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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.

VI. The Plays of the University Wits

§ 21. His ill-success and retirement from Drama

The cessation of imaginative work by him after this date, though he lived on till 1625, is curious. He had become a convert to the church of Rome: for this, the influence of his second wife, herself a Roman Catholic, may have been responsible. After all his roving, he settled down to the life of a physician in London, though, for a time, before 1619, he was forced to live and practise in the Netherlands, because of complications in his London life.

Evidently, the activities of the man were varied. Of his plays, only two survive. Inasmuch as no two critics agree with regard to the exact parts to be assigned to Greene and Lodge in A Looking Glasse for London and England, and since the only other play by Lodge deals with wholly different material, it is nearly impossible to judge his characteristics on the basis of A Looking Glasse—one of the last survivals, in modified form, of the disappearing morality. The Wounds of Civill War is a Titus Andronicus, with all the thrills and horrors left out. Montonous in style and in treatment, it is evidently the work of a man neither by instinct nor by training a dramatist. It shows, however, the jumbling of grave and gay usual at the time, without any of the saving humour which kept Shakespeare, after his salad days, from disastrous juxtapositions of this nature.

Lodge added nothing to the development of the English drama. With “his oare in every paper boat,” he, of course, tried his hand at the popular form. Starting with a university man’s suspicion of it as essentially unliterary, his feeling probably turned to contempt when he made no real success. At any rate, in 1589, in his Scillaes Metamorphosis, he gave over the stage, deciding

  • To write no more of that whence shame doth grow:
  • Or tie my pen to penny knaves’ delight,
  • But live with fame and so for fame to write.
  • Lodge, at best but a wayfarer in the hostel of the drama, made way for a throng of inpouring enthusiasts—and made way contemptuously.