Crane, Ralph (DNB00)

CRANE, RALPH (fl. 1625), poet, was the author of a little volume of verse, now very rare, which was first published in 1621 under the title of ‘The Workes of Mercy, both Corporeall and Spirituall,’ with a dedication to John Egerton, earl of Bridgwater. The book was republished about 1625—no date is given on the title-page—with the new title, ‘The Pilgrimes New Yeares Gift, or Fourteene Steps to the Throne of Glory, by the 7 Corporeall and 7 Spirituall Acts of Charitie and those made Parallels,’ London (printed by M. F.) The author's ‘Induction’ in verse opens the book, and we learn there that Crane was born in London, the son of a well-to-do member of the Merchant Taylors' Company. He was brought up to the law; served Sir Anthony Ashley [q. v.] seven years as clerk; afterwards wrote for the lawyers; witnessed unhurt the ravages of the plagues in the beginning of the seventeenth century, and began writing poetry late in life when he was suffering much from poverty and sickness. Crane's verse is of a very pedestrian order, and his pious reflections are less readable than his autobiographic induction. A copy of the first edition is in the Bodleian and one of the second edition is in the British Museum. An extract is printed in Farr's ‘Select Poetry, temp. James I’ (Parker Soc.), 322–3. In 1589 Thomas Lodge dedicated ‘Scillaes Metamorphosis’ to one Ralph Crane, who is probably identical with the poet. Crane employed himself in his later years in copying out popular works and dedicating his transcripts to well-known persons in the hope of receiving pecuniary recompense. On 27 Nov. 1625 he sent to Sir Kenelm Digby, with a letter signed by himself, a transcript of Beaumont and Fletcher's ‘Humorous Lieutenant,’ which he entitled ‘Demetrius and Enanthe, by John Fletcher.’ The manuscript now belongs to W. W. E. Wynne, esq., of Peniarth, Merionethshire, and has been printed by the Rev. Alexander Dyce (1830). In MS. Harl. 3357 is another of Crane's transcripts, entitled ‘A Handfull of Celestiall Flowers.’ It is a collection of sacred poems by W. Davison, Thomas Randolph, and others, dedicated by Crane to Sir Francis Ashley, the brother of his late patron, Sir Anthony. A similar manuscript volume (MS. Harl. 6930) is also in all probability Crane's handiwork. In Heber's library was a fourth transcript by Crane, entitled ‘Poems by W. A[ustin?].’

[Corser's Collectanea, iv. 502–5; MS. Addit. 24488, ff. 159–61; Hunter's Chorus Vatum; Dyce's reprint of Crane's transcript of Demetrius and Enanthe, 1830; Cat. of Bodleian and Brit. Mus.]

S. L. L.