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“ Magdalene. (seeing Frankfort and Wilmot kneeling with
their faces on the bed.)
* Frank. (rising.) Magdalene! my holy Magdalene !
“ Magd. (throwing herself down beside him.)
O Magdalene !
“ Magd. We both are orphans.
Hush! I know it all.
“ Priest to Wilmot. Let us retire. The hour is drawing near,
Heaven in mercy sent
[Priest and Wilmot retire.” Throughout the piece, there are many obvious imitations of the style of writing and thought of Mr. Wordsworth, but we cannot say that they are generally happy, and certainly very ill adapted to a dramatic production. Mr. Wilson al. ways introduces these imitations in a forced manner; they never flow easily from him, and he goes out of his way for the sake of them. An instance of the kind occurs in the opening of the third and last act, where a priest is describing a view of the city of London from a tower rising in its centre; his words are,
“ Silent as nature's solitary glens
To shroud them in the desert. Groves of masts
All that is good in this extract is taken from a sonnet by Mr. Wordsworth, with which the admirers of that gentleman's works are well acquainted, and to which his opponents do not deny excellencies of the highest character-we mean the sonnet composed upon Westminster Bridge just after sun-rise in summer. We cannot refrain from giving ourselves the pleasure of copying and our readers of perusing it.
“ Earth has not any thing to shew more fair:
And all that mighty heart is lying still! Frankfort, after the burial of his relatives, takes the infection, as well as Magdalene, while conversing with a young girl whose life she had saved: the former becomes frantic, while the latter waits the rapid advance of death with resignation. She summons sufficient strength to visit Frankfort, who, she hears, is dying.
“[Magdalene kneels down by the bedside and looks on
But none will tell me why they thus should weep.
“ Magd. Disgrace and Frankfort's name are far asunder,
“ Frank. O music well known to my rending brain —.
O'er the dim world that hath perplex'd my soul.” The sufferings of Frankfort are first terminated, but Magdalene, who follows him to the grave, and in the agony of her grief, faints upon his dead body in the churchyard, survives but a few minutes, and they are buried together.
Notwithstanding the imitations to which we have referred, and some others (one from Titus Andronicus, where a mother describes the effect of her child's bright hair in the grave to be like that of the jewel upon the finger of Bassianus in the pit), we must admit that this poem possesses considerable claims to originality. Did we criticise it upon any dramatic rules, however liberal, we might point out many faults; but it is obvious that Mr. Wilson did not intend to obey any of them. The dialogues are in general spun out to a tedious length for the sake of including spirited descriptive sketches, particularly of horrors, upon which the author dwells with much seeming satisfaction, working them up to the highest pitch. The style in general is forcible, but often overstrained, and on this account, as well as on account of its extreme length, and the deficiency of incident, we do not think that the poem will be read as a whole with as much pleasure as might be derived from judicious extracts.
Some miscellaneous pieces are appended, which we shall probably notice in a future number.
the jew.child's bricus, where
Chaucer's Assem. of Foules, st. 4. Art. XI.- Palladis Tamia. Wits Treasury. Being the
Second Part of Wits Common-wealth. By Francis MERES, Maister of Artes of both Vniuersities. Viuitur ingenio, cætera mortis erunt.'- At London, printed by P. Short, for Cuthbert Burbie, and are to be solde at his shop at the Royall Exchange. 1598. 12mo. fo. 333. To those who are interested in the history of poetry (and who in this day is not?), more especially in that part of it which relates to the period when the laurel flourished with the greatest vigour and beauty, the reigns of Elizabeth and James, no work can be more interesting than the second part of Meres' Wits Common Wealth, the full title of which we have above inserted. It has always been industriously sought after, and eagerly purchased at almost any price, by such as were curious in their collections of the works of our earlier poets, because of the three critical productions which appeared between the years 1586 and 1598,* that before us contains not only the fullest notices of the admirable writers of the day, but the only mention of the most admirable of those writers—Shakspeare. It is mainly upon the silence of the two earliest of these critics, that the commentators upon our great dramatist have founded their position, that he did not begin to write for the stage until 1591. Notwithstanding the mention of him by Meres, it has often surprised those who have particularly studied the subject, that so little homage should have been paid to Shakspeare by contemporaries; that while Watson, Constable, and Whetstone have received lavish applauses which they have not deserved, Shakspeare, who must have eclipsed all others in public estimation, has either scarcely received bare justice at their hands, or has been passed over entirely without remark. We must allow, however, that this cir
• A“ Discourse of English Poetry' was published by Webbe in 1586, and in 1589, another critic, usually known by the name of Puttenham, printed bis “ Art of English Poesy."
Crit. Rev. Vol. IV. August, 1816. 2 C
cumstance is partly to be attributed to the fact, that when the two critics mentioned in the note published their works, Shakspeare had probably not yet, or only just started as a writer for the stage ; but still his minor poems, which bear the same proportion to the productions of the same kind by his contemporaries, that his plays bear to their plays, ought to have entitled him to the highest admiration. It should seem also, that his growing fame was not regarded without some envy, as we pointed out in our review of Greene's Groatsworth of Wit,* and as might be established by several other quotations, most of which have not escaped the notice of the indefatigable Malone.
Besides the value, curiosity, and intrinsic merit of the book we have now chosen for review, we had another reason for selecting it. In the course of the articles under the head of Bibliotheca Antiqua inserted in previous numbers, we have had occasion to mention the names of persons and of works which were probably quite new to some of our readers, though to others, who have devoted themselves particularly to the study of old poetry, they have been probably well known: the consequence has been, that we were obliged to insert explanatory notes containing the necessary intelligence, which materially interfered with the regularity of our progress. That portion of Meres' Palladis Tamia from which we shall principally derive our extracts, comprises the names of the authors, and many of the productions (with such remarks upon their nature and contents as were consistent with the summary mode in which he was compelled to speak of them), especially famous in the latter end of the sixteenth and at the beginning of the seventeenth century. At least, therefore, by the perusal of the present article, many may become partially acquainted with persons to whom and to whose works on future occasions we shall perhaps separately advert.
But little is known of Francis Meres, the writer or collector of this second part of Wits Common-wealth, and that little consists rather of dates than of anecdotes. It sometimes hap. pens (as with the subject treated of in our last numbert), that both the author and the work are singular and curious; but in the present instance, the great value consists in the matter to be found in the book. Where Meres was born we know not, nor where he received the earlier part of his
* Vide Crit. Rev. for May last, p. 530.
+ Coryat's Crudities ,