is too often a detail of immoral irregularities, followed by indigence and misery. Such, in after times, was the melancholy tale of Otway and Lee, of Savage, Boyse, Smart, Burns, Dermody, and many others. Perhaps the writers of the drama have, of all others, been the most unfortunate in this respect; perhaps there is something which more immediately seizes all the avenues of the fancy in the gorgeous exhibitions of the stage; which leads men away from the real circumstances of their fortune, to the delusions of hope, and to pursue the fairy lights so hostile to sober truth.” In what species of dissipation, and to what degree Greene indulged, it were useless now to inquire his faults were probably exaggerated by the rival wits of his day and his occupation as a playwriter being in itself at that time looked upon as criminal, was barely tolerated. Among his errors, about which we are afraid there is now no doubt, may be mentioned his marrying an amiable lady, whom he deserted and ill-used. His career, however, was short. He died Sept. 5, 1592, at an obscure lodging near Dowgate, not without signs of contrition, nor indeed without leaving behind him written | testimonies that he was more frequently conscious of an. ill-spent life than able or willing to amend it. In some of his works also, he made strenuous exertions to warn the unthinking, and expose the tricks, frauds, and devices of his miscreant companions. His works, says one of his biographers, contain the seeds of virtue, while his acts display the tares of folly. From such of his writings as have fallen ‘in our way, he appears to possess a rich and glowing fancy, great command of language, and a perfect knowledge of the manners of the times. As a poet he has considerable merit, and few of his contemporaries yield a more pleasant employment to the collectors of specimens. His writings attained great popularity in his day, but until very lately, have been seldom consulted unless by poetical antiquaries. The following list of his works, by Mr. Haslewood, is probably complete: 1. “The Myrrour of Modestie,1584. 2. “Monardo the Tritameron of Love,1534, 1587. 3. “Planetomachia,1585. 4. Translation of a funeral Sermon of P. Gregory XIII. 1585. 5. “Euphues’s censure to Pbilautus,1587, 1634. 6. “Arcadia or Menaphon, Camillae’s alarm to slumbering Euphues,1587,1589, 1599, 1605, 1610, 1616, 1634. 7. “Pandosto the Triumph of Time,1588, 1629. 8. “Perimedes the blackesmith,1588. 9. “The pleasant and delightful history of Dorastiis and Favvnia,1588, 1607, 1675, 1703, 1723, 1735. 10. “Alcida, Greene’s Metamorphosis,1617. 11. “The Spanish Masquerade,1589. 12. “Orpharion,1599. 13. “The Royal Exchange, contayning sundry aphorisms of Philosophic,1590. 14. “Greene’s mourning garment, given him by Repentance at the funerals of Love,1590, 1616. 15. “Never too late,1590, 1600, 1607, 1616, 1631. 16. “A notable discovery of Coosenage,1591, 1592. 17. “The ground work of Conny Catching,” 159U 18. “The second and last part of Conny Catching,1591, 1592. 19. “The third and last part of Conny Catching,1592. 20. “Disputation, between a hee conny-catcher and a shee conny-catcher,1592. 21. “Greene’s Groatsworth of wit bought with a million of repentance,1592, L-600,1616, 1617, 1621, 1629, 1637. Of this a beautiful edition was lately printed by sir Egerton Brydges, M. P. at the private press at Lee Priory, (only 61 copies for presents), with a biographical preface, to which this article is essentially indebted: his and Mr. Haslewood’s account of Greene, are compositions | dictated by true taste and discrimination, and by just moral feeling. 22. “Philomela, the lady FitzwalterV nightingale,1592, 1615, 163h 23. “A quip for an upstart courtier,” r$92, 162O, 1625, 1635, and reprinted in 1 the Harleian Miscellany. 24. “Ciceronis amor, Tullie’s love,1592, 1611, 1615, 1616, 1628, 1639. 25. “News both from heaven and hell,159-3. 26. “The Black Book’s Messenger, or life and death of Ned Browne,1592. 27. “The repentance of Robert Greene,1592. 28. “Greene’s vision at the instant of his death,” no date. 29. “Mamillia, or the triumph of Pallas,1593. 30. “Mamillia, or the second part of the triumph of Pallas,1593. 31. “Card of Fancy,1593, 1608. 32. “Greene’s funerals,1594; but doubtful whether his. 33. “The honourable history of Fryer Bacon and Fryer Bongay, a comedy,1594, 1599, 1630, 1655. 34. “The history of Orlando Furioso, a play,” 1S94, 1599. 35. “The comical historic of Alphonsus king of Arragon, a play,1597, 1599. 36. “A looking-glass for London and England,” a comedy, jointly with Lodge, 1594, 1598. 37. “The Scottish Historic of James the Fourthe, si ai ue at Flodden, intermixed with a pleasant comedie,1598, 1599. 38. “Penelope’s Webb,1601. 39. “Historic of Faire Bellora,” no date, afterwards published, as “A paire of Turtle doves, or the tragical history of Bellora and Fidelio,” 16O6. 40. “The debate between Follie and Love, translated out’of French,1608. 41. “Thieves falling out, true men come by their goods,1615, 1637, and reprinted in the Harleian Miscellany. 42. “Greene’s Farewell to Folie,1617. 43. “Arbasto, the history of Arbasto king of Denmarke,1617, 1626. 44. “FairEmme, a comedy,1631. 45. “The history of lobe,” a play, destroyed, but mentioned in Warburton’s list. A few other things have been ascribed toGreene on doubtful authority. 1

1

Biog. account by sir E. Bridges, and by Mr. Haslcwood in Cens. Lit, vol. Viji.~See also vol. V. and ygl. IX. Belo’s Anecdotes, Yol. II. D’Is raeli’s Calamities, &c.