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Thomas Lodge- The End of the Pamphlet War

Updated: Aug 14, 2021

The End of the Pamphlet War:

Lodge tired of the literary controversy that had gotten out of control; moreover, no future as a writer could develop from an endless, profitless quarrel. He finally ended it in a dignified manner in the preface to his new work, a little volume published in 1584 as An Alarum Against Usurers also contained the History of Forbonius and Prisceria and a long poem, Truth’s Complaint Over England.

He wrote Alarum while he was in London. It is the nearest thing to a sermon Lodge ever wrote. This work is a record of his bitter experiences in the form of an elaborate warning to young men to stay out of the clutches of unscrupulous merchant-usurers. It is a humble, dignified confession. This was intended primarily for Old Sir Thomas and Sir William Cordell. Lodge was however more successful in the prefatory epistle with his termination of the quarrel with Gosson. It was dedicated first of all to Sir Philip Sidney with permission. The epistle shows us a sober, much less glib young man. The fight got to an end. This pamphlet war was then directed by others leading to the closing of the theaters in 1642.

Lodge hoped that the Forbonius and Prisceria would reach an appreciative audience. He dedicated the work, as Lyly did in the Euphues, to the “ladies and gentlewomen” he hoped they would read the romance. He had no luck; Forbonius and Prisceria were plot line printed once in 1584, and its first reprint in 1853 was by a male scholar, David Laing, for a largely male audience. The important step includes, in summation, a more direct plotline than earlier attempts, a tempering of euphuistic style, and the inclusion of poetry with prose in the development of the story.

The Complaint is morally redolent of the Medieval Pires Plowman. The moral content was doubtless Lodge’s attempt to restore his reputation. It was the third contribution to the Alarum volume. The first long poem by him which is highly Medieval is reminiscent of the Mirror of Magistrates poetry, and especially of Thomas Sackville’s “Induction”, whose rime royal stanza it imitates. Lodge may have also developed his style from works such as John Skelton’s Bowge of Court. The complaint, a general term, applies to any poem in which the poet mourns his fate. In this poem, the personification Truth mourns the fate of England; Chaucer, Sir Thomas Wyatt, Skelton, and others preceded Lodge in criticizing the erratic behavior of princes, courts, lawyers, and merchants. The goddess Truth pours out her sorrow to the poet. She longs for the old-time where all Englishmen were Nobel, an age now tarnished; but she is not ready to abandon all. She finally departs the Island; she wishes to remain but is banished by the inhabitants. The subject and form are quite different from the “Aeglog” of Forbonius and Prisceria.


Thomas Lodge- Rae, Wesley D., author

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