Samuel Rowlands - Encyclopedia


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SAMUEL ROWLANDS (c. 1573-1630), English author of pamphlets in prose and verse, which reflect the follies and humours of the lower middle-class life of his time, seems to have had no contemporary literary reputation; but his work throws considerable light on the social London of his day. Among his works, which include some poems on sacred subjects, are: The Betraying of Christ (1598); The Letting of Humours Blood in the Head-vaine (epigrams and satires) and A Mery Meetinge, or 'tis Mery when Knaves mete (1600) - the two latter being publicly burnt by order, but republished later under other names - (Humors Ordinarie and The Knave of Clubbes); Greenes Ghost haunting Conie-Catchers (1602), which he pretended to have edited from Greene's papers, but which is largely borrowed from his printed works; Tis Merrie when Gossips meete (1602), a dialogue between a Widow, a Wife, a Maid and a Vintner; Looke to it; for Ile stabbe ye (1604), in which Death describes the tyrants, careless divines and other evil-doers whom he will destroy; Hells broke loose (1605), an account of John of Leyden, and in the same year a Theatre of Divine Recreation (not extant), poems founded on the Old Testament; A Terrible Battell betwene. .. Time and Death (1606); Democritus, or Doctor Merry-man his Medicines against Melancholy humors, reprinted, with alterations, as Doctor Merrie-man, and Diogenes Lanthorne (1607), in which "Athens" is London; The Famous History of Guy, Earl of Warwick (1607),(1607), a long romance in Rowlands's favourite six-lined stanza, and one of his hastiest, least successful efforts; Humors Looking Glasse (1608); and Martin Mark-all, Beadle of Bridewell (1610), a history of roguery containing much information about notable highwaymen and the completest vocabulary of thieves' slang up to that time. Of his later works may be mentioned Sir Thomas Overbury; or the Poysoned Knights Complaint, and The Melancholie Knight (1615), which suggests a hearing of Beaumont and Fletcher's Knight of the Burning Pestle. The last of his humorous studies, Good Newes and Bad Newes, appeared in 1622, and in 1628 he published a pious volume of prose and verse, entitled Heavens Glory, Seeke it: Earts vanitie, Flye it: Hells Horror, Fere it. After this nothing is known of him. Mr Gosse, in his introduction to Rowlands's complete works, edited (1872-80) for the Hunterian Club in Glasgow by Mr S. J. H. Herrtage, sums him up as a "kind of small non-political Defoe, a pamphleteer in verse whose talents were never put into exercise except when their possessor was pressed for means, and a poet of considerable talent without one spark or glimmer of genius." Mr Gosse's notice is reprinted in his Seventeenth Century Studies (1883). A recently discovered poem by Rowlands, The Bride (1617), was reprinted at Boston, U.S.A., in 1905 by Mr A. C. Potter.

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