Open main menu

Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 47.djvu/287

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

‘blithe, buxom, and debonair’—was borrowed by Milton in his ‘L'Allegro.’ ‘The Conceited Pedler’ is a monologue which would not have discredited Autolycus. In 1632 there was acted with great success before Charles I and Queen Henrietta Maria, at Cambridge, by the students of Randolph's college (Trinity), the ‘Jealous Lovers,’ an admirable comedy, loosely following classical models (cf. Masson, Milton, i. 251–4). When published at the Cambridge University press in the same year, it was respectfully dedicated to Thomas Comber, vice-chancellor of the university and master of Trinity. To the book Randolph prefixed verses addressed to his friends Sir Kenelm Digby, Sir Christopher (afterwards Viscount) Hatton, Anthony Stafford, and others, while Edward Hide, Duport, Francis Meres, and his brother Robert were among those who complimented him on his success as a playwright. The piece, which is in blank verse, is Randolph's most ambitious effort. Other literary works which he produced under academic influences were Latin poems in the university collections celebrating the birth of Princess Mary in 1631, and Charles I's return from Scotland in 1633. A mock-heroic ‘oratio prævaricatoria,’ delivered before the senate in 1632, was first printed in Mr. Hazlitt's collected edition of his works.

After 1632 Randolph indulged with increasing ardour in the dissipations of London literary life. In two poems he recounted the loss of a finger in an affray which followed a festive meeting (cf. Ashmole MS. 38, No. 34, for a bantering reply by Mr. Hemmings to one of the poems). Thomas Bancroft lamented that ‘he drank too greedily of the Muse's spring.’ Creditors harassed him, and his health failed. He was attacked by smallpox, and, after staying with his father in 1634 at Little Houghton, Northamptonshire, he paid a visit to his friend William Stafford of Blatherwick. There he died in March 1634–5, within three months of his thirtieth birthday, and on the 17th he was buried in the vault of the Stafford family, in an aisle adjoining the parish church. Subsequently his friend Sir Christopher, lord Hatton, erected a marble monument in the church to his memory, with an English inscription in verse by Peter Hausted.

In 1638 appeared a posthumous volume, ‘Poems, with the Muses' Looking-Glasse and Amyntas’ (Oxford, by Leonard Lichfield, for Francis Bowman, 4to). A copy of it, bound with Milton's newly issued ‘Comus,’ was forwarded to Sir Henry Wotton by Milton's and Wotton's ‘common friend Mr. R.,’ who is variously identified with Randolph's brother Robert, the editor, or with Francis Rous, the Bodleian librarian. Wotton, in a letter to Milton, complimenting him on ‘Comus’ (printed in Milton's ‘Poems,’ 1643), assigns the binding up of Randolph's ‘Poems’ with ‘Comus’ to a bookseller's hope that the accessory (i.e. ‘Comus’) ‘might help out the principal.’ To the volume were prefixed an elegy in English and some verses in Latin by Randolph's brother Robert, as well as elegies by Edmund Gayton, Owen Feltham, and the poet's brother-in-law, Richard West. The poems include translations from Horace and Claudian, and a few Latin verses on Bacon's death, on his friend Shirley's ‘Grateful Servant,’ and the like; but the majority are original and in English. Separate title-pages introduce ‘The Muses' Looking Glasse’ and ‘Amyntas.’ ‘The Muses' Looking Glasse by T. R.’ resembled in general design the earlier ‘Aristippus.’ Sir Aston Cokain, in commendatory verses, called it ‘the Entertainment,’ and it doubtless was acted at Cambridge. In the opening scene in the Blackfriars Theatre two puritans, who are strongly prejudiced against the theatre, are accosted by a third character, Roscius, and the latter undertakes to convert them from the view that plays can only serve an immoral purpose. There follow a disconnected series of witty and effective dialogues between characters representing various vices and virtues; the dialogues seek to show that practicable virtue is a mean between two extremes. In the contrasted portrayal of men's humours Ben Jonson's influence is plainly discernible. The piece was long popular. Jeremy Collier wrote a preface for a new edition of 1706. Some scenes were acted at Covent Garden on 14 March 1748 and 9 March 1749, when Mrs. Ward and Ryan appeared in the cast (GENEST, iv. 250–1, 280). The ‘Mirrour,’ an altered version, was published in 1758.

‘Amyntas, or the Fatal Dowry,’ a ‘Pastoral acted before the King and Queen at Whitehall,’ is adapted from the poems of Guarini and Tasso.

The ‘Poems,’ with their appendices and some additions, including ‘The Jealous Lovers,’ reappeared in 1640, again at Oxford. A title-page, with a bust of Randolph, was engraved by William Marshall. A third edition is dated London, 1643; a fourth, which adds the ‘Aristippus’ and ‘The Conceited Pedler,’ London, 1652; a fifth, ‘with several additions corrected and amended,’ at Oxford in 1664; and a sixth (misprinted the ‘fifth’) at Oxford in 1668.

All the pieces named were reissued by Mr. W. C. Hazlitt in 1875, together with a few other short poems, and another play tradi-