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and irregularity, the form being hetero. have all the faults and imperfections of geneous not homogeneous. Although in men, whose waste fertility of intellect is their numerous dramas there are great disproportioned to their weight of thought diversities of merit as regards their art- and sanity of feeling. There was a ceristical form, in none is the form organic; tain lightness and weakness in the very all are mechanical contrivances, some- foundation of their minds. They have times dovetailed with considerable skill, little specific gravity, little concentratsometimes loosely thrown together, with. iveness, little hold upon their materials. out even displaying much mechanical in consequence is, that they often genuity. They built rather than created, seek to make rhetoric perform the office and the bulk of their product increased of inspiration and insight, and give us by accumulation and accretion, not by fine writing for natural sentiment, bomgrowth. They had not sufficient force bast and extravagance for tragic passion. of imagination to fuse their materials into They toil and sweat in expression, when one barmonious whole. They were not they strive to handle some great subject, men of comprehensive souls, and nei- and heap words and images upon it, ther over the heart nor the brain was instead of sending it forth from their their sway of much potency. Though, hearts in one direct gush of fire-tipped perhaps, as poets they may rank next to language. A comparison of their style Shakspeare in occasional romantic sweet- with Shakspeare's, whose language is ness of fancy and sentiment, they do not ever penetrated and condensed by imaapproach him so nearly as many others gination, will show its relative weakof the old dramatists, in grandeur of ima ness and diffuseness. Though their plays gination, in sustained delineation of char. are full of variety, bustle, motion, they acter, and in what has been called the are deficient in progressive action. The very essence of the drama-impassioned wheels of their chariot rapidly revolve, action. They have not the rapidity nor but the chariot itself moves forward but fiery strength of Marlowe; the depth and slowly. They sometimes bring their strangeness of Webster ; the vital hu- plot to the fifth act without having really manity and clear singing sweetness of developed it, and end abruptly, sacrificing Decker; the solid, determined purpose, the keeping of character and the truth the artistical propriety, and quick-footed of sentiment merely to close the matter. fancy of Jonson; nor those deep glimpses In many of their most furious scenes of into the inmost recesses of the moral na- passion, they are not so much divinely ture, and that terrible directness of ex- mad as giddy and light-headed. In tra. pression, which awe and thrill us amidst gedy their aim seems to have been to the buffoonery and bombast of many infe. startle and amaze, by, representing the rior dramatists of the time. They were monstrous aspects of human guilt and rather men with genius than men of ge. suffering-to make their representation nius; and in spite of the fullness and melo-dramatic rather than dramatic. Ocrichness with which some of their facul- casionally they raise spirits whose porties were developed, the splendor and tentous freaks they are unable to control, force of many of their individual and are wbirled away with them to scenes, and the felicity with which they “ blast and ruin.” They overdo almost depicted some forms of life and a few everything they attempt. Their comic types of character, they not only lack vein is almost without humor, and either that wide range of characterization, that falls into the extravagant merriment of power of combination within the limits of farce and caricature, or trusts for effect, the possible and real, and that capacity not so much in humorous situation and to grasp a subject as a whole, which character, as in involving the dramatis mark great poets, but their absence of persone in a labyrinth of drolleries. seriousness and depth places them in fact Neither in comedy nor tragedy did they beneath those who, without being great strike deep enough in the beginning to poets, have occasionally done great things produce great delineations. Continually in poetry.
mistaking the secondary for the primitive The unconquerable levity of Beaumont aspects of character, and satisfied with and Fletcher, their mercurial spirit, and the appearances on the surface, they their ambition of mere effect, sent them rarely wrote from, or pierced to, the lightly skimming over the surfaces of heart of things. And, especially, they character and passion, without producing never give the impression of possessing any great delineations of either. They power in reserve. They strain to the
utmost what they possess. Nothing written by Fletcher after Beaumont's strikes the reader of Shakspeare more death, any new characters or any essenforcibly than his inexhaustibleness. tial change of sentiment and purpose. Great as his plays are, we do not conceive There is more art, more polish, more them as being complete expressions of elaboration, in those in which Beaumont the full might and extent of his mind. participated, but not more vigor and
We have referred to the faults and richness. In all there is a vast amount radical defects of Beaumont and Fletcher, of what Mr. Emerson calls “slag and with no intention of depreciating their refuse "-without poetry, decency, or merits, but simply to state the limitations even import. The corruption of the text of their genius, and file a general bill of of their plays by bad printers printing exceptions against their claim to be con- from bad stage copies, doubtless makes sidered great dramatists. We can give them responsible for much nonsense and our readers, perhaps, a better notion of indecency not their own. The peculiartheir powers and processes, by a consid- ity of their versification, on which Mr. eration of a few of their best dramas, Darley expends much just and forcible than by the most systematic enumeration criticism, consists in the frequent use of of qualities and statement of qualifica- double, triple, quadruple, and even quintions. We propose referring to some of tuple endings to the lines, and of making the most striking characteristics of our the supernumerary syllable or syllables, authors, viz. : their female creations, long and emphatic; and, in the modulatheir romantic sweetness, tenderness and tion of their verse, of throwing the pauses pathos, their conception and embodiment upon uneven syllables instead of even. of the heroic element in character, and This often gives to their verse“ a certain their comic spirit. In regard to their openness, and abandon, and ever-varying delineation of character it may be said elasticity,” and in passages of declamagenerally, that they reverse the process tion, the supernumerary emphatic syllaof genius, generalizing particular nature ble frequently makes more vividly obinstead of individualizing general nature, vious the heat and vehemence of the The general moulds thus obtained serve speaker, as in the farewell of Archas to them through the fifty-two plays in their collection. Their range is exceedingly circumscribed, a few types reappearing in
“ Noble arms, almost every successive play, slightly Made to defy the thunder-claps of fortune,
You ribs for mighty minds, you iron houses varied to accommodate them to varying Rust and consuming time must now dwell circumstances, and not individualized
with ye !" with sufficient forçe to bear always the stamp of consistency and keeping. It is but it often produces discord and feebleto these types of character, as indicating ness in the metre, and tempts to carelessthe spirit and extent of their genius, ra. ness of composition by the opportunities ther than to the Characters themselves, it affords to that fatal facility of language that we shall direct our attention. which is the grave of true expression.
The most celebrated plays of Beau- Mr. Darley remarks, with regard to mont and Fletcher are “ The Maid's Tra- Fletcher's diction, that “he seems often gedy,” “ King and no King,” and “ Phi- to throw his words at thoughts in the laster;" the best of those written by hope of hitting them off by hazard, but Fletcher alone, are " Thierry and Theo- he misses them altogether. His lightdoret,”
;" “ The False One,” « The Double headed shafts fall short of their mark. Marriage,” “ The Elder Brother,” “ The When they do touch, however, it is with Faithful Shepherdess," Valentinian,” the irradiating effect, if not the force, of “The Mad Lover," "The Loyal Subject,” thunderbolts; this has an inexpressible “The Custom of the Country," "The charm.” Spanish Curate,” « Rule a Wife and have We shall only have space in this numa Wife,” « The Chances,” and “ Monsieur ber to allude to Beaumoni and Fletcher's Thomas.” “ The Knight of the Burning female delineations, and quote a few of Pestle” is probably one of the joint plays. the lyrical compositions scattered over In “ The Two Noble Kinsmen” Fletcher their plays. In our next we shall take is supposed to have been assisted by up their more ambitious style of poetry, Shakspeare, and in “The Bloody Broth- in the representation of heroic character, er” by some of his contemporaries un- and also refer to their peculiarities as known. We do not find in the plays comic dramatists.
Beaumont and Fletcher are generally gnilelessness and all its devotion, is adconceded to have delineated women bei. mirably preserved through the play. Inter than men. Mr. Darley notices that deed, so pure is her love, that on the almost every one of their fifty-two dramas discovery of her sex, Arethusa, the beis founded on love, aud contrasts them trotbed of Philaster, says with romantic with Shakspeare in this respect, only frankness : one-third of whose dramas can be called decided love-plays. “ Love,” he adds,
“ I, Philaster, “ with these writers, too often degene- Cannot be jealous, though you had a lady rates, as it always will when the sole Dressed like a page to serve you; nor
will I pleasure and employ, into sensuality. Suspect her living here.—Come live with Our two dramatists, and love-mongers
me; by profession, do anything rather than Live free as I do. She that loves my lord, exalt woman by their obsequiousness. Curst be the wife that hates her !” When the tender passion' becomes hacknied, it loses its real tenderness; Philaster's description, in the first act, when made too common a subject it de- of his meeting with Bellario, is a beauticlines into somewhat worse than common ful specimen of our author's best style, place, maudlin namby-pamby. Woman both as regards sentiment, expression, and is pawed rather than caressed by Ether- versification: ege, Wycherley and Vanbrugh ; set up rather as a butt for compliments by Con.
Phi. I have a boy, greve, Dryden, &c., than a shrine for Sent by the gods, I hope, to this intent, deep-murmured vows, prayers
Not yet seen in the court. Hunting the and
buck, praises. If love-making prevail as an
I found him sitting by a fountain's side, indispensable rule, it soon degenerates Of which he borrowed some to quench his into an artificial accomplishment-all thirst, that is not factitious about it is sensuali- And paid the nymph again as much in ty. Woman throughout Fletcher's com tears. edies is treated too much as a fair animal, A garland lay him by, made by himself, or little more.
Love is repre- of many several flowers, bred in the bay, sented as a nobler passion, and by conse
Stuck in that mystic order, that the rarequence a deeper one, in the tragedies, Delighted me : But ever when he turned especially of Beaumont's co-fathership: His tender eyes upon 'em, he would weep, Our authors have not developed it with As if he meant to make 'em grow again. as much native purity and wholesome Seeing such pretty helpless innocence intensity as Shakspeare has done ; but Dwell in his face, I ask'd him all his story. they bestowed a grace upon it, a soft He told me, that his parents gentle died, forlornness, or martyr-like or Magdalene Leaving him to the mercy of the fields, air of pathos.” This last sentence ap- Which gave him roots ; and of the crystal plies particularly to one class of Beau. springs, mont and Fletcher's women—the only Which did not stop their courses; and the one in which they can claim much pure which still, he thank'd him, yielded him and bright imagination--the class to which Bellario in “ Philaster,” and then took he up his garland, and did show
his light. Viola in “ The Coxcomb,” belong. This what every flower, as country poeple hold, type, suggested perhaps by Shakspeare's Did signify; and how all, order'd thus, Viola, but not copied from it, appears in Express’d his grief: And, to my thoughts, its greatest purity in the joint plays. did read Perhaps its excellence is conceived more The prettiest lecture of his country art, vividly by the reader, from its contrast That could be wished; so that, methought with the surrounding groseness. Bella
I could rio and Viola have, what might be called, Have studied it, I gladly entertain'd him, the ideality of fancy. Euphrasia, in
Who was (as) glad to follow; and have got “ Philaster,” falls in love with the prince,
The trustiest, loving'st and the gentlest
boy, and follows him as a page. Her affection That ever master kept. Him will I send has in it nothing sensual—it is pure, art- To wait on you, and bear our bidden love. less, self-denying and reverential, the natural piety of the feelings. She wishes But the gem of the play is Bellario's simply to be near him; and the peculiar own description of her love for Philaster, sentiment she experiences, in all its in the last scene. Though it has been
frequently quoted, it would be unjust to « Rise from the shades below omit it here:
All you that prove
The helps of looser love." BEL. My father oft would speak
Evadne, Megra, Hippolyta, Lelia, Your worth and virtue; and, as I did grow Martia, Zanthia, and especially Bacha More and more apprehensive, I did thirst and Brunbalt, are results of this inspiraTo see the man so praised; but yet all this tion. The worshipful company of laWas but a maiden longing, to be lost As soon as found; till sitting in my win. dies maids, have great reason to be
shocked with Beaumont and Fletcher's Printing my thoughts in lawn, I saw a god, treatment of them. Every virtuous lady I thought, (but it was you,) enter our gates. in their plays is generally attended by My blood flew out, and back again as fast, some servant, whose lungs are an inexAs I had puff'd it forth and suck'd it in haustible mine of vulgarities. Mr. DarLike breath : Then was I called away in ley thinks that they have seized upon haste
one deep truth of nature, in making their To entertain you. Never was a man, women much better or much worse than Heaved from a sheep-cote to a sceptre, their men. The passion of love, how.
raised So high in thoughts as I: You left a kiss
ever, as it appears in their male characUpon these lips then, which I mean to
ters, is generally detestable, and we hope keep
for the honor of human nature, as untrue From you forever. I did hear you talk,
as it is detestable. To use a phrase of Far above singing! After you were gone, old Dr. South's, it is but a little more I grew acquainted with my heart, and cleanly name for lust. Arbaces, in search'd
King and No King,” is an instance. We What stirr'd it so: Alas! I found it waive the consideration that he believes love;
Panthea to be his sister. Their heroines Yet far from lust; for could I but have have little variety. Celia in the Hu. lived
morous Lieutenant,” is brilliant, arch and In presence of you, I had had my end. For this I did delude my noble father
virtuous; Olympia in “ The Loyal SubWith a feign'd pilgrimage, and dress’d my. ject,” and Lucina in “ Valentinian,” are self
savagely virtuous, but not very modest In habit of a boy; and, for I knew in its expression; Oriana and Lucinda in My birth no match for you, I was past “ The Knight of Malta,” Aminta in hope
The Faithful Shepherdess,” Ordella in of having you; and understanding well, Thierry and Theodoret,” and Dorigen That when I made discovery of my sex, in “ The Triumph of Honor” are, perI could not stay with you, I made a vow,
haps, after Bellario and Viola, their best By all the most religious things a maid Could call together, never to be known
representations of pure and virtuous pasWhilst there was hope to hide me from
sion. In none, as it seems to us, do they men's eyes,
approach Shakspeare's female creations. For other than I seem'd that I might ever Cleopatra, in “ The False One,” is drawn Abide with you: Then sat I by the fount, with much freedom and brilliancy, though, Where first you took me up.
compared with Shakspeare's, she must
be deemed a failure. The nearest apThe ingrained impurity of Beaumont proach made to the great master of charand Fletcher is strikingly manifested in acter, is in her vexation at Cæsar's tranthis play. The foul Megra appears here, sient neglect of her, at a moment when as Cloe does in “ The Faithful Shep- the devil avarice had supplanted the herdess,” to debase it. In every one of devil lust: their productions there is generally, in
“I will go study mischief, troduced some woman, without virtue And put a look on armed with all my cunand without shame, who contrives by nings, her grossness of act and speech to con Shall meet him like a basilisk and strike vey the worst libels on her sex. Many him ! of their female representations, even of Love, put destroying flames into my eyes, the better class, are illustrations of one
Into my smiles deceits, that I may torture of their own maxims" will, and that
him, great god of woman, appetite.” Like the That I may make him love to death, and magician in the “ The Humorous Lieu
laugh at him.” tenant,” they seem continually to address Aspatia, in the “ The Maid's Tragedy," the foul spirits of passion :
is a sweet and pathetic though somewhat
morbid delineation in another vein. The Just as thine eyes do, down stole a tear. following scene from the second act Antiphila,
* What would this wench do, if she were has acquired much celebrity, and is replete with pictorial beauty :
ing god Asp. Away, you are not sad; force it no Turn’d her to marble ! 'Tis enough, my further.
wench ! Good gods, how well you look! Such a Show me the piece of needlework you full color
wronght. Young bashful brides put on.
Ant. Of Ariadne, madam ? are new married !
Asp. Yes, that piece.Ant. Yes, madam, to your grief. This should be Theseus; he has a cozenAsp. Alas, poor wenches !
ing face: Go learn to love first; learn to lose your You ineant him for a man ? selves;
Ant. He was so, madam. Learn to be flatter'd ; and believe, and Asp. Why, then, 'tis well enough. bless
Never look back : The double tongue that did it. Make a You have a full wind, and a false heart, faith
Theseus ! Out of the miracles of ancient lovers, Does not the story say, his keel was split, Such as speak truth, and died in't; and Or his masts spent, or some kind rock or
other Believe all faithful, and be miserable.
Met with his vessel ?
Asp. It should have been so. Could the
And not, of all their number, raise a Asp. Nor you, Antipbila ?
storm ? ANT. Nor I.
But they are all as ill! This false smile Asp. Then, my good girls, be more than Was well express'd; just such another women, wise :
caught me! At least be more than I was; and be sure You shall not go [on) so, Antiphila: You credit anything the light gives light In this place work a quicksand, to,
And over it a shallow smiling water, Before a man. Rather believe the sea And his ship ploughing it; and then a Weeps for the ruin'd merchant, when he
Fear; roars ;
Do that fear to the life, wench. Rather, the wind courts but the pregnant ANT. 'Twill wrong the story. sails,
Asp. 'Twill make the story, wrong'd by When the strong cordage cracks; rather wanton poets, the sun
Live long, and be believed. But where's Comes but to kiss the fruit in wealthy au the lady? tum,
Ant. There, madam. When all falls blasted. If you needs must Asp. Fie! you have miss'd it here, Anlove,
tiphila ; (Forced by ill fate) take to your maiden You are much mistaken, wench: bosoms
These colors are not dull and pale enough Two dead-cold aspicks, and of them make To shew a soul so full of misery lovers :
As this sad lady's was.
Do it by me; They cannot flatter, nor forswear ; one Do it again, by me, the lost Aspatia, kiss
And you shall find all true but the wild Makes a long peace for all. But man,
island. Oh, that beast man! Come, let's be sad, my Suppose I stand upon the sea-beach now, girls!
Mine arms thus, and mine hair blown with That down-cast eye of thine, Olympias, the wind, Shows a fine sorrow. Mark Antiphila, Wild as that desert; and let all about me Just such another was the nymph @none, Be teachers of my story. Do my face When Paris brought home Helen. Now, (If thou hadst ever feeling of a sorrow) a tear;
Thus, thus, Antiphila : Strive to make me And then thou art a piece expressing fully look The Carthage queen, when, from a cold Like Sorrow's monument! And the trees sea-rock,
about me, Full with her sorrow, she tied fast her Let them be dry and leafless ; let the eyes
rocks To the fair Trojan ships; and, having lost Groan with continual surges; and, behind them,