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And preservation; no replies, but reverence.
The Witch Of EDMONTON.] This Tragi-Comedy, which appears to have been brought on the stage in 1623, was not published till 1658. It was composed, as the title of the quarto edition bears,“ by divers well esteemed poets, William Rowley, Thomas Dekker, John Ford, &c.” It was acted by the Prince's Servants, often at the Cockpit in Drury Lane, and once at Court, with singular applause. There is a rude wooden cut on the title-page of the quarto, with a portrait of the witch (Mother Sawyer), her familiar, a black dog, and Cuddy Banks, the clown of the piece, in the water. That no doubts might arise of the likenesses, the portraits are respectively authenticated by their
proper names. “It seems to have been a trick of the trade,” says Mr. Gifford, “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 &c. 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.”
If the witch of Ford's days was, as we have already intimated, a far less splendid intellectual creation than the sorceress of the present time, it gives one advantage to the play before us, by maintaining her in better keeping with the other characters, which are all derived from the middle or lower ranks of life. It is not however from tragedies of " stateliest and most regal argument" alone,
as the reader of the following drama will feel himself compelled to acknowledge, that situations of the deepest interest and most heart-rending pathos can be derived.
Frank Thorney, the son of a gentleman, but whom his father's straitened circumstances had brought into some office of servitude with Sir Arthur Clarington, had won “ the conquest of a fellow-servant's maiden-love" and was, it seems, in
prospect of becoming a father by her. This error is repaired, as far as it can be, by a secret marriage; and Winnifrede, who at first displays a little of that harshness of character, which a deviation from virtue generally begets upon persons of strong natural intellect and a keen moral sense, gradually steals upon the reader's mind by the warmth of her attachment to her undeserving husband-by the depth of her repentance, and the evident purpose and fixed resolve, which ensure the future rectitude of her conduct.
Though Winnifrede's conscience had been thus in some degree relieved, it was a great object with the wily Frank to conceal their marriage from his father, till the inheritance, to which he was born, should be so assured, that no future resentment of the old man shall be able to
cross the thriving" of his recent engagements. In this scheme he is assisted with letters by Sir Arthur Clarington, who has his own reasons for accommodating himself to the views of his late“ servant,” and who exhibits, at least in the opening Act of the drama, a character fạr more odious than even Frank himself. With a promise (and it appears to have been but a promise) of two hundred pounds from Sir Arthur to assist their occasions, the new married pair leave the neighbourhood of Edmonton, for