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King Cambyses' vein, perhaps referring solely, as Dr. Farmer observes, to the following marginal direction,-" At this tale tolde, let the queen
From the Division of the Partes, as given by Mr. Beloe, this very scarce tragi-comedy seems to have been partly allegorical, and, from the specimen produced in the Biographia Dramatica, to have justly merited the ridicule which it was its fate to excite.
9. WAPUL, GEORGE, the author of a play called " Tide Tarrieth for No Man. A most pleasaunte and merry Comedie, ryght pithy and fulle of delighte." It was entered on the Stationers' books in October, 1576, and reprinted in 1611, 4to. B. L. This drama appears to be irrecoverably lost, as we can find no trace of it, save the title.
10. LUPTON, THOMAS. Of this writer nothing more is known, than that he wrote one play, which is to be found in the Collection of Mr. Garrick, and under the appellation of "A Moral and Pitieful Comedie, entitled All for Money. Plainly representing the Manners of Men and Fashion of the World nowe adaies. Compiled by T. Lupton. At London, printed by Roger Warde and Richard Mundee, dwelling at Temple Barre. Anno 1578." It is written in rhyme, printed in black letter, the pages unnumbered, and the style very antique and peculiar. The characters are altogether figurative and allegorical, and form one of the most grotesque examples of Dramatis Personæ extant. We have Learning with Money, Learning without Money, Money without Learning, and Neither Money nor Learning; we have also Mischievous Helpe, Pleasure, Prest for Pleasure, Sinne, Swift to Sinne, Damnation, Satan, Pride, and Gluttonie; again, Gregoria Graceless, William with the two Wives, St. Laurence, Mother Crooke, Judas, Dives, and Godly Admonition, &c. &c. Like many other dramatic pieces of the same age, it is evidently the offspring of the old Moralities, an attachment to
* Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xi. p. 302. note.
+ Vide Beloe's Anecdotes of Literature, vol. i. p. 323.; and Biographia Dramatica apud Reed, vol. i. p. 362.
which continued to linger among the lower classes for many subsequent years,
11. WHETSTONE, GEORGE. To this bard, more remarkable for his miscellaneous than his dramatic poetry, we are indebted for one play, viz. The right excellent and famous Historye of Promos and Cassandra, Devided into two Commicall Discourses." 4to. B. L. 157M.
An extrinsic importance affixing itself to this production, in consequence of its having furnished Shakspeare with several hints for his "The Mensure for Measure, has occasioned its re-publication. * curious reader," remarks Mr. Steevens, "will find that this old play
hibits an almost complete embryo of Measure for Measure; yet the hints on which it is formed are so slight, that it is nearly as impossible to detect them, as it is to point out in the acorn the future ramifications of the oak." †
The fable of Promos and Cassandra furnishes little interest, in the hands of Whetstone; nor are the diction and versification such as can claim even the award of mediocrity. It is chiefly written in alternate rhyme, with no pathos in its serious, and with feeble efforts at humour in its comic, parts.
12. WOOD, NATHANIEL, a clergyman of the city of Norwich, and only-known as the producer of " An Excellent New Comedie, entitled, The Conflict of Conscience, contayninge a most lamentable example of the doleful desparation of a miserable worldlinge, termed by the name of Philologus, who forsooke the trueth of God's Gospel for feare of the losse of lyfe and worldly goods." 4to. 1581. This is another of the numerous spawn which issued from the ancient Mysteries and Moralities; the Dramatis Persona, consisting of a strange medley of personified vices and real characters, are divided into six parts," most convenient," says the author, "for such as be
Among "Six Old Plays, on which Shakspeare founded his Measure for Measure, Comedy of Errors," &c. &c.; reprinted from the original editions, 2 vols. 8vo. 1779. + Reed's Shakspeare, vol. vi. p. 184.
disposed either to shew this Comedie in private houses or otherwise." It is in the Garrick Collection, and very rare.
13. PEELE, GEORGE, the first of a train of play-wrights, who made a conspicuous figure just previous to the commencement, and during the earlier years, of Shakspeare's dramatic career. Educated at the University of Oxford, where he took his degree of Master of Arts in 1579, Peele shortly afterwards removed to London, and became the city poet, and a conductor of the pageants. His dramatic talents, like those which he exhibited in miscellaneous poetry, have been rated too high; the latter, notwithstanding Nash terms him “the chief supporter of pleasance, the atlas of poetrie, and primus verborum artifex," with the exception of two or three pastoral pieces, seldom attain mediocrity; and the former, though Wood has told us that "his plays were not only often acted with great applause in his life-time, but did also endure reading, with due commendation, many years after his death *," are now, and perhaps not undeservedly, held in little estimation. The piece which entitles him to notice in this chapter was printed in 1584, under the appellation of The Arraignment of Paris; it is a pastoral drama, which was performed before the Queen, by the children of her chapel, and has had the honour of being attributed, though without any foundation, to the muse of Shakspeare. Peele, who is supposed to have died about 1597, produced four additional plays, namely, Edward the First, 4to. 1593; The Old Wive's Tale, 4to. 1595; King David and Fair Bethsabe, published after his death in 1599, and The Turkish Mahomet and Hyron the Fair Greek, which was never printed, and is now lost. From this unpublished play Shakspeare has taken a passage which he puts into the mouth of Pistol, who, in reference to Doll Tearsheet, calls out, Have we not Hiren here ? a quotation which is to be detected in several other plays, Hiren as we find, from one of our author's tracts, named The Merie Conceited Jests of George Peele,
Biographia Dramatica, vol. i. p. 351.
Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xii. p. 90.
+ Ibid. vol. ii. p. 21.
being synonymous with the word courtezan. These allusions, however, mark the popularity of the piece, and his contemporary Robert Greene classes him with Marlowe and Lodge, "no less deserving," he remarks, " in some things rarer, in nothing inferior." † From the specimens, however, which we possess of his dramatic genius, the opinion of Greene will not readily meet with a modern assent; the pastoral and descriptive parts of his plays are the best, which are often clothed in sweet and flowing verse; but, as dramas, they are nerveless, passionless, and therefore ineffective in point of character. +
14. LILLY, JOHN. This once courtly author, whom we have had occasion to censure for his affected innovation, and stilted elegance in prose composition, was, says Phillips, " a writer of several oldfashioned Comedies and Tragedies, which have been printed together
* Vide Reprint, 1809, p. 22.
+ Vide Greene's Groatsworth of Witte bought with a Million of Repentance, reprint, Of the sweetness of versification and luxuriancy of imagery which Peele occasionally exhibits, we shall quote an instance from "The Love of King David and Fair Bethsabe. With the Tragedie of Absalon;" a play which Mr. Hawkins has re-printed in his Origin of the Drama, 3 vols.; observing, that the genius of Peele seems to have been kindled by reading the Prophets, and the Song of Solomon : —
Come gentle Zephyr trick'd with those perfumes
And stroke my bosom with thy silken fan:
Can creep through that his lances cannot pierce,
Nor bushy thicket bar thy subtle breath.
in a volume, and might perhaps when time was, be in very good request.'
The dramas here alluded to, but of which Phillips has given a defective and incorrect enumeration, are—
1. Alexander and Campaspe, 1584, 4to. Tragi-comedy.
2. Sappho and Phaon, 1584, 4to. Comedy.
3. Endimion, 1591, 4to. Comedy.
4. Galatea, 1592, 4to. Comedy.
5. Mydas, 1592. 4to. Comedy.
6. Mother Bombie, 1594, 4to. Comedy..
7. The Woman in the Moon, 1597, 4to. Comedy.
8. The Maid her Metamorphosis, 1600.
9. Love his Metamorphosis, 1601. 4to. Pastoral.
The volume mentioned by Phillips was published by Edward Blount in 1632, containing six of these pieces, to which he has affixed the title of "Sixe Court Comedies."
Notwithstanding the encomia of Mr. Blount, the genius of this "insufferable Elizabethan coxcomb," as he has been not unaptly called, was by no means calculated for dramatic effect. Epigrammatic wit, forced conceits, and pedantic allusion, are such bad substitutes for character and humour, that we cannot wonder if fatigue or insipidity should be the result of their employment. Campaspe has little interest, and no unity in its fable, and though termed a tragicomedy, is written in prose; Sappho and Phaon has some beautiful passages, but is generally quaint and unnatural; Endimion has scarcely any thing to recommend it, and disgusts by its gross and fulsome flattery of Elizabeth; Galatea displays some luxuriant imagery, and Phillida and Galatea are not bad copies from the Iphis and Ianthe of Ovid; Mydas is partly a political production, and though void of interest, has more simplicity and purity both of thought and diction than is usual with this writer; Mother Bombie is altogether worthless
Theatrum Poetarum, apud Brydges, pp. 199, 200.