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swearing, blowing his nose; with the tone of his voice, whether he is thin or fat;l and thus plunges to the bottom of things, with every look, as by a miner's deep shaft. This sunk, it little cares whether the second shaft be two paces or a hundred from the first; enough that it reaches the same depth, and serves equally well to display the inner and visible layer. Logic is here from beneath, not from above. It is the unity of a character which binds the two actions of the personage, as the unity of an impression connects the two scenes of a drama. To speak exactly, the spectator is like a man whom we should lead along a wall pierced at separate intervals with little windows; at every window he catches for an instant a glimpse of a new landscape, with its million details : the walk over, if he is of Latin race and training, he finds a medley of images jostling in his head, and asks for a map that he may recollect himself; if he is of German race and training, he perceives as a whole, by natural concentration, the wide country which he has only 'seen piecemeal. Such a conception, by the multitude of details which it combines, and by the depth of the vistas which it embraces, is a half-vision which shakes the whole soul. What its works are about to show us is, with what energy, what disdain of contrivance, what vehemence of truth, it dares to coin and hammer the human medal; with what liberty it is able to reproduce in full prominence worn out characters, and the extreme flights of virgin nature.
VI. Let us consider the different personages which this art, so suited to depict real manners, and so apt to paint the living soul, goes in search of amidst the real manners and the living souls of its time and country. They are of two kinds, as befits the nature of the drama : one which produces terror, the other which moves to pity; these graceful and feminine, those manly and violent. All the differences of sex, all the extremes of life, all the resources of the stage, are embraced in this contrast; and if ever there was a complete contrast, it is here.
The reader must study for himself some of these pieces, or he will have no idea of the fury into which the stage is hurled; force and transport are driven every instant to the point of atroc
1 See Hamlet, Coriolanus, Hotspur. The queen in Hamlet (v. 2) says: fat, and scant of breath.”
ity, and further still, if there be any further. Assassinations, poisonings, tortures, outcries of madness and rage; no passion and no suffering are too extreme for their energy or their effort. Anger is-with them a madness, ambition a frenzy, love a delirium. Hippolyto, who has lost his mistress, says, “Were thine eyes clear as mine, thou might'st behold her, watching upon yon battlements of stars, how I observe them. Aretus, to be avenged on Valentinian, poisons him after poisoning himself, and with the death-rattle in his throat, is brought to his enemy's side, to give him a foretaste of agony. Queen Brunhalt has panders with her on the stage, and causes her two sons to slay each other. Death everywhere; at the close of every play, all the great people wade in blood: with slaughter and butcheries, the stage becomes a field of battle or a churchyard.? Shall I describe a few of these tragedies? In the Duke of Milan, Francesco, to avenge his sister, who has been seduced, wishes to seduce in his turn the Duchess Marcelia, wife of Sforza, the seducer; he desires her, he will have her; he says to her, with cries of love and rage:
"For with this arm I'll swim through seas of blood,
Dearest, and best of women !” 3 For he wishes to strike the duke through her, whether she lives or dies, if not by dishonor, at least by murder; the first is as good as the second, nay better, for so he will do a greater injury. He calumniates her, and the duke, who adores her, kills her; then, being undeceived, loses his senses, will not believe she is dead, has the body brought in, kneels before it, rages and weeps. He knows now the name of the traitor, and at the thought of him he
Swoons or raves :
“I'll follow him to hell, but I will find him,
And there live a fourth Fury to torment him.
1 Middleton, The Honest Whore, part i. iv. I.
2 Beaumont and Fletcher, Valentinian, Thicrry and Theodoret. See Massinger's Picture, which resembles Musset's Barberine. Its crudity, the extraordinary and repulsive energy, will show the difference of the two ages.
3 Massinger's Works, ed. H. Coleridge, 1859, Duke of Milan, ii. 1. 4 Duke of Milan, V. 2.
Suddenly he gasps for breath, and falls; Francesco has poisoned him. The duke dies, and the murderer is led to torture. There are worse scenes than this; to find sentiments strong enough, they go to those which change the very nature of man. Massinger puts on the stage a father who judges and condemns his daughter, stabbed by her husband; Webster and Ford, a son who assassinates his mother; Ford, the incestuous loves of a brother and sister. Irresistible love overtakes them; the ancient love of Pasiphaë and Myrrha, a kind of madness-like enchantment, and beneath which the will entirely gives way. Giovanni says:
“Lost! I am lost! My fates have doom'd my death!
Or I must speak, or burst.” 3 What transports follow! what fierce and bitter joys, and how short too, how grievous and mingled with anguish, especially for her! She is married to another. Read for yourself the admirable and horrible scene which represents the wedding night. She is pregnant, and Soranzo, the husband, drags her along the ground, with curses, demane g the name of her lover: “Come strumpet, famous whore ? .
Harlot, rare, notable harlot,
1 Massinger, The Fatal Dowry; Webster and Ford, A late Nurther of the Sonne upon the Mother (a play not extant); 'Tis pity she's a Whore. See also Ford's Broken Heart, with its sublime scenes of agony and madness.
2 Ford's Works, ed. H. Coleridge, 1859, 'Tis pily she's a Whore, i. 3.
Annabella. Beastly man? why, 'tis thy fate.
S. Tell me by whom.” 1 She gets excited, feels and cares for nothing more, refuses to tell the name of her lover, and praises him in the foilowing words. This praise in the midst of danger is like a rose she has plucked, and of which the odor intoxicates her:
“A. Soft! 'twas not in my bargain.
S. Damnable monster ?
A. A match, a match ?
S. What was he call'd ?
A. We are not come to that;
S. Dost thou laugh?
I'll hew thy flesh to shreds; who is’t ?" 2 She laughs; the excess of shame d terror has given her courage; she insults him, she sings; so like a woman !
“A. (Sings) Che morte piu dolce che morire per amore.
S. Thus will I pull thy hair, and thus I'll drag
(Hales her up and downy
Be a gallant hangman.
Why, let him take it.” 3 In the end all is discovered, and the two lovers know they must die. For the last time, they see each other in Annabella's chamber, listening to the noise of the feast below which shall serve for their funeral-feast. Giovanni, who has made his resolve like a
l'Tis pity she's a Whore, iv. 3.
2 Ibid. iv. 3.
3 Ibid. iv. 3.
madman, sees Annabella richly dressed, dazzling. He regards her in silence, and remembers the past. He weeps and says:
6. These are the funeral tears,
Kiss me again, forgive me. Farewell.” 1 He then stabs her, enters the banqueting room, with her heart upon his dagger:
“Soranzo see this heart, which was thy wife's.
Thus I exchange it royally for thine." ? He kills him, and casting himself on the swords of banditti, dies. It would seem that tragedy could go no further.
But it did go further; for if these are melodramas, they are sincere, composed, not like those of today, by Grub Street writers for peaceful citizens, but by impassioned men, experienced in trágical arts, for a violent, over-fed melancholy race. From Shakespeare to Milton, Swift, Hogarth, no race has been more glutted with coarse expressions and horrors, and its poets supply them plentifully; Ford less so than Webster; the latter a sombre man, whose thoughts seem incessantly to be haunting tombs and charnel-houses. “ Places in court,” he says, are but like beds in the hospital, where this man's head lies at that man's foot, and so lower and lower."3 Such are his images. No one has equaled Webster in creating desperate characters, utter wretches, bitter misanthropes, 4 in blackening and blaspheming human life, above all, in depicting the shameless depravity and refined ferocity of Italian manners5. The Duchess of Malfi has secretly married her steward Antonio, and her brother learns that she has children; almost mad 6 with rage and wounded pride, he remains silent,
l'Tis pity she's a Whore, v. 5.
2 Ibid. v. 6. 3 Webster's Works, ed. Dyce, 1857, Duchess of Malf, i. 1. 4 The characters of Bosola, Flaminio.
5 See Stendhal, Chronicles of Italy, The Cenci, The Duchess of Palliano, and all the biographies of the time; of the Borgias, of Bianca Capello, of Vittoria Accoramboni. 6 Ferdinand, one of the brothers, says (ii. 5):
“I would have their bodies