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the title of The Fair Penitent; but the trick, must have been indebled when he wrote his was unsuspected, for who would take the trouble Il Penseroso : lo read Massinger? A better laste seems now gaining ground. The Duke of Milan bas been
“ Hence all ye vain delights,
As short as are the nights successfully revived; The Fatal Dowry has ap
Wherein you spend your folly!
There's nought in this life sweet, peared in a form more equitable to its aulbor;
If we were wise to see't and for the credit of the age, we trust the trash
But only melancholy;
Oh, sweetest melancholy ; of the modern stage will soon give place to the
Welcome, folded arins, and fixed eyes, sterling productions of the old English drama.
A sigh that piercing mortifies;
A tongue chain'd up without a sound !
“Fountain heads, and pathless groves,
Places which pale passion loves!
Are warmly hous'd, save bats and owls ! These authors, the Pylades and Orestes of
A midnight bell, a lparting groan ! literalure, are remarkable on several accounts.
These are the sounds we feed upon!
Then stretch our bones in a still gloomy valley : Their friendship presents the singular and pleas
Nothing's so dainty sweet as lovely melancholy." ing spectacle of two great geniuses so closely oniled in their feelings and pursuits, that in
MARLOWE. upwards of fifty dramas which they wrote confunctively, it is utterly impossible to distinguish This great tragic poel was educated at Camto which of them we are indebted for any parti- bridge, where he look the degree of B. A. 1583, calar scene or character. Their compositions and of M. A. 1587; his passions appear to have are so homogeneous, that were we not assured been very violent, and his whole life was stormy of the contrary, we should ascribe them, without and unsettled. His mind was of the highest besitation, to the efforts of a single mind. Here order ; but, imagining for himself a universe of ve may observe, that nothing in Shakspeare's perfect beauty and felicity, he was filled with age is more worthy of commemoration, than the disgust at the sorrows and disappointments good understanding which subsisted among the of the real world around bim. The manner galasy of master-spirits that adorned those times. of his death was extremely tragical: he was They lived together like a family of brothers, passionately fond of a beautiful girl, whose cir10 petty jealousies disturbed their community ; cumstances were but humble : visiting her one we continually find them advancing, without evening, he found a low fellow in her company ostentation, each other's labours, and engaged of whom he was jealous; in the frenzy of the in a friendly competition of good offices. Hence moment he drew his poniard (a weapon then se observe many plays written by three or four commonly worn), intending to stab the unweldifferent hands; and this practice, so opposite come intruder, but bis antagonist wrenched the to the grovelling selfishness of modern writers, dagger from his grasp, and Marlowe falling seems to have excited no surprise. The solitary forwards, received it in his heart. The wits of anti-social pride of intellectual superiority was his age seem to have had a very high opinion of sacrificed on the allar of friendship. The poetry Marlowe's lalents. Heywood, no incompetent of Beaumont and Fletcher's dramas is often ex- judge, styles him the best of poets; and Drayton ceedingly fine; they are frequently prosaic, and writes of him thus : even common-place, but these feelings are re
“Next, Marlowe, bathed in the Thespian springs, deemed by bursts of passion and eloquence truly Had in him those brave translunary things, overpowering. In nice discrimination of cha- That your first poets bad; his raptures were
All air and fire, which made his verses clear; racter too, they are by no means deficient, and For that fine madness still he did retain, nothing can excuse the depravily of taste which Which rightly should possess a poet's brain." bas consigned their works to dust and silence. The phrase, fine madness, very aplly exThey are said to bave ridiculed Shakspeare in presses the character of his genius. In The Some of their plays, particularly in The Knight Tragical History of Dr. Faustus, the reader is of the Burning Pestle. If such liberties were continually startled by the wildness and inLaken, they gave no offence, for that wonderful coherence of the poet's conceplions; he transman often assisted them in their compositions. ports us into a world of shadows, and surrounds The foilowing song is from The Nice Valour, us with the terrible creations of an over-excited of The L'assionate Madman, to which Milton fancy; yet so distinctly and vividly are these strange imaginations pourtrayed, that we remble | The public of his day were content with the and weep while they pass in review before us. great elements of all true poetry, passion and Notwithstanding all his powerful claims to our imagination ; and if an author could supply these. admiration, Marlowe is scarcely known at pre- his productions were not rejected for any desent but as the author of a little poem, begin- ficiencies of elegance and refinement. In bis ning “Come live with me, and be my love." While Devil, and the Duchess of Malfey, bis Kean brought out his Jew of Malta (perbaps, capital works, Websler continually sins against the worst of his plays), at Drury-lane Theatre; the arbitrary enactments of criticism, and not it attracted for a few nights, but four-legged seldom against the more equitable laws of tasie ; performers were just then coming into fashion, but he atones for these faults by displaying a and the affair was hopeless.
strength of passion, and a boldness of imagi
nation, which bave hardly ever been surpassed. CHAPMAN.
MARSTON. This writer, whose lofty endowments have seldom been duly appreciated, was born 1557, This poet, like many of his gifted contemand in his early years owed much to the pa- poraries, bas left no record behind him but his tronage of sir Thomas Walsingham. Prince works. He appears, however, to bave studied Henry, that amiable scion of royalty, and the at Oxford; and judging from the chastity and far-famed earl of Somerset, were also bis purity of his language, we may suppose, that he friends ; but his comedy of Eastward Hoe, in formed bis style on classic models. His plays which he billerly reflects on the Scotch, so of- are eight in number, but the most remarkable fended king James that he was obliged to leave are Antonio aud Melida, 1602; The Malconthe court, and relinquish his prospects of pre- tent, 1604; and The Wonder of Women, or ferment. However, he was one of heaven's Sophonisba, 1606; which last is dedicated in nobility, and the frowns of the great could not warm terms to Ben Jonson, though he afterdiminish his self-esteem. He lived respected wards had some disagreement with that poel. and died lamented by the best and greatest men of his age. His Translation of Homer sur
MIDDLETON. passes in genius any that has yet appeared. Pope's is more elegant, no doubt; but in all The companion of Jonson, Fletcher, Masthe essentials of true poelry old Chapman has singer, and Rowley, with all of whom he occamuch the advantage. His dramatic perform- sionally wrote in concert, though his fame may ances savour considerably of antiquity, but in safely rest on compositions which are entirely reading them we find frequent occasion lo com- bis own. Some of his dramas bear date so mend and admire. Ben Jonson, we are told, recently as the reign of Charles I., but his best was jealous of his great abilities ; Shakspeare plays were published much earlier. A Mad honoured and fostered them. There is an ano- World, my Masters, acted by the Children of nymous poem in praise of this last author which Paul's, 1608, is an excellent play; and many has been attributed lo Chapman, and it is cal- modern writers, thinking themselves sase in its culated to heighten our estimation even of his obscurity, have pillaged from it very freely. powers.
Mrs. Behn, in her City Heiress, and Johnson,
in his Country Lasses, have taken the most WEBSTER.
This poet, whose situation in life was very
ROWLEY. humble, his highest worldly distinction having been that of parish clerk at St. Andrew's, Hol- This dramatist, though inferior to some of born, was certainly endowed with talents of no bis illustrious companions, will deservedly rank common order; and although, from the want of high as one of the benefactors of the English the discipline which education affords, bis ge- stage. He Nourished in the reign of James I. nius frequently run riot, and developed itself and was allached to a company of players bein the most eccentric manner, there can be little longing to the prince of Wales. He was rather doubt that the representation of his plays was eminent as a comedian; little is known of him altended by delighted and applauding audiences. more than bis close connexion wilh all the greal
test wils and poets of his age, by whom he was productions were not written for posterity; of much beloved. He assisted Middleton, Day, most of them we are ignorant, even of the Heywood, and Webster, in their writings, and names. Among those preserved are the following: has left us five plays of his own, besides one Edward IV. two parts, 1599; Four Prentices which he wrole in conjunction with Shakspeare. of London, 1615; and Maidenhead well Lost, One of his comedies, A New Wonder, a Woman 1634. Heywood also wrote an Apology for never Vext, has been revived at Covent Garden Actors, of which fraternity he was himsell a Theatre, with considerable success.
member. He was undoubtedly a man of talent :
his comic scenes were full of humour, and his JOHN HEYWOOD.
tragic ones abound with situations deeply pa
thetic ; but he always wriles like an author who One of the first of our dramatic writers, both is composing by contract, unless his Woman in point of time and genius. Sir Thomas killed with Kindness be an exception. Moore was particularly fond of him; he was a frequent companion of the princess Mary, and
FORDE. his musical skill made him a great favourite with Henry VIII. During the short reign of Ed- This admirable dramatist was born 1586, ward VI. he still continued at court, admired and his great talents procured the esteem and and beloved; and on Mary's accession to the friendship of all the excellent writers in whose tbrone, he was admitted to the closest intimacy age he flourished. He was most successful in that subject could enjoy. The insinuating mild- delineating the gloomy scenes of life; he deness of his temper, though in absolute contrast lighted not in the inspirations of Thalia, but to the barshness and irritability of her disposition, mixed all the powers of his melancholy spirit frequently softened ils asperities; and we are with the dark and terrible visions of Melpomene. even told that the playful humour of his con- Hence one of his contemporaries pleasantly says, versation, occasionally beguiled even the agony of ber death-bed. He was of course a zealous
«Deep in a dump, John Porde was alone got,
With folded arms and melancholy bat.” catbolic; and on the accession of Elizabeth, he went into voluntary exile, and died at Mechlin, A fine vein of tragedy runs through all his in Brabant, 1565. His longest work is entitled plays; but, Tis Pily She's a Whore is undoubtedly A parable of the Spider and the Flie, of which his masterpiece, and would bave done honour Holinsbed says, “One also has made a booke 10 Shakspeare. The character of Annabella, of the Spider and the Flie, wberein be dealeth the heroine, is exquisitely beautiful; and though, so profoundlie, and beyond all measure of skill, in a moral point of view, the siluations of the that neither he bimselfe that made it, neither drama are objectionable, we cannot deny that anie one that readeth it, can reach into the all the legitimate purposes of tragedy, the powmeaning there-of." His great merit is that he ersul excitement of terror and pity, are fully contributed much to bring the Mysteries into allained. disrepule, and to create a taste for more ralignal stage represenlations. None ofbis dramas
DECKER extend beyond the limils of an interlude; among them we find A Play of Love, 1533, and A Play This writer's reputation has probably been of Gentleness and Nobililie, 1535. Heywood increased by his quarrel with Ben Jonson, in can scarcely be called a contemporary of Shak-ridicule of whom he wrote a play called, The speare; but he is mentioned here as the first Untrussing of a humorous Poet. Yet he was regular dramalist our stage has produced. the bosom friend of Webster, Forde, and Row.
ley, a distinction which nothing but his genius THOMAS HEYWOOD. could have purchased bim. Brome, too, calls
him father and constantly speaks of him with the The most voluminous of all play-wrights, utmost reverence and affection. His Honest with the exception of Lope de Vega ; for, in a whore, and Old Fortunatus, are his best works ; preface to one of his dramas, he informs us, the latter, notwithstanding the extreme absurdity that it was the last of two hundred and twenty of the fable on which it is founded, is illustrated in which he “bad either an entire hand, or at with so much fine writing, that it give us the least a main finger.” Such crude and hasty highest opinion of Decker's abilities.
which though at present scarcely ever read, This prolific dramatist was of a very ancient illustration. Drayton was a favourile court
abounds with animated descriplion and elegant family, and was born in London, 1594. He was a pupil at Merchant Tailors' School, and poet; be assisted at the coronation of James I. afterwards studied at Oxford, where Dr. Laud and was never in circumstances to make the conceived a warm affection for him, in regard is said to bave written The Merry Devil of Ed
praises of the million important to him. He to bis great talents; yet, Shirley purposing to take orders, he would often tell him, that he monton ; but this is doubtful, and were the fact was an unfit person to take the sacred function established, it would contribute but little to his
fanie. upon him, and should never have his consent." Why, does the reader suppose ? On account of
PHINEAS FLETCHER. some moral defect ? No; but because Shirley had a large mole on his left cheek, which Laud
This poet, whose great genius is obscured by thought a deformity. He took orders, notwith the robe of allegory which it assumed, is the standing, and obtained a living at St. Albans ; autbor of a singular production called the Purple but he shortly became a Romanist, and resign- Island, in which all the various parts of the ing his preserment, commenced schoolmaster; human body are described with wonderful inthis new profession growing odious to him, he genuity and truth. The subject was an onwent to London and began to compose plays. happy one; and the poem, in spite of its great In this way be gained, not merely an existence, merit, is seldom or ever perused. Fletcher but was much encouraged by many of the nobi- also wrote Piscatory Eclogues, short pieces poslity; and ultimately, queen Henrietta being sessing considerable excellence, and one or two much pleased with his writings, altached bim dramatic performances which have no striking to her household. During the rebellion, he
recommendation attended the earl of Newcastle, and was in several battles. The king's cause being ruined,
DANIEL. he returned to London, and was supported for some time by Mr. Stanley, the author of the
This author, who was considerable in his Lives of the Philosophers. Plays were now de- own time, both as a poet and historian, was nounced as an abomination, and he recom-born 1562. His style is remarkably correct, menced pedagogue in the White Friars, and and at once free from bombastical extravagance continued to brandish his birchen sceptre till and meagre unmeaning simplicity. In Spenser's the Restoration. The theatre was again open Colin Cloul's Come Home Again, he is highly to him, and many of his dramas were performed praised, and indeed most of the writers of that with great applause. lo 1666, occurred the age agree in eulogizing his productions. He terrible fire of London; he was burnt out of his succeeded Spenser in the laurealeship. His house near Fleet-street, and removed into the Philotas, 1605, when first acted, gave offence, parish of St. Giles's, but being overcome with
as it was thought the hero was drawn from horror at the frightful conflagration, he and his Elizabelh's unfortunate favourite, the earl of wise both expired within a few hours, and were Esser. In this play he treads closely in the buried in the same grave. Shirley succeeded steps of the ancients, and has introduced ebobest in comedy; there is a light airy playfulness ruses belween the acts. In his Cleopatra, 1594, in bis humour which is peculiarly delightful, he follows Plutarch's account of that remarkable and must have been quite refreshing to the woman, and has produced a very excellent royalists after the sour fanaticism of the puri- drama. The dialogue in both instances is esins. The Ball, 1639, is a favourable specimen; tremely poelical. but all his dramas, nearly forly in number, are Asighly arousing. A contemporary poet has this
CHETTLE. couplet io bis bonour : "Shirley (the morning child) the Muses bred,
A dramatist of whom no record remains. loAad scut ium born with bays upon his head."
deed, the period to which these brief memoirs DRAYTON
refer, abounds with instances of writers who Few writers have been more famous in their are only known to have existed by their works. day than the author of the Poly-Olbion; a poem, He wrote Hot Anger soon Cold, 1598; All is
Bot Gold that Glitters, 1600; Cardinal Wolsey,
PEELE. 1601; and various other plays, all distinguished by an originality of tone, which we should vainly A writer of pastorals, considered very excellook for in productions of loftier prelension. lent in his day, but now forgotten amidst the
lumber of antiquily. He was likewise a draBROWNE
malist of some eminence; and for many years,
as city poet, bad the ordering of the pageants The praise which Milton bas bestowed on on Lord Mayor's Day. His life appears to have this poel, the author of Britannia's Pastorals, been spent in a course of folies and debauchentitles him lo our favourable notice; and there eries of the lowest description, which is the are such unequivocal evidences of genius in his more singular, as he was educated at Oxford, works, that we cannot sufficiently regret, that then the school of every virtue. He wrote, he should bave been ejected from his niche in among other dramas, Edward the First, 1593; the Temple of Fame by any newer candidate and The Loves of King David and Faire Bethfor immortality.
A very powerful writer, bold and original in The celebrated author of The Emblems, and conception, but rude and uncouth in expression. equally remarkable for his genius and misforHis principal works are, The Bristol Tragedy, tunes. He was educated at Cambridge, where 1602 ; and The Blind Beggar of Bethnal Green, be distinguished himself by unaffected piety and with the Merry Humour of Tom Strowd, the unassuming talent. For a considerable time he Norfolk Yeoman, divers limes publicly acted was cupbearer to the queen of Bohemia, and by the Prince his Servants, 1600.
chronologer to the city of London. Afterwards,
he went over to Ireland, and became secretary DAVENPORT.
to the truly good and amiable prelate, Usher,
archbishop of Armagh; but the unsettled state He is reported to have written something of that country soon forced him to resign bis jointly with Shakspeare, and his intellectual post, and returning to England, he closed his character would justly have entitled him to the earthly career 1644, aged 52.
He was buried benour of such an associale. His comedy of in the church of St. Vedast, Foster-lane. A New Trick lo Cheat the Devil, abounds with Quarles is best known by his Divine Emblems, grotesque and humorous situations, and bis a work once universally popular, but now, on King Jobn and Matilda abundantly prove his account of its obsolete quaintness of style, lille tragic powers.
read, except by a particular class of religionists.
He wrote The Virgin Widow, 1649, a play FIELD
which has no faults and few merits. Lang
baine sums up his character of Quarles in these This poet is supposed to be the same person words: “He was a poet that mixed religion and whose name appears with those of Burbage, fancy together, and was very careful in all his Hemmings and Condell, in the presalory sheet writings not to intrench upon good manners of the first folio edition of Shakspeare. He is by any scurrility in his works, or any ways also mentioned in the dramatis personæ pre- offending against his duty to God, his neighbied to the Cyptbia's Revels of Ben Jonson, bour, or himself.” and seems lo bave been a favourite actor. But Field's claim to notice rests on belter grounds;
NASH. for Massinger did not think himself disgraced by receiving his assistance in the composition An eccentric and unfortunate man of genius, of The Fatal Dowry, and his ability for the whose vices were his worst enemies. After a the task is evident from what he bas done in restless life, passed in continual alterations from his own dramas. His best plays are, a Woman's want to abundance, he died about 1601, as little a Weathercock, 1612; and Amends for Ladies, lamented in dying, as respected when living. 1618; both of which are highly praised by His Pierce Pennilesse is written with infinite Chapman, a very competent judge.
fire and spirit, but seems to breathe the senti