Imágenes de páginas


I will not give a penny for a life,

of being a very youthful performance of any Nor half a halfpenny to shun grim death;

Its great fault is tameness ; the Since for to live is but to seek to die,

author does not rise with the elevation of And dying but beginning of new life : his subject. To judge of its inferiority to Let come the hour when he that rules it will !

the matured power of Shakspere, dealing To live, or die, I hold indifferent.”

with a somewhat similar theme, it should be The victory of Poitiers ensues; but, pre- compared with the 'Henry V.' The question vious to the knowledge of this triumph, the then should be asked, Will the possible differcelebrated scene of the surrender of Calais ence of age account for this difference of is dramatized. It appears to us very in- | power ? We say possible, for we have no eviferior, in the higher requisites of poetry, to dence that theEdward III.' was produced the exquisite narrative of Froissart.

earlier than 1595, nor have we evidence that The concluding scene, in which the Prince the 'Henry V.,' in some shape, was produced of Wales offers up to the Most High a prayer later. Ulrici considers that this play forms and thanksgiving, is imbued with a patriotic an essential introduction to that series of spirit, but it has not the depth and discrimi- plays commencing with Richard II.' If nation of Shakspere's patriotism

Shakspere wrote that wonderful series upon “Now, father, this petition Edward makes:

a plan which necessarily included ‘Henry To Thee [kneels), whose grace hath been his V.,' we think he would advisedly have strongest shield,

omitted 'Edward III. ;' for the main subject That, as thy pleasure chose me for the man

of the conquest of France would be included To be the instrument to show thy power, in each play, The concluding observation So thou wilt grant, that many princes more,

of Ulrici is—"Truly, if this piece, as the Bred and brought up within that little isle, English critics assert, is not Shakspere's May still be famous for like victories ! own, it is a shame for them that they have And, for my part, the bloody scars I bear, done nothing to recover from forgetfulness The weary nights that I have watch'd in field, the name of this second Shakspere, this The dangerous conflicts I have often had, twin-brother of their great poet.” Resting The fearful menaces were proffer'd me, this opinion upon one play only, the expresThe heat, and cold, and what else might dis sion “twin-brother” has somewhat an unplease,

necessary strength. Admitting, which we do I wish were now redoubled twenty-fold;

not, that the best scenes of this play display So that hereafter ages, when they read

the same poetical power, though somewhat The painful traffic of my tender youth,


which is found in Shakspere’s hisMight thereby be inflamed with such resolve, As not the territories of France alone,

torical plays, there is one thing wanting to But likewise Spain, Turkey, and what coun

make the writer a “twin-brother,” which is tries else

found in all those productions. Where is That justly would provoke fair England's ire, the comedy of 'Edward III.'? The heroic Might, at their presence, tremble, and retire !" of Shakspere's histories might be capable of

imitation ; but the genius which created We have thus presented to our readers Faulconbridge, and Cade, and Pistol, and some of the striking passages of this play. Fluellen (Falstaff is out of the question) It does not, in our opinion, bear the marks could not be approached.



"The Merry Deuill of Edmonton: As it, Its popularity seems to have lasted much hath been sundry times acted by his Maies- longer : for it is mentioned by Edmund Gayties Servants, at the Globe on the Banke- ton, in 1654, in his “ Notes on Don Quixote.'+ side,' was originally published in 1608. The belief that the play was Shakspere's Kirkman, a bookseller, first affixed Shak- has never taken any root in England. Some spere's name to it in his catalogue. In 'The of the recent German critics, however, adopt Companion to the Playhouse, published in it as his without any hesitation. Tieck has 1764, it is stated, upon the authority of a translated it; and he says that it unlaborious antiquary, Thomas Coxeter, who doubtedly is by Shakspere, and must have died in 1747, to have been written by Michael been written about 1600. It has much of Drayton; and in some posthumous papers the tone, he thinks, of “The Merry Wives of of another diligent inquirer into literary Windsor,' and “mine host of the George” history, Oldys, the same assertion is ad- and “mine host of the Garter” are alike. vanced. Charles Lamb, who speaks of this It is surprising that Tieck does not see that play with a warmth of admiration which is the one character is, in a great degree, an probably carried a little too far—and which, imitation of the other. Shakspere, in the indeed, may in some degree be attributed to abundance of his riches, is not a poet who his familiarity with the quiet rural scenery repeats himself. Horn declares that Shakof Enfield, Waltham, Cheshunt, and Edmon- spere's authorship of 'The Merry Devil' is ton, in which places the story is laid-says, incontestable. Ulrici admits the bare pos“I wish it could be ascertained that Michael sibility of its being a very youthful work of Drayton was the author of this piece : it Shakspere’s. The great merit, on the conwould add a worthy appendage to the renown trary, of the best scenes of this play consists of that panegyrist of my native earth ; who in their perfect finish. There is nothing has gone over her soil (in his Polyolbion) careless about them ; nothing that betrays with the fidelity of a herald, and the painful the very young adventurer ; the writer is a love of a son ; who has not left a rivulet (so master of his art to the extent of his power. narrow that it may be stepped over) without But that is not Shakspere's power. honourable mention ; and has animated hills Fuller, in his Worthies,' thus records the and streams with life and passion above the merits of Peter Fabel, the hero of this play: dreams of old mythology."* "The Merry | “I shall probably offend the gravity of some Devil' was undoubtedly a play of great to insert, and certainly curiosity of others to popularity. We find, from the account-books omit, him. Some make him a friar, others a of the Revels at Court, that it was acted lay gentleman, all a conceited person, who, before the King in the same year, 1618, with with his merry devices, deceived the Devil,

Twelfth Night' and ' A Winter's Tale. In who by grace may be resisted, not deceived 1616, Ben Jonson, in his Prologue to “The by wit. If a grave bishop in his sermon, Devil is an Ass, thus addresses his au- speaking of Brute's coming into this land, dience :

said it was but a bruit, I hope I may say “If you 'll come

without offence that this Fabel was but a To see new plays, pray you afford us room, fable, supposed to live in the reign of King And show this but the same face you have Henry the Sixth.” His fame is more condone

fidingly recorded in the Prologue to “The Your dear delight, 'The Devil of Edmonton.'

Merry Devil:* Specimens of English Dramatic Poets.'

+ Collier's • Annals of the Stage,' vol. iii. p. 417.

[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

“ 'T is Peter Fabel, a renowned scholar,

Farther than reason (which should be his Whose fame hath still been hitherto forgot

pilot) By all the writers of this latter age.

Hath skill to guide him, losing once his comIn Middlesex his birth and his abode,

Not full seven miles from this great famous He falleth to such deep and dangerous whirl-

That, for his fame in sleights and magic won, As he doth lose the very sight of heaven :
Was call'd the Merry Fiend of Edmonton. The more he strives to come to quiet harbour,
If any here make doubt of such a name,

The farther still he finds himself from land.
In Edmonton, yet fresh unto this day,

Man, striving still to find the depth of evil,
Fix'd in the wall of that old ancient church, Seeking to be a God, becomes a devil.”
His monument remaineth to be seen :
His memory yet in the mouths of men, But the magician has tricked the fiend; the
That whilst he lived he could deceive the chair holds him fast, and the condition of

release is a respite for seven years. The The Prologue goes on to suppose him at supernatural part of the play may be said Cambridge at the hour when the term of his here to end; for, although throughout the

latter scenes there are some odd mistakes compact with the fiend is run out. We are not here to look for the terrible solemnity of produced by the devices of Fabel, they are the similar scene in Marlowe’s ‘Faustus;' such as might have been accomplished by but, nevertheless, that before us is written human agency, and in fact appear to have with great poetical power. Coreb, the spirit, been so accomplished. Tieck observes, “ It thus addresses the magician

is quite in Shakspere's manner that the Coreb. Why, scholar, this is the hour my This

, as it appears to us, is not in Shak,

magical part becomes nearly superfluous.” date expires;

spere's manner. In ‘Hamlet,' in ‘Macbeth,' I must depart, and come to claim my due. Fabel. Hah! what is thy due?

in 'The Midsummer Night's Dream,' in 'The Coreb. Fabel, thyself.

Tempest,' the magical or supernatural part Fabel. O let not darkness hear thee speak is so intimately allied with the whole action that word,

that it impels the entire movement of the Lest that with force it hurry hence amain, piece. Shakspere knew too well the soundAnd leave the world to look upon my woe:

ness of the Horatian maxim,-
Yet overwhelm me with this globe of earth,

“Nec Deus intersit nisi dignus vindice nodus," —
And let a little sparrow with her bill
Take but so much as she can bear away, to produce a ghost, a witch, or a fairy,
That, every day thus losing of my load, without necessity. However, the magical

I may again, in time, yet hope to rise.” part here finishes; and we are introduced to While the fiend sits down in the necromantic the society of no equivocal mortal, the host chair, Fabel thus soliloquises :

of the George at Waltham. Sir Arthur

Clare, his wife Dorcas, his daughter Millisent, “ Fabel. O that this soul, that cost so dear and his son Harry, arrive at the inn, where

a price
As the dear precious blood of her Redeemer,

the host says, “ Knights and lords have been Inspired with knowledge, should by that alone, This company have arrived at the George to

drunk in my house, I thank the destinies.” Which makes a man so mean unto the powers, Ev'n lead him down into the depth of hell !

meet Sir Richard Mounchensey, and his son When men in their own praise strive to know Raymond, to whom Millisent is betrothed;

but old Clare informs his wife that he is Than man should know!

resolved to break off the match, to send his For this alone God cast the angels down.

daughter for a year to a nunnery, and then The infinity of arts is like a sea,

to bestow her upon the son of Sir Ralph Into which when man will take in hand to Jerningham. Old Mounchensey, it seems, sail

has fallen upon evil days :

aful work of on the con

lay consists

is nothing hat betrays

: writer is a

f his power.

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]


I was but a ign of King s more con

sue to 'The

iii. p. 417.


Clare. For look you, wife, the riotous old | by their friend, whatever be the intrigues of knight

their parents :Hath overrun his annual revenue, In keeping jolly Christmas all the year :

"Jern. Raymond Mounchensey, now I touch The nostrils of his chimneys are still stuff'd

thy grief With smoke more chargeable than cane-to With the true feeling of a zealous friend. bacco;

And as for fair and beauteous Millisent, His hawks devour his fattest hogs, whilst With my vain breath I will not seek to simple,

slubber His leanest curs eat his hounds' carrion.

Her angel-like perfections : but thou know'st Besides, I heard of late his younger brother,

That Essex hath the saint that I adore : A Turkey-merchant, hath sure suck'd the Where'er didst meet me, that we two were knight,

jovial, By means of some great losses on the sea : But like a wag thou hast not laugh’d at me, That (you conceive me) before God, all's And with regardless jesting mock'd my love? nought,

How many a sad and weary summer's night His seat is weak; thus, each thing rightly My sighs have drunk the dew from off the scann'd,

earth, You 'll see a flight, wife, shortly of his land.” And I have taught the nightingale to wake,

And from the meadows sprung the early lark Fabel, the kind magician, who has been the An hour before she should have list to sing: tutor to Raymond, arrives at the same time I have loaded the poor minutes with my with the Mounchensey party. He knows moans, the plots against his young friend, and he is

That I have made the heavy slow-pac'd hours determined to circumvent them :

To hang like heavy clogs upon the day.

But, dear Mounchensey, had not my affection “Raymond Mounchensey, boy, have thou and I Seized on the beauty of another dame,

Thus long at Cambridge read the liberal arts, Before I'd wrong the chase, and leave the love
The metaphysics, magic, and those parts Of one so worthy, and so true a friend,
Of the most secret deep philosophy?

I will abjure both beauty and her sight,
Have I so many melancholy nights

And will in love become a counterfeit. Watched on the top of Peter-house highest Moun. Dear Jerningham, thou hast begot

tower, And come we back unto our native home, And from the mouth of hell, where now I For want of skill to loose the wench thou

sate, lov'st?

I feel my spirit rebound against the stars; We'll first hang Envil* in such rings of mist Thou hast conquer'd me, dear friend, in my As never rose from any dampish fen;

free soul, I'll make the brined sea to rise at Ware, There time, nor death, can by their power And drown the marshes unto Stratford

control. bridge:

Fabel. Frank Jerningham, thou art a gallant I'll drive the deer from Waltham in their

boy; walks,

And, were he not my pupil, I would say, And scatter them, like sheep, in every field. He were as fine a metall’d gentleman, We may perhaps be crossed; but, if we be,

Of as free spirit, and of as fine a temper, He shall cross the devil that but crosses me."

As is in England; and he is a man Harry Clare, Frank Jerningham, and Ray

That very richly may deserve thy love.

But, noble Clare, this while of our discourse, mond Mounchensey are strict friends; and

What may Mounchensey's honour to thyself there is something exceedingly delightful in

Exact upon the measure of thy grace? the manner in which Raymond throws away

Young Clare. Raymond Mounchensey, I all suspicion, and the others resolve to stand

would have thee know,

He does not breathe this air, whose love I * Envil-Enfield.



my life,


like it;

And whose soul I love, more than Moun Clare. Hold thy chat, quean. chensey's :

Old Moun. To which I hearkened willingly, Nor ever in my life did see the man

and the rather, Whom, for his wit and many virtuous parts, Because I was persuaded it proceeded I think more worthy of my sister's love.

From love thou borest to me and to my boy; But, since the matter grows unto this pass, And gavest him free access unto thy house, I must not seem to cross my father's will; Where he hath not behaved him to thy child But when thou list to visit her by night, But as befits a gentleman to do: My horse is saddled, and the stable door Nor is my poor distressed state so low Stands ready for thee; use them at thy plea That I'll shut up my doors, I warrant thee.

Clare. Let it suffice, Mounchensey, I misIn honest marriage wed her frankly, boy, And if thou gett’st her, lad, God give thee joy. Nor think thy son a match fit for my child. Moun. Then, care away! let fate my fall Old Moun. I tell thee, Clare, his blood is pretend,

good and clear Back'd with the favours of so true a friend." As the best drop that panteth in thy veins:

But for this maid, thy fair and virtuous child, Charles Lamb, who gives the whole of this

She is no more disparag'd by thy baseness, scene in his ‘Specimens,' speaks of it rap

Than the most orient and the precious jewel, turously :-" This scene has much of Shak

Which still retains his lustre and his beauty speare's manner in the sweetness and good

Although a slave were owner of the same.” naturedness of it. It seems written to make the reader happy. Few of our dramatists or For his “ frantic and untamed passion” novelists have attended enough to this. They Fabel reproves him. The comic scenes which torture and wound us abundantly. They are now occur are exceedingly lively. If the wit economists only in delight. Nothing can be is not of the highest order, there is real fun finer, more gentlemanlike, and noble, than and very little coarseness. We are thrown the conversation and compliments of these into the midst of a jolly set, stealers of young men. How delicious is Raymond venison in Enfield Chase, of whom the leader Mounchensey's forgetting, in his fears, that is Sir John, the priest of Enfield. His Jerningham has a saint in Essex ;' and how humour consists of applying a somewhat sweetly his friend reminds him !"

pious sentence upon every occasion—“Hem, The ancient plotters, Clare and Jerningham, grass and hay—we are all mortal--let ’s live are drawn as very politic but not over-wise till we die, and be merry, and there's an fathers. There is, however, very little that end.” Mine host of the George is an assois harsh or revolting in their natures. They ciate of this goodly fraternity. The comedy put out their feelers of worldly cunning is not overloaded, and is very judiciously timidly, and they draw them in with con- brought in to the relief of the main action. siderable apprehension when they see danger We have next the introduction of Millisent and difficulty before them. All this is in to the Prioress of Cheston (Cheshunt) :harmony with the thorough good humour of

Lady Clare. Madam, the whole drama. The only person who is The love unto this holy sisterhood, angry is Old Mounchensey :

And our confirm’d opinion of your zeal, Clare. I do not hold thy offer competent; Hath truly won us to bestow our child Nor do I like the assurance of thy land,

Rather on this than any neighbouring cell. The title is so brangled with thy debts.

Prioress. Jesus' daughter! Mary's child ! Old Moun. Too good for thee: and, knight, Holy matron! woman mild ! thou know'st it well,

For thee a mass shall still be said,
I fawn'd not on thee for thy goods, not I, Every sister drop a bead;
'T was thine own motion; that thy wife doth And those again succeeding them


shall sing a requiem. Lady Clare. Husband, it was so; he lies Sir Arthur. Madam, for a twelvemonth's not in that.


« AnteriorContinuar »