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Where sin is justice, lust and ignorance
The virtues of the great ones ? Cousin Arcite,
Had not the loving gods found this place for us,
We had died, as they do, ill old men, unwept,
And had their epitaphs, the people's curses. [This scene bears indubitable marks of Fletcher : the two which precede it give strong countenance to the tradition that Shakspeare had a hand in this Play. The same judgment may be formed of the death of Arcite, and some other passages, not here given. They have a luxuriance in them which strongly resembles Shakspeare's manner in those parts of his plays, where, the progress of the interest being subordinate, the poet was at leisure for description. I might fetch instances from Troilus and Timon. That Fletcher should have copied Shakspeare's manner through so many entire scenes (which is the theory of Mr. Steevens) is not very probable, that he could have done it with such facility is to me not certain. His ideas moved slow; his versification, though sweet, is tedious ; it stops every moment ; he lays line upon line, making up one after the other, adding image to image so deliberately that we see where they join : Shakspeare mingles every thing, he runs line into line, embarrasses sentences and metaphors; before one idea has burst its shell, another is hatched and clamorous for disclosure. If Fletcher wrote some scenes in imitation, why did he stop? or shall we say that Shakspeare wrote the other scenes in imitation of Fletcher ? that he gave Shakspeare a curb and a bridle, and that Shakspeare gave him a pair of spurs : as Blackmore and Lucan are brought in exchanging gifts in the Battle of the Books ?]
THE CITY MADAM: A COMEDY, BY PHILIP MASSINGER. LUKE, from a state of indigence and dependence is suddenly raised into
immense affluence by a deed of gift of the estates of his brother SIR John FRUGAL, a merchant, retired from the world. He enters, from
taking a survey of his new riches.
Luke. 'Twas no fantastic object, but a truth;
A real truth, no dream. I did not slumber;
And could wake ever with a brooding eye
To gaze upon it! it did endure the touch;
and felt it. Yet what I beheld
And handled oft, did so transcend belief
(My wonder and astonishment pass’d o'er)
I faintly could give credit to my senses.
Thou dumb magician, that without a charm
Didst make my entrance easy, to possess
What wise men wish and toil for! Hermes' moly;
Sibylla's golden bough; the great elixir,
only by the alchymist,
Compared with thee, are shadows; thou the substance
And guardian of felicity. No marvel,
My brother made thy place of rest his bosom,
Thou being the keeper of his heart, a mistress
To be hugg'd ever. In by-corners of
This sacred room, silver, in bags heap'd up,
Like billets saw'd and ready for the fire,
Unworthy to hold fellowship with bright gold,
That flow'd about the room, conceal'd
There needs no artificial light; the splendour
Makes a perpetual day there, night and darkness
By that still-burning lamp for ever banish'd.
But when, guided by that, my eyes had made
Discovery of the caskets, and they open'd,
Each sparkling diamond from itself shot forth
A pyramid of flames, and in the roof
Fix'd it a glorious star, and made the place
Heaven's abstract, or epitome: rubies, sapphires,
And ropes of orient pearl
, these seen, I could not
But look on gold with contempt: and yet I found,
What weak credulity could have no faith in,
A treasure far'exceeding these. Here lay
A manor bound fast in a skin of parchment;
The wax continuing hard, the acres melting:
Here a sure deed of gift for a market town,
If not redeem'd this day; which is not in
The unthrift's power; there being scarce one shire
In Wales or England, where my moneys are not
Lent out at usury, the certain hook
To draw in more.
The extravagance of the City Madams aping court fashions reprehended.
LUKE, having come into the possession of his brother Sir John FRUGAL'S
estates. Lady, wife to SIR JOHN FRUGAL, and two daughters, in homely
attire. Luke. Save
I now dare style you so. You were before
Too glorious to be look'd on: now you appear
Like a city matron, and my pretty nieces
As they were born and bred there. Why should you
The fashions of court ladies, whose high titles [ape
And pedigrees of long descent give warrant
For their superfluous bravery? 'twas monstrous.
Till now you ne'er look'd lovely.
Lady. Is this spoken
In scorn ?
Luke. Fie, no; with judgment. I make good
My promise, and now show you like yourselves,
your own natural shapes. Lady. We acknowledge
We have deserved ill from you', yet despair not,
Though we're at your disposure, you 'll maintain us
Like your brother's wife and daughters.
Luke. 'Tis my purpose.
Lady. And not make us ridiculous.
Luke. Admired rather,
As fair examples for our proud city dames
And their proud brood to imitate. Hear
Gently, and in gentle phrase I'll reprehend
Your late disguised deformity.
Your father was
An honest country farmer, Goodman Humble,
By his neighbours ne'er call'd master. Did your pride
Descend from him ? but let that pass. Your fortune,
Or rather your husband's industry, advanced you
To the rank of merchant's wife. He made a knight,
And your sweet mistress-ship ladyfied, you wore
Satin on solemn days, a chain of gold,
A velvet hood, rich borders, and sometimes
A dainty miniver cap, a silver pin
Headed with a pearl worth threepence; and thus far
You were privileged, and no man envied it;
It being for the city's honour that
There should be distinction between
The wife of a patrician and a plebeian. -
But when the height
And dignity of London's blessings grew
Contemptible, and the name lady mayoress
Became a by-word, and you scorn'd the means
By which you were raised (my brother's fond indulgence
Giving the reins to it) and no object pleased you
But the glittering pomp and bravery of the court;
In his dependent state they had treated him very cruelly: they are now dependent on him.
What a strange, nay, monstrous metamorphosis fol
No English workman then could please your fancy ;
The French and Tuscan dress, your whole discourse;
This bawd to prodigality entertain'd,
To buz into your ears, what shape this countess
Appear'd in, the last mask; and how it drew
lord's eyes upon
her: and this usher
Succeeded in the eldest 'prentice's place,
To walk before you. Then, as I said,
(The reverend hood cast off) your borrow'd hair,
Powder'd and curl'd, was by your dresser's art
Form'd like a coronet, hang'd with diamonds,
And the richest orient pearl : your carkanets,
That did adorn your neck, of equal value;
Your Hungerland bands, and Spanish Quellio ruffs :
Great lords and ladies feasted, to survey
Embroider'd petticoats; and sickness feign'd,
That your nightrails of forty pounds a-piece
Might be seen with envy of the visitants :
Rich pantables in ostentation shown,
And roses worth a family. You were served
Stirr'd not a foot without a coach; and going
To church, not for devotion, but to show
Your pomp, you were tickled when the beggars cried
Heaven save your honour! This idolatry
Paid to a painted room. And, when you lay
In childbed, at the christening of this minx,
I well remember it, as you had been
An absolute princess (since they have no more),
Three several chambers hung: the first with arras,
And that for waiters; the second, crimson satin,
For the meaner sort of guests; the third of scarlet
Of the rich Tyrian dye: a canopy
To cover the brat's cradle ; you in state,
Like Pompey's Julia.
Lady. No more, I pray you.
Luke. Of this be sure you shall not. I'll cut off
Whatever is exorbitant in you,
Or in your daughters; and reduce you to
Your natural forms and habits ; not in
Of your base usage of me; but to fright
Others by your example. [This bitter satire against the city women for aping the fashions of the court ladies must have been peculiarly gratifying to the females of the Herbert family and the rest of Massinger's patrons and patronesses.]
A NEW WAY TO PAY OLD DEBTS: A COMEDY,
BY PHILIP MASSINGER. OVERBEACH, (a cruel extortioner) treats about marrying his daughter
with LORD LOVELL.
Over. To wish we are private.
I come not to make offer with my daughter
A certain portion; that were poor and trivial :
In one word I pronounce all that is mine,
In lands or leases, ready coin or goods,
With her, my lord, comes to you; nor shall you
One motive to induce you to believe
I live too long, since every year I'll add
Something unto the heap, which shall be yours too.
Lov. You are a right kind father.
Over. You shall have reason
To think me such. How do you like this seat ?
It is well-wooded and well-water'd, the acres
Fertile and rich : would it not serve for change,
To entertain your friends in a summer's progress
What thinks my noble lord ?
Lov. 'Tis a wholesome air,
And well-built, and she', that is mistress of it,
Worthy the large revenue.
Over. She the mistress ?
It may be so for a time: but let
Say only that he but like it, and would have it;
I say, ere long 'tis his.
Over. You do conclude too fast; not knowing me,
Nor the engines that I work by. 'Tis not alone
The lady Allworth's lands: but point out any man's
In all the shire, and say they lie convenient
1 The Lady Allworth.