abundant examples of the characteristics of a school of art which may be considered as the antithesis of the school of Shakspere.

The first scene introduces us to "Brutus carried in a chair." With him are his three sons, Locrine, Camber, and Albanact; Corineus and Asaracus, his brothers; Guendolen, the daughter of Corineus; with other personages. Brutus informs the assembly of his approaching death; and his brothers tell him of his great renown; which speeches encourage Brutus to take a very self-satisfying view of the whole course of his life, from the period of his flight from Italy to his quelling of the giants of Albion. However, the dying man at last proceeds to business; divides the kingdom amongst his sons, and directs that Locrine shall marry Guendolen. Having effected all this at an expense of words which would be somewhat weakening to a person in health, he very opportunely dies, and his son and brother break out into the following rhapsodies :

"Loc. Accursed stars, damn'd and accursed stars,

To abbreviate my noble father's life!
Hard-hearted gods, and too envious fates,
Thus to cut off my father's fatal thread!
Brutus, that was a glory to us all,
Brutus, that was a terror to his foes,
Alas! too soon by Demogorgon's knife

The martial Brutus is bereft of life;

No sad complaints may move just Æacus.

Cor. No dreadful threats can fear judge Rhadamanth.

Wert thou as strong as mighty Hercules,

That tam'd the hugy monsters of the world,

Play'dst thou as sweet on the sweet-sounding lute

As did the spouse of fair Eurydice,

That did enchant the waters with his noise,

And made stones, birds, and beasts to lead a dance,
Constrain'd the hilly trees to follow him,
Thou couldst not move the judge of Erebus,
Nor move compassion in grim Pluto's heart;
For fatal Mors expecteth all the world,
And every man must tread the way of death.
Brave Tantalus, the valiant Pelops' sire,
Guest to the gods, suffer'd untimely death;
And old Tithonus, husband to the morn,
And eke grim Minos, whom just Jupiter
Deign'd to admit unto his sacrifice.

The thund'ring trumpets of bloodthirsty Mars,
The fearful rage of fell Tisiphone,

The boisterous waves of humid ocean,

Are instruments and tools of dismal death.

Then, noble cousin, cease to mourn his chance,

Whose age and years were signs that he should die.

It resteth now that we inter his bones,

That was a terror to his enemies.

Take up the corse, and, princes, hold him dead,

Who while he liv'd upheld the Trojan state.

Sound drums and trumpets; march to Troynovant,

There to provide our chieftain's funeral."

At the end of the first act Locrine and Guendolen are married; but a comic scene is interposed, in which Strumbo, a cobbler, talks of Cuprit and Dina, and in the same breath of the fourth book of Lactantius. It is evident that the author of this play could not produce the lowest buffoonery without making a parade of his book-knowledge.

The second act opens with the arrival of Humber, the the Scythians, with Estrild his wife, and Hubba his son. is rapturous in her admiration of Albion :


"The plains, my lord, garnish'd with Flora's wealth,

And overspread with particolour'd flowers,

Do yield sweet contentation to my mind.

The airy hills enclos'd with shady groves,

The groves replenish'd with sweet chirping birds,

The birds resounding heavenly melody,

Are equal to the groves of Thessaly;

Where Phoebus, with the learned ladies nine,
Delight themselves with music's harmony,
And from the moisture of the mountain-tops

The silent springs dance down with murmuring streams,
And water all the ground with crystal waves.
The gentle blasts of Eurus' modest wind,
Moving the pittering leaves of Silvan's woods,
Do equal it with Tempe's paradise ;
And thus consorted all to one effect,

Do make me think these are the happy isles,
Most fortunate if Humber may them win."

king of The lady

After strutting about, and talking of Fortune, and Boreas, and Semiramis, and Lucifer, and Penthesilea, these Scythian scholars move forward, and the cobbler appears again upon the scene, and refuses the "press-money" which a captain offers him. Subsequently the Scythians burn the cobbler's house with his wife in it; but he goes to the wars with Albanact, and has the honour of fighting with the king of the Scythians. Humber is routed; and talks, as is very natural with people when they are in very great distress, about Briareus, Olympus, and Minerva. However, the tide of battle turns again, and Albanact is routed; and kills himself, after a denunciation of Fortune, which furnishes the most satisfactory

evidence of the greatness of his ambition who was resolved to do so many wonderful things after he had cut his own throat :

"Curs'd be her charms, damn'd be her cursed charms,

That do delude the wayward hearts of men,

Of men that trust unto her fickle wheel,
Which never leaveth turning upside-down!
O gods, O heavens, allot me but the place
Where I may find her hateful mansion.
I'll pass the Alps to wat'ry Meroe,
Where fiery Phoebus in his chariot,

The wheels whereof are deck'd with emeralds,
Casts such a heat, yea such a scorching heat,
And spoileth Flora of her checker'd grass;
I'll overturn the mountain Caucasus,
Where fell Chimæra, in her triple shape,
Rolleth hot flames from out her monstrous paunch,
Scaring the beasts with issue of her gorge;
I'll pass the frozen zone, where icy flakes,
Stopping the passage of the fleeting ships,
Do lie, like mountains, in the congeal'd sea :
Where if I find that hateful house of hers,
I'll pull the fickle wheel from out her hands,
And tie herself in everlasting bands."


He very appropriately concludes with six Latin hexameters before he kills himself. It is difficult to say which is the most ludicrousthe solemn ravings of the hero, or the burlesque of the cobbler and his man.

In the third act Locrine comes against Humber, and finally defeats him, after a great many words uttered in the same "Ercles' vein." We hopelessly look for any close parallel of the fustian of this play in the accredited works of Greene, or Marlowe, or Kyd, who redeemed their pedantry and their extravagance by occasional grandeur and sweetness. The dialogue of 'Locrine' from first to last is inflated beyond all comparison with any contemporary performance with which we are acquainted. Our readers are familiar with a gentleman who, when he is entreated to go down, says, "I'll see her damned first;-to Pluto's damned lake, to the infernal deep, with Erebus and tortures vile also." The valiant Pistol had, no doubt, diligently studied Locrine;' but he was a faint copyist of such sublime as the following:

"You ugly spirits that in Cocytus mourn,

And gnash your teeth with dolorous laments;
You fearful dogs, that in black Lethe howl,
And scare the ghosts with your wide-open throats;
You ugly ghosts, that flying from these dogs

Do plunge yourselves in Puryflegethon;
Come all of you, and with your shrieking notes
Accompany the Britons' conquering host.
Come, fierce Erinnys, horrible with snakes;
Come, ugly furies, armed with your whips;
You threefold judges of black Tartarus,

And all the army of your hellish fiends,

With new-found torments rack proud Locrine's bones!"

We do not get rid of Humber, who of all the characters excels in this line, until the end of the fourth act; previous to which happy event of his death Locrine has fallen in love with Estrild, his prisoner; and the lady, after a very brief wooing, requites his love under the assurance that Queen Guendolen shall do her no harm. The following lines, in which Locrine describes the arrangements that he has made for the indulgence of his passion, furnish almost the only example of a passage in the play approaching to something like natural and appropriate language:

"Nigh Durolitum, by the pleasant Ley,

Where brackish Thamis slides with silver streams,
Making a breach into the grassy downs,

A curious arch of costly marble fraught
Hath Locrine framed underneath the ground;
The walls whereof, garnish'd with diamonds,
With opals, rubies, glistering emeralds,
And interlac'd with sun-bright carbuncles,
Lighten the room with artificial day :
And from the Ley with water-flowing pipes
The moisture is deriv'd into this arch,
Where I have plac'd fair Estrild secretly.
Thither eftsoons, accompanied with my page,
I visit covertly my heart's desire,
Without suspicion of the meanest eye,
For love aboundeth still with policy.
And thither still means Locrine to repair,
Till Atropos cut off mine uncle's life."

In the fifth act we hear of the death of Corineus; upon which Locrine commands that Estrild shall be queen in the room of Guendolen. The rightful wife, upon hearing of her misfortune, calls upon the winds and the clouds and the sun, and other such allies of tragic personages, to assist her in her distress, and she does not call in vain :

"Behold the heavens do wail for Guendolen;

The shining sun doth blush for Guendolen ;
The liquid air doth weep for Guendolen ;
The very ground doth groan for Guendolen.
Ay, they are milder than the Britain king,
For he rejecteth luckless Guendolen."

Her son arrives, and changes her temper in a moment from sorrow

to revenge:

"Then henceforth farewell womanish complaints!

All childish pity henceforth then farewell!
But, cursed Locrine, look unto thyself;
For Nemesis, the mistress of revenge,

Sits arm'd at all points on our dismal blades:
And cursed Estrild, that inflam'd his heart,
Shall, if I live, die a reproachful death."

A battle ensues in which Locrine is defeated; but previously the ghost of Corineus appears, and his speech is no unfavourable specimen of the power of the writer :

"Behold, the circuit of the azure sky

Throws forth sad throbs, and grievous suspires,
Prejudicating Locrine's overthrow.

The fire casteth forth sharp darts of flames;
The great foundation of the triple world
Trembleth and quaketh with a mighty noise,
Presaging bloody massacres at hand.

The wandering birds that flutter in the dark
(When hellish Night, in cloudy chariot seated,
Casteth her mists on shady Tellus' face,
With sable mantles covering all the earth)
Now flies abroad amid the cheerful day,
Foretelling some unwonted misery.
The snarling curs of darken'd Tartarus,
Sent from Avernus' ponds by Rhadamanth,
With howling ditties pester every wood.
The wat`ry ladies, and the lightfoot fawns,
And all the rabble of the woody nymphs,
All trembling hide themselves in shady groves,
And shroud themselves in hideous hollow pits.
The boisterous Boreas thund'reth forth revenge:
The stony rocks cry out on sharp revenge :
The thorny bush pronounceth dire revenge.
Now, Corineus, stay and see revenge."

The last four lines furnish another example of that species of repetition which we have previously noticed. We have four lines very similar in Lodge's 'Wounds of Civil War :'

"Thy colour'd wings, steeped in purple blood,
Thy blinding wreath, distain'd in purple blood,
Thy royal robes, wash'd in my purple blood,

Shall witness to the world thy thirst of blood."

Locrine and Estrild each kill themselves; and Sabren, previous to her completion of the tragedy, speaks some lines which, with a few

« VorigeDoorgaan »