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arrival of Edward's fleet, and the discom- | dramatist has worked out this circumstance fiture of his own. The descriptions of these with remarkable spirit; it is, we think, the events are, as we think, tedious and over- best business scene in the play-not overstrained; at any rate they are undramatic. wrought, but simple, and therefore most The writer is endeavouring to put out his effective*. power, where the highest power would be wasted. There is less ambition, but much more force, in the following speech of a poor Frenchman who is flying before the invaders :
"Fly, countrymen, and citizens of France ! Sweet-flow'ring peace, the root of happy life, Is quite abandon'd and expulsed the land: Instead of whom, ransack-constraining war Sits like to ravens on your houses' tops; Slaughter and mischief walk within your streets,
And, unrestrain'd, make havoc as they pass:
There is a fine scene where the Prince of Wales is surrounded by the French army before the batttle of Poitiers; but it is something too prolonged and rhetorical; it has not the Shaksperean rush which belongs to such a situation. One specimen will suffice, where the prince exhorts his companion in arms, old Audley, to fly from the danger :
"Now, Audley, sound those silver wings of
And let those milk-white messengers of time
Thyself art bruised and bent with many broils,
Aud. To die is all as common as to live;
If then we hunt for death, why do we fear it?
Pri. Ah, good old man, a thousand thou-
These words of thine have buckled on my
Ah, what an idiot hast thou made of life,
Seek him, and he not them, to shame his
* Of the historical portions of Edward III.' we shall have to give full extracts in the proposed volume of this series- The Dramatic History of England.'
I will not give a penny for a life,
The victory of Poitiers ensues; but, previous to the knowledge of this triumph, the celebrated scene of the surrender of Calais is dramatized. It appears to us very inferior, in the higher requisites of poetry, to the exquisite narrative of Froissart.
The concluding scene, in which the Prince of Wales offers up to the Most High a prayer and thanksgiving, is imbued with a patriotic spirit, but it has not the depth and discrimination of Shakspere's patriotism :—
"Now, father, this petition Edward makes: To Thee [kneels], whose grace hath been his
That, as thy pleasure chose me for the man
of being a very youthful performance of any man. Its great fault is tameness; the author does not rise with the elevation of his subject. To judge of its inferiority to the matured power of Shakspere, dealing with a somewhat similar theme, it should be compared with the 'Henry V.' The question then should be asked, Will the possible difference of age account for this difference of power? We say possible, for we have no evidence that the 'Edward III.' was produced earlier than 1595, nor have we evidence that the 'Henry V.,' in some shape, was produced later. Ulrici considers that this play forms an essential introduction to that series of plays commencing with 'Richard II.' If Shakspere wrote that wonderful series upon a plan which necessarily included 'Henry V., we think he would advisedly have omitted 'Edward III.;' for the main subject of the conquest of France would be included in each play, The concluding observation of Ulrici is—“Truly, if this piece, as the English critics assert, is not Shakspere's own, it is a shame for them that they have done nothing to recover from forgetfulness the name of this second Shakspere, this twin-brother of their great poet." Resting this opinion upon one play only, the expres
The heat, and cold, and what else might dis- sion "twin-brother" has somewhat an un
I wish were now redoubled twenty-fold;
That justly would provoke fair England's ire,
We have thus presented to our readers some of the striking passages of this play. It does not, in our opinion, bear the marks
necessary strength. Admitting, which we do not, that the best scenes of this play display the same poetical power, though somewhat immature, which is found in Shakspere's historical plays, there is one thing wanting to make the writer a "twin-brother," which is found in all those productions. Where is the comedy of 'Edward III.'? The heroic of Shakspere's histories might be capable of imitation; but the genius which created Faulconbridge, and Cade, and Pistol, and Fluellen (Falstaff is out of the question) could not be approached.
THE MERRY DEVIL OF EDMONTON.
'THE Merry Deuill of Edmonton: As it Its popularity seems to have lasted much hath been sundry times acted by his Maies- longer: for it is mentioned by Edmund Gayties Servants, at the Globe on the Banke-ton, in 1654, in his 'Notes on Don Quixote.'+ side,' was originally published in 1608. The belief that the play was Shakspere's Kirkman, a bookseller, first affixed Shak- has never taken any root in England. Some spere's name to it in his catalogue. In 'The of the recent German critics, however, adopt Companion to the Playhouse,' published in it as his without any hesitation. Tieck has 1764, it is stated, upon the authority of a translated it; and he says that it unlaborious antiquary, Thomas Coxeter, who doubtedly is by Shakspere, and must have died in 1747, to have been written by Michael been written about 1600. It has much of Drayton; and in some posthumous papers the tone, he thinks, of 'The Merry Wives of of another diligent inquirer into literary Windsor,' and "mine host of the George" history, Oldys, the same assertion is ad- and "mine host of the Garter" are alike. vanced. Charles Lamb, who speaks of this It is surprising that Tieck does not see that play with a warmth of admiration which is the one character is, in a great degree, an probably carried a little too far-and which, imitation of the other. Shakspere, in the indeed, may in some degree be attributed to abundance of his riches, is not a poet who his familiarity with the quiet rural scenery repeats himself. Horn declares that Shakof Enfield, Waltham, Cheshunt, and Edmon- spere's authorship of 'The Merry Devil' is ton, in which places the story is laid-says, incontestable. Ulrici admits the bare pos"I wish it could be ascertained that Michael sibility of its being a very youthful work of Drayton was the author of this piece: it Shakspere's. The great merit, on the conwould add a worthy appendage to the renown trary, of the best scenes of this play consists of that panegyrist of my native earth; who in their perfect finish. There is nothing has gone over her soil (in his Polyolbion) careless about them; nothing that betrays with the fidelity of a herald, and the painful the very young adventurer; the writer is a love of a son; who has not left a rivulet (so master of his art to the extent of his power. narrow that it may be stepped over) without But that is not Shakspere's power. honourable mention; and has animated hills and streams with life and passion above the dreams of old mythology."* "The Merry Devil' was undoubtedly a play of great popularity. We find, from the account-books of the Revels at Court, that it was acted before the King in the same year, 1618, with 'Twelfth Night' and 'A Winter's Tale.' In 1616, Ben Jonson, in his Prologue to 'The Devil is an Ass,' thus addresses his audience :
"If you'll come
To see new plays, pray you afford us room,
Your dear delight, 'The Devil of Edmonton.'
Fuller, in his Worthies,' thus records the merits of Peter Fabel, the hero of this play: "I shall probably offend the gravity of some to insert, and certainly curiosity of others to omit, him. Some make him a friar, others a lay gentleman, all a conceited person, who, with his merry devices, deceived the Devil, who by grace may be resisted, not deceived by wit. If a grave bishop in his sermon, speaking of Brute's coming into this land, said it was but a bruit, I hope I may say without offence that this Fabel was but a fable, supposed to live in the reign of King Henry the Sixth." His fame is more confidingly recorded in the Prologue to 'The Merry Devil :
† Collier's Annals of the Stage,' vol. iii. p. 417.
""T is Peter Fabel, a renowned scholar,
Not full seven miles from this great famous
That, for his fame in sleights and magic won,
Farther than reason (which should be his pilot)
Hath skill to guide him, losing once his com
He falleth to such deep and dangerous whirl-
As he doth lose the very sight of heaven:
But the magician has tricked the fiend; the
That whilst he lived he could deceive the chair holds him fast, and the condition of
The Prologue goes on to suppose him at Cambridge at the hour when the term of his compact with the fiend is run out. We are not here to look for the terrible solemnity of the similar scene in Marlowe's 'Faustus;' but, nevertheless, that before us is written with great poetical power. Coreb, the spirit, thus addresses the magician :
“Coreb. Why, scholar, this is the hour my
I must depart, and come to claim my due.
Coreb. Fabel, thyself.
release is a respite for seven years. The supernatural part of the play may be said here to end; for, although throughout the latter scenes there are some odd mistakes
produced by the devices of Fabel, they are such as might have been accomplished by human agency, and in fact appear to have been so accomplished. Tieck observes, “ It is quite in Shakspere's manner that the magical part becomes nearly superfluous." This, as it appears to us, is not in Shakspere's manner. In 'Hamlet,' in 'Macbeth,' in ‘The Midsummer Night's Dream,' in ‘The Tempest,' the magical or supernatural part
Fabel. O let not darkness hear thee speak is so intimately allied with the whole action
Lest that with force it hurry hence amain,
that it impels the entire movement of the piece. Shakspere knew too well the soundness of the Horatian maxim,
"Nec Deus intersit nisi dignus vindice nodus,”—
to produce a ghost, a witch, or a fairy, without necessity. However, the magical part here finishes; and we are introduced to While the fiend sits down in the necromantic the society of no equivocal mortal, the host chair, Fabel thus soliloquises:— of the George at Waltham. Sir Arthur Clare, his wife Dorcas, his daughter Millisent, “Fabel. O that this soul, that cost so dear and his son Harry, arrive at the inn, where a price
As the dear precious blood of her Redeemer,
Inspired with knowledge, should by that alone,
Which makes a man so mean unto the powers,
Than man should know!
For this alone God cast the angels down.
The infinity of arts is like a sea,
the host says, "Knights and lords have been drunk in my house, I thank the destinies." This company have arrived at the George to meet Sir Richard Mounchensey, and his son Raymond, to whom Millisent is betrothed;
but old Clare informs his wife that he is resolved to break off the match, to send his daughter for a year to a nunnery, and then to bestow her upon the son of Sir Ralph
Into which when man will take in hand to Jerningham. Old Mounchensey, it seems,
has fallen upon evil days :
"Clare. For look you, wife, the riotous old by their friend, whatever be the intrigues of their parents:—
Hath overrun his annual revenue,
In keeping jolly Christmas all the year:
His hawks devour his fattest hogs, whilst simple,
His leanest curs eat his hounds' carrion. Besides, I heard of late his younger brother, A Turkey-merchant, hath sure suck'd the knight,
By means of some great losses on the sea: That (you conceive me) before God, all's nought,
His seat is weak; thus, each thing rightly scann'd,
You'll see a flight, wife, shortly of his land."
Fabel, the kind magician, who has been the tutor to Raymond, arrives at the same time with the Mounchensey party. He knows the plots against his young friend, and he is determined to circumvent them:
"Raymond Mounchensey, boy, have thou and I Thus long at Cambridge read the liberal arts, The metaphysics, magic, and those parts Of the most secret deep philosophy? Have I so many melancholy nights Watched on the top of Peter-house highest tower,
And come we back unto our native home,
We'll first hang Envil* in such rings of mist
I'll drive the deer from Waltham in their walks,
And scatter them, like sheep, in every field. We may perhaps be crossed; but, if we be, He shall cross the devil that but crosses me."
Harry Clare, Frank Jerningham, and Raymond Mounchensey are strict friends; and there is something exceedingly delightful in the manner in which Raymond throws away all suspicion, and the others resolve to stand
"Jern. Raymond Mounchensey, now I touch thy grief
With the true feeling of a zealous friend.
Her angel-like perfections: but thou know'st
But like a wag thou hast not laugh'd at me,
And I have taught the nightingale to wake,
That I have made the heavy slow-pac'd hours
Moun. Dear Jerningham, thou hast begot my life,
And from the mouth of hell, where now I
I feel my spirit rebound against the stars; Thou hast conquer'd me, dear friend, in my
There time, nor death, can by their power control.
Fabel. Frank Jerningham, thou art a gallant boy;
And, were he not my pupil, I would say,
Young Clare. Raymond Mounchensey, I
He does not breathe this air, whose love I cherish,