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SCENES FROM THE BROKEN HEART.
The handmaid to the wages,
The untroubled but of country toil, drinks streams
Ith. The labourer doth eat his coarsest bread,
Put me to any penance for my tyranny,
Pray kill me!
Rid me from living with a jealous husband,
Then we will join in friendship, be again
Brother and sister.- Kill me, pray! nay, will ye?
A deity, my sister, and be worshipp'd
For thy resolved martyrdom: wrong'd maids
Offer their orisons, and sacrifice
Pure turtles, crown'd with myrtle, if thy pity
One finger but, to ease it.
Pen. Who is the saint you serve?
Ith. Calantha 't is !-the princess! the king's daughter!
Sole heir of Sparta.
Me, most miserable!
Do I now love thee? For my injuries
Revenge thyself with bravery, and gossip
My treasons to the king's ears! Do! - Calantha
Knows it not yet; nor Prophilus, my nearest.
Pen. We are reconcil'd!
Alas, sir, being children, but two branches
Only in thee, Penthea mine!
Yes, in thee;
Have not too much dull'd my infected brain,
I'll cheer invention for an active strain.
Ith. Mad man! why have I wrong'd a maid so excellent?"
We cannot resist the temptation of adding a part of the scene in which this sad ambassadress acquits herself of the task she had undertaken. There is a tone of heart-struck sorrow and female gentleness and purity about it that is singularly engaging, and contrasts strangely with the atrocious indecencies with which the
author has polluted his paper in other parts of the same
play. — The princess says,
Cal. Being alone, Penthea, you now have granted The opportunity you sought; and might
At all times have commanded.
Which I shall owe your goodness even in death for:
The summons of departure short and certain.
You have no little cause; yet none so great
After leaving her fame, her youth, &c. in some very pretty but fantastical verses, she proceeds
I am a sister, though to me this brother
vol. i. 291-293.
There are passages of equal power and beauty in the plays called "Love's Sacrifice," "The Lover's Melancholy," and in "Fancies Chaste and Noble." In "Perkin Warbeck," there is a more uniform and sustained elevation of style. But we pass all those over, to give our readers a word or two from "The Witch of Edmonton," a drama founded upon the recent execution of a miserable old woman for that fashionable offence; and in which the devil, in the shape of a black dog, is a principal performer! The greater part of the play, in which Ford was assisted by Dekkar and Rowley, is of course utterly absurd and contemptible-though not without its value as a memorial of the strange superstition of the age; but it contains some scenes of great interest and beauty, though written in a lower and more familiar tone than most of those we have already exhibited. As a specimen of the range of the author's talents, we shall present our readers with one of these. Frank Thorney had privately married a woman of inferior rank;" and is afterwards strongly urged by his father, and his own inclination, to take a second wife, in the person of a rich yeoman's daughter whose affections were fixed upon him. After taking this unjustifiable step, he is naturally troubled with certain inward compunctions, which manifest
themselves in his exterior, and excite the apprehensions of his innocent bride. It is her dialogue with him that we are now to extract; and we think the picture that it affords of unassuming innocence and singleness of heart, is drawn with great truth, and even elegance. She begins with asking him why he changes countenance so suddenly. He answers
"Who, I? For nothing.
Sus. Dear, say not so: a spirit of your constancy Cannot endure this change for nothing. I've observ'd Strange variations in you.
In you, sir.
Awake you seem to dream, and in your sleep
You utter sudden and distracted accents,
Like one at enmity with peace. Dear loving husband,
In you, give me thee fully! you may trust
My breast as safely as your own.
You half amaze me; pr'ythee-
Indeed you shall not shut me from
Come, you shall not,
You are not; if you keep
The least grief from me: but I know the cause;
grows from me.
From some distaste
In me or my behaviour; you're not kind
In the concealment. 'Las, sir, I am young,
Come in nothing.
Sus. I know I do; knew I as well in what,
Speak't in a frown; if peevishly too nice,
Dost weep now?
To make me passionate as an April day.
Now smile, then weep; now pale, then crimson red.
You are the powerful moon of my blood's sea,
-WITCH OF EDMONTON.
To make it ebb or flow into my face,
As your looks change.
Change thy conceit, I pr'ythee:
Thou'rt all perfection: Diana herself
Swells in thy thoughts and moderates thy beauty.
Feathering love-shafts, whose golden heads he dips
Sus. Come, come: these golden strings of flattery
Then look here;
For here, here is the fen in which this hydra
Of discontent grows rank.
Heaven shield it!
Frank. In mine own bosom! here the cause has root;
And will, I hope, confound me.
You speak riddles."
vol. ii. p. 437-440.
The unfortunate bigamist afterwards resolves to desert this innocent creature: but, in the act of their parting, is moved by the devil, who rubs against him in the shape of a dog! to murder her. We are tempted to give the greater part of this scene, just to show how much beauty of diction and natural expression of character may be combined with the most revolting and degrading absurdities. The unhappy bridegroom saysWhy would you delay? we have no other business Now, but to part.
Sus. And will not that, sweet-heart, ask a long time?
That e'er I took in hand.
Fie, fie! why look,
[Kisses her.] Yet
All questions of my journey, my stay, employment,
There's nothing now behind but-
Frank. What is't?
But this request —
Sus. That I may bring you thro' one pasture more,