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How fares your Majesty ?
K. John Poison'd! ill fare! dead, forfook, cast off :
And none of you will bid the Winter come
To thrust his icy fingers in my maw ;
Nor let my kingdom's rivers take their course
Thro' my burnt bosom: nor entreat the North
To make his bleak winds kiss my parched-lips
And comfort me with cold. I do not as you muchy.

I beg cold comfort. . The firt and laft lines are to be ranged among the faults that so much disgrace Shakespear, which he committed to please the corrupt tale of the age he lived in: but to which Beaumont and Fletcher's learning and fortune made them fuperior. The intermediate lines are extremely beautiful, and marked as such by the late great editor [Mr. Pope) but yet are much improved in two plays of our Authors; the first in Valentinian, where the Emperor, poisoned in the same manner, dies, with more violence, fury and horror, than King Joho. But the passage that I shall quote is from A Wife for a Month ; a play which doch not upon the whole equal the poetic sublimity of Valentinian, though it rather excels it in the poisoning scene. · The Prince Alphonso, who had been long in a phrenzy of melancholy, is poison'd with a bot, fiery potion, under the agonies of which he raves :

Give me more air, more air, air :: blow, blow, blow,
Open, thou eastern gate! and blow.opon me:
Difil thy cold dews, oh, thoa icy mood,
And rivers run thro' my afflicted Spirit..
I am all fire, fire, fire; the raging Dog-ftar
Reigns in my blood ; oh! which way shall I turn me?
Ætna and all her flames burn in my head,
Fling me into the ocean, or I perilh.
Dig, dig, dig, dig, until the Springs Aly up-
The cold, cold springs, that I may leap into them
And bathe my scorch'd limbs in their purling pleasures:
Or shoot me into the higher region,
Where treasures of delicious snow are nourish'd,
And banquets of sweet hail.

Hold him faft, friar.
Oh! how he burps!

Alph. What, will ye facrifice me?
Upon the altar lay my willing body,
And pile your wood up, fling your holy incense:.
And as I turo me, you shall, see all flame,
Consuming flame. Stand off me, or you're alhes.t!


Mart. To bed, good Sir.....

My bed will burn about me
Like Phaeton, in all-consuming flashes •
Am liocloi'a: let me Ayy let me sy, give room ;
'Twixt the cold Bears, far from the raging Lion,
Lies my fafe way: oh, for a cake of ice now:
To clap into my heart to comfort me.
Decrepit Winter hang upon my shoulders

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And let me wear thy frozen icicles,
Like jewels round about my head, to cool me.
My eyes burn out, and sink into their sockets,
And my infected brain like brimstone boils.
I live in hell, and several furies vex me.
Oh! carry me where never sun e'er shew'd yet
A face of comfort, where the earth is chrystal
Never to be diffolved, where nought inhabits
But night, and cold, and nipping froits and winds,
That cut the stubborn rocks, and make them shiver;

Set me there, friends. • Every man of taste will see how fuperior this is to the quotation from Shakespear. The images are vafly more numerous, more judicious, more nervous, and the paffions are wrought up to the highest pitch.'

The images, indeed, are, as this critic observes, vaftly more numerous ; and on that very account the whole description becomes, in our estimation, life judicious and less nervous. Fletcher, or whoever was the writer, discovers an exuberant fertility of invention. But in the prodigality of metaphors, allusions and images, the description Joses much of the beautiful simplicity of nature, and looks too much like the gaudy piąure of art. Ice-water, and cold air, easily suggest themselves to a person who (to use Seward's words) hash been • poisoned with a hot, fiery potion. But the Dog-star, Mount Ætna, and the different regions of the atmosphere; Phaeton, the cold Bears, and the raging Lion (or the conftellations to which astronomy bath fancifully applied these terms); and above all, a fine, but artificial and highly metaphorical description of a country where fun ne'er Shew'd yet a face of comfort, is entirely inconlistent with that intoxication of agony and diftress under which Alphonfo is supposed to labour at the moment when these expreslions are uttered.

In the tragedy of Philater there is a beautiful description of rural melancholy :

I have a boy,
Sent by the Gods I hope to this intent,
Not yet seen in the court. Hanting the back,
I found him fitting by a fountain fide,
Of which he borrow'a fome to quench his thirst.
And paid the nymph again as much in tears,
A garland lay by him, made by himself
Of many several flowers, bred in the bay,
Stuck in that myftic order that the rarénefs
Delighted me: but ever when he turn'd
His tender eyes upon them, he would weep
As if he meant to make them grow again.
Seeing such pretty, helplefs innocence
Dwell in his face, I ak'd him all his story;
He told me that his parents gentle died,
Leaving him to the mercy of the fields
Which gave him roots, and of the chryftal" (prings
Which did not stop their courses; and the fun
Which still, he thank'd him, yielded him his light:
Then up he took his garland, and did thew...
What every flower, as country people hold,


Did Gigpify: and how all order'd chus
Exprełt bis grief: and to my thoughts did read
The prettiest le&ure of his country art
'That could be wish'd, so that methought

I could have studied it.' This paffage is compared with that well known description which is given in Shakespear of the melancholy Jacques,

as he lay along Under an oak,' &c. &c. and moralized in a train of the most exquifite sensibility on the fate of the hunted deer. Seward, indeed, gives the preference to Shake. spear in this instance, “just as he would give it to a Raphael when compared to a Guido.' A man pitying and lamenting over the misfortunes of a timorous and forlorn brute, thews a degree of tenderness and sensibility of spirit vaftly superior to that of a human creatyre melted only by the feelings of his own distresses. It touches the heart, and in. terests every gentle passion in a very high degree. The reflections which the pentive moralift makes, when he sees the poor animal • left and abandon'd of his velvet friends,' are beautiful and affecting.

• 'Tis right, quoth he ; thus misery, doth part
The flux of company! Anon, a careless herd,
Fall of the pasture, jumps along by him,
And never itays to greet him. Ay, quoth Jacques,
Sweep on, ye fat and greaty citizens,

'Tis just the falhion ! This is a natural, rural scene. That of Fletcher's is a scene of the same rural character: but it is a scene more artificially laid out: it is a scene in a picture heightened by a better disposition and arrangement of the objects; but lestened by a weaker and less interesting representation of the original.

It would extend this article beyond its proper length, if we entered into a particular examination of the most diilinguished characters in these plays. But we cannot avoid remarking, that in the King and ao King,' two characters are introduced (viz. Arbaces and Deflus), which have been by some critics exalted into a rivalhip, at least, with the Hotspur and Falilaff of Shakespear. We think that this drama is a most excellent one, and that the poets discovered great ingepuity in those two characters in particular. But Arbaces is not equal to Hotspur ; nor can Beffus rival Falstaff with any success. in the former character we perceive the same fault that generally marks the language of these plays. Beauties are heaped on beauties with a prodigality that (as one of his encomialls says, by way of compliment as he imagined) . furfeits with good things. Arbaces, instead of being a fiery and impatient hero, is a petulant, and on the whole rather a puerile than manly character. Hotspur, the Achilles of the English ftage, is fierce and violent-impatient of controul or contradiction-impiger, iracundus, inexorabilis, acer. But he is not ridiculously whirled about by every blalt of paflion. In short, by making Arbaces too violent and headftrong, the poets have divested him of all dignity, and destroyed those parts of Shakespear's character that make Hotspur respectable. The same fault is committed in Beffus. Falstaff is always laughable: but seldom despicable. He fets himself in the true point of ridicole; and being the firft to raise a laugh at his own expence, we are ready to forgive him the occasion of it. Beffus is a greater coward than Falfaff, and he is not poffeffed of such truly laughable qualities as are fufficient to compensate for his want of courage, and the absurdities and irregularities of his conduct. Theobald, who considered the character of Bessus as a fine copy from Shakespear's inimitable Falfaff,' very juftly observes, that as to bis wit and humour, the precedence 'mult certainly be adjudged to Falstaff, the great original.'


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The present edition is introduced by the original dedication of the players to the folio of 1647. That is fucceeded by Shirley's preface to the fame edition : and that by the stationer's address. Next follows the address of the booksellers who published another folio edition in 1679. The preface to the octavo edition 1711 is here reprinted, in which we have a short account of the Authors and their writings. Though Beaumont was the son of a judge, and Fletcher of a bishop, and both authors of diftinguished fame, yet all we know of them is so very inconsiderable, that scarce any memorials are left of them, except in their writings. Mr. Seward's preface to the edi. lion in octavo 1750 is in part reprinted. A long and impertinent criticism on fome fcriptural topics is very properly omitted : fome miftakes are rectified by the present Editor'; and a few of his observacions confirmed and illustrated. The commendatory poems, with notes and illustrations, follow Seward's preface; to wbich are added, some verses by • Fletcher upon an honest man's fortune,' and a poerical letter from Beaumont to Ben Jonson. After a general table of contents, we are presented with a new preface, and a curious extract from Mr. Capell's notes on Anthony and Cleopatra, relating to fome theatrical customs in Shakespear's age.

The new preface to this edition is evidently the produâion of a very ingenious writer, and bears some striking marks of Mr. Colman's pen. We thall, we are persuaded, gratify our Readers, by presenting them with one or two extracts from it.

• To the popularity of a dramatic writer, nothing more immediately contributes than the frequency of theatrical representation, Commons readers, like barren spectators, know little more of an author, than what the actor, not always his happiel commentator, presents to them. Mutilations of Shakespear have been recited and even quoted as his genuine text; and many of his dramas, not in the course of exhibition, are by the multitude not honoured with a perusal. On the ftage, indeed, our Authors formerly took the lead, Dryden having informed us, that in his day two of their plays were performed to one of Shakespear. The ftage, however, owes it attraction to the actor as well as author ; and if the able performer will not contribute to give a polish and brilliancy to the work, it will lie like the rough diamond, obscured and disregarded. The artists of former days worked the rich mine of Beaumont and Fletcher; and Bet. tercon, the Rofcius of his age, enriched his catalogue of characters from their dramas as well as those of Shakespear. Unfortunately for our Authors, the Roscius of our day confined his round of characters in old plays too closely to Shakespear. We may almost fay of him indeed in this respect, as Dryden fays of Shakespear's scenes of magic,

• Within

" Within that circle none durft walk but he." But surely we must lament; that those extraordinary power which have been so fuccessfully exerted in the illustration of Shakespear, and sometimes prostituted to the support of the meaneft writers, should not more frequently have been employed to throw a light on Beaumont and Fletcher. These illustrious followers of the glorious father of our drama, ought not surely to be caft so far behind him, as to fall into a contemptuous neglect, whilst the most careless works of Shakespear are studioully brought forward. The Maid's Tragedy, King and no King, Love's Pilgrimage, Monsieur Thomas, &c. &c. &c. would hardly

disgrace that itage which hath exhibited The two Gentlemen of Verona.'

With respect to the various editions of Beaumont and Fletcher, our ingenious Prefacer observes, that the old copies of their dra. matic works have come down to us exactly in the same tate with the old quarto's of Shakespear. The priprers of those times nog only copied, but 'mutilated the errors of transcribers. An editor, nay even a corrector of the press, seems to have been a character of which they had not the smallest conception. Even the title-pages appear to exhibit the very names of the authors at random: lometimes announcing the play as the work of one poet, sometimes of another, and sometimes as the joint production of both. A book feller is somewhere introduced as reprehending the saving ways of an Ode Writer, who, he supposed, merely to leugthen his work, would often put no more than three or four words into a line. The old printers seem to have conceived the same idea of the parfimony of poets, and therefore often without scruple run verse into prose, nos adverting to measure or harmony, but solely governed by the dimenfions of the page, whether divided into colomns or carried all across from one scanty margin to another. Their orthography is fo generally vicious and unsettled, and their punctuation fo totally defective, that the regulation of either rarely merits the triumphs that have been so often derived from it. On the whole, however, these old copies of our Poets may by an intelligent Reader be perufed with fatisfa&ion. The typographical errors are indeed gross and nume. sous; but their very number and grossness keeps the Reader awake to the genuine text, and commonly renders such palpable inaccura. cies not prejudicial. The genuine work of the Author is there extant, though the lines are often, like a confused mulcitude, huddled on one another, and not marshalled and arrayed by the discipline of a modern editor.

• The first folio, containing thirty-four of our Authors pieces, never till then collected or printed, was published by the players, obviously transcribed from the prompter's books, commonly the most inaccurate and barbarous of all manuscripts, or made out piecemeal from the detached parts copied for the use of the performers. Hence it happens, that the ftage direction has sometimes crept into the text, and the name of the actor is now and then subftituted for that of the character. The transcribers, knowing perhaps no language perfectly, corrupted all languages, and vitiated the dialogue with faire Latin, false French, false Italian, and false Spanilh ; nay,

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