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COLLECTANEA ANG LO-POETICA.
(T.)- The Blacke Booke.
London Printed by T. C. for Jeffrey Chorlton.
1604. 4to, pp. 44, blk. lett. Kell
We have here a work not merely valuable from its great rarity, but highly interesting from its frequent allusions to the customs and manners of the times in which it was written, particularly with reference to the scenes of vice and low life in the Metropolis; and also for the valuable illustrations it affords of some of the dramatic works of that day. It is quoted by Malone, and also several times by Mr. P. Collier in the third volumne of his Annals of the Stage. Its authorship has been assigned, on the strength of the initials at the end of " The Epistle to the Reader,” to Thomas Middleton, the dramatic writer, and with some degree of probability, from its frequent allusions to the stage, and because, as Mr. Collier remarks, “there is no other author of that day to whom the initials, T. M., will apply as at all likely to have produced this humorous tract.” Mr. Dyce unhesitatingly assigns this work to Middleton, and his opinion must be admitted to carry great weight with it, as it is only natural to suppose that the editor of a large collection of the works of an early writer must, by the time he approaches the end of his labours, be an excellent judge of his peculiar style. A writer in the Bibl. Ang. Poet., No. 35, has supposed, from an expression in the book of “one of my devils in Dr. Faustus,” that T. M. was author of a drama called Dr. Faustus, but there is no play of Middleton's extant bearing that title, and the whole book being supposed to be written by Lucifer, he therefore very naturally speaks of “one of my devils.” The compiler of the Bibl. Heber., pt. iv, No. 1398, erroneously supposes that there is an allusion in this work to Shakespeare's As you Like It and the marriage of Touchstone and Audrey, on the reverse of Sig. B 4; but there is no substantial reason for believing that any allusion to that play was intended. Notice has before been made of the reference VOL. V. PART I.
to Heywood's play of “A Woman kill'd with Kindnesse,” and to “The Merry Divel of Edmonton," on Sig. E 3. There is also an allusion to Marlow's “Tragedy of Tamburlaine the Great," on Sig. D 1 (which Mr. Malone, from the mode of expression in this work, had erroneously supposed to be written by Nash); to “The Returne of the Knight of the Poste from Hell, with the Divel's Aunswere to Pierce Pennilesse Supplication," usually attributed to Nash, on the reverse of Sig. D 1 and D 2; to Luke Hutton's “ Blacke Dogge of Newgate,” 4to, 1595, on Sig. El; the whole work is founded upon the publication of Nash's “Pierce Pennilesse, his Supplication to the Divell,” 4to, 1592, and the supposed receipt of the Supplication by Lucifer. The author speaks of Nash as having been a poor scholar of both universities, and as then living in poverty and misery in the last stage of a life spent in licentiousness and dissipation. Mr. Collier has remarked in his catalogue Raisonnè of Lord Ellesmere's Library, p. 200, that by the assistance of another tract by the same author, called “ The Ant and the Nightingale," published in the same year, 1604, in which Nash is spoken of as dead, we are thus able to fix the period of his death, a point which had not before been ascertained, most writers placing it, at least, four years earlier. Nash, however, as Mr. Dyce has noticed, is mentioned as “in his mourneful chest,” in the play of the Return from Parnassus, which was composed before the death of Queen Elizabeth. The Blacke Booke, therefore, must have been written before the year 1604.
Besides the works already noticed as referred to in this tract, there are allusions in it to “Penniless Bench in Oxford,” Sig. D 2; to “the Bear Garden,” Sig. B 4; to "the Great Fire of London,” Sig. C 1 reverse; to “the Clarkes of Newe-Market Heathe, and Sheriffes of Salisburie Plaine," i.e., Highway Robbers, Sig. C 3; to “Hockley in the Hole,". Sig. C 3; to “the last Sommers Pestilence,” i.e., the Plague in 1603, to “the two men in Chaynes betweene Mile-end and Hackney," Sig. Dl; to “Queen Elizabeth's Funeral in 1603,” Sig. D 1 reverse; to “Mother Hubburds Cellar,” Sig. D 4 reverse; to Bankes' “ Bay Horse," Sig. E1; to “Derick the Tyburn Executioner," Sig. E 4; to “Charnico"; to “old Rowse in Cornewell,” Sig. F1; to “Six Penny Rooms in Play-Houses, and Stages both common and private,” Sig. F 1 reverse; to “Powles Crosse in the Sermon time," sig. F 1 reverse; to “ Counterblasts and Tobacco-Nashes," Sig. F 2; and “small Penny-Ale," to "that rare Phænix of Phlegiton Tobacco," Sig. F 2 reverse; to Barnaby Rich., under the title of “ Barnaby Burning-glasse,” Sig. F 2; to “ Nash's Lenten Stuffe, or Praise of the Red