1902 Encyclopedia > Thomas Lodge

Thomas Lodge
English dramatist, novelist, pamphleteer and poet
(c. 1556 - 1625)

LODGE, THOMAS (c. 1556-1625), dramatist, novelist, pamphleteer, poet, - but not player, - was born about the year 1556 at West Ham, and was possibly the son of a namesake, shortly afterwards lord mayor of London. He was educated at Trinity College, Oxford, and then entered as a student at Lincoln's Inn, where, as in the other Inns of Court, a love of letters, and a crop of debts and difficulties, alike grew as matters of course. Thus already as a young man he preferred the looser ways of life and the lighter aspects of literature. When the penitent Stephen Gosson had ___ in 1579) published his Schoole of Abuse, Lodge took up the glove in his Defence of Poetry, Music, and Stageplays (1579 or 1580), which shows some of the moderation as well as of the learning befitting a scholar and a gentleman. The publication was, however, prohibited, besides being answered by Gosson in his Playes Confuted in Five Actions, as by a man sure of his ground if not of his cause. Having fleshed his pen, Lodge displayed a strong inclination for continuing its use. In 15S4 he published his Alarm Against Usurers, a pamphlet to which he no doubt gave the benefit of his personal experience, and in which he mentions the fate of his previous literary venture. Soon after this his years of wandering seem to have begun. It is clear that their primary cause lay in the straits to which he had been reduced, or had reduced himself ; that he ever took so bold a leap into disreputableness as to become an actor is improbable in itself, and the assertion which has been made to that effect has been shown to rest on something less satisfactory than conjecture. Lodge joined Captain Clarke in his raid upon Terceira and the Canaries, and seems, in 1591, to have made another similar voyage with Cavendish. During the former expedition, he, to beguile the tedium of his voyage, composed his prose tale of Rosalyncle, Eaphmes' Golden Legacie, which, published in 1590, afterwards suggested the story of As Yon Like It. The novel, which in its turn owes some, though no very considerable, debt to the Tale of Gamelyn, is a pleasing example of the Euphuistic manner, but proves how slight an advance an individual author of secondary rank is able to effect in a branch of composition of which the genius of Ids age has not taken hold. In the year before (1589) Lodge had already given to the world a volume of poems, including the delectable Scillaes Metamorphosis. One would gladly resign this and much else of Lodge's sugared verse, together with some of his perfumed prose, for the lost Sailor's Kalender, in which he must after some fashion have told of his sea adventures. During the last decade of the century he produced a farrago of literary products - a Juvenal, if not a very "Young Juvenal," at least in the readiness of his wit and in the robustness of his moral indignation. In conjunction with Greene lie produced, in a popular vein, the odd but far from feeble play of A Looking Glasse for London and England. Probably about the same time he wrote his Tragedy of the Wounds of Civil War lively set forth in the True Tragedies of Marius and Sylla (published 1594), a good second-rate piece in the fashion of its age, and deficient neither in rhetorical nor in comic vigour. His Life and Death of William. Lonybeard (1593), and his History of Robin the Divell, are among his contemporary non-dramatic works ; to which should be added Phillis (1593), a collection of lyrical pieces, and a Fig for Momus (on the strength of which he has been rather loosely termed the earliest English satirist). In his later years, - possibly about 1596, when he published his Wits Miserie, which is dated from Low Leyton, and the prose Prosopopeia (if, as seems probable, it was his), in which he repents him of his " lewd lines " of other days, - he was engaged in the practice of medicine, for which he is said to have qualified himself by a degree at Avignon. His works henceforth have a sober cast, comprising a translation of Josephus (1602) and another of Seneca (1614), besides a Treatise of the Plague (1603), and a popular manual, still in manuscript, on Domestic Medicine. He was abroad on urgent private affairs of one kind or another in 1616, from which time to his death from the plague, in 1625, nothing further concerning him remains to be noted. His life is one of those which attract the curiosity y of the literary student, who knows that it is precisely in the mental and moral phases and experiences of able and active men devoid of original genius, such as he that much of the history of an age of literature is to be read.

Lodge's works have not yet been completely reprinted, though the satisfaction of this want may no longer be far distant. His Rosalynde is accessible in Hazlitt's Shakespeare's Library (vol. ii.) and elsewhere. Its relation to Shakespeare's comedy is exhaustively discussed in an essay by Delius in the Jahrbuch of the German Shakespeare Society (1871). Other works of his are scattered through the publications of the old Shakespeare, the Ilunterian, and possibly other Societies ; lists of them will be found in the edition of Glaucits and Sala, &c., printed at the Chiswick Press in 1839, in Hazlitt, and elsewhere. The question, Was Thomas Lodge an Actor? has been set at rest by Dr C. M. Ingleby in his pamphlet bearing that title (1868), of which the main conclusion is embodied in this notice. (A. \V. w.)

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