Slike strani


at Kinsale, and died in Ireland early in 1626. His earliest known work is a very curious satire, The Transformed Metamorphosis (1600), in which he affected a strangely unintelligible manner. His dramas, in spite of a dry and rather pedantic style, are some of the most interesting specimens of Elizabethan tragedy, and their contrast is almost necessary as a sacrifice to the genius of Webster. The Atheist's Tragedy, although it has a plot by no means indefinite, is, on the whole, a poor performance, and bears all the marks of a prentice hand. The Re

venger's Tragedy is much better. In all probability Revenger's the horrible story of the murder of Alessandro de Tragedy” Medici by his cousin Lorenzino in 1533 furnished (1607).

some hints to Tourneur. The scene is an Italian court, crowded with a plethora of rascals whose names, Lussurioso, Supervacuo, etc., indicate their characters pretty accurately. We are thrust, as it were, into a chamber of types, none of them in any degree real, all of them jerking on springs with the same flat stare. Amid these, Vindici, at once hero and villain, has something of a virtuous prominence. But, in Tourneur, we get none of Webster's sound morality. The atmosphere of the piece is close and unpleasant. Vindici, to ruin the man who has murdered his affianced bride, achieves his end by a base piece of treachery: This may be vengeance, but it is not morality; and Vindici, like his prototype, the worthless Lorenzino, is one of those self-deceivers who allow their worst passions to be mistaken for heroism. Tourneur, from time to time, gives him a complexion almost heroic ; but it is astonishing that a man who spent so much of his time in moralising and staring at his dead mistress' skull should have allowed himself to entertain the suspicion that his cynical course was praiseworthy. Tourneur, with a great capacity for eloquence, wrote with a style singularly unequal. His lines run garrulously into one another, never stopping to consider the undesirability of weak endings, such as prepositions or indefinite articles; and this gives a prosaic tone to passages which might otherwise be excellent. In spite of this, there is noble poetry in The Revenger's Tragedy, and it bears reading more than once. The termination of the play will probably come as a surprise. Vindici's warped morality triumphs. By a number of ingenious designs, such as by poisoning the lips of his beloved skull, and by arranging a murderous masque (a device also employed in Middleton's Women Beware Women), he contrives to wipe out the reigning family and their party; and meanwhile his sister's virtue is secured, and his unnatural mother, by a metamorphosis found in other plays, becomes a new creature. Thus the tragedy loses half its pain, and, one may add, half its object. It is not so much a melodramatic tragedy of blood as the ordinary tragedy in which Nemesis makes her just distinctions and gives just rewards. To compare Vindici with Hamlet is not a great compliment to Hamlet; but the likeness


between their two tragedies is rather more than superficial, for each has his “motives and his clue for vengeance, each is in arms against the “water-flies” of the Court, and each is doubtful and meditative over his means. Each, moreover, trifles with a skull at points in the play. But the heroic dilatoriness of Hamlet is far above the lawless impatience of Vindici. There is little doubt that Tourneur had Hamlet in his mind in writing The Revenger's Tragedy, for Shakespeare's greatest tragedy could have been published not more than three years before Tourneur began his play.

& 9. THOMAS HEYWOOD, a Lincolnshire man, and—very doubtfully-a fellow of Peterhouse, Cambridge, boasted that he had a hand in two hundred and twenty plays. All his dates are merely approximate. He was an industrious playwright, and has left a solid body of (d. 1650 ?) independent work behind him. This includes four historical plays-the two parts of Edward IV (before 1600) and the two parts of If You Know Not Me, You Know Nobody, or the Troubles of Queen Elizabeth (published in 1605 and 1606), the second of which would be more interesting if it had more dramatic unity. With these one naturally thinks of his semi-historical pieces, if one can call the absurd motive of The Four Prentices of London (about 1600) by such a title. In this audacious and far from thrilling comedy, Godfrey de Bouillon and his three brothers are introduced as London prentices, and start to the Crusade from their master's shop. Such startling licence is not found in The Royal King and Loyal Subject (published in 1637), which treats a nominally historical subject in a romantic manner. His best romantic tragedy is The Rape of Lucrece (1608), which is a storehouse of charming lyric poetry-a tragic opera rather than an ordinary tragedy; and this play, with so much of the appearance of a masque, is very closely allied to his allegorical dramas, The Golden Age (1611), The Silver Age (1612), The Brazen Age (1613), and The Iron Age (published 1632), which add nothing to our appreciation of the poet. Heywood also adapted Apuleius' tale of Cupid and Psyche from The Golden Ass—the tale which has always had so great a fascination for men of letters-in Love's Mistress (published in 1636). But the genuine fame of Heywood, the excellence which won the enthusiasm of Charles

Heywood Lamb, rests upon his treatment of the bourgeois and the drama. With a great talent for realism of a kind, bourgeois he had nothing of Dekker's or Middleton's intimate knowledge of London life, nor anything of their taste for “roaring boys” and cutpurses. No one, however, could describe a country gentleman better, or painted the manners of the knighthood and middle class of his time so exactly. The two parts of The Fair Maid of the West (published 1631, but acted about 1617) are a somewhat extravagant version of this kind


A W'oman

of play, and take us, with the heroine and her lover, from Plymouth to Fowey, and so to Morocco, where we meet with a delightful person called Mullisheg, King of Fez, and so back again, through many diverting adventures. The Fair Maid of the Exchange (1607), gives us the story of a London lady and her love-passages with the cripple of Fenchurch Street.' The Wise Woman of Hogsdon, ie. Hoxton (1638), is another London drama, and may be bracketed with a second play, full of magic and comic mishaps, The Late Lancashire Witches (1634), which was produced with the aid of Richard Brome. William Rowley, Middleton's partner, joined with Heywood in Fortune by Land and Sea (? before 1603). We shall mention but two other plays ; first, the excellent English Traveller (1633), and secondly, the infinitely better A Woman Killed with Kindness (acted 1603, published

1607), which is worthy of a place among the very Killed with best dramas of the period. Its subject is unKindness" speakably painful, and the really tragic quality of (1603).

the piece is enhanced by the vividness of its atmosphere. A north-country gentleman (perhaps from the northern part of Heywood's native Lincolnshire) marries a young and beautiful wife. Frankford himself is the most amiable of all creatures, and, struck with sudden fancy and compassion for a poor gentleman named Wendoll, invites him to share his hospitality, and supplies him with gifts and money. Wendoll, whose excellent intentions, ruined by his want of self-control, are one of the best points in the play, takes advantage of his friend's generosity with the basest ingratitude. Frankford discovers the treachery ; Wendoll escapes; and, after a terrible scene, in which Mrs. Frankford implores forgiveness, Frankford banishes her, with a mild sternness, to his manor, seven miles away. She goes there, to die of shame and contrition. All this is told with the most extraordinary simplicity and pathos ; the prosaic character of Heywood's style only adds to the reality of the story. Wendoll, however, instead of meeting with condign vengeance, is allowed to go off the stage, recounting a scheme for cultured travel which will occupy him till the storm has blown over, and he is able to return and make his mark at Court. Whether he did this on the remains of Frankford's bounty, or on some hitherto unsuspected fortune, we are not told ; his departure leaves us without regret for him. The centre of the play is the tender patience and mildness of Frankford, his ability to look facts in the face and meet them with judgment. This, in coarser hands, would have been satirised as a contemptible quality. But Heywood, who wrote so much that was ephemeral, here rose above his ordinary manner, and painted a portrait imperatively demanding our respect and pity. A Woman K’illed with Kindness stands side by side with Arden of Feversham at the culminating point of English domestic tragedy.



§ 10. With the celebrated name of PHILIP MASSINGER we come to the last stage of the classical English drama. Massinger was born at Salisbury, and was the son of a gentleman who occupied some position of trust decadence: in Lord Pembroke's household at Wilton. He was PHILIP at St. Alban's Hall, Oxford, from 1602 to 1606, but left

(1583-1640). without taking a degree-it is supposed, owing to his conversion to the Roman communion, and to the consequent loss of his Protestant friends' patronage. There is, however, no precise statement to this effect, but it is a plausible explanation of a circumstance which seems to want elucidating, and is certainly suggested by the internal evidence of the plays themselves. He probably began writing for the stage soon after his departure from Oxford. He worked in many of Fletcher's plays, and the collaboration had a lasting effect on his style. Dekker, too, is supposed to have written the comic scenes of The Virgin Martyr (? 1620), while The Old Law is attributed to Middleton, Dekker, and Rowley. At any rate, the critics are usually agreed in assigning The Duke of Milan, The Unnatural Combat, and The Fatal Dowry (the last written with Nathaniel Field), to the period before the appearance of The Woman's Plot (1621–2). This may have been the first draft of the play afterwards called A Very Woman (1634). About this time Massinger was at his best. The death of the usurer, Sir Giles Mompesson, in 1620, furnished him with a satiric text for his comedy, A New Way to Pay Old Debts (? 1625-6), which, it has been remarked, is, in point of plot, closely connected with Middleton's Trick to Catch the Old One. A number of plays follow, all of very equal merit. The Bondman (1623-4), The Renegado (1624), The Emperor of the East (1631), and that bewildering comedy, The Picture (1629), whose unusual scene is Hungary, may all be attributed to the period of Massinger's greatest facility. The Roman Actor was produced in 1626; The Great Duke of Florence, in 1627 ; The Maid of Honour has been assigned, among other dates, to 1628 ; Believe as You List, in 1631 ; The City Madam, in 1632 ; and The Guardian, in 1633. A great many of Massinger's plays have perished through the industry of John Warburton's cook, who burned their leaves to make covers for pie-crust ; but none of the titles which remain sound very interesting, except, perhaps, The Spanish Viceroy (1624). Many, too, have extremely corrupt texts, and The Parliament of Love (1624), owing to this, remains a not very stimulating fragment. Massinger died suddenly, one morning in 1640, at his house on the Bankside, and was buried in St. Mary Overies-according to one account in the same grave with Fletcher. Since the rebuilding of the nave of that ancient church, the Collegiate Chapter have honoured the dramatists buried within its walls with a series of memorial windows by Mr. C. E. Kempe. Some such tribute is appropriate to a company of writers whom Londoners have, for the most part, probably forgotten.




Massinger is the dramatist most completely representative of the Elizabethan stage in its decline. The change which had Charac

come over the soul of the drama is typified more teristics of strikingly by Ford's more individual genius; but in Massinger's Massinger we see its body, soul, and spirit alike in

a state of metamorphosis. Massinger has a great name among the dramatists; his reputation is almost equal to that of Beaumont and Fletcher. He worked much in partnership with Fletcher, and, in that conjunction, assimilated Fletcher's style with a singular readiness. But we must expect to find Fletcher's excellences a little dimmed in Massinger's verse. Just as Fletcher himself modelled his style on the splendid examples of poetry with which Shakespeare closed his career ; just as his copy, easy and fluent, failed to reflect the glories of the original, so Massinger imitated Fletcher readily enough, but failed to transfer to his own work the brilliancy and gaiety of his exemplar. It is impossible to praise the mechanism

of Massinger's style too highly. His fluency and His style.

eloquence are unsurpassed; he seems to think in the melodious verse that comes so readily from his pen. Yet of the higher kind of poetry, of the passionate and graceful fancy that, wherever we turn, illuminates Fletcher's plays, he had little ; and of that lyric faculty by virtue of which Fletcher stands among the first of Elizabethan poets, he had none. His verse is a little too facile ; its tendency to monotony is too obvious. And his style is the outward symbol of everything else about him. Of all the dramatists, he deserves, next to Shakespeare, that epithet of the “best plotter" which Meres gave to Anthony Munday in 1598. His hand is competent to

hold the threads of those intricate stories which of plot.

Fletcher held so carelessly. The Great Duke of

Florence is a model of plot; The Duke of Milan, improbable as it is, is a romantic tragedy well told. But over all his plays presides the artificiality of decadence. Of his austerity of mind, his sincere religion, his high ideals, there is ample proof everywhere ; but we arrive at this conclusion by inference, not by direct intelligence. Whether it is the tendency of the drama in his day, or some fault in his own point of view that is to blame, is hard to settle ; it is possible that these causes reacted mutually one on the other. It is certain, however, that the scenes in which we catch a glimpse of his nobler

qualities are often impeded by false pathos; that Weakness of his work.

their atmosphere is tainted by that morbid analysis

of passion which is so characteristic of a decline in imaginative work, and is exhibited in its sinister perfection by Ford. To blame him for the gross faults of comic scenes which, in all probability, were not written by him, is to mistake the temper of his age. His own cast of mind was serious; he had little sense of humour ; and the virtue of his chief comediesThe City Madam above all the rest—lies in that satiric energy


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