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“Speak, if thou be here,
Indeed, I can and will.” 1 Who could resist her sweet and sad smile? Still deceived, Perigot wounds her again; she falls, but without anger.
“ So this work hath end ! Farewell, and live! be constant to thy friend
That loves thee next. A nymph cures her, and at last Perigot, disabused, comes and throws himself on his knees before her. She stretches out jer arms; in spite of all that he had done, she was not changed:
“I am thy love,
How soon could I my former griefs forget!” 3 Such are the touching and poetical figures which these poets introduce in their dramas, or in connection with their dramas, amidst murders, assassinations, the clash of swords, the howl of slaughter, striving against the raging men who adore or torment them, like them carried to excess, transported by their tenderness as the others by their violence; it is a complete exposition,
i The Faithful Shepherdess, iv.
2 Ibid. 3 Ibid. v. Compare, as an illustration of the contrast of races, the Italian pastorals Tasso's Aminta, Guarini's Il Pastor fido, etc.
as well as a perfect opposition of the feminine instinct ending in excessive self-abandonment, and of masculine harshness ending in murderous inflexibility. Thus built up and thus provided, the drama of the age was enabled to bring out the inner depths of man, and to set in motion the most powerful human emotions; 'to bring upon the stage Hamlet and Lcar, Ophelia and Cordelia, the death of Desdemona and the butcheries of Macbeth.
1. WHEN a new civilization brings a new art to light, there are about a dozen men of talent who partly express the general idea, surrounding one or two men of genius who express it thoroughly. Guillen de Castro, Perez de Montalvan, Tirzo de Molina, Ruiz de Alarcon, Agustin Moreto, surrounding Calderon and Lope de Vega; Crayer, Van Oost, Rombouts, Van Thulden, Vandyke, Honthorst, surrounding Rubens; Ford, Marlowe, Massinger, Webster, Beaumont, Fletcher, surrounding Shakespeare and Ben Jonson. The first constitute the chorus, the others are the leading men. They sing the same piece together, and at times the chorist is equal to the solo artist; but only at times. Thus, in the dramas which I have just referred to, the poet occasionally reaches the summit of his art, hits upon a complete character, a burst of sublime passion; then he falls back, gropes amid qualified successes, rough sketches, feeble imitations, and at last takes refuge in the tricks of his trade. It is not in him, but in great men like Ben Jonson and Shakespeare, that we must look for the attainment of his idea and the fullness of his art. “ Numerous were the wit-combats," says Fuller, “betwixt him (Shakespeare) and Ben Jonson, which two I behold like a Spanish great galleon and an English man-of-war. Master Jonson (like the former) was built far higher in learning; solid, but slow in his performances. Shakespeare, with the English man-of-war, lesser in bulk, but lighter in sailing, could turn with all tides, tack about and take advantage of all winds, by the quickness of his wit and invention."l Such was Ben Jonson physically and morally, and his portraits do but confirm this just and animated outline: a vigorous, heavy, and uncouth person; a broad and long face,
1 Fuller's Worthies, ed. Nuttall, 1840, 3 vols. iii. 284.
early disfigured by scurvy, a square jaw, large cheeks; his animal organs as much developed as those of his intellect: the sour aspect of a man in a passion or on the verge of a passion; to which add the body of an athlete, about forty years of age, “ mountain belly, ungracious gait.” Such was the outside, and the inside is like it. He was a genuine Englishman, big and coarsely framed, energetic, combative, proud, often morose, and prone to strange splenetic imaginations. He told Drummond that for a whole night he imagined “ that he saw the Carthaginians and Romans fighting on his great toe.”l Not that he is melancholic by nature; on the contrary, he loves to escape from himself by free and noisy, unbridled merriment, by copious and varied converse, assisted by good Canary wine, which he imbibes, and which ends by becoming a necessity to him. These great phlegmatic butchers' frames require a generous liquor to give them a tone, and to supply the place of the sun which they lack. Expansive moreover, hospitable, even lavish, with a frank imprudent spirit, making him forget himself wholly before Drummond, his Scotch host, an over rigid and malicious pedant, who has marred his ideas and vilified his character. What we know of his life is in harmony with his person : he suffered much, fought much, dared much. He was studying at Cambridge, when his stepfather, a bricklayer, recalled him, and taught him to use the trowel. He ran away, enlisted as a common soldier, and served in the English army, at that time engaged against the Spaniards in the Low Countries, killed and despoiled a man in single combat, “in the view of both armies.” He was a man of bodily action, and he exercised his limbs in early life. On his return to England, at the age of nineteen, he went on the stage for his livelihood, and occupied himself also in touching up dramas. Having been challenged, he fought a duel, was seriously wounded,
1 There is a similar hallucination to be met with in the life of Lord Castlereagh, who afterwards commited suicide.
2 His character lies between those of Fielding and Dr. Johnson.
3 Mr. David Laing remarks, however, in Drummond's defense, that as "Jonson died August 6, 1637, Drummond survived till December 4, 1649, and no portion of these Notes (Conversations) were made public till 1711, or sixty-two years after Drummond's death, and seventy-four after Jonson's, which renders quite nugatory all Gifford's accusations of Drummond's having published them without shame.' As to Drummond decoying Jonson under his roof with any premeditated design on his reputation, as Mr. Campbell has remarked, no one can seriously believe it.”-Archæologica Scotica, vol. iv. page 243.—TR.
4 At the age of forty-four he went to Scotland on foot.
but killed his adversary; for this he was cast into prison, and found himself “nigh the gallows.” A Catholic priest visited and converted him ; quitting his prison penniless, at twenty years of age, he married. At last, four years later, his first successful play was acted. Children came, he must earn bread for them; and he was not inclined to follow the beaten track to the end, being persuaded that a fine philosophy—a special nobleness and dignity-ought to be introduced into comedy,—that it was necessary to follow the example of the ancients, to imitate their severity and their accuracy, to be above the theatrical racket and the common improbabilities in which the vulgar delighted. He openly proclaimed his intention in his prefaces, sharply railed at his rivals, proudly set forth on the stage 1 his doctrines, his morality, his character. He thus made bitter enemies, who defamed him outrageously and before their audiences, whom he exasperated by the violence of his satires, and against whom he struggled without intermission to the end. He did more, he constituted himself a judge of the public corruption, sharply attacked the reigning vices, “fearing no strumpet's drugs, nor ruffian's stab.” He treated his hearers like schoolboys, and spoke to them always like a censor and a master. If necessary, he ventured further. His companions, Marston and Chapman, had been committed to prison for some reflections on the Scotch in one of their pieces called “Eastward-Hoe;" and the report spreading that they were in danger of losing their noses and ears, Jonson, who had written part of the piece, voluntarily surrendered himself a prisoner, and obtained their pardon. On his return, amid the feasting and rejoicing, his mother showed him a violent poison which she intended to put into his drink, to save him from the execution of the sentence; and “to show that she was not a coward,” adds Jonson, “she had resolved to drink first.” We see that in vigorous actions he found examples in his own family. Toward the end of his life, money was scarce with him; he was liberal, improvident; his pockets always had holes in them, and his hand was always ready to give; though he had written a vast quantity, he was still obliged to write in order to live. Paralysis came on, his scurvy became worse, dropsy set in. He could not leave his room, nor walk without assistance. His last plays did not succeed. In the epilogue to the New Inn he says:
1 Parts of Crites and Asper.