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The Lady's Trial.] This play was licensed by the master of the revels, and performed at the Cockpit, May 3d, 1638. It was printed in the following year, and apparently with so little care, that from many passages it is now scarcely possible to extract any sense.
Auria, a noble Genoese, among whose hairs “ some messengers of time had took up lodgings,” had wedded a lady whose only dowry was her youth, her beauty, and her virtues. Whatever this union might do for the happiness, it did little for the fortunes of Auria. Rich banquetings and revels contributed to embarrass his circumstances, and he proposes to retrieve his fortunes by an expedition against the Turkish pirates. In a scene of great tenderness he commits his young wife, Spinella, to the joint care of his uncle Trelcatio and her sister Castanna, while with his faithful but suspicious friend Aurelio, he deposites a sum of money to be disposed of as the occasions of Spinella may require.
Strong contrasts are the glory of dramatic writing : and if our old dramatists had not learned the secret from nature herself, they would have been taught it by their predecessors, the compilers of interludes and moralities, with whom nothing is more frequent than exhibitions of the strong contrasts between the good and evil appetites existing in the mind of man. Accordingly from this beautiful scene of conjugal tenderness the reader is presently transplanted to one of a very different nature; but which, though drawn up with infinite spirit, will hardly be understood at the first perusal without a little previous explanation. Levidolche, niece of Martino, a Genoese citizen, had married far below her condition in life, by giving her hand, while almost a mere girl, to one Benatzi, servant to a young lord of Genoa, by name Adurni. "Disagreements soon occur between these unequal yoke-fellows; and Levidolche, divorced from Benatzi, gives herself up entirely to the arms of her late husband's young master, between whom and herself there appears to have been a previous intimacy. Not content with this substitute for her late lawful enjoyments, this warm specimen of a southern sun soon courts a newer pleasure; and a letter, descriptive of her inclinations, is pres
(8) ently despatched to the object of them. But Malfato, the person thus sought, had already a deep-rooted and nobler attachment of his own, of which the only outward signs were estrangement from society and a deep melancholy; and bitter scorn and reproof are the only returns which these proffers of lighter love win from this gloomy but virtuous Genoese. The schemes of vengeance projected by the mortified Levidolche, as hot in anger as in love—the hand by which she endeavours to accomplish her purposes -and the unexpected results in which they terminatebelong to that part of the plot in which it would be unwise to forestall the reader's gratification. The · letter which conveyed the tender of Levidolche's new loves had for its bearer Futelli, a dependant of Adurni, to whom he recites its contents, as well as the passionate terms in which it had been intrusted to him ; but as a newer project was now labouring in thạt young lord's brain, these proofs of his mistress's inconstancy seem to excite little else in him than a feeling of curiosity as to the manner in which they will be received by his unwilling rival, Malfato. The scheme which now occupied the young Adurni's brain was a design upon the affections of the wife of the absent Auria ; and accordingly one of the next scenes exhibits Spinella and her sister as the guests of the too susceptible Adurni. A rich banquet, soft music, whatever could gratify the senses had been prepared for the occasion-Adurni pours forth his protestations of love; but the answers of the gentle, pureminded Spinella must soon have convinced him of the utter uselessness of continuing his pursuit, had not a stronger interruption occurred to awaken him to a sense of his criminal purpose. Auria, though absent, had left behind him a friend, as watchful to perceive any intended injury to his honour, as resolute and prompt to frustrate its accomplishment. This colloquy is accordingly broken in upon very suddenly by Aurelio, who upbraids Adurni with his treacherous hospitality, accuses Spinella of " loss to every brave respect,” announces the return of Auria to Genoa, and threatens them both with the consequences of their supposed guilt. Spinella, though conscious of innocence, breaks away, and becomes a fugitive none knows where.
The announcement of Aurelio was in one respect at least correct. Auria, with Ford's usual disregard to any thing
Kath. He shall not need;
Jane. Madam, madam, *They come, they come!
Enter OXFORD, with his followers.
Kath. Most noble sir, forbear!
Oxf. All stand off. With favour, lady,
Oxf. My commission
the death of her husband Richard, shoe maried Sir Mathie Cradock (a man of great power at that tyme in Clamorganshyre, in Wales), of the which mariage is descended this William, Earle of Pembroke, by his grandmother, and had some lands by inheritance from the Cradockes. Lady Katheren Gordon died in Wales, and was buried in a chappell at one of the Earle of Pembrok his dwelling-places in that cuntrey. The Englesh histories doe much commend her for her beauty, comliness, and chastetie."-GIFFORD.
is rich enough, and Fulgoso, a livelier coxcomb, whom the late Flemish wars had lifted from a sutler's hut into opulence, and into such gentility as opulence can confer. It is to be hoped that we may attribute to design, rather than to accident, that the humbler characters of the “ Lady's Trial” are at all events inoffensive. This was probably Ford's last play, and leads us to hope with Mr. Gifford, “that its author had at last suspected his want of genuine humour, and recollected, before he closed his theatrical career, that a dull medley of extravagance and impurity was ill calculated to supply the defect.
Language and matter, with a fit of mirth,
But where's now such a one, in which these three,
Wit, wit's the word in fashion, that alone
He who will venture on a jest, that can
A goodly approbation, which must bring
Your favours in what we present to-day;
1 See the Dedication to the Sun's Darling.