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The Bride   By: (1573?-1630?)

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E text prepared by David Starner, Phil Petersen, and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team

Editorial note: Long s's have been turned into s's, and the occasional use of a macron over a vowel to express a following n or m has been replaced with the following n or m. Otherwise, the spelling is as in the original edition of 1617, as difficult and inconsistent as it may be.


By Samuel Rowlands

With an Introductory Note by Alfred Claghorn Potter

Introductory Note

When the complete works of Samuel Rowlands were issued by the Hunterian Club in 1872 1880, in an edition of two hundred and ten copies, the Editor was obliged to omit from the collection the poem entitled "The Bride." No copy of this tract was supposed to be extant. Twenty years later, in the article on Rowlands in the Dictionary of National Biography, Mr. Sidney Lee also names this poem as one of the author's lost works. All that was known of it was the entry in the Stationers' Register: [Footnote: Arber's Transcript, vol. iii. p. 609 .]

"22 [degrees] Maij 1617 "Master Pauier. Entred for his Copie vnder the handes of master TAUERNOR and both the wardens, A Poeme intituled The Bride , written by SAMUELL ROWLANDE vj'd."

While all of Rowlands's works are classed by bibliographers as "rare," this one seemed to have disappeared entirely. No copy was to be found in any of the large libraries or private collections, nor was there any record of its sale.

Last spring a copy was discovered in the catalogue of a bookseller in a small German town, and was secured for the Harvard College Library, being purchased from the Child Memorial Fund. The copy is perfect, except that the inner corner at the top of the second and third leaves has been torn off, with the loss of parts of two words, which have been supplied in manuscript. From this copy the present reprint is made. As in the Hunterian Club edition of Rowlands's Works, to which this may be considered a supplement, the reprint is exact. The general makeup of the book as to style and size of type has been followed as closely as possible; and the text has been reproduced page for page and word for word. The misprints, which are unusually numerous, even for a book of this period, have been left uncorrected. The title page and the two head pieces have been reproduced by photography.

Of the poem itself, since it is now before the reader, little need be said. It cannot be claimed that it presents great poetical merit. Rowlands at his best was but an indifferent poet, hardly more than a penny a liner. In his satirical pieces and epigrams, and in that bit of genuine comedy, "Tis Merrie vvhen Gossips meete," his work does have a real literary value, and is distinctly interesting as presenting a vivid picture of London life at the beginning of the seventeenth century. In "The Bride," it must be confessed, Rowlands falls below his own best work. Yet the poem is by no means wholly lacking in interest. If not his best work, "The Bride" is by no means his worst. Like most of his poems, it is written in an heroic stanza of six lines, and, as is not so common with him, is in dialogue form. The dialogue for the most part is well sustained and sprightly. The story of the birth of Merlin, it is true, seems to have been inserted mainly to fill out the required number of pages; but this digression has an interest of its own, in that the name here given to Merlin's mother, "Lady Adhan," does not appear in the ordinary versions of the legend.

Of Rowlands's life almost nothing is known: that little is told in the Memoir by Mr. Gosse prefixed to the Hunterian Club edition, and by Mr. Lee in the Dictionary of National Biography, and need not be repeated here. All that is known with certainty is that Samuel Rowlands was a writer of numerous poems and pamphlets, published between the years 1598 and 1628... Continue reading book >>

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