Epigrams by John Davies Translated by Christopher Marlowe


Translated by Christopher Marlowe

John Davies of Hereford


Fly, merry Muse, unto that merry town,
Where thou mayst plays, revels, and triumphs see;
The house of fame, and theatre of renown,
Where all good wits and spirits love to be.
Fall in between their hands that praise and love thee,[456]
And be to them a laughter and a jest:
But as for them which scorning shall reprove[457] thee,
Disdain their wits, and think thine own the best.
But if thou find any so gross and dull,

That thinks I do to private taxing[458] lean,
Bid him go hang, for he is but a gull,
And knows not what an epigram doth[459] mean,
Which taxeth,[460] under a particular name,
A general vice which merits public blame.

Translated by Christopher Marlowe


[455] Dyce has carefully recorded the readings of a MS. copy (Harl. MS. 1836) of the present epigrams. As in most cases the variations are unimportant, I have not thought it necessary to reproduce Dyce’s elaborate collation. Where the MS. readings are distinctly preferable I have adopted them; but in such cases I have been careful to record the readings of the printed copies.

[456] So Dyce.—Old eds. “loue and praise thee;” MS. “Seeme to love thee.”

[457] So Isham copy and MS. Ed. A “approve.”

[458] Censuring. Dyce compares the Induction to the Knight of the Burning Pestle:—

“Fly far from hence
All private taxes.”

[459] So MS.—Old eds. “does.”

[460] MS. “Which carrieth under a peculiar name.”


Oft in my laughing rhymes I name a gull;
But this new term will many questions breed;
Therefore at first I will express at full,
Who is a true and perfect gull indeed.
A gull is he who fears a velvet gown,
And, when a wench is brave, dares not speak to her;
A gull is he which traverseth the town,
And is for marriage known a common wooer;
A gull is he which, while he proudly wears
A silver-hilted rapier by his side,
Endures the lie[461] and knocks about the ears,
Whilst in his sheath his sleeping sword doth bide;
A gull is he which wears good handsome clothes,
And stands in presence stroking up his hair,
And fills up his unperfect speech with oaths,
But speaks not one wise word throughout the year:
But, to define a gull in terms precise,—
A gull is he which seems and is not wise.[462]

Translated by Christopher Marlowe


[461] So MS.—Old eds. “lies.”

[462] “To this epigram there is an evident allusion in the following one

‘To Candidus.
Friend Candidus, thou often doost demaund
What humours men by gulling understand.
Our English Martiall hath full pleasantly
In his close nips describde a gull to thee:
I’le follow him, and set downe my conceit
What a gull is—oh, word of much receit!
He is a gull whose indiscretion
Cracks his purse-strings to be in fashion;
He is a gull who is long in taking roote
In barraine soyle where can be but small fruite;
He is a gull who runnes himselfe in debt
For twelue dayes’ wonder, hoping so to get;
He is a gull whose conscience is a block,
Not to take interest, but wastes his stock;
He is a gull who cannot haue a whore,
But brags how much he spends upon her score;
He is a gull that for commoditie
Payes tenne times ten, and sells the same for three;
He is a gull who, passing finicall,
Peiseth each word to be rhetoricall;
And, to conclude, who selfe-conceitedly
Thinks al men guls, ther’s none more gull then he.’
Guilpin’s Skialetheia, &c. 1598, Epig. 20.”


Rufus the courtier, at the theatre,
Leaving the best and most conspicuous place,
Doth either to the stage[463] himself transfer,
Or through a grate[464] doth show his double face,
For that the clamorous fry of Inns of Court
Fill up the private rooms of greater price,
And such a place where all may have resort
He in his singularity doth despise.
Yet doth not his particular humour shun
The common stews and brothels of the town,
Though all the world in troops do thither run,
Clean and unclean, the gentle and the clown:
Then why should Rufus in his pride abhor
A common seat, that loves a common whore?

Translated by Christopher Marlowe


[463] It was a common practice for gallants to sit upon hired stools in the stage, especially at the private theatres. From the Induction to Marston’s Malcontent it appears that the custom was not tolerated at some of the public theatres. The ordinary charge for the use of a stool was sixpence.

[464] Malone was no doubt right in supposing that there is here an allusion to the “private boxes” placed at each side of the balcony at the back of the stage. They must have been very dark and uncomfortable. In the Gull’s Horn-Book Dekker says that “much new Satin was there dampned by being smothered to death in darkness.”


Quintus the dancer useth evermore
His feet in measure and in rule to move:
Yet on a time he call’d his mistress whore,
And thought with that sweet word to win her love.
O, had his tongue like to his feet been taught,
It never would have utter’d such a thought!

Translated by Christopher Marlowe


Faustinus, Sextus, Cinna, Ponticus,
With Gella, Lesbia, Thais, Rhodope,
Rode all to Staines,[466] for no cause serious,
But for their mirth and for their lechery.
Scarce were they settled in their lodging, when
Wenches with wenches, men with men fell out,
Men with their wenches, wenches with their men;
Which straight dissolves[467] this ill-assembled rout.
But since the devil brought them thus together,
To my discoursing thoughts it is a wonder,
Why presently as soon as they came thither,
The self-same devil did them part asunder.
Doubtless, it seems, it was a foolish devil,
That thus did part them ere they did some evil.

Translated by Christopher Marlowe


[465] MS. “In meritriculas Londinensis.”

[466] MS. “Ware.”

[467] MS. “dissolv’d”


Titus, the brave and valorous young gallant,
Three years together in his town hath been;
Yet my Lord Chancellor’s[468] tomb he hath not seen,
Nor the new water-work,[469] nor the elephant.
I cannot tell the cause without a smile,—
He hath been in the Counter all this while.

Translated by Christopher Marlowe


[468] Sir Christopher Hatton’s tomb. See Dugdale’s History of St. Paul’s Cathedral, ed. 1658, p. 83.

[469] “The new water-work was at London Bridge. The elephant was an object of great wonder and long remembered. A curious illustration of this is found in the Metamorphosis of the Walnut Tree of Borestall, written about 1645, when the poet [William Basse] brings trees of all descriptions to the funeral, particularly a gigantic oak—

“The youth of these our times that did behold
This motion strange of this unwieldy plant
Now boldly brag with us that are men old,
That of our age they no advantage want,
Though in our youth we saw an elephant.”


Faustus, nor lord nor knight, nor wise nor old,
To every place about the town doth ride;
He rides into the fields[470] plays to behold,
He rides to take boat at the water-side,
He rides to Paul’s, he rides to th’ ordinary,
He rides unto the house of bawdry too,—
Thither his horse so often doth him carry,
That shortly he will quite forget to go.

Translated by Christopher Marlowe


[470] See the admirable account of “The Theatre and Curtain” in Mr. Halliwell-Phillipps’ Outlines of the Life of Shakespeare, ed. 3, pp. 385-433. It is there shown that the access to the Theatre play-house was through Finsbury Fields to the west of the western boundary-wall of the grounds of the dissolved Holywell Priory.


Kate, being pleas’d, wish’d that her pleasure could
Endure as long as a buff-jerkin would.
Content thee, Kate; although thy pleasure wasteth,
Thy pleasure’s place like a buff-jerkin lasteth,
For no buff-jerkin hath been oftener worn,
Nor hath more scrapings or more dressings borne.

Translated by Christopher Marlowe


[471] Not in MS.


Liber doth vaunt how chastely he hath liv’d
Since he hath been in town, seven years[472] and more,
For that he swears he hath four only swiv’d,
A maid, a wife, a widow, and a whore:
Then, Liber, thou hast swiv’d all womenkind,
For a fifth sort, I know, thou canst not find.

Translated by Christopher Marlowe


[472] MS. “knowen this towne 7 yeares.”


Great Captain Medon wears a chain of gold
Which at five hundred crowns is valuèd,
For that it was his grandsire’s chain of old,
When great King Henry Boulogne conquerèd.
And wear it, Medon, for it may ensue,
That thou, by virtue of this massy chain,
A stronger town than Boulogne mayst subdue,
If wise men’s saws be not reputed vain;
For what said Philip, king of Macedon?
“There is no castle so well fortified,
But if an ass laden with gold comes on,
The guard will stoop, and gates fly open wide.”

Translated by Christopher Marlowe


Gella, if thou dost love thyself, take heed
Lest thou my rhymes unto thy lover read;
For straight thou grinn’st, and then thy lover seeth
Thy canker-eaten gums and rotten teeth.

Translated by Christopher Marlowe


Quintus his wit, infus’d into his brain,
Mislikes the place, and fled into his feet;
And there it wanders up and down the street,[474]
Dabbled in the dirt, and soakèd in the rain.
Doubtless his wit intends not to aspire,
Which leaves his head, to travel in the mire.

Translated by Christopher Marlowe


[473] Not in MS.

[474] Old eds. “streets.”


The puritan Severus oft doth read
This text, that doth pronounce vain speech a sin,—
“That thing defiles a man, that doth proceed
From out the mouth, not that which enters in.”
Hence is it that we seldom hear him swear;
And therefore like a Pharisee, he vaunts:
But he devours more capons in a year
Than would suffice a hundred protestants.
And, sooth, those sectaries are gluttons all,

As well the thread-bare cobbler as the knight;
For those poor slaves which have not wherewithal,
Feed on the rich, till they devour them quite;
And so, like Pharaoh’s kine, they eat up clean
Those that be fat, yet still themselves be lean.

Translated by Christopher Marlowe


Leuca in presence once a fart did let:
Some laugh’d a little; she forsook the place;
And, mad with shame, did eke her glove forget,
Which she return’d to fetch with bashful grace;
And when she would have said “this is[476] my glove,”
“My fart,” quod she; which did more laughter move.

Translated by Christopher Marlowe


[475] Not in MS.

[476] So Isham copy.—Other eds. omit the words “this is.”


Thou canst not speak yet, Macer; for to speak,
Is to distinguish sounds significant:
Thou with harsh noise the air dost rudely break;
But what thou utter’st common sense doth want,—
Half-English words, with fustian terms among,
Much like the burden of a northern song.

Translated by Christopher Marlowe


“That youth,” said Faustus, “hath a lion seen,
Who from a dicing-house comes moneyless.”
But when he lost his hair, where had he been?
I doubt me, he[477] had seen a lioness.

Translated by Christopher Marlowe


[477] So MS. and eds. B, C. Not in Isham copy or ed. A.


Cosmus hath more discoursing in his head
Than Jove when Pallas issu’d from his brain;
And still he strives to be deliverèd
Of all his thoughts at once; but all in vain;
For, as we see at all the playhouse-doors,
When ended is the play, the dance, and song,
A thousand townsmen, gentlemen, and whores,
Porters, and serving-men, together throng,—
So thoughts of drinking, thriving, wenching, war,
And borrowing money, ranging in his mind,
To issue all at once so forward are,
As none at all can perfect passage find.

Translated by Christopher Marlowe


The false knave Flaccus once a bribe I gave;
The more fool I to bribe so false a knave:
But he gave back my bribe; the more fool he,
That for my folly did not cozen me.

Translated by Christopher Marlowe


Thou, doggèd Cineas, hated like a dog,
For still thou grumblest like a masty[478] dog,
Compar’st thyself to nothing but a dog;
Thou say’st thou art as weary as a dog,
As angry, sick, and hungry as a dog,
As dull and melancholy as a dog,
As lazy, sleepy, idle[479] as a dog.
But why dost thou compare thee to a dog
In that for which all men despise a dog?
I will compare thee better to a dog;
Thou art as fair and comely as a dog,
Thou art as true and honest as a dog,
Thou art as kind and liberal as a dog,
Thou art as wise and valiant as a dog.
But, Cineas, I have often[480] heard thee tell,
Thou art as like thy father as may be:
‘Tis like enough; and, faith, I like it well;
But I am glad thou art not like to me.

Translated by Christopher Marlowe


[478] Mastiff.

[479] So Isham copy and MS.—Eds. A, B, C “and as idle.”

[480] So MS.—Isham copy and ed. A “oft.”


Geron, whose[482] mouldy memory corrects
Old Holinshed our famous chronicler
With moral rules, and policy collects
Out of all actions done these fourscore year;
Accounts the time of every odd[483] event,
Not from Christ’s birth, nor from the prince’s reign,
But from some other famous accident,
Which in men’s general notice doth remain,—
The siege of Boulogne,[484] and the plaguy sweat,[485]
The going to Saint Quintin’s[486] and New-Haven,[487]
The rising[488] in the north, the frost so great,
That cart-wheel prints on Thamis’ face were graven,[489]
The fall of money,[490] and burning of Paul’s steeple,[491]
The blazing star,[492] and Spaniards’ overthrow:[493]
By these events, notorious to the people,
He measures times, and things forepast doth show:
But most of all, he chiefly reckons by
A private chance,—the death of his curst[494] wife;
This is to him the dearest memory,
And th’ happiest accident of all his life.

Translated by Christopher Marlowe


[481] Not in MS.

[482] So Isham copy.—Omitted in ed. A.

[483] So Isham copy.—Eds. A, B, C “old.”

[484] Boulogne was captured by Henry VIII. in 1544.

[485] The reference probably is to the visitation of 1551.

[486] In 1557 an English corps under the Earl of Pembroke took part in the war against France. “The English did not share in the glory of the battle, for they were not present; but they arrived two days after to take part in the storming of St. Quentin, and to share, to their shame, in the sack and spoiling of the town.”—Froude, VI. 52.

[487] Havre.—The expedition was despatched in 1562.

[488] Led by the Earls of Northumberland and Westmoreland in 1569.

[489] The reference is to the frost of 1564.—”There was one great frost in England in our memory, and that was in the 7th year of Queen Elizabeth: which began upon the 21st of December and held in so extremely that, upon New Year’s eve following, people in multitudes went upon the Thames from London Bridge to Westminster; some, as you tell me, sir, they do now—playing at football, others shooting at pricks.”—”The Great Frost,” 1608 (Arber’s “English Garner,” Vol. I.)

[490] “This yeare [1560] in the end of September the copper monies which had been coyned under King Henry the Eight and once before abased by King Edward the Sixth, were again brought to a lower valuacion.”—Hayward’s Annals of Queen Elizabeth, p. 73.

[491] On the 4th June 1561, the steeple of St. Paul’s was struck by lightning.

[492] “On the 10th of October (some say on the 7th) appeared a blazing star in the north, bushing towards the east, which was nightly seen diminishing of his brightness until the 21st of the same month.”—Stow’s Annales, under the year 1580 (ed. 1615, p. 687).

[493] The defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588.

[494] Vixenish.


When Marcus comes from Mins’,[495] he still doth swear,
By “come[496] on seven,” that all is lost and gone:
But that’s not true; for he hath lost his hair,
Only for that he came too much on[497] one.

Translated by Christopher Marlowe


[495] Dyce conjectures that this was the name of some person who kept an ordinary where gaming was practised. (MS. “for newes.”)

[496] So eds. B, C.—Isham copy and ed. A “a seaven.”

[497] So MS. with some eccentricities of spelling (“to much one one”).—Old eds. “at.”


The fine youth Cyprius is more terse and neat
Than the new garden of the Old Temple is;
And still the newest fashion he doth get,
And with the time doth change from that to this;
He wears a hat now of the flat-crown block,[498]
The treble ruff,[499] long coat, and doublet French:
He takes tobacco, and doth wear a lock,[500]
And wastes more time in dressing than a wench.
Yet this new-fangled youth, made for these times,
Doth, above all, praise old George[501] Gascoigne’s rhymes.[502]

Translated by Christopher Marlowe


[498] Shape or fashion; properly the wooden mould on which the crown of a hat is shaped.

[499] So MS.—Old eds. “ruffes.”

[500] Love-lock; a lock of hair hanging down the shoulder in the left side. It was usually plaited with ribands.

[501] So MS. and eds. B, C.—Not in Isham copy or ed. A.

[502] Gascoigne’s “rhymes” have been edited in two thick volumes by Mr. Carew Hazlitt. He died on 7th October 1577. In Gabriel Harvey’s Letter Book (recently edited by Mr. Edward Scott for the Camden Society) there are some elegies on him.


When Cineas comes amongst his friends in morning,
He slyly looks[503] who first his cap doth move:
Him he salutes, the rest so grimly scorning,
As if for ever they had lost his love.
I, knowing how it doth the humour fit
Of this fond gull to be saluted first,
Catch at my cap, but move it not a whit:
Which he perceiving,[504] seems for spite to burst.
But, Cineas, why expect you more of me
Than I of you? I am as good a man,
And better too by many a quality,
For vault, and dance, and fence, and rhyme I can:
You keep a whore at your own charge, men tell me;
Indeed, friend Cineas, therein you excel me.[505]

Translated by Christopher Marlowe


[503] So Isham copy and ed. A.—Eds. B, C “spies.”—MS. “notes.”

[504] So the MS.—Isham copy and ed. A “Which perceiving he.”—Eds. B, C “Which to perceiving he.”

[505] The MS. adds—

“You keepe a whore att your [own] charge in towne;
Indeede, frend Ceneas, there you put me downe.”


Gallus hath been this summer-time in Friesland,
And now, return’d, he speaks such warlike words,
As, if I could their English understand,
I fear me they would cut my throat like swords;
He talks of counter-scarfs,[506] and casamates,[507]
Of parapets, curtains, and palisadoes;[508]
Of flankers, ravelins, gabions he prates,
And of false-brays,[509] and sallies, and scaladoes.[510]
But, to requite such gulling terms as these,
With words to my profession I reply;
I tell of fourching, vouchers, and counterpleas,
Of withernams, essoins, and champarty.
So, neither of us understanding either,
We part as wise as when we came together.

Translated by Christopher Marlowe


[506] Counter-scarps.

[507] Old eds. “Casomates.”

[508] Old eds. “Of parapets, of curteneys, and pallizadois.”—MS. “Of parapelets, curtens and passadoes.”—Cunningham prints “Of curtains, parapets,” &c.

[509] “A term in fortification, exactly from the French fausse-braie, which means, say the dictionaries, a counter-breast-work, or, in fact, a mound thrown up to mask some part of the works.

‘And made those strange approaches by false-brays,
Reduits, half-moons, horn-works, and such close ways.’
B. Jons. Underwoods.“—Nares.

[510] Dyce points out that this passage is imitated in Fitzgeoffrey’s Notes from Black-Fryers, Sig. E. 7, ed. 1620.


Audacious painters have Nine Worthies made;
But poet Decius, more audacious far,
Making his mistress march with men of war,
With title of “Tenth Worthy” doth her lade.
Methinks that gull did use his terms as fit,
Which term’d his love “a giant for her wit.”

Translated by Christopher Marlowe


[511] In this epigram, as Dyce showed, Davies is glancing at a sonnet of Drayton’s “To the Celestiall Numbers” in Idea. Jonson told Drummond that “S. J. Davies played in ane Epigrame on Draton’s, who in a sonnet concluded his mistress might been the Ninth [sic] Worthy; and said he used a phrase like Dametas in Arcadia, who said, For wit his Mistresse might be a Gyant.”—Notes of Ben Jonson’s Conversations with Drummond, p. 15. (ed. Shakesp. Soc.)


If Gella’s beauty be examinèd,
She hath a dull dead eye, a saddle nose,
An ill-shap’d face, with morphew overspread,
And rotten teeth, which she in laughing shows;
Briefly, she is the filthiest wench in town,
Of all that do the art of whoring use:
But when she hath put on her satin gown,
Her cut[512] lawn apron, and her velvet shoes,
Her green silk stockings, and her petticoat
Of taffeta, with golden fringe around,
And is withal perfum’d with civet hot,
Which doth her valiant stinking breath confound,—
Yet she with these additions is no more
Than a sweet, filthy, fine, ill-favour’d whore.

Translated by Christopher Marlowe


[512] So MS.—Old eds. “out.”


Sylla is often challeng’d to the field,
To answer, like a gentleman, his foes:
But then doth he this[513] only answer yield,
That he hath livings and fair lands to lose.
Sylla, if none but beggars valiant were,
The king of Spain would put us all in fear.

Translated by Christopher Marlowe


[513] So Isham copy.—Ed. A “when doth he his.”


Who dares affirm that Sylla dare not fight?
When I dare swear he dares adventure more
Than the most brave and most[514] all-daring wight
That ever arms with resolution bore;
He that dare touch the most unwholesome whore
That ever was retir’d into the spittle,
And dares court wenches standing at a door
(The portion of his wit being passing little);
He that dares give his dearest friends offences,
Which other valiant fools do fear to do,
And, when a fever doth confound his senses,
Dare eat raw beef, and drink strong wine thereto:
He that dares take tobacco on the stage,[515]
Dares man a whore at noon-day through the street,
Dares dance in Paul’s, and in this formal age
Dares say and do whatever is unmeet;
Whom fear of shame could never yet affright,
Who dares affirm that Sylla dares not fight?

Translated by Christopher Marlowe


[514] So Isham copy.—Ed. A “most brave, most all daring.”—Eds. B, C “most brave and all daring.”—MS. “most valiant and all-daring.”

[515] There are frequent allusions to this practice. Cf. Induction to Cynthia’s Revels:—”I have my three sorts of tobacco in my pocket; my light by me.”


Heywood,[516] that did in epigrams excel,
Is now put down since my light Muse arose;[517]
As buckets are put down into a well,
Or as a schoolboy putteth down his hose.

Translated by Christopher Marlowe


[516] John Heywood, the well-known epigrammatist and interlude-writer. His Proverbs were edited in 1874, with a pleasantly-written Introduction and useful notes, by Mr. Julian Sharman.

[517] Dyce refers to a passage of Sir John Harington’s Metamorphosis of Ajax, 1596:—”This Haywood for his proverbs and epigrams is not yet put down by any of our country, though one [marginal note, M. Davies] doth indeed come near him, that graces him the more in saying he puts him down.” He quotes also from Bastard’s Chrestoleros, 1598 (Lib. ii. Ep. 15); Lib. iii. Ep. 3, and Freeman’s Rubbe and a Great Cast ( Pt. ii., Ep. 100), allusions to the present epigram.


Amongst the poets Dacus number’d is,
Yet could he never make an English rhyme:
But some prose speeches I have heard of his,
Which have been spoken many a hundred time;
The man that keeps the elephant hath one,
Wherein he tells the wonders of the beast;
Another Banks pronouncèd long agone,
When he his curtal’s[519] qualities express’d:
He first taught him that keeps the monuments
At Westminster, his formal tale to say,
And also him which puppets represents,
And also him which with the ape doth play.
Though all his poetry be like to this,
Amongst the poets Dacus number’d is.

Translated by Christopher Marlowe


[518] Samuel Daniel. See Ep. xlv.

[519] All the information about Banks’ wonderful horse Moroccus (“the little horse that ambled on the top of Paul’s”) is collected in Mr. Halliwell-Phillips’ Memoranda on Love’s Labour Lost.


When Priscus, rais’d from low to high estate,
Rode through the street in pompous jollity,
Caius, his poor familiar friend of late,
Bespake him thus, “Sir, now you know not me,”
“‘Tis likely, friend,” quoth Priscus, “to be so,
For at this time myself I do not know.”

Translated by Christopher Marlowe


Brunus, which deems[520] himself a fair sweet youth,
Is nine and thirty[521] year of age at least;
Yet was he never, to confess the truth,
But a dry starveling when he was at best.
This gull was sick to show his nightcap fine,
And his wrought pillow overspread with lawn;
But hath been well since his grief’s cause hath line[522]
At Trollop’s by Saint Clement’s Church in pawn.

Translated by Christopher Marlowe


[520] So eds. B, C.—Isham copy and ed. A “thinks.”

[521] Old eds. “thirtie nine.” MS. “nine and thirtith.”

[522] Lain.


When Francus comes to solace with his whore,
He sends for rods, and strips himself stark naked;
For his lust sleeps, and will not rise before,
By whipping of the wench, it be awakèd.
I envy him not, but wish I[523] had the power
To make myself his wench but one half-hour.

Translated by Christopher Marlowe


[523] So Isham copy.—Ed. A “he.”


Of speaking well why do we learn the skill,
Hoping thereby honour and wealth to gain?
Sith railing Castor doth, by speaking ill,
Opinion of much wit, and gold obtain.

Translated by Christopher Marlowe


Septimius[524] lives, and is like garlic seen,
For though his head be white, his blade is green.
This old mad colt deserves a martyr’s praise,
For he was burnèd[525] in Queen Mary’s days.

Translated by Christopher Marlowe


[524] So ed. B.—Isham copy, ed. A, and MS. “Septimus.”

[525] “Burn” is often used with an indelicate double entendre. Cf. Lear iii. 2, “No heretics burned but wenchers’ suitors;” Troilus and Cressida, v. 2, “A burning devil take them.”


Homer of Moly and Nepenthe sings;
Moly, the gods’ most sovereign herb divine,
Nepenthe, Helen’s[526] drink, which gladness brings,
Heart’s grief expels, and doth the wit refine.
But this our age another world hath found,
From whence an herb of heavenly power is brought;
Moly is not so sovereign for a wound,
Nor hath nepenthe so great wonders wrought.
It is tobacco, whose sweet subtle[527] fume
The hellish torment of the teeth doth ease,
By drawing down and drying up the rheum,
The mother and the nurse of each disease;
It is tobacco, which doth cold expel,
And clears th’ obstructions of the arteries,
And surfeits threatening death digesteth well,
Decocting all the stomach’s crudities;[528]
It is tobacco, which hath power to clarify
The cloudy mists before dim eyes appearing;
It is tobacco, which hath power to rarify
The thick gross humour which doth stop the hearing;
The wasting hectic, and the quartan fever,
Which doth of physic make a mockery,
The gout it cures, and helps ill breaths for ever,
Whether the cause in teeth or stomach be;
And though ill breaths were by it but confounded,
Yet that vild[529] medicine it doth far excel,
Which by Sir Thomas More[530] hath been propounded,
For this is thought a gentleman-like smell.
O, that I were one of these mountebanks
Which praise their oils and powders which they sell!
My customers would give me coin with thanks;
I for this ware, forsooth,[531] a tale would tell:
Yet would I use none of these terms before;
I would but say, that it the pox will cure;
This were enough, without discoursing more,
All our brave gallants in the town t’allure.

Translated by Christopher Marlowe


[526] Isham copy, “Heuens;” and eds. B, C “Heauens.”—MS. “helevs.”—Davies alludes to Odyssey iv., 219, &c.

[527] So MS.—Old eds. “substantiall.”

[528] We are reminded of Bobadil’s encomium of tobacco:—”I could say what I know of the virtue of it, for the expulsion of rheums, raw humours, crudities, obstructions, with a thousand of this kind; but I profess myself no quacksalver. Only this much: by Hercules I do hold it and will affirm it before any prince in Europe to be the most sovereign and precious weed that ever the earth tendered to the use of man.”

[529] So MS.—Not in old eds.

[530] Dyce quotes from More’s Lucubrationes (ed. 1563, p. 261), an epigram headed “Medicinæ ad tollendos fœtores anhelitus, provenientes a cibis quibusdam.”

[531] So eds. A, B, C.—Isham copy “so smooth.”—MS. “so faire.”


Crassus his lies are no[532] pernicious lies,
But pleasant fictions, hurtful unto none
But to himself; for no man counts him wise
To tell for truth that which for false is known.
He swears that Gaunt[533] is three-score miles about,
And that the bridge at Paris[534] on the Seine
Is of such thickness, length, and breadth throughout,
That six-score arches can it scarce sustain;
He swears he saw so great a dead man’s skull
At Canterbury digg’d out of the ground,
As[535] would contain of wheat three bushels full;
And that in Kent are twenty yeomen found,
Of which the poorest every year[536] dispends
Five thousand pound: these and five thousand mo
So oft he hath recited to his friends,
That now himself persuades himself ’tis so.
But why doth Crassus tell his lies so rife,
Of bridges, towns, and things that have no life?
He is a lawyer, and doth well espy
That for such lies an action will not lie.

Translated by Christopher Marlowe


[532] So MS.—Eds. “not.”

[533] Ghent.

[534] The reference probably is to the Pont Neuf, begun by Henry III. and finished by Henry IV.

[535] So MS.—Old eds. “That.”

[536] MS. “day!”


Philo, the lawyer,[537] and the fortune-teller,
The school-master, the midwife,[538] and the bawd,
The conjurer, the buyer and the seller
Of painting which with breathing will be thaw’d,
Doth practise physic; and his credit grows,
As doth the ballad-singer’s auditory,
Which hath at Temple-Bar his standing chose,
And to the vulgar sings an ale-house story:
First stands a porter; then an oyster-wife
Doth stint her cry and stay her steps to hear him;
Then comes a cutpurse ready with his[539] knife,
And then a country client presseth[540] near him;
There stands the constable, there stands the whore,
And, hearkening[541] to the song, mark[542] not each other;
There by the serjeant stands the debitor,[543]
And doth no more mistrust him than his brother:
This[544] Orpheus to such hearers giveth music,
And Philo to such patients giveth physic.

Translated by Christopher Marlowe


[537] Isham copy and MS. “gentleman.”

[538] MS. “widdow.”

[539] So Isham copy and MS.—Other eds. “a.”

[540] So Isham copy.—Other eds. “passeth.”—MS. “presses.”

[541] So Isham copy, ed. A, and MS.—Eds. B, C “listening.”

[542] So Isham copy, ed. A, and MS.—Eds. B, C “heed.”

[543] So eds. B, C.—Isham copy, MS., and ed. A, “debtor poor.”—With the foregoing description of the “ballad-singer’s auditory” compare Wordsworth’s lines On the power of Music, and Vincent Bourne’s charming Latin verses (entitled Cantatrices) on the Ballad Singers of the Seven Dials.

[544] So MS.—Eds. “Thus.”


Fuscus is free, and hath the world at will;
Yet, in the course of life that he doth lead,
He’s like a horse which, turning round a mill,
Doth always in the self-same circle tread:
First, he doth rise at ten;[545] and at eleven
He goes to Gill’s, where he doth eat till one;
Then sees a play till six;[546] and sups at seven;
And, after supper, straight to bed is gone;
And there till ten next day he doth remain;
And then he dines; then sees a comedy;
And then he sups, and goes to bed again:
Thus round he runs without variety,
Save that sometimes he comes not to the play,
But falls into a whore-house by the way.

Translated by Christopher Marlowe


[545] Cf. a somewhat similar description in Guilpin’s Skialetheia (Ep. 25):—

“My lord most court-like lies abed till noon,
Then all high-stomacht riseth to his dinner;
Falls straight to dice before his meat be down,
Or to digest walks to some female sinner;
Perhaps fore-tired he gets him to a play,
Comes home to supper and then falls to dice;
Then his devotion wakes till it be day,
And so to bed where unto noon he lies.”

[546] If the play ended at six, it could hardly have begun before three. From numerous passages it appears that performances frequently began at three, or even later. Probably the curtain rose at one in the winter and three in the summer.


The smell-feast[547] Afer travels to the Burse
Twice every day, the flying news to hear;
Which, when he hath no money in his purse,
To rich men’s tables he doth ever[548] bear.
He tells how Groni[n]gen[549] is taken in[550]
By the brave conduct of illustrious Vere,
And how the Spanish forces Brest would win,
But that they do victorious Norris[551] fear.
No sooner is a ship at sea surpris’d,
But straight he learns the news, and doth disclose it;
No[552] sooner hath the Turk a plot devis’d
To conquer Christendom, but straight he knows it.
Fair-written in a scroll he hath the names
Of all the widows which the plague hath made;
And persons, times, and places, still he frames
To every tale, the better to persuade.
We call him Fame, for that the wide-mouth slave
Will eat as fast as he will utter lies;
For fame is said an hundred mouths to have,
And he eats more than would five-score suffice.

Translated by Christopher Marlowe


[547] This word is found in Chapman, Harrington, and others.

[548] So MS.—Old eds. “often.”

[549] Groningen was taken by Maurice of Nassau. Vere was present at the siege.

[550] The expression “take in” (in the sense of “conquer, capture”) is very common.

[551] An English expedition, under Sir John Norris, was sent to Brittany in 1594.

[552] This line and the next are found only in Isham copy and MS.


By lawful mart, and by unlawful stealth,
Paulus, in spite of envy, fortunate,
Derives out of the ocean so much wealth,
As he may well maintain a lord’s estate:
But on the land a little gulf there is,
Wherein he drowneth all this[553] wealth of his.

Translated by Christopher Marlowe


[553] So Isham copy—Eds. A, B, C “the.”—MS. “ye.”


Lycus, which lately is to Venice gone,
Shall, if he do return, gain three for one;[554]
But, ten to one, his knowledge and his wit
Will not be better’d or increas’d a whit.

Translated by Christopher Marlowe


[554] When a person started on a long or dangerous voyage it was customary to deposit—or, as it was called, “put out”—a sum of money, on condition of receiving at his return a high rate of interest. If he failed to return the money was lost. There are frequent allusions in old authors to this practice.


Publius, a[555] student at the Common-Law,
Oft leaves his books, and, for his recreation,
To Paris-garden[556] doth himself withdraw;
Where he is ravish’d with such delectation,
As down amongst the bears and dogs he goes;
Where, whilst he skipping cries, “To head, to head,”[557]
His satin doublet and his velvet hose
Are all with spittle from above be-spread;
Then is he like his father’s country hall,

Stinking of dogs, and muted[558] all with hawks;
And rightly too on him this filth doth fall,
Which for such filthy sports his books forsakes,
Leaving old Ployden, Dyer, and Brooke alone,
To see old Harry Hunkes and Sacarson.[559]

Translated by Christopher Marlowe


[555] So MS.—Not in old eds.

[556] The Bear-Garden in the Bankside, Southwark.

[557] In Titus Andronicus, v. 1, we have the expression “to fight at head” (“As true a dog as ever fought at head“). “To fly at the head” was equivalent to “attack;” and in Nares’ Glossary (ed. Halliwell) the expression “run on head,” in the sense of incite, is quoted from Heywood’s Spider and Flie, 1556.

[558] Covered with hawks’ dung.

[559] “Harry Hunkes” and “Sacarson” were the names of two famous bears (probably named after their keepers). Slender boasted to Anne Page, “I have seen Sackarson loose twenty times and have taken him by the chain.”


When I this proposition had defended,
“A coward cannot be an honest man,”
Thou, Sylla, seem’st forthwith to be offended,
And hold’st[560] the contrary, and swear’st[561] he can.
But when I tell thee that he will forsake
His dearest friend in peril of his life,
Thou then art chang’d, and say’st thou didst mistake;
And so we end our argument and strife:
Yet I think oft, and think I think aright,
Thy argument argues thou wilt not fight.

Translated by Christopher Marlowe


[560] So MS.—Old eds. “holds.”

[561] So MS.—Old eds. “swears.”


Dacus,[562] with some good colour and pretence,
Terms his love’s beauty “silent eloquence;”
For she doth lay more colours on her face
Than ever Tully us’d his speech to grace.

Translated by Christopher Marlowe


[562] Dyce shows that Samuel Daniel is meant by Dacus (who has already been ridiculed in Ep. xxx.). In Daniel’s Complaint of Rosamond (1592) are the lines:—

“Ah, beauty, syren, faire enchanting good,
Sweet silent rhetorique of perswading eyes,
Dumb eloquence, whose power doth move the blood
More than the words or wisedome of the wise,” &c.

Perhaps there is an allusion to this epigram in Marston’s fourth satire:—

“What, shall not Rosamond or Gaveston
Ope their sweet lips without detraction?
But must our modern critticks envious eye
Seeme thus to quote some grosse deformity,
Where art not error shineth in their stile,
But error and no art doth thee beguile?”


Why dost thou, Marcus, in thy misery
Rail and blaspheme, and call the heavens unkind?
The heavens do owe[563] no kindness unto thee,
Thou hast the heavens so little in thy mind;
For in thy life thou never usest prayer
But at primero, to encounter fair.

Translated by Christopher Marlowe


[563] So eds. B, C.—Ed. A “draw” (Epigram xlv.-xlviii. are not in the MS.)


See, yonder melancholy gentleman,
Which, hood-wink’d with his hat, alone doth sit!
Think what he thinks, and tell me, if you can,
What great affairs trouble his little wit.
He thinks not of the war ‘twixt France and Spain,[564]
Whether it be for Europe’s good or ill,
Nor whether the Empire can itself maintain
Against the Turkish power encroaching still;[565]
Nor what great town in all the Netherlands
The States determine to besiege this spring,
Nor how the Scottish policy now stands,
Nor what becomes of the Irish mutining.[566]
But he doth seriously bethink him whether
Of the gull’d people he be more esteem’d
For his long cloak or for[567] his great black feather
By which each gull is now a gallant deem’d;
Or of a journey he deliberates
To Paris-garden, Cock-pit, or the play;
Or how to steal a dog he meditates,
Or what he shall unto his mistress say.
Yet with these thoughts he thinks himself most fit
To be of counsel with a king for wit.

Translated by Christopher Marlowe


[564] Ended in 1598 by the peace of Vervins.

[565] The war between Austria and Turkey was brought to a close in 1606.

[566] A reference to Tyrone’s insurrection, 1595-1602.

[567] So Isham copy.—Not in other eds.


Peace, idle Muse, have done! for it is time,
Since lousy Ponticus envies my fame,
And swears the better sort are much to blame
To make me so well known for my ill rhyme.
Yet Banks his horse[568] is better known than he;
So are the camels and the western hog,
And so is Lepidus his printed dog[569]:
Why doth not Ponticus their fames envy?
Besides, this Muse of mine and the black feather
Grew both together fresh in estimation;
And both, grown stale, were cast away together:
What fame is this that scarce lasts out a fashion?
Only this last in credit doth remain,
That from henceforth each bastard cast-forth rhyme,
Which doth but savour of a libel vein,
Shall call me father, and be thought my crime;
So dull, and with so little sense endued,
Is my gross-headed judge the multitude.
J. D.

Translated by Christopher Marlowe



[569] Dyce points out that by Lepidus is meant Sir John Harington, whose dog Bungey is represented in a compartment of the engraved title-page of the translation of Orlando Furioso, 1591. In his epigrams (Book III. Ep. 21) Harington refers to this epigram of Davies, and expresses himself greatly pleased at the compliment paid to his dog.


I[570] love thee not for sacred chastity,—
Who loves for that?—nor for thy sprightly wit;
I love thee not for thy sweet modesty,
Which makes thee in perfection’s throne to sit;
I love thee not for thy enchanting eye,
Thy beauty[‘s] ravishing perfection;
I love thee not for unchaste luxury,
Nor for thy body’s fair proportion;
I love thee not for that my soul doth dance
And leap with pleasure, when those lips of thine
Give musical and graceful utterance
To some (by thee made happy) poet’s line;
I love thee not for voice or slender small:
But wilt thou know wherefore? fair sweet, for all.

Faith, wench, I cannot court thy sprightly eyes,
With the base-viol plac’d between my thighs;
I cannot lisp, nor to some fiddle sing,
Nor run upon a high-stretch’d minikin;
I cannot whine in puling elegies,
Entombing Cupid with sad obsequies;
I am not fashion’d for these amorous times,
To court thy beauty with lascivious rhymes;
I cannot dally, caper, dance, and sing,
Oiling my saint with supple sonneting;
I cannot cross my arms, or sigh “Ay me,
Ay me, forlorn!” egregious foppery!
I cannot buss thy fist,[571] play with thy hair,
Swearing by Jove, “thou art most debonair!”
Not I, by cock! but [I] shall tell thee roundly,—
Hark in thine ear,—zounds, I can (——) thee soundly.

Sweet wench, I love thee: yet I will not sue,
Or show my love as musky courtiers do;
I’ll not carouse a health to honour thee,
In this same bezzling[572] drunken courtesy,
And, when all’s quaff’d, eat up my bousing-glass[573]
In glory that I am thy servile ass;
Nor will I wear a rotten Bourbon lock,[574]
As some sworn peasant to a female smock.
Well-featur’d lass, thou know’st I love thee dear:
Yet for thy sake I will not bore mine ear,
To hang thy dirty silken shoe-tires there;
Nor for thy love will I once gnash a brick,
Or some pied colours in my bonnet stick:[575]
But, by the chaps of hell, to do thee good,
I’ll freely spend my thrice-decocted blood.

Translated by Christopher Marlowe


[570] This sonnet and the two following pieces are only found in Isham copy and ed. A.

[571] So Isham copy.—Ed. A “fill.”

[572] Tippling.

[573] “Bouse” was a cant term for “drink.”

[574] See note v.

[575] It was a common practice for gallants to wear their mistresses’ garters in their hats.