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tragedy that was ever written, observing all his knowledge. Though he is a “high flyer the critical laws, as height of style, and in wit,” as Edward Phillips calls him, yet is gravity of person, enrich it with the senten- | he a poet. As he advanced in years, he was tious Chorus, and, as it were, 'liven death, wielding greater powers, and dealing with in the passionate and weighty Nuntias ; yet, nobler things, than belonged to the satirist. after all this divine rapture, 0 dura messorum In his higher walk he is of the school of ilia, the breath that comes from the un- nature and simplicity. Hazlitt speaks of capable multitude is able to poison it; and, one of his plays, perhaps the best, with true ere it be acted, let the author resolve to fix artistical feeling :-“The rest of the chato every scene this of Horace
racter is answerable to the beginning. The
execution is, throughout, as exact as the Hæc porcis hodie comedenda relinques.'”
conception is new and masterly. There is As early as 1602, Webster was a writer for the least colour possible used ; the pencil Henslow's theatre, in conjunction with drags ; the canvas is almost seen through : Dekker, Drayton, Middleton, Chettle, Hey- | but then, what precision of outline, what wood, and Wentworth Smith. At a later truth and purity of tone, what firmness of period he was more directly associated with hand, what marking of character! ..... Dekker alone. His great tragedies of "The It is as if there were some fine art to chisel White Devil' and 'The Duchess of Malfi' thought, and to embody the inmost movewere produced at the period when Shakspere ments of the mind in every-day actions and had almost ceased to write ; and it is familiar speech.”* Dekker acquired some probably to this circumstance we owe these of his satirical propensities, but the tenderoriginal and unaided efforts of Webster's
ness of his heart was also called forth, in the genius. There was a void to be filled up, crooked ways and dark places of misfortune. and it was filled up worthily.
Almost the first record of his life is a Webster has placed his coadjutor DEKKER memorandum by Henslow of the loan of next to Shakspere. He looked upon the forty shillings, “ to discharge Mr. Dicker out world with an observant eye; and of him it of the Counter in the Poultry.” Oldys, in has been said, that his “ pamphlets and plays his manuscript notes upon Langbaine, affirms alone would furnish a more complete view that he was in the King's Bench Prison from of the habits and customs of his contempo- | 1613 to 1616. His own calamities furnish a raries in vulgar and middle life than could commentary to the tenderness of many such easily be collected from all the grave annals passages as the following, in which a of the times."* He was confident in his father is told of the miseries of his erring powers ; and claimed to be a satirist by as daughter :indefeasible a title as that of his greater rival
" I'm glad you are wax, not marble; you are Jonson :-"I am snake-proof; and though,
made with Hannibal, you bring whole hogsheads Of man's best temper; there are now good of vinegar-railings, it is impossible for you hopes to quench or come over my Alpine resolution.
That all these heaps of ice about your heart, I will sail boldly and desperately alongst By which a father's love was frozen up, the shores of the isle of Gulls; and in Are thaw'd in these swoct show’rs fetch'd defiance of those terrible block-houses, their
from your eyes : loggerheads, make a true discovery of their We are ne'er like angels till our passion dies. wild yet habitable country." + Thomas She is not dead, but lives under worse fate; Dekker is certainly one of those who gather
I think she's poor.” humours from all men ; but his wit is not of The praise of industry belongs to Dekker, the highest or the most delicate character. He though its fruits were poverty. He lived to knows the town, and he makes the most of a considerable age, and he laboured to the
last at play or pamphlet. But the amount *Quarterly Review.' † Gull's Hornbook.'
* Dramatic Literature of the Age of Elizabeth.'
of his productions becomes almost insig- | indications that Beaumont was regarded by nificant when compared with the more than his contemporaries as a man of great and “copious industry” of Thomas Heywood. original power. It was not with the exHe was a scholar, having been educated at
aggeration of a brother's love that Sir John Cambridge—at Peterhouse, it is said ; but Beaumont wrote his affecting epitaph upon he became an actor as early as 1598, being the death of Francis :then a sharer in Henslow's company. In “ Thou shouldst have follow'd me, but death 1633 he claimed for himself the authorship, to blame entirely or in part, of two hundred and
Miscounted years, and measur'd age by fame." twenty dramas. Many of his two hundred
He was buried by the side of Chaucer and and twenty dramas were probably such short Spenser, in the hallowed earth where it was pieces as “ The Yorkshire Tragedy.' Hey- wished that Shakspere should have been wood had the power of stirring the affections, laid :of moving pity and terror by true representa
“Renowned Spenser, lie a thought more nigh tions of the course of crime and misery in To learned Chaucer; and, rare Beaumont, lie real life. Charles Lamb has summed up A little nearer Spenser, to make room character of his writings in three lines :- For Shakespear in your threefold, fourfold “Heywood is a sort of prose Shakspeare. tomb. His scenes are to the full as natural and To lodge all four in one bed make a shift, affecting. But we miss the poet, that which For until doomsday hardly will a fifth, in Shakspeare always appears out and above Betwixt this day and that, by fates be slain, the surface of the nature.” Winstanley, not For whom your curtains need be drawn a very trustworthy authority, speaking of again." * Heywood's wonderful fertility, says—“ He, When Shakspere's company performed at not only acted himself almost every day, but Wilton, in December, 1603, it is more than also wrote each day a sheet; and that he probable that there was a young man present might lose no time, many of his plays were at those performances, whose course of life composed in the tavern, on the back side of might have been determined by the impulses tavern bills; which may be an occasion that of those festive hours. Philip MASSINGER, so many of them are lost.”
who in 1603 was nineteen years of age, was Francis BEAUMONT was a boy at the the son of a gentleman filling a service of period to which our slight notice of his great trust in the household of the Earls of coadjutor Fletcher belongs*. The poetical Pembroke. At this period Philip was a union of Beaumont and Fletcher has given commoner of St. Alban Hall, Oxford. “Being birth to stories, such as Aubrey delights in sufficiently famed for several specimens of telling, that their friendship extended even wit, he betook himself to making plays.” to a community of lodging and clothes, with This is Anthony Wood's account of the others matters in common that are held to dedication of Massinger to a pursuit which belong to the perfection of the social system. brought him little but hopeless poverty. We neither believe these things entirely, Amongst Henslow's papers was found an nor do we quite receive the assertion of undated letter, addressed to him by Nathaniel Dr. Earle, that Beaumont's “main business Field, with postscripts signed by Robert was to correct the overflowings of Mr. Daborne and Philip Massinger. Malone Fletcher's wit.” Edward Phillips repeats conjectures that the letter was written this assertion. They first came before the between 1612 and 1615, Henslow having world in the association of a title-page in died in January, 1616. The letter, which is 1607. The junior always preceded the elder a melancholy illustration of the oft-told tale poet in such announcements of their works; of the misfortunes of genius, was first given and this was probably determined by the in the additions to Malone's · Historical alphabetical arrangement. We have many Account of the English Stage : * Book vi. chap. i. page 264.
*Elegy on Shakespear, by W. Basse.
“ To our most loving friend, Mr. Philip Hinchlow, , and died : “However I could never arrive Esquire, These.
at the happiness to be made known to your “Mr. Hinchlow,
Lordship, yet a desire, born with me, to “ You understand our unfortunate extremity, make a tender of all duties and service to and I do not think you so void of Christianity the noble family of the Herberts descended but that you would throw so much money into to me as an inheritance from my dead father, the Thames as we request now of you, rather Arthur Massinger. Many years he happily than endanger so many innocent lives. You know there is xl. more at least to be received of house, and died a servant to it.” There is
spent in the service of your honourable you for the play. We desire you to lend us vl. of that ; which shall be allowed to you; without something unintelligible in all this ; though which we cannot be bailed, nor I play any more
we may well believe with Gifford that, “whattill this be dispatched. It will lose you xxl. ere
ever might be the unfortunate circumstance the end of the next week, besides the hinderance which deprived the author of the patronage of the next new play. Pray, Sir, consider our
and protection of the elder branch of the cases with humanity, and now give us cause to Herberts, he did not imagine it to be of a acknowledge you our true friend in time of disgraceful nature; or he would not, in the need. We have entreated Mr. Davison to deliver face of the public, have appealed to his this note, as well to witness your love as our connexions with the family."* It is difficult promises, and always acknowledgment to be to trace the course of Massinger's poetical
life. The Virgin Martyr,' in which he was “ Your most thankful and loving friends, assisted by Dekker, was the first printed of
“ NAT. FIELD.
his plays; and that did not appear till 1622. “ The money shall be abated out of the money | But there can be little doubt that it belongs remains for the play of Mr. Fletcher and ours.
to an earlier period ; for in 1620 a fee was
“ ROBERT DABORNE. “I have ever found you a true loving friend paid to the Master of the Revels on the to me, and in so small a suit, it being honest, I occasion of “ New reforming The Virgin
Martyr.” The ‘Bondman’ was printed within hope you will not fail us. “ PHILIP MASSINGER.”
a year after it was produced upon the stage; By an indorsement on the letter it is death several of his plays were published,
and from that period till the time of his shown that Henslow made the advance which
but at very irregular intervals. It would these unfortunate men required. But how
appear that during the early portion of his was it that Massinger, who was brought up
career Massinger was chiefly associated with under the patronage of a family distinguished other writers. To the later period belong for their encouragement of genius, was
his great works, such as "The Duke of Milan,' doomed to struggle with abject penury ?*
* The City Madam,' and the 'New Way to Catholic early in life, and thus gave offence pay Old Debts. Taken altogether, Massinger
was perhaps the worthiest successor of Shakto the noble family with whom his father
and this indeed is praise enough. had been so intimately connected. In 1623
Nat. FIELD, the writer of the letter to Massinger published his 'Bondman,' dedi- Henslow, was a player, as we learn by that cating it to the second of the Herberts, letter. The same document shows that he Philip, Earl of Montgomery. The dedication shows that he had been an alien from the he is mentioned in the first folio edition of
was a player in the service of Henslow. But house in the service of which his father lived Shakspere's plays, as one of the principal
actors in them. The best evidence of the singer's burial at St. Saviour's church, in 1639, being re
genius of Field is his association with corded as that of Philip Masenger, stranger,' is not regarded as any indication of his poverty and loneliness: Massinger in the noble play of “The Fatal "Every person, there interred, who did not belong to the Dowry. He probably was not connected parish, was called a stranger." The payment of 21. for
with Shakspere's company during Shakspere's expenses would show “that Massinger was interred with peculiar cost and ceremony."
* Introduction to the Works of Massinger.
* In Mr. Collier's Memoirs of Actors' the fact of Mas.
life ; but he is named in a patent to the and the opinion of Phillips was the impression actors at the Blackfriars and Globe in 1620. as to his powers at the period of the RestoraRobert Daborne, who was associated with tion. Ford,—who has truly been called “of Field and Massinger in their “extremity," the first order of poets”—Rowley, Wilson, was either at this period, or subsequently, Hathway, Porter, Houghton, Day, 'Tourneur, in holy orders.
Taylor, arose as the day-star of Shakspere Thomas MIDDLETON was a contemporary was setting. Each might have been remarkof Shakspere. We find him early associated able in an age of mediocrity, some are still with other writers, and in 1602 was published illustrious. The great dramatic literature his comedy of Blurt Master-Constable.' of England was the creation of half a century Edward Phillips describes him as “a copious only; and in that short space was heaped up writer for the English stage, contemporary such a prodigality of riches that we regard with Jonson and Fletcher, though not of this wondrous accumulation with something equal repute, and yet on the other side not too much of indifference to the lesser gems, altogether contemptible.” He continued to dazzled by the lustre of the write on till the suppression of the theatres, “ One entire and perfect chrysolite."
THE TWO NOBLE KINSMEN.
The title-page of the original edition of 'The into violent conflict, rendered the stage so Two Noble Kinsmen 'sets forth that it was justly obnoxious to the Puritans. The pro“written by the memorable worthies of their logue, speaking of the play, saystime, Mr. John Fletcher and Mr. William
* It has a noble breeder, and a pure, Shakspeare." This was printed in 1634,
A learned, and a poet never went nine years after the death of Fletcher, and
More famous yet 'twixt Po and silver Trent: eighteen years after the death of Shakspere.
Chaucer (of all admired) the story gives; The play was not printed in the first col
There constant to eternity it lives!” lected edition of Beaumont and Fletcher's works, in 1647, for the reason assigned in the And it then adds:Stationers' Address.' “ Some plays, you “If we let fall the nobleness of this, know, written by these authors, were hereto- And the first sound this child hear be a hiss, fore printed : I thought not convenient to How will it shake the bones of that good mix them with this volume, which of itself is man, entirely new.” The title-page of the quarto And make him cry from under-ground, 'Oh, of 1634 is, therefore, the only direct external
fan evidence we possess as to Shakspere's par
From me the witless chaff of such a writer ticipation in this play. Nor have we to
That blasts my bays, and my famed works
makes lighter offer any contemporary notice of “The Two
Than Robin Hood ?'" Noble Kinsmen' which refers to this question of the co-authorship. The very pro- The expression “such a writer” is almost logue and epilogue of the play itself are evidence against the double authorship. It silent upon this point. They are, except in implies, too, that, if Fletcher were the author, a passage or two, unimportant in themselves ; the play was presented before his death ; for have no poetical merit ; and present some of if the players had produced the drama after those loose allusions which, as we approach his death, they would have probably spoken the days when principles of morality came of him (he being its sole author) in the terms
of eulogy with which they accompanied the his pains."* It is clear that the fable of performance of The Loyal Subject :
Chaucer must have been treated in a dif
ferent manner by Edwards than we find it “We need not, noble gentlemen, to invite
treated in The Two Noble Kinsmen. We Attention, pre-instruct you who did write have another record of a play on a similar This worthy story, being confident
subject. In Henslow's 'Diary' we have an The mirth join'd with grave matter and entry, under the date of September 1594, of intent
'Palamon and Arsett' being acted four To yield the hearers profit with delight, times. It is impossible to imagine that “The Will speak the maker : And to do him right Two Noble Kinsmen' is the same play. Would ask a genius like to his; the age Here, then, was a subject adapted to a writer Mourning his loss, and our now-widow'd stage who worked in the spirit in which Shakspere In vain lamenting.”
almost uniformly worked. It was familiar
to the people in their popular poetry; it was The inferences, therefore, to be deduced familiar to the stage. To arrive at a right from the prologue to 'The Two Noble Kins-judgment regarding the authorship of "The men' (supposing Fletcher to be concerned in Two Noble Kinsmen,' we must examine the this drama),—that it was acted during his play line by line in its relation to “The life-time, and that he either claimed the Knight's Tale' of Chaucer. sole authorship, or suppressed all mention of • The Knight's Tale' opens with the rethe joint-authorship,--are to be weighed turn to Athens of the “ duke that highté against the assertion of the title-page, that it Theseus” after he had was "written by the two memorable worthies
“conquer'd all the regne of Feminie, of their time.” We are thrown upon the That whilom was ycleped Scythia, examination of the internal evidence, then, And wedded the freshe queen Hypolita, without any material bias from the publica- And brought her home with him to his countion of the play, or its stage representation. trey
Before the first builders-up of that won- With muchel glory and great solempnitie, drous edifice, the English drama, lay the And eke her youngé sister Emelie.” whole world of classical and romantic fable, The Two Noble Kinsmen' “ where to choose.” One of the earliest, and Theseus at Athens, in the company of Hip
opens consequently least skilful, of those workmen, Richard Edwards, went to the ancient bration of his marriage with the “dreaded
polyta and her sister, proceeding to the celestores for his “Damon and Pythias,' and to Amazonian.” Their bridal procession is inChaucer for his 'Palamon and Arcyte. We
terrupted by the learn from Wood's MSS. that when Elizabeth visited Oxford, in 1566, “at night the Queen
“three queens whose sovereigns fell before
The wrath of cruel Creon." heard the first part of an English play, named ' Palæmon, or Palamon Arcyte,' made In Chaucer the suppliants are by Mr. Richard Edwards, a gentleman of her numerous company.
As Theseus was apchapel, acted with very great applause in proaching Athens, Christ Church Hall.” An accident hap- “He was 'ware, as he cast his pened at the beginning of the play by the Where that there kneeled in the highé way falling of a stage, through which three per- A company of ladies tway and tway, sons were killed a scholar of St. Mary's Each after other, clad in clothes black; Hall, and two who were probably more
But such a cry and such a woe they make, missed, a college brewer and a cook. The That in this world n'is creature living mirth, however, went on, and “afterwards
That ever heard such another waimenting.” the actors performed their parts so well, that Briefly they tell their tale of woe, and as the Queen laughed heartily thereat, and
• Nichols's Progresses of Queen Elizabeth,' vol. i. pp. gave the author of the play great thanks for 210, 211.