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of wickedness not unqualified by relenting touches of profitless remorse, which come always either too early or too late to bear any serviceable fruit of compassion or redemption. There is no deeper or more Shakespearean stroke of tragic humour in all Webster's writings than that conveyed in the scornful and acute reply-almost too acute perhaps for the character of Bosola's remorseless patron to the remonstrance or appeal of his instrument against the insatiable excess and persistence of his cruelty; Thy pity is nothing akin to thee.' He has more in common with Romelio in The Devil's Law-case, an assassin who misses his aim and flounders into penitence much as that discomfortable drama misses its point and stumbles into vacuity: and whose unsatisfactory figure looks either like a crude and unsuccessful study for that of Bosola, or a disproportioned and emasculated copy from it. But to him too Webster has given the fitful force of fancy or inspiration which finds expression in such sudden snatches of funereal verse as this:

How then can any monument say

'Here rest these bones till the last day,'
When Time, swift both of foot and feather,
May bear them the sexton kens not whither?
What care I, then, though my last sleep
Be in the desert or the deep,

No lamp nor taper, day and night,
To give my charnel chargeable light?
I have there like quantity of ground,
And at the last day I shall be found.

The villainous laxity of versification which deforms the grim and sardonic beauty of these occasionally rough and halting lines is perceptible here and there in The Duchess of Malfy, but comes to its head in The Devil's Law-case. It cannot, I fear, be denied that Webster was the first to relax those natural bonds of noble metre whose service is perfect freedom'-as Shakespeare found it, and combined with perfect loyalty to its law the most perfect liberty of living and sublime and spontaneous and accurate expression. I can only conjecture that this greatest of the Shakespeareans was misguided out of his natural line of writing as exemplified and perfected in the tragedy of Vittoria, and lured into this cross and crooked byway of immetrical experiment, by the temptation of some theory or crotchet on the score of what is now called naturalism or realism; which, if there were any real or natural weight in the reasoning that seeks to support it, would of course do away, and of course ought to do away, with dramatic poetry altogether: for if it is certain that real persons do not actually converse in good metre, it is happily no less certain that they do not actually converse in bad metre. In the hands of so great a tragic poet as Webster a peculiar and impressive effect may now and then be produced by this anomalous and illegitimate way of writing; it certainly suits well with the thoughtful and fantastic

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truculence of Bosola's reflections on death and dissolution and decay -his talk fit for a charnel,' which halts and hovers between things hideous and things sublime. But it is a step on the downward way that leads to the negation or the confusion of all distinctions between poetry and prose; a result to which it would be grievous to think that the example of Shakespeare's greatest contemporary should in any way appear to conduce.

The doctrine or the motive of chance (whichever we may prefer to call it) is seen in its fullest workings and felt in its furthest bearings by the student of Webster's masterpiece. The fifth act of The Duchess of Malfy has been assailed on the very ground which it should have been evident to a thoughtful and capable reader that the writer must have intended to take up-on the ground that the whole upshot of the story is dominated by sheer chance, arranged by mere error, and guided by pure accident. No formal scheme or religious principle of retribution would have been so strangely or so thoroughly in keeping with the whole scheme and principle of the tragedy. After the overwhelming terrors and the overpowering beauties of that unique and marvellous fourth act in which the genius of this poet spreads its fullest and its darkest wing for the longest and the strongest of its flights, it could not but be that the subsequent action and passion of the drama should appear by comparison unimpressive or ineffectual; but all the effect or impression possible of attainment under the inevitable burden of this difficulty is achieved by natural and simple and straightforward means. If Webster has not made the part of Antonio dramatically striking and attractive-as he probably found it impossible to do--he has at least bestowed on the fugitive and unconscious widower of his murdered heroine a pensive and manly grace of deliberate resignation which is not without pathetic as well as poetical effect. In the beautiful and well-known scene where the echo from his wife's unknown and new-made grave seems to respond to his meditative mockery and forewarn him of his impending death, Webster has given such reality and seriousness to an old commonplace of contemporary fancy or previous fashion in poetry that we are fain to forget the fantastic side of the conception and see only the tragic aspect of its meaning. A weightier objection than any which can be brought against the conduct of the play might be suggested to the minds of some readers and these, perhaps, not too exacting or too captious readers-by the sudden vehemence of transformation which in the great preceding act seems to fall like fire from heaven upon the two chief criminals who figure on the stage of murder. It seems rather a miraculous retribution, a judicial violation of the laws of nature, than a reasonably credible consequence or evolution of those laws, which strikes Ferdinand with madness and Bosola with repentance. But the whole atmosphere of the action is so charged with thunder that this double and simultaneous shock of

moral electricity rather thrills us with admiration and faith than chills us with repulsion or distrust. The passionate intensity and moral ardour of imagination which we feel to vibrate and penetrate through every turn and every phrase of the dialogue would suffice to enforce upon our belief a more nearly incredible revolution of nature or revulsion of the soul.

It is so difficult for even the very greatest poets to give any vivid force of living interest to a figure of passive endurance that perhaps the only instance of perfect triumph over this difficulty is to be found in the character of Desdemona. Shakespeare alone could have made her as interesting as Imogen or Cordelia; though these have so much to do and dare, and she after her first appearance has simply to suffer even Webster could not give such individual vigour of characteristic life to the figure of his martyr as to the figure of his criminal heroine. Her courage and sweetness, her delicacy and sincerity, her patience and her passion, are painted with equal power and tenderness of touch: yet she hardly stands before us as distinct from others of her half angelic sisterhood as does the White Devil from the fellowship of her comrades in perdition.

But it is only with Shakespeare that Webster can ever be compared in any way to his disadvantage as a tragic poet: above all others of his country he stands indisputably supreme. The place of Marlowe indeed is higher among our poets by right of his primacy as a founder and a pioneer: but of course his work has not-as of course it could not have-that plenitude and perfection of dramatic power in construction and dramatic subtlety in detail which the tragedies of Webster share in so large a measure with the tragedies of Shakespeare, Marston, the poet with whom he has most in common, might almost be said to stand in the same relation to Webster as Webster to Shakespeare. In single lines and phrases, in a few detached passages and a very few distinguishable scenes, he is worthy to be compared with the greater poet; he suddenly rises and dilates to the stature and the strength of a model whom usually he can but follow afar off. Marston, as a tragic poet, is not quite what Webster would be if his fame depended simply on such scenes as those in which the noble mother of Vittoria breaks off her daughter's first interview with Brachiano-spares, and commends to God's forgiveness, the son who has murdered his brother before her eyes-and lastly appears in several forms of distraction,' "grown a very old woman in two hours," and singing that most pathetic and imaginative of all funereal invocations which the finest critic of all time so justly and so delicately compared to the watery dirge of Ariel. There is less refinement, less exaltation and perfection of feeling, less tenderness of emotion and less nobility of passion, but hardly less force and fervour, less weighty and sonorous ardour of expression, in the very best and loftiest passages of Marston: but his genius is more uncertain, more fitful and

intermittent, less harmonious, coherent, and trustworthy than Webster's. And Webster, notwithstanding an occasional outbreak into Aristophanic license of momentary sarcasm through the sardonic lips of such a cynical ruffian as Ferdinand or Flamineo, is without exception the cleanliest, as Marston is beyond comparison the coarsest writer of his time. In this as in other matters of possible comparison that vessel of deathless wrath,' the implacable and inconsolable poet of sympathy half maddened into rage and aspiration goaded backwards to despair, it should be needless to add the name of Cyril Tourneur-stands midway between these two more conspicuous figures of their age. But neither the father and master of poetic pessimists, the splendid and sombre creator of Vindice and his victims, nor any other third whom our admiration may discern among all the greatest of their fellows, can be compared with Webster on terms more nearly equal than those on which Webster stands in relation to the sovereign of them all.



MANY and wide as are the differences among economists in regard to the wisdom and efficiency of problems of vital interest to nations, they are, none the less, in decided agreement as to the absolute necessity every State is under to aim at the possession of a sound system of currency. This, at first sight, may appear a truism, but it cannot be denied that, in the tumult of faction and the whirl of party polemics, this wholesome canon is constantly and culpably lost sight of. We see perpetrated momentous and fundamental alterations in currency laws, deeply fraught and bound up with the weal or woe of the toiling masses. We find social economic revolutions effected without one in a thousand having the remotest conception of the grave import of that which they regard in the passive attitude of complacent spectators. Lord Liverpool's Mono-metallist Bill and the action of Germany, coupled with the spasmodic treatment of silver by the Latin Union during the past decade, are notable instances in point. In what manner, and to what extent, this Crusade against Silver-considered in the light of the recent phase of it in America -has conduced to the continuous and phenomenal depression of trade it is the aim of this paper to elucidate. When it is remembered that silver is a currency metal holding undisputed sway in countries counting their population by hundreds of millions, that it must continue, for ages to come, to hold this paramount position, and that it is the mainspring regulating the vast volume of our commerce with the East, the importance and interest of the subject will readily be conceded.

Gold and silver have from time immemorial been conjointly instrumental in supplying the currency requirements of the world. About the end of the last century, owing doubtless to the great multiplication of mercantile houses and banking institutions, longheaded financiers began to cast about them for the establishment, on a solid basis, of an international and sound system of financial law. Obviously a disturbance of the comparative position of the two metals was apprehended. To obviate this catastrophe, it was sought to obtain a ratio as between the exchangeable value of these, representing the average both of their normal production and their relative current

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