Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

acquired, with very few deviations in either sex from ugliness, a characteristic turn of countenance, very striking to an observant stranger, and even to those who have been long accustomed to them after a temporary absence. Add to all these a squalid countenance, a savage grin, the legs and feet uncovered, together with the whole habit neglected and forlorn, and the portrait of one of these wretched beings is complete. In a rank considerably above these last, another remarkable trait of manners, is wealth (wealth perpetually increasing) without any tendency to civilization; so that a man whose landed estate would enable hím to keep a coach, will drive his own cart, and very properly, as he is scarcely to be distinguished in garb, dialect or ideas, from a labourer whom he would hire for the same purpose.” (p. 371, vol. ii.)

" Then, again, forests when enclosed are usually granted out in small parcels, and are colonized with a race of inferior yeomanry at most; these, in situations like that of the forest of Hardwick, partly from the stubborn genius of their soil and climate, and partly from the sweets of commercial gain, naturally decline into manufacturers; hence, a spirit of equality and republican independence becomes universal; they have no superior to court, no civilities to practise ; a sour and sturdy humour is the consequence; so that a stranger is shocked by a tone of defiance in every voice, and an air of fierceness in every countenance. It will easily be conceived that the same causes, aided by an overflowing population, must be favourable to dissent from the church of England. Whatever is established appears to be prescribed, and whatever is prescribed must for that reason be resisted. The same principles of will and humour tend to universal disunion; and dissenting congregations themselves, held together by no cementing principle, but the popular talents of their respective teacher, becomes, like matter, infinitely divisible. In the next place a great population, and I now speak of the population of the manufacturing districts in general), a great population so disposed and so principled becomes, in a political view, highly formidable. Possessing as they do, the most rapid and instantaneous power of communication, spending their days and often their nights together in great bodies, accustomed to deliberate and act in coneert, and above all, furnished weekly and almost daily with the fuel of seditious publications to infiame them, instead of wondering that their late excesses ever arrived at the height which they did, we ought to be devoutly thankful that they did not break out into open rebellion. The disposition was universal, and the want of arms alone to convert a bold, unprincipled, and willing multitude into an effective military force, prevented scenes of massacre and carnage, which might have equalled those of the Irish rebellion. (p. 372, vul. ii.)

He concludes this part of his enquiry, (and we are now approaching the close of the entire work,) with a reference to the gibbet law, for the parish of Hardwick, which he calls a peculiar and “ very humane mode of punishment, probably introduced by the great Norman barons, out of their own country, where it had been lately made the in, strument of the most compendious and expeditious massacres that ever disgraced the forms of justice,.“ It may, perhaps, be asked, why such a tribunal of local justice was not established at Wakefield, the capital of this great honour, rather than in a remote and obscure corner of it. The answer, I fear, will not be favourable to the morals of the old foresters of Hardwiek. It was placed near at hand to check their thievish propensities, which, after all, it very imperfectly repressed. The object of this jurisdiction was the furtum manifestum of a chattle to the value of 13s. Id. so that the offence must in the first place be grand larceny, when money was perhaps of twenty times the value that it is at present. Secondly, it must be found upon the person. Yet, with these restrictions in the description of the offence itself, and with the certainty of speedy and inexorable justice, (for no appeal lay to any higher court,) there are no less than forty-nine executions recorded in the parish registers, during little more than a century, so inveterate and incorrigible was the propensity." ". The people seem to have been as savage as they were thievish. One of the vicars was murdered by robbers in his own house, and one of the chapels was suspended by the metropolitan, as having been polluted, (the interior of a place of worship!) by the effusion of buman blood.” (vol. ii. p. 386–387.)

In order not to break the chain of connection in this topographical work, we have hitherto avoided entering on a curious and entertaining portion of Dr. Whitaker's labour, or the detail supplied of the melancholy catastrophe, which furnished the plot of the Yorkshire tragedy, a play attributed to Shakspeare, and printed in the supplement to his more indisputable productions in 1664. Dr. Whitaker fola lowing the authority of some of the commentators of our great dramatists, without probably having read the piece himself, ventures to assert dogmatically and roundly, that it is not Shakspeare's. For our own part, we are by no means inclined to adopt this opinion, for, to our minds, it leaves quite as pregnant internal evidence of being the work of the author of Hamlet or Othello, as Titus Andronicus or Pericles; of which probably, Dr. Whitaker would not think of depriving him, for the very reason which induced him to deny him the Yorkshire tragedy; and had our reverend critic found it in the editions of these plays, which are considered authorities, he would not have hazarded a judgment against the notion commonly re-, ceived.

1

It is to be lamented, that since Tonson's edition, in 1735, it has not, we believe, been thought necessary to reprint the suppositious plays of Shakspeare : more than an hundred, or perhaps a thousand editions have been published of the usually admitted dramas, but no opportunity has been offered to enable a reader, who is not possessed of the folios of 1664, or 1685, nor of the copy above mentioned, to form a judgment for himself; like Dr. Whitaker, he has been obliged to be content with second-hand opinions, however unsatisfactorily they may have been formed. i. The position that the Yorkshire tragedy was written, of at least revised and improved, by the pen of Shakspeare, has of late received some support from the dramatic leetures of professor Schlegel, whose criticisms upon the English stage and its produetions of an early date, are as learned as they are liberal and tasteful. After a patient perusal he sees no reason to believe that nearly all the imputed plays are not among the early essays of Shakespear; or, perhaps, the writings of inferior dramatists, corrected and improved by him. We could have wished, however; that he had entered more into particulars, and pointed out some of the characteristic excellencies, and better portions of these pieces.

It is unfortunate for Dr. Whitaker's unhesitating assertion, that, of all the seven plays attributed to Shakspeare, the Yorkshire tragedy is the one that possesses the greatest number of passages that indicate the workings of a great mind. Of course, we cannot here quote, though we may refer to scenes of excellence, such as the dreadful conflict between the husband and wife, while the latter is endeavouring to protect her youngest child, which resembles, in the agony of passion; some of the fiercer parts of Othello. The remorseful accusations of the husband, who, by his propensity for gaming, had reduced his family to misery, is in the noblest stile of Tragedy"What is there in three dice to make'a man draw thrice three thousand acres into the compass of a little round table, and with the gentleman's palsy in the hand, shake out his posterity thieves or beggars?" Probably this

. Tragedy was originally written by Nash or Green, for the two lines

“ Divines and dying men may talk of hell,

But in my breast her several torments dwell,” are to be found in a poem attributed to both of those writers. Some critics have complained that the piece was too CRIT. Rev. VOL. IV. Dec. 1816.

4N

short, and must have been performed as an interlude; but it may be doubted, if a part have not been lost; or if the Yorkshire tragedy, as it is now handed down to us, were finished.—That Shakespear was in some way concerned in it, we have quite as little difficulty in maintaining, as. Dr. Whitaker finds in asserting the contrary.

Before we take our leave, as we have spoken so freely of the incidental demerits of the editor, we must, in regard to our own feelings, say a few words in his praise, as we would be always willing to do justice to those who some. times withhold it from others. There is, throughout this splendid work, a great deal of learned research, indicating that sort of laborious and patient investigation, which may occasionally obtain relief from the exercise of asperity. To this cause should, perhaps, be attributed much of the moroseness we have noticed; but be the conjecture true, or otherwise, it is the best apology we can discover for the indulgence of such a disposition.

The production itself, as to embellishments in the type, the paper, and the designs of the artist, is one of the most magnificent we have lately seen, and will be necessary to the collection of every gentleman who is curious in topographical antiquities, and

can properly appreciate this valuable addition to the stock of knowledge in this department.

We have already said, that Dr. Whitaker is preparing a general history of the county of York; but we are informed, that in consequence of the obliquity of temper, he has manifested in the work under our present review, some of those subscribers have withdrawn their names, who were most anxious to avail themselves of his assistance.* If it would at all tend to alter that determination, we should be disposed to say, that we know no person better prepared by his previous studies and local kiowledge for such an undertaking, than Dr. Whitaker, and we only hope, that in pursuing his object, in his love) of antiquity, he will not despise what is modern, in his attachment to churches, he will not disregard every other species of architecture; and, that in the minuteness of the biography of his own profession, he will not overlook the history of every other order of society. In the prosecution of his design, we would have him omit nothing that from early pursuits has been rendered grateful to him. We allow, with him, that “the history of Rome, when connected with remote and provincial topography, has an interest pe. culiar to itself.To combine dates and facts which had exercised the fancy in the happiest days of classical' pursuit with the obscure, but romantic scenery in which those days were passed ; to confirm and particularize the general evidence of ancient history, by contemporary remains; to bring home, for instance, the narrative of Tacitus, and the operations of Agniola, to our own villages, is a process of the mind, which can dignify what else were mean, or endear what else were indifferent."'* When the editor-is under these chaste and pleasing impressions, we find all the acidity of his temper corrected, and we follow him in the delightful paths through which he conducts us, with unchecked and unmixed satisfaction.

count of the illiberality to which have alluded are, a great land proprietor, near Otley; and an ingenious gentleman, in the neighbourhood of Leeds, who has more largely contributed to the commercial reputation and success of this great trading establishment, than any individual from the time of Thoresby, to that of his sėditor. 03 od 11

.

BIBLIOTHECA ANTIQUA.

For out of the olde feldes, as men saieth,
Cometh all this new corne, fro yere to yere ;
And out of old bookes, in good faieth,
Cometh all this newe science that men lere.

Chaucer's Assem. of Foules, st. 4.

JAMES SHIRLEY. ART. VIII.-Poems, &c. By JAMES SHIRLEY. “ Sine

aliquà dementiâ nullus Phæbus." London, printed for Humphrey Moseley, and are to be sold at his shop, at the signe of the Princes Armes in St. Pauls Church-yard.

1646. Mr. Gifford having announced his intention of publishing a complete edition of the Plays and Poems of James Shirley, we thought that an article affording some specimens of what may be expected, would not be unacceptable to our readers. Of course, in this department of our Review we could have nothing to do with the labours of the acute and learned editor; nor can we be supposed to anticipate any part of his promised disquisition upon the merits of his

* Whitaker's History of Whalley and Clitheroe," p. 12,

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »