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1911 Encyclopedia Britannica

Thomas Lodge

THOMAS LODGE ( c. 1558-1625), English dramatist and miscellaneous writer, was born about 1558 at West Ham. He was the second son of Sir Thomas Lodge, who was lord mayor of London in 1562-1563. He was educated at Merchant Taylors' School and Trinity College, Oxford; taking his B.A. degree in 1 577 and that of M.A. in 1581. In 1578 he entered Lincoln's Inn, where, as in the other Inns of Court, a love of letters and a crop of debts and difficulties were alike wont to spring up in a kindly soil. Lodge, apparently in disregard of the wishes of his family, speedily showed his inclination towards 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 Stage Plays (1579 or 1580; reprinted for the Shakespeare Society, 1853), which shows a certain restraint, though neither deficient in force of invective nor backward in display of erudition. The pamphlet was prohibited, but appears to have been. circulated privately. It was answered by Gosson in his Playes Confuted in Five Actions; and Lodge retorted with his Alarum Against Usurers (1584, reprinted ib.) - a " tract for the times" which no doubt was in some measure indebted to the author's. personal experience. In the same year he produced the first tale written by him on his own account in prose and verse, The Delectable History of Forbonius and Prisceria, both published and reprinted with the Alarum. From 1587 onwards he seems to have made a series of attempts as a playwright, though most of those attributed to him are mainly conjectural. That he ever became an actor is improbable in itself, and Collier's conclusion to that effect rested on the two assumptions that the "Lodge" of Henslowe's M.S. was a player and that his name was Thomas,. neither of which is supported by the text (see C. M. Ingleby,. Was Thomas Lodge an Actor? 1868). Having, in the spirit of his age, "tried the waves" with Captain Clarke in his expedition to Terceira and the Canaries, Lodge in 1591 made a voyage with Thomas Cavendish to Brazil and the Straits of Magellan, returning home by 1593. During the Canaries expedition, to beguile the tedium of his voyage, he composed his prose tale of Rosalynde, Euphues Golden Legacie, which, printed in 1590, afterwards furnished the story of Shakespeare's As You Like It. The novel,. which in its turn owes some, though no very considerable, debt to the medieval Tale of Gamelyn (unwarrantably appended to the fragmentary Cookes Tale in certain MSS. of Chaucer's works),. is written in the euphuistic manner, but decidedly attractive

both by its plot and by the situations arising from it. It has been frequently reprinted. Before starting on his second expedition he had published an historical romance, The History of Robert, Second Duke of Normandy, surnamed Robert the Divell; and he left behind him for publication Catharos, Diogenes in his Singularity, a discourse on the immorality of Athens (London). Both appeared in 1591. Another romance in the manner of Lyly, Euphues Shadow, the Battaile of the Sences (1592), appeared. while Lodge was still on his travels. His second historical romance, the Life and Death of William Longbeard (1593), was more successful than the first. Lodge also brought back with him from the new world A Margarite of America (published 1596),. a romance of the same description interspersed with many lyrics. Already in 1589 Lodge had given to the world a volume of poems bearing the title of the chief among them, Scillaes Metamorphosis, Enterlaced with the Unfortunate Love of Glaucus, more briefly known as Glaucus and Scilla (reprinted with preface by S. W. Singer in 1819). To this tale Shakespeare was possibly indebted for the idea of Venus and Adonis. Some readers would perhaps be prepared to give up this and much else of Lodge's sugared verse, fine though much of it is in quality, largely borrowed from other writers, French and Italian in particular, in exchange for the lost Sailor's Kalendar, in which he must in one way or another have recounted his sea adventures. If Lodge, as has been supposed, was the Alcon in Colin Clout's come Home Again, it may have been the influence of Spenser which led to the composition of Phillis, a volume of sonnets, in which the voice of nature seems only now and then to become audible, published with the narrative poem, The Complaynte of Elstred, in 1593. A Fig for Momus, on the strength of which he has been called the earliest English satirist, and which contains eclogues addressed to Daniel and others, an epistle addressed to Drayton, and other pieces, appeared in 1595. Lodge's ascertained dramatic work is small in quantity. In conjunction with Greene he, probably in 1590, produced in a popular vein the odd but far from feeble play of A Looking Glasse for London and England (' printed in 1 594). He had already written The Wounds of Civile War. Lively set forth in the Tragedies of Marius and Scilla (produced perhaps as early as 1587, and published in 1 594), a good secondrate piece in the half-chronicle fashion of its age. Mr F. G. Fleay thinks there were grounds for assigning to Lodge Mucedorus and Amadine, played by the Queen's Men about 1588, a share with Robert Greene in George a Greene, the Pinner of Wakefield, ' and in Shakespeare's 2nd part of Henry VI.; he also regards him as at least part-author of The True Chronicle of King Leir and his three Daughters (1594); and The Troublesome Raigne of John, King of England (c. 1588); in the case of two other plays he allowed the assignation to Lodge to be purely conjectural. That Lodge is the "Young Juvenal" of Greene's Groatsworth of Wit is no longer a generally accepted hypothesis. In the latter part of his life - possibly about 1596, when he published his Wits Miserie and the World's Madnesse, which is dated from Low Leyton in Essex, and the religious tract Prosopopeia (if, as seems probable, it was his), in which he repents him of his "lewd lines" of other days - he became a Catholic and engaged in the practice of medicine, for which Wood says he qualified himself by a degree at Avignon in 1600. Two years afterwards he received the degree of M.D. from Oxford University. His works henceforth have a sober cast, comprising translations of Josephus (1602), of Seneca (1614),(1614), a Learned Summary of Du Bartas's Divine Sepmaine (1625 and 1637), besides a Treatise of the Plague (1603), and a popular manual, which remained unpublished, on Domestic Medicine. Early in 1606 he seems to have left England, to escape the persecution then directed against the Catholics; and a letter from him dated 1610 thanks the English ambassador in Paris for enabling him to return in safety. He was abroad on urgent private affairs of one kind and another in 1616. From this time to his death in 1625 nothing further concerning him remains to be noted.

Lodge's works, with the exception of his translations, have been reprinted for the Hunterian Club with an introductory essay by Mr Edmund Gosse. This preface was reprinted in Mr Gosse's Seventeenth Century Studies (1883). Of Rosalynde there are numerous modern editions. See also J. J. Jusserand, English Novel in the Time of Shakespeare (Eng. trans., 1890); F. G. Fleay, Biographical Chronicle of the English Drama (vol. ii., 1891). (A. W. W.)


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Bibliography Information
Chisholm, Hugh, General Editor. Entry for 'Thomas Lodge'. 1911 Encyclopedia Britanica. http://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/bri/view.cgi?number=32670. 1910.

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