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blank verse of the drama, while they rendered it sweeter by using feminine endings and adding an eleventh syllable with great frequency. This gave freedom and elasticity to their verse and was suited to the dialogue of comedy, but it lowered the dignity of their tragedy.
These two men mark a change in politics and society from Shakespeare's time. Shakespeare's loyalty is constitutional; Beaumont and Fletcher are blind supporters of James I.'s invention of the divine right of kings. Shakespeare's society was on the whole decent, and it is so in his plays. Beaumont and Fletcher are studiously indecent.' In contrast with them Shakespeare is as white as snow. Shakespeare's men are of the type of Sidney and Raleigh, Burleigh and Drake. The men of these two-writers represent the young bloods' of the Stuart Court; and even the best of their older and graver men are base and foul in thought. Their women are either monsters of badness or of goodness. When they paint a good woman (two or three at most being excepted), she is beyond nature. The fact is, that the high art, which in Shakespeare sought to give a noble pleasure by being true to human nature in its natural aspects, sank now into the baser art, which wished to excite, at any cost, the passions of the audience by representing human nature in unnatural aspects.
In Massinger and Ford this evil is just as plainly marked. MASSINGER's first dated play was the Virgin Martyr, 1620. He lived poor, and died ' a stranger'in 1639. In these twenty years he wrote thirty-seven plays, of which the New Way to Pay Old Debts is the best known by its character of Sir Giles Overreach. No writer is fouler in language, and there is a want of unity of impression both in his plots and in his characters. He often sacrifices art to effect, and “unlike Shakespeare, seems often to despise his own characters. On the other hand, his versification and language are flexible and strong, and seem to rise out of the passions he describes.' He speaks the tongue of real life. His men and women are
far more natural than those of Beaumont and Fletcher, and, with all his coarseness, he is the most moral of the secondary dramatists. Nowhere else is his work so great as when he represents the brave man struggling through trial to victory, the pure woman suffering for the sake of truth and love; or when he describes the terrors that conscience brings on injustice and cruelty.
John Ford, his contemporary, published his first play, the Lover's Melancholy, in 1629, and five years after, Perkin Warbeck, the best historical drama after Shakespeare. Between these dates appeared others, of which the best is the Broken Heart." He carried to an extreme the tendency of the drama to unnatural and horrible subjects, but he did so with very great power. He has no comic humor, but no man has described better the worn and tortured human heart.
WEBSTER AND OTHER DRAMATISTS.—Higher as a poet, and possessing the same power as Ford, though not the same exquisite tenderness, was John WEBSTER, whose best drama, The Duchess of Malfi, was acted in 1616. Vittoria Corombona was printed in 1612, and was followed by the Devil's Law Case, Appius and Virginia, and others. Webster's peculiar power of creating ghastly horror is redeemed from sensationalism by his poetic insight. His imagination easily saw, and expressed in short and intense lines, the inmost thoughts and feelings of characters, whom he represents as wrought on by misery or crime or remorse, at their very highest point of passion. In his worst characters there is some redeeming touch, and this poetic pity brings him nearer to Shakespeare than to the rest. He is also neither so coarse nor so great a king worshipper nor so irreligious as the others. We seem to taste the Puritan in his work. Two comedies, Westward Ho! and Northward Ho! remarkable for the light they throw on the manners of the time, were written by him along with THOMAS DEKKER.
GEORGE CHAPMAN is the only one of the later Elizabethan
dramatists who kept the old fire of Marlowe, though he never had the naturalness or temperance which lifted Shakespeare far beyond Marlowe. The same power which we have seen in his translation of Homer is to be found in his plays. The mingling of intellectual power with imagination, and swollen violence of words and images with tender and natural and often splendid passages, are entirely in the earlier Elizabethan manner. He, too, like Marlowe, to quote his own line, ‘hurled instinctive fire about the world.' These were the greatest names among a crowd of dramatists. We can only mention John Marston, Henry Glapthorne, Richard Brome, William Rowley, Thomas Middleton, Cyril Tourneur, and Thomas Heywood. Of the crowd, all of whom,' says Lamb, spoke nearly the same language and had a set of moral feelings and notions in common,' JAMES SHIRLEY is the last. He lived till 1666. In him the fire and passion of the old time passes away, but some of the delicate poetry remains, and in him the Elizabethan drama dies.
In 1642, the theatres were closed during the calamitous times of the Civil War. Strolling players, managed to exist with difficulty, and against the law, till 1656, when Sir WilLIAM DAVENANT had his opera of the Siege of Rhodes acted in London. It was the beginning of a new drama, in every point but impurity different from the old, and four years after, at the Restoration, it broke loose from the prison of Puritanism to indulge in a shameless license.
In this rapid sketch of the Drama in England, we have been carried on beyond the death of Elizabeth to the date of the Restoration. It was necessary, because it keeps the whole story together. We now return to the time that followed the accession of James I.”
BIBLIOGRAPHY. BEN JONSON, BEAUMONT, AND FLETCHER.-S. A. Dunham's Lives of Lit. Men; W. Gifford's Memoir of; Taine's Hist. of Eng. Lit.; A. W. Ward's Hist. Eng. Dra. Lit.; Whipple's Lit. of the Age of Eliz.; T. H. Ward's Anthology; Littell, 1860, v. 2; Br. Quar. Rev., 1857; Ecl. Mag., Feb. and Oct., 1847; Apr., 1856; May, 1858; and Oct., 1874.
SCHEME FOR REVIEW.
1558-79. Earlier Eliza- Earlier Elizabethan Prose, bethan Poetry,
Material and Religious Condi.
tion of the People, and
91 Satires, Epigrams,
Songs, etc....... 92 Masques, Pageants, and Interludes ....
93 Translations ...
94 Histories, Unpublished Writings...
95 Lyly and Sidney...... 96 Theological Literature 98 - Hooker...
99 Travels and Tales..... 100 Extract from Sidney... 100 From Hooker... 103 From Bacon..
Later Elizabethan Poetry, 1579-1603.
Spenser's Faerie Queen.... 108 His Minor Poems....
111 Extract from Faerie Queen 112 Love Poetry...
116 Patriotic Poetry... 117 Philosophical Poetry...... 119 Translations
123 The Regular Drama... 124 The Theatre..... 124 Lyly and Marlowe..... 126 Shakespeare
132 His Four Periods...... 132 His Work...
136 Ben Jonson.....
138 Extract from Jonson... 139 His Masques.... 146 Beaumont and Fletcher 146 Massinger and Ford.... 147 Webster and Chapman. 148 Shirley and Davenant.. 149
Later Elizabethan Prose,
FROM ELIZABETH'S DEATH TO THE RESTORATION,
Brief Historical Sketch.-James VI. of Scotland, son of Mary, Queen of Scots, and of Darnley, comes to the English throne, 1603, as Jas. I., and is the first of the Stuart House. Gunpowder Plot, 1603. First permanent English settlement in America, at Jamestown, Virginia, 1607. Thermometer invented, 1610. King James's Bible, a revision of Wyclif's, Tyndale's, and Coverdale's translations, issued, 1611. Harvey discovers circulation of the blood, 1616. Expedition and death of Raleigh, 1617. Settlement of New England at Plymouth, 1620, the year negro slavery was introduced into the Virginia Colony. Charles, son of James, married to Henrietta, daughter of Hen. IV. of France, became King of England, 1625. Hampden refused to pay his shipmoney tax, 1637. Covenant signed in Scotland, 1638,—an agreement by which the people bound themselves to resist the re-introduction of Episcopacy into Scotland. Long Parliament met, 1640. Strafford executed, 1641, and Laud, 1644. Civil war broke out, 1642. Puritans separate into Presbyterians and Independents. Battle of Naseby, 1645. Long Parliament reduced by Pride's Purge to the Rump, 1648. King executed, 1649. Conquest of Ireland by Cromwell, same year. Coffeehouses established in London, 1652. Rump Parliament abolished, 1653. Cromwell made Lord Protector, same year. Civil marriage legalized, same year. Post-Office established, 1657. Watches for the pocket first made in England, 1658. Cromwell died, 1658. Richard Cromwell made Protector, 1658.