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THE SUN's DARLING..] Of this “moral masque,” which was written conjointly by Ford and Decker, and was acted with great applause, an analysis has been given in the introductory matter. “I know not on what authority Langbaine speaks,” says Mr. Gifford, “but he expressly attributes the greater part of this mask to Ford. As far as concerns the last two acts I agree with him; and a long and clear examination of this poet's manner enables me to speak with some degree of confidence. But I trace Decker perpetually in the other three acts, and through the whole of the comic part.” However imperfectly for moral purposes this mask may have been conceived or executed, a fine vein of poetry unquestionably runs throughout it; and this, together with its activity and bustle, its May-games, its delicious peeps into rural life, its songs, and its dances, most of which, no doubt, proceeded from the lively pen of Decker, seem to have rendered it a great favourite with the eople. The character of “Folly” was no uncommon one in the old moralities, but our authors seem to have had an eye more particularly upon a predecessor of the name in the morality, entitled “The Worlde and the Chylde.” Their “Masque of the Four Elements,” of which little more than the title has been obtruded on the present reader, probably also grew out of an earlier performance, called “The Interlude of the Four Elements.”
THE RIGHT HONOURABLE
EARL OF SOUTHAMPTON,
LORD WRIOTHESLEY, OF TICHFIELD, ETC.
Herodotus reports, that the Egyptians, by wrapping their dead in glass, present them lively to all posterity; but your lordship will do more-by the vivifying beams of your acceptation revive the parents of this orphan poem, and make them live to eternity. While the stage flourished, the poem lived by the breath of general applauses, and the virtual fervour of the court ; but since hath languished for want of heat, and now, near shrunk up with cold, creeps, with a shivering fear, to extend itself at the flames of your benignity. My lord, though it seems rough and forlorn, it is the issue of worthy parents, and we doubt not but you will find it accomplished with their virtue. Be pleased, then, my lord, to give it entertainment; the more destitute and needy it is, the greater reward may be challenged by your charity ; and so, being sheltered under your wings, and comforted by the sunshine of your favour, it will become proof against the injustice of time, and, like one of Demetrius's statues, appear fresher and fresher to all ages. My lord, were we not confident of the excellence of the piece, we should not dare to assume an impudence to prefer it to a person of your honour and known judgment; whose
1 Lord Wriothesley, of Tichfield, &c.] Thomas, fourth earl of Southampton, eminent for his rare virtues, more eminent for those of his daughter, the admirable Lady Rachael Russell. He succeeded his father Henry, third earl, the friend and patron of Shakspeare, in 1624, and died in 1667. If more be wanting to his fame, it may be added that he enjoyed the friendship and merited the praise of the Earl of Clarendon. --GIFFORD.