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anan superintended the studies of that unfortunate princess, and dedicated to her one of the most finished and beautiful of his productions, the Epithalamium, composed on her first nuptials. The character and works of Buchanan, who was equally distinguished as a jurist, a poet, and a historian, exhibit a rare union of philosophical dignity and research with the finer sensibilities and imagination of the poet. Arthur Johnston was born at Caskieben, near Aberdeen, in 1587. He studied medicine at Padua, and resided for about twenty years in France. On his return to Britain, he obtained the patronage of Archbishop Laud, and was appointed physician to Charles I. He died at Oxford in 1641. Johnston wrote a number of Latin elegies and epigrams, a paraphrase of the Song of Solomon, a collection of short poems (published in 1637), entitled, Musa Aulicæ, and (his greatest work, as it was that of Buchanan) a complete version of the Psalms. He also edited and contributed largely to the Delicia Poetarum Scotorum, a collection of congratulatory poems by various authors, which reflected great honour on the taste and scholarship of the Scottish nation. Critics have been divided as to the relative merits of Buchanan and Johnston. We subjoin the opinions of a Scottish and an English scholar :- If we look into Buchanan,' says Dr Beattie, what can we say, but that the learned author, with great command of Latin expression, has no true relish for the emphatic conciseness and unadorned simplicity of the inspired poets? Arthur Johnston is not so verbose, and has, of course, more vigour; but his choice of a couplet, which keeps the reader always in mind of the puerile epistles of Ovid, was singularly injudicious. As psalms may, in prose as easily as in verse, be adapted to music, why should we seek to force those divine strains into the measures of Roman or of modern song? He who transformed Livy into iambics, and Virgil into monkish rhyme, did not, in my opinion, act more absurdly. In fact, sentiments of devotion are rather depressed than elevated by the arts of the European versifier.'* The following is the testimony of Mr Hallam :-'The Scots certainly wrote Latin with a good ear and considerable elegance of phrase. A sort of critical controversy was carried on in the last century as to the versions of the Psalms by Buchanan and Johnston. Though the national honour may seem equally secure by the superiority of either, it has, I believe, been usual in Scotland to maintain the older poet against all the world. I am, nevertheless, inclined to think that Johnston's Psalms, all of which are in elegiac metre, do not fall short of those of Buchanan, either in elegance of style or correctness of Latinity. In the 137th, with which Buchanan has taken much pains, he may be allowed the preference, but not at a great interval, and he has attained this superiority by too much diffuseness.'

[The 137th Psalm, by Buchanan.]

Dum procul à patria mosti Babylonis in oris,
Fluminis ad liquidas fortè sedemus aquas;
Illa animum subiit species miseranda Sionis,
Et nunquam patrii tecta videnda soli.
Flevimus, et gemitus luctantia verba repressit ;
Inque sinus liquida decidit imber aquæ.
Muta super virides pendebant nablia ramos,
Et salices tacitas sustinuere lyras.
Ecce ferox dominus, Solymæ populator opimæ,
Exigit in mediis carmina læta malis:
Qui patriam exilio nobis mutavit acerbo,
Nos jubet ad patrios verba referre modos,

* Beattie s Dissertations, Moral and Critical

Quale canebamus, steterat dum celsa Sionis
Regia, finitimis invidiosa locis.
Siccine divinos Babylon irrideat hymnos?
Audiat et sanctos terra profana modos?
O Solymæ, ô adyta, & sacri penetralia templi,
Ullane vos animo deleat hora meo?
Comprecor, antè meæ capiant me oblivia dextræ,
Nec memor argutæ sit mea dextra lyræ:
Os mihi destituat vox, arescente palato,
Hæreat ad fauces aspera lingua meas :
Prima mihi vestræ nisi sint præconia laudis ;
Hinc nisi lætitiæ surgat origo meæ.
At tu (quæ nostræ insultavit læta rapinæ)
Gentis Idumææ tu memor esto, pater.
Diripite, ex imis evertite fundamentis,
Equaque (clamabant) reddite tecta solo.
Tu quoque crudeles Babylon dabis impia pœnas:
Et rerum instabiles experiere vices.
Felix qui nostris accedet cladibus ultor,

Reddet ad exemplum qui tibi damna tuum. Felix qui tenero consperget saxa cerebro, Eripiens gremio pignora cara tuo.

The First of May.

[Translated, as is the subsequent piece, from the Latin Buchanan, by the late Mr Robert Hogg.]

All hail to thee, thou First of May,
Sacred to wonted sport and play,
To wine, and jest, and dance, and song,
And mirth that lasts the whole day long!
Hail of the seasons honour bright,
Annual return of sweet delight;
Flower of reviving summer's reign,
That hastes to time's old age again!
When Spring's mild air at Nature's birth
First breath'd upon the new-form'd earth;
Or when the fabled age of gold,
Without fix'd law, spontaneous roll'd;
Such zephyrs, in continual gales,
Pass'd temperate along the vales,
And soften'd and refresh'd the soil,
Not broken yet by human toil;
Such fruitful warmths perpetual rest
On the fair islands of the blest-
Those plains where fell disease's moan
And frail old age are both unknown.
Such winds with gentle whispers spread
Among the dwellings of the dead,
And shake the cypresses that grow
Where Lethe murmurs soft and slow.
Perhaps when God at last in ire
Shall purify the world with fire,
And to mankind restore again
Times happy, void of sin and pain,
The beings of this earth beneath,
Such pure ethereal air shall breathe.

Hail glory of the fleeting year!
Hail! day the fairest, happiest here!
Memorial of the time gone by,
And emblem of futurity!

On Neæra.

My wreck of mind, and all my woes,
And all my ills, that day arose,
When on the fair Neæra's eyes,

Like stars that shine,

At first, with hapless fond surprise,
I gazed with mine.

When my glance met her searching glance,
A shivering o'er my body burst,
As light leaves in the green woods dance
When western breezes stir them first;

My heart forth from my breast to go,
And mix with her's already wanting,
Now beat, now trembled to and fro,

With eager fondness leaping, panting.
Just as a boy, whose nourice woos him,
Folding his young limbs in her bosom,
Heeds not caresses from another,
But turns his eyes still to his mother,
When she may once regard him watches,
And forth his little fond arms stretches.
Just as a bird within the nest

That cannot fly, yet constant trying,
Its weak wings on its tender breast

Beats with the vain desire of flying.
Thou, wary mind, thyself preparing
To live at peace, from all ensnaring,
That thou might'st never mischief catch,
Plac'd'st you, unhappy eyes, to watch
With vigilance that knew no rest,
Beside the gateways of the breast.
But you, induc'd by dalliance deep,
Or guile, or overcome by sleep;
Or else have of your own accord
Consented to betray your lord;
Both heart and soul then fled and left
Me spiritless, of mind bereft.

Then cease to weep; use is there none
To think by weeping to atone ;
Since heart and spirit from me fled,
You move not by the tears you shed;
But go to her, intreat, obtain;
If you do not intreat, and gain,
Then will I ever make you gaze
Upon her, till in dark amaze
You sightless in your sockets roll,
Extinguish'd by her eyes' bright blaze,
As I have been depriv'd of heart and soul.


Notwithstanding the greatness of the name of Spenser, it is not in general versification that the poetical strength of the age is found to be chiefly manifested. Towards the latter part of the reign of Elizabeth, the dramatic form of composition and representation, coinciding with that love of splendour, chivalrous feeling, and romantic adventures, which animated the court, rose with sudden and wonderful brilliancy, and attracted nearly all the poetical genius of England.

most sacred persons, not excluding the Deity, were introduced into them.

About the reign of Henry VI., persons representing sentiments and abstract ideas, such as Mercy, Justice, Truth, began to be introduced into the miracle plays, and led to the composition of an improved kind of drama, entirely or chiefly composed of such characters, and termed Moral Plays. These were certainly a great advance upon the miracles, in as far as they endeavoured to convey sound moral lessons, and at the same time gave occasion to some poetical and dramatic ingenuity, in imaging forth the characters, and assigning appropriate speeches to each. The only scriptural character retained in them was the devil, who, being represented in grotesque habiliments, and perpetually beaten by an attendant character, called the Vice, served to enliven what must have been at the best a sober, though well-meant entertainment. The Cradle of Security, Hit the Nail on the Head, Impatient Poverty, and the Marriage of Wisdom and Wit, are the names of moral plays which enjoyed popularity in the reign of Henry VIII. It was about that time that acting first became a distinct profession; both miracles and moral plays had previously been represented by clergymen, schoolboys, or the members of trading incorporations, and were only brought forward occasionally, as part of some public or private festivity.

As the introduction of allegorical characters had been an improvement upon those plays which consisted of scriptural persons only, so was the introduction of historical and actual characters an improvement upon those which employed only a set of impersonated ideas. It was soon found that a real human being, with a human name, was better calculated to awaken the sympathies, and keep alive the attention of an audience, and not less so to impress them with moral truths, than a being who only represented a notion of the mind. The substitution of these for the symbolical characters, gradually took place during the earlier part of the sixteenth century; and thus, with some aid from Greek dramatic literature, which now began to be studied, and from the improved theatres of Italy and Spain, the genuine English drama took its rise.

As specimens of something between the moral plays and the modern drama, the Interludes of JOHN HEYWOOD may be mentioned. Heywood was supported at the court of Henry VIII. partly as a musician, partly as a professed wit, and partly as a writer of plays. His dramatic compositions, part It would appear that, at the dawn of modern civi- of which were produced before 1521, generally relisation, most countries of Christian Europe pos- presented some ludicrous familiar incident, in a sessed a rude kind of theatrical entertainment, con- style of the broadest and coarsest farce, but yet sisting, not in those exhibitions of natural character with no small skill and talent. One, called the and incident which constituted the plays of ancient Four P.'s, turns upon a dispute between a Palmer, Greece and Rome, but in representations of the prin- a Pardoner, a Poticary, and a Pedlar (who are the cipal supernatural events of the Old and New Testa- only characters), as to which shall tell the grossest ments, and of the history of the saints, whence they falsehood: an accidental assertion of the Palmer, were denominated Miracles, or Miracle Plays. Ori- that he never saw a woman out of patience in his ginally, they appear to have been acted by, and under life, takes the rest off their guard, all of whom dethe immediate management of, the clergy, who are clare it to be the greatest lie they ever heard, and understood to have deemed them favourable to the the settlement of the question is thus brought about diffusion of religious feeling; though, from the traces amidst much drollery. One of Heywood's chief of them which remain, they seem to have been pro- objects seems to have been to satirise the manners fane and indecorous in the highest degree. A of the clergy, and aid in the cause of the Reformers. miracle play, upon the story of St Katherine, and There were some less distinguished writers of inin the French language, was acted at Dunstable interludes, and Sir David Lyndsay's Satire of the 1119, and how long such entertainments may have previously existed in England is not known. From the year 1268 to 1577, they were performed almost every year in Chester; and there were few large cities which were not then regaled in a similar manner; even in Scotland they were not unknown. The

Three Estates, acted in Scotland in 1539, was a play of this kind.

The regular drama, from its very commencement, was divided into comedy and tragedy, the elements of both being found quite distinct in the rude entertainments above described, not to speak of the pre

Of patient sprite to others wrapp'd in woe,
And can in speech both rule and conquer kind,
Who, if by proof they might feel nature's force,
Would show themselves men as they are indeed,
Which now will needs be gods.

cedents afforded by Greece and Rome. Of comedy, which was an improvement upon the interludes, and may be more remotely traced in the ludicrous parts of the moral plays, the earliest specimen that can now be found bears the uncouth title of Ralph Royster Doyster, and was the production of NICOLAS UDALL, master of Westminster school. It is sup- Porrex, both tragedies and comedies had become not Not long after the appearance of Ferrex and posed to have been written in the reign of Henry uncommon. Damon and Pythias, the first English VIII., but certainly not later than 1551. The scene is in London, and the characters, thirteen in num- tragedy upon a classical subject, was acted before ber, exhibit the manners of the middle orders of the the queen at Oxford, in 1566; it was the composition people of that day. It is divided into five acts, and of RICHARD EDWARDS, a learned member of the unithe plot is amusing and well constructed. Mr J.versity, but was inferior to Ferrex and Porrex, in as Payne Collier, who has devoted years of anxious far as it carried an admixture of vulgar comedy, and study to the history and illustration of dramatic was written in rhyme. In the same year, two plays literature, has discovered four acts of a comedy, respectively styled the Supposes and Jocasta, the one which he assigns to the year 1560. This play is a comedy adapted from Ariosto, the other a traentitled Mesogonus, and bears to be written by gedy from Euripides, were acted in Gray's Inn Hall. Thomas Rychardes.' The scene is laid in Italy, but the manners are English, and the character of the domestic fool, so important in the old comedy, is fully delineated. The next in point of time is Gammer Gurton's Needle, supposed to have been written about 1565 (or still earlier) by JOHN STILL, Master of Arts, and afterwards bishop of Bath and Wells. This is a piece of low rustic humour, the whole turning upon the loss and recovery of the needle with which Gammer Gurton was mending a piece of attire belonging to her man Hodge. But it is cleverly hit off, and contains a few well-sketched characters.

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The language of Ralph Royster Doyster, and of Gammer Gurton's Needle, is in long and irregularly measured rhyme, of which a specimen may be given from a speech of Dame Custance in the former play, respecting the difficulty of preserving a good reputation :

How necessary it is now a-days,
That each body live uprightly in all manner ways;
For let never so little a gap be open,

And be sure of this, the worst will be spoken!

Tragedy, of later origin than comedy, came directly from the more elevated portions of the moral plays, and from the pure models of Greece and Rome. The earliest known specimen of this kind of composition is the Tragedy of Ferrez and Porrex, composed by Thomas Sackville, afterwards Earl of Dorset, and by Thomas Norton, and played before Queen Elizabeth at Whitehall, by the members of the Inner Temple, in January 1561. It is founded on a fabulous incident in early British history, and is full of slaughter and civil broils. It is written, however, in regular blank verse, consists of five acts, and observes some of the more useful rules of the A tragedy, called Tancred and Gismunda, composed classic drama of antiquity, to which it bears resem- by five members of the Inner Temple, and presented blance in the introduction of a chorus-that is, a there before the queen in 1568, was the first Enggroup of persons whose sole business it is to inter-lish play taken from an Italian novel. Various sperse the play with moral observations and inferences, expressed in lyrical stanzas. It may occasion some surprise, that the first English tragedy should

contain lines like the following:-

Acastus. Your grace should now, in these grave
years of yours,

Have found ere this the price of mortal joys;
How short they be, how fading here in earth;
How full of change, how little our estate
Of nothing sure save only of the death,

To whom both man and all the world doth owe
Their end at last : neither should nature's power
In other sort against your heart prevail,
Than as the naked hand whose stroke assays
The armed breast where force doth light in vain.
Gorboduc. Many can yield right sage and grave

Gray's Inn Hall.

dramatic pieces now followed, and between the years 1568 and 1580, no less than fifty-two dramas were acted at court under the superintendence of the Master of the Revels. Under the date of 1578, we have the play of Promos and Cassandra, by GEORGE WHETSONE, on which Shakspeare founded his Measure for Measure. Historical plays were also produced, and the Troublesome Reign of King John, the Famous Victories of Henry V., and the Chronicle History of Leir, King of England, formed the quarry from which Shakspeare constructed his dramas on the same events. The first regularly licensed theatre in London was opened at Blackfriars in 1576; and in ten years, it is mentioned by Secretary Walsingham, that there were two hundred players in and near the metropolis. This was probably an exaggeration, but it is certain there were five public theatres open

about the commencement of Shakspeare's career, and several private or select establishments. Curiosity is naturally excited to learn something of the structure and appearance of the buildings in which his immortal dramas first saw the light, and where he unwillingly made himself a motley to the view,' in his character of actor. The theatres were constructed

Globe Theatre.

ness of some of the language put into the mouths of females in the old plays, while it serves to point out still more clearly the depth of that innate sense of beauty and excellence which prompted the exquisite pictures of loveliness and perfection in Shakspeare's female characters. At the end of each performance, the clown, or buffoon actor of the company, recited or sung a rhyming medley called a jig, in which he often contrived to introduce satirical allusions to public men or events; and before dismissing the audience, the actors knelt in front of the stage, and offered up a prayer for the queen! Reviewing these rude arrangements of the old theatres, Mr Dyce happily remarks- What a contrast between the almost total want of scenery in those days, and the splendid representations of external nature in our modern playhouses! Yet perhaps the decline of the drama may in a great measure be attributed to this improvement. The attention of an audience is now directed rather to the efforts of the painter than to those of the actor, who is lost amid the marvellous effects of light and shade on our gigantic stages."*

The only information we possess as to the payment of dramatic authors at this time, is contained in the memoranda of Philip Henslowe, a theatrical manager, preserved in Dulwich college, and quoted by Malone and Collier. Before the year 1600, the price paid by Henslowe for a new play never exceeded £8; but after this date, perhaps in consequence of the exertions of rival companies, larger sums were given, and prices of £20 and £25 are mentioned. The proceeds of the second day's performance were afterwards added to the author's emoluments. Furnishing prologues for new plays, the prices of which varied from five to twenty shillings, was another source of gain; but the proverbial poverty of poets seems to have been exemplified in the old dramatists, even when they were actors as well as authors. The shareholders of the theatre derived considerable profits from the performances, and were occasionally paid for exhibitions in the houses of the nobility. In 1602, a sum of ten pounds was given to 'Burbidge's players' for performing Othello before Queen Elizabeth, at Harefield, the seat of Sir Thomas Egerton. Nearly all the dramatic authors preceding and contemporary with Shakspeare were


of wood, of a circular form, open to the weather, excepting over the stage, which was covered with a thatched roof. Outside, on the roof, a flag was hoisted during the time of performance, which commenced at three o'clock, at the third sounding or flourish of trumpets. The cavaliers and fair dames of the court of Elizabeth sat in boxes below the gallery, or were accommodated with stools on the stage, where some of the young gallants also threw themselves at length on the rush-strewn floor, while their pages handed them pipes and tobacco, then a fashionable and highly-prized luxury. The middle classes were crowded in the pit, or yard, which was men who had received a learned education at the not furnished with seats. Moveable scenery was university of Oxford or Cambridge. A profusion first introduced by Davenant, after the Restoration,* of classical imagery abounds in their plays, but they but rude imitations of towers, woods, animals, or did not copy the severe and correct taste of the furniture, served to illustrate the scene. To point ancient models. They wrote to supply the popular out the place of action, a board containing the name, demand for novelty and excitement for broad farce painted or written in large letters, was hung out or superlative tragedy-to introduce the coarse during the performance. Anciently, an allegorical raillery or comic incidents of low life-to dramatise exhibition, called the Dumb Show, was exhibited before every act, and gave an outline of the action bloodshed and splendid extravagance. If we seek a murder, or embody the vulgar idea of oriental or circumstances to follow. Shakspeare has pre- for a poetical image,' says a writer on our drama, served this peculiarity in the play acted before thea burst of passion, a beautiful sentiment, a trait of king and queen in Hamlet; but he never employs it in his own dramas. Such machinery, indeed, would be incompatible with the increased action and business of the stage, when the miracle plays had given place to the pomp and circumstance' of historical dramas, and the bustling liveliness of comedy. The chorus was longer retained, and appears in Marlow's Faustus, and in Henry VI. Actresses were not seen on the stage till after the Restoration, and the female parts were played by boys, or delicate-looking young men. This may perhaps palliate the gross

*The air-blest castle, round whose wholesome crest
The martlet, guest of summer, chose her nest-
The forest-walks of Arden's fair domain,
Where Jaques fed his solitary vein;

No pencil's aid as yet had dar'd supply,

Seen only by th' intellectual eye.'-C. LAMB.

nature, we seek not in vain in the works of our very oldest dramatists. But none of the predecessors of Shakspeare must be thought of along with him, when he appears before us like Prometheus, moulding the figures of men, and breathing into them the animation and all the passions of life.'t Among the immediate predecessors of the great poet are some worthy of separate notice. A host of playwrights abounded, and nearly all of them have touches of that happy poetic diction, free, yet choice and select, which gives a permanent value and interest to these elder masters of English poetry.

* Memoir of Shakspeare-Aldine Poets.

+ Blackwood's Magazine, vol. ii., from Essays on the Old Drama, said to have been contributed by Henry Mackenzie, author of the Man of Feeling.'

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JOHN LYLY, born in Kent in 1554, produced nine plays between the years 1579 and 1600. They were mostly written for court entertainments, and performed by the scholars of St Paul's. He was educated at Oxford, and many of his plays are on mythological subjects, as Sappho and Phaon, Endymion, the Maid's Metamorphosis, &c. His style is affected and unnatural, yet, like his own Niobe, in the Metamorphosis, oftentimes he had sweet thoughts, sometimes hard conceits; betwixt both a kind of yielding.' By his Euphues, or the Anatomy of Wit, Lyly exercised a powerful though injurious influence on the fashionable literature of his day, in prose composition as well as in discourse. His plays were not important enough to found a school. Hazlitt was a warm admirer of Lyly's Endymion, but evidently from the feelings and sentiments it awakened, rather than the poetry. I know few things more perfect in characteristic painting,' he remarks, than the exclamation of the Phrygian shepherds, who, afraid of betraying the secret of Midas's ears, fancy that "the very reeds bow down, as though they listened to their talk;" nor more affecting in sentiment, than the apostrophe addressed by his friend Eumenides to Endymion, on waking from his long sleep, "Behold the twig to which thou laidest down thy head is now become a tree."' There are finer things in the Metamorphosis, as where the prince laments Eurymene lost in the woods

Adorned with the presence of my love,

The woods I fear such secret power shall prove,
As they'll shut up each path, hide every way,
Because they still would have her go astray,
And in that place would always have her seen,
Only because they would be ever green,
And keep the winged choristers still there,
To banish winter clean out of the year.

Or the song of the fairies

By the moon we sport and play,
With the night begins our day:
As we dance the dew doth fall,
Trip it, little urchins all.
Lightly as the little bee,
Two by two, and three by three,

And about go we, and about go we.

The genius of Lyly was essentially lyrical. The songs in his plays seem to flow freely from nature. The following exquisite little pieces are in his drama of Alexander and Campaspe, written about 1583:—

Cupid and Campaspe.

Cupid and my Campaspe play'd
At cards for kisses; Cupid paid.

He stakes his quiver, bow, and arrows,
His mother's doves and team of sparrows;
Loses them too, and down he throws
The coral of his lip-the rose
Growing on's cheek, but none knows how ;
With these the crystal on his brow,
And then the dimple of his chin;
All these did my Campaspe win:
At last he set her both his eyes;
She won, and Cupid blind did rise.
Oh Love, hath she done this to thee?
What shall, alas, become of me!


What bird so sings, yet so does wail !
O'tis the ravish'd nightingale
Jug, jug, jug, jug-tereu-she cries,
And still her woes at midnight rise.

Brave prick-song! who is't now we hear?
None but the lark so shrill and clear,
Now at heaven's gate she claps her wings,
The morn not waking till she sings.
Hark, hark but what a pretty note,
Poor Robin red-breast tunes his throat;
Hark, how the jolly cuckoos sing
'Cuckoo !' to welcome in the spring.


GEORGE PEELE held the situation of city poet and conductor of pageants for the court. He was also an actor and a shareholder with Shakspeare and others, in 1589, in the Blackfriars theatre. In 1584, his Arraignment of Paris, a court show, was represented before Elizabeth. The author was then a young man, who had recently left Christ-church, Oxford. In 1593, Peele gave an example of an English historical play in his Edward I. The style of this piece is turgid and monotonous; yet, in the following allusion to England, we see something of the high-sounding kingly speeches in Shakspeare's historical plays :

Illustrious England, ancient seat of kings,
Whose chivalry hath royalis'd thy fame,
That, sounding bravely through terrestrial vale,
Proclaiming conquests, spoils, and victories,
Rings glorious echoes through the farthest world!
What warlike nation, train'd in feats of arms,
What barbarous people, stubborn, or untam'd,
What climate under the meridian signs,
Or frozen zone under his brumal stage,
Erst have not quak'd and trembled at the name
Of Britain and her mighty conquerors?

Her neighbour realms, as Scotland, Denmark, France,
Awed with their deeds, and jealous of her arms,
Have begg'd defensive and offensive leagues.
Thus Europe, rich and mighty in her kings,
Hath fear'd brave England, dreadful in her kings.
And now, to eternise Albion's champions,
Equivalent with Trojan's ancient fame,
Comes lovely Edward from Jerusalem,
Veering before the wind, ploughing the sea;
His stretched sails fill'd with the breath of men,
That through the world admire his manliness.
And lo, at last arrived in Dover road,
Longshank, your king, your glory, and our son,
With troops of conquering lords and warlike knights,
Like bloody-crested Mars, o'erlooks his host,
Higher than all his army by the head,
Marching along as bright as Phoebus' eyes!
And we, his mother, shall behold our son,
And England's peers shall see their sovereign.
Peele was also author of the Old Wires' Tale, a legen-
dary story, part in prose, and part in blank verse,
which afforded Milton a rude outline of his fable of
Comus. The Old Wives' Tale was printed in 1595,
as acted by the Queen's Majesty's Players.' The
greatest work of Peele is his Scripture drama, the
Love of King David and Fair Bethsabe, with the
tragedy of Absalom, which Mr Campbell terms 'the
earliest fountain of pathos and harmony that can be
traced in our dramatic poetry.' The date of represen
tation of this drama is not known; it was not printed
till 1599, after Shakspeare had written some of his
finest comedies, and opened up a fountain compared
with which the feeble tricklings of Peele were wholly
insignificant. It is not probable that Peele's play was
written before 1590, as one passage in it is a direct
plagiarism from the Faery Queen of Spenser. We
may allow Peele the merit of a delicate poetical
fancy and smooth musical versification. The defect
of his blank verse is its want of variety: the art of

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