Imágenes de páginas

cedents afforded by Greece and Rome. Of comedy, which was an improvement upon the interludes, and may be more remotely traced in the ludicrous parts of the moral plays, the earliest specimen that can now be found bears the uncouth title of Ralph Royster Doyster, and was the production of NICOLAS UDALL, master of Westminster school. It is supposed to have been written in the reign of Henry VIII, but certainly not later than 1551. The scene is in London, and the characters, thirteen in number, exhibit the manners of the middle orders of the people of that day. It is divided into five acts, and the plot is amusing and well constructed. Mr J. Payne Collier, who has devoted years of anxious study to the history and illustration of dramatic literature, has discovered four acts of a comedy, which he assigns to the year 1560. This play is entitled Mesogonus, and bears to be written by Thomas Rychardes.' The scene is laid in Italy, but the manners are English, and the character of the domestic fool, so important in the old comedy, is fully delineated. The next in point of time is Gammer Gurton's Needle, supposed to have been written about 1565 (or still earlier) by JOHN STILL, Master of Arts, and afterwards bishop of Bath and Wells. This is a piece of low rustic humour, the whole turning upon the loss and recovery of the needle with which Gammer Gurton was mending a piece of attire belonging to her man Hodge. But it is cleverly hit off, and contains a few well-sketched characters.

The language of Ralph Royster Doyster, and of Gammer Gurton's Needle, is in long and irregularly measured rhyme, of which a specimen may be given from a speech of Dame Custance in the former play, respecting the difficulty of preserving a good reputation:

How necessary it is now a-days,
That each body live uprightly in all manner ways;
For let never so little a gap be open,
And be sure of this, the worst will be spoken!

Acastus. Your grace should now, in these grave years of yours,

Have found ere this the price of mortal joys;
How short they be, how fading here in earth;
How full of change, how little our estate
Of nothing sure save only of the death,
To whom both man and all the world doth owe
Their end at last : neither should nature's power
In other sort against your heart prevail,
Than as the naked hand whose stroke assays
The armed breast where force doth light in vain.
Gorboduc. Many can yield right sage and grave

Of patient sprite to others wrapp'd in woe,
And can in speech both rule and conquer kind,
Who, if by proof they might feel nature's force,
Would show themselves men as they are indeed,
Which now will needs be gods.


Porrex, both tragedies and comedies had become not Not long after the appearance of Ferrex and uncommon. Damon and Pythias, the first English tragedy upon a classical subject, was acted before of RICHARD EDWARDS, a learned member of the uniqueen at Oxford, in 1566; it was the composition Versity, but was inferior to Ferrex and Porrex, in as far as it carried an admixture of vulgar comedy, and was written in rhyme. In the same year, two plays respectively styled the Supposes and Jocasta, the one a comedy adapted from Ariosto, the other a tragedy from Euripides, were acted in Gray's Inn Hall.


Gray's Inn Hall.

A tragedy, called Tancred and Gismunda, composed there before the queen in 1568, was the first Engby five members of the Inner Temple, and presented


Tragedy, of later origin than comedy, came directly from the more elevated portions of the moral plays, and from the pure models of Greece and Rome. The earliest known specimen of this kind of composition is the Tragedy of Ferrex and Porrer, composed by Thomas Sackville, afterwards Earl of Dorset, and by Thomas Norton, and played before Queen Elizabeth at Whitehall, by the members of the Inner Temple, in January 1561. It is founded on a fabulous incident in early British history, and is full of slaughter and civil broils. It is written, however, in regular blank verse, consists of five acts, and observes some of the more useful rules of the classic drama of antiquity, to which it bears resemblance in the introduction of a chorus-that is, a group of persons whose sole business it is to inter-lish play taken from an Italian novel. sperse the play with moral observations and infe- dramatic pieces now followed, and between the years rences, expressed in lyrical stanzas. It may occasion some surprise, that the first English tragedy should acted at court under the superintendence of the 1568 and 1580, no less than fifty-two dramas were contain lines like the following:Master of the Revels. Under the date of 1578, we have the play of Promos and Cassandra, by GEORGE WHETSONE, on which Shakspeare founded his Measure for Measure. Historical plays were also produced, and the Troublesome Reign of King John, the Famous Victories of Henry V., and the Chronicle History of Leir, King of England, formed the quarry from which Shakspeare constructed his dramas on the same events. The first regularly licensed theatre in London was opened at Blackfriars in 1576; and in ten years, it is mentioned by Secretary Walsingham, that there were two hundred players in and near the metropolis. This was probably an exaggeration, but it is certain there were five public theatres open

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


about the commencement of Shakspeare's career, andness of some of the language put into the mouths of several private or select establishu ents. Curiosity females in the old plays, while it serves to point out is naturally excited to learn something of the struc- still more clearly the depth of that innate sense of ture and appearance of the buildings in which his beauty and excellence which prompted the exquisite immortal dramas first saw the light, and where he pictures of loveliness and perfection in Shakspeare's unwillingly made himself a 'motley to the view,' in female characters. At the end of each performance, his character of actor. The theatres were constructed the clown, or buffoon actor of the company, recited

or sung a rhyming medley called a jig, in which he often contrived to introduce satirical allusions to public men or events; and before dismissing the audience, the actors knelt in front of the stage, and offered up a prayer for the queen! Reviewing these rude arrangements of the old theatres, Mr Dyce happily remarks — What a contrast between the almost total want of scenery in those days, and the splendid representations of external nature in our modern playhouses! Yet perhaps the decline of the drama may in a great measure be attributed to this improvement. The attention of an audience is now directed rather to the efforts of the painter than to those of the actor, who is lost amid the marvellous effects of light and shade on our gigantic stages.'*

The only information we possess as to the payment of dramatic authors at this time, is contained in the memoranda of Philip Henslowe, a theatrical manager, preserved in Dulwich college, and quoted by Malone and Collier. Before the year 1600, the price paid by Henslowe for a new play never exceeded £8 ; but after this date, perhaps in consequence of the exertions of rival companies, larger sums were given, and prices of £20 and £25 are

mentioned. The proceeds of the second day's perGlobe Theatre

formance were afterwards added to the author's

emoluments. Furnishing prologues for new plays, of wood, of a circular form, open to the weather, the prices of which varied from five to twenty shilexcepting over the stage, which was covered with a lings, was another source of gain ; but the proverbial thatched roof. Outside, on the roof, a fag was poverty of poets seems to have been exemplified in hoisted during the time of performance, which com- the old dramatists, even when they were actors as menced at three o'clock, at the third sounding or well as authors. The shareholders of the theatre flourish of trumpets. The cavaliers and fair dames derived considerable profits from the performances, of the court of Elizabeth sat in boxes below the and were occasionally paid for exhibitions in the houses gallery, or were accommodated with stools on the of the nobility. In 1602, a sum of ten pounds was stage, where some of the young gallants also threw given to · Burbidge's players' for performing Othello themselves at length on the rush-strewn floor, while before Queen Elizabeth, at Harefield, the scat of Sir their pages handed them pipes and tobacco, then a Thomas Egerton. Nearly all the dramatic authors fashionable and highly-prized luxury. The middle preceding and contemporary with Shakspeare were classes were crowded in the pit, or yard, which was

men who had received a learned education at the not furnished with seats. Moveable scenery was university of Oxford or Cambridge. A profusion first introduced by Davenant, after the Restoration of classical imagery abounds in their plays, but they but rude imitations of towers, woods, animals, or did not copy the severe and correct taste of the furniture, served to illustrate the scene. To point ancient models. They wrote to supply the popular out the place of action, a board containing the name, demand for novelty and excitement-for broad farce painted or written in large letters, was hung out or superlative tragedy-to introduce the coarse during the performance. Anciently, an allegorical raillery or comic incidents of low life-to dramatise exhibition, called the Dumb Show, was exhibited

a murder, or embody the vulgar idea of oriental before every act, and gave an outline of the action bloodshed and splendid extravagance. 'If we seek or circumstances to follow. Shakspeare has pre- for a poetical image,' says a writer on our drama, served this peculiarity in the play acted before the a burst of passion, a beautiful sentiment, a trait of king and queen in Hamlet; but he never employs it nature, we seek not in vaia in the works of our very in his own dramas. Such machinery, indeed, would oldest dramatists. But none of the predecessors of be incompatible with the increased action and busi- Shakspeare must be thought of along with him, ness of the stage, when the miracle plays had given when he appears before us like Prometheus, moulding place to the pomp and circumstance of historical the figures of men, and breathing into them the dramas, and the bustling liveliness of comedy: The animation and all the passions of life. 't Among the chorus was longer retained, and appears in Marlow's immediate predecessors of the great poet are some Faustus, and in Henry VI. Actresses were not seen worthy of separate notice. A host of playwrights on the stage till after the Restoration, and the abounded, and nearly all of them have touches of female parts were played by boys, or delicate-looking that happy poetic diction, free, yet choice and select, young men. This may perhaps palliate the gross which gives a permanent value and interest to these

el·ler masters of English poetry. *. The air blest castle, round whose wholesome creat

The martlet, guest of summer, chose her nest-
The forest-walks of Arden's inir domain,

* Memoir of Shakspeare-Aldine Poets. Where Jaques fed his solitary vein ;

† Blackwood's Magazine, vol. ii., from Essays on the Old No pencil's aid as yet had dar'd supply,

Drama, said to have been contributed by Henry Mackenzio, Been only by th' intellectual eye.'—C. LAMB.

author of the • Man of Feeling.'


[ocr errors]


JOHN LYLY, born in Kent in 1554, produced nine plays between the years 1579 and 1600. They were mostly written for court entertainments, and performed by the scholars of St Paul's. He was educated at Oxford, and many of his plays are on mythological subjects, as Sappho and Phaon, Endymion, the Maid's Metamorphosis, &c. His style is affected and unnatural, yet, like his own Niobe, in the Metamorphosis, oftentimes he had sweet thoughts, sometimes hard conceits; betwixt both a kind of yielding.' By his Euphues, or the Anatomy of Wit, Lyly exercised a powerful though injurious influence on the fashionable literature of his day, in prose composition as well as in discourse. His plays were not important enough to found a school. Hazlitt was a warm admirer of Lyly's Endymion, but evidently from the feelings and sentiments it awakened, rather than the poetry. I know few things more perfect in characteristic painting,' he remarks, than the exclamation of the Phrygian shepherds, who, afraid of betraying the secret of Midas's ears, fancy that "the very reeds bow down, as though they listened to their talk;" nor more affecting in sentiment, than the apostrophe addressed by his friend Eumenides to Endymion, on waking from his long sleep," Behold the twig to which thou laidest down thy head is now become a tree." There are finer things in the Metamorphosis, as where the prince laments Eurymene lost in the woods

Adorned with the presence of my love,
The woods I fear such secret power shall prove,
As they'll shut up each path, hide every way,
Because they still would have her go astray,
And in that place would always have her seen,
Only because they would be ever green,
And keep the winged choristers still there,
To banish winter clean out of the year.

Or the song of the fairies

By the moon we sport and play, With the night begins our day: As we dance the dew doth fall, Trip it, little urchins all. Lightly as the little bee,

Two by two, and three by three, And about go we, and about go we.

The genius of Lyly was essentially lyrical. The songs in his plays seem to flow freely from nature. The following exquisite little pieces are in his drama of Alexander and Campaspe, written about 1583:

Cupid and Campaspe.

Cupid and my Campaspe play'd
At cards for kisses; Cupid paid.

He stakes his quiver, bow, and arrows,
His mother's doves and team of sparrows;
Loses them too, and down he throws
The coral of his lip-the rose
Growing on's cheek, but none knows how;
With these the crystal on his brow,
And then the dimple of his chin;
All these did my Campaspe win:
At last he set her both his eyes;
She won,
and Cupid blind did rise.
Oh Love, hath she done this to thee?
What shall, alas, become of me!

Song. What bird so sings, yet so does wail! O'tis the ravish'd nightingaleJug, jug, jug, jug-tereu-she cries, And still her woes at midnight rise.

Brave prick-song! who is't now we hear?
None but the lark so shrill and clear,
Now at heaven's gate she claps her wings,
The morn not waking till she sings.
Hark, hark! but what a pretty note,
Poor Robin red-breast tunes his throat;
Hark, how the jolly cuckoos sing
'Cuckoo!' to welcome in the spring.


GEORGE PEELE held the situation of city poet and conductor of pageants for the court. He was also an actor and a shareholder with Shakspeare and others, in 1589, in the Blackfriars theatre. In 1584, his Arraignment of Paris, a court show, was represented before Elizabeth. The author was then a young man, who had recently left Christ-church, Oxford. In 1593, Peele gave an example of an English historical play in his Edward I. The style of this piece is turgid and monotonous; yet, in the following allusion to England, we see something of the high-sounding kingly speeches in Shakspeare's historical plays :

Illustrious England, ancient seat of kings,
Whose chivalry hath royalis'd thy fame,
That, sounding bravely through terrestrial vale,
Proclaiming conquests, spoils, and victories,
Rings glorious echoes through the farthest world!
What warlike nation, train'd in feats of arms,
What barbarous people, stubborn, or untam'd,
What climate under the meridian signs,
Or frozen zone under his brumal stage,
Erst have not quak'd and trembled at the name
Of Britain and her mighty conquerors?

Her neighbour realms, as Scotland, Denmark, France,
Awed with their deeds, and jealous of her arins,
Have begg'd defensive and offensive leagues.
Thus Europe, rich and mighty in her kings,
Hath fear'd brave England, dreadful in her kings.
And now, to eternise Albion's champions,
Equivalent with Trojan's ancient fame,
Comes lovely Edward from Jerusalem,
Veering before the wind, ploughing the sea;
His stretched sails fill'd with the breath of men,
That through the world admire his manliness.
And lo, at last arrived in Dover road,
Longshank, your king, your glory, and our son,
With troops of conquering lords and warlike knights,
Like bloody-crested Mars, o'erlooks his host,
Higher than all his army by the head,
Marching along as bright as Phœbus' eyes!
And we, his mother, shall behold our son,
And England's peers shall see their sovereign.

Peele was also author of the Old Wires' Tale, a legendary story, part in prose, and part in blank verse, which afforded Milton a rude outline of his fable of Comus. The Old Wives' Tale was printed in 1595, as acted by the Queen's Majesty's Players.' The greatest work of Peele is his Scripture drama, the Love of King David and Fair Bethsabe, with the tragedy of Absalom, which Mr Campbell terms 'the earliest fountain of pathos and harmony that can be traced in our dramatic poetry.' The date of representation of this drama is not known; it was not printed till 1599, after Shakspeare had written some of his finest comedies, and opened up a fountain compared with which the feeble tricklings of Peele were wholly insignificant. It is not probable that Peele's play was written before 1590, as one passage in it is a direct plagiarism from the Faery Queen of Spenser. We may allow Peele the merit of a delicate poetical fancy and smooth musical versification. The defect of his blank verse is its want of variety: the art of

varying the pauses and modulating the verse without the aid of rhyme had not yet been generally adopted. In David and Bethsabe this monotony is less observable, because his lines are smoother, and there is a play of rich and luxurious fancy in some of the scenes.

Prologue to King David and Fair Bethsabe.

Enter CUSAY.

See, Cusay, see the flower of Israel,
The fairest daughter that obeys the king,
In all the land the Lord subdued to me,
Fairer than Isaac's lover at the well,
Brighter than inside bark of new-hewn cedar,
Sweeter than flames of fine perfumed myrrh;

Of Israel's sweetest singer now I sing,
His holy style and happy victories;
Whose muse was dipt in that inspiring dew,
Archangels 'stilled from the breath of Jove,
Decking her temples with the glorious flowers
Heaven rain'd on tops of Sion and Mount Sinai.
Upon the bosom of his ivory lute
The cherubim and angels laid their breasts;
And when his consecrated fingers struck
The golden wires of his ravishing harp,
He gave alarum to the host of heaven,
That, wing'd with lightning, brake the clouds, and cast And comelier than the silver clouds that dance
Their crystal armour at his conquering feet.
Of this sweet poet, Jove's musician,
And of his beauteous son, I press to sing;
Then help, divine Adonai, to conduct
Upon the wings of my well-temper'd verse,
The hearers' minds above the towers of heaven,
And guide them so in this thrice haughty flight,
Their mounting feathers scorch not with the fire
That none can temper but thy holy hand:
To thee for succour flies my feeble muse,
And at thy feet her iron pen doth use.

BETHSABE and her maid bathing. King DAVID above.
The Song.

Hot sun, cool fire, temper'd with sweet air,
Black shade, fair nurse, shadow my white hair :
Shine sun, burn fire, breathe air and ease me,
Black shade, fair nurse, shroud me and please me;
Shadow (my sweet nurse) keep me from burning,
Make not my glad cause, cause of mourning.
Let not my beauty's fire

Inflame unstaid desire,

Nor pierce any bright eye
That wandereth lightly.

Bethsabe. Come, gentle zephyr, trick'd with those

That erst in Eden sweeten'd Adam's love,
And stroke my bosom with the silken fan:
This shade (sun proof) is yet no proof for thee;
Thy body, smoother than this waveless spring,
And purer than the substance of the same,
Can creep through that his lances cannot pierce.
Thou and thy sister, soft and sacred air,
Goddess of life and governess of health,
Keeps every fountain fresh and arbour sweet;
No brazen gate her passage can repulse,
Nor bushy thicket bar thy subtle breath.
Then deck thee with thy loose delightsome robes,
And on thy wings bring delicate perfumes,
To play the wantons with us through the leaves.
David. What tunes, what words, what looks, what
wonders pierce

My soul, incensed with a sudden fire!
What tree, what shade, what spring, what paradise,
Enjoys the beauty of so fair a dame!

Fair Eva, plac'd in perfect happiness,
Lending her praise-notes to the liberal heavens,
Struck with the accents of archangels' tunes,
Wrought not more pleasure to her husband's thoughts
Than this fair woman's words and notes to mine.
May that sweet plain that bears her pleasant weight,
Be still enamell'd with discolour'd flowers;

That precious fount bear sand of purest gold;
And for the pebble, let the silver streams
That pierce earth's bowels to maintain the source,
Play upon rubies, sapphires, crysolites ;
The brim let be embrac'd with golden curls
Of moss that sleeps with sound the waters make
For joy to feed the fount with their recourse;
Let all the grass that beautifies her bower,
Bear manna every morn, instead of dew;
Or let the dew be sweeter far than that
That hangs like chains of pearl on Hermon hill,
Or balm which trickled from old Aaron's beard.

On zephyr's wings before the King of Heaven.
Cusay. Is it not Bethsabe the Hethite's wife,
Urias, now at Rabath siege with Joab?

David. Go now and bring her quickly to the king; Tell her, her graces hath found grace with him. Cusay. I will, my lord. [Exit. David. Bright Bethsabe shall wash in David's bower

In water mixed with purest almond flower,
And bathe her beauty in the milk of kids;
Bright Bethsabe gives earth to my desires,
Verdure to earth, and to that verdure flowers,
To flowers sweet odours, and to odours wings,
That carries pleasures to the hearts of kings.


Now comes my lover tripping like the roe,
And brings my longings tangled in her hair.
To joy her love I'll build a kingly bower,
Seated in hearing of a hundred streams,
That, for their homage to her sovereign joys,
Shall, as the serpents fold into their nests,
In oblique turnings wind the nimble waves
About the circles of her curious walks,
And with their murmur summon easeful sleep,
To lay his golden sceptre on her brows.

Mr Lamb says justly, that the line 'seated in hearing of a hundred streams' is the best in the above passage. It is indeed a noble poetical image. Peele died before 1599, and seems, like most of his dramatic brethren, to have led an irregular life, in the midst of severe poverty. A volume of Merry Conceited Jests, said to have been by him, was published after his death in 1607, which shows that he was not scrupulous as to the means of relieving his necessities.

[ocr errors]


In 1588, THOMAS KYD produced his play of Hieronimo or Jeronimo, and some years afterwards a second part to it, under the title of the Spanish Tragedy, or Hieronimo is Mad Again. This second part is supposed to have gone through more editions than any play of the time. Ben Jonson was afterwards engaged to make additions to it, when it was revived in 1601, and further additions in 1602. These new scenes are said by Lamb to be the very salt of the old play,' and so superior to Jonson's acknowledged works, that he attributes them to Webster, or some 'more potent spirit' than Ben. This seems refining too much in criticism. Kyd, like Marlow, often verges upon bombast, and deals largely in blood

1 The sun's rays.

and death.'


Elizabeth in 1592.

THOMAS NASH, a lively satirist, who amused the town with his attacks on Gabriel Harvey and the Puritans, wrote a comedy called Summer's Last Will and Testament, which was exhibited before Queen He was also concerned with Marlow in writing the tragedy of Dido, Queen of Carthage. He was imprisoned for being the author of a satirical play, never printed, called the Isle of Dogs. Another piece of Nash's, entitled the Supplication of Pierce Penniless to the Devil, was printed in 1592, which was followed next year by Christ's Tears over Jerusalem. Nash was a native of Leostoff, in Suffolk, and was born about the year 1564; he was of St John's college, Cambridge, He died about the year 1600, after a life spent,' he says, in fantastical satirism, in whose veins heretofore I mispent my spirit, and prodigally conspired against good hours.' He was the Churchill of his day, and was much famed for his satires. One of his contemporaries remarks of him, in a happy couplet

His style was witty, though he had some gall,
Something he might have mended, so may all.

Return from Parnassus. The versification of Nash is hard and monotonous. The following is from his comedy of Summer's Last Will and Testament,' and is a favourable specimen of his blank verse: great part of the play is in prose :

I never lov'd ambitiously to climb,
Or thrust my hand too far into the fire.
To be in heaven sure is a blessed thing,
But, Atlas-like, to prop heaven on one's back
Cannot but be more labour than delight.
Such is the state of men in honour placed :
They are gold vessels made for servile uses;
High trees that keep the weather from low houses,
But cannot shield the tempest from themselves.
I love to dwell betwixt the hills and dales,
Neither to be so great as to be envied,
Nor yet so poor the world should pity me.

In his poem of Pierce Penniless, Nash draws a harrowing picture of the despair of a poor scholar

Ah, worthless wit! to train me to this woe:
Deceitful arts that nourish discontent :
Ill thrive the folly that bewitch'd me so!
Vain thoughts adieu! for now I will repent-
And yet my wants persuade me to proceed,
For none take pity of a scholar's need.
Forgive me, God, although I curse my birth,
And ban the air wherein I breathe a wretch,
Since misery hath daunted all my mirth,
And I am quite undone through promise breach;
Ah, friends!-no friends that then ungentle frown
When changing fortune casts us headlong down.

written in conjunction with Lodge. Greene died in September 1592, owing, it is said, to a surfeit of red herrings and Rhenish wine! Besides his plays, he wrote a number of tracts, one of which, Pandosto, the Triumph of Time, 1588, was the source from which Shakspeare derived the plot of his Winter's Some lines contained in this tale are very Tale. beautiful :



ROBERT GREENE, a more distinguished dramatist, is conjectured to have been a native of Norfolk, as he adds Norfolciensis' to his name, in one of his productions. He was educated at Clare-Hall, Cambridge, and in 1583 appeared as an author. He is

supposed to have been in orders, and to have held the

vicarage of Tollesbury, in Essex, as, in 1585, Robert Greene, the vicar, lost his preferment. The plays of Greene are the History of Orlando, Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay, Alphonsus, King of Arragon, George-aGreen, the Pinner of Wakefield, James IV., and the Looking-glass for London and England: the latter was

Ah, were she pitiful as she is fair,
Or but as mild as she is seeming so,
Then were my hopes greater than my despair-
Then all the world were heaven, nothing woe.
Ah, were her heart relenting as her hand,
That seems to melt e'en with the mildest touch,
Then knew I where to seat me in a land
Under the wide heavens, but yet not such.
So as she shows, she seems the budding rose,
Yet sweeter far than is an earthly flower;
Sovereign of beauty, like the spray she grows,
Compass'd she is with thorns and canker'd flower;
Yet, were she willing to be pluck'd and worn,
She would be gather'd though she grew on thorn.

The blank verse of Greene approaches next to that
of Marlow, though less energetic. His imagination
was lively and discursive, fond of legendary lore, and
filled with classical images and illustrations. In his
Orlando, he thus apostrophises the evening star :-
Fair queen of love, thou mistress of delight,
Thou gladsome lamp that wait'st on Phoebe's train,
Spreading thy kindness through the jarring orbs,
That in their union praise thy lasting powers;
Thou that hast stay'd the fiery Phlegon's course,
And mad'st the coachman of the glorious wain
To droop in view of Daphne's excellence;
Fair pride of morn, sweet beauty of the even,
Look on Orlando languishing in love.
Sweet solitary groves, whereas the nymphs
With pleasance laugh to see the satyrs play,
Witness Orlando's faith unto his love.

Tread she these lawns ?-kind Flora, boast thy pride Seek she for shades-spread, cedars, for her sake. Fair Flora, make her couch amidst thy flowers. Sweet crystal springs,

Ah thought, my heaven! Ah heaven, that knows my Wash ye with roses when she longs to drink.


Smile, joy in her that my content hath wrought. Passages like this prove that Greene succeeds well, as Hallam remarks, in that florid and gay style, a little redundant in images, which Shakspeare frequently gives to his princes and courtiers, and which renders some unimpassioned scenes in the historic plays effective and brilliant.' Professor Tieck gives him the high praise of possessing a happy talent, a clear spirit, and a lively imagination.' His comedies have a good deal of boisterous merriment and farcical humour. George-a-Green is a shrewd Yorkshireman, who meets with the kings of Scotland and England, Robin Hood, Maid Marian, &c., and who, after various tricks, receives the pardon of King Edward

George-a-Green, give me thy hand: there is
None in England that shall do thee wrong.
Even from my court I came to see thyself,
And now I see that fame speaks nought but truth.
and practical jokes in the play: it is in a scene be-
The following is a specimen of the simple humour

tween George and his servant :

Jenkin. This fellow comes to me, And takes me by the bosom you slave, Said he, hold my horse, and look He takes no cold in his feet.

« AnteriorContinuar »