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Thus fatall plagues pursue the giltie race,
Whose murderous hand, imbrued with giltles bloode,
Askes vengeaunce still, before the heauens face,
With endles mischiefes on the cursed broode.

The wicked child thus bringes to wofull sier
The mournefull plaintes, to waste his wery life:
Thus do the cruell flames of civyll fier

Destroye the parted reigne with hatefull strife:

And hence doth spring the well, from which doth flo,
The dead black streames of mourning', plaint, and wo."

Every Act is introduced, as was the custom in our old plays, with a piece of machinery called the DUMB SHOW, shadowing by an allegorical exhibition the matter that was immediately to follow. In the construction of this spectacle and its personi❤ fications, much poetry and imagination was often displayed. It is some apology for these prefigurations, that they were commonly too mysterious and obscure, to forestal the future events with any degree of clearness and precision. Not that this mute mimicry was always typical of the ensuing incidents. It some times served for a compendious introduction of such circumstances, as could not commodiously be comprehended within the bounds of the representation. It sometimes supplied deficiencies, and covered the want of business. Our ancestors were easily satisfied with this artificial supplement of one of the most important unities, which abundantly filled up the interval that was necessary to pass, while a hero was expected from the Holy Land, or a princess was imported, married, and brought to bed. In the mean time, the greater part of the audience were probably more pleased with the emblematical pageantry than the poetical dialogue, although both were alike unintelligible. I will give a specimen in the DOMME SHEWE preceding the fourth act. "First, the musick of howeboies began to plaie.

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Duringe whiche, there came forth from vnder the stage, as thoughe out of hell, three Furies, ALECTO, Megera, and CTESIPHONE", clad in blacke garments sprinkled with bloud and flames, their bodies girt with snakes, their heds spread with serpents instead of heare, the one bearing in her hande a snake, the other a whip, and the thirde a burning firebrande: eche driuynge before them a kynge and a queene, which moued by Furies vnnaturally had slaine their owne children. The names of the kinges and queenes were these, TANTALus, MeDEA, ATHAMAS, INO, CAMBISES, ALTHEA. After that the Furies, and these, had passed aboute the stage thrise, they departed, and then the musicke ceased. Hereby was signified the vnnaturall murders to followe, that is to saie, Porrex slaine by his owne mother. And of king Gorboduc and queene Viden killed by their owne subjectes." Here, by the way, the visionary procession of kings and queens long since dead, evidently resembles our author Sackville's original model of the MIRROUR FOR MAGISTRATES; and, for the same reason, reminds us of a similar train of royal spectres in the tent-scene of Shakespeare's KING RICHARD THE THIRD.

I take this opportunity of expressing my surprise, that this ostensible comment of the Dumb Shew should not regularly appear in the tragedies of Shakespeare. There are even proofs that he treated it with contempt and ridicule. Although some critics are of opinion, that because it is never described in form at the close or commencement of his acts, it was therefore never introduced. Shakespeare's aim was to collect an audience, and for this purpose all the common expedients were necessary. No dramatic writer of his age has more battles or ghosts. His representations abound with the usual appendages of mechanical terror, and he adopts all the superstitions of the theatre. This problem can only be resolved into the activity or the superiority of a mind, which either would not be entangled by the forma lity, or which saw through the futility, of this unnatural and extrinsic ornament. It was not by declamation or by panto" Tisiphone.


mime that Shakespeare was to fix his eternal dominion over the hearts of mankind.

To return to Sackville. That this tragedy was never a favorite among our ancestors, and has long fallen into general oblivion, is to be attributed to the nakedness and uninteresting nature of the plot, the tedious length of the speeches, the want of a discrimination of character, and almost a total absence of pathetic or critical situations. It is true that a mother kills her own son. But this act of barbarous and unnatural impiety, to say nothing of its almost unexampled atrocity in the tender sex, proceeds only from a brutal principle of sudden and impetuous revenge. It is not the consequence of any deep machination, nor is it founded in a proper preparation of previous circumstances. She is never before introduced to our notice as a wicked or designing character. She murthers her son Porrex, because in the commotions of a civil dissension, in self-defence, after repeated provocations, and the strongest proofs of the basest ingratitude and treachery, he had slain his rival brother, not without the deepest compunction and remorse for what he had done. A mother murthering a son is a fact which must be received with horror; but it required to be complicated with other motives, and prompted by a cooperation of other causes, to rouse our attention, and work upon our passions. I do not mean that any other motive could have been found, to palliate a murther of such a nature. Yet it was possible to heighten and to divide the distress, by rendering this bloody mother, under the notions of human frailty, an object of our compassion as well as of our abhorrence. But perhaps these artifices were not yet known or wanted. The general story of the play is great in its political consequences; and the leading incidents are important, but not sufficiently intricate to awaken our curiosity, and hold us in suspence. Nothing is perplexed and nothing unravelled. The opposition of interests is such as does not affect our nicer feelings. In the plot of a play, our pleasure arises in proportion as our expectation is excited.

Yet it must be granted, that the language of GORDOBUC* has great purity and perspicuity; and that it is entirely free from that tumid phraseology, which does not seem to have taken place till play-writing had become a trade, and our poets found it their interest to captivate the multitude by the false sublime, and by those exaggerated imageries and pedantic metaphors, which are the chief blemishes of the scenes of Shakespeare, and which are at this day mistaken for his capital beauties by too many readers. Here also we perceive another and a strong reason why this play was never popular+.

Sir Philip Sydney, in his admirable DEFENCE OF POESIE, remarks, that this tragedy is full of notable moralitie. But tragedies are not to instruct us by the intermixture of moral sentences, but by the force of example, and the effect of the story. In the first act, the three counsellors are introduced debating about the division of the kingdom in long and elaborate speeches, which are replete with political advice and maxims of civil prudence. But this stately sort of declamation, whatever eloquence it may display, and whatever policy it may teach, is undramatic, unanimated, and unaffecting. Sentiment and argument

[Rymer termed Gorboduc "a fable better turn'd for tragedy than any on this side the Alps, in the time of Lord Buckhurst, and might have been a better direction to Shakspeare and Ben Jonson, than any guide they have had the luck to follow." Short View of Tragedy, p. 84. Mr. Pope also observed, that "the writers of the succeeding age might have improved by copying from this drama, a propriety in the sentiments and dignity in the sentences, and an unaffected perspicuity of style, which are essential to tragedy." Yet Dryden and Oldham both spoke contemptuously of this piece, and apparently without having perused it; since they supposed Gorboduc to have been a female, and the former calls it the tragedy of "Queen Gorboduc." See Scott's Edit. of his Works, ii. 118. and Biog. Dram. ii. 238.-PARK.]

+ [If Shakspeare could not of himself find out what was natural and right in language and sentiment, Gorboduc might have taught him. But Mr. Warton supposes that what we now reckon a beauty and merit, was a strong reason why Gorboduc never became popular. Was not this reason enough for Shakspeare, whose only endeavours were populo ut placerent quas fecisset fabulas, to take another course? Had Shakspeare ever stretched his views to fame and posterity, he would at least have printed some of his plays. But it is not easy to conceive how a man can write for a future generation. It is not in his power to know what they will like; though he may be able to please his contemporaries, by giving them what they have been accustomed to approve.. ASHBY.]

will never supply the place of action upon the stage. Not to mention, that these grave harangues have some tincture of the formal modes of address, and the ceremonious oratory, which were then in fashion. But we must allow, that in the strain of dialogue in which they are professedly written, they have uncommon merit, even without drawing an apology in their favour from their antiquity: and that they contain much dignity, strength of reflection, and good sense, couched in clear expression and polished numbers. I shall first produce a specimen from the speech of Arostus, who is styled a Counsellor to the King, and who is made to defend a specious yet perhaps the least rational side of the question.

And in your lyfe, while you shall so beholde
Their rule, their vertues, and their noble deedes,
Such as their kinde behighteth to vs all;
Great be the profites that shall growe thereof;
Your age in quiet shall the longer last,
Your lastinge age shall be their longer staie:
For cares of kynges, that rule, as you haue rulde,
For publique wealth, and not for private ioye,
Do waste mannes lyfe, and hasten crooked age,
With furrowed face, and with enfeebled lymmes,
To drawe on creepynge Death a swifter pace.
They two, yet yonge, shall beare the parted regne
With greater ease, than one, now olde, alone,
Can welde the whole: for whom, muche harder is
With lessened strength the double weight to beare.
Your age, your counsell, and the graue regarde
Of father P, yea of suche a fathers name,
Nowe at beginning of their sondred reigne,
When is the hazarde of their whole successe,
Shall bridle so the force of youthfull heates,
And so restraine the rage of insolence

'partie,' edit. 1565. Pfathers,' edit. 1565.

it is,' edit. 1565.

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