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The Masque of Lethe.
Than each hath felt already in his breast; The FRONT before the SCENE was an
Who hath been once in love, hath ARCH-TRIUMPHAL,
proved his hell. On the top of which, HUMANITY, placed in
figuré, sat with her lap full of flowers, Up then, and follow this my golden rod, scattering them with her right hand, and That points you next to aged Lethe's holding a golden chain in her left hand, shore, to show both the freedom and the bond of Who pours his waters from his urn abroad, courtesy, with this inscription :
Of which but tasting, you shall faint no
more. SUPER OMNIA VULTUS. On the two sides of the arch, CHEERFUL
- Lethe. Stay; who or what fantastic
shades are these NESS and READINESS, her servants.
That Hermes leads ? CHEERFULNESS, in a loose flowing garment, Mer. They are the gentle forms
filling out wine from an antique piece of Of lovers, tost upon those frantic seas
Whence Venus sprung.
Lethe. And have rid out her storms?
Mer. No. READINESS, a winged maid, with two
Lethe. Did they perish ? flaming bright lights in her hands;
Mer. Yes. and her word,
Mer. Drowned by Love,
That drew them forth with hopes as
smooth as were The Scene discovered is, on the one side, Th' unfaithful waters he desired them prove. the head of a boat, and in it CHARON
Lethe. And turned a tempest when he
had them there? putting off from the shore, having landed certain imagined ghosts, whom MER
Mer. He did, and on the billow would CURY there receives, and encourageth to
he roll, come on towards the river LETHE, who
And laugh to see one throw his heart appears lying in the person of an old
away; T'he Fates sittir.g by him on
Another sighing, vapour forth his soul; his bank; a grove of myrtles behind
A third, to melt himself in tears, and say, them, presented in perspective, and growing thicker to the outer side of the scene. O love, I now to salter water turn Mercury, perceiving them to faint, calls
Than that I die in; then a fourth, to cry them on, and shows them his golden Amid the surges, Oh! I burn, I burn. rod.*
A fifth laugh out, It is my ghost, not I.
Mer. Nay, faint not now, so near the And thus in pairs I found them. Only one fields of rest.
There is, that walks, and stops, and Here no more Furies, no more torments shakes his head, dwell
And shuns the rest, as glad to be alone,
And whispers to himself, he is not dead. • The whole masque was sung after the Italian
Fates. No more are all the rest. manner, stylo recitativo, by Master Nicholas Lanier; who ordered and made both
Mer. No! the scene and the music.
I Fate. No.
Mer. But why
Cho. Return, return, Proceeds this doubtful voice from destiny?
Like lights to burn Fates. It is too sure.
On earth Mer. Sure !
For others' good : 2 Fate. Ay. Thinks Mercury,
Your second birth
And warn a world,
That now are hurled
About in tempest, how they prove 3 Fate. And know all nature's dates ?
Shadows for Love. Mer. They say themselves, they are dead. Leap forth : your light it is the nobler 1 Fate. It not appears
made, Or by our rock,
By being strook out of a shade. 2 Fate. Our spindle, 3 Fate. Or our shears.
Here they dance forth their entry, or first Fates. Here all their threads are grow
dance : after which CUPID-appearing, ing, yet none cut.
meets them. Mer. i 'gin to doubt, that Love with charms hath put
Cup. Why, now you take me! these are
rites This phant'sy in them; and they only think That grace Love's days, and crown his That they are ghosts. I Fate. If so, then let them drink
These are the motions I would see, Of Lethe's stream. 2 Fate. 'Twill make them to forget
And praise in them that follow me! Love's name.
Not sighs, nor tears, nor wounded hearts,
Nor flames, nor ghosts; but airy parts 3 Fate. And so, they may recover yet.
Tried and refined as yours have been, Mer, Go, bow unto the reverend lake:
And such they are I glory in. [To the Shades.
Mer. Look, look unto this snaky rod, And having touched there, up and shake
And stop your ears against the charming god; The shadows off, which yet do make
His every word falls from him is a snure: Us you, and you yourselves mistake.
Who have so lately known him, should
beware. Here they all stoop to the water, and dance
forth their Antimasque in several ges- Here they dance their Main DANCE. tures, as they lived in love : and retiring into the grove, before the last Cup. Come, do not call it Cupid's crime, person be off the stage, ihe first Couple You were thought dead before your time; appear in their posture between the trees, If thus you move to Hermes' will ready to come forth changed.
Alone, you will be thought so still.
Go, take the ladies forth, and talk, Mer. See! see! they are themselves And touch, and taste too: ghosts can walk. again.
"Twixt eyes, tongues, hands, the mutual 1 Fate. Yes, now they are substances and
Is bred that tries the truth of life. men. 2 Fate. Love at the name of Lethe flies. They do, indeed, like dead men move, Lethe. For in oblivion drowned he dies. That think they live, and not in love! 3 Fate. He must not hope, though other states
Here they take forth the Ladies, and the He oft subdue, he can the Fates.
REVELS follow.' After which, Fates. 'Twere insolence to think his Mer. Nay, you should never have left off; powers
But stayed, and heard your Cupid scoff, Can work on us, or equal ours.
To find you in the line you were.
1 The Revels follow.) The Revels were pears from other passages, were usually comdances of a more free and general nature-that posed of galliards and corantos.
Their introis, not immediately connected with the story of duction was no less desirable than judicious, as the piece under representation. In these many it gave fulness and majesty to the show, and of the nobility of both sexes took part, who had enabled the Court to gratify numbers who were previously been spectators. The Revels, it ap- not qualified to appear in it as performers.
Cup. Your too much wit breeds too much Fate is content these lovers here fear.
Remain still such; so Love will swear Mer. Good Fly, good night.
Never to force them act to do, Cup. But will you go?
But what he will call Hermes to. Can you leave Love, and he entreat you
so? Cup. I swear; and with like cause thank Here, take my quiver and my bow,
Mercury, My torches too; that you by all may know As these have to thank him and Destiny. I mean no danger to your stay:
Cho. All then take cause of joy; for who This night I will create my holiday,
hath not? And be yours naked and entire. Old Lethe, that their follies are forgot : Mer. As if that Love disarmed were less We, that their lives unto their fates they
fit; a fire! Away, away.
They, that they still shall love, and love
with wit. They dance their going out: which done,
And thus it ended. 1 Mer. Yet lest that Venus' wanton son Should with the world be quite undone, 1 This little drama is written with ail the ease For your fair sakes (you brighter stars, and elegance of Pope, who is not without some Who have beheld these civil wars) petty obligations t it, in his Rape of the Lock.
The Vision of Delight:
PRESENTED AT COURT IN CHRISTMAS, 1619.
THE VISION OF DELIGHT.] From the fol. 1641. This is one of the most beautiful of Jonson's little pieces, light, airy, harmonious, and poetical in no common degree. It stands without a parallel among performances of this kind ; and might have convinced even Dr. Aikin, if he had ever condescended to look into Jonson, that “this once celebrated author" had something besides the song in the Silent Woman (see vol. i. p. 406 6), to relieve “the prevalent coarseness of his tedious effusions."
Here the first ANTIMASQUE entered. A street in perspective of fair building
A She-monster delivered of six BURRAdiscovered.
TINES, that dance with six PANTA
LONES : which done,
Del. Yet hear what your Delight doth
pray: is seen to come as afar off, accompanied all sour and sullen looks away,
with GRACE, LOVE, HARMONY, REVEL, That are the servants of the day; SPORT, LAUGHTER: and followed by
Our sports are of the humorous Night, WONDER.
Who feeds the stars that give her light,
And useth than her wont more bright, Stylo recitativo.
To help the VISION OF DELIGHT. Del. Let us play and dance and sing,
NIGHT rises slowly, and takes her chariot Let us now turn every sort Of the pleasures of the spring
bespangled with stars, To the graces of a court.
See, see, her scepter and her crown
Are all of flame, and from her gown From air, from cloud, from dreams, from A train of light comes waving down. toys,
This night in dew she will not steep To sounds, to sense, to love, to joys; The brain, nor lock the sense in sleep; Let your shows be new as strange,
But all awake with phantoms keep, Let them oft and sweetly vary ;
And those to make Delight more deep. Let them haste so to their change As the seers may not tarry.
By this time the Night and Moon being Too long t' expect the pleasing'st sight, both risen ; NIGHT hovering over the Doth take away from the delight.
Of six Burratines.) I can give the reader p. 268. It was probably a glossy kind of perBo idea of the shape of the Burratines. The petuana : whatever it was, the six young monword itself occurs in that singular production, sters were clothed in it, and formed, it may be The Microcosmus, by Purchas; who speaks of presumed, some ridiculous contrast to the formal It as
a strange stuff recently, devised and and fantastic habits of the six old men. brought into wear," much to his annoyanca.
Night. Break, Phant'sie, from thy cave of Phan. Bright Night, I obey thee, and cloud,
am come at thy call, And spread thy purple wings;
But it is no one dream that can please these Now all thy figures are allowed, And various shapes of things;
Wherefore I would know what dreams Create of airy forms a stream,
would delight 'em: It must have blood, and nought of For never was Phant'sie more loth to phlegm ;
affright 'em. And though it be a waking dream, And Phant'sie, I tell you, has dreams that
have wings, Cho. Yet let it like an odour rise To all the Senses here,
And dreams that have honey, and dreams
that have stings : And fall like sleep upon their eyes, Or music in their ear.
Dreams of the maker, and dreams of the
teller, The Scene here changed to cloud, from which Dreams of the kitchen, and dreams of the PHANT'SIE breaking forth, spake.
1 Break Phantsie, &c.) In Whalley's cor- (for I am loth to give it its proper name) may be rected copy I find a long quotation from Hurd's safely pronounced unparalleled. The Tempest Essay on the Marks of Imitation (p. 52), on the itself is indeed a surprising, nay, an almost subject of Milton's "improvement” of those miraculous effort of the highest powers of genius; lines in his Penseroso! I do not give it, because but the little interlude of which Hurd speaks is I differ toto cælo from my predecessor with so far from disgracing the very best of fonson's regard to its merits. He calls it a “fine and Masques, that it is nearly as bad as the very judicious criticism,” whereas it appears to me a worst of them. I am not afraid to affirm that mere string of positions, which, under the affec- there was scarcely a writer on the stage at that tation of great acuteness, evince nothing but time who could 'not, and who did not, intermethodical imbecility:
weave “ things” equally good in his dramas. It I have yet a word to say of Hurd. The is, in short, one of those trifling entertainments reader must have gathered from what has been which were usually looked for by the audience, already written, that his constant object is to and cannot boast a single excellence to distinridicule and degrade Jonson; to drag him for- guish it from those of Fletcher, Shirley, Brome, ward, and on every occasion bind him to the and twenty others. Iris enters and calls for triumphant wheels of all whose cause it pleases Ceres; after a short dialogue they are joined by him to espouse. In the same Essay, (p; 24), he Juno, who sings the following song: says: “If Shakspeare had never looked into books, or conversed with bookish men, he might
“Honour, riches, marriage-blessing, have learned almost all the secrets of paganism
Long continuance, and increasing, from the MASKS of B. Johnson.”—He must have
Hourly joys be still upon you ! “ looked into books,” I presume, even for this ;
Juno sings her blessings on you." for he was probably not often invited to Court, to partake of them. “But,” continues Hurd, nand exclaims, This is a most majestic vision !
On the conclusion of this rich poetry, Ferdiafter abusing Jonson for his exactness in the use of ancient learning, “the taste of the age, much &c. There were but three personages upon the devoted to erudition, and still more the taste of stage, and no scenery of any kind is even hinted the princes for whom he writ, gave a prodigious at: yet Hurd is not ashamed to affirm that this vogue to these unnatural exhibitions. And the of Jonson's pieces, by the ingenuity of its con
trite mythology, which disgraced the very best knowledge of antiquity, requisite to succeed in them was, I imagine, the reason that Shakspeare struction, ?cft them still more behind it, in the was not over fond to try his hand (tasty lan- beauty of its show! and called forth an involunguage this !) at these elaborate trifles. Once
tary exultation from Shakspeare on his superio. indeed he did [try his hand], and with such rity! When we consider that the Masques of success as to disgrACE THE VERY BEST THINGS Jonson were exhibited with all the magnificence OF THIS KIND WE FIND IN JONSON! The short of scenery which the taste and splendour of a Mask in The Tempest is fitted up with a classi- Court could bestow, that the performers in them cal exactness : [he had just before ridiculed
were the most accomplished of the nobility of
both Jonson for this exactness] : but its chief merit
sexes, headed by the queen and royal lics in the beauty of the Shew and the richness family; that the most skilful musicians were of the poetry. Shakspeare was so sensible of constantly called in to compose the songs, and his superiority that he could not help exulting a the most exquisite voices that could be found little upon it, where he makes Ferdinand say:
engaged to execute them; and when we know,
on the other hand, that the theatres had no This is a most majestic Vision, and scenery, and that the songs and dances were Harmonious charming lays.'
left to the ordinary performers, what language
of reprobation is sufficiently strong to mark the The intrepid absurdity of this insane criticism portentous ignorance which could deliberately