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I but deceiv'd your eyes with antic gesture,
Near. 'Tis a truth too ominous.
Cal. One kiss on these cold lips-my last: crack, crack; Argos, now Sparta's king, command the voices Which wait at th' altar, now to sing the song I fitted for
And then, after the song, she dies.
This is the true false gallop of sentiment : any thing more artificial and mechanical I cannot conceive. The boldness of the attempt, however, the very extravagance, might argue the reliance of the author on the truth of feeling prompting him to hazard it; but the whole scene is a forced transposition of that already alluded to in Marston's Malcontent. Even the form of the stage directions is the same.
“ Enter Mendozo supporting the Duchess; Guerrino; the
Ladies that are on the stage rise. Ferrardo ushers in the
The Duke is quite invisible, or else is not.
Aurelia. We are not pleased with your intrusion upon our private retirement; we are not pleased : you have forgot yourselves.
Enter a Page.
Page. Alas, I left him burying the earth with his spread joyless limbs; he told me he was heavy, would sleep: bid me walk off, for the strength of fantasy oft made him talk in his dreams: I strait obeyed, nor ever saw him since; but wheresoe'er he is, he's sad.
Aurelia. Music, sound high, as is our heart; sound high. Enter Malevole and her Husband, disguised like a Hermit. Malevole. The Duke? Peace, the Duke is dead. Aurelia. Music !"
Act IV. Scene 3.
The passage in Ford appears to me an illjudged copy from this. That a woman should call for music, and dance on in spite of the death of her husband whom she hates, without regard to common decency, is but too possible: that she should dance on with the same heroic perseverance in spite of the death of her husband, of her father, and of every one else whom she loves, from regard to common courtesy or appearance, is not surely natural. The passions may silence the voice of humanity, but it is, I think, equally
against probability and decorum to make both the passions and the voice of humanity give way (as in the example of Calantha) to a mere form of outward behaviour. Such a suppression of the strongest and most uncontroulable feelings can only be justified from necessity, for some great purpose, which is not the case in Ford's play; or it must be done for the effect and eclat of the thing, which is not fortitude but affectation. Mr. Lamb in his impressive eulogy on this passage in the Broken Heart has failed (as far as I can judge) in establishing the parallel between this uncalled-for exhibition of stoicism, and the story of the Spartan Boy.
It may be proper to remark here, that most of the great men of the period I have treated of (except the greatest of all, and one other) were men of classical education. They were learned men in an unlettered age; not self-taught men in a literary and critical age. This circumstance should be taken into the account in a theory of the dramatic genius of that age. Except Shakespear, nearly all of them, indeed, came up from Oxford or Cambridge, and immediately began to write for the stage. No wonder. The first coming up to London in those days must have had a singular effect upon a young man of genius, almost like visiting Babylon or Susa, or a
journey to the other world. The stage (even as it then was), after the recluseness and austerity of a college-life, must have appeared like Armida’s enchanted palace, and its gay votaries like
“Fairy elves beyond the Indian mount,
Whose midnight revels, by a forest-side
So our young novices must have felt when they first saw the magic of the scene, and heard its syren sounds with rustic wonder, and the scholar's pride: and the joy that streamed from their eyes at that fantastic vision, at that gaudy shadow of life, of all its business and all its pleasures, and kindled their enthusiasm to join the mimic throng, still has left a long lingering glory behind it; and though now “ deaf the praised ear, and mute the tuneful tongue,” lives in their eloquent page, “informed with music, sentiment, and thought, never to die!"
ON SINGLE PLAYS, POEMS, &c. THE FOUR P'S, THE RETURN FROM PARNASSUS, GAMMER GURTON'S NEEDLE, AND OTHER WORKS.
I shall, in this Lecture, turn back to give some account of single plays, poems, &c.; the authors of which are either not known or not very eminent, and the productions themselves, in general, more remarkable for their singularity, or as specimens of the style and manners of the age, than for their intrinsic merit or poetical excellence. There are many more works of this kind, however, remaining, than I can pretend to give an account of; and what I shall chiefly aim at, will be, to excite the curiosity of the reader, rather than to satisfy it.
The Four P's is an interlude, or comic dialogue, in verse, between a Palmer, a Pardoner, a Poticary, and a Pedlar, in which each exposes the tricks of his own and his neighbours' profession, with much humour and shrewdness. It was written by John Heywood, the Epigram