Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

Enter King HENRY, DURHAM, and HIALAS.

K. Hen. We are resolv’d.
Your business, noble lords, shall find success,
Such as your king importunes.

Hunt. You are gracious.
K. Hen. Perkin, we are inform’d, is arm’d to

die;

In that we'll honour him. Our lords shall follow
To see the execution; and from hence
We gather this fit use ;'—that public states,
As our particular bodies, taste most good
In health, when purged of corrupted blood.

[Exeunt.

8. We gather this fit use.] The poet seems to apply this word in the Puritanical sense (then sufficiently familiar) of doctrinal or practical deduction. See Mass. vol. iii. p. 293. and Jonson, vol. vi. p.55.

I cannot dismiss this “ Chronicle History,” as Ford calls it, without observing that it has been much under-rated. That the materials are borrowed from Lord Bacon is sufficiently clear; but the poet has arranged them with skill, and conducted his plot with considerable dexterity to the fatal catastrophe. Perkin is admirably drawn; and it would be unjust to the author to overlook the striking consistency with which he has marked his character. Whatever might be his own opinion of this person's pretensions, he has never suffered him to betray his identity with the Duke of York in a single thought or expression. Perkin has no soliloquies, no side speeches, to compromise his public assertions; and it is pleasing to see with what ingenuity Ford has preserved him from the contamination of real history, and contrived to sustain his dignity to the last with all imaginable decorum, and thus rendered him a fit subject for the Tragic Muse.

Of Huntley, the noble Huntley, and Dalyell, I have already spoken:—the author seems, in truth, to have lavished most of his care on the Scotch characters, and with a success altogether pro

EPILOGUE.

HERE has appear'd, though in a several fashion,
The threats of majesty; the strength of passion;
Hopes of an empire; change of fortunes; all
What can to theatres of Greatness fall,
Proving their weak foundations. Who will please,
Amongst such several sights, to censure these
No births abortive, not a bastard-brood,
(Shame to a parentage, or fosterhood,)
May warrant, by their loves, all just excuses,
And often find a welcome to the Muses.

portioned to his exertions. Of his English personages much cannot be said, except, indeed, that he has given a most faithful portraiture of the cold, calculating, stern, shrewd, and avaricious Henry.

It is observable that the style of this piece, though occasionally deficient in animation, is more equable, clear, and dignified than that of any other of his works. It is such as the historic drama ought to appear in, and may justly excite some regret that the author had not more frequently taken his plots from our domestic struggles. Another thing too may be noticed. In most of his tragedies, the trivial and comic personages are poorly drawn: if they attempt to be witty, they usually fall into low buffoonry; and if they aim at a scene of mirth, are sure to create sadness or disgust. The low characters of this play do neither. They are uniformly sustained; their language, though technical, is not repulsive, and the style of that wise piece of formality, the mayor of Cork, who does not venture on one positive expression from first to last, is not only supported with undeviating skill, but rendered really amusing

THE

FANCIES, CHASTE AND NOBLE.

VOL. II.

K

THE FANCIES, CHASTE AND NOBLE.

The title-page of this Comedy, of which there is but one edition, stands thus in the 4to. “ The Fancies, Chast and Noble: Presented by the Queenes Majesties Servants, at the Phoenix in Drury Lane. Fide Honor. London, printed by E. P. for Henry Seile, and are to be sold at his shop, at the Tyger's Head in Fleet Street, over against Saint Dunstan's Church, 1638.” It was probably licensed for the stage in 1637, as Ford brought out a new piece (The Lady's Trial) this year.

TO

THE RIGHT NOBLE LORD, THE LORD

RANDAL MACDONNELL,

EARL OF ANTRIM IN THE KINGDOM OF IRELAND, LORD

VISCOUNT DUNLUCE.'

MY LORD,

Princes, and worthy personages of your own eminence, have entertained poems of this nature with a serious welcome. The desert of their authors might transcend mine, not their study of service. A practice of courtship to greatness hath not

I“ This nobleman was the son of Sir Randal Macdonnell, who, in his youth, joined in Tyrone's rebellion, but subsequently became a loyal subject of King James, and contributed greatly to the civilization of Ireland, for which service he was created successively Viscount Dunluce, and Earl of Antrim. He died 18th December, 1636. The peer who succeeded him, and to whom the present play is dedicated, was born in 1609. He attended King Charles I. in his expedition against Scotland in 1639; was accused of joining the rebels in Ireland, in 1642, but cleared; but subsequently joined them for the benefit of his royal master. He was twice imprisoned by Major-General Monro in Carrickfergus, but escaped both times. In 1643, he was created Marquis of Antrim. Though he made his peace with Cromwell, he assisted Charles II. in bis

escape, after the battle of Worcester. He died in the year 1673, aged 64."

« PreviousContinue »