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Let Brewer take his artful pen in hand,
Mr. Winftanley, and after, him Chetwood, has attributed a play to our author called Lingua, or the Contention of the Tongue and the Five Senfes for Superiority, a Comedy, acted at Cambridge, 1606; but Mr. Langbaine is of opinion, that neither that, Love's Loadstone, Landagartha, or Love's Dominion, as Winftanley and Philips affirm, are his; Landagartha being written by Henry Burnel, efquire, and Love's Dominion by Flecknoe. In the Comedy called Lingua, there is a circumftance which Chetwood mentions, too curious to be omitted here. When this play was acted at Cambridge, Oliver Cromwel performed the part of Tactus, which he felt fo warmly, that it first fired his ambition, and, from the poffeffion of an imaginary crown, he ftretched his views to a real one; to accomplish which, he was content to wade through a fea of blood, and, as Mr. Gray beautifully expreffes it, fhut the Gates of Mercy on Mankind; the fpeech with which he is faid to have been fo affected, is the following,
Rofes, and bays, pack hence! this crown and
My brows, and body, circles and invefts;
Mr. Langbaine afcribes to Brewer the two following plays,
Country Girl, a Comedy, often acted with applaufe, printed in 4to. 1647. This play has been revived fince the Reftoration, under the title of Country Innocence, or the Chamber-maid turned Quaker.
Love-fick King, an English Tragical Hiftory, with the Life and Death of Cartefmunda, the Fair Nun of Winchefter; printed in 4to. London, 1655; this play was likewife revived 1680, and acted by the name of the Perjured Nun. The hiftorical part of the plot is founded upon the Invafion of the Danes, in the reign of King Ethelred and Alfred.
This laft play of Anthony Brewer's, is one of the beft irregular plays, next to thofe of Shakefpear, which are in our language. The ftory, which is extremely interefting, is conducted, not fo much with art, as fpirit; the characters are animated, and the fcene bufy. Canutus King of Denmark, after having gained the city of Winchefter, by the villainy of a native, orders all to be put to the fword, and at laft enters the Cloister, raging with the thirst of blood, and panting for deftruction; he meets Cartefmunda, whofe beauty ftops his ruffian violence, and melts him, as it were, into a human creature. The language of this play is as modern, and the verses as mufical as thofe of Rowe; fire and elevation run through it, and there are many ftrokes of the most melting tendernefs. Cartefmunda, the Fair Nun of Winchefter, infpires the King with a paffion for her, and after a long struggle between honour and love, fhe at laft yields to the tyrant, and for the fake of Canutus breaks her veftal vows. Upon hearing that the enemy was about to enter the B 2 Cloister,
Cloifter, Cartefmunda breaks out into the following beautiful exclamation :
The raging foe purfues, defend us Heaven!
Let not our danger fright us, but our fins;
When Canutus advances, and firft fees Cartesmunda, his fpeech is poetical, and conceived in the true fpirit of Tragedy.
Ha! who holds my conquering hand? what power unknown,
By magic thus transforms me to a statue,
My blood runs back, I have no power to strike;
Her angel beauty cries, the must not die,
O fee! the pearled dew drops from her eyes;
In the fame fcene the following is extremely beautiful.
I'm ftruck with light'ning from the torrid zone; Stand all between me, and that flaming fun! ̧ Go Erkinwald, convey her to my tent. Let her be guarded with more watchful eyes Than heaven has ftars:
If here the ftay I fhall confume to death, "Ti. time can give my paffions remedy,
Art thou not gone! kill him that gazeth on her ;
POET and hiftorian of the 17th century, was defcended of an ancient, but decayed family in the county of Suffex, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth *, and was educated a fellow commoner in Sidney Suffex College in Cambridge. He afterwards removed to London, and lived about the court, where he contracted friendfhips with feveral gentlemen of fashion and diftinction, efpecially with Endymion Porter efquire, one of the gentlemen of the bedchamber to King Charles I. while he refided at court he wrote five plays, which are extant under his name. In 1622, he published at London, in 8vo. a tranflation of Virgil's Georgics with annotations; and in 1635, a Poem on King Edward III. It was printed under the title of the Victorious Reign of Edward III. written in feven books, by his Majefty's command. In the dedication to Charles I. our author writes thus ; "I fhould "humbly have craved your Majefty's pardon for my "omiffion of the latter part of King Edward's. "reign, but that the fenfe of mine own defects "hath put me in mind of a moft neceffary fuit, "fo beg forgivenefs for that part which is here "written. Thofe great actions of Edward III. "are the arguments of this poem, which is here Langbaine's Lives of the Poets. B 3
"ended, where his fortune began to decline, "where the French by revolts, and private prac "tices regained that which had been won from "them by eminent and famous victories; which "times may afford fitter obfervations for an acute "hiftorian in profe, than ftrains of heighth for an "heroic poem." The poem thus begins,
The third, and greateft Edward's reign we fing,
From the lines quoted, the reader will be able to judge what fort of verfifier our author was, and from this beginning he has no great reafon to expect an entertaining poem, efpecially as it is of the hiftorical kind; and he who begins a poem thus infipidly, can never expect his readers to accompany him to the third page. May likewife tranflated Lucan's Pharfalia, which poem he continued down to the death of Julius Cæfar, both in Latin and English verfe.
Dr. Fuller fays, that fome difguft was given to him at court, which alienated his affections from it, and determined him, in the civil wars to adhere to the Parliament.
Mr. Philips in his Theatrum Poetarum, obferves, that he stood candidate with Sir William Davenant for the Laurel, and his ambition being fruftrated,, he conceived the most violent averfion to the King and Queen. Sir William Davenant, befides the acknowledged fuperiority of his abilities, had ever diftinguished himself for loyalty, and was patronized and favoured by men of power, efpecially the Marquis of Newcastle: a circumftance which