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also desirous to bring together some of whole nunneries, invents infernal machines. the most admired scenes of Fletcher and He is just such an exhibition as a century or Massinger, in the estimation of the world two earlier might have been played before the only dramatic poets of that age entitled the Londoners "by the royal command," to be considered after Shakspeare, and, by when a general pillage and massacre of the exhibiting them in the same volume with Hebrews had been previously resolved on in the more impressive scenes of old Marlowe, the cabinet. It is curious to see a superHeywood, Tourneur, Webster, Ford, and stition wearing out. The idea of a Jew, others, to show what we had slighted, while which our pious ancestors contemplated with beyond all proportion we had been crying so much horror, has nothing in it now revoltup one or two favourite names. From the ing. We have tamed the claws of the beast, desultory criticisms which accompanied that and pared its nails, and now we take it to publication, I have selected a few which our arms, fondle it, write plays to flatter it; I thought would best stand by themselves, it is visited by princes, affects a taste, patronas requiring least immediate reference to ises the arts, and is the only liberal and the play or passage by which they were gentlemanlike thing in Christendom. suggested.

Doctor Faustus.-The growing horrors of Faustus's last scene are awfully marked by the hours and half hours as they expire, and bring him nearer and nearer to the exactment of his dire compact. It is indeed an agony and a fearful colluctation. Marlowe is said to have been tainted with atheistical positions, to have denied God and the Trinity. To such a genius the history of Faustus must have been delectable food: to wander in fields where curiosity is forbidden to go, to approach the dark gulf, near enough to look in, to be busied in speculations which are the rottenest part of the core of the fruit that fell from the tree of knowledge.* Barabas the Jew, and Faustus the conjuror, are offsprings of a mind which at least delighted to dally with interdicted subjects. They both talk a language which a believer would have been tender of putting into the mouth of a character though but in fiction. But the holiest minds have sometimes not thought it reprehensible to counterfeit impiety in the person of another, to bring Vice upon the stage speaking her own dialect; and, themselves being armed with an unction of selfconfident impunity, have not scrupled to handle and touch that familiarly which would be death to others. Milton, in the person of Satan, has started speculations hardier than any which the feeble armoury of the atheist ever furnished; and the precise, strait-laced Richardson has strengthened Vice, from the mouth of Lovelace, with


Lust's Dominion, or the Lascivious Queen. -This tragedy is in King Cambyses' vein; rape, and murder, and superlatives; "huffing braggart puft lines," such as the play-writers anterior to Shakspeare are full of, and Pistol but coldly imitates.

Tamburlaine the Great, or the Scythian Shepherd. The lunes of Tamburlaine are perfect midsummer madness. Nebuchadnezzar's are mere modest pretensions compared with the thundering vaunts of this Scythian Shepherd. He comes in drawn by conquered kings, and reproaches these pampered jades of Asia that they can draw but twenty miles a day. Till I saw this passage with my own eyes, I never believed that it was anything more than a pleasant burlesque of mine Ancient's. But I can assure my readers that it is soberly set down in a play, which their ancestors took to be serious.

Edward the Second.-In a very different style from mighty Tamburlaine is the Tragedy of Edward the Second. The reluctant pangs of abdicating royalty in Edward furnished hints, which Shakspeare scarcely improved in his Richard the Second; and the deathscene of Marlowe's king moves pity and terror beyond any scene ancient or modern with which I am acquainted.

The Rich Jew of Malta.-Marlowe's Jew does not approach so near to Shakspeare's, as his Edward the Second does to Richard the Second. Barabas is a mere monster brought in with a large painted nose to please the rabble. He kills in sport, poisons

• Error, entering into the world with Sin among us

poor Adamites, may be said to spring from the tree of

knowledge itself, and from the rotten kernels of that fatal apple.-Howell's Letters.

against her adversary Virtue, which Sedley, Villiers, and Rochester wanted depth of libertinism enough to have invented.

entangling sophistries and abstruse pleas expose the enormity of those appetites in other men. When Cervantes, with such proficiency of fondness dwells upon the Don's library, who sees not that he has been a great reader of books of knight-errantry— perhaps was at some time of his life in danger of falling into those very extravagances ! which he ridiculed so happily in his hero!


Old Fortunatus.-The humour of a frantic lover in the scene where Orleans to his friend Galloway defends the passion with. which himself, being a prisoner in the English king's court, is enamoured to frenzy of the king's daughter Agripyna, is done to the life. Orleans is as passionate an innamorato as any which Shakspeare ever drew. He is just such another adept in Love's reasons. The sober people of the world are with him,


Antonio and Mellida.-The situation of Andrugio and Lucio, in the first part of this tragedy,-where Andrugio, Duke of Genoa, banished his country, with the loss of a son supposed drowned, is cast upon the territory of his mortal enemy the Duke of Venice, with no attendants but Lucio an old nobleman, and a page-resembles that of Lear and Kent, in that king's distresses. Andrugio, like Lear, manifests a king-like impatience, a turbulent greatness, an affected


He talks "pure Biron and Romeo;" he is almost as poetical as they, quite as philosophical, only a little madder. After all, resignation. The enemies which he enters Love's sectaries are a reason unto them- lists to combat, "Despair and mighty Grief selves. We have gone retrograde to the and sharp Impatience," and the forces which noble heresy, since the days when Sidney he brings to vanquish them, cornets of proselyted our nation to this mixed health horse," &c., are in the boldest style of allegory. and disease: the kindliest symptom, yet the They are such a "race of mourners" as the most alarming crisis, in the ticklish state of, "infection of sorrows loud" in the intellect youth; the nourisher and the destroyer of might beget on some pregnant cloud” in hopeful wits; the mother of twin births, the imagination. The prologue to the second wisdom and folly, valour and weakness; the part, for its passionate earnestness, and for servitude above freedom; the gentle mind's the tragic note of preparation which it religion; the liberal superstition. sounds, might have preceded one of those old tales of Thebes or Pelops' line, which Milton ! has so highly commended, as free from the common error of the poets in his day, of "intermixing comic stuff with tragic sadness and gravity, brought in without discretion corruptly to gratify the people." It is as solemn a preparative as the "warning voice which he who saw the Apocalypse heard cry."

The Honest Whore.-There is in the second part of this play, where Bellafront, a reclaimed harlot, recounts some of the miseries of her profession, a simple picture of honour and shame, contrasted without violence, and expressed without immodesty; which is worth all the strong lines against the harlot's profession, with which both parts of this play are offensively crowded. A satirist is always to be suspected, who, to make vice odious, dwells upon all its acts and minutest circumstances with a sort of relish and retrospective fondness. But so near are the boundaries of panegyric and invective, that a worn-out sinner is sometimes found to make the best declaimer against sin. The same high-seasoned descriptions, which in his unregenerate state served but to inflame his appetites, in his new province of a moralist will serve him, a little turned, to

"A swarm of fools Crowding together to be counted wise."

What You Will.-0 I shall ne'er forget how he went cloath'd. Act I. Scene 1.-To judge of the liberality of these notions of dress, we must advert to the days of Gresham, and the consternation which a phenomenon habited like the merchant here described would have excited among the flat round caps and cloth stockings upon 'Change, when those "original arguments or tokens of a citizen's vocation were in fashion, not more for thrift and usefulness than for distinction

and grace." The blank uniformity to which of what we see in life. Shakspeare makes all professional distinctions in apparel have us believe, while we are among his lovely been long hastening, is one instance of the creations, that they are nothing but what we decay of symbols among us, which whether are familiar with, as in dreams new things it has contributed or not to make us a more seem old; but we awake, and sigh for the intellectual, has certainly made us a less difference. imaginative people. Shakspeare knew the force of signs: a “malignant and a turbaned Turk." This 66 meal-cap miller," says the author of God's Revenge against Murder, to express his indignation at an atrocious outrage committed by the miller Pierot upon the person of the fair Marieta.


The Merry Devil of Edmonton.-The scene in this delightful comedy, in which Jerningham, "with the true feeling of a zealous friend," touches the griefs of Mounchensey, seems written to make the reader happy. Few of our dramatists or novelists have attended enough to this. They torture and wound us abundantly. They are economists only in delight. Nothing can be finer, more gentlemanlike, and nobler, than the conversation and compliments of these young men. How delicious is Raymond Mounchensey's forgetting, in his fears, that Jerningham has a "Saint in Essex;" and how sweetly his friend reminds him! I wish it could be ascertained, which there is some grounds for believing, that Michael Drayton was the author of this piece. It would add a worthy appendage to the renown of that Panegyrist of my native Earth; who has gone over her soil, in his Polyolbion, with the fidelity of a herald, and the painful love of a son; who has not left a rivulet, so narrow that it may be stepped over, without honourable mention; and has animated hills and streams with life and passion beyond the dreams of old mythology.


A Woman Killed with Kindness.-Heywood is a sort of prose Shakspeare. His scenes are to the full as natural and affecting. But we miss the poet, that which in Shakspeare always appears out and above the surface of the nature. Heywood's characters, in this play, for instance, his country gentlemen, &c. are exactly what we see, but of the best kind

The English Traveller.-Heywood's preface to this play is interesting, as it shows the heroic indifference about the opinion of posterity, which some of these great writers seem to have felt. There is a magnanimity in authorship, as in everything else. His ambition seems to have been confined to the pleasure of hearing the players speak his lines while he lived. It does not appear that he ever contemplated the possibility of being read by after ages. What a slender pittance of fame was motive sufficient to the production of such plays as the English Traveller, the Challenge for Beauty, and the Woman Killed with Kindness! Posterity is bound to take care that a writer loses nothing by such a noble modesty.


A Fair Quarrel.-The insipid levelling | morality to which the modern stage is tied down, would not admit of such admirable passions as these scenes are filled with. A puritanical obtuseness of sentiment, a stupid infantile goodness, is creeping among us, instead of the vigorous passions, and virtues clad in flesh and blood, with which the old dramatists present us. Those noble and liberal casuists could discern in the differences, the quarrels, the animosities of men, a beauty and truth of moral feeling, no less than in the everlastingly inculcated duties of forgiveness and atonement. With us, all is hypocritical meckness. A reconciliation scene, be the occasion never so absurd, never fails of applause. Our audiences come to the theatre to be complimented on their goodness. They compare notes with the amiable characters in the play, and find a wonderful sympathy of disposition between them. We have a common stock of dramatic morality, out of which a writer may be supplied without the trouble of copying it from originals within his own breast. To know the boundaries of honour, to be judiciously valiant, to have a temperance which shall beget a smoothness in the angry swellings of


is supposed to have preceded it, this coincidence will not detract much from the originality of Shakspeare. His witches are distinguished from the witches of Middleton by essential differences. These are creatures to whom man or woman, plotting some dire mis

youth, to esteem life as nothing when the sacred reputation of a parent is to be defended, yet to shake and tremble under a pious cowardice when that ark of an honest confidence is found to be frail and tottering, to feel the true blows of a real disgrace blunting that sword which the imaginary chief, might resort for occasional consultastrokes of a supposed false imputation had tion. Those originate deeds of blood, and put so keen an edge upon but lately; to do, begin bad impulses to men. From the moment or to imagine this done, in a feigned story, that their eyes first meet with Macbeth's, he asks something more of a moral sense, some- is spell-bound. That meeting sways his what a greater delicacy of perception in destiny. He can never break the fascinaquestions of right and wrong, than goes to tion. These witches can hurt the body; the writing of two or three hacknied sentences those have power over the soul. Hecate in about the laws of honour as opposed to the Middleton has a son, a low buffoon: the hags laws of the land, or a commonplace against of Shakspeare have neither child of their duelling. Yet such things would stand a own, nor seem to be descended from any writer now-a-days in far better stead than parent. They are foul anomalies, of whom Captain Agar and his conscientious honour; we know not whence they are sprung, nor and he would be considered as a far better whether they have beginning or ending. teacher of morality than old Rowley or As they are without human passions, so they Middleton, if they were living. seem to be without human relations. They come with thunder and lightning, and vanish to airy music. This is all we know of them. Except Hecate, they have no names; which heightens their mysteriousness. The names, and some of the properties which the other author has given to his hags, excite smiles. The Weird Sisters are serious things. Their presence cannot co-exist with mirth. But in a lesser degree, the witches of Middleton are fine creations. Their power, too, is, in some measure, over the mind. They raise jars, jealousies, strifes, "like a thick scurf" over life.


A New Wonder; a Woman never Vext.The old play-writers are distinguished by an honest boldness of exhibition,-they show everything without being ashamed. If a reverse in fortune is to be exhibited, they fairly bring us to the prison-grate and the alms-basket. A poor man on our stage is always a gentleman; he may be known by a peculiar neatness of apparel, and by wearing black. Our delicacy, in fact, forbids the dramatising of distress at all. It is never shown in its essential properties; it appears but as the adjunct of some virtue, as something which is to be relieved, from the approbation of which relief the spectators are to derive a certain soothing of self-referred satisfaction. We turn away from the real essences of things to hunt after their relative shadows, moral duties; whereas, if the truth of things were fairly represented, the relative duties might be safely trusted to themselves, and moral philosophy lose the name of a science.


The Witch of Edmonton.--Mother Sawyer, in this wild play, differs from the hags of both Middleton and Shakspeare. She is the plain, traditional, old-woman witch of our ancestors; poor, deformed, and ignorant; the terror of villages, herself amenable to a justice. That should be a hardy sheriff, with the power of the county at his heels, that would lay hands on the Weird Sisters. They are of another jurisdiction. But upon the common and received opinion, the author (or authors) have engrafted strong fancy.


The Witch.-Though some resemblance There is something frightfully earnest in her may be traced between the charms in Mac-invocations to the Familiar. beth and the incantations in this play, which |

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The Revenger's Tragedy.-The reality and life of the dialogue, in which Vindici and Hippolito first tempt their mother, and then threaten her with death for consenting to the dishonour of their sister, passes any scenical illusion I ever felt. I never read it but my ears tingle, and I feel a hot blush overspread my cheeks, as if I were presently about to proclaim such malefactions of myself, as the brothers here rebuke in their unnatural parent, in words more keen and dagger-like than those which Hamlet speaks to his mother. Such power has the passion of shame truly personated, not only to strike guilty creatures unto the soul, but to "appal" even those that are "free."

innocence-resembling boldness, that we seem to see that matchless beauty of her face which inspires such gay confidence into her, and are ready to expect, when she has done her pleadings, that her very judges, her accusers, the grave ambassadors who sit as spectators, and all the court, will rise and make proffer to defend her, in spite of the utmost conviction of her guilt; as the Shepherds in Don Quixote make proffer to follow the beautiful Shepherdess Marcela," without making any profit of her manifest resolution made there in their hearing."

"So sweet and lovely does she make the shame, Which, like a canker in the fragrant rose, Does spot the beauty of her budding name!"

I never saw anything like the funeral dirge in this play for the death of Marcello, except the ditty which reminds Ferdinand of his drowned father in the Tempest. As that is of the water, watery; so this is of the earth, earthy. Both have that intenseness of feeling, which seems to resolve itself into the element which it contemplates.

In a note on the Spanish Tragedy in the Specimens, I have said that there is nothing in the undoubted plays of Jonson which would authorise us to suppose that he could have supplied the additions to Hieronymo. I suspected the agency of some more potent spirit. I thought that Webster might have furnished them. They seemed full of that wild, solemn, preternatural cast of grief which bewilders us in the Duchess of Malfy. On second consideration, I think this a hasty criticism. They are more like the overflowing griefs and talking distraction of Titus Andronicus. The sorrows of the Duchess set inward; if she talks, it is little more than soliloquy imitating conversation in a kind of bravery.


The Duchess of Malfy.-All the several parts of the dreadful apparatus with which the death of the Duchess is ushered in, the waxen images which counterfeit death, the wild masque of madmen, the tomb-maker, the bellman, the living person's dirge, the mortification by degrees,- are not more remote from the conceptions of ordinary vengeance, than the strange character of suffering which they seem to bring upon their victim is out of the imagination of ordinary poets. As they are not like inflictions of this life, so her language seems not of this world. She has lived among horrors till she is become "native and endowed unto that element." She speaks the dialect of despair; her tongue has a smatch of Tartarus and the souls in bale. To move a horror skilfully, to touch a soul to the quick, to lay upon fear as much as it can bear, to wean and weary a life till it is ready to drop, and then step in with mortal instruments to take its last forfeit this only a Webster can do. Inferior geniuses may horror's head horrors The Broken Heart.-I do not know where upon accumulate," but they cannot do this. They to find, in any play, a catastrophe so grand, mistake quantity for quality; they "terrify so solemn, and so surprising, as in this. This babes with painted devils;" but they know is indeed, according to Milton, to describe not how a soul is to be moved. Their terrors high passions and high actions. The forti want dignity, their affrightments are without tude of the Spartan boy, who let a beast decorum. gnaw out his bowels till he died, without



The White Devil, or Vittoria Corombona.-expressing a groan, is a faint bodily image of This White Devil of Italy sets off a bad cause this dilaceration of the spirit, and exenteraso speciously, and pleads with such an tion of the inmost mind, which Calantha,

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