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like passions, a gloomy humor, subsist | such a history, raises before them, with under the regularity and propriety tragic severity, an idea of life: death of modern manners.* Their native is at hand, as well as wounds, the block, energy and harshness pierce through tortures. The fine cloaks of purple the perfection of culture and the which the Renaissances of the South habits of comfort. Rich young men, displayed joyfully in the sun, to wear on leaving Oxford, go to hunt bears like a holiday garment, are here stained on the Rocky Mountains, the ele- with blood, and edged with black phant in South Africa, live under can- Throughout, a stern discipline, and vas, box, jump hedges on horseback, the axe ready for every suspicion of sail their yachts on dangerous coasts, treason; great men, bishops, a chan del ght in solitude and peril. The an- cellor, princes, the king's relatives, cient Saxon, the old rover of the Scan- queens, a protector, all kneeling in the dinavian seas, has not perished. Even straw, sprinkled the Tower with their at school the children roughly treat blood; one after the other they marchone another, withstand one another, ed past, stretched out their necks; fight like men; and their character is the Duke of Buckingham, Queen Anne so indomitable, that they need the birch Boleyn, Queen Catherine Howard, the and blows to reduce them to the disci- Earl of Surrey, Admiral Seymour, the pline of law. Judge what they were Duke of Somerset, Lady Jane Grey in the sixteenth century; the English and her husband, the Duke of Northrace passed then for the most warlike umberland, Mary Stewart, the Earl of of Europe, the most redoubtable in Essex, all on the throne, or on the steps battle, the most impatient of any thing of the throne, in the highest rank of like slavery.t "English savages is honors, beauty, youth, and genius; of what Cellini calls them; and the "great the bright procession nothing is left shins of beef" with which they fill but senseless trunks, marred by the themselves, keep up the force and tender mercies of the executioner. ferocity of their instincts. To harden Shall I count the funeral pyres, the them thoroughly, institutions work in hangings, living men cut down from the same groove with nature. The na- the gibbet, disembowelled, quartered,t tion is armed, every man is brought up their limbs cast into the fire, their heads like a soldier, bound to have arms ac- exposed on the walls? There is a cording to his condition, to exercise page in Holinshed which reads like a himself on Sundays or holidays; from death register : the yeoman to the lord, the old military constitution keeps them enrolled and ready for action. In a state which resembles an army, it is necessary that punishments, as in an army, shall inspire terror; and to make them worse, the hideous Wars of the Roses, which on every flaw of the succession to the throne are ready to break out again, are ever present in their recollection. Such instincts, such a constitution,
"The five and twentith daie of Maie (1535), Iwas in saint Paules church at London exam
ined nineteene men and six women born in Holland, whose opinions were (heretical). Fourteene of them were condemned, a man field, the other twelve were sent to other and a woman of them were burned in Smithtownes, there to be burnt. On the nineteenth of June were three moonkes of the Charterhouse hanged, drawne, and quartered at Tiburne, and their heads and quarters set up about London, for denieng the king to be supreme head of the church. Also the one and twentith of the same moneth, and for the same cause, doctor John Fisher, bishop of Roches ter, was beheaded for denieng of the supremacie, and his head set upon London bridge, but his bodie buried within Barking churchyard. The pope had elected him a cardinall, and sent his hat as far as Calais, but his head was off before his hat was on: so that they met not. On the sixt of Julie was Sr Thomas Moore be
* Froude's Hist. of England, vols. i. ii. iiì. ↑ "When his heart was torn out he uttered a deep groan."-Execution of Parry; Strype iii. 251.
headed for the like crime, that is to wit, for whole of his life; if he runs away a denieng the king to be supreme head." *
None of these murders seem extraordinary; the chroniclers mention them without growing indignant; the condemned go quietly to the block, as if the thing were perfectly natural. Anne Boleyn said seriously, before giving up her head to the executioner: "I praie God save the king, and send him long to reigne over you, for a gentler, nor more mercifull prince was there never." Society is, as it were, in a state of siege, so incited that beneath the idea of order every one entertained the idea of the scaffold. They saw it, the terrible machine, planted on all the highways of human life; and the byways as well as the highways led to it. A sort of martial law, introduced by
second time, he is put to death. Some-
"That they have had in their parish at one in. stant, xvij or xviij witches; meaning such as could worke miracles supernaturallie; that they work spells by which men pine away even unto death, their colour fadeth, their flesh rotteth, their speech is benumbed, their senses are be
conquests into civil affairs, entered
ointments of the bowels and members of chil-
Here was something to make the
suit the sentiments of the age and the | which we are struggling and crying to national humor. The fundamental day, gasping with hoarse throat! this gloom pierces through the glow and is their idea of man and of existence, the rapture of poetry. Mournful legends national idea, which fills the stage with have multiplied; every churchyard has calamities and despair, which makes a its ghost; wherever a man has been display of tortures and massacres, which murdered his spirit appears. Many abounds in madness and crime, which people dare not leave their village holds up death as the issue throughafter sunset. In the evening, before out. A threatening and sombre fog. bedtime, men talk of the coach which veils their mind like their sky, and joy is seen drawn by headless horses, with like the sun, only appears in its ful headless postilions and coachmen, or force now and then They are differer t of unhappy spirits who, compelled to from the Latin race, and in the cominhabit the plain, under the sharp mon Renaissance they are regenerated north-east wind, pray for the shelter otherwise than the Latin races. of a hedge or a valley. They dream free and full development of pure na terribly of death: ture which, in Greece and Italy, ends in the painting of beauty and happy energy, ends here in the painting of ferocious energy, agony, and death.
"To die and go we know not where ;
The pendent world; or to be worse than
Of those that lawless and incertain thought Imagine howling: 'tis too horrible!"*" The greatest speak with a sad resignation of the infinite obscurity which embraces our poor, short, glimmering life, our life, which is but a troubled dream; † the sad state of humanity, which is passion, madness, and sorrow; the human being who is himself, perhaps, but a vain phantom, a grievous sick man's dream. In their eyes we roll down a fatal slope, where chance dashes us one against the other, and the inner destiny which urges us onward, only shatters after it has blinded
And at the end of all is "the silent grave, no conversation, no joyful tread of friends, no voice of lovers, no careful father's counsel; nothing's heard, nor nothing is, but all oblivion, dust, and endless darkness." If yet there were nothing. "To die, to sleep; to sleep, perchance to dream. To dream sadly, to fall into a nightmare like the nightmare of life, like that in
Shakspeare, Measure for Measure, Act iii.
+ Beaumont and Fletcher, Thierry and Theodoret, Act iv. 1.
Thus was this theatre produced; a mirable and fleeting epoch from which theatre unique in history, like the adit sprang, the work and the picture of this young world, as natural, as unshackled, and as tragic as itself. When an original and national drama springs up, the poets who establish it, carry in themselves the sentiments which it represents. They display better than other men the feelings of the public, because those feelings are stronger in them than in other men. The passions which surround them, break forth in their heart with a harsher or a juster cry, and hence their voices become the voices of all. Chivalric and Catholic Spain had her interpreters in her enthusiasts and her Don Quixotes: in Calderon, first a soldier, afterwards a priest; in Lope de Vega, a volunteer at fifteen, a pas sionate lover, a wandering duellist, a soldier of the Armada, finally, a priest and familiar of the Holy Office; so full of fervor that he fasts till he is exhaust ed, faints with motion while singing mass, and in his flagellations stains the walls of his cell with blood. Calm and noble Greece had in her principal tragic poet one of the most accomplished and fortunate of her sons: * Sophocles, firs! in song and palæstra; who at fifteen
is rare, and the life which they lead, a life of actors and artists, improvident, full of excess, lost amid debauchery and acts of violence, amidst women of evil fame, in contact with young prof ligates, among the temptations of rsery, imagination and license, generally leads them to exhaustion, poverty, and death. Men received enjoyment from then, but neglected and despised them. One actor, for a political allusion, was sent to prison, and only just escaped losing his ears; great men, men in office, abused them like servants. Heywood, who played almost every day, bound himself, in addition, to write a sheet daily, for several years composes at haphazard in taverns, labors and sweats like a true literary hack, and dies leaving two hundred and twenty pieces, of which most are lost. Kyd, one of the earliest in date, died in misery. Shirley, one of the last, at the end of his career, was obliged to become once more a schoolmaster. Massinger dies unknown; and in the parish register we find only this sad mention of him;
sang, unclad, the pæan before the tro- | property of a theatre; but such success phy of Salamis, and who afterwards, as ambassador, general, ever loving the gods and impassioned for his state, presented, in his life as in his works, the spectacle of the incomparable harmony which made the beauty of the ancient world, and which the modern world will never more attain to. Eloquent and worldly France, in the age which carried the art of good manners and conversation to its highest pitch, finds, to write her oratorical tragedies and to paint her drawing-room passions, the most able craftsman of words, Racine, a courtier, a man of the world; the most capable, by the delicacy of his tact and the adaptation of his style, of making men of the world and courtiers speak. So in England the poets are in harmony with their works. Almost all are Bohemians; they sprung from the people, were educated, and usually studied at Oxford or Cambridge, but they were poor, so that their education contrasts with their condition. Ben Jonson is the step-son of a bricklayer, and himself a bricklayer; Marlowe is the son of a shoemaker; Shakspeare of a wool mer-"Philip Massinger, a stranger." chant; Massinger of a servant of a noble family. They live as they can, get into debt, write for their bread, go on the stage. Peele, Lodge, Marlowe, Ben Jonson, Shakspeare, Heywood, are actors; most of the details which we have of their lives are taken from the journal of Henslowe, a retired pawnbroker, later a money-lender and manager of a theatre, who gives them work, advances money to them, receives their manuscripts or their wardrobes as security. For a play he gives seven or eight pounds; after the year 1600 prices rise, and reach as high as twenty or twenty-five pounds. It is clear that, even after this increase, the trade of author scarcely brings in bread. In order to earn money, it was necessary, like Shakspeare, to become a manager, to try to have a share in the
Except Beaumont and Fletcher,
Hartley Coleridge, in his Introduction to the Dramatic Works of Massinger and Ford, says of Massinger's father: "We are not cer rified of the situation which he held in the aoble household (Earl of Pembroke), but we may be sure that it was neither menial nor mean. Service in those days was not derogatory to gentle birth."-TR.
few months after the death of Middleton, his widow was obliged to ask alms of the city, because he had left nothing. Imagination, as Drummond said of Ben Jonson, oppressed their reason; it is the common failing of poets. They wish to enjoy, and give themselves wholly up to enjoyment; their mood, their heart governs them; in their life, as in their works, impulses are irresistible; desire comes suddenly, like a wave, drowning reason, resistance often even giving neither reason nor resistance time to show themselves.* Many are roysterers, sad roysterers of the same sort, such as Musset and Murger, who give themselves up to every passion, and "drown their ser rows in the bowl;" capable of the purest and most poetic dreams, of the
*See, amongst others, The Woman Killed with Kindness, by Heywood. Mrs. Frankfort, so upright of heart, accepts Wendel at his first offer. Sir Francis Acton, at the sight of her whom he wishes to dishonour, and whom he hates, falls "into an ecstasy," and dreams of nothing save marriage. Compare the sudden transport of Ji liet, Romeo, Macbeth, Miranda, etc.; the counsel of Prospero to Fernando, when he leaves him alone for a moment with Miranda.
most delicate and touching tenderness, | A little later he is seized with remorse and who yet can only undermine their marries, depicts in delicious verse the health and mar their fame. Such are regularity and calin of an upright life, Nash, Decker, and Greene; Nash, a then returns to London, spends his fantastic satirist, who abused his talent, property and his wife's fortune with and conspired like a prodigal against "a sorry ragged queane," in the com good fortune; Decker, who passed three pany of ruffians, pimps, sharpers, years in the King's Bench prison; courtesans; drinking, blaspheming, Greene, above all, a pleasing wit, wearing himself out by sleepless nights pious, graceful, who took a delight and orgies; writing for bread, someiniestroying himself, publicly with times amid the brawling and effluvia ars confessing his vices, and the of his wretched lodging, lighting upon next moment plunging into them again. thoughts of adoration and love, worthy These are mere androgynes, true cour- of Rolla; * very often disgusted with tesans, in manners, body, and heart. himself, seized with a fit of weeping Quitting Cambridge, "with good fel- between two merry bouts, and writing lows as free-living as himself," Greene little pieces to accuse himself, to rehad travelled over Spain, Italy, "in gret his wife, to convert his comrades, which places he sawe and practizde or to warn young people against the such villainie as is abhominable to de- tricks of prostitutes and swindlers. clare." You see the poor man is can- He was soon worn out by this kind of did, not sparing himself; he is natural; life; six years were enough to exhaus* passionate in every thing, repentance or him. An indigestion arising from otherwise; above all of ever-varying Rhenish wine and pickled herrings mood; made for self-contradiction; finished him. If it had not been for not self-correction. On his return he his landlady, who succored him, he became, in London, a supporter of "would have perished in the streets." taverns, a haunter of evil places. In He lasted a little longer, and then his his Groatsworth of Wit bought with a light went but; now and then he Million of Repentance he says: begged her "pittifully for a penny pott of malmesie;" he was covered with lice, he had but one shirt, and when his own was "a washing," he was obliged to borrow her husband's
"I was dround in pride, whoredom was my daily exercise, and gluttony with drunkenness was my onely delight.. After I had wholly betaken me to the penning of plaies (which was my continuall exercise) I was so far from calling upon God that I sildome thought on God, but tooke such delight in swearing and blaspheming the name of God that none could thinke otherwise of me than that I was the child of perdition. These vanities and other trifling pamphlets I penned of love and vaine fantasies was my chiefest stay of liv.ng; and for those my vaine discourses I was beloved of the more vainer sort of people, who being my continuall companions, came still to my lodg
ng, and there would continue quaffing, carowsng, and surfeting with me all the day long.
If I may have my disire while I live I satisfied; let me shift after death as I may, 'Hell' quoth I; 'what talke you of I to me? I know if I once come there I all have the company of better men than myselfq; I shall also meete with some madde kaves in that place, and so long as I shall not sit there alone, my care is the lesse....If feared the judges of the bench no more than I dread the judgments of God I would before I slept dive into one carles bagges or other, and make merrie with the shelles I found in them so long as they would last.'"'
Compare La Vie de Bohème and Les Nuits d'Hiver, by Murger; Confession d'un Enfant du Siècle, by A. de Musset.
His doublet and hose and sword were sold for three shillinges," and the poor folks paid the cost of his burial, four shillings for the windingsheet, and six and fourpence for the burial.
In such low places, on such dung hills, amid such excesses and violence, dramatic genius forced its way, and amongst others, that of the first, of the most powerful, of the true founder of the dramatic school, Christopher Mar lowe.
Marlowe was an ill-regulated, disso lute, outrageously vehement and auda cious spirit, but grand and sombre, with the genuine poetic frenzy; pagav moreover, and rebellious in manners and creed. In this universal return to the senses, and in this impulse of nat ural forces which brought on the Renaissance, the corporeal instincts The hero of one of Alfred de Musset's poems.-TR.