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“ Jun. I fear, Galgacus, you have caus'd too much;
" Gal. Yes, Princess, of that I am well aware,
“ Jun. Heav'n forbid that such event should happen!
For your protection and your save return.” This does not even possess the merit of being prose run mad, and may be pronounced to be the most insipid palling trash that ever was mis-called versification. What sort of measure (and we should hardly know that it was so intended, if it were not cut out into shreds of words) according to Mr. Monney's admirable rules, are the following lines :
“ That kind Galgacus, whose love should speed him,
before vowelshus, in the abort &c.; and
In short, never before was such a miserable attempt måde. What too, we should like to know, is the meaning of the eliptical commas that we find so often inserted, not merely before vowels to compress two syllables into one, but before consonants ; thus, in the above extracts, we have a th' queen,” “t' you,” “th soldiers,” &c.; and sometimes we are indulged with a further novelty of cutting off the vowel in the more important word, as " to 'oert all ill," instead of " tavert all'ill." What also is intended by writing duteous dut'ous, and victorious victorious, unless, to employ the author's own words, it be to give " the musical and ecpressive effect which blank verse is generally used to con. vey.” But lest it should be thought that we have selected an unfair specimen, or that our poet's forte is not the moving
pathos of love, we will subjoin an extract of a different kind, in which he deals in those great ingredients of tragedy, 66 treason, blood, and death.” Vellocatus, like another Ganelon, has betrayed his king Caractacus, and on his way to the Roman camp meets Junia, to whom he offers violence; she resists in the admirable quotation already made.
• What means you? Surely brave Vellocatus
You cannot mean offencement to my sex ?” But he succeeds in carrying her off to the skirts of the entrenchments of the enemy.
" Jun. Oh, for good heaven's sake, spare, oh spare me ! I shall die with anguish as you force me!
“ Vell. Resist no longer, for it is in vain :
(As he enters. Oh you vile monster in a human shape !
[Galgacus forces her from him. Enter a Roman Escort.
“ Here, here!
“ Vell. Who are you? Oh, the haugbty prince Galgacus!
« Gal. Words are but poor my proud contempt to speak; My sword shall tell it to your coward heart!
[Fight, Vellocatus falls. “ Jun. (reviving.) Where am I ? Galgacus, oh, Galgacus !
“Gal. Behold him here before you, heav'nly maid ! And view that hell-hound, welt'ring in his gore!
“ Jun. Oh, all you heav'nly gods!—Is it he? It is, it is, and we shall still be blest!
[She flies into Galgacus' arms. “ Gal. Welcome, you greatest treasure of my soul!
[As he lifts up his sword, he erpires. Gal. There fled the blackest soul hell e'er received.” Here we have our author in his true vein, “ fierce as ten furies, terrible as hell!” Here, indeed, “his genius bubbles and boils o’er the brim.” Imagine the self-satisfaction with which he read them over after pouring out those fine frothy lines put into the mouth of the dying Vellocatus : he had taken Bayes's recipe of stewed prunes to some purpose.
It would not be fair to close our review without noticing two lines which we were much surprised to find in the tragedy, because the sentiment, though common, is tolerable, however ill exprest:
“The soldier who wants oaths to bind his honour, - Is not so dear as he whom honour binds." And we should bave been inclined to think them a plagiary, had we not been pretty certain that the author never heard of the name of Beaumont and Fletcher. He seems to have " stumbled on a virtue unawares,” perhaps by using something like Swift's logographic machine.
It is now time, however, to dismiss Mr. Monney and his “ new tragedy," as he aptly calls it; new it is in every way, for even absurdity and stupidity were never carried so far before. We defy any man to produce any thing in the whole range of the drama so pre-eminently bad :
“Here ignorance and dullness meet, • To make the specimen complete.”
First part." vastaford's Niobe. *** Assem. of Foules,
Chaucer's Assem. of Foules, st. 4. . Art. X.-1. Stafford's Niobe : or his Age of Teares. The
first part. A Treatise no less profitable and comfortable than the times damnable. Wherein Deaths visard is pulled off, and her face discouered not to be so fearefull as the Vulgar makes it: and withall it is shewed, that Death is onely bad to the bad, good to the good. The second edition; newlie corrected and amended. Printed at London, by
Humphrey Lownes, 1611. 18mo. pp. 202. 2. Staffords Niobe, dissolu'd into a Nilus : or his Age
drowned in her owne leares : seruing as a Second Part to the former Treatise. Wherein the vanilie and villanie of the Age, and the miserie of Man are so painted to the life, as that it will make a man long to leave this painted life, to come to that true and eternall one. Seclusus a Se-, culo. Printed at London by H:L: for Mathew Lownes,
1611. 18mo. pp. 263. When we recollect how many critical works upon the productions of our ancestors have been published within the last ten years, under the direction of most learned and assiduous men, it seems sigular that this curious and valuable work should have hitherto escaped notice; even the name of its author is not mentioned in the biographical dictionaries of Dr. Aikin, or Mr. Chalmers, nor in the Biographia Britannica: this is the more singular because the industrious Lempriere has noticed Anthony Stafford and his works, and has supplied a few dates (from what source does not appear) some of which are probably incorrect. This silence of bibliographers and biographers is no doubt to be attributed to the extreme rarity of the book, which, we believe, has not been brought to the hammer for many. years, and for which one of our most tasteful collectors has in vain offered a very high price. It will be our business to give such particulars of the author as we have been able to collect; and such extracts from his book as may serve to illustrate its character and curiosity.
It seems certain that Staffords Niobe was not only known to, but used by Milton : the eloquence and zeal of the
tions of our der the directiof this curious ven the nam
writer in the cause of morality and religion could not fail to excite the admiration of " that man of mighty mind.” One passage of which he availed himself is to be found in the second part of this production, where Stafford supposes himself to be addressed by Satan ; who gives a description of his infernal domain, « True it is, Sir, (says he) that I (storming at the name of supremacie) sought to depose my Creator: which the watchfull, all-seeing eye of Providence finding, degraded me of my Angelicall dignitie, dispossessed me of all pleasures ; and the Seraphin, and Cherkdin, Throni, Dominationes, Virtutes, Potestates, Principatus, Arch-angeli, Angeli and all the celestial Hierarchyes (with a shout of applause) sung my departure out of Heaven : my Alleluia was turned into an Ehu; and too soone I found that I was corruptilibilis ab alio, though not in alio; and that he that gaue me my being, could againe take it from mee. Now, for as much as I was once an Angel of light, it was the will of Wisdome to confine me to Darkness, and to create nee Prince therof; that so I, who could not obey in Heauen, might commaund in Hell. And belieue mee, Sir, I had rather controule within my darke Diocese, then to reinhabile cælum empyreum, and there liue in subiection, under check."
The first passage in italics will immediately call to mind Milton's enumeration of
“ Thrones, dominations, princedoms, virtues, powers !” but this he might have obtained from learned writers of the time, who entered more into the subject than Stafford. In Aditus ad Logicam, autore Samuele Smith, 1634, the same enumeration is given as that of Stafford, though the order of rank is inverted. Smith is treating of the celestial intelligences, Cujus ordo est (he says) 1 Seraphin, 2 Cherubin, 3 Thronus, 4 Potestas, 5 Dominatio, 6 Virtus, 7 Principatus, 8 Archangelus, 9 Angelus. The last lines of the above quotation are more conclusive, and formed the basis of one of the finest characteristic passages in the Paradise Lost. Satan in triumphant despair exclaims
- " In my choice
Better to reign in Hell, than serve in Heaven.” Which is precisely the sentiment expressed by Stafford. A reader who is well acquainted with the Paradise Lost will probably observe other coincidences as we proceed.