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skill of the authors. Its merit is confined to the regularity of the plot and metre, to its general good sense, and strict attention to common de

If the poet has not stamped the peculiar genius of his age upon this first attempt, it is no inconsiderable proof of strength of mind and conception sustained by its own sense of propriety alone, to have so far anticipated the taste of succeeding times, as to have avoided any glaring offence against rules and models, which had no existence in his day. Or perhaps a truer solution might be, that there were as yet no examples of a more ambiguous and irregular kind to tempt him to err, and as he had not the impulse or resources within himself to strike out a new path, he merely adhered with modesty and caution to the classical models with which, as a scholar, he was well acquainted. The language of the dialogue is clear, unaffected, and intelligible, without the smallest difficulty, even to this day; it has “no figures nor no fantasies,” to which the most fastidious critic can object, but the dramatic power is nearly none at all. It is written expressly to set forth the dangers and mischiefs that arise from the division of sovereign power; and the several speakers dilate upon the different views of the subject in turn, like clever schoolboys set to compose a thesis, or declaim upon the fatal consequences of ambition, and the uncer

tainty of human affairs. The author, in the end, declares for the doctrine of passive obedience and non-resistance; a doctrine which indeed was seldom questioned at that time of day. Eubulus, one of the old king's counsellors, thus gives his opinion

“ Eke fully with the duke my mind agrees,

That no cause serves, whereby the subject may
Call to account the doings of his prince ;
Much less in blood by sword to work revenge :
No more than may the hand cut off the head.
In act nor speech, no nor in secret thought,
The subject may rebel against his lord,
Or judge of him that sits in Cæsar's seat,
With grudging mind to damn those he mislikes,
Though kings forget to govern as they ought,
Yet subjects must obey as they are bound.”

Yet how little he was borne out in this inference by the unbiassed dictates of his own mind, may appear from the freedom and unguarded boldness of such lines as the following, addressed by a favourite to a prince, as courtly advice,


ye that lust of kingdoms hath no law: The Gods do bear and well allow in kings The things that they abhor in rascal routs. When kings on slender quarrels run to wars, And then in cruel and unkindly wise

Command thefts, rapes, murder of innocents,
The spoil of towns, ruins of mighty realms ;
Think you such princes do suppose themselves
Subject to laws of kind and fear of Gods?
Murders and violent thefts in private men
Are heinous crimes, and full of foul reproach ;
Yet none offence, but deck'd with noble name
Of glorious conquests in the hands of kings."

The principal characters make as many invocations to the names of their children, their country, and their friends, as Cicero in his Orations, and all the topics insisted upon are open, direct, urged in the face of day, with no more attention: to time or place, to an enemy who overhears, or an accomplice to whom they are addressed ; in a word, with no more dramatic insinuation or bye-play than the pleadings in a court of law. Almost the only passage that I can instance, as rising above this didactic tone of mediocrity into the pathos of poetry, is one where Marcella laments the untimely death of her lover, Ferrex. " Ah! noble prince, how oft have I beheld

Thee mounted on thy fierce and trampling steed,
Shining in armour bright before the tilt;
And with thy mistress' sleeve tied on thy helm,
And charge thy staff to please thy lady's eye,
That bowed the head-piece of thy friendly foe!
How oft in arms on horse to bend the mace,
How oft in arms on foot to break the sword,
Which never now these eyes may see again!"

There seems a reference to Chaucer in the wording of the following lines—

“ Then saw I how he smiled with slaying knife

Wrapp'd under cloke, then saw I deep deceit
Lurk in his face, and death prepared for me*."

Sir Philip Sidney says of this tragedy: “ Gorboduc is full of stately speeches, and well sounding phrases, climbing to the height of Seneca his style, and as full of notable morality; which it doth most delightfully teach, and thereby obtain the very end of poetry.” And Mr. Pope, whose taste in such matters was very different from Sir Philip Sidney's, says in still stronger terms: “ That the writers of the succeeding age might have improved as much in other respects, by copying from him a propriety in the sentiments, an unaffected perspicuity of style, and an easy flow in the numbers. In a word, that chastity, correctness, and gravity of style, which are so essential to tragedy, and which all the tragic poets who followed, not excepting Shakespear himself, either little understood, or perpetually, neglected.” It was well for us and them that they did so!

The Induction to the Mirrour for Magistrates

*“ The smiler with the knife under his cloke.”

Knight's Tale.

does his Muse more credit. It sometimes reminds one of Chaucer, and at others seems like an anticipation, in some degree, both of the measure and manner of Spenser. The following stanzas may give the reader an idea of the merit of this old poem, which was published in 1563.

“By him lay heauie Sleepe cosin of Death

Flat on the ground, and still as any stone,
A very corps, saue yeelding forth a breath.
Small keepe tooke he whom Fortune frowned on,
Or whom she lifted vp into the throne

Of high renowne, but as a liuing death,
So dead aliue, of life he drew the breath.

The bodies rest, the quiet of the hart,
The trauailes ease, the still nights feere was he.
And of our life in earth the better part,
Reuer of sight, and yet in whom we see
Things oft that tide, and oft that neuer bee.

Without respect esteeming equally
King Cræsus pompe, and Irus pouertie.

And next in order sad Old Age we found,
His beard all hoare, his eyes hollow and blind,
With drouping cheere still poring on the ground,
As on the place where nature him assign'd
To rest, when that the sisters bad vntwin'd

His vitall thred, and ended with their knife
The fleeting course of fast declining life.

There heard we him with broke and hollow plaint
Rew with himselfe his end approching fast,
And all for nought his wretched mind torment,

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