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Edw. How near then shall I be to remedy?
Coun. As near, my liege, as all my woman's power
Edw. If thou speak’st true, then have I my redress :
Coun. I will, my liege.
Edw. Then take thyself a little way aside ;
Coun. All this is done, my thrice dread sovereign :
Edw. Thou hear'st me say that I do dote on thee.
Coun. If on my beauty, take it if thou canst ;
Edw. It is thy beauty that I would enjoy.
Coun. O, were it painted, I would wipe it off,
Edw. But thou mayst lend it me, to sport withal.
Coun. As easy may my intellectual soul
Edw. Didst thou not swear to give me what I would
Edw. I wish no more of thee than thou mayst give :
Coun. But that your lips were sacred, O my lord,
1 These lines read like Heywood.
A high conception of this poet's power of rhetorical dramatisation will be formed by the reader, who, continuing the perusal of the original text, observes how the situation is prolonged by the entrance of Warwick at this moment, by the King's ensuing debate with his subject, and Warwick's unwilling execution of the odious commission to persuade his daughter. Dialogue follows dialogue in an uninterrupted scene, unfolding a succession of emotions skilfully conducted to a doubtful issue. Then comes an interpose, in which the King's preoccupation with his passion is strikingly exhibited, leading up to the final conflict between him and the Countess, preluded by the mastertouch whereby the young Prince is made to sway King Edward's inclination.
The remaining Chronicle Plays, of which I propose to make a brief enumeration, offer no critical difficulties regarding authorship. While this department of the drama still laboured in the thraldom of clumsy stage-carpentry, Marlowe's touch transfigured it by the production of 'Edward II.' His play may have been written as early as 1590 ; but it was only entered on the Stationers' Books in 1593, and printed in 1598. More will be said in the proper place about
this epoch-making Chronicle. Peele gave the public a drama on the life of Edward I.' in 1593, which, though it cannot be compared with Marlowe's, marks a considerable advance upon such work as “The Troublesome Reign' and “The Famous Victories.' Following a scurrilous ballad on Queen Eleanor, and yielding to the popular prejudice against Spaniards, he stained an otherwise meritorious composition with a gross and unhistorical libel on the wife of Longshanks. In the same decade, Thomas Heywood issued from the press his two parts of the Chronicle of Edward IV., a principal feature in which plays was the episode of Jane Shore. In 1605 the same author sent to the press his play upon the reign of Mary and the accession of Elizabeth. It had been acted several years before, and bore the curious title of, “If You know not Me, You know Nobody Next year, the second part
.' of this Chronicle, dealing with Sir Thomas Gresham's building of the Royal Exchange and the Defeat of the Armada, appeared. The
proper occasion for estimating Heywood's capacity as
an author of Chronicle Plays, will occur in the examination of his essentially English art. Much in the same style, but marked by inferior dramatic power, is the double Chronicle Play by Samuel Rowley, entitled, “When You see Me, You know Me.' It was printed in 1603, but was probably well known upon the stage before that date. As Heywood treated some of the events of Elizabeth's reign, so Rowley in this formless production touched upon those of Henry VIII. But he could not or dared not address himself seriously to the real history of a period so recent and so full of
DRAMATISED HISTORY OF ENGLAND.
perilous matter. The best scenes in his superficial work are comic—Henry's meeting with the thief Black Will, his imprisonment in the Counter, and the vicarious birching of his whipping-boy Ned Browne. Plays of this description, which bring English princes on the stage in merry moments, were highly popular, as will be seen when we discuss the fourth section mentioned at the opening of this chapter.
Adding to these inferior Chronicles the great Shaksperian group, it will be seen that what remains to us of this species includes plays on the reigns of King John, Edward I., Edward II., Edward III., Richard II., Henry IV., Henry V., Henry VI., Edward IV., Richard III., Henry VIII., Mary and Elizabeth-an almost continuous series of studies in English history from 1199 to 1588--embracing in round figures four centuries, from the accession of John to the Defeat of the Armada. The gaps in the list of sovereigns are supplemented by Greene's * James IV. of Scotland' and Ford's 'Perkin Warbeck;' which deal with events of the reign of Henry VII., and by Decker and Webster's ‘Sir Thomas Wyatt,' which forms a sequel to the reign of Edward VI. Very unequal in artistic capacity, rising to the highest in Shakspere and Marlowe, sinking to the lowest in Rowley and the author of 'The Troublesome Reign,' these dramatists of our old annals performed no petty service for the nation, at a moment when the English were growing to full consciousness of their high des