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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume IV. Prose and Poetry: Sir Thomas North to Michael Drayton.

XIII. Lesser Elizabethan Dramatists

§ 11. John Day’s early work

John Day is represented by Henslowe as beginning work in 1598, receiving payment once only as sole author, and collaborating in twenty-one plays. Of all this work, we have left only the first part of The Blind Beggar of Bednal Green—for we have supposed that all Day’s work was cut out ruthlessly from Two Lamentable Tragedies. The hasty vehement copious writing which formed a large part of the partnership plays of Henslowe’s writers swamped the delicate and slowly flowing fountain of Day’s art. The Blind Beggar of Bednal Green is a confused, hastily-written play, plotted on Munday’s model, and taking its story and hue from the ballad-lore of the day, but not so pleasant and sweet as Munday would have made it. It may, probably, be taken as a specimen of Chettle’s comedy, and it gave no scope to Day’s special gifts. Day’s best work, The Parliament of Bees, dates from 1640, and is vitally connected in style and excellence with that small group of extant plays by Day which began in 1606 after king James’s accession. We shall, therefore, treat Day’s main work as Jacobean; as an Elizabethan, he cannot be shown to have achieved success.