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Night's candles are burnt out, and jocund day Stands tiptoe on the misty Inountain tops.” SHAkspeaRE.

The catastrophe in the Italian novel is much more pathetic, and adapted for dramatic effect, than that of the play; but Shakspeare was no doubt misled by the English versions of the tale. Luigi da Portoinforms us, that having swallowed poison, Romeo, clasping the body of his mistress in his arms, awaited the approach of death. o: ate embraces dissipated the torpor induced by the soporific potion. Juliet revived, recognized Romeo, kissed him, and sunk on his bosom. But the deadly drug soon manifested its strength, and hardly giving him time to explain his fatal rashness, Romeo fell exhausted to the earth. The friar arriving, stood motionless with horror. The breast of Juliet supported the head of her unconscious lover, and her sweet lips hung on his to catch his dying expirations. The friar bade Romeo look up and bless his mistress with a word of comfort. #. the dear name of Juliet, he raised his lan

uid eyes, but the film of death was on them; his

rame shook with convulsions, and one short sigh released him from his afflictions. Juliet, resolved on death, would not quit the body of her husband; she intreated the friar not to divulge the manner of their end; and if, by accident, it should be discovered, she adjured him to supplicate their parents, to suffer those whom one flame of love had consumed, to moulder together in one tomb. Then turning to her unconscious lover, she wept over him, and exclaimed—“Lord of my heart, without

rou, what have I to do with life? What can I do, §. follow you to death? Nothing, not even death itself shall part us!” Saying which, she violently suppressed her respiration, and fell dead on the body of Romeo. Such is the conclusion of the novel, and it is certainly more effective than that of the tragedy, which Garrick altered so as to introduce this last interesting scene between the lovers, and in this manner it is now acted. Shakspeare perhaps had no means of consulting the Italian ; and on that account, adhered to his English authority.


Belleforest, the French novelist, borrowed from Saxo Grammaticus' History of Denmark, the story of Amleth, and placed it in his collection of romances, published by him about 1560; and from this source was taken a small quarto, printed in black letter, under the title of The Hystorie of Hamblett. A play on the same subject appears to have been performed o to 1589, of which Shakspeare might have availed himself in composing his own tragedy; unluckily, the old drama is lost, and nothing remains to illustrate our poet's most elaborate work, except the black-letter volume.

From The Hystorie of Hamblett, we learn that the prosperous state of Horvendille, king of Denmark, inflamed the envious nature of his brother Fengon, who was even more influenced by his passion for Geruth, the queen. The villain perpetrated fratricide to obtain the throne, and was united to the object of his adulterous love. Hamblet, the son of Geruth and Horvendille, found himself in danger from the murderer of his father; and to ensure his safety, put on the appearance of lunacy. But his plan was imperfectly executed; he was suspected, and “they counselled to try and know, if possible, how to discover the intent and meaning of the young prince; and they could find no better nor more fit invention to entrap him, than to set some fair and beautiful woman in a secret place, that with flattering speeches, and all the crafliest means she could, should purposely seek

were appointed to lead Hamblet to a solitary place within the woods, where they brought the woman. And surely the poor prince at this assault had been in great danger, if a gentleman, that in Horvendille's time had been nourished with him, had not shewn himself more affectioned to the bringing up he had received with Hamblet, than desirous to please the tyrant. This gentleman bore the courtiers company, making full account that the least shew of perfect sense and wisdom that Hamblet should make, would be sufficient to cause him to lose his life; and therefore by certain signs he gave Hamblet intelligence into what danger he was likely to fall, if by any means he seemed to obey, or once like the wanton toys and vicious provocations of the gentlewoman sent thither by his uncle, which much abashed the prince, as then wholly being in affection to the lady.” In the end, the courtiers were deceived, and “assured themselves that without doubt he was distraught of his senses.” After this, it was fancied that Hamblet's true character would break out in an interview with his mother, one being concealed behind the arras of her chamber to overhear all that passed. Entering the room with his wonted air of folly, he crew like a cock, beating his arms against the hangings, in mimicry of that bird's action with his wings. Something moved behind the arras, and crying “a rat! a rats” he thrust his sword through the lurking spy, and hewing the body to pieces, cast it into a vault. Re-entering the -chamber, Hamblet replied in a reproachsul tone to the queen's exclamations, justly upbraiding her unblushing licentiousness, and displaying in the darkest colours, a woman who could play the wanton with the brother and murderer of her husband. Fengon was now in constant alarm, and resolving to be rid of Hamb. let, sent him with letters to the king of England, containing secret orders to put the prince immediately to death., “But the subtle Danish prince being at sea, whilst his companions slept, having read the letters, and knowing his uncle's great treason, with the wicked and villanous minds of the two courtiers that led him to the slaughter, razed out the letters that concerned his death, and instead thereof so others, with commission to the king of England, to hang his two companions; and not content to turn the death they had devised against him upon their own necks, wrote further, that king Fengon willed him to give his daughterin marriage to Hamblet.” Every thing happened as Hamblet wished ; the courtiers were hanged, and he himself was betrothed to the English princess. After a year's residence in the British Court, he returned to Denmark, and avenged himself on his enemies; he made his uncle's courtiers drunk, and then set fire to the banquetting-hall; then rushing into Fengon's bed-chamber, he gave “ him such a violent blowe upon the chine of the neck, that he cut his head clean from the shoulders.” Hamblet now cast off his assumed madness, and calling to. ether his nobles, explained and justified his conuct. Pity for his wrongs, and indignation at Fengon's injustice and cruelty, filled every bosom; and the dignity of king was bestowed on Hamblet by the voice of the whole nation. What follows of the Danish prince's history is tedious, and has no connection with the drama. Hence it is apparent, that while Shakspeare borrowed the skeleton of his dramatic fable, for that mighty achievement of successful genius, the tragedy of Hamlet, all the poetry and passion and character with which it abounds are original. The hero, who in the romance is a semi-barbarian, incapable of a delicate or re. fined feeling, in the play seems to unite every persection consistent with mere mortality, and the son. ceptions of his losty mind are expressedinianguage which makes all other eloquence poor and ineffec.

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to allure his mind. To this end, certain courtiers


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THE tale, on which this admirable tragedy is founded, is the seventh novel of the third decade of Cinthio's Hecatommithi. The military power of Venice was once under the direction of a Moor. The excellence of his character, and the fame of his exploits, won the love of Desdemona, a lady of the city; the flame was mutual; and regardless of the objections of her family, she married the darkcomplexioned warrior. The government of Cyprus was given to the Moor, and he repaired to that island with his bride. There was a lieutenant in the army, handsome in person, and gifted in mind, who was generally esteemed; the Moor was much attached to him, their wives too were intimate. This union was broken by the lieutenant's attempts to corrupt the virtue of Desdemona. The lady proved faithful; the attentions of the gallant were despised. The lieutenant erroneously attributed her coldness to her fondness for a young Cypriot captain: he resolved on his death, and to complete his revenge, determined to charge Desdemona with infidelity to the Moor. About this time, the captain's command was taken away, because he had indiscreetly wounded a subaltern. Desdemona pitied him, and knowing the Moor's esteem for him, she often urged his pardon. The Moor informed the lieutenant, that in compliance with Desdemona's wish, he meant to restore the captain. “She has cause,” replied the villain, “she will again see him as usual. I will not be more open,” said he, observing his friend's surprise; “I would not blast your matrimonial happiness; yet if you were circumspect, strange matters would be disclosed to you.” The Moor pondered on these hints; the renewed petitions of his blameless wife tortured him with doubts; and he challenged the lieutenant to tell him all he knew. With seeming reluctance, the villain resisted his importunities, and appeared faly to yield to their earnestness. “I cannot deny,” said, “that my fear of giving you pain, has till now sealed my lips on a subject so nearly affecting your peace; but you bid me speak out, and honouring my friend, and obeying . general, I must declare the truth. Alas! your black colour is odious to Desdemona, she passionately loves the captain, and a longing for his presence causes her desire for his restoration.” The Moor, though credulous, af. fected to doubt this slander: “How wilt thou dare,” saidhe, “to sully my Desdemona's fame?”—“This tage,” answered the lieutenant, “is the recompense I looked for, but my duty and friendship have led me thus far, and I will not now go back; what I have told you is true; and if Desdemona, with artful fondness, has blinded you to her guilt, I will not, for that reason, withhold circumstances which I feel certain are true. The captain has made me his confidant: his confession deserved death; and the fear of your anger alone deterred me from inflicting it.” “Give me the means,” exclaimed the jealous Moor, “of witnessing Desdemona's guilt with my own eyes, or else thou shalt wish thou hadst been dumb.”—“While you and the captain were friends,” replied the lieutenant, “the task would have been easy, but now it is otherwise; and though I am sure he often converses with your wife, the fear discovery makes him cautious, yet I do not de‘pair of being able to give you ocular demonstration.” The lieutenant stole from Desdemona's girdle a handkerchief of curious workmanship, a bridal pre*ent of the Moor's. This helestin the captain's apartment, who knowing it was Desdemona's, was anxious * restore it. The Moor being angry with him, he took occasion while he was absent, to knock gently at the back door of his house; but while he stood


xxxiii there the general returned, and the captain made his escape. The enraged Moor flew to his wife's chamber, and he would not be convinced, when the innocent lady declared her ignorance of the cypriot's visit; yet he determined to seem calm, and take no decisive step till he had seen the lieutenant. That villain now practised a new device. He placed the Moor where he could see, but not hear, the captain and himself. They conversed on harmless subjects; but the lieutenant by significant gestures, impressed the distracted husband with a belief, that they jested at his domestic misery; an idea the lieutenant strengthened by a feigned acknowledgment of the captain's, that during their endearments, Desdemona gave him a handkerchief, which was her lord's gift on their wedding-day. Proof seemed now easy, and the Moor desired his wife to produce his handkerchief. Having missed it for some time, Desdemona was confused and blushed, while she sought to evade further interrogatious. Soon afterwards, the Moor's doubts riened into certainties, for he saw his pledge of ove in the hand of the captain's courtesan. His resolution was now fixed to murder his wife, and he prevailed on the lieutenant to despatch the supposed partner of her guilt. The lieutenant assaulted him on his return from his paramour, and at a blow, lopped off his leg. The wounded man's cries, soon brought help, and dreading discovery, the lieutenant fled, but returning by an opposite road, mingled with the crowd, and pretended to lament the misfortune. The news reached Desdemona, and her natural regret seemed a proof of ilt to the jealous Moor, who concerted with the fl. the mode of her death. Stabbing and poisoning were thought ineligible ; they beat her to death with a sand-bag; and pulling a beam from the roof, placed it, as if it had killed her by its fall. The murder remained undiscovered, but soon the Moor's rage expired, and his love for the innocent victim returned. The lieutenant became hateful to him, and he took away his preferment. The exasperated villain would be revenged; he related the murder of Desdemona, and to clear himself, pretended that the Moor had endeavoured in vain to procure loop. in the crime. The Moor was tried at Venice; denying the muder, he was tortured, but no confession could be extorted from him : he was suffered to banish himself, but the friends of Desdemona caused him to be assassinated. ...The villany of the lieutenant being at length discovered, Hooh on some other occasion, he was put to the rack, and his torture was so terrible, that he expired on the wheel. Such are the materials out of which the dramatist has constructed his magnificent tragedy. Othello, from a rude uncultivated savage, remarkable for nothing but his personal bravery, rises into all the grandeur of intellectual superiority, and convinces us, that the tincture of a skin cannot debase the mind, or shut out the spirit of love. . Desdemona, the gentle, affectionate, uncomplaining Desdemona! in what words can we do justice to the exquisitely delicate pencilling of thy character? We all feel its wonderful excellence, but a hand as felicitous as that which drew the magic portraiture, is necessary to praise it aright. The villany of Iago makes the spectator shudder; we have heard of persons who felt a personal dislike to Cooke,

..from associating him with the forcible picture

which he gave of this character, and even when supported by an actor of ordinary talent, it is scarcely possible to be quite cool during the perpetration of those enormities, which the archtraitor himself completes with calmness and even levity.

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It is quite obvious, that the terms clown and fool were used, though improperly perhaps, as synonymous by our old dramatists. Their confused introduction might render this doubtful to one who had not well considered the matter. The fool of our early plays denoted a mere idiot or natural, or else a witty hireling retained to make sport for his masters. The clown was a character of more variety; sometimes he was a mere rustic, and, often, no more than a shrewd domestic. There are instances in which any low character in a play served to amuse with his coarse sallies, and thus became the clown of the piece. In fact, the sool of the drama was a kind of heterogeneous being, copied in part from real life, but highly coloured in order to produce effect. This opinion derives force from what is put into the mouth of Hamlet, when he admonishes those who perform the clowns, to speak no more than is set down for them. Indeed, Shakspeare himself cannot be absolved from the imputation of making mere caricatures of his merry Andrews, unless we suppose, what is very probable, that his compositions have been much interpolated with the extemporaneous jokes of the players. To this folly, allusions are made in a clever satire, entitled Pasquil's Mad-cappe, throwne at the Corruptions of these Times, 1626, quarto. “Tell country players, that old paltry jests Pronounced in a painted motley coate, follo.'...'...'..."...est., That nightingales can scarcely sing a note. 9.h' bid them turn their minds to better meanings; Fields are ill sowne that givene better gleanings.” Sir Philip Sidney reprobates the custom of introducing fools on the stage; and declares that the !. of his time were neither right tragedies nor right comedies, for the authors mingled kings and clowns, “not,” says he, “because the matter so carrieth it, but thrust in the clowne by head and shoulders to play a part in majestical matters, with neither decencie nor discretion: so as neither the admiration and commisseration, nor , the right o is by their mongrell tragie-comedie obtained.” Rankin, a puritan, contemporary with Shakspeare, wrote a most bitter attack on plays and players, whom he calls monsters; “and whie monsters ?” says he: “ because under colour of humanitie they present nothing but prodigious vanitie: these are wels without water, dead branches fit for fuell, cockle amongst corne, unwholesome weedes amongst sweete hearbes, and, finallie, seends that are crept into the worlde by stealth, and hold so by subtill invasion.” In another place, e says, “ some transformed themselves to roges, other to ruflians, some other to clownes, a fourth to Jooles; the roges were ready, the ruslians were rude, theyr clownes cladde as well with country condition, as in rule russet; theyr fooles as fond as might be.” To give a clear view of our subject, something of the different sorts of fools may be thus classed: I. The general domestic fool, termed often, but improperly, a clown; described by Puttenham as “a bustoune, or counterfet foole.” II. The clown, who was a mere country booby, or a witty rustic. III. The female fool, who was generally an idiot. IV. The city or corporation fool, an assistant in public entertainments. V. The tavern fool, retained to amuse the customers. VI. The fool of the ancient mysteries and moralities, otherwise the vice.

VII. The fool in the old dumb shews, often alluded to by Shakspeare. VIII. The fool in the Whitsun ales and norris dance. IX. The mountebank's fool, or merry Andrew. There may be others in our ancient dramas, of an irregular kind, not reducible to any of these classes; but to exemplify them is not within the scope of this essay: what has been stated may assist the readers of old plays to judge for themselves when * meet with such characters. he practice of retaining fools can be distinctly traced from the remotest times. They were to be found alike in the palace and the brothel; the ". had his fool, and the bawd her's; they o tile mirth of kings and beggars; the hovel of the villain and the castle of the baron were alike exhilarated by their jokes. With respect to the antiquity of this custom in England, it appears to have existed even during the period of our Saxon history; but we are certain of the fact in the reign of Willian the Conqueror. Maitre Wace, an historian of that time, has an account of the preservation of William's life, when duke of Normandy, by his fool. Goles; and, in Domesday-book, mention, is made of Berdia joculator regis; and though this term sometimes denoted a minstrel, evidence might be adduced to prove, that in this instance it signified a busloon. The accounts of the household expenses of our kings contain many payments and rewards to sools, i. foreign and domestic. Dr. Fuller, speaking of the court jester, remarks, in his usual quaint way, that it is an oslice which none but he that hath wit can perform, and none but he that wants it will perform. The names of many of these buffoons are reserved ; they continued an appurtenance to the 2nglish court to a late period. Muckle John. the . of Charles I. the successor of Archee Armstrong, was, perhaps, the last regular personage of that kind. The downfall of royalty, and the puritanical manners that came into vogue, banished this privileged satirist; and, at the Restoration. it was deemed of no moment to restore the oth ce, for the stories told of Killigrew, as jester to Charles II. are without authority. The discontinuance of the court fool influenced the manners of private life, and from one of Shadwell's plays we find, that it was then unfashionable for the great to retain domestic fools. Yet the practice was not abolished; it kept its ground so late as the commencement of the last century. Dean Swift wrote an epitaph on Dicky Pearce, the earl of Suslolk's Tool, buried in Berkeley churchyard, June 18, 1728. Lord-chancellor Talbot kept a Welsh jester, named Rees Pengelding; he was a shrewd fellow, and rented a farm of his master. The steward, who had been a tailor, and bore him a so !" in execution for his rent, saying surlily, “I’ll fit you, sirrah.” “Then,” replied Rees, “it will be the first time in your life that you ever fitted any one.” The entertainment fools were expected to afford. may be collected in great "...". from our old plays, especially from those of ... but, perhaps, a good idea may be formed of their general conduct from a passage in a curious tract by Lodge. entitled, Wit's Miserie, 1599, quarto: " I moderate and disordinate joy became incorporate in the bodie of a jeaster; this fellow in person is come!y. in apparell courtly, but in behaviour a very ape, and no man ; his studie is to coin bitter jeasts, or to shew antique motions, or to sing bandie sonnets and ballads; give him a little wine in his head, he is continually flearing and making of mouthes: he lan:hs intemperately at every little occasion, and dances about the house, leaps over tables, out-skips men's heads, trips up his companions' heeles, burns sick with a candle, and hath all the feats of a lord of misrule in the countrie: feed him in his humour, you shall have his heart; in mere kindness he will ug you in his armes, kisse you on the cheeke, and ripping out an horrible oath, crie ‘God's soule, Tum, I love you, you knowe my poore heart, come to my chamber for a pipe of tobacco, there lives not a man in this world that I more honour.” In these ceremonies you shall know his courting, and it is a speciall mark of him at table, he sits and makes *; keep not this fellow company, for in jingling with him, your wardropes shall be wasted, your credits crackt, your crownes consumed, and time so precious riches of the world,) utterly ost. As these hirelings required considerable skill and 'exterity to please their employers, they sometimes sailed of success, and their paucity of talents excited disgust. Cardinal Perron, being in company with the duke of Mantua, the latter observed of his o' that he was “a meagre, poor spirited bus. {**". The cardinal replied that nevertheless he had wit. “Why so?” demanded the duke; “Because, replied Perron, “he lives by a trade which he does not understand.” The license allowed them was very great, but did not always afford, them protection. Archbishop Laud's dis#. severity to poor Archee is well known. *duke d'Espernon, though a high-spirited man, Conducted himself with much more discretion. Maret, the fool of Louis XIII, whose chief talent was mimicry, frequently mocked the duke's Gascon otent; and Richelieu, who was fond of admonishing him, desired him, among other things, to get rid of his provincial tones, at the same time counterfeiting * speech, and sarcastically begging he would not take the advice in ill part. “Why should I ?” *Plied the duke; “when I bear as much from the King's sool, who mocks me in your presence.” ools, however, did not always escape with impu* Whipping was the punishment commonly inflicted. #. in Twelfth Night, Olivia, ad*sing her jester, says, “ Šio. you shall be whipped.” On the contrary, they were often treated with great tenderness, as is feelingly exemplified in the conduct of Lear. ... With regard to the fool's business on the stage, was nearly the same as in reality, with this difone, that the wit was more highly seasoned. In Middleton's Mayor of Quinborough, a company of *tors; with a clown, make their appearance, and the following dialogue ensues: "Cheater...This is our clown, sir. ***.......Fre, fre, your company [i'faith, Must fall upon him and beat him; he's too fair, *coat...Sooo... **on.......Faith, dress him how you will. I'll give bim That gift, he will never look hals scarvily enough. Oh! the clowns that I have seen in my time, The very peeping out of one of them would have Made *...* heir laugh, though his father lay A ma. †. in law the day before for hi.econd lave burst himself with laughing, and ended all His misories. Here was a merry world, my masters: Some talk of things of state, of puling stuff; There's nothing in a play like to a clown, If he have the grace to hit on it, that's the thing - indeed. *.......Away then, shift; clown, to thy motley crupper. . Those who desire accurate information concern"g the dresses that belonged to the characters in *tion at various periods, should consult ancient Monts and paintings, particularly the miniatures that embellish manuscripts. But the disliculty of *ing how the theatrical fools and clowns of Shakspeare's age were always habited, is insuper*... In some cases the dramas themselves assist, *] reserences which leave little doubt ; but this is

not common. Artists formerly did not devote much of their time to theatrical subjects; the discovery of a single painting of this kind would be more valuable than a folio of conjectural dissertation. As, however, the costume of the time would in some degree be preserved on the stage, the materials . remain to illustrate the dress of the real fools may supply the defect: The garb of domestic fools in Shakspeare's day, was of two sorts. In the first, the coat was motley or J.". and attached to the body by a girdle, with bells at the skirts and elbows, though not invariably. The hose and breeches close, and frequently each leg of a different colour. A hood, like a monk’s cowl, covered the head entirely, falling down over part of the breast and shoulders. It was sometimes adorned with asses' ears, or terminated in the neck and head of a cock, a fashion as old as the fourteenth century. It often had the comb or crest only of the animal, whence the term cockscomb was afterwards applied to any silly upstart. This fool carried in '. hand a sceptre or banble, ornamented with a fool's head, a doll, or a puppet. The bauble originally used in King Lear, was extant so late as Garrick's time, and the figure of it would have been worth preserving. To this instrument, was annexed an inflated bladder, with which the fool belaboured those who offended him, or with whom he was disposed to make sport. The form of it varied, and was often obscene in the highest degree. In some old prints, the fool appears with a sort of slapper or rattle, surrounded with bells. This implement was used for the same purpose as the bladder. The fool's dagger, occasionally mentioned, was probably the wooden sword of the Vice in the Moralities, a thin piece of lath which he used to belabour the devil. In Elizabeth's time, the archbishop of Canterbury's fool wore a coxcomb and a wooden dagger. In Chapman's Widow's Tears, an upstart governor is called “a wooden dagger gilded o'er ;” and in the Noble Gentleman, a person likened to a fool is desired to wear a great wooden dagger. The other dress, which seems to have been most worn in Shakspeare's time, was the long petticoat, which ... belonged to the idiot or natural fool, and was adopted for the purpose of cleanliness. How it came into use for the allowed fool, is not so obvious. It was, like the former, of various colours, the materials often rich, as of velvet, and guarded or fringed with yellow. In one instance we have a yellow leather doublet. In Bancroft's Epigrams, 1639, quarto, there is one addressed “to a giglot with her greene sicknesse,” in which are these lines:— “Thy sicknesse mocks o: that's seldom seene But in foole's yellow, and the lover's greene.” And from a manuscript note we learn, that yellow was the foole's colour in the time of the Commonwealth. Yet the foregoing were not the only modes in which domestic fools were habited. The hood was occasionally without a coxcomb, instead of which a bell or bells appeared. A feather was frequently added to the comb; and in an old Morality, the fool says, “By my trouth the thing that I desire most Is in my cappe to have a goodly feather." In mimicry of a monk's crown, the head was sometimes shaved, and in one instance the hair is made to represent a triple or papal tiara. The garment was often decorated with fox or squirrel tails. In The Pope's Funeral, 1605, quarto, we find this passage —“I shall prove him such a noddy before I leave him, that all the world will deeme him worthy to wear in his forehead, a coxcombe for his foolishness, and on his back a fox tayle for his badge.” This custom was ol. designed to ridicule a fashion common among the ladies in the reign of Edward III. which is thus alluded to in the old Chronicle of England:—“And the women more mysely yet passed the men in aray and coriouslaker, for they were so streyt clothed that they let hange fox tailles sowed bineth within hir clothes for to hale and hide their a-; the which disguysinges and pride, paradventure, afterward brouzt forth and encaused many myshappes and meschief in the reame of Englond.” Idiots or naturals wore calf or sheep's skin; for in the Gesta Grayorum, 1088, quarto, we read, “The scribe claims the manor of Noverinte, by roviding sheep skins and calve skins to wrappe his }. icards and idiotts in.” A purse or wallet at the waist, was part of the fool's dress. Tarlton, who personated the clowns in Shakspeare's day, appears to have worn it; Triboulet, in Rabelais, is described as having a budget of tortoiseshell. The fools, however, did not invariably wear a distinguishing habit; this appears from some of their portraits still remaining. A painting at Kensington-palace, by Holbein represents Will Somers, the fool of Henry Vfii. In a common dress. In an account of that sovereign's wardrobe, are these particulars;–“ For making a dubblette lyned with canvas and cotton for Willian Som'ar, oure foole. Item, for making of a coote and a cappe of grene clothe, fringed with red crule, and lyned with fryse, for oure said foole.” But the account goes on thus:—“Item, for making of a coote of greene clothe, with a hoode to the same, fringed with white crule lyned with fryse and bokerham, for our foole aforesaid.” F. these, we infer that he also wore the distinctive habit of the fool. In families where the sool acted as a menial servant, he might have kept his official garb for occasions of ceremony. Want of materials to illustrate our "..." renders this part of it very imperfect; but the plays of Shakspeare furnish more information than those of any other writer. It is strange that the domestic fool should so seldom appear in the old dramas, because it not merely excited mirth among a rude audience, but

gave the author an opportunity of shewing his ingenuity in extemporary wit. It is undeniable, that Shakspeare's fools were pre-eminent above all others. Shadwell declares they had more humour than any of the wits and critics of his age. Beaumont and Fletcher seldom introduce them; Ben Jonson and Massinger never.

The practice of putting the fools and clowns in requisition between the acts and scenes, and after the play was finished, to amuse the spectators with their tricks, may be traced to the Greek and Roinan theatres; and their usages being preserved in the middle ages, wherever the Roman insluence had spread, it would not, of course, be peculiar to England. The records of the French theatre demonstrate this fact; in the Mystery of Saint Barbara, we find this stage direction :-"Pausa. Wudunt, et stultus loquitur;" (A pause. They quit the stage, and the fool speaks.) and in this way he is frequently brought on between the scenes.

|. decline of domestic fools, and its causes, have been already touched on ; the same reason may, in part, be assigned for their dramatic exile. In the pracludium to Goffe's Careless Shepherdess, 1656, quarto, there is a panegyric on them, and some concern is she who for the fool's absence in the play itself, while it is stated that “the motley coat was banished with trunk-hose.” Yet in Charles II.'s reign, some efforts were made to restore the character. In the tragedy of Thorney Abbey, or the London Maid, 1662, 12mo, the prologue is delivered by a fool, who uses these words:– “The poet's a fool who made the tragedy, to tell a stor of a king and a court, and leave a fool out on't, when in Pacey's, and Sommer's, and Patche's and Archer's times, my venerable predecessours, a fool was alwaies the principal verb.” Shadwell's |...} of The Woman {...}. 1680, is perhaps the ast in which a regular fool is introduced; and even there, his master is made to say that the character was exploded on the stage. In real life, as was formerly stated, the professed fool was to be met with at a much later period, but the custom has long been obsolete.

$bakspeart's Dramatic Contemporarits.

Perhaps there is no period in the literary history of mankind distinguished by so many rare examples of real genius, as that which elapsed from the accession of Elizabeth to the commencement of that stormy era which ended in the destruction of royalty. The mind of man, which had for ages lain dormant in the sloth of ignorance and superstition, was, at length, by a variety of concurring causes, but more especially by the Reformation, roused to shake off her trammels, and exert her native energies with irresistible force. Beings, that for many centuries had scarcelv deserved the denomination of rational, determining once more to choose their own principles of action, like awakening giants, emerged from their intellectual prison-house, to expatiate at full freedom over the universe of nature, and the boundless worlds of imagination. Literature, so long confined to the cell and the cloister, extended its empire, and found willing and enthusiastic worshippers, where, heretofore, the privilege of mental |. had been unappreciated and unknown. A string of saintly legends, remarkable only for their folly and extravagance, and composed in barbarous Latin, or volumes of idle sonnets, crammed with pitiful conceits, uncouthly expressed, had been all the aliment supplied to the paralysed intellect ; but now, a daring, unfettered originality, rise with intense feeling, and cominanding a wild profusion of ideas newly dug from the yet unbroached mines of passion and genius, tore

away the veil from the human heart, and published all its wonderful secrets, with a fidelity and power which instantly insured universal attention. No department of literature received so much advantage by the change as the drama. Prior to the time of the first Heywood, we find nothing but the Mysteries, compositions always puerile and insipid, and sometimes blasphemous; i. the light of passion and imagination which broke with him, broadened and brightened into the full glory of perfect day, in Shakspeare, and the brilliant host of exalted spirits, that flamed and corruscated round his orbit, like the planetary worlds that revolve and shine round their great source and centre, the sun. Volumes would be required to do justice to the splendid names alluded to; and, at present, we intend little more than briefly to enumerate some of those nighty magicians of the heart, whose touch opened all the flood-gates of feeling, and lit up the face with smiles, or channelled it with tears at pleasure. To the disgrace of our country, some of these intellectual benefactors of their species are suffered to sleep in the dust of oblivion, but this cannot be for ever ; they must yet arise in glory and strength; for while we acknowledge the transcendent genius of Shakspeare, we should not forget his contein

poraries. SPENSER. This illustrious poet is, from a variety of causes, but little reud, and less understood, at the present

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