Изображения страниц
[blocks in formation]

Afer. Cite Caius Silius.

Pra. Caius Silius !
Sil. Here.

Afer. The triumph that thou hadst in Germany
For thy late victory on Sacrovir,
Thou hast enjoy'd so freely, Caius Silius,
As no man it envy'd thee; nor would Cæsar,
Or Rome admit, that thou wert then defrauded
Of any honours thy deserts could claim,
In the fair service of the commonwealth :
But now, if after all their loves and graces
(Thy actions and their courses being discover'd),
It shall appear to Cæsar, and this senate,
Thou hast defil'd those glories with thy crimes-
Sil. Crimes?

Afer. Patience, Silius.

Sil. Tell thy moil of patience

I am a Roman. What are my crimes? proclaim them.
Am I too rich too honest for the times?
Have I or treasure, jewels, land, or houses,
That some informer gapes for? Is my strength
Too much to be admitted? or my knowledge?
These now are crimes.

Afer. Nay, Silius, if the name

Of crime so touch thee, with what impotence Wilt thou endure the matter to be search'd ?

Sil. I tell thee, Afer, with more scorn than fear: Employ your mercenary tongue and art. Where's my accuser?

Var. Here.

Arr. Varro the consul.

Is he thrust in ?

Var. 'Tis I accuse thee, Silius.

Against the majesty of Rome, and Cæsar,
1 do pronounce thee here a guilty cause,
First of beginning and occasioning,
Next, drawing out the war in Gallia,
For which thou late triumph'st; dissembling long
That Sacrovir to be an enemy,

Only to make thy entertainment more:
Whilst thou and thy wife Sosia poll'd the province :
Wherein, with sordid base desire of gain,
Thou hast discredited thy actions' worth,
And been a traitor to the state.

Sil. Thou liest.

Arr. I thank thee, Silius, speak so still and often. Var. If I not prove it, Cæsar, but unjustly Have call'd him into trial; here I bind Myself to suffer what I claim against him; And yield to have what I have spoke, confirm'd By judgment of the court, and all good men.

Sil. Cæsar, I crave to have my cause deferr'd, Till this man's consulship be out.

Tib. We cannot.

Nor may we grant it.

Sil. Why shall he design

My day of trial? is he my accuser}
And must he be my judge?

Tib. It hath been usual,

And is a right that custom hath allow'd

The magistrate, to call forth private men ;
And to appoint their day: which privilege
We may not in the consul see infring'd,
By whose deep watches, and industrious care,
It is so labour'd as the commonwealth
Receive no loss, by any oblique course.

Sil. Cæsar, thy fraud is worse than violence.
Tib. Silius, mistake us not, we dare not use
The credit of the consul to thy wrong;
But only do preserve his place and power,
So far as it concerns the dignity
And honour of the state.

Arr. Believe him, Silius.

Cot. Why, so he may, Arruntius. Arr. I say so.

And he may choose too. Tib. By the Capitol,

And all our gods, but that the dear republic, Our sacred laws, and just authority

Are interess'd therein, I should be silent.

Afer. 'Please Cæsar to give way unto his trial; He shall have justice.

Sil. Nay, I shall have law;

Shall I not, Afer? speak.

Afer. Would you have more?

Sil. No, my well-spoken man, I would no more; Nor less might I enjoy it natural,

Not taught to speak unto your present ends,
Free from thine, his, and all your unkind handling,
Furious enforcing, most unjust presuming,
Malicious, and manifold applying,
Foul wresting, and impossible construction.
Afer. He raves, he raves.

Sil. Thou durst not tell me so,

Hadst thou not Cæsar's warrant. I can see
Whose power condemns me.

Var. This betrays his spirit.

This doth enough declare him what he is.
Sil. What am I? speak.

Var. An enemy to the state.

Sil. Because I am an enemy to thee, And such corrupted ministers o' the state, That here art made a present instrument To gratify it with thine own disgrace.

Sej. This to the consul is most insolent! And impious!

Sil. Ay, take part. Reveal yourselves.
Alas! I scent not your confed'racies,
Your plots, and combinations! I not know
Minion Sejanus hates me; and that all
This boast of law, and law is but a form,
A net of Vulcan's filing, a mere engine,
To take that life by a pretext of justice,
Which you pursue in malice? I want brain,
Or nostril to persuade me, that your ends
And purposes are made to what they are,
Before my answer! O, you equal gods,
Whose justice not a world of wolf-turn'd men
Shall make me to accuse, howe'er provok'd;
Have I for this so oft engag'd myself?
Stood in the heat and fervour of a fight,
When Phoebus sooner hath forsook the day
Than I the field, against the blue-ey'd Gauls
And crisped Germans? when our Roman eagles
Have fann'd the fire with their labouring wings.
And no blow dealt, that left not death behind it!
When I have charg'd, alone, into the troops
Of curl'd Sicambrians, routed them, and came
Not off, with backward ensigns of a slave,

But forward marks, wounds on my breast and face,
Were meant to thee, O Cæsar, and thy Rome!
And have I this return? did I for this

Perform so noble and so brave defeat
On Sacrovir? (O Jove, let it become me

To boast my deeds, when he, whom they concern,
Shall thus forget them.)

[ocr errors]

Afer. Silius, Silius,

These are the common customs of thy blood,
When it is high with wine, as now with rage:
This well agrees with that intemperate vaunt
Thou lately mad'st at Agrippina's table,
That, when all other of the troops were prone
To fall into rebellion, only thine
Remain'd in their obedience. Thou wert he
That sav'd the empire, which had then been lost,
Had but thy legions, there, rebell'd or mutin'd;
Thy virtue met, and fronted every peril,

Thou gav'st to Cæsar, and to Rome, their surety,
Their name, their strength, their spirit, and their


Their being was a donative from thee.

Arr. Well worded, and most like an orator.

Tib. Is this true, Silius ?

Sil. Save thy question, Cæsar,

Thy spy of famous credit hath affirm'd it.

Arr. Excellent Roman!

Sab. He doth answer stoutly.

Sej. If this be so, there needs no other cause
Of crime against him.

Var. What can more impeach

The royal dignity and state of Cæsar,
Than to be urged with a benefit

He cannot pay?

Cot. In this, all Cæsar's fortune
Is made unequal to the courtesy.

Lat. His means are clean destroy'd that should re-

Gal. Nothing is great enough for Silius' merit.
Arr. Gallus on that side too?

Sil. Come, do not hunt

And labour so about for circumstance,

To make him guilty, whom you have foredoom'd:
Take shorter ways; I'll meet your purposes.
The words were mine, and more I now will say:
Since I have done thee that great service, Cæsar,
Thou still hast fear'd me; and, in place of grace,
Return'd me hatred: so soon all best turns,
With doubtful princes, turn deep injuries
In estimation, when they greater rise
Than can be answer'd. Benefits, with you,
Are of no longer pleasure than you can
With ease restore them; that transcended once,
Your studies are not how to thank, but kill.
It is your nature to have all men slaves

To you, but you acknowledging to none.

The means that make your greatness, must not come
In mention of it; if it do, it takes

So much away, you think: and that which help'd,
Shall soonest perish, if it stand in eye,

Where it may front, or but upbraid the high.

Cot. Suffer him speak no more.

Var. Note but his spirit.

Cot. His thoughts look through his words.
Sej. A censure.

Sil. Stay,

Stay, most officious senate, I shall straight
Delude thy fury. Silius hath not plac'd
His guards within him, against fortune's spite,
So weakly, but he can escape your gripe,
That are but hands of fortune: she herself,
When virtue doth oppose, must lose her threats.
All that can happen in humanity,
The frown of Cæsar, proud Sejanus' hatred,
Base Varro's spleen, and Afer's bloodying tongue,
The senate's servile flattery, and these
Muster'd to kill, I'm fortified against,
And can look down upon: they are beneath me.
It is not life whereof I stand enamour'd;
Nor shall my end make me accuse my fate.

[blocks in formation]


[From the New Inn.']

LOVEL and HOST of the New Inn.

Lov. There is no life on earth, but being in love!
There are no studies, no delights, no business,
No intercourse, or trade of sense, or soul,
But what is love! I was the laziest creature,
The most unprofitable sign of nothing,
The veriest drone, and slept away my life
Beyond the dormouse, till I was in love!
And now I can out-wake the nightingale,
Out-watch an usurer, and out-walk him too,
Stalk like a ghost that haunted 'bout a treasure;
And all that fancied treasure, it is love!

Host. But is your name Love-ill, sir, or Love-well!
I would know that.

Lov. I do not know 't myself,

Whether it is. But it is love hath been
The hereditary passion of our house,
My gentle host, and, as I guess, my friend;
The truth is, I have lov'd this lady long,
And impotently, with desire enough,
But no success: for I have still forborne
To express it in my person to her.

Host. How then?

Lov. I have sent her toys, verses, and anagrams,
Trials of wit, mere trifles, she has commended,
But knew not whence they came, nor could she guess.
Host. This was a pretty riddling way of wooing!
Lov. I oft have been, too, in her company,
And look'd upon her a whole day, admir'd her,
Lov'd her, and did not tell her so; lov'd still,
Look'd still, and lov'd; and lov'd, and look'd, and

'Afer. This shows him in the rest.

Sej. He hath spoke enough to prove him Cæsar's foe. As you are. Pray you, why would you stand mute, sir!
Lat. Let him be censur'd.

Lov. O thereon hangs a history, mine host.
Did you e'er know or hear of the Lord Beaufort,

Who serv'd so bravely in France? I was his page,
And, ere he died, his friend: I follow'd him
First in the wars, and in the times of peace
I waited on his studies; which were right.
He had no Arthurs, nor no Rosicleers,
No Knights of the Sun, nor Amadis de Gauls,
Primalions, and Pantagruels, public nothings;
Abortives of the fabulous dark cloister,
Sent out to poison courts, and infest manners:
But great Achilles', Agamemnon's acts,
Sage Nestor's counsels, and Ulysses' sleights,
Tydides' fortitude, as Homer wrought them
In his immortal fancy, for examples
Of the heroic virtue. Or, as Virgil,
That master of the Epic poem, limn'd
Pious Æneas, his religious prince,


But, as a man neglected, I came off,
And unregarded.

Host. Could you blame her, sir,

When you were silent and not said a word?

Lov. O, but I lov'd the more; and she might read it
Best in my silence, had she been-

Host. As melancholic

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

Bearing his aged parent on his shoulders,
Rapt from the flames of Troy, with his young son.
And these he brought to practice and to use.
He gave me first my breeding, I acknowledge,
Then shower'd his bounties on me, like the Hours,
That open-handed sit upon the clouds,
And press the liberality of heaven
Down to the laps of thankful men! But then,
The trust committed to me at his death

Was above all, and left so strong a tie
On all my powers, as time shall not dissolve,
Till it dissolve itself, and bury all:

The care of his brave heir and only son!
Who being a virtuous, sweet, young, hopeful lord,
Hath cast his first affections on this lady.
And though I know, and may presume her such,
As out of humour, will return no love,
And therefore might indifferently be made
The courting-stock for all to practise on,
As she doth practise on us all to scorn:
Yet out of a religion to my charge,
And debt profess'd, I have made a self-decree,
Ne'er to express my person, though my passion
Burn me to cinders.

[A Simpleton and a Braggadocio.]

[Bobadil, the braggadocio, in his mean and obscure lodging, is visited by Matthew, the simpleton.]

Mat. Save you, sir; save you, captain.
Bob. Gentle master Matthew!

Is it you, sir?

Bob. Squire Downright, the half-brother, was't not!
Mat. Ay, sir, he.

Bob. Hang him, rook, he! why, he has no more
judgment than a malt-horse. By St George, I won-
der you'd lose a thought upon such an animal; the
most peremptory absurd clown of Christendom, this
day, he is holden. I protest to you, as I am a gentle-
man and a soldier, I ne'er changed words with his
hay: he was born for the manger, pannier, or pack-
like. By his discourse, he should eat nothing but
saddle! He has not so much as a good phrase in his
belly, but all old iron and rusty proverbs!—a good
commodity for some smith to make hob-nails of.
sir?-manhood still, where he comes: he brags he will gi’
Mat. Ay, and he thinks to carry it away with his
me the bastinado, as I hear.

that word, trow?
Bob. How he the bastinado? How came he by

Please you to sit down.

Mat. Thank you, good captain, you may see I am somewhat audacious.

Bob. Not so, sir. I was requested to supper last night by a sort of gallants, where you were wish'd for, and drunk to, I assure you.

Mat. Vouchsafe me, by whom, good captain? Bob. Marry, by young Well-bred, and others. Why, hostess, a stool here for this gentleman.

Mat. No haste, sir; 'tis very well. Bob. Body o' me !—it was so late ere we parted last night, I can scarce open my eyes yet; I was but new risen, as you came: how passes the day abroad,

you can tell.

me, you have an exceeding fine lodging here, very Mat. Faith, some half hour to seven: now, trust neat and private!

Bob. Ay, sir; sit down, I pray you. Mr Matthew (in any case) possess no gentlemen of our acquaintance with notice of my lodging.

Mat. Who! I, sir?-no.

Bob. Not that I need to care who know it, for the cabin is convenient, but in regard I would not be too popular, and generally visited as some are.

Mat. True, captain, I conceive you. Bob. For, do you see, sir, by the heart of valour in me (except it be to some peculiar and choice spirits, to whom I am extraordinarily engaged, as yourself, or so), I could not extend thus far.

this book. O eyes, no eyes, but fountains fraught
with tears!' There's a conceit !-fountains fraught
with tears! O life, no life, but lively form of death!"
Another! O world, no world, but mass of public
wrongs! A third! Confused and fill'd with murder
and misdeeds!' A fourth! O, the muses! Is't not
excellent Is't not simply the best that ever you
heard, captain! Ha! how do you like it?
Bob. 'Tis good.

Mat. O Lord, sir, I resolve so.

Bob. I confess I love a cleanly and quiet privacy, above all the tumult and roar of fortune. What new book ha' you there! What! Go by, Hieronymo !1 Mat. Ay, did you ever see it acted? Is't not well penn❜d?

Bob. Well-penn'd! I would fain see all the poets of these times pen such another play as that was! they'll prate and swagger, and keep a stir of art and devices, when (as I am a gentleman), read 'em, they are the most shallow, pitiful, barren fellows, that live upon the face of the earth again. Mat. Indeed; here are a number of fine speeches in

1 A cant phrase of the day.

Mat. To thee, the purest object to my sense,
The most refined essence heaven covers,
Send I these lines, wherein I do commence
The happy state of turtle-billing lovers.
If they prove rough, unpolish'd, harsh, and rude,
Haste made the waste. Thus mildly I conclude.
Bob. Nay, proceed, proceed. Where's this?
[Bobadil is making him ready all this while.
Mat. This, sir? a toy o' mine own, in my nonage;
the infancy of my muses! But when will you come
and see my study? Good faith, I can show you some
very good things I have done of late. That boot be-
comes your leg passing well, captain, methinks.

Bob. So, so; it's the fashion gentlemen now use.
Mat. Troth, captain, and now you speak o' the
fashion, Master Well-bred's elder brother and I are
fallen out exceedingly. This other day, I happened
to enter into some discourse of a hanger, which, I
assure you, both for fashion and workmanship, was
most peremptory-beautiful and gentleman-like; yet
he condemned and cried it down for the most pyed
and ridiculous that ever he saw.

Mat. Nay, indeed, he said cudgel me; I term'd it so for my more grace.

Bob. That may be, for I was sure it was none of his word but when? when said he so ?

[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

you, sir, exalt not your point above this state, at any hand, and let your poniard maintain your defence, thus; (give it the gentleman, and leave us ;) so, sir. Come on. O twine your body more about, that you may fall to a more sweet, comely, gentleman-like guard; so, indifferent: hollow your body more, sir, thus; now, stand fast o' your left leg, note your distance, keep your due proportion of time. O, you disorder your point most irregularly!

Mat. How is the bearing of it now, sir?

[blocks in formation]

Mat. Well, come, sir.

Bob. Why, you do not manage your weapon with any facility or grace to invite me! I have no spirit to play with you; your dearth of judgment renders you tedious.

Mat. But one venue, sir.

Bob. Venue! fie; most gross denomination as ever I heard. O, the stoccata, while you live, sir, note that; come, put on your cloak, and we'll go to some private place where you are acquainted-some tavern or so and have a bit; I'll send for one of these fencers, and he shall breathe you, by my direction, and then I will teach you your trick; you shall kill him with it at the first, if you please. Why, I will learn you by the true judgment of the eye, hand, and foot, to control any enemy's point i' the world. Should your adversary confront you with a pistol, 'twere nothing, by this hand; you should, by the same rule, control his bullet, in a line, except it were hail shot, and spread. What money ha' you about you, Master Matthew!

Mat. Faith, I ha' not past a two shillings, or so. Bob. 'Tis somewhat with the least; but come; we will have a bunch of radish, and salt to taste our wine, and a pipe of tobacco, to close the orifice of the stomach; and then we'll call upon young Well-bred : perhaps we shall meet the Coridon his brother there, and put him to the question.

Every Man in his Humour.

[Bobadil's Plan for Saving the Expense of an Army.]

Bob. I will tell you, sir, by the way of private, and under seal, I am a gentleman, and live here obscure, and to myself; but were I known to her majesty and the lords (observe me), I would undertake, upon this poor head and life, for the public benefit of the state, not only to spare the entire lives of her subjects in general, but to save the one half, nay, three parts of her yearly charge in holding war, and against what enemy soever. And how would I do it, think you?

E. Kno. Nay, I know not, nor can I conceive. Bob. Why thus, sir. I would select nineteen more, to myself, throughout the land; gentlemen they should be of good spirit, strong and able constitution; I would choose them by an instinct, a character that I have: and I would teach these nineteen the special rules, as your punto, your reverso, your stoccata, your imbroccato, your passado, your montanto, till they could all play very near, or altogether as well as myself. This done, say the enemy were forty thousand strong, we twenty would come into the field the tenth of March, or thereabouts; and we would challenge twenty of the enemy; they could not in their honour refuse us; well, we would kill them: challenge twenty more, kill them; twenty more, kill them; twenty more, kill them too; and thus would we kill every man his twenty a-day, that's twenty score: twenty score. that's two


hundred; two hundred a-day, five days a thousand; forty thousand; forty times five, five times forty, two hundred days kills them all up by computation. And this will I venture my poor gentleman-like carcass to perform, provided there be no treason practised upon us, by fair and discreet manhood; that is, civilly by the sword.


[Advice to a Reckless Youth.]

Knowell. What would I have you do? I'll tell you, kinsman ;

Learn to be wise, and practise how to thrive,
That would I have you do: and not to spend
Your coin on every bauble that you fancy,
Or every foolish brain that humours you.
I would not have you to invade each place,
Nor thrust yourself on all societies,
Till men's affections, or your own desert,
Should worthily invite you to your rank.
He that is so respectless in his courses,
Oft sells his reputation at cheap market.
Nor would I you should melt away yourself
In flashing bravery, lest, while you affect
To make a blaze of gentry to the world,
A little puff of scorn extinguish it,
And you be left like an unsavoury snuff,
Whose property is only to offend.
I'd ha' you sober, and contain yourself;
Not that your sail be bigger than your
But moderate your expenses now (at first)
As you may the same proportion still.
Nor stand so much on your gentility,
Which is an airy, and mere borrow'd thing,
From dead men's dust, and bones; and none of yours,
Except you make, or hold it.


[The Alchemist.]

MAMMON. SURLY, his Friend. The scene, SUBTLE's House. Mam. Come on, sir. Now you set your foot on shore

In noro orbe. Here's the rich Peru:

And there within, sir, are the golden mines,
Great Solomon's Ophir! He was sailing to't
Three years, but we have reach'd it in ten months.
This is the day whercin to all my friends
I will pronounce the happy word, Be rich.
This day you shall be spectatissimi.
You shall no more deal with the hollow dye,
Or the frail card. No more be at charge of keeping
The livery punk for the young heir, that must
Seal at all hours in his shirt. No more,
If he deny, ha' him beaten to't, as he is
That brings him the commodity. No more
Shall thirst of satin, or the covetous hunger
Of velvet entrails for a rude-spun cloak
To be display'd at Madam Augusta's, make
The sons of Sword and Hazard fall before
The golden calf, and on their knees whole nights
Commit idolatry with wine and trumpets;
Or go a-feasting after drum and ensign.
No more of this. You shall start up young viceroys,
And have your punques and punquetees, my Surly:
And unto thee I speak it first, Be rich.
Where is my Subtle there? within, ho—
[FACE answers from within.

Sir, he'll come to you by and by.
Mam. That's his fire-drake,
His Lungs, his Zephyrus, he that puffs his coals
Till he firk nature up in her own centre.
You are not faithful, sir. This night I'll change
All that is metal in thy house to gold:
And early in the morning will I send

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

To all the plumbers and the pewterers,
And buy their tin and lead up; and to Lothbury,
For all the copper.

Sur. What, and turn that too?

Mam. Yes, and I'll purchase Devonshire and Corn-
And make them perfect Indies! You admire now?
Sur. No, faith.

Mam. But when you see the effects of the great
medicine !

Of which one part projected on a hundred
Of Mercury, or Venus, or the Moon,
Shall turn it to as many of the Sun;
Nay, to a thousand, so ad infinitum:
You will believe me.

Sur. Yes, when I see't, I will.
Mam. Ha! why,

Do you think I fable with you? I assure you,
He that has once the flower of the Sun,
The perfect Ruby, which we call Elixir,
Not only can do that, but by its virtue
Can confer honour, love, respect, long life,
Give safety, valour, yea, and victory,
To whom he will. In eight-and-twenty days
I'll make an old man of fourscore a child.
Sur. No doubt; he's that already.

Mam, Nay, I mean,

Restore his years, renew him like an eagle,
To the fifth age; make him get sons and daughters,
Young giants, as our philosophers have done
(The ancient patriarchs afore the flood),
By taking, once a-week, on a knife's point,
The quantity of a grain of mustard of it,
Become stout Marses, and beget young Cupids.
Sur. The decay'd vestals of Pickt-hatch would
thank you,
That keep the fire alive there.
Mam. 'Tis the secret

Of nature naturised 'gainst all infections,
Cures all diseases, coming of all causes;

A month's grief in a day; a year's in twelve ;
And of what age soever, in a month:
Past all the doses of your drugging doctors.
I'll undertake withal to fright the plague

Out o' the kingdom in three months.

Sur. And I'll

Be bound the players shall sing your praises,


Without their poets.

Mam. Sir, I'll do't. Meantime,


Mam. You are incredulous.

Sur. Faith, I have a humour,

I would not willingly be gull'd. Your Stone
Cannot transmute me.

Mam. Pertinax Surly,

Will you believe antiquity? Records!

I'll show you a book, where Moses, and his sister,
And Solomon, have written of the Art!

Sur. Did Adam write, sir, in High Dutch!

Mam. He did,

Which proves it was the primitive tongue.
Sur. What paper!

Mam. On cedar-board.

Sur. O that, indeed, they say,

I'll give away so much unto my man,

Shall serve the whole city with preservative
Weekly; each house his dose, and at the rate-

Masques were generally prepared for some remark-
able occasion, as a coronation, the birth of a young

Sur. As he that built the water-work does with prince or noble, a peer's marriage, or the visit of

some royal personage of foreign countries; and they
usually took place in the hall of the palace. Many
of them were enacted in that banqueting room at
Whitehall, through which a prince, who often took
part in them, afterwards walked to the scaffold.
Allegory and mythology were the taste of that age:
we wonder at the fact, but we do not perhaps suffi-
ciently allow for the novelty of classical imagery and
characters in those days, and it may be only a kind
of prejudice, or the effect of fashion, which makes us
so rigorously banish from our literature allusions to

Ay, and a treatise penn'd by Adam.

Sur. How!

Mam. Of the Philosopher's Stone, and in High the poetic beings of Grecian antiquity; while we con


tentedly solace ourselves in contemplating, through
what are called historical novels, the much ruder, and
perhaps not more truly represented, personages of the
middle ages. The action of a masque was always some-
thing short and simple; and it is easy to see that, ex-
cepting where very high poetical and musical talent
was engaged, the principal charm must have lain in
the elegance of the dresses and decorations, and the
piquancy of a constant reference from the actors in

Which was no other than a book of Alchemy,
Writ in large sheep-skin, a good fat ram-vellum.
Such was Pythagoras' Thigh, Pandora's Tub,
And all that fable of Medea's charms,

The manner of our work: the bulls, our furnace,
Still breathing fire: our Argent-vive, the Dragon:
The Dragon's teeth, Mercury sublimate,
That keeps the whiteness, hardness, and the biting:
And they are gather'd into Jason's helm
(Th' Alembick), and then sow'd in Mars his field,
And thence sublim'd so often, till they are fix'd.
Both this, the Hesperian Garden, Cadmus' Story,
Jove's Shower, the Boon of Midas, Argus' Eyes,
Boccace his Demogorgon, thousands more,
All abstract riddles of our Stone.


The courts of James I. and Charles I., while as yet danger neither existed nor was anticipated, were enlivened by the peculiar theatrical entertainment called the Masque-a trifle, or little better, in itself, but which has derived particular interest from the genius of Jonson and Milton. The origin of the masque is to be looked for in the 'revels' and 'shows' which, during the fourteenth, fifteenth, and sixteenth centuries, were presented on high festive occasions at court, in the inns of the lawyers, and at the universities, and in those mysteries and moralities which were the earliest forms of the spoken drama. Henry VIII., in his earlier and better days, had frequent entertainments, consisting of a set of masked and gaily-dressed characters, or of such representations as the following: In the hall of the palace at Greenwich, a castle was reared, with numerous towers and gates, and every appearance of preparation for a long siege, and inscribed, Le fortresse dangereux; it was defended by six richly-dressed ladies; the king and five of his courtiers then entered in the disguise of knights, and attacked the castle, which the ladies, after a gallant resistance, surrendered, the affair concluding with a dance of the ladies and knights. Here there was nothing but scenery and pantomime; by and by, poetical dialogue, song, and music, were added; and when the masque had reached its height in the reigns of James and the first Charles, it employed the first talent of the country in its composition, and, as Bacon remarks, being designed for princes, was by princes played.

Will last 'gainst worms.

Mam. 'Tis like your Irish wood

'Gainst cobwebs. I have a piece of Jason's fleece too, their assumed, to the actors in their real characters

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]
« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »