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mere dried anatomy of tragedy, which may produce the loathing and disgust which accompany an hospital exhibition, but has nothing to do with our sympathies, and cannot extort from us the acknowledgment of a common nature. It is not the actual presence of suffering which excites the highest degree of feeling, or rouses the loftier passions of man. We must know the thoughts and motives of the sufferer, that we may ourselves judge of the justice or injustice of his inflictions. The same object which either in the drama or in story would, if pourtrayed by the hand of genius, excite the greatest emotion, if viewed in the street without the knowledge which the author communicates of the workings of the heart within, engages but a comparatively slight degree of interest or compas
The three plays of Marlowe, which we have yet to notice, are of a much higher order than the three preceding ones. is in them that the genius of Marlowe shines with its proper lustre, and on them must his reputation, as an original poet, rest. They display great vigour of intellect, and are written in a chaster spirit of poetry; although the ore is more pure, it is obviously brought from the same mine.
The first in order of date is the historical play of The Raigne of Edward the Second; one of the first of that class of dramas which Shakspeare afterwards carried to such a degree of perfection. It embraces the whole period of his reign, and is not divided into acts. The most prominent characters are well supported, the timid and irresolute Edward, and his arrogant and assuming favorites,-the fiery and impatient Mortimer, who, with the other turbulent lords, forms an excellent picture of baronial pride and power. The character of Isabella undergoes a complete change. She is in the early part of the play represented as doatingly fond of the king, bearing her sorrows meekly, ready to kiss the foot that spurns her, willing rather to lead a melancholic life, than that her "lord should be oppress'd with civil mutinies." Her regard for Mortimer goes little beyond calling him " gentle Mortimer." In answer to his inquiries, whither she is walking, she replies :
"Unto the forest, gentle Mortimer,
To live in grief and baleful discontent;
When Edward, as he leaves her, insinuates her attachment to that baron, she exclaims:
"Heavens can witness, I love none but you.
But, alas! queens are but women, and women cannot be expected to be kind and constant, and true, when the hand that ought to cherish and support them is lavishing its favours on others, much less when they are contemned, reviled, and spurned. Accordingly, the same scene exhibits her just as the tide of affection is turning-the point at which it rests for a moment, as if uncertain whether to go forward or backward. The king's sending her off to France decides it; the tide ebbs, the alienation is completed, the connection with Mortimer becomes unequivocal; hatred and revenge roll it furiously back, and Edward perishes beneath the waves.
Marlowe has, in this piece, conformed, with tolerable accuracy, to historical facts, though not in chronological succession. It is hardly to be expected, however, that a dramatic writer, whose object is to produce a given effect by a series of actions, should confine himself to a rigid adherence to fact. He may be pardoned for not regarding chronology, without doing any great wrong to history. He deduces the required results from the proper cause, without respect to the lapse of time, or the intervention of unimportant particulars. On the contrary, he condenses into a comprehensible space, circumstance and consequence; and in concentrating their interest, strengthens their influence, and adds to their moral utility. In truth, he gives us the philosophy of historical action, the pith of historical example. He moulds events in his imagination, and forms them into groups, at once pleasing and striking. If he overleap the boundaries of space and time, it is merely for the purpose of exhibiting them in nearer and more admirable perspective.
We shall now proceed to make a few extracts, in confirmation of our remarks on this play.
The barons having consented to Gaveston's recall from banishment, the king immediately despatches a messenger to him with the intelligence. The following scene is meritorious.
"Edward. The wind is good, I wonder why he stays;
I fear me, he is wrack'd upon the sea.
Queen. Look, Lancaster, how passionate he is,
And still his mind runs on his minion!
Lan. My lord!
Edw. How now, what news? is Gaveston arriv'd?
Mort. jun. Nothing but Gaveston! what means your grace?
You have matters of more weight to think upon;
The king of France sets foot in Normandy.
Edw. A trifle, we'll expel him when we please.
Mort. A homely one, my lord, not worth the telling.
Mort. jun. But seeing you are so desirous, thus it is:
A lofty cedar-tree fair flourishing,
On whose top-branches kingly eagles perch,
And by the bark a canker creeps me up,
And gets unto the highest bough of all:
The motto, Æque tandem.
Edw. And what is yours, my lord of Lancaster?
Lan. My lord, mine's more obscure than Mortimer's.
Pliny reports, there is a flying fish,
Which all the other fishes deadly hate,
And therefore being pursued, it takes the air:
No sooner is it up, but there's a fowl
That seizeth it: this fish, my lord, I bear,
The motto this: Undique mors est.
Edmund. Proud Mortimer! ungentle Lancaster!
Is this the love you bear your sovereign?
Is this the fruit your reconcilement bears:
And in your shields display your rancorous minds?
Against the earl of Cornwal and my brother?
Queen. Sweet husband, be content, they all love you.
I am that cedar, shake me not too much;
Though thou compar'st him to a flying fish,
'Tis not the hugest monster of the sea,
Nor foulest harpy, that shall swallow him.
Mort. jun. If in his absence thus he favours him,
What will he do when as he shall be present?
Lan. That shall we see: look, where his lordship comes.
Edw. My Gaveston! welcome to Tinmouth! welcome to thy friend!
Thy absence made me droop, and pine away;
For as the lovers of fair Danaë,
When she was lock'd up in a brazen tower,
Gav. Sweet lord and king, your speech preventeth mine.
The shepherd nipt with biting winter's rage,
The scene in which Edward resigns his crown, and that in which he is murdered, would have been sufficient to immortalize Marlowe, if he had not written another line. Few things grander or more touching in tragedy can be conceived, than those splendid scenes, from his being told that he must go to Killingworth; and his exclamation—
"Must! 'tis somewhat hard when kings must go❞—
to the close of his existence.
The circumstances are wrought up with great skill. His musing, on being required to resign his crown, that kings, when power is gone, are
"But perfect shadowes in a sunshine day;"
his identity of life itself, with the fruition of an earthly crown; his wish to be king till night; his adjuration,
"Stand still, you watches of the elements,"
that he may still be England's king; his alternate grief and rage; his little bootless revenge; and his sad conviction, that death ends all, and he can die but once; could only have been produced by a first-rate genius.
The king, being vanquished by the forces of the queen, seeks refuge in a monastery. He addresses the abbot:
"Edw. Father, thy face should harbour no deceit.
That in our famous nurseries of arts
O that I might this life in quiet lead!
But we, alas! are chas'd; and you, my friends,
Mortimer! who talks of Mortimer?
Who wounds me with the name of Mortimer?
The king's retreat is discovered, and a warrant for the apprehension of his favorites Spencer and Baldock, produced by the Earl of Leicester.
"Edw. O day! the last of all my bliss on earth!
Why do you low'r unkindly on a king?
Here, man, rip up this panting breast of mine,
And take my heart, in rescue of my friends.
Spen. jun. It may become thee yet,
To let us take our farewell of his grace.
Abbot. My heart with pity yearns to see this sight,
A king to bear these words and proud commands.
Edw. Spencer, sweet Spencer, thus then must we part?