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Fix your eye here.
Other sins only speak; murder shrieks out.
But blood flies upwards and bedews the heavens.
Seem'd to have years too many.
And should I die this instant, I had lived
Became flowers, precious stones, or eminent stars. 1 All the several parts of the dreadful apparatus with which the Duchess's death is ushered in, are not more remote from the conceptions of ordinary vengeance, than the strange character of suffering which they seem to bring upon their victims is beyond the imagination of ordinary poets. As they are not like inflictions of this life, so her language seems not of this world. She has lived among horrors till she is become a native and endowed unto that element.” She speaks the dialect of despair, her tongue has a snatch of Tartarus and the souls in bale.—What are “Luke's iron crown," the brazen bull of Perillus, Procrustes' bed, to the waxen images which counterfeit death, to the wild masque of madmen, the tomb-maker, the bellman, the living person's dirge, the mortification by degrees! To move a horror skilfully, to touch a soul to the quick, to lay upon fear as much as it can bear, to wean and weary a life till it is ready to drop, and then step in with mortal instruments to take its last forfeitthis only a Webster can do. Writers of an inferior genius may “upon horror's head horrors accumulate," but they cannot do this. They mistake quantity for quality, they “.terrify babes with painted devils," but they know not how a soul is capable of being moved; their terrors want dig. nity, their affrightments are without decorum.
THE WHITE DEVIL: OR, VITTORIA COROMBONA, A
LADY OF VENICE: A TRAGEDY, BY JOHN WEBSTER'. The arraignment of VITTORIA.—PAULO GIORDANO URSINI, Duke of
Brachiano, for the love of VITTORIA COROMBONA, a Venetian lady, and at her suggestion, causes her husband CAMILLO to be murdered. Suspicion falls upon VITTORIA, who is tried at Rome, on a double
1 The author's Dedication to this Play is so modest, yet so conscious of self-merit withal, he speaks so frankly of the deservings of others, and by implication insinuates his own deserts so ingenuously, that I cannot for.
charge of murder and incontinence, in the presence of CARDINAL MON. TICELSO, cousin to the deceased CAMILLO; FRANCISCO DE MEDICIS, brother-in-law to BRACHIANO; the Ambassadors of France, Spain, England, fc. As the arraignment is beginning, the Duke confidently
enters the court. Mon. Forbear, my lord, here is no place assign'd you :
This business, by his holiness, is left
To our examination. bear inserting it, as a specimen how a man may praise himself gracefully and commend others without suspicion of envy.
“To the Reader. " In publishing this Tragedy, I do but challenge to myself that liberty which other men have taken before me; not that I affect praise by it, for nos hæc novimus esse nihil ; only since it was acted in so open and black a theatre, that it wanted (that which is the only grace and setting-out of a tragedy) a full and understanding auditory; and that, since that time, I have noted, most of the people that come to that play-house resemble those ignorant asses (who visiting stationers' shops, their use is not to inquire for good books, but new books), I present it to the general view with this confidence,
Nec rhonchos metues malignorum
Nec scombris tunicas dabis molestas. If it be objected this is no true dramatic poem, I shall easily confess it, non potes in nugas dicere plura meas, ipse ego quam dixi ; willingly, and not ignorantly, have I faulted. For should a man present, to such an auditory, the most sententious tragedy that ever was written, observing all the critical laws, as height of style, and gravity of person, enrich it with the sententious chorus, and, as it were, enliven death, in the passionate and weighty Nuntius ; yet after all this divine rapture, O dura messorum ilia! the breath that comes from the uncapable multitude is able to poison it; and ere it be acted, let the author resolve to fix to every scene this of Horace:
Hæc hodie porcis comedenda relinques. “ To those who report I was a long time in finishing this Tragedy, I confess, I do not write with a goose-quill winged with two feathers; and if they will needs make it my fault, I must answer them with that of Euripides to Alcestides, a tragic writer : - Alcestides objecting that Euripides had only, in three days, composed three verses, whereas himself had written three hundred : Thou tellest truth (quoth he); but here's the difference: thine shall only be read for three days, whereas mine shall continue three ages.
“ Detraction is the sworn friend to ignorance : for mine own part, I have ever truly cherished my good opinion of other men's worthy labours, especially of that full and heightened style of Master Chapman, the laboured and understanding works of Master Jonson, the no less worthy composures of the both worthily excellent Master Beaumont and Master Fletcher ; and lastly (without wrong last to be named), the right happy and copious industry of Master Shakspeare, Master Decker, and Master
Bra. May it thrive with you!
[Lays a rich gown under him. Bra. Forbear your kindness; an unbidden guest
Should travel as Dutch women go to church,
Bear their stool with them. Mon. At your pleasure, sir.
Stand to the table, gentlewoman.—Now, Signior,
Fall to your plea.
I'll make no answer else.
Which come to hear my cause, the half or more
May be ignorant in 't.
I will not have my accusation clouded
Shall hear what you can charge me with.
[guage. You need not stand on't much; pray, change your lanMon. O, for God's sake! gentlewoman, your credit
Shall be more famous by it.
And tell you how near you shoot.
So to connive your judgements to the view
Of her, and her projections. Heywood, wishing what I write may be read by their light ; protesting that, in the strength of mine own judgement, I know them so worthy, that though I rest silent in my own work, yet to most of theirs, I dare (without flattery) fix that of Martial : non norunt hæc monumenta mori."
Vit. What's all this?
Exorbitant sins must have exulceration.
Some apothecaries' bills, or proclamations;
Why, this is Welsh to Latin.
Knows not her tropes, nor is perfect
Of grammatical elocution.
Shall be well spared, and your deep eloquence
Which understand you.
[FRANCISCO speaks this as in scorn. Cry mercy, sir, ʼtis buckram, and accept
My notion of your learn'd verbosity.
[out Mon. (to VITTORIA.) I shall be plainer with you, and paint
Your follies in more natural red and white,
cheek. Vit. 0, you mistake,
You raise a blood as noble in this cheek
As ever was your mother's.
Observe this creature here, my honour'd lords,
A woman of a most prodigious spirit. Vit. My honourable lord,
It doth not suit a reverend cardinal
To play the lawyer thus.
You see, my lords, what goodly fruit she seems,