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Did signify; and how all, order'd thus,
profound or vigorous, language; his thoughts are noble, and tinged with the ideality of romance; his metaphors vivid, though sometimes too forced; he possesses the idiom of English without much pedantry, though in many passages he strains it beyond common use; his versification, though studiously irregular, is often rhythmical and sweet; yet we The Maid's Tragedy, supposed to be written about are seldom arrested by striking beauties. Good lines the same time, is a drama of a powerful but un- occur in every page, fine ones but rarely. We lay pleasing character. The purity of female virtue in down the volume with a sense of admiration of what Amintor and Aspatia, is well contrasted with the we have read, but little of it remains distinctly in guilty boldness of Evadne; and the rough soldier- the memory. Fletcher is not much quoted, and has like bearing and manly feeling of Melantius, render not even afforded copious materials to those who cull the selfish sensuality of the king more hateful and the beauties of ancient lore.' His comic powers are disgusting. Unfortunately, there is much licentious- certainly far superior to his tragic. Massinger imness in this fine play-whole scenes and dialogues presses the reader more deeply, and has a moral are disfigured by this master vice of the theatre of beauty not possessed by Beaumont and Fletcher, but Beaumont and Fletcher. Their dramas are a rank in comedy he falls infinitely below them. Though unweeded garden,' which grew only the more disor- their characters are deficient in variety, their knowderly and vicious as it advanced to maturity. Flet-ledge of stage-effect and contrivance, their fertility cher must bear the chief blame of this defect, for he of invention, and the airy liveliness of their dialogue, wrote longer than his associate, and is generally give the charm of novelty and interest to their understood to have been the most copious and fertile scenes. Mr Macaulay considers that the models composer. Before Beaumont's death, they had, in which Fletcher had principally in his eye, even for addition to Philaster,' and the Maid's Tragedy,' his most serious and elevated compositions, were not produced King and no King, Bonduca, The Laws of Shakspeare's tragedies, but his comedies. 'It was Candy (tragedies); and The Woman Hater, The these, with their idealised truth of character, their Knight of the Burning Pestle, The Honest Man's For- poetic beauty of imagery, their mixture of the grave tune, The Corcomb, and The Captain (comedies). Flet- with the playful in thought, their rapid yet skilful cher afterwards produced three tragic dramas, and transitions from the tragic to the comic in feeling; nine comedies, the best of which are, The Chances, it was these, the pictures in which Shakspeare had The Spanish Curate, The Beggar's Bush, and Rule a made his nearest approach to portraying actual life, Wife and Have a Wife. He also wrote an exquisite and not those pieces in which he transports the imapastoral drama, The Faithful Shepherdess, which Mil-gination into his own vast and awful world of tragic ton followed pretty closely in the design, and partly action, and suffering, and emotion-that attracted in the language and imagery, of Comus. A higher Fletcher's fancy, and proved congenial to his cast of though more doubtful honour has been assigned to feeling.' This observation is strikingly just, applied the twin authors; for Shakspeare is said to have to Shakspeare's mixed comedies or plays, like the assisted them in the composition of one of their works, Twelfth Night,' the 'Winter's Tale,' As You Like The Two Noble Kinsmen, and his name is joined with It,' &c. The rich and genial comedy of Falstaff, ShalFletcher's on the title page of the first edition. The low, and Slender, was not imitated by Fletcher. His bookseller's authority in such matters is of no weight; Knight of the Burning Pestle' is an admirable burand it seems unlikely that our great poet, after the lesque of the false taste of the citizens of London for production of some of his best dramas, should enter chivalrous and romantic adventures, without regard into a partnership of this description. The Two to situation or probability. On the whole, the dramas Noble Kinsmen' is certainly not superior to some of of Beaumont and Fletcher impress us with a high the other plays of Beaumont and Fletcher. idea of their powers as poets and dramatists. The vast variety and luxuriance of their genius seem to elevate them above Jonson, though they were destitute of his regularity and solidity, and to place them on the borders of the 'magic circle' of Shakspeare. The confidence and buoyancy of youth are visible in their productions. They had not tasted of adversity, like Jonson or Massinger; and they had not the profoundly-meditative spirit of their great master, cognisant of all human feelings and sympathies; life was to them a scene of enjoyment and pleasure, and the exercise of their genius a source of refined delight and ambition. They were gentlemen who wrote for the stage, as gentlemen have rarely done before or since.
The genius of Beaumont is said to have been more correct, and more strongly inclined to tragedy, than that of his friend. The later works of Fletcher are chiefly of a comic character. His plots are sometimes inartificial and loosely connected, but he is always lively and entertaining. There is a rapid succession of incidents, and the dialogue is witty, elegant, and amusing. Dryden considered that they understood and imitated the conversation of gentlemen much better than Shakspeare; and he states that their plays were, in his day, the most pleasant and frequent entertainments of the stage; two of theirs being acted through the year, for one of Shakspeare's or Jonson's.' It was different some forty years previous to this. In 1627, the King's Company bribed the Master of the Revels with £5, to interfere in preventing the players of the theatre called the Red Bull, from performing the dramas of Shakspeare. One cause of the preference of Beaumont and Fletcher, may have been the license of their dramas, suited to the perverted taste of the court of Charles II., and the spirit of intrigue which they adopted from the Spanish stage, and naturalised on the English. We cannot deny,' remarks Hallam, 'that the depths of Shakspeare's mind were often unfathomable by an audience; the bow was drawn by a matchless hand, but the shaft went out of sight. All might listen to Fletcher's pleasing, though not
[Generosity of Caesar.]
[Ptolemy, king of Egypt, having secured the head of Pompey, comes with his friends Achoreus and Photinus to present it to Cæsar, as a means of gaining his favour. To them enter Cæsar, Antony, Dolabella, and Sceva.]
Pho. Do not shun me, Cæsar.
And all thy furious conflicts were but slumbers:
Casar. Oh thou conqueror,
Thou glory of the world once, now the pity;
Ant. Oh, how brave these tears show! How excellent is sorrow in an enemy!
Dol. Glory appears not greater than this goodness. Casar. Egyptians, dare ye think your highest pyra
Built to outdare the sun, as you suppose,
But the eternal substance of his greatness,
Sce. If thou be'st thus loving, I shall honour thee:
Cæsar. You look now, king,
And you that have been agents in this glory, For our especial favour?
Ptol. We desire it.
Cæsar. And doubtless you expect rewards? Sce. Let me give 'em :
I'll give 'em such as Nature never dream'd of;
Into one man, and that one man I'll bake then.
You're young and ignorant; that pleads your pardon;
And that you lov'd, tho' 'twere your brightest sister's
Cæsar. I have heard too much;
And study not with smooth shows to invade
My night, and all your hands have been employ'd
To young Amintor's bed, as we are now
Erad. Nay, leave this sad talk, madam. Asp. Would I could, then should I leave the cause. Lay a garland on my hearse of the dismal yew. Erad. That's one of your sad songs, madam. Asp. Believe me, 'tis a very pretty one. Evad. How is it, madam?
Asp. Lay a garland on my hearse
[Amintor enters. Asp. Go and be happy in your lady's love;
And to that destiny have patiently
Laid up my hour to come.
Pal. Oh, cousin Arcite,
Where is Thebes now? where is our noble country?
Shall we two exercise, like twins of honour,
Those hopes are prisoners with us; here we are,
To glad our age, and like young eagles teach them
Pal. 'Tis too true, Arcite. To our Theban hounds That shook the aged forest with their echoes, No more now must we halloo, no more shake Our pointed javelins, whilst the angry swine Flies like a Parthian quiver from our rages, Struck with our well-steel'd darts. All valiant uses (The food and nourishment of noble minds) In us two here shall perish: we shall die (Which is the curse of honour) lastly Children of grief and ignorance.
Arc. Yet, cousin,
Pal. How, gentle cousin?
Arc. Let's think this prison holy sanctuary, To keep us from corruption of worse men!
We are young, and yet desire the ways of honour, That liberty and common conversation,
The poison of pure spirits, might (like women) Woo us to wander from. What worthy blessing Can be, but our imaginations
May make it ours? And here being thus together,
New births of love; we are father, friends, acquaint
We are, in one another, families;
I am your heir, and you are mine. This place
Dare take this from us; here, with a little patience,
A wife might part us lawfully, or business;
Pal. You have made me
(I thank you, cousin Arcite) almost wanton
With my captivity: what a misery
It is to live abroad, and everywhere!
'Tis like a beast, methinks! I find the court here, I'm sure, a more content; and all those pleasures, That woo the wills of men to vanity,
I see through now; and am sufficient
To tell the world, 'tis but a gaudy shadow,
[Disinterestedness of Biancha.]
[From the Fair Maid of the Inn.'] Enter CESARIO and a SERVANT.
Cesa. Let any friend have entrance. Serv. Sir, a' shall.
Cesa. Any; I except none.
Serv. We know your mind, sir.
Cesa. Pleasures admit no bounds. I'm pitch'd so high,
To such a growth of full prosperities,
1st. Serv. 'Tis my place.
2d. Serv. Yours? Here, fair one; I'll acquaint My lord.
1st. Serv. He's here; go to him boldly.
2d. Serv. Please you
To let him understand how readily
I waited on your errand!
1st. Serv. Saucy fellow!
You must excuse his breeding.
Biancha! my Biancha?—To your offices!
Bian. You may guess, sir;
Of your misfortunes; and I cannot tell you
Cea. What truth, Biancha?
Bian, You are disclaim'd
For being the lord Alberto's son, and publicly Acknowledg'd of as mean a birth as mine is: It cannot choose but grieve you.
That I might turn more fool to lend attention
Bian. Willingly betray'd
Myself to hopeless bondage.
I thought I should not miss, whate'er thy answer was.
I should have died sure, and no creature known
Cesa. Pretty heart!
Good soul, alas, alas!
Bian. Now since I know
Then I am lost again! I have a suit too; You'll grant it, if you be a good man. Cesa. Anything.
Bian. Pray do not talk of aught what I have said t'ye. That sleeping lies in a deep glade,
Under a broad beech's shade.
But never love me more!
Clor. And all my fears go with thee.
Cesa. Nay, now you're cruel:
Why all these tears?—Thou shalt not go.
Bian. I'll pray for you,
That you may have a virtuous wife, a fair one; And when I'm dead
Satyr. Through yon same bending plain That flings his arms down to the main, And through these thick woods have I run, Whose bottom never kiss'd the sun. Since the lusty spring began, All to please my master Pan, Have trotted without rest, To get him fruit; for at a feast He entertains, this coming night, His paramour the Syrinx bright: But behold a fairer sight! By that heavenly form of thine, Brightest fair, thou art divine, Sprung from great immortal race Of the gods, for in thy face Shines more awful majesty Than dull weak mortality Dare with misty eyes behold, And live therefore on this mould Lowly do I bend my knee In worship of thy deity. Deign it, goddess, from my hand To receive whate'er this land From her fertile womb doth send Of her choice fruits; and but lend Belief to that the Satyr tells, Fairer by the famous wells To this present day ne'er grew, Never better, nor more true. Here be grapes whose lusty blood Is the learned poet's good,
Sweeter yet did never crown
The head of Bacchus; nuts more brown
The hanging mountain or the field,
I freely offer, and ere long
Will bring you more, more sweet and strong; Till when, humbly leave I take,
Lest the great Pan do awake,
From this rude man and beast? sure I am mortal;
The self-same wind that makes the young lambs shrink,
My virgin flower uncropt, pure, chaste, and fair,
Or voices calling me in dead of night
PERIGOT and AMOREт appoint to meet at the Virtuous Well.
Peri. Stay, gentle Amoret, thou fair-brow'd maid, Thy shepherd prays thee stay, that holds thee dear, Equal with his soul's good.
Amo. Speak, I give
Thee freedom, shepherd, and thy tongue be still
Peri. When I fall off from my affection,
Of ill is yet unknown, fall speedily,
Amo. I pray thee, gentle shepherd, wish not so:
I do believe thee, 'tis as hard for me
To think thee false, and harder than for thee To hold me foul.
Peri. O you are fairer far
Than the chaste blushing morn, or that fair star
Head of an aged mountain, and more white
Amo. Shepherd, be not lost,
Y'are sail'd too far already from the coast
Peri. Did you not tell me once
I should not love alone, I should not lose
I've sent to heaven? Did you not give your hand,
Even that fair hand, in hostage? Do not then
Amo. Shepherd, so far as maiden's modesty