The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume III. Renascence and Reformation.

XII. The Elizabethan Sonnet

§ 11. Lodge

Thomas Lodge, whose sonnet-sequence Phillis appeared in 1593, improves on Daniel’s example as a borrower of foreign work. In fact, he merits the first place among Elizabethan plagiarists. Of thirty-four poems in strict sonnet form which were included, without hint of any indebtedness, in his volume, Phillis, as many as eighteen have been tracked to foreign sources. These eighteen sonnets, which were published by Lodge as the fruits of his own invention, are shown on investigation to be literal transcripts from the French and Italian. Further investigation is likely to extend the range of his loans.

It is worth while to analyse the proofs that are at present accessible to Lodge’s obligations. Lodge did not confine his borrowings to the great writers of France and Italy. He laid hands on work of second and third rate pens, which never acquired widespread fame. That six of the eighteen sonnets under examination should be paraphrases of Ronsard, or that five should translate Ariosto, is far less surprising than that three should come direct from an obscure Italian author, Lodovico Paschale, whose sonnet-sequence appeared at Venice in 1549. Paschale was an undistinguished native of Cattaro, in Dalmatia, and his work has only once been reprinted since its first appearance, and that nearly two hundred years after original publication. From Paschale comes one of the best known of Lodge’s sonnets, which opens thus:

  • It is not death, which wretched men call dying,
  • But that is very death which I endure,
  • When my coy-looking nymph, her grace envying,
  • By fatal frowns my domage doth procure.
  • Paschale’s sonnet began thus (1549 edition, p. 40 verso)
  • Morte non é quel che morir s’appella,
  • Ma quella é uera morte ch’io supporto,
  • Quando Madonna di pietà rubella,
  • A me riuolge il guardo acerbo e torto.
  • Other foreign poets on whom Lodge silently levied his heavy loans were Petrarch, Sannazaro and Bembo among Italians, and Desportes among Frenchmen.