Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

A NEW WAY TO PAY OLD DEBTS:

A COMEDY,

En five Acts.

BY PHILIP MASSINGER.

PRINTED FROM THE ACTING COPY, WITH REMARKS,

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL, BY D-G.

To which are added,

A DESCRIPTION OF THE COSTUME,-CAST OF THE CHARACTERS, ENTRANCES AND EXITS,-RELATIVE POSITION OF THE PERFORMERS ON THE STAGE,--AND THE WHOLE OF THE STAGE

BUSINESS.

As now performed at the

THEATRES ROYAL, LONDON.

EMBELLISHED WITH A PORTRAIT OF MISS SMITHSON,

IN THE CHARACTER OF MARGARET.

Engraved on Steel by Mr. WOOLNOTH, from an original Drawing

by Mr. WAGEMAN.

LONDON:

JOHN CUMBERLAND, 6, BRECKNOCK PLACE,

CAMDEN TOWN.

REMARKS.

New vway to Pay Old Debts.

If we compare the dramatic authors who flourished at the commencement of Shaks peare's career, with the great poet himself, his contemporaries, and immediate successors, we shall

be astonished to find that the infancy and maturity of the stage should embrace a period of but little more than thirty to forty years. The dawn of Shakspeare dispelled the shadows, clouds, and darkness that rested on the dramatic horizon, and with him arose a host of stars tbat, while they shone with no borrowed lustre, still gathered glory from his beams. The most illustrious, and next in rank to himself, is Philip Massinger, a man of whose life little or nothing is known, beyond the melancholy fact, that he was a literary way-farer, eking ont a penurious existence in humble obscurity, and that his transcendani genius, which must command the admiration of the latest posterity, could not protect him from the horrors of a gaol. He died on the 17th of March, 1640. According to Langbaine, he went to bed in good health, and was found dead in the morning, in his own house on the Bank-side. He was buried in the church of St. Mary Overy, in Southwark, “ without a stone, a name," in the same grave with his friend and fellow-labourer, John Fletcher. The register thus briefly records the memorial of his mortality :-March 20, 1639-40, buried Philip Massinger- A Stranger !"

But, though “ no storied urn or animated bust" have trausmitted to posterity a record of tbis great poet, be may well spare the fame of such perishable memorials

“In his own works enshrin'd, the bard shall live !" and, though the regret will be deep and lasting, that the poet's path should have been strewed with briars and thorns, a feeling of exultation will be mingled with it, that, while neglect did its worst to the living bard, time has crowned his memory with immortal honours. We believe that genius, in adversity's darkest hour, has received consolation from the conviction that future ages would gratefully appreciate it; and that, when all other hope has proved unavailing, the hope of immortality has cheered the drooping spirit, and made it esteem that glorious distinction cheaply bought by contumely and suffering. It is not impossible that such a hope might have broke in upon the sorrows of Massinger.

In assigning Massinger a station above all other dramatic poets, and placing him next to the divine Sbakspeare, we cannot forget the sublimity of Beaumont-the pathos of Fletcher--the wit, nerve, and profound learning of Ben Jonson. It is, that he has a combination of rarer qualities than bis illustrious contemporaries ; that his conceptions are more just and noble; that in dignity and elegance, in power of description in the melody, grandeur, and variety of his poetry, he is superior to them. In majesty of thought and

« AnteriorContinuar »