« PreviousContinue »
to be married, husbands are so cruelly unkind.
Som. Thou shalt have no cause.
Sir Ar. Which I will soon discharge.
Win. Sir, 'tis too great a sum to be employ'd Upon my
funeral. Car. Come, come; if luck had serv'd, Sir Arthur, and every man had his due, somebody might have tottered ere this, without paying fines; like it as you list. Come to me, Winnifrede, shalt be welcome. Make much of her, Kate, I charge you; I do not think but she's a good wench, and hath had wrong as well as we. man home to Edmonton with heavy hearts, yet as merry as we can, though not as we would. Just. Join friends in sorrow; make of all the
best: Harms past may be lamented, not redrest.
So let's every
In the title-page of this drama the name of Ford is placed after those of his coadjutors, Rowley and Decker. It seems to have been a trick of the trade, in their distress, to accumulate a number of names in the title-page, to catch as many readers as possible; and Rowley's was deservedly a very marketable name. Not
content with the trio, they add after Ford, an gc. With these we need not meddle, and I presume, we may venture to dismiss Rowley, with the allowance of an occasional passage, since the drama seems fairly to divide itself between the other two, whose style is well understood, and here strongly marked.
It is very easy to sneer at the supernatural portions of this play; and it is done with exquisite justice by those who run night after night to witness the deviltries of Faust and the Freischutz, a thousand times more contemptible and absurd than anything to be found in the Witch of Edmonton ; a drama which, I am not ashamed to confess, (though aware of the ridicule that will follow it,) I consider creditable to the talents and feelings of both poets. I believe in witchcraft no more than the critics ; neither, perbaps, did Ford and Decker ; but they dealt with those who did; and we are less concerned with the visionary creed of our forefathers, than with the skill and dexterity of those who wrote in conformity to it, and the moral or ethical maxims which they enable us to draw from it.
The serious part of this drama is sweetly written. The character of Susan is delineated in-Ford's happiest manner; pure, affectionate, confiding, faithful and forgiving ; anxious, as a wife, to prove her love, but fearful to offend, there is a mixture of warmth and pudency in her language, particularly in the concluding scene of the second Act, which cannot fail to please the most fastidious reader. Winnifrede is only second to her unfortunate rival; for, though highly culpable before marriage, she redeems her character as a wife, and insensibly steals upon our pity and regard. Even Katharine, with any other sister, would not pass unnoticed.
Carter is no unfair representative of the respectable yeoman (freeholder) of those days; and his frank and independent conduct is well contrasted with that of Banks, a small farmer, as credulous and ignorant as his labourers, positive, overbearing, and vindictive. Of Frank enough has been already said; and the rest require no particular notice; only it may be observed, that the character of Sir Arthur Clarington is sustained with care and ability. Terrified, but not reclaimed, from his profligacy, by the law, he is everywhere equally odious; and ends the same mean, heartless, avaricious wretch he showed hiinself at first.
Spoken by WINNIFREDE.
I am a widow still, and must not sort