Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Melbancke, Brian

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MELBANCKE, BRIAN (fl. 1583), euphuistic writer, was educated at St. John's College, Cambridge, where he graduated B.A. in 1579. In 1583 he described himself as ‘Student in Graies Inn,’ but his name cannot be found on the books.

He was the author of a book (now rare) entitled ‘Philotimus. The Warre betwixt Nature and Fortune,’ London, 1583. It is a close imitation of Lyly's ‘Euphues,’ and the many old proverbs and scraps of verse it contains render it quaint and interesting. On page 53 ‘Philotimus’ alludes to the story of Romeo and Juliet as well known and popular at the time. In an address to the ‘Gentlemen students in the Inns of Court and Chancerie, and the University of Cambridge,’ Melbancke acknowledges his failings in the use of the English tongue, and remarks that ‘if ever I had anything to vaunt … it was some small skill in other languages.’

In the registers of St. Olave's, Southwark, under date 3 June 1583, there is the entry, ‘Brian Mellebanke and Sara Baker married.’

[Cooper's Athenæ Cantabrigienses, i. 490; Addit. MS. (Cole MS.) 5885, f. 34; Sir Egerton Brydges's Brit. Bibliographer, ii. 438 et seq., where a full account of Philotimus, by J. Haslewood, is given. Ritson includes Melbancke in his Bibl. Poetica, p. 278, on account of the original verses scattered through his book.]

B. P.