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Rowlands, Samuel

ROWLANDS, SAMUEL (c. 1573-1630), English author of pamphlets in prose and verse, which reflect the follies and humours of the lower middle-class life of his time, seems to have had no contemporary literary reputation; but his work throws considerable light on the social London of his day. Among his works, which include some poems on sacred subjects, are: The Betraying of Christ (1598); The Letting of Humours Blood in the Head-vaine (epigrams and satires) and A Mery Meetinge, or 'tis Mery when Knaves mete (1600) the two latter being publicly burnt by order, but republished later under other names (Humors Ordinarie and The Knave of Clubbes)', Greenes Ghost haunting Conie-Catchers (1602), which he pretended to have edited from Greene's papers, but which is largely borrowed from his printed works; Tis Merrie when Gossips meete (1602), a dialogue between a Widow, a Wife, a Maid and a Vintner; Looke to it; for He stabbe ye (1604), in which Death describes the tyrants, careless divines and other evil-doers whom he will destroy; Hells broke loose (1605), an account of John of Leyden, and in the same year a Theatre of Divine Recreation (not extant), poems founded on the Old Testament; A Terrible Ballell betwene . . . Time and Death (1606); Democritus, or Doctor Merry-man his Medicines against Melancholy humors, reprinted, with alterations, as Doctor Merrie-man, and Diogenes Lanthorne (1607), in which " Athens " is London; The Famous History of Guy, Earl of Warwick (1607), a long romance in Rowlands's favourite six-lined stanza, and one of his hastiest, least successful efforts; Humors Looking Glasse (1608); and Martin Mark-all, Beadle of Bridewell (1610), a history of roguery containing much information about notable highwaymen and the completest vocabulary of thieves' slang up to that time. Of his later works may be mentioned Sir Thomas Overbury; or the Poysoned Knights Complaint, and The Melancholie Knight (1615), which suggests a hearing of Beaumont and Fletcher's Knight of the Burning Pestle. The last of his humorous studies, Good Newes and Bad Newes, appeared in 1622, and in 1628 he published a pious volume of prose and verse, entitled Heavens Glory, Seeke it: Earts vanitie, Flye it: Hells Horror, Fere it. After this nothing is known of him. Mr Gosse, in his introduction to Rowlands's complete works, edited (1872-80) for the Hunterian Club in Glasgow by Mr S. J. H. Herrtage, sums him up as a " kind of small non-political Defoe, a pamphleteer in verse whose talents were never put into exercise except when their possessor was pressed for means, and a poet of considerable talent without one spark or glimmer of genius."

Mr Gosse's notice is reprinted in his Seventeenth Century Studies (1883). A recently discovered poem by Rowlands, The Bride (1617), was reprinted at Boston, U.S.A., in 1905 by Mr A. C. Potter.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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