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cedents afforded by Greece and Rome. Of comedy, of patient sprite to others wrapp'd in woe,
Not long after the appearance of Ferrex and UDALL, master of Westminster school. It is supposed to have been written in the reign of Henry
Porrex, both tragedies and comedies had become not VIII., but certainly not later than 1551. The scene
uncommon. Damon and Pythias, the first English is in London, and the characters, thirteen in num
tragedy upon a classical subject, was acted before ! ber, exhibit the manners of the middle orders of the
the queen at Oxford, in 1566 ; it was the composition
of RICHARD EDWARDS, a learned member of the uni. people of that day. It is divided into five acts, and the plot is amusing and well constructed. Mr J.
versity, but was inferior to Ferrex and Porrex, in as Payne Collier, who has devoted years of anxious
far as it carried an admixture of vulgar comedy, and study to the history and illustration of dramatic
was written in rhyme. In the same year, two plays literature, has discovered four acts of a comedy,
respectively styled the Supposes and Jocasta, the one which he assigns to the year 1560. This play is
| a comedy adapted from Ariosto, the other a traentitled Mesogonus, and bears to be written by be
gedy from Euripides, were acted in Gray's Inn Hall. • Thomas Rychardes.' The scene is laid in Italy, but the manners are English, and the character of the domestic fool, so important in the old comedy, is fully delineated. The next in point of time is Gammer Gurton's Needle, supposed to have been written about 1565 (or still earlier) by John STILL, Master of Arts, and afterwards bishop of Bath and Wells. This is a piece of low rustic humour, the whole turning upon the loss and recovery of the needle with which Gammer Gurton was mending a piece of attire belonging to her man Hodge. But it is cleverly hit off, and contains a few well-sketched characters.
The language of Ralph Royster Doyster, and of Gammer Gurton's Needle, is in long and irregularly measured rhyme, of which a specimen may be given from a speech of Dame Custance in the former play, respecting the difficulty of preserving a good reputation :
- How necessary it is now a-days,
came di; 1106)
Gray's Inn Hall. and observes some of the more useful rules of the
te A tragedy, called Tancred and Gismunda, composed classic drama of antiquity, to which it bears resem
by five members of the Inner Temple, and presented blance in the introduction of a chorus—that is, a group of persons whose sole business it is to inter
" there before the queen in 1568, was the first Eng
lish play taken from an Italian novel. Various sperse the play with moral observations and infe
dramatic pieces now followed, and between the years rences, expressed in lyrical stanzas. It may occasion some surprise, that the first English tragedy should
1568 and 1580, no less than fifty-two dramas were
acted at court under the superintendence of the contain lines like the following
| Master of the Revels. Under the date of 1578, we A castus. Your grace should now, in these grave have the play of Promos and Cassandra, by GEORGE years of yours,
WHETSONE, on which Shakspeare founded his Have found ere this the price of mortal joys ; Measure for Measure. Historical plays were also How short they be, how fading here in carth; produced, and the Troublesome Reign of King John, How full of change, how little our estate
the Famous Victories of Henry V., and the Chronicle Of nothing sure save only of the death,
History of Leir, King of England, formed the quarry To whom both man and all the world doth owe from which Shakspeare constructed his dramas on Their end at last : neither should nature's power the same events. The first regularly licensed theatre In other sort against your heart prevail.
in London was opened at Blackfriars in 1576; and in Than as the naked hand whose stroke assays
ten years, it is mentioned by Secretary Walsingham, The armed breast where force doth light in vain. that there were two hundred players in and near Gorboduc. Many can yield right sage and grave the metropolis. This was probably an exaggeration, advice
| but it is certain there were fire public tr.catres opring
Brave prick-song! who is't now we hear ?
None but the lark so shrill and clear, John Lyly, born in Kent in 1554, produced nine Now at heaven's gate she claps her wings, plays between the years 1579 and 1600. They The morn not waking till she sings. were mostly written for court entertainments, and Hark, hark ! but what a pretty note, performed by the scholars of St Paul's. He was edu
Poor Robin red-breast tunes his throat; cated at Oxford, and many of his plays are on my. Hark, how the jolly cuckoos sing thological subjects, as Sappho and Phaon, Endymion, * Cuckoo !' to welcome in the spring. the Maid's Metamorphosis, &c. His style is affected and unnatural, yet, like his own Niobe, in the Me- |
GEORGE PEELE, tamorphosis, oftentimes he had sweet thoughts, sometimes hard conceits ; betwixt both a kind of GEORGE PEELE held the situation of city poet and yielding. By his Euphues, or the Anatomy of Wit, conductor of pageants for the court. He was also Lyly exercised a powerful though injurious influ. an actor and a shareholder with Shakspeare and ence on the fashionable literature of his day, in prose others, in 1589, in the Blackfriars theatre. In 1584, composition as well as in discourse. His plays were his Arraignment of Paris, a court show, was reprenot important enough to found a school. Hazlitt sented before Elizabetlı. The author was then a was a warm admirer of Lyly's Endymion, but evi- young man, who had recently left Christ-church, dently from the feclings and sentiments it awakened, Oxford. In 1593, Peele gave an example of an Engrather than the poetry. I know few things more lish historical play in his Edward I. The style of perfect in characteristic painting,' he remarks, this piece is turgid and monotonous; yet, in the fol
than the exclamation of the Phrygian shepherds, lowing allusion to England, we see something of the who, afraid of betraying the secret of Midas's ears, high-sounding kingly speeches in Shakspeare's his. fancy that “the very reeds bow down, as though torical plays :they listened to their talk ;" nor more affecting in sentiment, than the apostrophe addressed by his Illustrious England, ancient seat of kings, friend Eumenides to Endymion, on waking from his Whose chivalry hath royalis'd thy fame, long sleep, “Behold the twig to which thou laidest
That, sounding bravely through terrestrial vale, down thy head is now become a tree."! There are Proclaiming conquests, spoils, and victories, finer things in the Metamorphosis, as where the Rings glorious echoes through the farthest world! prince laments Euryniene lost in the woods
What warlike nation, train'd in feats of arms,
What barbarous people, stubborn, or untam'd, Adorned with the presence of my love,
What climate under the meridian signs, The woods I fear such secret power shall prove,
Or frozen zone under his bruinal stage, As they'll shut up each path, hide every way,
Erst have not quak'd and trembled at the name Because they still would have her go astray,
Of Britain and her mighty conquerors ? And in that place would always have her seen,
Her neighbour realms, as Scotland, Denmark, France, Only because they would be ever green,
Awed with their deeds, and jealous of her arins, And keep the winged choristers still there,
Have begg'd defensive and offensive leagues. To banish winter clean out of the year.
Thus Europe, rich and Inighty in her kings, Or the song of the fairies
Hath fear'd brave England, dreadful in her kings.
And now, to eternise Albion's chainpions,
Equivalent with Trojan's ancient fame,
Comes lovely Edward from Jerusalem,
Veering before the wind, ploughing the sea ;
His stretched sails fill'd with the breath of men,
That through the world admire his manliness.
And lo, at last arrived in Dover road,
Longshank, your king, your glory, and our son, The genius of Lyly was essentially lyrical. The With troops of conquering lords and warlike knights, songs in his plays seem to flow freely from nature. Like bloody-crested Mars, o'erlooks his host, The following exquisite little pieces are in his drana Higher than all his army by the head, of Alexander and Campaspe, written about 1583 :
Marching along as bright as Phæbus' eyes !
And we, his mother, shall behold our son,
And England's peers shall see their sovereign.
Peele was also author of the Ol Wires' Tale, a legen.
dary story, part in prose, and part in blank verse, He stakes his quiver, bow, and arrows, which afforded Milton a rude outline of his fable of His mother's doves and team of sparrows; Comus. The Old Wives' Tale was printed in 1595, Loses them too, and down he throws
as acted by the Queen's Majesty's Players. The The coral of his lip—the rose
greatest work of Peele is his Scripture drama, the Growing on's cheek, but none knows how ;
Love of King David and Fair Bethsabe, with the With these the crystal on his brow,
tragedy of Absalom, which Mr Campbell terms 'the And then the dimple of his chin;
earliest fountain of pathos and harmony that can be All these did my Campaspe win:
traced in our dramatic poetry.' The date of represenAt last he set her both his eyes ;
tation of this drama is not known; it was not printed She won, and Cupid blind did rise.
till 1599, after Shakspeare had written some of his Oh Love, hath she done this to thee?
finest comedies, and opened up a fountain compared What shall, alas, become of me!
with which the feeble tricklings of Peele were wholly
insignificant. It is not probable that Peele's play was Song.
written before 1590, as one passage in it is a direct What bird so sings, yet so does wail !
plagiarism from the Faery Queen of Spenser. We O'tis the ravish'd nightingale
may allow Peele the merit of a delicate poetical Jug, jug, jug, jug-tereu--she cries,
| fancy and smooth musical versification. The defect And still her woes at midnight rise.
of his blank verse is its want of variety: the art of varying the pauses and modulating the verse with | That precious fount benr sand of purest gold; out the aid of rhyme had not yet been generally | And for the pebble, let the silver streams adopted. In David and Bethsabe this monotony is That pierce earth's bowels to maintain the source, less observable, because his lines are smoother, and Play upon rubies, sapphires, crysolites ; there is a play of rich and luxurious fancy in some Thé brim let be embrac'd with golden curls of the scenes.
Of moss that sleeps with sound the waters make
For joy to feed the fount with their recourse ;
Bear manna every morn, instead of dew;
Or let the dew be sweeter far than that His holy style and happy victories ;
That hangs like chains of pearl on Hermon hill, Whose muse was dipt in that inspiring dew,
Or balin which trickled from old Aaron's beard. Archangels 'stilled from the breath of Jove, Decking her temples with the glorious towers
Enter Cusay. Heaven rain'd on tops of Sion and Mount Sinai. See, Cusay, see the flower of Israel, Upon the bosom of his ivory lute
The fairest daughter that obeys the king, The cherubim and angels laid their breasts ;
In all the land the Lord subdued to me, And when his consecrated fingers struck
Fairer than Isaac's lover at the well, The golden wires of his ravishing harp,
Brighter than inside bark of new-hewn cedar, He gave alarum to the host of heaven,
Sweeter than flames of fine perfumed myrrh; That, wing’d with lightning, brake the clouds, and cast And comelier than the silver clouds that dance Their crystal armour at his conquering feet.
On zephyr's wings before the King of Heaven. Of this sweet poet, Jove's musician,
Cusay. Is it not Bethsabe the Hethite's wife, And of his beauteous son, I press to sing ;
Urias, now at Rabath siege with Joab ! Then help, divine Adonai, to conduct
David. Go now and bring her quickly to the king ; Upon the wings of my well-temperd verse,
Tell her, her graces hath found grace with him. The hearers' minds above the towers of heaven,
Cusay. I will, my lord.
(Exit. And guide them so in this thrice haughty flight, David. Bright Bethsabe shall wash in David's Their mounting feathers scorch not with the fire
bower That none can temper but thy holy hand :
In water mixed with purest alınond flower, To thee for succour flies my feeble muse,
And bathe her beauty in the milk of kids; And at thy feet her iron pen doth use.
Bright Bethsabe gives earth to my desires,
Verdure to earth, and to that verdure flowers, BETHSABE and her maid bathing. King David above.
To flowers sweet odours, and to odours wings,
That carries pleasures to the hearts of kings.
Now comes my lover tripping like the roe,
Shall, as the serpents fold into their neste, Let not my beauty's fire
In oblique turnings wind the nimble waves Inflame unstaid desire,
About the circles of her curious walks, Nor pierce any bright eye
And with their murmur summon caseful sleep, That wandereth lightly.
To lay his golden sceptre on her brows. Bethsabe. Come, gentle zephyr, trick'd with those perfumes
Mr Lamb says justly, that the line .seated in hearing That erst in Eden sweeten'd Adam's love,
of a hundred streams' is the best in the above pasAnd stroke my bosom with the silken fan :
sage. It is indeed a noble poetical image. Peele This shade (sun proof) is yet no proof for thee;
died before 1599, and seems, like most of his draThy body, smoother than this waveless spring,
matic brethren, to have led an irregular life, in the And purer than the substance of the same,
midst of severe poverty. A volume of Merry ConCan creep through that his lances cannot pierce.
ceited Jests, said to have been by him, was published Thou and thy sister, soft and sacred air,
after his death in 1607, which shows that he was Goddess of life and governess of health,
not scrupulous as to the means of relieving his Keeps every fountain fresh and arbour sweet ;
In 1588, THOMAS Kyp produced his play of HieroDarid. What tunes, what words, what looks, what nimo or Jeronimo, and some years afterwards a second wonders pierce
part to it, under the title of the Spanish Tragedy, or My soul, incensed with a sudden fire !
Hieronimo is Mad Again. This second part is supWhat tree, what shade, what spring, what paradise, posed to have gone through more editions than any Enjoys the beauty of so fair a daine !
play of the time. Ben Jonson was afterwards enFair Eva, plac'd in perfect happiness,
gaged to make additions to it, when it was revived Lending her praise-notes to the liberal heavens, in 1601, and further additions in 1602. These new Struck with the accents of archangels' tunes,
scenes are said by Lamb to be the very salt of the Wrought not more pleasure to her husband's thoughts old play,' and so superior to Jonson's acknowledged Than this fair woman's words and notes to mine. works, that he attributes them to Webster, or some May that sweet plain that bears her pleasant weight, more potent spirit' than Ben. This seems refining Be still enamelld with discolour'd flowers;
too much in criticism. Kyd, like Marlow, often
verges upon bombast, and deals largely in blood I The sun's rays.
I and death.
written in conjunction with Lodge. Greene died THOMAS NASI.
in September 1592, owing, it is said, to a surfeit of THOMAS NASI. a lively satirist, who amused the red herrings and Rhenish wine! Besides his plays. town with his attacks on Gabriel Harvey and the he wrote a number of tracts, one of which, Pandosto, Puritans, wrote a comedy called Summer's Last Will the Triumph of Time, 1588, was the source from and Testament, which was exhibited before Queen which Shakspeare derived the plot of his Winter's Elizabeth in 1592. He was also concerned with Tale. Some lines contained in this tale are very Marlow in writing the tragedy of Dido, Queen of beautiful :Carthage. He was imprisoned for being the author
Ah, were she pitiful as she is fair, of a satirical play, never printed, called the Isle of
Or but as mild as she is seeming so, Dogs. Another piece of Nash's, entitled the Suppli
Then were my hopes greater than my despair cation of Pierce Penniless to the Devil, was printed in
Then all the world were heaven, nothing woe. 1592, which was followed next year by Christ's Tears
Ah, were her heart relenting as her hand, over Jerusalem. Nash was a native of Leostoff, in
That seems to melt e'en with the mildest touch, Suffolk, and was born about the year 1564; he was
Then knew I where to seat me in a land of St John's college, Cambridge, He died about
Under the wide heavens, but yet not such. the year 1600, after a life spent,' he says, 'in So as she shows, she seems the budding rose, fantastical satirism, in whose veins heretofore I | Yet sweeter far than is an earthly flower ; mispent my spirit, and prodigally conspired against | Sovereign of beauty, like the spray sbe grows, good hours.' He was the Churchill of his day, and Compass'd she is with thorns and canker'd flower ; was much famed for his satires. One of his con- | Yet, were she willing to be pluck'd and worn, temporaries remarks of him, in a happy couplet
She would be gather'd though she grew on thorn. His style was witty, though he had some gall, The blank verse of Greene approaches next to that Something he might have mended, so may all. of Marlow, though less energetic. His imagination
Return from Parnassus.
was lively and discursive, fond of legendary lore, and The versification of Nash is hard and monotonous.
filled with classical images and illustrations. In his The following is from his comedy of Summer's Last Orlando, he thus apostrophises the evening star :Will and Testament,' and is a favourable specimen Fair queen of love, thou mistress of delight, of his blank verse : great part of the play is in Thou gladsome lamp that wait'st on Phuebe's train, prose :
Spreading thy kindness through the jarring orbs, I never lor'd ambitiously to climb,
That in their union praise thy lasting powers;
Thou that hast stay'd the fiery Phlegon's course, Or thrust my hand too far into the fire.
And mad'st the coachman of the glorious wain
To droop in view of Daphne's excellence;
Fair pride of morn, sweet beauty of the even, Cannot but be more labour than delight.
Look on Orlando languishing in love. Such is the state uf men in honour placed :
Sweet solitary groves, whereas the nymphs They are gold vessels made for servile uses;
With pleasance laugh to see the satyrs play High trees that keep the weather from low houses,
Witness Orlando's faith unto his love. But cannot shield the tempest from themselves.
Tread she these lawns ?-kind Flora, boast thy pride. I love to dwell betwixt the hills and dales,
Seek she for shades !--spread, cedars, for her sake. Neither to be so great as to be envied,
Fair Flora, make her couch amidst thy flowers. Nor yet so poor the world should pity me.
Sweet crystal springs,
Wash ye with roses when she longs to drink. In his poem of Pierce Penniless, Nash draws a har
| Ah thought, my heaven ! Ah heaven, that knows my rowing picture of the despair of a poor scholar
thought ! Ah, worthless wit! to train me to this woe :
Smile, joy in her that my content hath wrought. Deceitful arts that nourish discontent:
Passages like this prove that Greene succeeds well, Ill thrive the folly that bewitch'd me so !
as Hallam remarks, 'in that florid and gay style, a Vain thoughts adieu ! for now I will repent
little redundant in images, which Shakspeare freAnd yet my wants persuade me to proceed,
quently gives to his princes and courtiers, and which For none take pity of a scholar's need.
renders some unimpassioned scenes in the historic Forgive me, God, although I curse my birth, plays effective and brilliant.' Professor Tieck gives And ban the air wherein I breathe a wretch, him the high praise of possessing 'a happy talent, a Since misery hath daunted all my mirth,
clear spirit, and a lively imagination. His comedies And I am quite undone through promise breach ; have a good deal of boisterous merriment and farcical Ah, friends -no friends that then ungentle frown humour. George-a-Green is a shrewd YorkshireWhen changing fortune casts us headlong down. man, who meets with the kings of Scotland and
England, Robin Hood, Maid Marian, &c., and who,
after various tricks, receives the pardon of King ROBERT GREENE,
Edward ROBERT GREENE, a more distinguished dramatist, George-a-Green, give me thy hand : there is is conjectured to have been a native of Norfolk, as None in England that shall do thee wrong. he adds Norfolciensis' to his name, in one of his pro Even from my court I came to see thyself, ductions. He was educated at Clare-Hall, Cam And now I see that fame speaks nought but truth. bridge, and in 1583 appeared as an author. He is
The following is a specimen of the simple humour supposed to have been in orders, and to have held the vicarage of Tollesbury, in Essex, as, in 1585, Robert
and practical jokes in the play: it is in a scene beGreene, the vicar, lost his preferment. The plays of
tween George and his servant :