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That shook the aged forest with their echoes,
No more now must we halloo; no more shake
Our pointed javelins, while the angry swine
Flies like a Parthian quiver from our rages,
Struck with our well-steel'd darts! All valiant uses
(The food and nourishment of noble minds)
In us two here shall perish; we shall die
(Which is the curse of honour) lazily,
Children of grief and ignorance.

Arc. Yet, cousin,
Even from the bottom of these miseries,
From all that fortune can inflict upon us,
I see two comforts rising, two mere blessings,
If the Gods please to hold here; a brave patience,
And the enjoying of our griefs together.
Whilst Palamon is with me, let me perish
If I think this our prison !

Pal. Certainly, 'Tis a main goodness, cousin, that our fortunes Were twinn'd together; 'tis most true, two souls Put in two noble bodies, let 'em suffer The gall of hazard, so they grow together, Will never sink; they must not; say they could, A willing man dies sleeping, and all's done.

Arc. Shall we make worthy uses of this place, That all men hate so much?

Pal. How, gentle cousin ?

Arc. Let's think this prison a holy sanctuary To keep us from corruption of worse men! We're young, and yet desire the ways of honour : That, liberty and comnion conversation, The poison of pure spirits, might, like women, Woo us to wander from. What worthy blessing Can be, but our imaginations

M

May make it ours ? And here, being thus together,
We are an endless mine to one another;
We're father, friends, acquaintance;
We are, in one another, families;
I am your heir, and you are mine ; this place
Is our inheritance; no hard oppressor
Dare take this from us; here, with a little patience,
We shall live long, and loving; no surfeits seek us:
The hand of war hurts none here, nor the seas
Swallow their youth; were we at liberty,
A wife might part us lawfully, or business;
Quarrels consume us; envy of ill men
Crave our acquaintance; I might sicken, cousin,
Where you

should never know it, and so perish
Without your noble hand to close mine eyes,
Or prayers to the Gods: a thousand chances,
Were we from hence, would sever us.

Pal. You have made me
(I thank you, cousin Arcite) almost wanton
With my captivity; what a misery
It is to live abroad, and every where !
'Tis like a beast, methinks ! I find the court here,
I'm sure a more content; and all those pleasures,
That woo the wills of men to vanity,
I see thro' now: and am sufficient
To tell the world, 'tis but a gaudy shadow
That old time, as he passes by, takes with him.
What had we been, old in the court of Creon,
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 !
Shall I say more?

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Arc. I would hear you still.

Pal. You shall.
Is there record of any two that lov'd
Better than we do, Arcite ?

Arc. Sure there cannot.

Pal. I do not think it possible our friendship Should ever leave us.

Are. Till our deaths it cannot.”

Thus they “sing their bondage freely:" but just then enters Æmilia, who parts all this friendship between them, and turns them to deadliest foes.

The jailor's daughter, who falls in love with Palamon, and goes mad, is a wretched interpolation in the story, and a fantastic copy of Ophelia. But they readily availed themselves of all the dramatic common-places to be found in Shakespear, love, madness, processions, sports, imprisonment, &c. and copied him too often in earnest, to have a right to parody him, as they sometimes did, in jest.—The story of the Two Noble Kinsmen is taken from Chaucer's Palamon and Arcite; but the latter part, which in Chaucer is full of dramatic power and interest, degenerates in the play into a mere narrative of the principal events, and possesses little value or effect.—It is not improbable that Beaumont and Fletcher's having dramatised this story, put Dryden upon modernising it.

I cannot go through all Beaumont and Fletcher's dramas (52 in number), but I have mentioned some of the principal, and the excellences and defects of the rest may be judged of from these. The Bloody Brother, A Wife for a Month, Bonduca, Thierry and Theodoret, are among the best of their tragedies: among the comedies, the Night Walker, the Little French Lawyer, and Monsieur Thomas, come perhaps next to the Chances, The Wild Goose Chase, and Rule a Wife and Have a Wife.—Philaster, or Love Lies a Bleeding, is one of the most admirable productions of these authors (the last I shall mention); and the patience of Euphrasia, disguised as Bellario, the tenderness of Arethusa, and the jealousy of Philaster, are beyond all praise. The passages of extreme romantic beauty and high-wrought passion that I might quote, are out of number. One only must suffice, the account of the commencement of Euphrasia's love to Philaster.

“ Sitting in my window,
Printing my thoughts in lawn, I saw a God
I thought (but it was you) enter our gates ;
My blood flew out, and back again as fast
As I had puffed it forth and suck'd it in
Like breath; then was I called away in haste
To entertain you. Never was a man
Heav'd from a sheep-cote to a sceptre, rais'd

So high in thoughts as I: you left a kiss
Upon these lips then, which I mean to keep
From

you

forever. I did hear you talk Far above singing!

66 far

And so it is our poets themselves write, above singing*.” I am loth to part with them, and wander down, as we now must,

“ Into a lower world, to theirs obscure

And wild-To breathe in other air
Less pure, accustomed to immortal fruits.”

Ben Jonson's serious productions are, in my opinion, superior to his comic ones. What he does, is the result of strong sense and painful industry; but sense and industry agree better with the

and severe, than with the light and gay productions of the Muse.

“ His plays were works,” as some one said of them, “while others' works were plays." The observation had less of compliment than of truth in it. He may be said to mine his way into a subject, like a mole,

grave and

* Euphrasia as the Page, just before speaking of her life, which Philaster threatens to take from her, says,

" "Tis not a life;
'Tis but a piece of childhood thrown away."

What exquisite beauty and delicacy!

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