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fications of virtues and vices;- and free translations from the classics, performed at the inns of court, the public seminaries, and the universities.
In 1574, the queen licensed a company of actors, called the Earl of Leicester's Servants, to play throughout England, “ for the recreation of her loving subjects, as for her own solace and pleasure when she should think good to see them.” Theatres rapidly increased. In 1606, there were seven in London ; in 1629, we believe there were seventeen. They were opposed, in an early stage of their career, by the Puritans and the graver counsellors of the sovereign. In 1583, at the time that Sir Philip Sidney published his Defence of Poesy, he could find little in their performances to approve. Though forbidden, after the year 1574, to be open on the Sabbath, the prohibition does not appear to have been effective during the reign of Elizabeth. Secretary Walsingham laments over the whole matter in this wise :
66 The daily abuse of stage plays is such an offence to the godly, and so great a hindrance to the gospel, as the Papists do exceedingly rejoice at the blemish thereof; for every day in the week, the players' bills are set up in sundry places in the city, some in the name of her_Majesty's men, some of the Earl of Leicester's, some the Earl of Oxford's, the Lord Admiral's, and divers others, so that, when the bell tolls to the lecture, the trumpet sounds to the stage. The playhouses are filled, when the churches are naked. It is a woful sight to see two hundred proud players jet in their silks, when five hundred poor people starve in the streets.”
As the taste for theatrical exhibitions increased, the task of providing the theatres with plays became a profession. Most of the precursors, contemporaries, and successors of Shakspeare were young men of education, who came down to the city from the universities, to provide themselves with a living by whatever cunning there was in their brain and ten fingers. Some became actors as well as writers. The remuneration of the dramatist was small. Poverty and dissoluteness seem to have characterized the pioneers of the drama. As the theatre was popular as well as fashionable,
groundlings,” who paid their sixpences for admission, had their tastes consulted. This accounts, in some degree, for the rant and vulgarity which strangely disfigure so many of the plays. The usual miseries and vices which char
acterize men of letters in an unlettered age, when authors are numerous and readers are few, distinguish the lives of many of the elder dramatists. Ben Jonson, in the Poetaster, makes Tucca exclaim, with a side reference to the poets of his own day, that “they are a sort of poor, starved rascals, that are ever wrapt up in foul linen ; and can boast of nothing but a lean visage peering out of a seam-rent suit, the very emblem of beggary.” suppose
this was too true a picture of many, whose minds deserved a better environment of flesh and raiment.
Of those who preceded Shakspeare, the best known names (leaving Buckhurst and Hill out of the list) are Lyly, Kyd, Nash, Greene, Lodge, and Marlowe. Much cannot be said in praise of these, if we except the latter. Lyly is full of daintiness and conceit, with sweet fancy and sentiment occasionally thrown in. He translates every thing into quaint expression. Thus, his Endymion professes that " his thoughts are stitched to the stars." Another of his characters looks forward to the time when “ it shall please the fertility of his chin to be delivered of a beard.” Peele bas melody of versification, and a sort of Della-Cruscan fancy. His David and Bethsabe contains striking passages, as when Zephyr is addressed :
" Then deck thee with thy loose, delightsome robes,
And on thy wings bring delicate perfumes”;or the resolution of David :
“ To joy her love I 'll build a kingly bower,
Seated in hearing of a hundred streams." Kyd wrote The Spanish Tragedy, a play bad enough in itself, but singular from the additions made to it by eminent hands.” Its bombast was probably popular. Ben Jonson was one of those engaged to write additional scenes ; but he has ridiculed the whole play in Every Man in his Humor, in the scene between Bobadil and Master Mathew, the town gull. Bobadil says, “I would fain see all the poets of these times pen such another play as that was !" Greene's death was more tragic than any thing he wrote or conceived. He is now principally remembered for having called Shakspeare "an upstart crow.
But a more potent spirit than any of these, and beyond all
by which those who hold the reins of government become indoctrinated with principles of liberty, while the subject classes learn to revere order as an essential condition of the highest social good. In England, as we infer from the terms of unqualified approbation in which the English constitution is described, the oscillations have ceased, and order and freedom have leaped from their opposite poles into inseparable union. But before we admit this statement in full, we should like to learn the opinions of the manufacturing operatives, the poorer tenantry, and the colliers of England, and to collect the suffrages of Ireland.
The state, considered as a moral personality, not only has rights and obligations, but is also capable of virtue, and subject to positive laws of duty. The duties of the state are accordingly laid down, in correspondence with each of the cardinal virtues. The chapters devoted to this summary contain little that demands animadversion, and constitute for the most part a faultless and most admirable compend of political morality. But the duty of providing for the moral education of the people naturally suggests the subject of ecclesiastical establishments. Here the author examines cursorily, and rejects, the polity of indifference to religion on the part of government, that of protection extended to various sects, and that of ecclesiastico-secular supremacy; and of course makes the argument turn triumphantly in favor of an established national church. It would be idle for us to join issue with him on this point ; for we can have no American readers who need to be convinced of the expediency and duty of affording equal protection to all forms of Christian belief, and all classes of conscientious worshippers. And were we writing for a Transatlantic public, we would simply ask leave to place side by side ihe ecclesiastical statistics of Great Britain and of the older American States, and would then submit the case without argument.
The closing book of the work before us treats of international law. It is brief and hurried. It barely marks out the ground covered by this designation, enumerates the points that have become settled by usage, prescription, and authority, and indicates the more numerous points still sub lite. The author enters into no discussion, gives no opinion of his own, and makes no reference to any absolute standard of right. This portion of the work, therefore, affords no scope for comment; and for a synopsis of it, we refer the reader to the table of contents, rather than extend our article by copying it.
In commencing the perusal of this work, our first emotion was that of disappointment. We felt that we were passing over ground as familiar to us as the alphabet, renewing discussions that had been setiled long before our manhood, and at the same time gliding over, with hardly a reference to them, those deep questions which the logomachy of centuries still leaves unfathomed. But we have read the work through with growing gratitude to the author for the distinctness of his definitions, for the transparency of his statements, for his accuracy in the use of terms, and for the minuteness and thoroughness of his analysis of moral ideas and conceptions. He has given new clearness and definiteness to truths which we thought that we had fully apprehended before, bas interpreted elements of selfconsciousness which were vague and dim, and has embodied in appropriate and available forms of speech glimpses and glimmerings of thought which we could not have written down. He has furnished and strengthened us for the work that he has left undone ; and no one, who would gird himself for the investigation of the more difficult and complex portions of moral science, could fail to derive the highest benefit from his labors. Yet the work has some decided faults and repulsive features. It is often needlessly minute and tediously prolix. It abounds in repetitions. The same topic is frequently treated with but little variation of detail, under different heads, when a reference to a former chapter would have been sufficient. Condensation to two thirds of its present bulk would make the work much more readable, without any sacrifice of perspicuity, or the suppression of a single essential thought or statement.
We have said that Dr. Whewell generally stops short at the English point of moral progress. He seems perfectly satisfied with the present English standard of morality, government, and law. The chief deficiency of the work is, that, while it exhibits the great principles on which all the future moral attainments of the race must be based, there is nothing prospective in its details, - no graduated view of the successive steps yet to be taken, - no specification of rules by which its fundamental principles are to be yet more fully embodied and more perfectly realized. In the distinc
tively Anglican tone and character of his book, the author has given us an undesigned commentary on one of his own favorite topics, – the agency of a state, through its institutions and laws, in the moral education of its subjects. He has illustrated the tendency of the great body of intelligent and virtuous fellow-citizens to move onward pari passu towards a higher moral standard. He has shown us how difficult it is, even for a highly enlightened and devout mind, to rise above the average tone of sentiment and feeling of those with whom his social and national sympathies are all
We have thus been led to discern more clearly and to feel more deeply the obligation resting upon those who think that they have attained higher views and a more perfect standard, not to veil the light that is in them, but to make themselves the heaven-appointed leaders of their fellows to a loftier stage of moral progress and attainment.
In reading this book, we have often been reminded of the world-wide difference between the Englishman supreniely satisfied with every thing that is English, and the American constantly finding fault with every thing that is American ; and our preference is most decidedly for the latter mood of mind. It results in part from the consciousness of power. The Englishman found his constitution ready made to his hands, and he could not hope to remodel it. Our constitution is still in the process of formation, its documentary provisions liable to change, its unwritten construction on many points still mooted ; and every citizen may have his voice in determining what it shall be, and how it shall be interpreted. Then, too, this fault-finding with our institutions corresponds with the healthful exercise of repentance for individual misdoings and shortcomings. It indicates an active sense of the possibility of something truer and better, and a latent but constant reference to the supreme standard of right. It is the spirit of progress. It is born of our political freedom ; and will give itself no rest, till it has attained the highest liberty under the most perfect supremacy of law.