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CHRISTOPHER MARLOWE.

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 Lust's Dominion, or the Lascivious Queen. bring him nearer and nearer to the exact-This tragedy is in King Cambyses' vein ; ment of his dire compact. It is indeed an rape, and murder, and superlatives; “huffing agony and a fearful colluctation. Marlowe braggart puft lines,” such as the play-writers is said to have been tainted with atheistical anterior to Shakspeare are full of, and Pistol positions, to have denied God and the Trinity. but coldly imitates.

To such a genius the history of Faustus must Tamburlaine the Great, or the Scythian have been delectable food : to wander in Shepherd.—The lunes of Tamburlaine are fields where curiosity is forbidden to go, to perfect midsummer madness. Nebuchad. approach the dark gulf, near enough to look nezzar's are mere modest pretensions com- in, to be busied in speculations which are pared with the thundering vaunts of this the rottenest part of the core of the fruit that Scythian Shepherd. He comes in drawn by fell from the tree of knowledge. * Barabas conquered kings, and reproaches these pam- the Jew, and Faustus the conjuror, are offpered jades of Asia that they can draw but springs of a mind which at least delighted to twenty miles a day. Till I saw this passage dally with interdicted subjects. They both with my own eyes,

I never believed that it talk a language which a believer would have was anything more than a pleasant burlesque been tender of putting into the mouth of a of mine Ancient's. But I can assure my character though but in fiction. But the readers that it is soberly set down in a play, holiest minds have sometimes not thought it which their ancestors took to be serious. reprehensible to counterfeit impiety in the

Edward the Second.—In a very different person of another, to bring Vice upon the style from mighty Tamburlaine is the Tragedy stage speaking her own dialect ; and, themof Edward the Second. The reluctant pangs selves being armed with an unction of selfof abdicating royalty in Edward furnished confident impunity, have not scrupled to hints, which Shakspeare scarcely improved handle and touch that familiarly which in his Richard the Second ; and the death- would be death to others. Milton, in the scene of Marlowe's king moves pity and person of Satan, has started speculations terror beyond any scene ancient or modern hardier than any which the feeble armoury with which I am acquainted.

of the atheist ever furnished; and the precise, The Rich Jew of Malta.—Marlowe's Jew strait-laced Richardson has strengthened does not approach so near to Shakspeare's, Vice, from the mouth of Lovelace, with as his Eciward the Second does to Richard the Second. Barabas is a mere monster • Error, entering into the world with Sin among us brought in with a large painted nose to poor Adamites, may be said to spring from the tree of

knowledge itself, and from the rotten kernels of that please the rabble. He kills in sport, poisons fatal apple.--Howell's Letters,

JOHN MARSTOX.

A swarm of fools

а

entangling sophistries and abstruse pleas expose the enormity of those appetites in against her adversary Virtue, which Sedley, other men. When Cervantes, with such Villiers, and Rochester wanted depth of proficiency of fondness dwells upon the Don's libertinism enough to have invented. library, who sees not that he has been a

great reader of boo)

of knight-errantry,

perhaps was at some time of his life in danger THOMAS DECKER.

of falling into those very extravagances Old Fortunatus.—The humour of a frantic which he ridiculed so happily in his hero! 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 Antonio and Mellida.The situation of king's daughter Agripyna, is done to the life. Andrugio and Lucio, in the first part of this Orleans is as passionate an innamorato as tragedy,—where Andrugio, Duke of Genoa, any which Shakspeare ever drew. He is banished his country, with the loss of a son just such another adept in Love's reasons. supposed drowned, is cast upon the territory The sober people of the world are with him, of his mortal enemy the Duke of Venice,

with no attendants but Lucio an old nobleCrowding together to be counted wise."

man, and a page-resembles that of Lear

and Kent, in that king's distresses. AnHe talks “pure Biron and Romeo ;" he is drugio, like Lear, manifests a king-like almost as poetical as they, quite as philoso- impatience, a turbulent greatness, an affected phical, only a little madder. After all, resignation. The enemies which he enters Love's sectaries are 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 kopeful 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 The Honest Whore.—There is in the second tales of Thebes or Pelops' line, which Milton part of this play, where Bellafront, a re- has so highly commended, as free from the claimed harlot, recounts some of the miseries common error of the poets in his day, of of her profession, a simple picture of honour “intermixing comic stuff with tragic saliness and shame, contrasted without violence, and and gravity, brought in without discretion expressed without immodesty ; which is corruptly to gratify the people.” It is as worth all the strong lines against the harlot's solemn a preparative as the “ warning voice profession, with which both parts of this which he who saw the Apocalypse heard play are offensively crowded. A satirist is cry.” always to be suspected

, who

, to make vice What You Will.O I shall ne'er forget hon odious, dwells upon all its acts and minutest he went cloath'd. Act I. Scene 1.—To judge circumstances with a sort of relish and re- of the liberality of these notions of dress, we trospective fondness. But so near are the must advert to the days of Gresham, and boundaries of panegyric and invective, that the consternation which

& phenomenon a worn-out sinner is sometimes found to habited like the merchant here described make the best declaimer against sin. The would have excited among the flat round same high-seasoned descriptions, which in | caps and cloth stockings upon 'Change, when his unregenerate state served but to inflame those "original arguments or tokens of a his appetites, in his new province of a citizen's vocation were in fashion, not more moralist will serve him, a little turned, to for thrift and usefulness than for distinction

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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 å more seem old; but we awake, and sigh for the intellectual, has certainly made us a less difference. imaginative people. Shakspeare knew the The English Traveller.--Heywood's preface force of signs: a“ malignant and a turbaned to this play is interesting, as it shows the Turk.” This “meal-cap miller,” says the heroic indifference about the opinion of posauthor of God's Revenge against Murder, terity, which some of these great writers seem to express his indignation at an atrocious to have felt. There is a maguanimity in outrage committed by the miller Pierot upon authorship, as in everything else. His ambithe person of the fair Marieta.

tion 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 The Merry Devil of Edmonton. The scene read by after ages. What a slender pittance of in this delightful comedy, in which Jern- fame was motive sufficient to the production ingham,“ with the true feeling of a zealous of such plays as the English Traveller, the friend,” touches the griefs of Mounchensey, Challenge for Beauty, and the Woman Killed seems written to make the reader happy. with Kindness! Posterity is bound to take Few of our dramatists or novelists have care that a writer loses nothing by such a attended enough to this. They torture and noble modesty. wound us abundantly. They are economists only in delight. Nothing can be finer, more

TIIOMAS MIDDLETON AND WILLIAM ROWLEY. gentlemanlike, and nobler, than the conversation and compliments of these young men.

A Fair Quarrel.—The insipid levelling | How delicious is Raymond Mounchensey's morality to which the modern stage is tied forgetting, in his fears, that Jerningham has down, would not admit of such admirable a “Saint in Essex ;” and how sweetly his passions as these scenes are filled with. A friend reminds him! I wish it could be puritanical obtuseness of sentiment, a stupid ascertained, which there is some grounds for infantile goodness, is creeping among us, believing, that Michael Drayton was the instead of the vigorous passions, and virtues author of this piece. It would add a worthy clad in flesh and blood, with which the old appendage to the renown of that Panegyrist dramatists present us. Those noble and of my native Earth ; who has gone over her liberal casuists could discern in the difsoil, in his Polyolbion, with the fidelity of a ferences, the quarrels, the animosities of herald, and the painful love of a son ; who men, a beauty and truth of moral feeling, no has not left a rivulet, so narrow that it may less than in the everlastingly inculcated be stepped over, without honourable men- duties of forgiveness and atonement. With tion; and has animated hills and streams us, all is hypocritical meckness. A reconwith life and passion beyond the dreams of ciliation scene, be the occasion never so old mythology.

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 Woman Killed with Kindness.—Heywood a wonderful sympathy of disposition between is a sort of prose Shakspeare. His scenes are them. We have a common stock of dramatic to the full as natural and affecting. But we morality, out of which a writer may be supmiss the poet, that which in Shakspeare plied without the trouble of copying it from always appears out and above the surface of originals within his own breast. To know the nature. Heywood's characters, in this the boundaries of honour, to be judiciously play, for instance, his country gentlemen, &c. valiant, to have a temperance which shall are exactly what we see, but of the best kind beget a smoothness in the angry swellings of

THOMAS HEYWOOD.

M M

WILLIAM ROWLEY.

youth, to esteem life as nothing when the is supposed to have preceded it, this coincisacred reputation of a parent is to be de- dence will not detract much from the origifended, yet to shake and tremble under a nality of Shakspeare. His witches are dispious cowardice when that ark of an honest tinguished from the witches of Middleton by confidence is found to be frail and tottering, essential differences. These are creatures to to feel the true blows of a real disgrace whom man or woman, plotting some dire misblunting 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 A New Wonder; a Woman never Vext.— heightens their mysteriousness. The names, The old play-writers are distinguished by an 'and some of the properties which the other honest boldness of exhibition,—they show author has given to his hags, excite smiles. everything without being ashamed. If a The Weird Sisters are serious things. Their reverse in fortune is to be exhibited, they presence cannot co-exist with mirth. But fairly bring us to the prison-grate and the in a lesser degree, the witches of Middleton alms-basket. A poor man on our stage is are fine creations. Their power, too, is, in always a gentleman ; he may be known by a some measure, over the mind. They raise peculiar neatness of apparel, and by wearing jars, jealousies, strifes, “ like a thick scurf” black. Our delicacy, in fact, forbids the over life. dramatising of distress at all. It is never shown in its essential properties ; it appears but as the adjunct of some virtue, as some

WILLIAM ROWLEY,-THOMAS DECKER,

JOHN FORD, ETC. thing which is to be relieved, from the

approbation of which relief the spectators are to The Witch of Edmonton.- Mother Sawyer, derive a certain soothing of self-referred in this wild play, differs from the hags of satisfaction. We turn away from the real both Middleton and Shakspeare. She is the essences of things to hunt after their relative plain, traditional, old-woman witch of our shadows, moral duties; whereas, if the truth ancestors; poor, deformed, and ignorant ; of things were fairly represented, the relative the terror of villages, herself amenable to duties might be safely trusted to themselves, a justice. That should be a hardy sheriff, and moral philosophy lose the name of a with the power of the county at his heels, science.

that would lay hands on the Weird Sisters. They are of another jurisdiction. But upon

the common and received opinion, the author ! THOMAS MIDDLETON,

(or authors) have engrafted strong faucy. The Witch.—Though some resemblance There is something frightfully earnest iu her may be traced between the charms in Mac-invocations to the Familiar. beth and the incantations in this play, which

CYRIL TOURNEUR,

JOHN WEBSTER.

innocence-resembling boldness, that we seem

to see that matchless beauty of her face The Revenger's Tragedy.The reality and which inspires such gay confidence into her, life of the dialogue, in which Vindici and and are ready to expect, when she has done Hippolito first tempt their mother, and then her pleadings, that her very judges, her threaten her with death for consenting to accusers, the grave ambassadors who sit as the dishonour of their sister, passes any spectators, and all the court, will rise and scenical illusion I ever felt. I never read it make proffer to defend her, in spite of the but my ears tingle, and I feel a hot blush utmost conviction of her guilt; as the Shepoverspread my cheeks, as if I were presently herds in Don Quixote make proffer to follow about to proclaim such malefactions of myself, the beautiful Shepherdess Marcela, “ without as the brothers here rebuke in their un- making any profit of her manifest resolution natural parent, in words more keen and made there in their hearing." dagger-like than those which Hamlet speaks to his mother. Such power has the passion

“ So sweet and lovely does she make the shame,

Which, like a canker in the fragrant rose, of shame truly personated, not only to strike Does spot the beauty of her budding name!” guilty creatures unto the soul, but to "appal" even those that are “ free.”

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 The Duchess of Malfy.-All the several of the water, watery ; so this is of the earth, parts of the dreadful apparatus with which earthy. Both have that intenseness of feelthe death of the Duchess is ushered in, the ing, which seems to resolve itself into the waxen images which counterfeit death, the element which it contemplates. wild masque of madmen, the tomb-maker, In a note on the Spanish Tragedy in the the bellman, the living person's dirge, the Specimens, I have said that there is nothing mortification by degrees,- are not more in the undoubted plays of Jonson which remote from the conceptions of ordinary would authorise us to suppose that he could vengeance, than the strange character of have supplied the additions to Hieronymo. suffering which they seem to bring upon I suspected the agency of some more potent their victim is out of the imagination of ordi- spirit. I thought that Webster might have nary poets. As they are not like inflictions furnished them. They seemed full of that of this life, so her language seems not of this wild, solemn, preternatural cast of grief which world. She has lived among horrors till she bewilders us in the Duchess of Malfy. On is become “ native and endowed unto that second consideration, I think this a hasty element.” She speaks the dialect of despair ; criticism. They are more like the overflowher tongue has a smatch of Tartarus and the ing griefs and talking distraction of Titus souls' in bale. To move a horror skilfully, Andronicus. The sorrows of the Duchess to touch a soul to the quick, to lay upon fear set inward ; if she talks, it is little more than as much as it can bear, to wean and weary a soliloquy imitating conversation in a kind of life till it is ready to drop, and then step in bravery. with mortal instruments to take its last forfeit: this only a Webster can do. Inferior geniuses may“ upon horror's head horrors The Broken Heart.--I do not know where 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 fortiwant 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 exentera. so speciously, and pleads with such an tion of the inmost mind, which Calantha,

JOHN FORD.

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