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sotted ignorance, changed his ears into those of an ass; this disgrace he contrived to conceal from all but his barber, whom he bound never to divulge it; but he, finding this impossible, and fearing the vengeance of the monarch if it should be known that he had betrayed him, opened a hole in the earth, there whispered it, and closed the ground as before. On that spot grew a number of reeds, these when agitated gave to the winds the same sounds that had been buried, proclaiming to the world that Midas had the ears of an ass. It is perhaps unnecessary to say that this, as most other of these fables, has been supposed to represent in allegory some real circumstance of history.
In the adoption of these incidents Lyly has closely followed his original, without any attempt to ridicule their absurdity; but it seems evident from the general purport of the piece, and particularly from a speech in the opening of the third act, that the courtly poet had a further view in the selection of this story than the mere amusement of his auditors, intending through it to commemorate and applaud the exploits of his royal mistress. If this conjecture be correct, Philip II. of Spain was meant to be represented under the character of Midas; the produce of his mines in South America, by his desire to turn every thing about him into gold; and the defeat of the Armada, by the fruitless attempts of Midas to subdue the Island of Lesbos: this last, as the most glorious transaction of her reign, must have been in the highest degree acceptable to Elizabeth; the more so as the intended compliment, though it might be evident, was not gross.
On a part of this story is founded the celebrated burletta of the same name. In this latter piece, as the intention of the author was only to raise mirth and excite laughter, he is not supposed under any obligation to follow the necessary rules of regular comedy. The passages therefore where Juno threatens to cite Jupiter to appear in Doctor's Commons, where Midas (who lived before the Trojan war) is represented as a Justice of the Peace, bribed by English guineas and an old Jacobus, where Nysa
expresses her fears of being compelled to turn nun, and Daphne and Nysa compare each other to the doll of an infant and the gigantic figures in Guildhall, and as fitted for husbands from Lilliput and Brobdignag ; these but add to the ludicrous absurdity, mirth, and humour of the piece; but it does not seem a model proper to be followed by writers, who may easily copy the incongruities, but will not as easily approach the wit and humour of O'Hara.
PROLOGUE IN PAULS.
Gentlemen, so nice is the world, that for apparel there is no fashion, for music no instrument, for diet no delicate, for plays no invention but breedeth satiety before noon, and contempt before night.
Come to the tailor, he is gone to the painters to learn how more cunning may lurk in the fashion, than can be expressed in the making. Ask the musicians, they will say their heads ake with devising notes beyond Ela *: inquire at ordinaries, there must be salads for the Italian ; picktooths for the Spaniard; pots for the German; porridge for the Englishman. At our exercises, soldiers call for tragedies, their object is blood :
* Ela was, I believe, the highest note in the gamut. Hortenzo ends with it in Act III. Scene I. of “ Taming the Shrew.” It is used literally here, but not unfrequently by our old dramatic poets, to represent something very unusual and extravagant. Thus in the “Humorous Lieutenant,” of Beaumont and Fletcher, where the lieutenant (in consequence of the magical potion, or philtre, which he had swallowed) is described as kissing the king's horses, buying all the pictures of him, and going to lodge in King-street, &c. one of his friends observes,
Why this is above Ela."
THE PROLOGUE IN PAULS.
courtiers for comedies, their subject is love: countrymen for pastorals, shepherds are their saints. Traffic and travel bath woven the nature of all nations into ours, and made this land like arras, full of devise, which was broad-cloth full of workmanship.
Time hath confounded our minds, our minds the matter ; but all cometh to this pass, that what heretofore hath been served in several dishes for a feast, is now minced in a charger for a gallimaufrey. If we present a mingle-manglé, our fault is to be excused, because the whole world is become a hodgepodge.
We are jealous of your judgments, because you are wise; of our own performance, because we are imperfect; of our author's device, because he is idle. Only this doth encourage us, that presenting our studies before gentlemen, though they receive an inward mislike, 'we shall not be hissed with an open disgrace.
Stirps rudis urtica est: stirps generosa, rosa.
ladies of the court. Amerula, Suavia, Pipenetta, a servant. Nymphes.