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a passage whose exquisite beauties have hitherto been rather instinctively felt than rationally admired. This essay is the result.
The discussion, indeed, has exceeded the bounds I first contemplated : nor is this surprising. The matter compressed into the acorn expands, by development, into the enormous oak. The little allegory which we are about to consider comprises, in a few hints perfectly intelligible to cotemporary ears, a long and intricate story of queens, princes, favourites, and courtiers, the most distinguished in their day: but, involving nothing beyond their domestic history, it is no wonder that, as they died away, and disappeared from the busy stage of life, the details of their foibles and their errors, their passions and their crimes, should fade and wax dim in the public recollection, or that the poetical record of their frailties, purposely obscure at first, should gradually lose its distinctness, and at length present to the ordinary reader nothing more than a series of beautiful but unappropriated imagery. To recal the spirit of the past, and breathe it back into its deserted forms till they live again, were, at any time, no easy task; but the attempt to do so, after the lapse of nearly three centuries, during which they have lain entranced in their inanimate though imperishable loveliness, involves an inquiry no less voluminous than minute, and must needs be attended with intricate details.
Time does his work on the remembrance of men's lives as he does upon the labours of their hands-disperses the materials which once formed a whole. To gather up the fragments scattered here and there, to adjust and
re-adapt them to their original places, and to restore the ruin to something of its primitive integrity, is a process which demands no small expense of time, thought, and labour. If the difficulties of such an enterprise be weighed, it will, perhaps, be conceded that he who has even partially surmounted them is entitled to considerable indulgence.
Among the biographical details which ensue, that portion which treats of the family and connexions of our great Poet-and particularly the maternal branch—will not, however digressive, be unacceptable to his admirers. Its object is to rescue their memory from the derogatory treatment it has hitherto experienced at the hands of biographers and critics, and to restore them to a rank and respectability to which, as they frequently urged their claims, I conceive them to be justly entitled. The tragical fate, also, of our poet's kinsman, resulting out of the transaction which forms the main subject of our inquiry, is now for the first time noticed in connection with his history, and is as important to the critic as it is interesting to the biographer.
For the analysis of Lylie's Endymion—a performance far from destitute of peculiar merits, though more valuable as the type of a large class of the contemporaneous. drama than for its own dramatic excellence—I need not apologise. It swells, indeed, the bulk of my essay, but it is with illustrations which could not be dispensed with. If a few additional pages have been devoted to a fuller development of that drama than was strictly essential to my design, I trust that the novelty and intrinsic interest of the subject will procure me toleration.
Let me, in conclusion, confess that a leading inducement to engage in this discussion was a desire to attract attention to a subject which, if suspected at all, has heretofore received far less consideration than it deserves : I mean that condition of our earlier drama which, in the language of the Euphuist, may be called “the application of pastimes;” that is to say, the personalities of the drama--the appropriation of the characters and incidents of dramatic entertainments to the characters and incidents of the times then current. That condition, in my humble judgment (formed on long and diligent examination), pervades, to an extent not lightly credible, the whole of the Shakespearian period. The recent formation of a Society, whose attention is expressly directed to “ the general literature of that period, in relation, either immediate or remote, to dramatic representations, and to the lives, characters, and opinions, of such as have any way been concerned in them,” seems to me to furnish the proper occasion and suitable agency for such an investigation :
Operum hoc, mihi crede, tuorum est.
Dublin, March 10th, 1842.
Text, with Warburton's commentary; his error; if true, would explain
Boaden's error; misled by Scott.-Leicester's three wives : 1. Amie
Simier negociates the proposal of Alençon; discovers Leicester's secret;
disgrace and imprisonmeut; freed by the generous interference of Sussex ;
Which of the ladies the little western flower ?-Dates of the respective