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The GOD of the RIVER rises with AMORET in his arms.
River God. What pow'rful charms my streams
If thou be'st a virgin pure,
I must have this bleeding staid.
The blood returns. I never saw
A fairer mortal. Now doth break
Her deadly slumber: Virgin, speak.
Amo. Who hath restor'd my sense, given me new breath,
And brought me back out of the arms of death! God. I have heal'd thy wounds.
Amo. Ah me!
God. Fear not him that succour'd thee:
I am this fountain's god! Below,
And 'twixt two banks with osiers set,
I will give thee for thy food
But trout and pike, that love to swim
Leda, sailing on the stream,
What the mighty Love can do; Fear the fierceness of the boy;
The chaste moon he makes to woo Vesta, kindling holy fires,
Circled round about with spies
Doting at the altar dies;
[From the Same.]
Care-charming Sleep, thou easer of all woes,
[Song to Pan, at the conclusion of the Faithful Shepherdess.]
All ye woods, and trees, and bow'rs,
All ye virtues and ye pow'rs
In the pleasant springs or brakes,
Move your feet
To our sound, Whilst we greet All this ground, With his honour and his name That defends our flocks from blame.
He is great, and he is just,
He is ever good, and must
Let us fling,
Ever honour'd, ever young!
Take, oh take those lips away,
That so sweetly were forsworn, And those eyes, the break of day,
Lights that do mislead the morn; But kisses bring again, Seals of love, though seal'd in vain. Hide, oh hide those hills of snow,
Which thy frozen bosom bears, On whose tops the pinks that grow
Are yet of those that April wears; But first set my poor heart free, Bound in those icy chains by thee.
GEORGE CHAPMAN, the translator of Homer, wrote early and copiously for the stage. His first play, the Blind Beggar of Alexandria, was printed in 1598, the same year that witnessed Ben Jonson's first and
The beauty of Chapman's compound Homeric epithets (quoted by Thomas Warton), as silver-footed Thetis, the triple-feathered helm, the fair-haired boy, high-walled Thebes, the strong-winged lance, &c., bear the impress of a poetical imagination, chaste yet luxuriant. But however spirited and lofty as a translator, Chapman proved but a heavy and cumbrous dramatic writer. He continued to supply the theatre with tragedies and comedies up to 1620, or later; yet of the sixteen that have descended to us, not one possesses the creative and vivifying power of dramatic genius. In didactic observation and description he is sometimes happy, and hence he has been praised for possessing more thinking' than most of his contemporaries of the buskined muse. His judgment, however, vanished in action, for his plots are unnatural, and his style was too hard and artificial to admit of any nice delineation of character. His extravagances are also as bad as those of Marlow, and are seldom relieved by poetic thoughts or fancy. The best known plays of Chapman are Eastward Hoe (written in conjunction with Jonson and Marston), Bussy D'Ambois, Byron's Conspiracy, All Fools, and the Gentleman Usher. In a sonnet prefixed to 'All Fools,' and addressed to Walsingham, Chapman states that he was mark'd by age for aims of greater weight' This play was written in 1599. It contains the following fanciful lines :I tell thee love is Nature's second sun,
Causing a spring of virtues where he shines:
For love informs them as the sun doth colours.
In 'Bussy D'Ambois' is the following invocation
for a Spirit of Intelligence, which has been highly lauded by Charles Lamb:
I long to know
How my dear mistress fares, and be inform'd
The life of Chapman was a scene of content and prosperity. He was born at Hitching Hill, in Hertfordshire, in 1557; was educated both at Oxford and Cambridge; enjoyed the royal patronage of King James and Prince Henry, and the friendship of Spenser, Jonson, and Shakspeare. He was temperate and pious, and, according to Oldys, preserved, in his conduct, the true dignity of poetry, which he compared to the flower of the sun, that disdains to open its leaves to the eye of a smoking taper.' The life of this venerable scholar and poet closed in 1634, at the ripe age of seventy-seven.
Chapman's Homer is a wonderful work, considering the time when it was produced, and the continued spirit which is kept up. Marlow had succeeded in the fourteen-syllable verse, but only in select passages of Ovid and Musæus. Chapman had a vast field to traverse, and though he trod it hurriedly and negligently, he preserved the fire and freedom of his great original. Pope and Waller both praised his translation, and perhaps it is now more frequently in the hands of scholars and poetical students than the more polished and musical version of Pope. Chapman's translations consist of the Iliad' (which he dedicated to Prince Henry), the 'Odyssey' (dedicated to the royal favourite Carr, Earl of Somerset), and the Georgics of Hesiod,' which he inscribed to Lord Bacon. A version of 'Hero and Leander,' left unfinished by Marlow, was completed by Chapman, and published in 1606.
THOMAS DEKKER appears to have been an industrious author, and Collier gives the names of above twenty plays which he produced, either wholly or in part. He was connected with Jonson in writing for the Lord Admiral's theatre, conducted by Henslowe; but Ben and he became bitter enemies, and the former, in his 'Poetaster,' performed in 1601, has satirised Dekker under the character of Crispinus, representing himself as Horace! Jonson's charges against his adversary are his arrogancy and impudence in commending his own things, and for his translating.' The origin of the quarrel does not appear, but in an apologetic dialogue added to the 'Poetaster,' Jonson says—
Whether of malice, or of ignorance,
Or itch to have me their adversary, I know not, Or all these mix'd; but sure I am, three years They did provoke me with their petulant styles On every stage.
Dekker replied by another drama, Satiromastix, or the Untrussing the Humorous Poet, in which Jonson appears as Horace junior. There is more raillery and abuse in Dekker's answer than wit or poetry, but it was well received by the play-going public. Dekker's Fortunatus, or the Wishing Cap, and the Honest Whore, are his best. The latter was a great favourite with Hazlitt, who says it unites the simplicity of prose with the graces of poetry.' The poetic diction of Dekker is choice and elegant, but he often wanders into absurdity. Passages like the following would do honour to any dramatist. Of Patience :
Patience! why, 'tis the soul of peace:
The contrast between female honour and shame-
That follow'd her, went with a bashful glance:
For, as if heaven had set strange marks on such,
The picture of a lady seen by her lover
My Infelice's face, her brow, her eye,
No lip worth tasting. Here the worms will feed,
Dekker is supposed to have died about the year 1638. His life seems to have been spent in irregularity and poverty. According to Oldys, he was three years in the King's Bench prison. In one of his own beautiful lines, he says
We ne'er are angels till our passions die. But the old dramatists lived in a world of passion, of revelry, want, and despair.
JOHN WEBSTER, the 'noble-minded,' as Hazlitt designates him, lived and died about the same time as Dekker, with whom he wrote in the conjunct authorship then so common. His original dramas are the Duchess of Malfy, Guise, or the Massacre of France, the Devil's Law Case, Appius and Virginia, Weband the White Devil, or Vittoria Corombena. ster, it has been said, was clerk of St Andrew's church, Holborn; but Mr Dyce, his editor and biographer, searched the registers of the parish for his name without success. The White Devil' and the Duchess of Malfy' have divided the opinion of critics as to their relative merits. They are both powerful dramas, though filled with 'supernumerary horrors.' The former was not successful on the stage, and the author published it with a dedication in which he states, that most of the people that come to the play-house resemble those ignorant asses who, visiting stationers' shops, their use is not to inquire for good books, but new books.' He was accused, like
Jonson, of being a slow writer, but he consoles himself with the example of Euripides, and confesses that he did not write with a goose quill winged with two feathers. In this slighted play there are some exquisite touches of pathos and natural feeling. The grief of a group of mourners over a dead body is thus described:
I found them winding of Marcello's corse,
"Tween doleful songs, tears, and sad elegies,
I had no eyes to guide me forth the room,
The funeral dirge for Marcello, sung by his mother, possesses, says Charles Lamb, that intenseness of feeling which seems to resolve itself into the elements which it contemplates:'
Call for the robin red-breast and the wren,
Since o'er shady groves they hover,
And with leaves and flowers do cover
The friendless bodies of unburied men.
The ant, the field-mouse, and the mole,
Glories, like glow-worms, afar off shine bright; But, look'd to near, have neither heat nor light. The 'Duchess of Malfy' abounds more in the terrible graces. It turns on the mortal offence which the lady gives to her two proud brothers, Ferdinand, Duke of Calabria, and a cardinal, by indulging in a generous though infatuated passion for Antonio, her steward.
This passion,' Mr Dyce justly remarks, a subject most difficult to treat, is managed with infinite delicacy; and, in a situation of great peril for the author, she condescends without being degraded, and declares the affection with which her dependant had inspired her without losing anything of dignity and respect.' The last scenes of the play are conceived in a spirit which every intimate student of our elder dramatic literature must feel to be peculiar to Webster. The duchess, captured by Bosola, is brought into the presence of her brother in an imperfect light, and is taught to believe that he
wishes to be reconciled to her.
[Scene from the Duchess of Malfy.]
Ferd. Where are you?
Duch. Here, sir.
Ferd. This darkness suits you well.
Duch. I would ask you pardon.
Will make you howl in hell for't.
Ferd. It had been well
To which you have vow'd much love: the ring upon't
Could you have liv'd thus always: for, indeed,
Duch. I affectionately kiss it.
Ferd. Pray do, and bury the print of it in your
I will leave this ring with you for a love token;
Send to him that ow'd it, and you shall see
Duch. You are very cold:
I fear you are not well after your travel.
Ferd. Let her have lights enough.
Duch. What witchcraft doth he practise, that he hath left
A dead man's hand here?
[Here is discovered, behind a traverse, the artificial figures of Antonio and his children, appearing as if they were dead.]
Bos. Look you, here's the piece from which 'twas ta'en.
Bos. Thou art a box of wormseed; at best but a
salvatory of green mummy. What's this flesh a bodies are weaker than those paper-prisons boys use little crudded milk, fantastical puff-paste. Our to keep flies in, more contemptible; since ours is to preserve earthworms. Didst thou ever see a lark in a cage Such is the soul in the body: this world is like her little turf of grass; and the heaven o'er our heads like her looking glass, only gives us a miserable knowledge of the small compass of our prison.
Duch. Am not I thy duchess ?
Ferd. You have it ;
Bos. Thou art some great woman, sure, for riot begins to sit on thy forehead (clad in grey hairs)
For I account it the honourablest revenge,
Where I may kill, to pardon. Where are your cubs ? twenty years' sooner than on a merry milkmaid's. Duch. Whom?
Ferd. Call them your children,
For, though our national law distinguish bastards
Thou sleepest worse, than if a mouse should be forced
Duch. Do you visit me for this? You violate a sacrament o' th' church,
He doth present you this sad spectacle,
Duch. There is not between heaven and earth one
I stay for after this.
Afterwards, by a refinement of cruelty, the brother sends a troop of madmen from the hospital to make a concert round the duchess in prison. After they have danced and sung, Bosola enters disguised as an old man.
[Death of the Duchess.]
Duch. Is he mad too?
Bos. I am come to make thy tomb.
Thou speak'st as if I lay upon my deathbed,
Bos. Yes, and the more dangerously, since thy sickness is insensible.
Duch. Thou art not mad sure: dost know me !
Duch. Who am I?
Bos. That makes thy sleeps so broken.
But, look'd to near, have neither heat nor light.
Bos. My trade is to flatter the dead, not the living.
Duch. And thou comest to make my tomb ?
Duch. Let me be a little merry. Of what stuff wilt thou make it?
[A coffin, cords, and a bell produced. Here is a present from your princely brothers; And may it arrive welcome, for it brings Last benefit, last sorrow.
Duch. Let me see it.
Bos. Nay, resolve me first; of what fashion?
Duch. Why, do we grow fantastical in our death-They go on such strange geometrical hinges, bed? Do we affect fashion in the grave? You may open them both ways: any way (for heav'n sake)
Bos. Most ambitiously. Princes' images on their tombs do not lie as they were wont, seeming to pray up to heaven but with their hands under their cheeks (as if they died of the toothache): they are not carved with their eyes fixed upon the stars; but, as their minds were wholly bent upon the world, the self-same way they seem to turn their faces.
Duch. Let me know fully, therefore, the effect
Bos. Now I shall.
Hark, now every thing is still;
This screech-owl, and the whistler shrill,
And bid her quickly don her shroud.
Of what is 't fools make such vain keeping?
Car. Hence, villains, tyrants, murderers: alas ! What will you do with my lady Call for help. Duch. To whom; to our next neighbours? They
are mad folks. Farewell, Cariola.
I pray thee look thou giv'st my little boy
Bos. Strangling. Here are your executioners.
The apoplexy, catarrh, or cough o' the lungs,
Bos. Doth not death fright you? Duch. Who would be afraid on't, Knowing to meet such excellent company In th' other world.
Bos. Yet, methinks,
The manner of your death should much afflict you: This cord should terrify you.
Duch. Not a whit.
What would it pleasure me to have my throat cut With diamonds or to be smothered
With cassia or to be shot to death with pearls! I know death hath ten thousand several doors For men to take their exits: and 'tis found
So I were out of your whispering: tell my brothers
Pull, and pull strongly, for your able strength
Yet stay, heaven gates are not so highly arch'd
[They strangle her, kneeling.
A conjecture that an old neglected drama by THOMAS MIDDLETON supplied the witchcraft scenery, and part of the lyrical incantations, of Macbeth,' has kept alive the name of this poet. So late as 1778, Middleton's play, the Wich, was first published by Reed from the author's manuscript. It is possible that the 'Witch' may have preceded Macbeth;' but as the latter was written in the fulness of Shak. speare's fame and genius, we think it is more probable that the inferior author was the borrower. He may have seen the play performed, and thus caught the spirit and words of the scenes in question; or, for aught we know, the 'Witch' may not have been written till after 1623, when Shakspeare's first folio appeared. We know that after this date Middleton was writing for the stage, as, in 1624, his play, A Game at Chess, was brought out, and gave great offence at court, by bringing on the stage the king of Spain, and his ambassador, Gondomar. The latter complained to King James of the insult, and Middleton (who at first shifted out of the way') and the poor players were brought before the privycouncil. They were only reprimanded for their audacity in bringing modern Christian kings upon the stage.' If the dramatic sovereign had been James himself, nothing less than the loss of ears and noses would have appeased offended royalty! Middleton wrote about twenty plays: in 1603, we find him assisting Dekker at a court-pageant, and he was afterwards concerned in different pieces with Rowley, Webster, and other authors. He would seem to have been well-known as a dramatic writer. On Shrove Tuesday, 1617, the London apprentices, in an idle riot, demolished the Cockpit Theatre, and an old ballad describing the circumstance, states