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We laugh, for what we have are sorry ; still
I would now ask ye how ye like the play ;
No man smile?
The manner is Shakespeare's, and some parts are little inferior to his very finest passages." -- Spalding. “The scene is opened by Shakespeare in his most majestic vein of meditative or moral verse, pointed and coloured as usual with him alone by direct and absolute aptitude to the immediate sentiment and situation of the speaker and of no man else: then either Fletcher strikes in for a moment with a touch of somewhat more Shakespearean tone than usual, or possibly we have a survival of some lines' length, not unretouched by Fletcher, from Shakespeare's first sketch for a conclusion of the somewhat calamitous and cumbrous underplot, which in any case was ultimately left for Fletcher to expand into such a shape and bring by such means to an end as we may safely swear that Shakespeare would never have admitted; then with the entrance and ensuing narrative of Pirithous we have none but Shakespeare before us again, though it be Shakespeare undoubtedly in the rough, and not as he might have chosen to present himself after due revision, with rejection (we may well suppose) of this point and readjustment of that; then upon the arrival of the dying Arcite with his escort there follows a grievous little gap, a flaw but pitifully patched by Fletcher, whom we recognize at wellnigh his worst and weakest in Palamon's appeal to his kinsman for a last word, “if his heart, his worthy, manly heart' (an exact and typical example of Fletcher's tragically prosaic and prosaically tragic dash of incurable commonplace), ‘be yet unbroken,' and in the flaccid and futile answer which fails so signally to supply the place of the most famous and pathetic passage in all the master
Lov'd a young handsome wench, then, show his face-
any way content ye —
piece of Chaucer; a passage to which even Shakespeare could have added but some depth and grandeur of his own giving, since neither he nor Dante's very self nor any other among the divinest of men could have done more or better than match it for tender and true simplicity of words more dearly sweet and bitter' than the bitterest or sweetest of men's tears, Then after the duly and properly conventional engagement on the parts of Palamon and Emilia respectively to devote the anniversary ‘to tears' and 'to honour,' the deeper tone returns for one grand last time, grave at once and sudden and sweet as the full choral opening of an anthem: the note which none could ever catch of Shakespeare's very voice gives out the peculiar cadence that it alone can give in the modulated instinct of a solemn change or shifting of the metrical emphasis or ictus from one to the other of two repeated words —
that nought could buy
Dear love but loss of dear love!' That is a touch beyond the ear or the hand of Fletcher: a chord sounded from Apollo's own harp after a somewhat hoarse and reedy wheeze from the scrannel-pipe of a lesser player than Pan. Last of all, in words worthy to be the latest left of Shakespeare's, his great and gentle Theseus winds up the heavenly harmonies of his last beloved grand poem." —Swinburne.
THE DUCHESS OF MALFI.
BY JOHN WEBSTER.
Probably produced in 1616; first printed in 1623. The story is in Bandello's Novelle, Part I, No. 26; in Belleforest's French translation of Bandello, No. 19; in Painter's Palace of Pleasure, Vol. II, No. 23; in Beard's Theatre of God's Judgments, B. ii, chap. 22; and in Goulart's Histoires Admirables, Vol. I, p. 319. Lope de Vega published in 1618 El Mayordomo de la Duquesa de Amalfi.
To the Rt. Hon. GEORGE HARDING, Baron Berkeley, of Berkeley
Castle, and Knight of the Order of the Bath to the illustrious Prince Charles.
My Noble Lord, "HAT I may present my excuse why, being a stranger to your
lordship. I offer this poem to your patronage, I plead this warrant : - men who never saw the sea yet desire to behold that regiment of waters, choose some eminent river to guide them thither, and make that, as it were, their conduct or postilion: by the like ingenious means has your fame arrived at my knowledge, receiving it from some of worth, who both in contemplation and practice owe to your honour their clearest service.
I do not altogether look up at your title; the ancientest nobility being but à relic of time past, and the truest honour indeed being for a man to confer honour on himself, which your learning strives to propagate, and shall make you arrive at the dignity of a great example. I am confident this work is not unworthy your honour's perusal; for by such poems as this poets have kissed the hands of great princes, and drawn their gentle eyes to look down upon their sheets of paper when the poets themselves were bound up in their winding-sheets. The like courtesy from your lordship shall make you live in your grave, and laurel spring out of it, when the ignorant scorners of the Muses, that like worms in libraries seem to live only to destroy learning, shall wither neglected and forgotten. This work and myself I humbly present to your approved censure, it being the utmost of my wishes to have your honourable self my weighty and perspicuous comment; which grace so done me shall ever be acknowledged By your lordship’s in all duty and observance,
household to the DUCHESS. Several Madmen, Pilgrims, ExecuDELIO, his Friend.
tioners, Officers, Attendants, etc. DANIEL DE BOSOLA, Gentleman of DUCHESS OF MALFI.
X Х the Horse to the DUCHESS. CARIOLA, her Woman. CASTRUCCIO.
JULIA, Castruccio's Wife, and the X
Old Lady, Ladies, and Children.
SCENE: Malf, Rome, and Milan,
The Presence-chamber in the DUCHESS' Palace
Enter ANTONIO and DELIO.
Delio. You are welcome to your country, dear Antonio ;
habit: How do you like the French court ?