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PERKIN WARBECK.

Perkin Warbeck.] The youth of Margaret of Burgundy had been unfruitful; but her age-to borrow the quaint language which Ford has thought fit to adopt from Sir W. Warham-gave birth “ to two tall striplings, able, soon after their coming into the world, to give battle to mighty kings.” It need hardly be observed, that of these monstrous births, the one was the notorious Lambert Simnel, and the other the hero of the following drama. · The reader of Perkin Warbeck must not expect much of that delight which is derived from the artful intricacies and skilful development of a well-conducted fable; the play itself is styled by its author a “ Chronicle History;"*

* “Some have supposed,” says Mr. Malone, “ that Shakspeare was the first dramatic poet who introduced dramas formed on the Chronicles, but this is an undoubted error. Every one of the subjects on which he constructed his historical plays, appears to have been brought upon the scene before his time.” It is clear, indeed, from the curious volume of Gosson, that the Chronicles had been ransacked for plays before 1580, while Shakspeare, perhaps, as Aubrey says, was “killing calves in fine style ;” and for very obvious reasons, this species of dramatic entertainment seems to have been held in no small request by our ancestors. “ Plays," says Heywood, in his Apology for Actors, (printed in 1612,) « have taught the unlearned the knowledge of many famous histories, instructed such as cannot read, in the discovery of our English Chronicles : and what man have you now of that weake capacity that being possest of their true use, cannot

VOL. I.

it follows accordingly the march of events, and stretches over a considerable period of time; and it must be confessed that the tone of the dialogue does not always afford a sufficient relief for the languor with which the plot “ drags its dull length along.” It is to the delineation of character, therefore, that the reader of Perkin Warbeck must look for his principal source of gratification, and that gratification, his feelings will soon tell him, is rather to be supplied from Scotland than England, in which two countries the scene is alternately laid. A stronger opposition might perhaps have been given to the characters of the Scotch and English monarchs: but still the wary, politic, and far-sighted Henry is not a little in contrast with the chivalrous and romantic James; and the incidents which distinguish the courts of the two monarchs are in fair keeping with the complexion of those who sway them. In the one we have solemn counsels of state-detected conspiracies and defections—secret embassies, wisely conceived and dexterously managed-preparations for war, vigorously adopted and steadily pursued : in the other are exhibited snatches of court-delights and bridal gaieties;

discourse of any notable thing recorded even from William the Conqueror until this day ?” Hence, in the introduction to an old tragedy, called “ A Warning for Fair Women,” we find Tragedy, Comedy, and History personified, and each claiming superiority and possession of the stage. Tragedy threatens to scourge and kick her two competitors from off the stage, and indeed actually applies the whip to them; but History re. mains, nevertheless, undaunted;

" And, Tragedie, although to-day thou raigne,

To-morrow here I'll domineere againe.”

a princely sympathy with unfortunate greatness; that brilliant personal courage, which to many minds forms an excuse for every other defect, and which was here wanted not only to cover weak and vacillating councils, and enterprises hastily assumed and as hastily dropped, but to atone for errors which do not lie so immediately upon the surface. Mr. Gifford has characterized the Henry of our author as cold, calculating, stern, shrewd, and avaricious. These are harsh epithets, for which some qualification might surely have been found in the burst of feeling and emotion which breaks from him when the name of Stanley is found in the band of conspirators against his royal power and person in his princely munificence to the wife of his vanquished rival-in his sympathy with the fallen fortunes of Dalyell--in the indignation which breaks from him at the bare supposition that his interests have been served at the expense of religious propriety, and even in the liberal treatment which Warbeck and his followers receive, when the chances of war first throw them into his hands. That these redeeming traits in Henry's character should have escaped Mr. G.'s acute observation is not less remarkable than that he should overlook the flaw in James's generosity, of which the outward credit is allowed to rest with himself, but of which the real cost is paid by one of the noblest and most loyal of his subjects, the poor brokenhearted Earl of Huntley.

But it is not on the characters of either James or Henry that the reader's attention will soon learn to rest. Huntley, Dalyell, the Lady Katherine Gordon, and Jane Douglas, are four such creations as we might almost

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