George Chapman

English dramatist, poet, and translator
George Chapman

George Chapman (c. 1559May 12, 1634) was an English dramatist, translator and poet.



  • Poetry, unlike oratory, should not aim at clarity... but be dense with meaning, 'something to be chewed and digested'...
    • Preface to Ovid's Banquet of Sense (1595)
  • Obscuritie in affection of words, & indigested concets, is pedanticall and childish...
    • Preface to Ovid's Banquet of Sense (1595)
  • The lady of the light, the rosy-finger'd Morn,
    Rose from the hills.
    • The Iliads of Homer, Prince of Poets (1611), Book I, line 460, p. 11
  • As when about the silver moon, when air is free from wind,
    And stars shine clear; to whose sweet beams, high prospects, and the brows
    Of all steep hills and pinnacles, thrust up themselves for shows;
    And even the lowly valleys joy, to glitter in their sight,
    When the unmeasured firmament bursts to disclose her light,
    And all the signs in heaven are seen that glad the shepherd's heart.
    • The Iliads of Homer, Prince of Poets (1611), Book VIII, line 487, p. 115
  • Mourne not inevitable things; thy teares can spring no deeds
    To helpe thee, nor recall thy sonne: impacience ever breeds
    Ill upon ill, makes worst things worse.
    • The Iliads of Homer, Prince of Poets (1611), Book XXIV, line 494, p. 336
  • And for the authentical truth of either person or actions, who (worth the respecting) will expect it in a poem, whose subject is not truth, but things like truth? Poor envious souls they are that cavil at truth's want in these natural fictions; material instruction, elegant and sententious excitation to virtue, and deflection from her contrary, being the soul, limbs, and limits of an authentical tragedy.
  • Nor could the foole abstaine,
    But drunke as often.
    • Homer's Odysses (1614), Book IX, line 496.
  • None ever loved but at first sight they loved.
    • The Blind Beggar of Alexandria; reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919).
  • An ill weed grows apace.
    • An Humorous Day's Mirth; reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919).
  • Black is a pearl in a woman's eye.
    • An Humorous Day's Mirth; reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919).
  • Virtue is not malicious; wrong done her
    Is righted even when men grant they err.
    • Monsieur D'Olive, Act i, scene 1; reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919).
  • For one heat, all know, doth drive out another,
    One passion doth expel another still.
    • Monsieur D'Olive, Act v, scene 1; reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919).
  • Let no man value at a little price
    A virtuous woman's counsel; her wing'd spirit
    Is feather'd oftentimes with heavenly words.
    • The Gentleman Usher, Act iv, scene 1; reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919).
  • 'T is immortality to die aspiring,
    As if a man were taken quick to heaven.
    • Conspiracy of Charles, Duke of Byron, Act i, scene 1; reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919).
  • Give me a spirit that on this life's rough sea
    Loves t' have his sails fill'd with a lusty wind,
    Even till his sail-yards tremble, his masts crack,
    And his rapt ship run on her side so low
    That she drinks water, and her keel plows air.
    • Tragedy of Charles, Duke of Byron, Act iii, scene 1; reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919).
  • He is at no end of his actions blest
    Whose ends will make him greatest, and not best.
    • Tragedy of Charles, Duke of Byron, Act v, scene 1; reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919).
  • Words writ in waters.
    • Revenge for Honour, Act v, scene 2; reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919).
  • They 're only truly great who are truly good.
    • Revenge for Honour, Act v, scene 2; reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919).
  • As night the life-inclining stars best shows,
    So lives obscure the starriest souls disclose.
    • Epilogue to Translations; reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919).
  • Promise is most given when the least is said.
    • Musæus of Hero and Leander; reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919).

All Fools (1605)Edit

  • Exceeding fair she was not; and yet fair
    In that she never studied to be fairer
    Than Nature made her; beauty cost her nothing,
    Her virtues were so rare.
    • Act i, scene 1.
  • I tell thee Love is Nature's second sun,
    Causing a spring of virtues where he shines.
    • Act i, scene 1.
  • Cornelia. What flowers are these?
    Gazetta. The pansy this.
    Cor. Oh, that 's for lovers' thoughts.
    • Act ii, scene 1.
  • Fortune, the great commandress of the world,
    Hath divers ways to advance her followers:
    To some she gives honour without deserving,
    To other some, deserving without honour.
    • Act v, scene 1.
  • Young men think old men are fools; but old men know young men are fools.
    • Act v, scene 1.

Eastward Ho (1605)Edit

  • Keep thy shop, and thy shop will keep thee. Light gains make heavy purses. 'Tis good to be merry and wise.
    • Act i, scene 1.
  • Make ducks and drakes with shillings.
    • Act i, scene 1.
  • Only a few industrious Scots perhaps, who indeed are dispersed over the face of the whole earth. But as for them, there are no greater friends to Englishmen and England, when they are out on 't, in the world, than they are. And for my own part, I would a hundred thousand of them were there [Virginia]; for we are all one countrymen now, ye know, and we should find ten times more comfort of them there than we do here.
    • Act iii, scene 2.
  • Enough 's as good as a feast.
    • Act iii, scene 2.
  • Fair words never hurt the tongue.
    • Act iv, scene 1.
  • Let pride go afore, shame will follow after.
    • Act iv, scene 1.
  • I will neither yield to the song of the siren nor the voice of the hyena, the tears of the crocodile nor the howling of the wolf.
    • Act v, scene 1.

Bussy D'Ambois (1613)Edit

  • Man is a torch borne in the wind; a dream
    But of a shadow, summ'd with all his substance.
    • Act i, scene 1.
  • To put a girdle round about the world.
    • Act i, scene 1.
  • His deeds inimitable, like the sea
    That shuts still as it opes, and leaves no tracts
    Nor prints of precedent for poor men's facts.
    • Act i, scene 1.
  • So our lives
    In acts exemplary, not only win
    Ourselves good names, but doth to others give
    Matter for virtuous deeds, by which we live.
    • Act i, scene 1.
  • This was a sleight well mask'd. O, what is man,
    Unless he be a Politician?
    • Act i, scene 1.
  • Who to himself is law no law doth need,
    Offends no law, and is a king indeed.
    • Act ii, scene 1.
  • Each natural agent works but to this end,—
    To render that it works on like itself.
    • Act iii, scene 1.

The Shadow of Night - Hymnus in noctemEdit

  • Great Goddesse to whose throne in Cynthian fires,
    This earthlie Alter endlesse fumes expires,
    Therefore, in fumes of sighes and fires of griefe,
    To fearefull chances thou sendst bold reliefe,
    Happie, thrise happie, Type, and nurse of death,
    Who breathlesse, feedes on nothing but our breath,
    In whom must vertue and her issue liue,
    Or dye for euer.
    • Line 1.
  • Musicke, and moode, she loues, but loue she hates,
    (As curious Ladies do, their publique cates)
    This traine, with meteors, comets, lightenings,
    The dreadfull presence of our Empresse sings:
    Which grant for euer (ô eternall Night)
    Till vertue flourish in the light of light.
    • Line 398.


  • I am ashamed the law is such an ass.
    • Revenge for Honour (published posthumously, 1654), Act iii, scene 2. Although this was credited to Chapman, scholars have rejected the attribution; the play may have been written by Henry Glapthorne.

Quotes about ChapmanEdit

  • The translation of Homer, published by George Chapman, in the reign of queen Elizabeth and king James, is one of the greatest treasures the English language has to boast.
    • William Godwin, Lives of Edward and John Philips (1815), Chap. X, p. 242
  • Of all the English Play-writers, Chapman perhaps approaches nearest to Shakspeare in the descriptive and didactic, in passages which are less purely dramatic. Dramatic Imitation was not his talent. He could not go out of himself, as Shakspeare could shift at pleasure, to inform and animate other existences, but in himself he had an eye to perceive and a soul to embrace all forms. He would have made a great Epic Poet, if, indeed, he has not abundantly shown himself to be one; for his Homer is not so properly a Translation as the Stories of Achilles and Ulysses re-written. The earnestness and passion which he has put into every part of these poems would be incredible to a reader of mere modern translations. His almost Greek zeal for the honour of his heroes is only paralleled by that fierce spirit of Hebrew bigotry, with which Milton, as if personating one of the Zealots of the old law, clothed himself when he sate down to paint the acts of Samson against the Uncircumcised. The great obstacle to Chapman's Translations being read is their unconquerable quaintness. He pours out in the same breath the most just and natural and the most violent and forced expressions. He seems to grasp whatever words come first to hand during the impetus of inspiration, as if all other must be inadequate to the divine meaning. But passion (the all in all in Poetry) is everywhere present, raising the low, dignifying the mean, and putting sense into the absurd. He makes his readers glow, weep, tremble, take any affection which he pleases, be moved by words, or in spite of them, be disgusted and overcome their disgust. I have often thought that the vulgar misconception of Shakspeare, as of a wild irregular genius "in whom great faults are compensated by great beauties," would be really true applied to Chapman.
    • Charles Lamb, Specimens of English Dramatic Poets, who lived about the time of Shakspeare (1808), footnote on pp. 98–99

External linksEdit

Wikipedia has an article about:
Wikimedia Commons has media related to: