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

XVII. The Marprelate Controversy

§ 8. Martin Junior

Martin Junior or Theses Martinianae, the next in the series, exhibits a change in method. Field’s notes, which Martin had merely decorated with his drolleries, had formed the basis of The Epistle, while the apologetics of Bridges and Cooper had given substance and cohesion to the sallies to The Epitome and Hay any worke. In Martin Junior, our pamphleteer aims, for the first time, at what may be called literary form. In a period when fiction, apart from drama, was in its earliest infancy, any piece of imaginative prose, however rudimentary, is interesting. The bulk of the tract, indeed, consists of a “speech” by Martin Marprelate and a hundred and ten theses against the bishops, in which the familiar “discipline” arguments are reasserted; but it is prefaced with a short epistle, ostensibly by Martin Junior, younger son of the old Martin, and concludes with a lengthy epilogue in the approved Tarleton style, dedicated “To the worshipfull his very good neame maister John Canterburie,” and signed “your worship’s nephew Martin Junior.” In this epilogue, we are given to understand that old Martin has disappeared, possibly into the Gate House, and that his son, a “prety stripling” Martin Junior, has discovered under a hedge a manuscript containing the aforesaid theses in his father’s handwriting. It will be remembered that it was precisely in this fashion that part of Martin Junior actually came into the hands of the printer; so it is just possible that there is more in the tale than appears upon the surface. This manuscript, which breaks off in the middle of a sentence, Martin Junior gives to the world, adding a long defence of his father’s methods, obviously addressed to the puritans, whose “misliking” had been the cause of Waldegrave’s defection.