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Barnabe Barnes (c. 1568 or 1569—1609), Englishmarker poet, fourth son of Dr Richard Barnes, bishop of Durhammarker, was born in Yorkshiremarker, perhaps at Stonegravemarker, a living of his father's, in 1568 or 1569. In 1586 he was entered at Brasenose College, Oxfordmarker, where Giovanni Florio was his servitor, and in 1591 went to Francemarker with the earl of Essex, who was then serving against the prince of Parmamarker. On his return he published Parthenophil and Parthenophe, Sonnettes, Madrigals, Elegies and Odes (ent. on Stationers' Register 1593), dedicated to his "dearest friend," William Percy, who contributed a sonnet to the eulogies prefixed to a later work, Offices. Parthenophil was possibly printed for private circulation, and the copy in the duke of Devonshire's library is believed to be unique.

Barnes is perhaps best remembered for an interest free loan he made to William Shakespeare's playing company, the Lord Chamberlain's Men, in the 1590s. This loan gave the company the capital necessary to rent theater space until their construction of the Globe Theatremarker in 1599. Scholars have suggested that Shakespeare immortalized his gratitude for this favor in Act I, scene iii of his play "All's Well That Ends Well," when he wrote the line, "for they say bairns are blessings."

Barnabe Barnes was well acquainted with the work of contemporary Frenchmarker sonneteers, to whom he is largely indebted, and he borrows his title, apparently, from a Neapolitanmarker writer of Latin verse, Hieronymus Angerianus. It is possible to outline a story from this series of love lyrics, but the incidents are slight, and in this case, as in other Elizabethan sonnet-cycles, it is difficult to dogmatize as to what is the expression of a real personal experience, and what is intellectual exercise in imitation of Petrarch. Parthenophil abounds in passages of great freshness and beauty, although its elaborate conceits are sometimes over-ingenious and strained. This is perhaps particularly true of the passage in which Parthenophil wishes to be transformed into the wine his mistress drinks, so that he might pass through her - a conceit which excited the derision of one hostile contemporary critic, Thomas Nashe, who noted: "Therein he was very ill-advised, for so the next time his mistress made water, he was in danger to be cast out of her favour."

Barnes took the part of Gabriel Harvey, who wanted to impose the Latin rules of quantity on English verse, and Barnes even experimented in classical metres himself. This partisanship is sufficient to account for the abuse of Nashe, who accused him, apparently on no proof at all, of stealing a nobleman's chain at Windsormarker, and of other things. It should not be forgotten however that Barnes had previously written a sonnet for Harvey's anti-Nashe pamphlet Pierces Supererogation (1593), in which he labelled Nashe a confidence trickster, a liar, a viper, a laughing stock and mere "worthless matter" who should be flattered that Harvey even deigned to insult him. Nashe, never slow to pick a fight, took due note: "But my young master Barnaby the Bright, and his kindness (before any desert at all of mine towards him might pluck him on or provoke it), I neither have nor will be unmindful of." He therefore responded in Have With You To Saffron-Walden (1596) with various observations on Barnes: he was a bad poet, he had dreadful dress sense (..."getting him a strange pair of Babylonian britches, with a codpiece as big as a Bolognian sausage...") and had been a coward on the field of battle during the wars in France. Nashe claimed, not entirely seriously, that Barnes had gone to the general to complain war was dangerous, highly illegal and he wanted to go home at once, and despite six burly captains offering to be his personal bodyguard "home he would, nothing would stay him, to finish Parthenophil and Parthenope and write in praise of Gabriel Harvey."

These charges may well be comic fabrications. It is however on record that Barnes was prosecuted in Star Chamber in 1598 for attempting to murder one John Browne, first by offering him a poisoned lemon and then by sweetening his wine with sugar laced with mercury sublimate. Browne fortunately survived the attack and Barnes fled prison before the case concluded. He was not pursued. It seems likely he attempted Browne's assassination at the behest of Lord Euer, warden of the middle marches, and political stringpulling protected him.

Barnes's second work, A Divine Centurie of Spirituall Sonnetts, appeared in 1595. He also wrote two plays:— The Devil's Charter (1607), a tragedy dealing with the life of Pope Alexander VI, which was played before the king; and The Battle of Evesham (or Hexham), of which the manuscript, traced to the beginning of the 18th century, is lost. In 1606 he dedicated to King James Offices enabling privat Persons for the special service of all good Princes and Policies, a prose treatise containing, among other things, descriptions of Queen Elizabeth and of the earl of Essex. Barnabe Barnes was buried at Durhammarker in December 1609.

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