« AnteriorContinuar »
Fire. Well, mother, I thank you for your kindness,
In this play there is a thought
“ Nothing lives But has a joy in somewhat” —
which will remind the poetical reader of Mr. Wordsworth. The words themselves would form a good text for all the “Loves”—from the Angels,' and 'Plants,' and Minerals, &c. down to (almost) the Triangles' themselves.
The next play, from which we select a passage, is the tragedy of The Changeling, which Middleton wrote in conjunction with Rowley. And here we may observe a peculiarity which occurs frequently in Middleton's plays, which is, that his heroines, in contradiction to custom, are generally women faithless and abandoned. As other poets seem to raise for themselves a standard of excellence, and appear to be for ever moulding characters and images to approach their ideal model of perfection ; so, on the other hand, Middleton seems to have continually contemplated an opposite model - a standard of treachery and infidelity. His worship was like an Egyptian’s, and his idols are all moral deformities--monsters and hideous creatures, whom no pure and healthy imagination could consent perpetually to cherish. His Dutchess, in The Witch-Biancha, (or Brancha,) in Women beware of Women-Beatrice, in The Changeling—are women who rebel against the conjugal duties, and conspire against their husbands' lives-and, indeed, there is scarcely a single instance of one of his females possessing real virtue, or any share of gentle affection. They are almost all lascivious, faithless, or cruel. His best personages (where none good) are amongst the men; for though the titles of Middleton's dramas may seem occasionally to convey a compliment to the sex, as it is called-(as More dissemblers besides Women, and A Woman never vect)—yet the detail but seldom answers to the heading of the chapter of praise. In the play called More dissemblers besides Women there are (independantly of a waiting-woman) three female characters, two of whom are of the frailest possible material, and the third but little better, if at all.
But, with respect to our extract from The ChangelingBeatrice Joanna, the heroine, is married to Alonzo de Piracquo : she dislikes him, and employs Deflores, a deformed dwarf, to kill him. The deed is effected, and the following
is the first interview between the guilty parties,--the beautiful Beatrice and the hideous dwarf. It contains a lesson for ladies.
“ Beat. Deflores.
Def. All things are answerable, time, circumstance,
Beat. Is it done, then?
Beat. My joys start at mine eyes; our sweet'st delights
Def. I've a token for you.
Def. But it was sent somewhat unwillingly,
Beat. Bless me! what hast thou done?
Def. Why, is that more than killing the whole man?
Beat. 'Tis the first token my father made me send him.
Def. And I made him send it (you] back again
Beat. At the stag's fall, the keeper has his fees;
may make use on shortly; the true value,
Def. 'Twill hardly buy a capcase for one's conscience
merit Would scorn the
Def. No, I hope so, lady;
Beat. Prithee! thou look'st as if thou wer't offended.
My service should draw such a cause from you.
think So ? That were much
Beat. 'Twete misery in me to give you cause, sir.
Def. I know so much, it were so; misery
Beat. 'Tis resoly'd then;
Def. What! salary? now you move me.
Def. Do you place me in the rank of verminous fellows,
Beat. I understand thee not.
Def. I could have hired
Beat. (Aside.) I'm in a labyrinth;
I prithee make away with all speed possible;
Def. You must fly too then.
Def. Why, are not you as guilty, in I'm sure
you but ill; my absence
Beat. (Aside.) He speaks home.
Def. Nor is it fit we two engag'd so jointly,
The tragedy of Women beware of Women is on the whole, we think, Middleton's finest play. It is founded on the story of Biancha Capello, long since translated into our language from the Italian. The heroine was a beautiful Venetian who married a native of Florence, and accompanying him to that city, was seen and admired by the reigning Duke, one of the family of the De Medici. Biancha yielded to the Duke's passion, and finally conspired with him to put an end to her husband's life. This is the principal vein that runs through the play ; though there is an underplot also, and they both branch out into other unexpected, but not unnatural consequences, making the whole as full of incident as any play in the English language. – The drama opens with the arrival of Leantio and his wife Biancha at his poor cottage at Florence. He consigns her to his mother's care, and resolves, after one day of enjoyment, to return to the labour which is necessary for his own and his wife's support. Leantio exults exceedingly in his wife's personal perfections, and she, on her part, rates as nothing the ordinary evils of poverty. She is compensated by the entire love of her husband, whose fondness breaks out upon all occasions.
“Oh, fair-ey'd Florence !
Nevertheless, it is necessary, as we have said, that he should leave her to follow his occupations. He resolves upon this, while she, on her part, endeavours to detain him.
“ Bian. I perceive, sir,
Lean. Farewell; I must not.
Bian. Come, come, pray return !
Lean. I could well wish myself where you would have me;
As fitting is a government in love,
And now for a change, to startle the simple reader and to tickle the ear of a woman-hater. Biancha, (she is called * Brancha throughout the play, but it is evidently wrong, that name coinciding neither with the fact, nor being sufficient to complete the line,)-Biancha is seen at her window by the Duke of Florence. He contrives to meet her, by the agency of a dissolute lady, (Livia,) and effects her ruin. The change of Biancha's character, consequent upon her seduction, is admirably managed. The scene is altogether very dramatic ; and the contrast between the cold, impudent, dissatisfied wife, and the anticipating, confiding, husband, is striking and appalling. We give the scene entire.
« Enter Leantio.
Now for a welcome
Enter Biancha and Mother.
Bian. Oh, sir, you're welcome home.