Obrázky stránek
PDF
ePub

ANALYTICAL ESSAYS ON THE EARLY

ENGLISH DRAMATISTS.

quest by Messrs Cavendish and Gilpin, as it hall recently rubbed against the both of whom, it is remarkable, died shore, We were sixteen days navigatbefore it was completed. It was of ing between the meridians of 5.0 and wood. But the first time it was sent 10° W. without even being able to see to the depth of 300 fathoms, the wood four miles for fog ; and frequently the swelled, opened, and became leaky, mist was so thick for forty-eight hours and the plate-glass illuminators rent, together, that we could not see obthrough the middle, whereby it was jects at the distance of a hundred rendered useless. I therefore made a yards. At these times, when we had model of a similar instrument, and got light winds, we sometimes groped as it cast in brass. It was well finished, it were through the ice for a few hours and was a beautiful apparatus : it was in the day, but generally moved in provided with Six's thermometer, and the evening, and in fresh winds. It the valves of the original instrument. was in longitude 4° 44 W. that I lost I cannot say whether the failure of my marine diver and apparatus.—1 am, the experiment, or the loss of the in- my dear sir, your most obcdient serstrument, gave me the most con- vant,

WM SCORESBY, jun. cer. The line which broke was the thickest, and apparently the strongest of the whole series in use. A small portion, however, scarcely two inches in length, proved to have been injured by accidental moisture, and

No II. was rotten. Had it been as good as it appeared, it would have supported

Edward II.-MARLOW.* thrice the weight. The strain on the line certainly exceeded what I had cal

[We have been promised, by a gentleculated. The rope being thoroughly man distinguished for his knowledge of old wetted, became nearly half as heavy English Literature, a series of Essays on the in water as it was before in air. Thus early Dramatists. The first essay of the terminates my experiments on the tem series (on the “ Faustus" of Marlow) apperature of the sea at great depth. peared in the fourth Number of this Ma.

I fear I shall have wearied you with gazine, and they will be regularly continued this elaborate account of my mishap.

in this publication.] On account of the singular open- This, we think, is decidedly the best ness of the Greenland seas, I have of all Marlow's plays, and is entittwice (during my last voyage) pene- led to rank with the finest historical trated to the longitude of 100 W. when the weather was foggy, and once to 10° W. when the weather

Christopher Marlow was born in the reign was clear ; on which last occasion (Ju- of Edward VI., and, according to Oldys, ly 29-30) the coast of West Green- where he took the degree of Master of Arts

educated at Bennet College, Cambridge, land, rarely before seen by any Brit- in 1587. His parentage is unknown, and ish Navigator, was in sight. Accord- also the reasons which induced him to leave ing to our best, and indeed only au the University-to abandon the destination thorities, the Dutch, the east coast of for which he seems, from the nature of his W.Greenland is laid down in longitude education, to have been intended—and to

or 5° W. from Greenwich, in the try his fortune on the stage. Langbaine latitude of 75° to 7610 ; its situation,

says, generally, that “ he trod the stage by the Dutch, is very erroneous. i with applause " but it does not appear that

he was greatly distinguished as an actor, had good sight of the clironometer in

Few men have received such lofty encomi. 510, 74, and 9° 33 W. immediately ums from contemporary Wits; and high as previous to each of the occasions in his poetical powers unquestionably were, which we penetrated so far as 10° and they seem to have been somewhat over-rat

W. Hence I am assured, that ed. Ben Jonson, in his lincs to the methe land lies further to the westward mory of Shakespeare, speaks of Marlow's than 11° W. in each parallel of lati

mighty line,” an expression which Schle. tude between 74° and 76° N. It is

gel, the celebrated German critic, thinks probably as far west as 14-15° in the

altogether unapplicable. Ben Jonson held

rather singular critical opinions on many perallel of 74°, which I saw it. The

subjects; and certainly the epithet“ mighty" ice in this situation was mostly mud cannot, with peculiar propriety, be applied dy, and black with dirt on the edges, to the character either of fiis thought or ex.

dramas in our language. In " Faus- ty,—and some invested with a dark tus” there undoubtedly are many and gloomy magnificence. That drasplendid passages,-not a few distin ma also exhibits a powerful dominion guished for grace, elegance, and beau over the passions, and no limited in

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

He says

pression. But Schlegel seems to have a sies. In his “ Censure of Poets,” Drayton very slight acquaintance with Marlow's pays Marlow this fine compliment : writings, and is not aware of that energy and depth of passion to be found in his

“ Next Marlow, bathed in the Thespian Dramas. Mr Gifford, in his admirable

Springs, edition of Ben Jonson, alluding to this ex

Had on him those brave sublunary things pression, says,-“ Marlow has many lines That your first poets had; his raptures were which have not hitherto been surpassed. All air and fire, which made his verses clear. Histwo parts of Tamburlaine, though simple for that fine madness still he did retain, in plot, and naked in artifice, have yet some

Which rightly should possess a Poet's brain." rude attempts at consistency of character,

George Peele, in " The Honour of the and many passages of masculine vigour and Garter," says, that he was lofty poetry

Even the bombastic lines which Shakspeare puts into the mouth of

“ Fit to write passions for the souls below,' Pistol are followed by others in the same

If any wretched souls in passion speak.” scene, and even in the same speech, which

Nash, speaking of Hero and Leander, the great Poet himself might have fathered

says,

“ Of whom divine Musæus sung, and without disgrace to his superior powers.” a diviner muse than he, Kit Marlow.” In

Heywood calls him “ the best of this he alludes to Marlow's translation of Poets ;” and Meres, in his second part of Hero and Leander, which, with a translaWits' Commonwealth," names him with tion of the first book of Lucan, was pub. Sidney, Spenser, Shakspeare, Daniel, and lished in quarto in 1600, though it must others, “'for haveing mightily enriched, also have been published before that year. and gorgeously invested, in rare ornaments For of all the panegyrists of Marlow, the and resplendent habiliments, the English most extravagant and hyperbolical is Henry tongue.” Carew, the Cornish antiquary, in

Petowe, who, in 1598, published the second his ** Excellencies of the English Tongue,” part of Hero and Leander. also places him along with Shakspeare ;

• What mortal soul with Marlow might “ Would you read Catullus ? take Shak.

contend ? speare's and Marlow's fragments.” Here he probably alludes to Marlow's transla

Whose silver-charming tongue moved such tions of Ovid's Epistles, and to that most

delight, beautiful and romantic pastoral ballad,

That men would shun their sleep in still “ The passionate Shepherd to his Love,"

dark night which, with Sir Walter Raleigh's admir. To meditate upon his golden lines ! able reply, may be seen in Walton's

Complete Angler." It is stated by Steevens, But Marlow, still-admired Marlow's gone in the first volume of his Shakspeare, To dwell with beauty in Elysium ! (p. 94) that Marlow's translations from There ever live the Prince of Poetry,” &c. Ovid were commanded, by the Archbishop Poor Marlow's death was most unfortun. of Canterbury and the Bishop of London, ate, and such as gave his enemies an opporto be burned at Stationers' Hall. This fact tunity of abusing, and most probably of is also stated in the Censura Literaria of calumniating, his memory. The following Sir Egerton Brydges, who says, that the is Anthony Wood's curious account of the translations were strongly tainted with the dramatist's wretched end. “ This Marlow, licentious obscenity of the original; but he giving too large a swing to his own wit, quotes a passage almost free from that and suffering his lust to have the full reins, charge. Indeed it may here be remarked, fell to that outrage and extremity (as Jothat Marlow's plays give less offence on that delle, a French tragic poet did), being an score than the works of any of his contem. Epicure and an Atheist, that he denied God poraries, or even of his great successors. He and his Son Christ ; and not only in word seems at all times to have been hated by the blasphemed the Trinity, but also, as it was Clergy. Bishop Tanner, in his “ Bibliothe-credibly reported, wrote diverse discourses ca Britannico-llibernica,” acknowledges his against it, affirming our Saviour to be a great poetical genius, calling him “ Poeta Deceiver, and Moses to be a Conjuror, paucis inferior;" but he adds, “ Atheista (honest Anthony himself was no conjuet Blasphenius horrendus.” Tanner, how. ror, as Dr Berkenhout well remarks in his erer, borrows every thing from Wood, and Historia Literaria)-the Holy Bible also to Wood seems not only to have disliked Mar. contain only vain and idle stories, and all low, but is a most prejudiced person against religion but a device of policy. But see all the poetical tribe, ard is fond of repeat the end of this person, which was noted by ing a favourite opinion, that all pocts are all, especially the Precisians.

For, so it nien of licentious lives and dangerous bere. fell oui, that he being deeply in love with

sus” says,

sight into those glimmering regions rules of the dramatic art, and in which of the soul inhabited by phantoms. he often seems to have had pleasure But it is a composition in which the in violating the principles of ordinary Poet has dispensed with all the best language. The whole strain of the

sentiment, the feeling, and the pascertain woman, had for his rival a bawdy sion, though not absolutely out of naserving-man, one rather fit to be a pimp ture, is at all times on its very verge ; than an ingenious amoretto, as Marlow con

the tragical interest does not force itceived himself to be, Whereupon Marlow, self upon us, but requires almost to taking it to be a high affront, rushed in up- be won by a mental effort; and to on him to stab him with his dagger. But support our sympathies there must be the serving-man being very quick, so avoid a perpetual play of the Imagination. ed the stroke, that withal catching hold of The present drama, though it perhaps Marlow's wrist, he stabbed his own dagger contains less poetry, is written with into his own head, in such sort, that notwithstanding all the means of surgery that

more uniform propriety; and the could be brought, he shortly after died of mind is never startled by the sudden his wound, before the year 1593.” Di introduction of vulgarity and meanBerkenhout is pleased to call this a ridicu. ness among the more stately and dige lous story, by which, we presume, he means nified passions and personages of Trato discredit it. But Marlow's tragical death gedy. The subject, too, is a fine one: is mentioned by many contemporary writers. the griefs and miseries of the great The author of the “ Return from Parnas- the dethronement and death of majes“ Marlow was happy in his buskin'd muse,

ty ;-sin in high places-swift and

ruinous decay of pride glorying in the Alas! unhappy in his life and end.

weakness of earthly pomp ;-vice, folAnd George Peele, already quoted (Hon. ly, guilt, and retribution. The tide our of the Garter), says,

of human affairs keeps constantly flowUnhappy in thy end ! Marlow! the Muses’ darling for thy verse." įng on before us, till it carries down

into death and oblivion, the robes, Berkenhout disbelieves the story alto- and the diadem, and the person of gether, because, he says, that . Anthony anointed royalty. A crowd of impasWood has borrowed it from a foolish book, sioned beings, all toiling for the things “ Beard's Theatre of God's Judgment.' But this is a mistake ; for Anthony only of this world, and all agitated and disquotes Beard as his authority for asserting turbed by passions that bear so fearful that Marlow wrote against the Trinity and a disproportion to the objects that athe Divinity of our Saviour. That miser- waken them, are kept constantly passable man, Robert Green, in his “ Groats. ing to and fro; and the catastrophe worth of Wit bought with a Million of Re- leaves the mind in that state of subpentance," seems to allude to Marlow when he says" Wonder not, for with thee will I first begin, thou famous gracer of tragedi- be, was construed by the prejudiced and peeans, that Green, (who hath said, with thue, vish Puritans into absolute atheism.” Most like the fool in his heart, there is no God) assuredly the charge is vague and indefinite ; -why should thy excellent wit, His gift, and probably Mr Lamb has taken a right be so blinded, that thou shouldst give no view of this subject, when he says, that glory to the Giver ? Thy brother in this “ he loved to dally with interdicted sute diabolical atheism is dead, and in his life jects, and busied himself with speculations had never the felicity he aimed at ; but, as which are the rottenest part of the fruit he begun in craft, lived in fear, and ended that fell from the Tree of Knowledge." in despair ; and wilt thou, my friend, be his As to the morality or immorality of his disciple? Look unto me, by him persuad- character, we are almost entirely in the ed into that subtlety, and thou shalt find it dark. Doubtless he met with a tragical an infernal bondage.”—This language of death under suspicious circumstances. But Green must, however, be taken with great the nature of that quarrel is by no means allowance, for it is spoken almost on his certain; for in Vaughan's “ Golden Grove,” death-bed, and with a sorely-troubled con which preceded “ Beard's Theatre of God's science. And though all this may be true, Judgments,” Marlow's antagonist is called as it respects himself, it is not fair to con Ingram ; and Aubry says that he was Ben vict Marlow on the evidence of a dying Jonson-a most flagrant falsehood. But all Sinner. It is known that Marlow was this shows, that little is known about the grievously offended at the publication of matter. At the worst, his fate by no means this passage, which is not likely to have proves him to have been a bad man, and it been the case had he been the open and is to his honour, that his sentiments are avowed atheist there represented. Warton pure, and his principles lofty, in all his drasays, “ that his scepticism, whatever it might matic writings.

[ocr errors]

was

1

lime acquiescence, with which, in real the regency of the kingdom and the life, we behold the visitations of Pro- person of the Queen. Indeed it is vidence.

impossible to read this play without The play opens with a soliloquy of feeling that Shakspeare was indebted Gaveston, newly returned from France, to Marlow for the original idea of Hotand elated with the favour of the King. spur. There ensues a short conversation be Edward is now forced by his Nobles, tween him and three poor travellers, and the Archbishop of Canterbury, in which is very shortly and vividly who threatens him with the wrath of exhibited all the vile insolence of up- the See of Rome, to subscribe to the start pride and polluted worthlessness. cxile of Gaveston; and that our pity We are thus, at the very commence and contempt for him may be carried ment, and without any laborious de- to the utmost, Marlow describes the i scription, made acquainted with the agony of mind endured at parting character of the Favourite. He then from his Minion, which, however, breaks out into the following exclama, finally vents itself in an imprecation tion, which has been often admired of some energy. for its poetical beauties, and which, “Why should a King be subject to a Priest? as Hurd observes in his Dialogues, Proud Rome! that holdest such imperial gives a-fine picture of the entertain

grooms, ments of the times. It also shows the For these thy superstitious taper-lights accomplishments of the Man

Wherewith thy Antichristian churches to be the ruin of his King.

blaze,

I'll fire thy crazed buildings, and enforce “ I must have wanton poets, pleasant wits, Musicians, that with touching of a string,

Thy papal Towers to kiss the lowly ground !

With slaughter'd Priests may Tiber's chanMay draw the pliant King which way I

nel swell, please. Music and poetry are his delight;

And banks rise higher with their sepul. chres!”

1 Therefore lill have Italian plays by night, Sweet speeches, comedies, and pleasing The Queen is here introduced ; and shows:

we think that her character and conAnd in the day, when he shall walk abroad, duct are drawn with great skill and Like sylvan nymphs my pages shall be clad ;

power. At first, she is truly and My men, like satyrs grazing on the lawns, Shall, with their goat-feet, dance the antic overlooks his follies and extravagan

faithfully attached to her Husbandhay. Sometimes a lovely boy, in Dian's shape,

cies—pardons his neglect and his inWith hair that gilds the water as it glides,

sults and endeavours, by humble Crownets of parl about his naked arms,

submission or gentle remonstrance, to And in his sportful hands an olive-tree, win him back to his former affection. Shall bathe him in a spring; and ther, Her griet is unmingled with indignahard by,

tion; and her feelings towards Morti. Cne like Acteon peeping through the grove, mer do not exceed those of dignified Shall by the angry goddess be transform’d, gratitude. But at last, with the exAnd, running in the likeness of a hart,

tinction of her love, there ensues the By yelping hounds pull'd down, shall seem to die.

loss of honour and humanity; and Such things as these best please his Majesty.” having burst the bonds which united The scenes that follow are of very livers herself up, wholly and without

her to her worthless Husband, she de. considerable merit, exhibiting the deplorable weakness, the infatuated fond- reserve, to the love of Mortimer, and ness, and the regal obstinacy, of Ed- becomes an associate in all his guilty ward,—the fawning servility, the ambition; and finally, is privy to the greedy and aspiring insolence," of the murder of the miserable King. Her Favourite, and the high-spirited in- grief for the loss of Edward's affection dignation, the towering pride, and the is thus beautifully expressed : unawed ferocity, of the Nobles. The

“ O miserable and distressed Queen! character of young Mortimer is sketch- Would, when I left sweet France, and was

embarked, ed with great animation ; and his

That charming Circe, walking on the waves, language and deportment are distin,

Had changed my shape, or at the marriage. guished from those of the other Bar.

day ons by a boller contempt of the royal The cup of Hymen had been full of poison ; presence, arising from an ambition Or with those arms that twined about my that has a loftier aim-no less than

neck,

sues :

I had been stifled, and not lived to see I mean the Peers, whom thou shouldst dearThe King my lord thus to abandon me !"

ly love : Gaveston, who had been expelled Libels are cast against thee in the street ; the kingdom, is recalled—the nobles Ballads and rhymes made of thy overthrow.

Lan. The Northern Borderers, seeing their and the Queen intending to have him

houses burnt, cut off. Edward, with blind infatua- Their wives and children slain, run up and tion, pursues the same system of ruin-,

down, ous favouritism; and the nobles are Cursing the name of thee and Gaveston. on the eve of rebellion. Young Mor Mort. When wert thou in the field with timer thus speaks to his uncle:

banner spread ? “Uncle! his wanton humour grieves not me:

But once : and then thy soldiers march'd But this I scorn, that one sọ basely born

like players, Should by his Sovereign's favour grow so pert,

With garish robes, not armour; and thyself, And riot with the treasure of the realm.

Bedaubed with gold, rode laughing at the rest, While Soldiers mutiny for want of pay,

Nodding and shaking of thy spangled crest, He wears a Lord's revenue on his back,

Where women's favours hung like labels

down. And Midas-like, he jets it in the court With base outlandish cullions at his heels,

Lan. And therefore came it, that the Whose proud fantastic liveries make such

fleering Scots, show,

To England's high disgrace, have made this As if that Proteus, God of Shapes, appeared.

jig ; I have not seen a dapper-Jack so brisk ;

Maids of England, sore may you mourn He wears a short Italian-hooded cloak, For your lemmons you have lost at BannockLoaded with pearl, and in his Tuscan cap

burn,” gic. A jewel of more value than the Crown.

At length Gaveston is beheaded by While others walk below, the King and He, the Earl of Warwick, and war declarFrom out a window, laugh at such as we,

ed between the King and the Nobles. And flout our train, and jest at our attire. Uncle, 'tis this that makes me impatient.

Edward, who has hitherto been an obThe same fiery spirit forces him- ject of pity and contempt alone, rea

deems himself to a certain degree in self, with Lancaster, into the pre

this emergency, by the exhibition of a sence of the King, and this parley en

warlike spirit, and “ shews, that in

his eyes is set some spark of the PlanEdw. Shall I be haunted thus ?

tagenet. Mort. Nay! now you are here alone, I'll speak my mind.

Edw. By Earth! the common Mother

of us all ! Lan. And so will Iand then, my Lord ! farewell !

By Heaven! and all the moving Orbs thereof! Mort. The idle triumphs, masks, las. By this right hand ! and by my Father's

sword ! civious shows,

And all the honours 'longing to my crown! And prodigal gifts bestowed on Gaveston,

I will have heads and lives for him, as many Have drawn thy treasury dry, and make thee weak;

As I have manors, castles, towns, and towers. The murmuring commons, overstretched, if I be England's King—in lakes of gore

Treacherous Warwick! traiterous Mortimer! breakLan. Look for rebellion ! look to be de

Your headless trunks, your bodies will I trail, posed !

That you may drink your fill, and quaff in

blood, Thy garrisons are beaten out of France, And, lame and poor, lie groaning at the gates. That so my bloody colours may suggest

,

And stain my Royal Standard with the same, The wild Oneyle, with swarms of Irish Kernes,

Remembrance of Revenge immortally." Live uncontrolled within the English Pale. The place of Gaveston has been supUnto the walls of York the Scots make road, plied by Spenser, who, along with his And unresisted draw away rich spoils. father, support the cause of the King. Mort. The haughty Dane commands the This Spenser had formerly drawn his narrow seas,

own character thus, in a conversation While in the harbour ride thy ships unrigg'd.

with his friend Baldock. Lan. What foreign Prince sends thee Ambassadors ?

Spen. Then, Baldock ! you must cast Mort. Who loves thee, but a sort of flat. the scholar off, terers ?

And learn to court it like a gentleman. Lan. Thy gentle Queen, sole sister to 'Tis not a black coat and a little band, Valoys,

A velvet-cap'd cloak, faced before with serge, Complains

that thou hast left her all forlorn. And smelling to a nosegay all the day, Mort. Thy court is naked, being bereft Or holding of a napkin in your hand, of those

Or saying a long grace at a table's end, That make a king seem glorious to the world; Or making low legs to a nobleman, Vor: II.

D

[ocr errors]
« PředchozíPokračovat »