stronger terms: "That the writers of the succeeding age might have improved as much in other respects, by copying from him a propriety in the sentiments, an unaffected perspicuity of style, and an easy flow in the numbers. In a word, that chastity, correctness, and gravity of style, which are so essential to tragedy, and which all the tragic poets who followed, not excepting Shakspeare himself, either little understood, or perpetually neglected." It was well for us and them that they did so!

The Induction to the Mirrour for Magistrates does his muse more credit. It sometimes reminds one of Chaucer, and at others seems like an anticipation, in some degree, both of the measure and manner of Spenser. The following stanzas may give the reader an idea of the merit of this old poem, which was published in 1563:

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Recounting which, how would he sob and shreek?
And to be young againe of Ioue besecke.

But and the cruell fates so fixed be,
That time forepast cannot returne againe,
This one request of Ioue yet prayed he:
That in such withred plight, and wretched paine,
As Eld (accompanied with lothsome traine)

Had brought on him, all were it woe and griefe,
He might a while yet linger forth his life.

And not so soone descend into the pit;
Where Death, when he the mortall corps hath slaine,
With wretchlesse hand in graue doth couer it,
Thereafter neuer to enjoy againe

The gladsome light, but in the ground ylaine,
In depth of darknesse waste and weare to nought,
As he had nere into the world been brought.

But who had seene him, sobbing how he stood
Vnto himselfe, and how he would bemone
His youth forepast, as though it wrought him good
To talk of youth, all were his youth forgone,

Ile would haue mused and maruail'd much whereon
This wretched Age should life desire so faine,
And knowes ful wel life doth but length his paine.

Crookebackt he was, toothshaken, and blere eyed,
Went on three feete, and sometime crept on foure,
With old lame bones, that ratled by his side,
His scalpe all pil'd and he with eld forelore:
His withred fist still knocking at Death's dore,

Fumbling and driueling as he draws his breath,
For briefe, the shape and messenger of Death."

John Lyly (born in the Weald of Kent about the year 1553), was the author of Midas and Endymion, of Alexander and Campaspe, and of the comedy of Mother Bombie. Of the last t may be said, that it is very much what its name would import, ɔld, quaint, and vulgar.—I may here observe, once for all, that I would not be understood to say, that the age of Elizabeth was all of gold without any alloy. There was both gold and lead in it, and often in one and the same writer. In our impatience to form an opinion, we conclude, when we first meet with a good hing, that it is owing to the age; or, if we meet with a bad one,



it is characteristic of the age, when, in fact, it is neither; for
there are good and bad in almost all ages, and one age excels
in one thing, another in another-only one age may excel more
and in higher things than another, but none can excel equally
and completely in all. The writers of Elizabeth, as poets,
soared to the height they did by indulging their own unrestrained
enthusiasm; as comic writers they chiefly copied the manners
of the age, which did not give them the same advantages over
their successors. Lyly's comedy, for instance, is "poor, un-
fledged, has never winged from view o' th' nest," and tries in
vain to rise above the ground with crude conceits and clumsy
levity. Lydia, the heroine of the piece, is silly enough, if the
rest were but as witty. But the author has shown no partiality
in the distribution of his gifts. To say the truth, it was a very
common fault of the old comedy, that its humours were too low,
and the weaknesses exposed too great to be credible, or an object
of ridicule, even if they were. The affectation of their cour-
tiers is passable, and diverting as a contrast to present manners;
but the eccentricities of their clowns are 66
very tolerable, and
not to be endured." Any kind of activity of mind might seem
to the writers better than none: any nonsense served to amuse
their hearers; any cant phrase, any coarse allusion, any pom-
pous absurdity, was taken for wit and drollery. Nothing could
be too mean, too foolish, too improbable, or too offensive, to be a
proper subject for laughter. Any one (looking hastily at this
side of the question only) might be tempted to suppose the
youngest children of Thespis a very callow brood, chirping
their slender notes, or silly swains "grating their lean and flashy
jests on scrannel pipes of wretched straw." The genius of
comedy looked too often like a lean and hectic pantaloon; love
was a slip-shod shepherdess; wit a parti-coloured fool like har-
lequin, and the plot came hobbling like a clown after all. A
string of impertinent and farcical-jests (or rather blunders), was
with great formality ushered into the world as "a right pleasant
and conceited comedy." Comeay could not descend lower thai
it sometimes did, without glancing at physical imperfections and
deformity. The two young persons in the play before us, on
whom the event of the plot chiefly hinges, do in fact turn out to


be no better than changelings and natural idiots. This is car. rying innocence and simplicity too far. So again, he character of Sir Tophas in Endymion, an affected, bluster, g, talkative, cowardly pretender, treads too near upon blank stupidity and downright want of common sense to be admissible as a butt for satire. Shakspeare has contrived to clothe the lamentable nakedness of the same sort of character with a motley garb from the wardrobe of his imagination, and has redeemed it from insipidity by a certain plausibility of speech and playful extravagance of humour. But the undertaking was nearly desperate. Ben Jonson tried to overcome the difficulty by the force of learning and study; and thought to gain his end by persisting in error; but he only made matters worse, for his clowns and coxcombs (if we except Bobadil) are the most incorrigible and insufferable of all others.-The story of Mother Bomdie is little else than a tissue of absurd mistakes, arising from the confusion of the different characters one with another, like another Comedy of Errors, and ends in their being (most of them) married in a game at cross-purposes to the persons they particularly dislike.

To leave this, and proceed to something pleasanter, Midas and Endymion, which are worthy of their names and of the subject. The story in both is classical, and the execution is for the most part elegant and simple. There is often something that reminds one of the graceful communicativeness of Lucian or of Apuleius, from whom one of the stories is borrowed. Lyly made a more attractive picture of Grecian manners at second-hand, than of English characters from his own observation. The poet (which is the great merit of a poet in such a subject) has transported himself to the scene of action, to ancient Greece or Asia Minor; the manners, the images, the traditions are preserved with truth and delicacy, and the dialogue (to my fancy) glides and sparkles like a clear stream from the Muses' spring. I know few things more perfect in characteristic painting, than the exclamation of the Phrygian shepherds, who, afraid of betraying the secret of Midas's ears, fancy that "the very reeds bow down, as though they listened to their talk;" nor more affecting in sentiment than the apostrophe addressed by his friend Eumenides to Endymion, on waking from his long sleep: "Behold, the twig to which thou

laidest down thy head is now become a tree." The narrative is sometimes a little wandering and desultory; but if it had been ten times as tedious, this thought would have redeemed it; for I cannot conceive of anything more beautiful, more simple, or touching, than this exquisitely chosen image and dumb proof of the manner in which he passed his life, from youth to old age, in a dream, a dream of love. Happy Endymion! Faithful Eumenides! Divine Cynthia! Who would not wish to pass his life in such a sleep, a long, long sleep, dreaming of some fair heavenly Goddess, with the moon shining upon his face and the trees growing silently over his head!—There is something in this story which has taken a strange hold of my fancy, perhaps "out of my weakness and my melancholy;" but for the satisfaction of the reader I will quote the whole passage :-" It is silly sooth, and dallies with the innocence of love like the old age.”

"Cynthia. Well, let us to Endymion. I will not be so stately (good Endymion) not to stoop to do thee good; and if thy liberty consist in a kiss from me, thou shalt have it. And although my mouth hath been heretofore as untouched as my thoughts, yet now to recover thy life (though to restore thy youth it be impossible) I will do that to Endymion which yet never mortal man could boast of heretofore, nor shall ever hope for hereafter. (She kisses him.)

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Eumenides. Madam, he beginneth to stir.
Cynthia. Soft, Eumenides, stand still.

Eumenides. Ah! I see his eyes almost open.

Cynthia. I command thee once again, stir not: I will stand behind him.
Panelion. What do I see? Endymion almost awake?

Eumenides. Endymion, Endymion, art thou deaf or dumb? Or hath this long sleep taken away thy memory? Ah! my sweet Endymion, seest thou not Eumenides, thy faithful friend; thy faithful Eumenides, who for thy sake hath been careless of his own content? Speak, Endymion! Endymion! Endymion !

Endymion. Endymion! I call to mind such a name.

Eumenides. Hast thou forgotten thyself, Endymion? Then do I not marvel thou rememberest not thy friend. I tell thee thou art Endymion, and I Eumenides. Behold also, Cynthia, by whose favour thou art awaked, and by whose virtue thou shalt continue thy natural course.

Cynthia. Endymion! Speak, sweet Endymion! knowest thou not Cyn


Endymion. Oh heavens! whom do I behold? Fair Cynthia, divine Cynthia ?

Cynthia. I am Cynthia, and thou Endymion.

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