George Chapman, a critical essay/Appendix
The following list of passages extracted from Chapman's poems by the editor of the Elizabethan anthology published in 1600 under the name of England's Parnassus, or the choicest Flowers of our Modern Poets, was drawn up from my own copy of the original edition before I was aware that a similar list had been compiled by Mr. J. P. Collier to accompany and illustrate a private reprint of the book. From this source I learn that one extract given at p. 312 as from Chapman is in fact taken from the Albion's England of Warner; as indeed, though acquainted only with fragmentary excerpts from that poem, I had already conjectured that it must be. This is preceded by another extract signed with the name of Chapman, which according to Mr. Collier is discoverable in Ovid's Banquet of Sense; but after a second and third search through every turn and recess of that dense and torrid jungle of bad and good verses I have failed to light on this particular weed or flower. Five other extracts have baffled alike my own researches and the far more capable inquisition of even Mr. Collier's learning; nor have they proved traceable by the energy and enthusiasm of Chapman's latest editor, who has properly included them in his text as authentic fragments of unknown poems by the writer to whom four of them have been assigned by Robert Allot, the editor of England's Parnassus. The second of these five passages he ascribes to Spenser; Spenser's it undoubtedly is not; and as it is followed by an excerpt from Chapman's Hero and Leander, which is likewise bestowed on Spenser by the too hasty liberality of the old editor, we have some additional reason to rely on the unmistakable evidence of the style, which bears immediate witness to the peculiar handiwork of Chapman.
The last excerpt but one seems familiar to me, and is rather in the manner of Greene or Peele and their fellows than of Chapman or any later poet; I cannot but think that a student more deeply read than I in the poems interspersed among the romances of Greene and Lodge might be able to trace both the two last passages of the five here fathered on Chapman to the hand of one or the other. They have the fluency or fluidity rather of the blank verse written by the smaller scholastic poets whom we may see grouped about the feet of Marlowe; the same facile profusion and effusion of classic imagery, the same equable elegance and graceful tenuity of style, crossed here and there by lines of really high and tender beauty. It may be thought that in that case they would have been as speedily and as surely tracked by Mr. Collier as were the verses transferred from Warner to Chapman; but the most learned and acute among scholars cannot always remember the right place for all things on which his eye must have hit in the course of a lifelong study; and I find in Mr. Collier's list two passages, one given at p. 22 of England's Parnassus under the heading 'Bliss,' the other at p. 108 under the heading 'Gifts,' marked as of unknown origin, of which the first occurs in the fifth sestiad of Chapman's Hero and Leander, the second in his Shadow of Night. These in the list that follows are assigned to their proper places. The number of the page referred to on the left is that in England's Parnassus; the number on the right refers to the page in which the same passage appears in the first edition of Chapman's collected poems.
List of Passages extracted from Chapman's Poems in England's Parnassus; or, the Choicest Flowers of our Modern Poets. 1600.
The golden chain of Homer's high device.
Things senseless live by art, and rational die.
Sacred beauty is the fruit of sight
All excellence of shape is made for sight
(In the next line E. P. reads: 'To be a beetle else were no defame.')
Rich Beauty, that each lover labours for
O Beauty, still thy empire swims in blood
Beauty (in) heaven and earth this grace doth win
O Beauty, how attractive is thy power!
Was Bashfulness in Athens
Preferment seldom graceth Bashfulness
Hard it is
To imitate a false and forgèd bliss
Bliss not in height doth dwell
Action is fiery valour's sovereign good
In things without us no delight is sure
Fierce lightning from her eyes
Begin where lightness will, in shame it ends
Good gifts are often given to men past good
Kind Amalthea was transformed by Jove
Many use temples to set godly faces
Inchastity is ever prostitute
They double life that dead things' grief sustain
Love is a golden bubble, full of dreams
Love is a wanton famine, rich in food
Love laws and judges hath in fee
Love paints his longings in sweet virgins' eyes
Trifling attempts no serious acts advance
Pure love, said she, the purest grace pursues
What doth make man without the parts of men
Like as rude painters that contend to show
Before them on an altar he presented
That mind most is beautiful and high
We must in matters moral quite reject
Too much desire to please pleasure divorces
None is so poor of sense and eyne
To whom a soldier doth not shine
Every good motion that the soul awakes
As Phœbus throws
His beams abroad though he in clouds be closed
|(These two are attributed to Speser in E. P.)|
Time's golden thigh
Upholds the flowery body of the earth
Virtue makes honour, as the soul doth sense
Joy graven in sense like snow in water wastes
Good vows are never broken with good deeds
We know not how to vow till love unblind us
Use makes things nothing huge, and huge things nothing
Wisdom and the sight of heavenly things
Shines not so clear as earthly vanities
(Blind Beggar of Alexandria, Sc. i.)
Best loves are lost for wit, when men blame fortune
Words well placed move things were never thought
Their virtues mount like billows to the skies
Women were made for this intent, to put us into pain.
|(Warner's Albion's England.)|
Love beauty in their sex, but envy ever
With a brace of silver hinds
Nature's bright eyesight, and the world's fair soul.
Amongst this gamesome crew is seen
In flowery season of the year
|(With two lines prefixed at bottom of preceding page—|
The tenth of March when Aries received
Dan Phœbus' rays into his horned head.)
Day's king, God of undaunted verse
All suddenly a light of twenty hues
She lay, and seemed a flood of diamant
|(Omitting 'Now Ovid's muse—to make me better.')|
Their soft young cheek-balls to the eye
To make the wondrous power of love appear
Herewith she rose, like the autumnal star
See where she issues in her beauty's pomp
Her hair was loose, and 'bout her shoulders hung
Now as when heaven is muffled with the vapours
In little time these ladies found
(Misprinted 465).In that mead-proudmaking grass
A soft enflowered bank embraced the fount
Grim Melampus with the Ethiop's feet
There are thus in this anthology no less than eighty-one extracts ascribed to Chapman, besides two of which one is known and the other suspected to be the work of his hand; these are wrongly assigned to Spenser. At the time of this publication Chapman was in his forty-second year; he had published but two plays and three volumes of verse, the third being his continuation of Marlowe's Hero and Leander.
Of the eighty-three passages numbered above, thirty-two are taken from this poem, twenty-five from Ovid's Banquet of Sense, ten from The Shadow of Night, eight from The Contention of Phillis and Flora, a quaint and sometimes a graceful version into the Elizabethan dialect of a Latin or more probably a quasi-Latin poem ascribed by Ritson to one of the most famous among medieval masters; one is taken from the first scene of his first play, one is spurious, and six (including the passage wrongly referred in a former list to Ovid's Banquet of Sense), whether spurious or genuine, have yet to be traced to their true source, In his critical memoir of Marlowe (Works, vol. i. p. lvii. ed. 1850), Mr. Dyce observes that 'the editor of England's Parnassus appears never to have resorted to manuscript sources;' and if, as is of course most probable, the supposition of that great scholar and careful critic be well founded, we must conclude that these passages, as well as the more precious and exquisite fragment of a greater poet which called forth this remark from his editor, were extracted by Allot from some printed book or books long lost to human sight. One small but noticeable extract of two lines and a half descriptive of midnight is evidently I think from a lost play. The taste of the worthy person who compiled this first English anthology was remarkable apparently for its equal relish of good verse and bad; but we may be grateful that it was by no means confined to the more popular and dominant authors of his age, such as Spenser and Sidney; since his faculty of miscellaneous admiration has been the means of preserving many curious fragments of fine or quaint verse, and occasionally a jewel of such price as the fragment of Marlowe which alike for tone of verse and tune of thought so vividly recalls Shelley's poem, The Question, written in the same metre and spirit, that one is tempted to dream that some particles of the 'predestined plot of dust and soul' which had once gone to make up the elder must have been used again in the composition of the younger poet, who in fiery freedom of thought and speech was like no other of our greatest men but Marlowe, and in that as in his choice of tragic motive was so singularly like this one.
BILLING AND SONS, PRINTERS, GUILDFORD, SURREY.
- E. P. has three misprints in this extract: 'gaining' for 'gracing,' 'conflict' for 'constant,' 'time content' for 'true content;' but in a later extract at p. 38 it gives the right reading, and cites the two first lines of the stanza following, which with the third and fourth are here omitted. It attempts however to correct two seeming errors in the fifth and sixth; reading 'is' for 'in' and 'thrones' for 'thorns': but in the first instance the text will be found right if the punctuation be corrected by striking out the period at the end of the line preceding; and 'thorns' may be taken to mean the harsh doctrines of the stoics subsequently referred to. In the ninth line of this unlucky stanza E. P. misprints 'grave' for 'graven.'
- So E. P. for 'beauty's fair;' and in v. 5 reads 'fault' for 'fate' and in v. 8 'god self-love' for 'good self-love.'
- In this extract E. P. corrects 'Bend in our circle' to 'Bound;' a reading which seems to me preferable.
- This is the reading in E. P. of the line
'But custom, that the apoplexy is;'
the two following tines are transcribed exactly as they stand in the third sestiad of Hero and Leander.
- This extract runs thus in E. P.:
'Good deeds, in case that they be evil placed,
Ill deeds are reckoned, and soon disgraced.
That is a good deed that prevents a bad.'
The third line occurs in the third sestiad of Hero and Leander (p. 76).
- So E. P. for 'And,'
- So E. P. for 'rites.'
- These two words are interpolated by the editor of E. P.
- So E. P. for 'herself.'
- So E. P. for 'For;' and in the next verse 'outwardly' for 'inwardly'
- So E. P. for 'elegance.'
- In the third line of this extract E. P. reads 'Love's proper lesson' instead of 'special.'
- So E. P. The right reading of this beautiful couplet is:
'Ah, nothing doth the world with mischief fill,
But want of feeling one another's ill.'
Hero and Leander, 6th sestiad.
(E. P. prints 'will' for 'ill.')
- This word alone would suffice to vindicate the authenticity of the fragment. It recurs perpetually in the poems of Chapman, who always uses it in the same peculiar and licentious manner.
- In the third line of this stanza England's Parnassus reads 'her night' for 'the night'; in the eighth 'choisefull' for 'charmful;' in the ninth 'varnishing' for 'vanishing,'
- So E. P. for 'and.'
- So E. P. for 'and.'
- 'Her glass' in the text.