Abbildungen der Seite
[ocr errors]

his long sleep, “ Behold the twig to which thou laidest down thy head, is now become a tree.” The narrative is sometimes a little wandering and desultory; but if it had been ten times as tedious, this thought would have redeemed it; for I cannot conceive of any thing more beautiful, more simple or touching, than this exquisitely chosen image and dumb proof of the manner in which he had passed his life, from youth to old age, in a dream, a dream of love. Happy Endymion! Faithful Eumenides! Divine Cynthia! Who would not wish to pass his life in such a sleep, a long, long sleep, dreaming of some fair heavenly Goddess, with the moon shining upon

his face, and the trees growing silently over his head!—There is something in this story which has taken a strange hold of my fancy, perhaps “ out of my weakness and my melancholy;” but for the satisfaction of the reader, I will quote the whole

passage: “it is silly sooth, and dallies with the innocence of love, like the old age.”

Cynthia. Well, let us to Endymion. I will not be so stately (good Endymion) not to stoop to do thee good; and if thy liberty consist in a kiss from me, thou shalt have it. And although my mouth hath been heretofore as untouched as my thoughts, yet now to recover thy life (though to restore thy youth it be impossible) I will do that to Endymion, which yet never mortal man could boast of heretofore, nor shall ever hope for hereafter. (She kisses him).

Eumenides. Madam, he beginneth to stir.

Cynthia. Soft, Eumenides, stand still.
Eumenides. Ah! I see his


open. Cynthia. I command thee once again, stir not: I will stand behind him.

Panelion. What do I see? Endymion almost awake?

Eumenides. Endymion, Endymion, art thou deaf or dumb? Or bath this long sleep taken away thy memory? Ah! my sweet Endyntion, seest thou not Eumenides, thy faithful friend, thy faithful Eumenides, who for thy sake hath been careless of his own content? Speak, Endymion ! Endymion ! Endymion !

Endymion. Endymion! I call to mind such a name.

Eumenides. Hast thou forgotten thyself, Endymion? Then do I not marvel thou rememberest not thy friend. I tell thee thou art Endymion, and I Eumenides. Behold also Cynthia, by whose favour thou art awaked, and by whose virtue thou shalt continue thy natural course.

Cynthia. Endymion! Speak, sweet Endymion! Knowest thou not Cynthia?

Endymion. Oh, heavens! whom do I behold? Fair Cynthia, divine Cynthia ?

Cynthia. I am Cynthia, and thou Endymion.

Endymion. Endymion! What do I hear? What! a grey beard, hollow eyes, withered body, and decayed limbs, and all in one night?

Eumenides. One night! Thou hast slept here forty years, by what euchantress, as yet it is not knowu: and behold the twig to which thou laidest thy head, is now become a tree. Callest thou not Eumenides to remembrance?

Endymion. Thy name I do remember by the sound, but thy favour I do not yet call to mind: only divine Cynthia, to whom time, fortune, death, and destiny are subject, I see and remember; and in all humility, 1 regard and


Cynthia. You shall have good cause to remember Eumenides, who hath for thy safety forsaken his own solace.

Endymion. Am I that Endymion, who was wont in court to lead my life, and in justs, tourneys, and arms, to exercise my youth? Am I that Endymion?

Eumenides. Thou art that Endymion, and I Eumenides: wilt thou not yet call me to remembrance ?

Endymion. Ah! sweet Eumenides, I now perceive thou art he, and that myself have the name of Endymion; but that this should be my body, I doubt: for how could my curled locks be turned to gray hair, and my strong body to a dying weakness, having waxed old, and not knowing it?

Cynthia. Well, Endymion, arise: awhile sit down, for that thy limbs are stiff and not able to stay thee, and tell what thou hast seen in thy sleep all this while. What dreams, visions, thoughts, and fortunes: for it is impossible but in so long time, thou shouldst see strange things."

Act V. Scene 1.

It does not take away from the pathos of this poetical allegory on the chances of love and the progress of human life, that it may be supposed to glance indirectly at the conduct of Queen Elizabeth to our author, who, after fourteen years' expectation of the place of Master of the Revels, was at last disappointed. This princess took no small delight in keeping her poets in a sort of Fool's Paradise. The wit of

The wit of Lyly, in parts of', this romantic drama, seems to have grown spirited and classical with his subject. He puts this fine hyperbolical irony in praise of Dipsas,

(a most unamiable personage, as it will appear), into the mouth of Sir Tophas:

“ Oh what fine thin hair hath Dipsas! What a pretty low forehead! What a tall and stately nose! What little hollow eyes! What great and goodly lips ! How harmless she is, being toothless! Her fingers fat and short, adorned with long nails like a bittern! What a low stature she is, and yet what a great foot she carrieth! How thrifty must she be, in whom there is no waist; how virtuous she is like to be, over whom 110 man can be jealous !"

Act III. Scene 3.

It is singular that the style of this author, which is extremely sweet and flowing, should have been the butt of ridicule to his contemporaries, particularly Drayton, who compliments Sidney as the author that

“ Did first reduce
Our tongue from Lyly's writing, then in use;
Talking of stones, stars, plants, of fishes, flies,
Playing with words and idle similes,
As the English apes and very zanies be
Of every thing that they do hear and see.”

Which must apply to the prose style of his work, called “ Euphues and his England," and is much more like Sir Philip Sidney's own manner, than the dramatic style of our poet. Besides the passages above quoted, I might refer to the opening speeches of Midas, and again to the admirable contention between Pan and Apollo for the palm of music.-His Alexander and Campaspe

is another sufficient answer to the charge. This play is a very pleasing transcript of old manners and sentiment. It is full of sweetness and point, of Attic salt and the honey of Hymettus. The following song given to Apelles, would not disgrace the mouth of the prince of painters:

Cupid and my Campaspe play'd
At cards for kisses, Cupid paid;
He stakes his quiver, bow, and arrows;
His mother's doves, and team of sparrows;
Loses them too, then down he throws
The coral of his lip, the rose
Growing on’s cheek (but none knows how)
With these the chrystal of his brow,
And then the dimple of his chin;
All these did my Campaspe win.
At last he set her both his

She won, and Cupid blind did rise.
O, Love! has she done this to thee?
What shall, alas! become of me?"

The conclusion of this drama is as follows. Alexander addressing himself to Apelles, says,

[ocr errors]

Well, enjoy one another: I give her thee frankly, A pelles. Thou shalt see that Alexander maketh but a toy of love, and leadeth affection in fetters: using fancy as a fool to make him sport, or a minstrel to make him merry. It is not

« ZurückWeiter »