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'Tis therefore wit to try all fashions,
The Moor now offers to resign the 'crówn.
“ Eleaz. Princes of Spain, if in this royal court
It is said, of the Princess Isabella, who grievės for the imprisonment of her brother Philip,
“ In the sandy heap
To the genius of Marlowe, the English Drama is considerably indebted. Even amidst the outrageous extravagance of his earliest productions there is an exuberance and fervour of imagination which gives an earnest of better things. But considered as wholes, his plays are very simple and inartificial in their construction-their excellence consists rather in detached scenes than in general effect. There is a want of coherence in them—they are rather a collection of separate parts which have little dependancy upon each other, than a series of actions which bear a near relation to and assist in the developement of the main event. We do not observe in them that skilful intertexture. of parts and that integrity of purpose which is necessary to produce a powerful effect. The most dramatic of his plays, considered as a whole, notwithstanding its occasional extravagance, is Lust's Dominion. It possesses a greater variety of character, a more skilful subordination of parts—is. more complete in its conduct, and more entire in its effect. It abounds with poetical images, and is written with “a sweet and curious harmony" of versification which is perfectly delicious. It has not, however, any single scene at all equal in grandeur to the concluding one in Doctor Faustus, or in pathetic effect to that in Edward the Second. Our extracts have swelled this article to such an unexpected length, that we must forbear enlarging further upon the merits of Marlowe, at least for the present. Before we conclude, however, it will be proper to mention, that besides the plays we have already noticed, he assisted Nash in the tragedy of Dido, Queen of Carthage, and Day in the comedy of The Maiden's Holiday, which was never printed. He was also the author of the first and second, and part of the third sestiads of the poem of Hero and Leander, written with great freedom, spirit, and poetry. Speaking of this poem, Ben Jonson said it was fitter for admiration than parallel. It was afterwards completed by Chapman. Marlowe also translated the first Lucan's Pharsalia into English blank verse, and the Elegies of Ovid, the licentiousness of which he rendered with such fidelity, that his book was condemned and burnt at Stationers' Hall in 1599, by order of the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Maurice, Printer, Fenchurch Street.
Vol. IV. Part II.
ART. 1.- Epistola Ho-Elianæ : Familiar Letters, domestic and
foreign, divided into four Books, partly Historical, Political, Philosophical, upon emergent occasions. By James Howell, 1688.
There is no mode more pleasant, and, perhaps, none more profitable, of acquiring historical knowledge, than by carefully gleaning those loose notices of the passing transactions of the day, which lie scattered over the letters of contemporary correspondents. These indirect bye-paths to the Temple of History may be somewhat more circuitous, but they often furnish us incidentally with a succession of picturesque peeps, that are infinitely more interesting than the bald naked view of the same objects, which is usually presented to the eye of the traveller who journies along the plain straight road of narrative. When shall we find so entertaining and so instructive, an account of the most important period of the Roman history as in the Familiar Epistles of Cicero ? The historian of the times may exhibit the actors upon the, stage, but the letters of the parties themselves admit us, as it were, behind the scenes, and shew us the individuals as they really were, stripped of all their tinsel disguises of parade and pretension. In the pages of the one we see the mere spectacle of the puppet-shew; in the other we discover the secret strings which regulate the movements of the personages of the scene.. In the one we behold nothing but the dial plate; in the other we are initiated into
VOL. IV. PART II.
the mysteries of that machinery by which the hands are constrained to point to a particular hour.
The charm which belongs to this sort of reading has led to the publication of whole libraries of letters, some of which have been too evidently composed rather for the press than the post, and have thereby lost much of their interest. There is a principle of inquisitiveness in our nature which excites us to pry into that which was not intended for our perusal; while the very idea of its being got up and prepared for our inspection would do much towards extinguishing all our curiosity. Thus we can run through the letters of Cowper, even in the voluminous quartos of Mr. Hayley, without any feeling of weariness, because we feel assured that we are reading the careless effusions of tenderness and friendship, poured out from the overflowings of his heart and his fancy, in the unsuspecting confidence of private correspondence; but we turn away with disgust from the laboured compositions of Anna Seward, who, intent upon posthumous publication, sits down with malice prepense, not to say what she thinks, but to think what she shall say; and, carefully taking copies of every epistle she indites, leaves six enormous folios for the edification of posterity.
If there be any exception to the general rule that letters prepared for the press are the most sickening and tiresome of all compositions, it will certainly be found in the familiar letters of James Howell, commonly called Epistola Ho-Eliana, which compose one of the most curious volumes in English literature. Still we doubt whether this is an exception; for though some of them might have been (as Wood insinuates) compiled from memory during his confinement in the Fleet, there is, we think, sufficient internal evidence to prove that the greater part were written at the times, and from the places of their respective dates. They comprise one of the most interesting periods of the English history,—the reigns of James the First and Charles the First; and he seems to have been well acquainted with the leading characters of his time. He tells us that he came tumbling out into the world a pure cadet, a true cosmopolite, not born to land, lease, house, or office. We collect from his correspondence that he carried a calf-leather satchel to school in Hereford; and that he afterwards obtained a Fellowship in Jesus College, Oxford, which, he says, he “will reserve and lay by as a good warm garment against rough weather, if any fall on him.” He was, besides, a great traveller, and few men before or since have given better descriptions of the countries he visited. His volume embraces the greatest variety of subjects, and he discusses all of them with the vigour and vivacity of a full and well-informed mind. His style, though somewhat infected with the quaintness peculiar to the age in which he lived, is a