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6 Clare. I do not hold thy offer competent;
Old Moun. Too good for thee : and, knight, thou know'st it well,
Lady Clare. Husband, it was 80; he lies not in that.
Old Moun. To which I hearken'd willingly, and the rather,
Clare. Let it suffice, Mounchensey, I mislike it;
Old Moun. I tell thee, Clare, his blood is good and clear
For his “frantic and untamed passion” Fabel reproves him. The comic scenes which now occur are exceedingly lively. If the wit is not of the highest order, there is real fun and very little coarseness. We are thrown into the midst of a jolly set, stealers of venison in Enfield Chase, of whom the leader is Sir John, the priest of Enfield. His humour consists of applying a somewhat pious sentence upon every occasion—“ Hem, grass and hay-we are all mortal—let's live till we die, and be merry, and there 's an end.” Mine host of the George is an associate of this goodly fraternity. The comedy is not overloaded, and is very judiciously brought in to the relief of the main action. We have next the introduction of Millisent to the Prioress of Cheston (Cheshunt) :
“ Lady Clare. Madam,
Prioress. Jesus' daughter! Mary's child !
Sir Arthur. Madam, for a twelvemonth's approbation,
and our dear blessing, in mean time,
Prioress. May your happy soul be blithe,
Millisent. Good men and true, stand together,
Prioress. First, a mornings take your book,
If you mean to live a nun." The sweetness of some of these lines argues the practised poet. Indeed the whole play is remarkable for its elegance rather than its force; and it appears to us exactly such a performance as was within the range of Drayton's powers. The device of Fabel proceeds, in the appearance of Raymond Mounchensey disguised as a friar. Sir Arthur Clare has disclosed to him all his projects. The “holy young novice” proceeds to the priory as a visitor sent from Waltham House to ascertain whether Millisent is about to take the veil “ from conscience and devotion.” The device succeeds, and the lovers are left together :
“ Moun. Life of my soul! bright angel!
Millisent. What means the friar?
Millisent, My heart misgives me; I should know that voice.
Moun. Mounchensey, thy true friend.
Millisent. My Raymond! my dear heart!
Moun. By means of Peter Fabel, my kind tutor,
Millisent. You are all sweet traitors to my poor old father.
Moun. O thou idolatress, that dost this worship
Millisent. Well, visitor, lest that perhaps my mother
Moun. But do you yet repent you of the same ?
Nor will I absolve thee
Millisent. Sweet life, farewell! 't is done, let that suffice;
What my tongue fails, I send thee by mine eyes.” The votaress is carried off by her brother and Jerningham; but in the darkness of the night they lose their way, and encounter the deer-stealers and the keepers. A friendly forester, however, assists them, and they reach Enfield in safety. Not so fortunate are Sir Arthur and Sir Ralph, who are in pursuit of the unwilling nun. They are roughly treated by the keepers, and, after a night of toil, find a resting-place at Waltham. The priest and his companions are terrified by their encounters in the Chase: the lady in white, who has been hiding from them, is taken for a spirit; and the sexVol. XII.
ton has seen a vision in the church-porch. The morning however arrives, and we see “Sir Arthur Clare and Sir Ralph Jerningham trussing their points, as newly up.” They had made good their retreat, as they fancied, to the inn of mine host of the George, but the merry devil of Edmonton had set the host and the smith to change the sign of the house with that of another inn; and at the real George the lovers were being happily married by the venisonstealing priest, in the company of their faithful friends. Sir Arthur and Sir Ralph are of course very angry when the truth is made known; but reconcilement and peace are soon accomplished :
“ Fabel. To end this difference, kuow, at first I knew
I take thee up into my heart ;
Host. Why, Sir George, send for Spindle's noise presently :
Sir John. Grass and hay, mine host; let 's live till we die,
and be merry, and there's an end." We lament with Tieck that the continuation of the career of · The Merry Devil' is possibly lost. We imagine that we should have seen him expiating his fault by doing as much good to his fellow-mortals as he could accomplish without the aid of necromancy. Old Weever, in his Funeral Monuments,' has no great faith in his art magic: “Here (at Edmonton) lieth interred under a seemelie Tome, without Inscription, the Body of Peter Fabell (as the report goes) upon whom this Fable was fathered, that he by his wittie devises beguiled the devill: belike he was some ingenious conceited gentleman, who did use some sleighty trickes for his owne disports. He lived and died in the raigne of Henry the Seventh, saith the booke of his merry pranks.”
THE TWO NOBLE KINSMEN.
This play was first printed in 1634, with the following title :“The Two Noble Kinsmen : presented at the Blackfriers by the King's Majesties servants, with great applause: written by the memorable Worthies of their Time, Mr. John Fletcher, and Mr. William Shakspeare, Gent. Printed at London, by Tho. Cotes, for John Watersone, and are to be sold at the signe of the Crowne, in Paul's Church-Yard, 1634.' In the first folio edition of the works of Beaumont and Fletcher, in 1647, this play did not appear. In the second folio it is reprinted, with very slight alterations from the quarto. That second folio contains the following notice:"In this edition you have the addition of no fewer than seventeen plays more than were in the former, which we have taken the pains and care to collect, and print out of 4to. in this volume, which for dis.. tinction sake are marked with a star in the catalogue of them facing the first page of the book.”—(Preface.) The Two Noble Kinsmen' is so marked.
In our · Pictorial Edition’ we thought it the most satisfactory course to print this play entire. Since that publication, however, a new edition of the works of Beaumont and Fletcher is publishing, under the editorship of a competent antiquarian, who will give the lovers of the old drama a text to which we may safely refer our readers.
The title-page of the original edition of The Two Noble Kinsmen’sets forth that it was “ written by the memorable worthies of their time, Mr. John Fletcher and Mr. William Shakspeare." This was printed in 1634, nine years after the death of Fletcher, and eighteen years after the death of Shakspere. The play was not printed in the first collected edition of Beaumont and Fletcher's works, in 1647, for the reason assigned in the · Stationers' Address.' “Some plays, you know, written by these authors were heretofore printed : I thought not convenient to mix them with this volume, which of itself is entirely new.” The title-page of the quarto of 1634 is, therefore, the only direct external evidence we possess as to Shak