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FROM THE Two NOBLE KINSMEN.'
[By Shakespeare and Fletcher.]
Roses, their sharp spines being gone,
But in their hue ;
And sweet thyme true ;
Primrose, first-born child of Ver,
With her bells dim ;
All, dear Nature's children sweet,
Blessing their sense !
Be absent hence !
The crow, the slanderous cuckoo, nor The boding raven, nor chough hoar,
Nor chattering pie, May on our bride-house perch or sing, Or with them any discord bring,
But from it fly!
Hear, ye ladies that despise,
What the mighty Love has donc ; Fear examples and be wise :
Fair Calisto was a nun ; Leda, sailing on the stream
To deceive the hopes of man, Love accounting but a dream,
Doated on a silver swan ; Danaë, in a brazen tower, Where no love was, loved a shower. Hear, ye ladies that are coy,
What the mighty Love can do ; Fear the fierceness of the boy :
The chaste moon he made to woo ; Vesta, kindling holy fires,
Circled round about with spies,
Doting at the altar dies ;
SONG TO BACCHUS.
God Lyæus, ever young,
INVOCATION TO SLEEP.
Care-charming Sleep, thou easer of all woes,
FROM "THE QUEEN OF CORINTH.'
FROM "THE NICE VALOUR.'
Wherein you spend your folly!
But only melancholy ;
Welcome, folded arms and fixed eyes,
These are the sounds we feed upon;
[In a tract dated 1637, Dekker speaks of himself as a man of threescore years. This is the only clue to his age that has been discovered. He was born in London and apparently lived all his life there, as playwright, pamphleteer, and miscellaneous literary hack. His plays were published separately at various dates from 1600 to 1636. He frequently worked with other dramatists, Webster, Middleton, Massinger, Ford, etc.]
Dekker had several qualities which made him a desirable coadjutor in play-writing. He was a master of the craft of the stage. A man of quick sympathies, unconquerable buoyancy of spirit, infinite readiness and resource, he had lived among the people who filled the theatres, and took a genuine delight in moving them by the exhibition of common joys and sorrows. His whole heart went with his audience, and, though he had not the loftiness of aim of his greatest contemporaries, none of them had a finer dramatic instinct. He knew London as well as Dickens, and had something of the same affection for its oddities and its outcasts. The humour which lights up its miseries, the sunshine which plays over its tears, the simple virtues of the poor and unfortunate, patience, forgiveness, mirthfulness, were the favourite themes of this tender-hearted dramatist. His plays are full of life and movement, of pathos that is never maudlin and humour that is never harsh. Vice always gets the worst of it, hardness of heart above all never goes unpunished, but relenting leniency always comes in to keep retribution within gentle bounds. Virtue is always triumphant, but it is discovered in the most fantastic shapes and the least conventional habiliments. It needs some charity to tolerate such heroes and heroines as Simon Eyre, the mad shoemaker, Candido, the patient citizen, Orlando Friscobaldo, Bellafronta, and other types of strangely disguised goodness, but the dramatist's own love for them, with all their absurd eccen