a good word for his ‘commendable parts of conceit and endeavour,’ although he bemoaned his ‘decayed and blasted estate’ (Foure Letters, 1592). Likewise in his ‘De Aulica’ Harvey suggests that Gascoigne, with Chaucer and Surrey, should figure in the library of a maid of honour (Gratulationes Valdinenses, 1578, iv. 21). Edmund Bolton, classing him with the ‘lesser late poets,’ says that his ‘works may be endured.’ His ‘Supposes’ was revived at Trinity College, Oxford, in 1582, and he is represented in the many editions of the ‘Paradise of Dainty Devices’ (1st edit. 1576), and in ‘England's Parnassus,’ 1600. But he soon fell out of date. An epigram of Sir John Davies (1596) notes as an inconsistency in the character of ‘a new-fangled youth,’ that he should ‘praise old George Gascoines rimes.’
Gascoigne's lyrics, such as ‘the arraignment of a lover,’ reissued as a broadsheet in 1581, ‘a straunge passion of a lover,’ ‘a lullabie of a lover,’ or ‘Gascoignes good-morrow,’ are his most attractive productions. But even here his hand is often heavy, and his command of language and metre defective. With rare exceptions his verse, ‘in the measure of xij in the first line and xiiij in the second,’ is now unreadable. As a literary pioneer, however, Gascoigne's position is important. ‘Master Gascoigne,’ writes Nash (pref. to Greene, Menaphon, 1589), ‘is not to be abridged of his deserved esteem, who first beat the path to that perfection which our best poets have aspired to since his departure.’ His ‘Supposes,’ after Ariosto, is the earliest extant comedy in English prose; his ‘Jocasta,’ after Euripides, is the second earliest tragedy in blank verse; his ‘Steele Glas’ is probably the earliest ‘regular verse satire;’ his ‘Certain Notes of Instruction concerning the making of verse,’ in which he deprecates the sacrifice of reason to rhyme, or the use of obsolete words, is the earliest English critical essay; his ‘Adventures of Ferdinando Ieronimi,’ translated from Bandello, one of the earliest known Italian tales in English prose. Gascoigne's sole original comedy, the ‘Glasse of Government,’ which vaguely embodies some local knowledge acquired by the author in the Low Countries, seems to be ‘an attempt to connect Terentian situations with a Christian moral.’ It deals with the careers of four youths—two prodigals who reach bad ends, and two of exemplary virtue, who gain distinction and influence. Mr. Herford shows that it owes much to German school dramas like Gnapheus's ‘Acolastus,’ 1529, Macropedius's ‘Rebelles,’ 1535, and Stymmelius's ‘Studentes,’ 1549 (Herford, Lit. Rel. of England and Germany, pp. 149–64). Shakespeare probably derived the name Petruchio and the underplot of Lucentio's suit to Bianca in the ‘Taming of the Shrew’ from Gascoigne's ‘Supposes.’ ‘From this play also the ridiculous name and character of Dr. Dodipoll seems to have got into our old drama’ (Warton).
A collected edition of Gascoigne's works was published by Abel Jeffes in 1587. Copies are extant with two different title-pages, one running ‘The pleasauntest workes of George Gascoigne, Esquyre: newly compyled into one volume,’ the other beginning ‘The whole workes of George Gascoigne, Esquyre.’ Besides the contents of the 1575 volume there appear here the ‘Steele Glas,’ the ‘Complainte of Phylomene,’ and the ‘Pleasures at Kenelworth Castle.’ Gascoigne is well represented in Chalmers's ‘Poets.’ In 1868–9 Mr. W. C. Hazlitt collected all his extant poems in two volumes (Roxburghe Library). Gascoigne's critical essay was reprinted in Haslewood's ‘Ancient Critical Essays,’ 1815, and with his ‘Steele Glas’ and ‘Complainte of Phylomene’ by Professor Arber in 1868. Gascoigne has been wrongly credited with a virulent attack on the Roman Catholics, ‘The wyll of the Deuyll and last Testament,’ London, by Humphry Powell, n. d., which could not have appeared later than 1550.
Gascoigne's portrait, subscribed with his favourite motto, ‘Tam Marti quam Mercurio,’ appears on the back of the title-page of the first edition of the ‘Steele Glas.’ Another portrait appears in the Reg. MS. containing ‘The tale of Hemetes,’ and has been reproduced by Mr. W. C. Hazlitt. There is an engraved portrait by Fry.
[Hunter's Chorus Vatum in Addit. MS. 24487, ff. 448–60, has been largely used by Mr. W. C. Hazlitt in the memoir prefixed to his edition of the poems. Whetstone's Remembraunce of the wel imployed life and godly end of George Gaskoigne, Esquire, London, for Edward Aggas , has been reprinted by Professor Arber and others from the unique copy at the Bodleian Library. See also Cooper's Athenæ Cantabr. i. 374–8, 565–6; Collier's Hist. Dramatic Poetry; Collier's Bibl. Cat.; Wood's Athenæ, ed. Bliss, i. 434; Corser's Collectanea; Warton's Hist. of English Poetry; Simpson's School of Shakspere, a reprint of A Larum for London, pt. i. (1872); Nichols's Progresses, i. 485, 553.]
GASCOIGNE, JOHN (fl. 1381), doctor of canon law at Oxford, was possibly the ‘Jo. Gascoigne, cler.’ who is named in a seventeenth-century pedigree (Thoresby, Duc. Leod. p. 177) as brother to Sir William Gascoigne [q. v.], the chief justice, and to Richard