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“If every knave build on his own construction,
a sentiment whose purport is as clear as its phraseology is harmonious.
The secret, thus communicated by the cardinal to the king, touches nothing less than the aspirations of the Duke of Suffolk to the hand of the Princess Mary, sister to his majesty. This Henry swears he will prevent, by marrying her to Louis XII. of France, De Longueville, ambassador from that monarch, having made proposals to that effect.
"By the Rood! The treaty shall be closed, aye, on the instant;
She is no subject's mate." And he closes his impetuous harangue by adding, in melodious verse,
(princes, like the stars, Were made to gaze at, by vulgar eyes,
With awe and reverence—to worship, not to wed." Upon which, the king having made his exit, the cardinal, as in duty bound, takes up the figure:
“Like the devout astronomer, who gazed
I am struck blind with light.” With one or two additional reflections, the cardinal retires, and we hear no more of him, save in one short, superfluous interview. We have the sad satisfaction, however, to reflect that if his blindness proved perpetual, he incurred it in the discharge of his duty.
In the second scene the princess herself comes upon the stage under rather equivocal circumstances. We confess we were frightened, and thought of Messalina, when we found her “in a loose disguise, in a by-street,” but we were soon reassured on discovering that, after all, it was probably day-light, and that she only came there to have her fortune told. She soliloquizes, in strains worthy of a Tudor, at the door of the fortune-teller's hovel, who, by the way, is none other than the Prophet of St. Paul's, himself. We regret that we have not room for her original contemplations on the hardship of the kingly lot; they may be compared with those of Henry V., before the battle of Agincourt, without any disadvantage to Shakspeare. We cannot, however, omit a passage near the conclusion :
“I'll think no more—thought thickens upon thought,
To die of surfeit."
I'll think no more. Thought, thickening upon thought, is like a dark and ravenous bird of prey, which gloats while it gluts to die of a surfeit upon the quivering heart.” Surely the princess was in the right, and with a consistency for which Mr. Brown's characters are remarkable, she seems to have “thought no more” during the whole play. The passage itself is the most intense in the book, and on that account, as well as for the sentiment it so clearly expresses, we have quoted it.
The Prophet (and by and by our readers may, perhaps, guess who he is) is very oracular. He is, notwithstanding he deals in necromancy, a “holy seer,” for which we are glad. We feared he might prove the devil incarnate. No such thing. He invokes no spirits, and scarcely uses a naughty word during his whole performance. In this, as in other portions of the machinery (if we may so call it) of this admirable play, Mr. Brown has looked to the happiness of that interesting part of an American audience, the rising generation. The Athenian magistrates were compelled, in order to preserve the wits of the women and children, to reduce the number of Furies in the chorus of Orestes from forty to nine. Their frightful contortions, their hissing serpents, and diabolical postures, produced alarming consequences. Not so with the Prophet. His very responses are in the butter-woman's pace to market."
"Here is sunshine-there a cloud;
Here is mirth, and there a shroud.”' The princess, gratified with his services and the kindliness of his manner, rewards him with a ring, with a valuable promise attached :
Accept this poor requital, and should time
'Tis thine upon the promise of a princess.” The king does a good deal of business in scene third. He announces the completion of the treaty, and the departure of De Longueville :
"And Longueville, impatient to convey
Has taken his departure.”') 1 As this verse is imperfect we propose to read it thus in the next edition,
“Has taken bis departure in the packet.” VOL. XX.-NO. 39,
He reads the cardinal a lecture on prerogative, and on the art of “forgetting the king ;">
“Say no more, my lord ! Canst thou not see when kings are in the field, A subject's proudest duty is-submission ?"
takes Suffolk somewhat roundly to task for his contumacy and disrespect, for saying:
“Howe'er the state determine, 'tis not well
To wed the princess to a sepulchre,” and concludes, by announcing to the same duke that he shall swell the princess's escort to France, by way of penalty for his presumption, little thinking how much pleasure he confers instead.
“ The king's displeasure doth accord me more
Than supplication ever could obtain."
Suffolk announces his good fortune to the princess, who is less pleased than we had expected at the escort provided. Perhaps her lover had misbehaved on some former occasion, for
" If thou must be companion of my voyage,
To which Suffolk assents, though as a general proposition (and so it is enounced by the princess) we hold it to be disputable. Cælum non animum mutant qui trans mare currunt, is an old authority the other way. Suffolk is heart-broken at the ending of his hopes, and after the departure of Mary, breaks out with a bitter soliloquy about the grave, which strongly indicates suicidal designs. His melancholy musings are interrupted by Dorset, the Mercutio of the play, as Suffolk is its Romeo, who enters with a hop, skip, and jump, to tell him (what by the way he knew before) that he is proclaimed
“Lord Marshal in King Cupid's expedition,”
(every thing takes a royal aspect in this regal company to which Mr. Brown introduces us, and that they must soon be off to France, This scene enables Mr. Brown to illustrate the
* We give the italics as the princess pronounced them. Why the ten words so printed should thus overcrow their twenty companions, we pretend not to conjecture.
characters of Suffolk and Dorset* by their opposites, and we should much like to give it to our readers entire, but they must be content with one specimen from each:
“ Dorset.—What! Mary, too_Margaret will not suffice.
Egad, my lord, you are a mighty hunter,
At which decent joke "the lord of Suffolk” becomes unreasonably indignant, but Dorset soothes him, and at length accedes to his request-adjuration we should call it rather to be left alone:
“Nay leave me Dorset, if thou lov'st me, leave me!
I will not fail you at the morning's dawn;
Being gratified, his dark vigils commence, and are accompanied by a soliloquy of five-and-thirty lines as instructive and full of meaning as all Mr. Brown's soliloquies are. In it we are informed that
-“love ne'er shrinks to friendship till it dies,”
but that true love is death, or that true love shuddering at diminution is death, or that true love in diminution is death; (for the phrase though beautiful is somewhat obscure) and that the glowing heart, all its charms being lost, sinks to the low level of instinctive brutes; but that hearts that have ever loved as we should love, can suffer no abatement, no restraint, but a soul for a soul. The breast, however, whatever may
* We have some historical information concerning this nobleman, to which Mr. Brown may allude in his next edition. It is from “Burton's Description of Leicestershire,” and we copy it for our author's special benefit and information, as it carries out his ideas of Dorset. Lucretius talks of the “semperflorens Homerus”—ihe epithet would be a good one for the marquis. -" Thomas, Marques of Dorset, whose body being buried in 1530, was, in 1608, upon the cutting open of the Cerecloth, found perfect and nothing corrupted, the flesh not hardened, but in colour, proportion, and softness, like an ordinary Corpse newly to be interred.” Thus far the annalist. It is always pleasing to find one's dramatic notions so coincident with fact, but this must always be the case with an author, who, like Mr. Brown, consults only truth and nature. Had Suffolk been disinterred, he would, no doubt, bave been found in colour allied to plumbago or charcoal, the material eviden of his misanthropical turn of mind.
be the case with the glowing heart] was taught to glow by the great Creator, who also taught it to cling to sympathetic arms as closely as it clings to life. Such are some of the metaphysical and moral beauties of this impressive soliloquy, which the reader, we are sure, will not hesitate to pronounce as appropriate as it is eloquent. It concludes the first act as a splendid bravura terminates an opera. Did our limits permit
, we would trace the progress of the whole piece as minutely as we have done that of the first act, but our readers must henceforth be content with a more general survey, and a more limited selection of beauties. The second act opens in France with a banquet, at which some spirited conversation passes between Francis of Valois, the Chevalier Bayard, and Amarel, the jester, upon the fickleness of the future king, and the promise of knightly sport at the approaching tournament. Alexander's conduct to Statira very happily serves to display the learning of Francis, and to illustrate, by contrast, the prominent foible of his character. Scipio comes in as the usual companion-piece, but the Duke of Valois declares the superiority of Alexander, for a reason in which logic and rhythm are most happily united:
“The Greek resisting curiosity-resisted two Statiras.” A happy approximation to a Greek heroic verse, and a successful introduction of a new law into poetical composition, by which the line is lengthened in proportion to the greatness of the subject; Alexander in iambics would indeed be Achilles in petticoats. There is a Brononian theory of medicine, why not of metre?
The English train at last arrives at Boulogne, and we are given to understand that they came by sea and had a very rough passage. Dorset, who had previously informed Şuffolk of his appointment, seems no sooner to have crossed the channel than he forgets the nature of the expedition. In one of his mercurial nature, this was a matter of course, but Suffolk's answers are so oracular (though he is questioned in sober prose) that neither Dorset nor the reader get any great satisfaction. At length he hints that beauty is very transitory, and adds emphatically:
“I tell thee, Dorset-for my grief will speak
The temple where this union is confirmed,
Should be a sepulchre—a charnel-house;" which strikes as a little singular, since, at page 11, he had told King Henry that it was mighty ill in him
“ To wed the princess to a sepulchre ;"