« VorigeDoorgaan »
day. The allegorical charaeter of his great work, , venerable spirit of antiquity, and conjures up before
MASSINGER. in which Spenser found the language, anil the dilli
This dramatist, second to none but him who calties he must have encountered in adapting it to never had an equal, Shakspeare, was born 1581, the elaborate species of metre he has employed, we
and received his education at Oxford. He was shall surely feel that it is impossible to praise his singularly modest and unassuming, claiming no prodactions too highly.
precedence of his associates on account of his lofty
endowinents, and accepting their praise more as a BEN JONSON.
favour than a right. He lived long and happily; Tuis erudite and excellent dramatist, who was bis years glided away in peace, for they were soborn at Westminster, 1571, bad the singular happi
laced by ihe applauses of the virtuous, and the Dess of receiving his education under the illustrious testimony of his own conscience. In his old age he Camden. His family was reputable, but his mother reposed in the shade of bis laurels, and delighted part yiag a second time, his step-father, a brick- to direct the energies of those young and ardent layer, taught him his own trade; and we are in spirits who were about to run the race which he formed, on tolerably good authority, that a portion had concluded with honour. He lies buried in the of Ben's brick and mortar still exists in Chancery same grave with his friend Fletcher, in the churchlane. Disgusted with this servile employment, he yard of St. Saviour, Southwark. The following entered the army, and served in the low countries epitaph is from the poems of sir Aston Cokain, with great credit; be soon, bowever, returned to
1659: England, and completed his studies at Cambridge.
“In the same grave was Fletcher buried, here
Lies the stage poet, Philip Massinger. A mere accident seems to have given a direction to Plays they did write together, were great friends, his talents : to procure bread, he joined a miserable
And now one grave includes them in their ends.
So whom on earth nothing did part, beneath company of players at the Curtain, in Shoreditch ; Here in their fame they lie, in spite of death." but his excellence was not to be developed here, It is quite unaccountable bow this author's works he remained poor and unnoticed. In a tavern brawl should have fallen into neglect, since a profound he had the misfortune to kill his opponent, and knowledge of human nature is evident in every being thrown into prison, languished there a consi- page; and his poetry is rich in that manly sentenderable time. It does not appear how be obtained tious eloquence which is so peculiarly effective on bis liberty; but he now became the intimate of the stage. Till very lately, A New Way to Pay Shakspeare, wbose kindliness of disposition ever Old Debts was the only play of his generally known. prompted bim to assist the aspirations of real talent; | Rowe, indeed, had pilfered largely from his Fatal and under his auspices, he commenced a dramatic Dowry, and foisted this stolen property on the writer. His success was complete ; his annual public under the title of The Fair Penitent; but the play was looked for anxiously, and hailed affec
trick was unsuspected, for who would take the tionately; he became one of the chief ornaments of trouble to read Massinger? A better taste seems a stage, ennobled with many kindred spirits; and, now gaining ground. The Duke of Milan has been however it may be the fashion to disregard his successfully revived; The Fatal Dowry bas apwritings at present, they certainly abound with peared in a form more equitable to its author; and, excellencies of the highest description. In 1619, be for the credit of the age, we trust the trash of the succeeded Daniel as laureat: the salary was only modern stage will soon give place to the sterling Obe bundred marks per annum; bat on Jouson's productions of the old English drama. application in 1630,' it was increased_to $100 and a tierce of Spanish wine, annually. Poor Ben,
BEAUMONT AND FLETCHER. bowever, often suffered all the pangs incident These authors, the Pylades and Orestes of liteto want; and once, when on a sick bed, in extreme ratore, are remarkable on several accounts. Their wretebedness, he petitioned Charles I. for pecuniary friendship presents the singular and pleasing specaid. The monarch sent him ten guineas, on which tacle of two great geniuses so closely united in Jonson said, “ His majesty has sent me ten goineas, their feelings and pursuits, that in upwards of fifty because I am poor and live in an alley; go and tell dramas which they wrote conjunctively, it is utterly him that his soul lives in an alley." Yet, in jus impossible to distinguish to which of them we are tice we are bound to state, that Charles once gave indebted for any particular scene or character. him £100, then a large sumn, and the above bitter Their compositions are so homogenoas, that were remark might have been breathed in the irritation we not assured of the contrary, we should ascribe of a wounded spirit. Jonson died in 1637, aged them, without hesitation, to the efforts of a single sixty-three years. His moral character has been mind. Here we may observe, that nothing in Shakquestioned ; in particular, he is ac used of ingrati speare's age is more worthy of commemoration, tude to Shak speare; and, indeed, a passage in bis than the good understanding, which subsisted Bartholomew Fair might coantenance the charge, among the galaxy of master-spirits that adorned did we not possess a noble poem dedicated by Ben those times. They lived together like a family of to his benefactor's memory.
brothers, no petly jealousies disturbed their comJonson's dramas are extremely numerous ; they munity; we continually find them advancing, withare much more correct and classical than Shak-out ostentation, each other's labours, and engaged speare's, but they are not so constantly irradi- in a friendly competition of good oflices. Hence ated by the beams of genius. Every Man in His we observe many plays written by three or four Humour is the only one of his plays that retains a different hands; and this practice, so opposite to place on the stage. Yet Volpone has never been the grovelling selfishness of modern writers, seems equalled in its way, and Sejanus breathes of the to have excited no surprise. The solitary anti
As short as are the nights
social pride of intellectual superiority was sacrificed his early years owed much to the patronage of sir on the altar of friendship. The poetry of Beaumont | Thomas Walsingham. Prince Henry, that amiable and Fletcher's dramas is oftenexceedingly fine; they scion of royalty, and the far-famed earl of Somerare frequently prosaic, and even common-place, set, were also his friends; but his comedy of Eastbut these feelings are redeemed by bursts of pas ward Hoe, in wbich he bitterly reflects on the Scotch, sion and eloquence truly overpowering. In nice so offended king James that he was obliged to leave discrimination of character too, they are by no the court, and relinquish his prospects of prefermeans deficient, and nothing can excuse the de ment. However, he was one of heaven's nobility, pravity of taste which bas consigned their works to and the Crowns of the great could not dininish his dost and silence. They are said to have ridiculed self-esteem. He lived respected and died lamented Shakspeare in some of their plays, particularly in by the best and greatest men of his age. His The Knight of the Burning Pestle. If such liberties Translation of Homer surpasses in genius any that were taken, they gave no offence, for that wonder has yet appeared. Pope's is more elegant, no ful man often assisted them in their compositions. doubt; bui in all the essentials of true poetry old The following soug is from The Nice Valour, or Chapman has much the advantage. His dramatic The Passionate Madman, to which Milton must performances savour considerably of antiquity, have been indebted wben he wrote his Il Penseroso: but in reading them we find frequent occasion to “Hence all ye vain delights,
commend and admire. Ben Jonson, we are told, Wherein you spend your folly!
was jealous of bis great abilities; Shakspeare boThere's nought in this life sweet,
noured and fostered them. There is an anonymous If we were wise to see't,
poem in praise of this last anthor which has been But only melancholy; Oh, sweetest melancholy!
attributed to Chapman, and it is calculated to Welcome, folded arms, and fixed eyes,
heighten our estimation even of his powers.
This poet, whose situation in life was very humble,
his highest worldly distinction baving been that of Moonlight walks, when all the fowls Are warmly hous'd, save bats and owls!
parish clerk at St. Andrew's, Holborn, was cerA midnight bell, a parting groan!
tainly endowed with talents of no common order; These are the sounds we feed upon! Then stretch our bones in a still gloomy valley;
and although, from the want of the discipline which Nothing's so dainty sweet as lovely melancholy.” education allords, his genius frequently run riot, MARLOWE.
and developed itself in the most eccentric manner,
there can be little doubt that the representation This great tragic poet was educated at Cambridge, where he took the degree of B. A. 1583, plauding audiences. The public of his day were
of bis plays was attended by delighted and apand of M. A. 1587; his passions appear to have been very violent, and his whole life was stormy passion and imagination; and if an author could
content with the great elements of all true poetry, and unseitled. His mind was of the highest order; supply these, his productions were not rejected but, imagining for bimself a universe of perfect for any deficiencies of elegance and refinement. beauty and felicity, he was filled with disgust at the sorrows and disappointments of the real world his capital works, Webster continually sins against
In his White Devil, and the Duchess of Malfey, aronnd him. The manner of his death was extremely the arbitary enactments of criticism, and not seldom tragical: he was passionately fond of a beautiful against the more equitable laws of taste ; but be girl, whose circumstances were but humble : visiting her one evening, be found a low fellow in passion, and a boldness of imagination, which have
atones for these faults by displaying a strength of her company of whom he was jealous ; in the frenzy hardly ever been surpassed. of the moment he drew his poniard, (a weapon commonly worn,) intending to stab the unwelcome
MARSTON, intruder, but his antagonist wrenched the dagger This poet, like many of his gifted contemporaries, from his grasp, and Marlowe falling forwards, re has left no record behind biin but his works. He ceived it in bis heart. The wits of his age seem to appears, however, to have studied at Oxford ; and have had a very bigh opinion of Marlowe's talents. judging from the chastity and purity of bis' JanHeywood, no incompetent judge, styles him the guage, we may suppose, that he formed bis style best of poets; and Drayton writes of him thus : on classic models. His plays are eight in number, " Next, Marlowe bathed in the Thespian springs,
but the most remarkable are Antonio and Mellida, Had in him those brave translunary things,
1602; The Malcontent, 1604; and The Wonder That your first poet: had ; his raptures were All air and fire, wbich made his verses clear;
of Women, or Sophonisba, 1606; which last is For that fine madness still he did retain,
dedicated in warm terms to Ben Jonson, though Which rightly should possess a poet's brain.”
he afterwards had some disagreement with that The phrase, fine madness, very aptly expresses the
poet. character of his genius. In 'The Tragical History
MIDDLETON. of Dr. Faustus, the reader is continually startled by the wildness and incoherence of the poet's con
The companion of Jonson, Fletcher, Massinger, ceptions ; he transports us into a world of shadows,
and Rowley, with all of whom he occasionally and surrounds us with the terrible creations of an
wrote in concert, though his fame may safely rest over-excited fancy; yet so distinctly and vividly of his dramas bear date so recently as the reign of
on compositions wbich are entirely his own. Some are these strange imaginations pourtrayed, that we tremble and weep while they pass in review before earlier. A Mad World, my Masters, acted by the
Charles I. bat bis best plays were published much us. Notwithstanding all his powerful claims to our
Children of Paul's, 1608, is an excellent play; and admiration, Marlowe is scarcely known at present bat as the author of a little poem, beginning. Come many modern writers, thinking themselves safe in live with me, and be my love." Kean brought out
its obscurity, have pillaged from it very freely. bis Jew of Malta, (perbaps, the worst of his plays;) his Country Lasses, have taken the most liberties.
Mrs. Behn, in her City Heiress, and Johnson, in at Drury-lane Theatre; it attracted for a few nights, but four-legged performers were just then coming
ROWLEY. into fashion, and the aflair was hopeless.
This dramatist, though inferior to some of his
illustrious companions, will deservedly rank high CHAPMAN.
as one of the benefactors of the English stage. This writer, whose lofty endowments have sel He flourished in the reign of James I. and was dom been duly appreciated, was born 1557, and in I attached to a company of players belonging to the
prince of Wales. He was rather eminent as a masterpiece, and would have done honour to Shak-
is exquisitely beautiful; and though, in a moral
DECKER. never Vext, has been
This writer's reputation bas probably been in
cule of whom he wrote a play called, The Untrusspoint of time and genius. Sir Thomas More was
One of the first of our dramatic Writers, both in trend of Webster, force, and Rowley, a distinction particularly fond of him; he was a frequent com.
which nothing but his genius could have purchased
him. Brome, too, calls bim father, and constantpanion of the princess Mary, and his musical skill ly speaks of him witb the utmost reverence and made him a great favourite with Henry VIII. Da- affection. His Honest Whore, and Old Fortunaricg the short reign of Edward VI. he still con tas, are his best works; the latter, notwithstanding tinded at court, admired and beloved ; and on the extreme absurdity of the fable on which it is Mary's accession to the throne, be was admitted founded, is illustrated with so much fine writing, to the closest intimacy that subject could enjoy. that it give us the bighest opinion of Decker's The insinuating mildness of his temper, though in abilities. absolate contrast to the harshness and irritability
SHIRLEY. of ber disposition, frequently softened its asperi This prolific dramatist was of a very ancient ties, and we are even told that the playful humour family, and was born in London, 1594. He was a of his conversation, occasionally beguiled even the pupil at Merchant Tailors' School, and afterwards aguoy of her death-bed. He was of course a zeal- studied at Oxford, where Dr. Laud conceived a ous catholio; and on the accession of Elizabeth, he warm affection for him, in regard to his great tawent into voluntary exile, and died at Mechlin, in lents; yet, Shirley purposing to take orders, he Brabant, 1565. His longest work is entitled A would often tell him, “ that he was an unfit person Parable of the Spider and the Flie, of which Ho to take the sacred function upon him, and should linsbed says, “One also hath made a booke of the
never have his consent." Why does the reader Spider and the Flie, wherein be dealeth so pro- suppose ? On account of some moral defect? No; foundlie
, and beyond all measure of skill, that but because Shirley had a large mole on his left neither he himselfe that made it, neither anie one cheek, which Laud thought a deformity. He took that readeth it, can reach into the meaning there- orders, notwithstanding, and obtained a living at of." His great merit is that he contributed much
St. Albans; but he shortly became a Romanist, and to bring the Mysteries into disrepute, and to create resigning his preferment, commenced schoolmasa laste for more rational stage representations. None of his dramas extend beyond the limits of an
er; this new profession growing odious to him,
he went to London and began to compose plays. interlude; among them we find A Play of Love, In this way he gained, not merely an existence, 1533, and A Play of Gentleness and Nobilitie, 1535. but was much encouraged by many of the nobility; Her wood can scarcely be called a contemporary and ultimately, queen Henrietta being much pleasof Shakspeare ; but he is mentioned here as the ed with his writings, attached him to her housefirst regular dramatist oor stage has produced. hold. During the rebellion, he attended the earl THOMAS HEYWOOD.
of Newcastle, and was in several battles. The The most voluminous of all play-wrights, with king's cause being ruined, he returned to London, the exception of Lope de Vega ; for, in a preface and was supported for some time by Mr. Stanley to one of his dramas, he informs as, that it was the
the author of The Lives of the Philosophers. last of two hundred and twenty in which he had Plays were now denounced as an abomination, and either an entire hand, or at least a main finger.” he recommenced pedagogue in the White Friars, for posterity; of most of them we are ignorant, the Restoration. The theatre was again open to the following : Edward IV. two parts, 1599; Pour great applause. In 1666, occurred the terrible Prentices of London, 1615 ; and Maidenhead well lire of London ; he was burnt out of his house near Lost, 1634. Heywood also wrote an Apology for Fleet-street, and removed into the parish of St. Actors, of wbicb fraternity he was himself a member. He was undoubtedly a man of talent: his frightfal conflagration, he and his wife both expircomic scenes were fall of humour, and his tragie ed within a few hours, and were buried in the same opes abound with situations deeply pathetic ; but grave. Shirley succeeded best in comedy; there he always writes like an anthor who is composing is a light airy playfulness in his humour which is by contract, unless bis Woman killed with Kind peculiarly delighiful, and must have been quite ness be an exception.
refreshing to the royalists after the sour fanaticism
of the puritans. The Ball, 1639, is a favourable FORDE. Tais admirable dramatist was born 1586, and his specimen; but all his dramas, nearly forty in
number, are highly amusing. A contemporary
“ Shirley (the morning child) the Muses bred,
Few writers have been more famous in their day bis melancholy spirit with the dark and terrible
tban the author of the Poly-Olbion; a poem, visions of Melpomene. Hence one of bis contem
which though at present scarcely ever read, poraries pleasantly says, "Deep in a dump, John Forde was alone got,
abounds with animated description and elegant
illustration. Drayton was a favourite court poet; A fine vein of tragedy runs through all his plays; he assisted at the coronation of James !. and was but 'Tis Pity She's a Whore is undoubtedly his I never in circumstances to make the praises of the
And sent him born with bays upon his head.""
With folded arms and melancholy hat."
million important to him. He is said to have, have been a favourite actor. Bat Field's claim to written The Merry Devil of Edmonton ; but this is notice rests on better grounds; for Massinger did doubtful, and were the fact established, it would not think himself disgraced by receiving his ascontribute but little to his fame.
sistance in the composition of The Fatal Dowry, PHINEAS FLETCHER.
and his ability for the task is evident from what This poet, whose great genius is obscured by he has done in his own dramas. His best plays the robe of allegory which it assumed, is the
are, A Woman's a Weathercock, 1612; and author of a singular production called the Purple Amends for Ladies, 1618; both of which are highly Island, in which all the various parts of the human praised by Chapman, a very competent judge. body are described with wonderful ingenuity and
PEELE. truth. The subject was an unhappy one ; and the poem, in spite of its great merit, is seldom or ever lent in bis day, but now forgotten amidst the lam
A writer of pastorals, considered very excelperused. Fletcher also wrote Piscatory Eclogues, ber of antiquity. He was likewise a dramatist of sbort pieces possessing considerable excellence,
some eminence; and for many years, as city poet, and one or two dramatic performances which have had the ordering of the pageants ou lord mayor's no striking recommendation.
day. His life appears to have been spent in a DANIEL.
course of follies and debaucheries of the lowest This author, who was considerable in his own description, which is the more singular, as he was time, both as a poet and historian, was born 1562. educated at Oxford, then the school of every virHis style is remarkably correct, and at once free tue. He wrote, among other dramas, Edward the from bombastical extravagance and meagre un First, 1593 ; and The Loves of King David and meaning simplicity. In Spenser's Colin Clout's Faire Bethsabe, 1599. Come Home Again, he is highly praised, and indeed most of the writers of that age agree in eulo
QUARLES. gizing his productions. He succeeded Spenser
The celebrated author of The Emblems, and in the laureateship. His Philotas, 1605, when , equally remarkable for bis genius and misfortunes. first acted, gave offence, as it was thought the hero
He was educated at Cambridge, where he distinwas drawn from Elizabeth's unfortunate favourite, guished himself by unaffected piety and unassumthe earl of Essex. In this play he treads closely ing talent. For a considerable time he was cupin the steps of the ancients, and has introduced
bearer to the queen of Bohemia, and chronologer choruses between the acts. In his Cleopatra, to Ireland, and became secretary to the truly
to the city of London. Afterwards, he went over 1594, he follows Plutarch's account of that remarkable woman, and has produced a very ex
good and amiable prelate, Usher, archbishop of cellent drama. The dialogue in both instances is Armagh; but the unsettled state of that country extremely poetical.
soon forced him to resign his post, and returning
to England, he closed his earthly career 1644, aged CHETTLE.
52. He was buried in the church of St. Vedast, A DRAMATIST of whom no record remains. In-Poster-lane. Quarles is best known by bis Dideed, the period to which these brief memoirs re vine Emblems, a work once universally popular, fer, abounds with instances of writers who are but now, on account of its obsolete quaintness of only known to have existed by their works. He style, little read, except by a particular class of wrote Hot Anger soon Cold, 1598 ; All is not religionists. He wrote The Virgio Widow, 1619, Gold that Glisters, 1600; Cardinal Wolsey, 1601; a play which has no faults and few merits. Langand various other plays, all distinguished by an baine sums up his character of Quarles in these originality of tone, which we should vainly look words : “He was a poet that mixed religion and for in productions of loftier pretension.
fancy together, and was very careful in all bis BROWNE.
writings not to intrench upon good manners by The praise which Milton has bestowed on this any scurrility in his works, or any ways offending poet, the author of Britannia's Pastorals, entitles against his duty to God, his neighbour, or bimhim to our favourable notice ; and there are such self.” unequivocal evidences of genius in his works, that
NASH. we cannot sufficiently regret, that he should bave An eccentric and unfortunate man of genias, been ejected from his niche in the Temple of Fame whose vices were his worst enemies. After a by any newer candidate for immortality.
restless life, passed in continual alterations from DAY,
want to abundance, he died about 1601, as little A VERY powerful writer, bold and original in Pierce Pennilesse' is written with infinite fire and
lamented in dying, as respected when living. His conception, but rude and uncouth in expression spirit, but seems to breathe the sentiments of a His principal works are, The Bristol Tragedy, 1602, and The Blind Beggar of Bethnal Green, world. Towards the close of bis days, he seems
man in a paroxysm of rage against the whole with The Merry Humour of Tom Strowd, the Norfolk Yeoman, divers times publicly acted by the called Christ's Tears over Jerusalem, he writes
to have repented of his excesses; for in a pamphlet Prince his Servants, 1600.
thus : “A hundred uufortunate farewells to fanDAVENPORT.
tasticall satirisme. In those vaines, heretofore I He is reported to bave written something jointly mispent my spirit, and prodigally conspired with Shakspeare, and his intellectual character against good hours. Nothing is there now so would justly have entitled him to the honour of much in my vowes as to be at peace with all men, such an associate. His comedy of A New Trick and make submissive amends where I have most to Cheat the Devil, abounds with grotesque and displeased. To a little more wit have my increashumorous situations, and bis King Jobn and Ma- | ing yeeres reclaimed mee then I had before ; those tilda abundantly prove his tragic powers.
that have been perverted by any of my workes, FIELD.
let them reade this, and it shall thrice more beneThis poet is supposed to be the same person
fit them. The autumne I imitate, in shedding my whose name appears with those of Burbage, Hem- leaves with the trees, and so doth the peacocke mings and Condell, in the prefatory sheet of the shead his taile.” Nash was peculiarly successfirst folio edition of Shakspeare. He is also men
ful in satire ; in an old copy of verses he is thus tioned in the dramatis personæ prefixed to the spoken of: Cynthia's Revels of Ben Jonson, and seems to
"Sharply satyric was he, and that way
for one at Dr. Wright's sale.
Few have aitempted ; and I surely think
Shall scoreb and blast so as he could when he
THOMAS SACKVILLE, LORD BUCK-
sion of Loosenesse proffered to the Wanton, quarto,
Lyly bas committed many extravagancies in
ison the whole, Lyly's
be considered a failure, on such an occasion even
failure was glorious, and entitles him to be remem-
wbich runs through all his productions. His
doubtedly wrote The History of Friar Bacon and
Oberon, King of the Fairies, 1599. of this last
appearance of Shakspeare. Sir Philip Syd- play, Shakspeare seems to have made some use in Des in his Defence of Poesie, says,
“ Our trage
his Midsummer Night's Dream.
A PROFOUNDLY learned man. His composi
tions are in the Latin tongue, and we should not LODGE.
bave noticed him but on account of Anth. a' Wood's A DOCTOR of medicine in great practice towards singular panegyric of his genius :: He was an ex: the end of Elizabeth's reign. He acquired consi-cellent poet, especially in the Latin language, and derable extra-professional" reputation, both as a reported the best comedian of his time, whether
it poet and a wit. His dramatic works are, Wounds
was Edward, earl of Oxford, Will. Rowley, the of Civil War, 1594, and A Looking Glass for Lon
once ornament for wit and ingenuity, of Pembroke des and England, 1594. Judging from these com
Hall in Cambridge, Richard Edwards, John Lylie, positions, the writer seems to have been most hap- Tho. Lodge, Geo. Gascoigne, Will. Shakspeare, prin satire, there is a playful smartness about bis
Tho. Nash, or Jobn Heywood.” In 1608, this same jokes, which is highly agreeable and amusing.
Gager, maintained at Oxford, a thesis, that it was
lawful for husbands to beat their wives; so that his
elaborate Latin dramas have small chance of find.
This person wrote about 1561, A lamentable
the Life of Cambises, King of Persia, from the the prime of life, 1597, universally regretted and good Deede of Execution after the many wicked respected. His dramas are nine in number: Alex
Deeds and tirranous Murders committed by and ander and Campaspe, 1584, and Mother Bombie, through
him; and last of all, bis odious Death by
God's Justice appointed; doon on such Order as
king Cambyses’ vein.
common beggary of charity from