Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Rowlands, Samuel
ROWLANDS, SAMUEL (1570?–1630?), author, born about 1570, was a voluminous writer of tracts in prose and verse between 1598 and 1628. His earliest venture, ‘The Betraying of Christ’ (1598), like his latest in 1628, was a fervidly religious poem, and at no period did he wholly neglect pious topics. But his second publication (see No. 2 below), ‘The Letting of Humours Blood in the Head-Vaine’ (1600), is the type of composition which gave him his chief popularity. It consists of thirty-seven epigrams and seven satires on the abuses of contemporary society. Private persons are attacked under feigned Latin names, and types of character are depicted with incisive power. A similar effort, entitled ‘A Mery Meetinge, or 'tis Mery when Knaves mete,’ was published in the same year (although only copies of later editions are extant). Rowlands's biting tone was deemed offensive to the authorities, and both pamphlets were burnt not only in a public place, but also in the kitchen of the Stationers' Company on 26 Oct. 1600. Twenty-nine booksellers were fined 2s. 6d. each for buying these books (Arber, Transcript, ii. 832–3). But Rowlands was not silenced, and when the storm blew over he reissued both pamphlets under somewhat different titles. His later satires have somewhat less asperity, and many of his sketches of the lower middle classes are farcical or good-naturedly humorous. Much of his energy he devoted to descriptions of low London life, and his portraits in verse of beggars, tipplers, thieves, and ‘roaring boys’ possess much historical interest. He owed something to Greene's writings on like topics, and is said to have vamped up some unpublished manuscripts by Nashe. He adversely criticised Dekker, who made excursions into the same field of literature. Occasionally he sank to mere bookmaking—hastily versifying popular stories, as in his ‘Guy of Warwick.’ References abound in Rowlands's works to notorious contemporaries—to actors like Pope and Singer (Letting of Humours Blood, Sat. 4); to Alleyn as the creator of Marlowe's ‘Faustus’ (Knave of Clubs); to Woolner, the great eater (Look to it), and to Ward and Dansike, the pirates (Knave of Harts). Rowlands usually wrote in six-line stanzas.
His literary friends and patrons appear to have been few. ‘My pen never was and never shall be mercenary,’ he wrote to his friend George Gaywood in 1602 (Hell's Broke Loose). He prefixed verses to Thomas Andrewe's ‘Unmasking of a Feminine Machiavell,’ 1604, and to Thomas Collins's ‘Teares of Love,’ 1615. A poem ‘In Vulponem,’ written with some oblique reference to Ben Jonson's ‘Volpone,’ was published in W. Parkes's ‘Curtaine Drawer of the World,’ 1612. Commendatory verses by Rowlands figure in some copies of ‘Great Britaine all in Black,’ 1612 (Brit. Mus.) and ‘The Sculler,’ 1614 (Huth Libr.), both by John Taylor, the water-poet.
The fact that his name appears on the ‘Stationers' Registers’ on one occasion as Samuel Rowley (cf. No. 23 infra) has suggested the theory that he may be identical with the actor Samuel Rowley [q. v.], but the conjecture cannot be sustained.
Rowlands's books often appeared with his initials only in the title-page or affixed to the preface. Hence some doubt has arisen respecting the works to be assigned to him. He has been wrongly credited with ‘The Choise of Change: containing the Triplicitie of Divinitie, Philosophie, and Poetrie … by S. R., Gent. and Student in the Universitie of Cambridge,’ which was first published in 1585 (new edition, 1598). According to Jolley's ‘Catalogue’ (iv. 389), the author was Simon Robson. Nor was Rowlands responsible for the ‘Court of ciuill Courtesy. Out of the Italian, by S. R., Gent.’ (1591). ‘Cornucopie,’ by William F. (Fennor?) (1612), was also assigned to him in error.
All Rowlands's works are bibliographical rarities, and several are extant only in one, two or three copies. Two at least are lost. A copy of ‘A Theatre of Delightful Recreations’ (London, for A. Johnson, 1605, 4to) belonged to Bishop Percy, but none is now known; it is described by him in his ‘Reliques’ (1812, iii. 161) as consisting of poems chiefly on the Old Testament. It is probably identical with ‘A Theatre of Divine Recreation,’ licensed to be printed by Arthur Johnson in 1605. Similarly no trace exists of ‘A Poeme entituled the Bride, written by Samuel Rowlande,’ which was licensed to be printed by Thomas Pavier on 22 May 1617 (Arber, iii. 1609).
Rowlands's extant works, all of which are in verse, except where otherwise stated, are: 1. ‘The Betraying of Christ. Iudas in Despaire. The Seuen Words of our Sauior on the Crosse. With Other Poems on the Passion.’ London, for Adam Islip, 1598, 4to (Bodl., two in Brit. Mus. and Britwell). The work is dedicated to Sir Nicholas Walsh, knt., ‘chiefe justice of her Maiesties Court of Common Pleas in Ireland,’ and his arms and crest are on the reverse of the title-page. But one of the two copies in the British Museum has an additional dedication in manuscript ‘from the author to his lovinge freinde, M. Eleazar Barnes.’ A copy described in Griffith's ‘Bibl. Angl. Poet.’ 1815 (p. 598) has a different dedication to ‘his deare affected friend, Maister H. W. Gentleman,’ and some stanzas addressed ‘to the gentleman-readers’ and a poem in four-line verses, entitled ‘The High-way to Mount Calvarie,’ which are not in the other impressions. Selections are printed in Farr's ‘Select Poetry’ (Parker Soc. 1845). 2. ‘The Letting of Humours Blood in the Head-Vaine. With a new Morissco daunced by Seuen Satyres upon the Bottome of Diogines Tubbe. Printed at London by W. White,’ 1600, 8vo (three copies in Bodl. one in Brit. Mus.); burnt by order of the Stationers' Company on 26 Oct. 1600. It was very soon reprinted—before 1603, according to Heber—as ‘Humors Ordinarie, where a Man may be verie Merrie and exceeding well used for his Sixepence’ (for William Ferebrand), n.d. (Britwell); and again in 1607 under the same title by Edward Allde for Ferebrand (Brit. Mus. and Huth Coll.). William White, the original publisher, reissued it under its first title in 1611 and 1613, and Sir Walter Scott reprinted in 1814 the 1611 edition. Possibly the tract was suggested by William Goddard's satirical dialogue, which seems to have originally appeared in 1591 as ‘The Baiting of Diogenes.’ Middleton in his ‘Ant and Nightingale,’ 1604, says Rowlands borrowed his work from Nashe's papers, after Nashe's death. 3. ‘A Mery Metinge, or 'tis Mery when Knaves mete,’ licensed for publication on 2 Sept. 1600, was burnt by the Stationers' Company, and no copy of this edition is known. It was reissued as ‘The Knaue of Clubbs’ (London, for W. Fereband), 1609 (Huth Library), and again by E. Allde, 1611 (at Britwell). The last edition was reprinted by the Percy Society. A rough imitation, entitled ‘Roome for a Messe of Knaves,’ appeared in 1610 (COLLIER, Cat.). 4. ‘Greenes Ghost haunting Conie Catchers wherein is set downe the Arte of Humoring, the Arte of carrying Stones … with the Conceits of Dr. Pinchbacke, a notable Makeshift,’ London, for R. Jackson and J. North, 1602 (Brit. Mus. and Huth Library); licensed 3 Sept. 1602. According to a common device, Rowlands pretends to edit this prose tract from Greene's papers. An edition of 1626 (Brit. Mus. and Britwell) was reprinted privately, by J. O. Halliwell, in an edition limited to twenty-six copies, in 1860. 5. ‘'Tis Merrie when Gossips meete. At London, printed by W. W. and are to be sold by George Loftus at the Golden Ball in Popes-head Alley,’ 1602, 4to (Britwell; the only copy known, formerly Heber's). This, the first edition, alone has a prefatory ‘conference between a gentleman and a prentice’ about buying a book, with incidental remarks on the popularity of Greene's romances. It was licensed on 15 Sept. 1602. The design was perhaps suggested by Sir John Davies's ‘Debate between a Wife, Widow, and Maid’ in the ‘Poetical Rhapsody,’ 1602. Other editions appeared in 1605, in 1609 (for John Deane), and in 1619 (Rowfant), when the title ran ‘Well met Gossip: Or, 'Tis Merrie when Gossips meete … newly enlarged for the Divers Merrie Songs’ (London, by J. W. for John Deane); these songs are doubtless by Rowlands. This edition was reissued in 1656. A reprint of the first was published at the Chiswick Press, 1818 (cf. Manningham, Diary, Camd. Soc., p. 61). 6. ‘Aue Cæsar. God saue the King … With an Epitaph vpon the death of her Maiestie our late Queene, London, for W. F[erbrand] and G. L[oftus],’ 1603: a tract in verse, signed S. R., reprinted from the copy in the Huth Library, in Huth's ‘Fugitive Poetical Tracts,’ second series, 1875, and as an appendix to the Hunterian Club's edition of Rowlands's ‘Works,’ 1886. Other copies are at Britwell and in the Malone Collection in the Bodleian. 7. ‘Looke to it; for Ile stabbe ye. Imprinted at London by E. Allde for W. Ferbrand and George Loftus,’ 1604, 4to (Bodl., Ellesmere Library); licensed 19 Nov. 1603. A copy at Britwell bears the imprint ‘W. W. for W. Ferbrand, and are to be sold by W. F. and G. L. in Popes-head Allie,’ 1604. Death describes the classes of men whom he designs to slay, such as tyrant kings, wicked magistrates, and thirty-six other types. 8. ‘Hell's Broke Loose; London, by W. W., and are to be sold by G. Loftus,’ 1605; licensed 29 Jan. 1604–5 (Huth and Britwell): it is an account of the life of John of Leyden. 9. ‘A terrible Batell betwene the Two Consumers of the whole World, Time and Death. By Samuell Rowlands. Printed at London for John Deane, and are to be sold at his Shop at Temple Barre,’ 4to, 1606 (Bodl. title cropped); licensed 16 Sept. 1606, dedicated to George Gaywood. 10. ‘Diogines Lanthorne.
[In] Athens I seeke for honest men;
But I shal finde thē God knows when.
Ile search the Citie, where if I can see
One honest man, he shal goe with me’
(with woodcut), London, printed for Thomas Archer, 1607 (Bodl. and Britwell); licensed 15 Dec. 1606. The piece is in both prose and verse. Athens is of course London, as in Lodge's tract, ‘Catharos Diogenes in his Singularity,’ 1591. Later editions are dated in 1608, 1617, 1628, 1631, and 1634. There were ten in all, up to 1659. 11. ‘The Famous History of Guy, Earle of Warwicke; London, by Elizabeth Allde,’ 1607; dedicated in prose to Philip Herbert, earl of Montgomery, and in verse to the ‘noble English nation,’ in twelve cantos with rough woodcuts by E. B. No copy of this edition is known. Another edition by Edward Allde, at Rowfant, has a mutilated titlepage and the date destroyed; the license for publication—of this edition apparently—is dated 23 June 1608. Reprints are numerous. A mutilated one of 1632 is in the British Museum; one of 1649 is in the Bodleian; others are dated 1654, 1667, 1679, and 1682. The copy of the last, in the British Museum, has a facsimile of the title-page of the 1607 edition inserted, with the result that it has been mistaken for the original edition. The tract is hastily and carelessly written, closely following the old romance first printed by William Copland. 12. ‘Democritus, or Doctor Merryman his Medicines against Melancholy humors. Written by S. R. Printed for John Deane,’ 1607, 4to (Rowfant, only copy known); entered on the ‘Stationers' Registers’ 24 Oct. 1607; reissued, with the omission of five preliminary pages, as ‘Dr. Merrie Man, or nothing but Mirth. Written by S. R.; London, printed by John Deane,’ 1609. It is a collection of humorous pieces in verse; reprinted in 1616, 1618, 1623, 1631, 1637, 1681. An edition for twopence was sold by J. Blare on London Bridge. 13. ‘Humors Looking Glasse. London. Imprinted by Ed. Allde for William Ferebrand,’ 1608, 4to (Bodl., Britwell, and Edinburgh University Library); dedicated to ‘his verie loving friend, Master George Lee.’ It is reprinted in J. P. Collier's ‘Miscellaneous Tracts,’ yellow ser. No. 10. 14. ‘A Whole Crew of Kind Gossips, all met to be Merry’ (London, for John Deane, 1609, 4to) (Bodl.). The edition of 1613, ‘newly enlarged,’ with somewhat longer title, was again issued in 1663; both are at Britwell. It supplies complaints in verse of six husbands and six wives, with some prose stories appended. It is possibly identical with ‘Sixe London Gossips’ of 1607, a work mentioned as by Rowlands in the ‘Harleian Catalogue,’ but not otherwise known. 15. ‘Martin Mark-all, Beadle of Bridewell; His Defence and Answere to the Belman of London. Discouering the long-concealed Originall and Regiment of Rogues. By S. R., London, for John Budge and Richard Bonian,’ 1610. An interesting account in prose of the habits, tricks, and language of thieves, correcting Dekker's account in his ‘Bellman of London,’ 1608, and partly illustrating Dekker's plagiarisms from a ‘Caueat or Warening for Commen Cursetors’ (1568), by Thomas Harman [q. v.] Rowlands claims that his vocabulary of thieves' slang is completer than that in any earlier work. His book was licensed for the press 31 March 1600; six copies are known; two are in the British Museum, and one each is respectively in the Bodleian, at Britwell, and Rowfant. 16. ‘The Knaue of Harts. Haile Fellow, well met:’ London, printed for T. S., and sold by John Loftus, 1612 (Bodl. and Britwell); licensed 31 Aug. 1614; reprinted for John Back, 1613 (Brit. Mus.). 17. ‘More Knaves Yet? The Knaves of Spades and Diamonds; London, printed for John Toye, dwelling at Saint Magnus,’ 1613, with woodcut (Bodl., only copy known), licensed 27 Oct. 1613. 18. ‘Sir Thomas Overbury; or the Poysoned Knights Complaint; London, for John White,’ 1614, broadside, with large woodcut (London Society of Antiquaries Library). 19. ‘A Fooles Bolt is soone shott,’ London, for George Loftus, 1614 (Trinity College, Cambridge); licensed 4 May 1614. 20. ‘The Melancholie Knight, by S. R., London, printed by R. B., and are to be sold by John Loftus,’ 1615, with woodcut (Bodl.); entered on ‘Stationers' Registers,’ 2 Dec. 1615: a description of ‘discontented Timon,’ including some sonnets and verses, entitled ‘Melancholy Conceits,’ and a travesty of the old ballad of ‘Sir Eglamour.’ 21. ‘A Sacred Memorie of the Miracles wrought by … Iesus Christ; London, by Bernard Alsop,’ 1618, with several woodcuts (Huth Library, Britwell, British Museum, and Bodl.); licensed 16 April 1618. 22. ‘The Night-Rauen. By S. R.
All those whose deeds doe shun the Light
Are my companions in the Night.
London, printed by G. Eld for Iohn Deane and Thomas Baily,’ 1620, 4to, with woodcut (Bodl., Brit. Mus., Britwell, and Ellesmere Library); licensed 18 Sept. 1619: descriptions of nocturnal scenes and characters observed in London. 23. ‘A paire of Spy-Knaues,’ 4to; licensed for publication on 6 Dec. 1619 as the work of Rowlands: a sequel to the tracts on knaves; only a fragment formerly belonging to J. P. Collier, and now at Rowfant, is known to be extant. The sketches of character include a lively account of ‘A Roaring Boy.’ When the copyright was reassigned in the ‘Stationers' Register,’ on 7 Feb. 1622–3 (cf. Arber, Transcript, iv. 91), the author's name was given as ‘Samuel Rowley.’ 24. ‘Good Newes and Bad Newes. By S. R.,’ London, printed for Henry Bell, &c., 1622, 4to (two copies in Bodl.; one each in Ellesmere Library and Rowfant), with woodcut: a jest-book in verse, partly repeating ‘Humors Looking Glass’ (No. 13 above), especially the descriptions of the sights of London. J. P. Collier reprinted it in ‘Miscellaneous Tracts,’ yellow series. 25. ‘Heaven's Glory. Seeke it. Eart's Vanitie. Flye it. Hell's Horrour. Fere it; London, for Michaell Sparke,’ 1628, with well-engraved titlepage; licensed for the press 10 Jan. 1627–8: ‘Samuell Rowland’ signs a pious address to the reader. The book is mainly in prose, but there are four pieces in verse, of which one, ‘A Sigh,’ resembles the opening of Milton's ‘Il Penseroso.’ A curious plate at p. 112 portrays on one side of the leaf Adam and Eve in the flesh, and at the back their skeletons. Separate titlepages introduce ‘godly prayers necessary and useful for Christian families,’ and ‘the common cals, cryes, and sonuds [sic] of the bellman, or diuers verses to put vs in minde of our mortalitie’ (Bodleian Library). The third edition was published in 1639 (Brit. Mus.), and the work was reissued as ‘Time well Improved’ in 1657.
Among modern reprints may be noticed the Percy Society's collections of the three ‘Knave’ tracts (3, 16, and 17), under the title of ‘Four Knaves,’ in 1843; and the issue from the Beldornie press by E. V. Utterson between 1840 and 1844, in editions limited to sixteen copies each, of the seven books numbered above, 3, 7, 16, 17, 20, 22, and 24. The only complete reprint of Rowlands's works is that published by the Hunterian Club of Glasgow between 1872 and 1880, with an appendix of 1886 supplying No. 6. A general introduction by Mr. Edmund Gosse is prefixed.[Mr. Gosse's introduction to the reprint of Rowlands's Works by the Hunterian Club of Glasgow is reprinted in his Seventeenth-Century Studies (1883). See also Collier's Bibliographical Catalogue; Hunter's manuscript Chorus Vatum in Brit. Mus. Addit. MS. 24487, ff. 338 seq.; Introduction by E. F. Rimbault to the Percy Society's edition of Rowlands's Four Knaves, 1843; Ritson's Bibliographia Poetica; Bibliotheca Heberiana. Much bibliographical information has been kindly given by R. E. Graves, esq., of the British Museum.]