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Ec. Deadly accent.
Del. I told you 'twas a pretty one: you may make it
Ec. A thing of sorrow.
Del. Come, let's walk farther from't :
Ec. Do not.
Del. Wisdom doth not more moderate wasting sorrow
Ec. Be mindful of thy safety.
Ant. Necessity compels me;
Del. Hark: the dead stones seem to have pity on you,
Ant. Echo, I will not talk with thee;
Ec. Thou art a dead thing.
Ant. My dutchess is asleep now,
Ec. Never see her more.
Ant. I mark'd not one repetition of the Echo
Del. Your fancy merely.
Ant. Come; I'll be out of this ague ;
Antonio is afterwards unintentionally slain by Bosola. Ferdinand becomes mad, and gives mortal wounds to both the Cardinal and Bosola, with which internecion the play concludes.
It is out of the question to talk of the unities, with refe
rence to our English dramatists, but we cannot help remarking, in perusing this play, the rapidity with which the author makes Time ply his wings. We learn, almost in the same breath, of the marriage of the Dutchess, and the birth of three children.* This play was successful.
The last play which Webster wrote was Appius and Virginia, whose history has been so frequently the subject of dramatic composition. It is, as a whole, the most finished and regular of all his plays; and although it does not contain scenes equal to those we have already extracted, it is full of dramatic interest-rife in striking action. There is a studious care in the management of the plot, and the most accurate judgement as to effect in the introduction and developement of the incidents. Our readers are aware of the main action—the nefarious at. tempt of Appius, one of the Decemvirs, to obtain possession of the person of Virginia, for whom he had a dishonest passion, by means of one of his servants claiming her as his bondwoman ; and the death of the noble Roman lady by the hands of her own father, to save her from disgrace. The scene in which Icilius, to whom Virginia had been betrothed, discloses to Appius his knowledge of his base attempts, is very spirited and effective; and the one in which Virginius explains to the Roman soldiers the reasons which induced him to perpetrate the fatal act, is one of subduing pathos. It is remarkably superior to that of the trial and death of Virginia, which, indeed, is comparatively powerless, with the exception of the last beautiful speech of Virginius to his daughter. We shall present to our readers the scene at the
“ Virginius enters, holding the fatal knife in his hand: he advances into the midst of the Soldiers, and then stops and addresses them.
“ Virg. Have I in all this populous assembly
* Mr. Campbell, in his Specimens of British Poets, erroneously states the preface to The White Devil to be prefixed to the Dutchess of Malfy, and thence infers, that the latter play was unsuccessful. He also affirms, that Dekker and Marston assisted Webster and Rowley in The Thracian Wonder and A Cure for a Cuckold, in which we cannot discover that they had any concern.
Can this great multitude then yield an enemy
Min. What means Virginius ?
Virg. Or if the general's heart be so obdure
1 Sold. Alas! good captain.
Min. Virginius, you have no command at all :
Virg. General, thanks :
Min. Besides, I charge you
Virg. I have play'd the parricide :
Min. Virginia ?
Virg. Yes, even she.
Min. Kill'd her willingly?
Virg. Willingly, with advice, premeditation,
Min. Most wretched villain !
Virg. But how? I lov'd her life. Lend me amongst you One speaking organ to discourse her death, It is too harsh an imposition To lay upon a father. Oh, my Virginia !
Min. How agrees this? love her, and murder her?
Virg. Yes: give me but a little leave to drain
1 Sold. Oh, villain Appius !
Virg. To you I appeal, you are my sentencers:
1 Sold. Appius is the parricide.
Min. If this be true, Virginius, (as the moan
Virg. Noble Minutius,
Roman. It is a common cause.
Min. It shall be so. Virginius, take my charge:
Virginius shall succeed my full command.
Virg. What's honour unto me? a weak old man,
1 Sold. Stay, noble general.
Min. You much forget revenge, Virginius.
Virg. Thou oughtest, Minutius : soldiers, so ought you:
We thus conclude our extracts from the works of this certainly great dramatist, who was minute, without being trifling-elaborate, without becoming dull; and whose power in touching the passions was equalled by few of his contemporaries.
The comedy of The Thracian Wonder, which he is said to have written in conjunction with Rowley, is a vile performance, filled from the beginning to the end with the most wretched stuff. Langbaine says, Rowley had the least part in this, as well as in the other comedy ascribed to them; but we cannot conceive that Webster could have written any thing so bad; and, indeed, Rowley is also vastly superior to it. We should rather suppose, that they had agreed to correct it in some few places for" reasonable considerations,” as the chapmen of that day express it, or perhaps the bookseller borrowed their names; for both The Thracian Wonder and The Cure for a Cuckold were published by Kirkman after the death of the supposed authors, and the last is stated by that publisher to be then printed for the first time. The Cure for a Cuckold is a much better comedy, but it is also below the separate productions of the reputed authors. Webster, indeed, seems to have had little inclination to cultivate an intimacy with the comic muse.
With the excep: tion of Virginia's servant, there is not in all his plays the usual accompaniment of the tragi-comedies of that day-a buffoon. He is rather sarcastic, than humourous--didactic, than witty. He would rather have soliloquized in the charnel-house, or com