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is, would be changed to the most ar- Our atmosphere is exposed to variabitrary levies and universal spoliation, tions of heat and motion, each having without the shadow of a pretext. its beneficial operation. The alterna

But bere, for the present, I must tion of light and darkness is, no doubt, stop. In my next I shall state some equally essential to our good, and it other effects which I have observed is obvious, that, without this law, we reading to produce on the lower or- should, on this planet, be surrounded ders. I am, &c.

by a splendid light, without interval A VILLAGE POLITICIAN. of darkness interfering with the re-, near Paisley,

pose of animated nature. I submit Jan. 10, 1819.

to you, whether this appeal, for ex

plavation, deserves a place in your .' Although the preceding article ex. journal, sure, that if it is calculat. presses opinions, in many respects, very ed to obtain no light for me, it will different from those which we ourselves encertain, we have judged it proper to insert the use of your taper, to give light to .

be well employed, torn into slips, for it, for the sake of affording an opportunity for a free discussion of this interesting

yourself.

N. R. question.EDIT

ON THE ENCLISH DRAMATIC WRIT-
BRS WHO PRECEDED SHAKESPEARE.

PHENOMENON OF LIGHT.

No. II. MR EDITOR,

The celebrated German critic SchleA PHENOMENON, which seems to gel, who is a perfect antitheton, if I constitute one of the laws of light, has may so say, to our English commenoften pressed itself upon my notice as tators on Shakespeare, and whose leccurious and wonderful. It is one which tures upon dramatic literature have is for ever laying itself under our ob- recently been translated, has given servation ; but in my very limited several remarkable instances of his knowledge of philosophy, I know not want of knowledge on the subject on whether it has been the object of at- which he has displayed so much wistention, and therefore wish to submit dom. Our commentators knew noit to your readers in hopes of some re- thing of Shakespeare, and he knew marks upon it. You will find then, nothing of any boily but Shakespeare, that the organ of vision, in its full or, in other words, he was totally igand natural power, may be very near norant of the productions of any of or close to an intense and large co- his contemporaries. This circumstance lumn of light, without any perception has led him into one or two gross erof it; as, for instance, in returning up rors, by which he has in some degree the village to my own house, in a dark committed his taste anıl judgment. night, the strong light which issues Thus, when noticing the doubtful from a square open window of a black- plays attributed to Shakespeare, he smith's shop, thrown across the street, observes of the History of Sir John is not seen so long as I am advancing Oldcastle, that it is “not only unat an angle with it, unless I cast my questionably Shakespeare's, but, in iny eye either into the shop, or on the opinion, it deserves to be classed aopposite wall.

mong his best and maturest works,” The column which must obviously when it is an admitted fact, discovertravel across, and therefore actually ed by one of those whose chief, if not exist in the street, is invisible unless only, merit is to discover facts, that the eye is placed in the column, re that play was the joint procluction of ceiving direct rays upon the retina, or Michael Drayton, Anthony Nunday, rays reflected upon it by walls, &c. or and two other poets of less notoriety. moveable objects in it. The same Malone, from an old theatrical regislaw is for ever in operation during ter, shewed the precise sum paid to our nights. The sun sends his rays each of them for their joint labours. from below our horizon to the plane The point having been so incontrotary bodies, from which rays are re- vertibly ascertained, and this being flected to our eyes ; but their splen- the only dramatic piece extant in dour throughout their journey thither which so distinguished a poet as Drayis lost upon us, passing by unseen. ton is known to have had a hand,

true-man.

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(though seven unseen plays are as- selfe, although I think now he be turned a signed to his pen,) it may deserve a few remarks, illustrated by quotations, King. Faith, I have heard indeede h'as before I pursue the line I chalked out had an ill name this way in's youth; but in my last article, more especially as

how canst thou tell that he has been a

thief? those quotations will prove, that Shake

Pricst. How ? because he once robb'd speare was indebted to the History of Sir John Oldcastie for one of the most that foul villainous guts, that led him to

me before I fell to the trade myself, when effective scenes in his Henry V. The all that roguery, was in's company there; great purpose I have in view, is to that Fulstoffe. Shew how far, and in what way, our King, aside. Well, if he did rob thee, great dramatic poet was indebted to then, thou art but even with him now, I'le his predecessors or contemporaries, be sworne. who began to write for the stage earlier than himself. I take it also, that Setting, however, aside this point, it is not too much to assert, that (on which I do not insist, it seems scarcely one English reader in a thou. quite evident that the first outline sand ever heard or saw a line from sketch of the famous interview in the History of Sir John Oldcastle. Shakespeare's Henry V., between the It was first printed in 1600, and en- King, Scroop, Cambridge, and Grey, tered upon the books of the Station- in which the former so finely exposes ers' Company to Thomas Pavier, the their treachery just before he embarks same printer who, in the same year, for France, is to be found in the folpublished Shakespeare's Henry V., lowing scene in the History of Sir John with which I am about to compare it. Oldcastle, as written by Drayton, There can be no doubt, from internal Munday, and others. Shakespeare and external evidence, which it would has avoided the dramatic impropriety be tedious to detail, that the History and degradation of making the King of Sir John Oldcastle was written, a listener at the door ; his other imand probably represented, before Hena provements, both in language and ry V., and after Henry IV., Parts 1 stage effect, are too obvious to need and 2. If it could be established that mention. it was composed or performed before the two parts of Henry IV., it would “Enter Cambridge, Scroop, and Gray, as in be still more curious and worthy of a chamber, and set down at table, consultobservation, because there are passages

ing about their treuson, King Harry and in it that refer particularly to the Suffolk listning at the door. youthful pranks of Prince Henry and

Cam. In mine opinion, Scroop hath his notorious companions Falstaff, well advised ; Poins, and Peto; for instance, in a Poison will be the only aptest mean, scene where a priest robs Henry V., And fittest for our purpose to dispatch him. who is in disguise :

Gray. But yet there may be doubt in 66 Pricst. Sirrha, no more adoe; come,

their delivery ; come, give me the money you have. Dis- Harry is wise, therefore Earl of Campatch, I cannot stand all day !

bridge, King. Well, if thou wilt needs have it, I judge that way not so convenient. there it is; just the proverbe, one thief Scr. What think you then of this, I am robs another Where the devil are all my

his bedfellow, old thicves? Fulstaffe, that villain, is so And unsuspected nightly slcep with him ; fat, he cannot get on's horse; but methinks What if I venture in those silent houres Pornes and Peto should be stirring herea When slecp hath sealed up all mortal eyes, bouts."

To murther him in bed! How like you “ Priest. How much is there on't of thy

that ? word ?

Cam. Herein consists no safety for your King. A hundred pound in angels, on self,

And you disclos'd, what shall become of us ? The time has been I would have done as But this day, as ye know, he will aboard, much

The winds so fair, and set away for France ; For thee, if thou had past this way." If as he goes, or ent’ring in the ship,

Henry then informs the Priest that. It might be done, then were it excellent! he is one of the King's court, on which I'le cause a present sitting of the councel,

Gray. Why any of these; or if you will the thief observes,

Wherein I will pretend some matter of “ Methinks the king should be good to such weight, thieves, because he has been a thief him. As needs must have his royal company,

my word.

99

US

case :

And so dispatch him in his councel-cham- defying patience of Sir John Oldcasber.

tle, there is a great deal of fine poetry Cam. Tush; yet I hear not any thing and strong feeling; the scene near the

to purpose ;, I wonder that Lord Cobham stays so long, driven out upon the wide world,

end between him and his wife, when His counsel in this case would much avail

where he tells her, The King steps upon them with his Lords. Thou wast not wont to have the earth thy

stool, Ser. What, shall we rise thus, and de Nor the moist dewy grass thy pillow, nor termine nothing?

Thy chamber to be the wide horizon, King. That were a shame indeed! no, sit again,

is very affecting, and well wrought up. And you shall have my counsel in this I am not aware that the undoubted

resemblance I have pointed out, and If you can find no way to kill the King, which is curious, as establishing Then you shall see how I can furnish ye. Shakespeare's obligations, has ever be Scroop's way by poison was indifferent, fore been pointed out by any of the And yet being bed-fellow to the king,

vainly-learned illuminators of the text And unsuspected, sleeping in his bosome, In mine opinion that's the likelier way ;

of Shakespeare. For such false friends are able to do much, tends for the authenticity of all the

In the same manner Schlegel conAnd silent night is treason's fittest friend. Now, Cambridge in his setting hence for plays ascribed to Shakespeare, “beFrance,

cause (he observes) in his acknowOr by the way, or as he goes aboard, ledged works we find hardly any traces To do the deed, that was indifferent too, of his apprenticeship, and yet an apBut somewhat doubtful.

prenticeship he certainly had: this Marry, Lord Gray came very near the every artist must have, and especially point

in u period where he has not before To have the king at Counsel, and there him the example of a school already

murder him, As Cæsar was among his dearest friends.... that “ in his acknowledged works we

formed.In the first place, I deny Tell me, oh tell me, you bright lionour's find hardly any traces of his appren

staines, For which of all my kindnesses to you

ticeship,” and I appeal to his Titus Are ye become thus traitors to your king,

Andronicus, to his Two Gentlemen of And France must have the spoile of Har. Verona, to his All's Well that ends Well, ry's life?

and to several others; and in the next All. Oh pardon us, dread Lord ! place, I say, and will prove as I proKing. How! pardon ye? That were a ceed, that the German critic must sin indeed!

have been extremely ignorant of the Drag them to death, which justly they de- dramatic poets who preceded Shake

speare, or he would have known that And Franec shall dearly buy this villainy,

he had before him “ the example of So soon as we set footing on her breast ! God have the praise for our deliverance,

a school already formed,” according to

which he constructed every play he And next our thanks, Lord Cobham, are to thee,

Such being the fact, the True perfect mirrour of nobilitie! Erit. whole force of his argument is taken

away, and we are still left to external Had we never seen Shakespeare's evidence and internal probability, full-grown and perfect scene, of which without being required, with our eyes the above is undoubteilly the embryo, shut, to swallow wholesale all the we should have thought this more ex trash which has been palmed upon us cellent than it at present appears. It by fraudulent printers who wished to will not be supposed that I mean to derive advantage from Shakespeare's compare the two plays in point of popularity. It we were to take it for poetical merit, or of judicious man- granted, on the broad ground stated agement of the story. Sir John Old- by Schlegel, that Shakespeare wrote castle, whose private and particular the Tragedy of Locrine, there could griefs form the great subject of Dray- be no reason for rejecting any of the ton's production, is not mentioned by dull nonsense which Kirkman afterShakespeare, whose work is dedicated wards fuisted upon the world as to great national events; yet in the the offspring of Shakespeare's muse. firm and dignified loyalty and fate. It is just as impossible that the same

serve ;

wrote.

VOL. IV.

R

hand should have penned The Life of velty of the question will, perhaps Merlin and Othello, as that the globe make some amends for its dryness. should cease to revolve; the one is It is not, I believe, generally known, & moral, the other a physical impossi- that the late Bishop Percy, a man bility.

well qualified, from his extensive It

may be said, because it has been knowledge and delicate taste, projectsaid, that, in writing these articles, I ed, shortly before his death, a sepaam performing an ungracious task, - rate volume upon this subject, and he that my object is to detract from the proposed to treat it historically, beapplause to which Shakespeare is en- ginning with the earliest attempts atitled.' I deny it. Many will think mong our English writers to break the objection too idle to require a se the jingling fetters of rhyme. The rious answer. If I prove, as I under. popular notion undoubtedly is, that take to do, that Greene, Marlow, and Milton's Paradise Lost was the first Chapman, were admirable writers for poem in our language in which the the stage, do I at all diminish the aid of rhyme was rejected; but this glory Shakespeare has acquired ? Is is a mere vulgar error, even though the brightness of our sun less, because the author himself may tell us that astronomers, through optic glasses, " it is to be esteemed an example set, show us stars distant and glimmering, the first in English, of ancient liberty that, if more nearly approached, would recovered to the heroic poem from the shine with more lustre than they now troublesome and modern bondage of seem to possess ? Is it not true, on the rhyming." His words are to be uncontrary, that the more I advance the derstood with great latitude, and with merits of Shakespeare's contempora- reference to an epic, and not merely ries, the more. I illustrate bis une to a heroic, poem. He specially exqualled genius, which so far surpass- cepts from his censure " the best Eng. ed them? Those entertain but a low lish tragedies;” but, independent of and an unworthy notion of this migh- authors who wrote blank verse for the ty poet who think, that, in order to stage, not less than between fifteen preserve his superiority, it is neces and twenty men can be named who, sary to destroy all possibility of rival- long before Milton's day, had thrown ship. My admiration of Shakespeare off “this troublesome and modern is such, that I will not scruple to say, bondage” in heroic poetry. Some of that, if he be not the greatest poet, the principal of these it may be fit to in comparison with all the great poets notice, for the sake of illustrating this that ever lived, he is nothing and no- mistaken point, left much in the dark body, and I will resign him to the by the decease of the Bishop of Drodamnation of their praise who make more. How far he had proceeded in this objection. One would really sup- his design before that event I am not pose that he was a sort of mystery, informed. which it was a poetical impiety to ex

I shall leave the alliterative metre amine and unriddle, and that he was of the uncertain author of Pierce only fit for the worship of those blind Ploughman's Vision and Creed to the devotees who adore only because they learned dissertation published with cannot comprehend.

the modern splendid reprint, thinking Having introduced these prelimi- that it has, in fact, nothing to do with nary matters, (perhaps a little out of this question. The endeavours of their course in the argument, but Harvey, Spenser, Sidney, Fraunce, tending to the same conclusion,) for Campion, and others, to revive the the purpose of showing into what er- ancient classic measures, I reject for rors the very ablest critics have fallen, the same reason, and shall not go and having answered an objection farther back than the time of the started by some who substitute an celebrated Lord Surrey, who is inignorant zeal for Shakespeare's name disputably, I believe, the father for the power and the means of esti- of heroic blank verse in English. mating his genius, I will proceed to His “ Certaine Bookes of Virgile's the point to which I adverted in my Æneis turned into English metir" former article, viz. to inquire in what was published in 1457, but the ediway, and at what time, blank verse tion was of such rarity, that, until mowas first employed in our poetry, and dern republications made it more faintroduced upon our stage. The no- miliar, it was scarcely known whether

called "

it were with or without rhyme. In anul, in his “ Pastoral ecclogue upon 1567 Turberville translated six of the death of Sir P. Sidney.” Perhaps Ovid's Epistles into blank verse, with his name ought to have been inserted much success, and he was followed earlier in this enumeration, as the by Gascoyne, well known to the lo- poem was written in 1597, though, I vers of old poetry, who, in his satire believe, not published till eight years

A Steele Glasse," printed in afterwards. Chapman, the author of 1576, gave a specimen of his skill in many admirable tragedies and comethe same species of composition: the dies, might also be added to this list, lines, generally speaking, are well con as well as a very inferior poet of the structed, and of an easy flow, but they name of Sabre, who likewise wrote want the force and nerve that ought soine bad English hexameters about to belong to such kind of composi- 1595. Marlow, before 1593, transtions. Perhaps Abrahain Fleming, the lated the first book of Lucan's Phar. translator of the Georgics and Buco- salia into blank verse, and rendered it lics of Virgil, ought to precede Gas- line for line according to the title-page coyne in point of date, but his pro- of the edition of 1600. duction was quite of a diff-rent cha I could easily have introduced seracter, his measure being the old 14 veral other names, had I not been syllable verse of Phaer and Golding, afraid of becoming tedious by a mere merely with the omission of the con- enumeration, without specimens, which sonant termination. Blenerhasset, would have occupied too large a who wrote the second part of that ce- space: Topics merely antiquarian lebrated and over-praised book, the are the dullest in the world to general Mirror for Magistrates, in 1576, in- readers, and the most tedious to wriserted the Legend of Cadwallader, in ters, who like the inside of a book blank verse, which seems not to have better than the outside-the substance been much liked, placed as it is in and body of a poem better than the the midst of poems which seldom title-page and the printer's colophon. have much more than easy rhyming The present article has already exto recommend them. The Elizabetha ceeded the limit I intended. In the Triumphans of Aske, a piece, “which, next I will connect the question re(as petty Waller said of Paradise garding the introduction and employ, Lost,) if length a recommenda- ment of blank verse with the Stage, and tion, hath that, but assuredly no will show when first, and to what exother," is entirely in blank verse: It tent, it was employed in theatrical rewas originally published in 1588, and presentations. From thence I shall has been reprinted by Nichols, in his regularly proceed with the English Progresses of Queen Elizabeth. In Drama, down to the time of Shakethe next year, Peele, a writer of great speare. and deserved celebrity, addressed “

I. P. C. Farewell” to Sir Francis Drake and Sir John Norris, in blank verse, of the first excellence ; from it it is with ON THE great difficulty I refrain, for the sake of brevity, from inserting an extract:

No. I. The same individual also addressed those great commanders on their re SWITZERLAND, the most romantic turn, in a dialogue between two shep- country in Europe, never produced a herds. In 1590, a person of the name poet; and Scotland, whose inhabiof Vallans wrote « A Tale of two tants have perhaps more universally Swannes,” of which 12 pages are blank the spirit of religion than any other verse, and both Lodge and Greene nation, can boast of scarcely one emi(whose numerous plays I shall here- nent divine, There must be some after have occasion to mention) have cause for this,-soinething which runs introduced pieces into their novels, counter to our obvious imaginings, not merely in heroical, but lyrical and renders vain the magisterial deci. measures, without rhyme. To these may be added, Lodowick Brysket, ser's : It is clearly not his, but Brysket's, the intimate friend of Spenser, in his whose“ Pastoral ccclogue” immediately " Mourning Muse of Thestylis,"

follows it in the first folio of Spenser's

Poems. It was entered at Stationers' This - Mourning Muse of Thestylis” Hall, in 1587, to Wolfe, as “ the Mourn. has, by some, been thought to be Spen. ing Muse of Lod. Brysket.”

a

THE

PRESENT STATE OF
SCOTTISH PULPIT.

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