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complishments, and with the exception of the slight colour of pedantry with which he has tinged some of their characters, they are fine specimens of moral and intellectual women. For ourselves we can say, with truth, that when we rise from the perusal of their discourses we feel ourselves better for it, and are thankful for the opportunity we have met with of forming an acquaintance with an author who is, at the same time, a deep scholar and a good gentleman.
ART. VII.- The History of Antonio and Mellida, a Tragedy.
Written by John Marston. London, 4to. 1602. Antonio's Revenge. The Second Part of the History of Antonio
and Mellida. Written by John Marston. London, 4to. 1602. The Malcontent, augmented by J. Marston, with the Additions played by the King's Majesty's Servants. Written by John
Webster. London, 4to. 1604. The Dutch Courtezan, as it hath been divers times presented at the
Blacke Fryars by the Children of the Queene's Majestie's Revels.
Written by John Marston. London, 4to. 1605. The Wonder of Women, or the Tragedie of Sophonisba, as it hath
been sundry times acted at the Blacke Fryers. London, 4to.
1606. Parasitaster, or the Fawne, as it hath been divers times presented at
the Blacke Fryars, by the Children of the Queene's Majestie's
Revels. Written by John Marston. London, 4to. 1606. What you Will. By John Marston. London, 4to. 1607. The Insatiate Countess. Written by John Marston. London, 4to.
Fame seems to lose half its value by being annexed to a name only, unaccompanied with a knowledge of the biography of its owner, of the means by which he gained the difficult ascent to eminence, of the circumstances of his progress, of the obstructions he met with, and the manner in which they were overcome. There is no substance in a mere name upon which we can fix our admiration—it is a shadow, a nonentity--it might as well be Monsier Kinsayder as John Marston, or the converse. When Fame was preparing with a mighty voice to sound forth Marston's praise, he modestly laid his hand on the trumpet and
stopped her before she could announce more than John Marston. “ I have ever more endeavoured,” says he,“ to know myselfe, than to be known of others, and rather to be impartially, beloved of all, than factiously to be admired of a few ; yet so powerfully have I been enticed with the delights of poetry, and (I must ingenuously confesse) above better desert, so fortunate in these stage-pleasings, that (let my resolutions be never so fixed, to call mine eyes unto myselfe), I much feare that most lamentable death of him :
Qui nimis notus omnibus,
But since the over-vehement pursuite of these delights hath been the sicknesse of my youth, and now is growne to be the vice of my firmer age, since to satisfie others I neglecte myselfe, let it be the curtesie of my peruser rather to pitie myselfe-hindring labours than to malice me, and let him be pleased to be my reader and not my interpreter.”
The notices of his life are so scanty, that it is not worth while to transfer them to this place; and we shall therefore immediately proceed to the discussion of his character as a writer, illustrated with quotations, in our usual manner.
Marston favoured the world with the eight plays, whose titles are prefixed to this article. Of these, three are tragedies, and the rest comedies, or tragi-comedies. In his youth, he began with being a bitter biting satirist in “ sporting merriment,” as he expresses it in his Scourge of Villainy,* and ended with being one in reality in his old age. His early efforts, together with the satirical reflections which were passed upon him, appear to have given a decided character to his mind, and we accordingly find those passages, particularly in his comedies, which are written with most force, are caustic reflections on the follies and vices of man, and his favourite characters indignant censurers of manners, as Feliche in Antonio and Mellida, Lamfatho in What you Will, Hercules in the Parasitaster, and Mahoole in the Malcontent. There is, indeed, a striking resemblance in many of his comic characters, which continually remind one of the author's propensity to satirical invective. Although little of real passion is to be found in the plays of Marston, there is a vigour, an apparent earnestness, both in his thoughts and language, which well supplies the place of the more genuine feelings of nature. He wants that delicacy of perception, that absorption of his own consciousness in the feelings
* Published 1599.
of his character, without which, true passion cannot be delineated. He never appears to lose himself sufficiently in the scenes which he depicts, we see too much of Marston, and too little of his heroes. This same propensity has given a coarseness to some of his characters, and an indelicacy, nay grossness of expression to his language, which is, in our idea, totally irreconcileable with the eulogium pronounced by his bookseller : “ That he was free from all obscene speeches, which is the chief cause that makes plays to be so odious unto most men : that he abhorred such writers and their works, and
professed himself an enemy to all such as stuffed their scenes with ribaldry, and larded their lines with scurrilous taunts and jests : so that whatsoever, even in the spring of his years, he presented upon the private and public theatre, in his autumn and declining age, he needed not to be ashamed of.” Indeed, in his satires, he professes to hate the obscurity of allusion. “To note vices,” says he, in his address to those that seem judicial perusers, so that no man can understand them, is as fond as the French execution in picture."
It was this broad manner of expression which exposed him to the severe but not unjust censures of the author of The Return from Parnassus,* who satirizes him under the name of Monsier Kinsayder, under which name he published his Scourge of Villainy :
“ Tut, what cares he for modest, close-couch'd terms,
His first, as well as his best play, is The History of Antonio and Mellida, of the plot of which, the following is a brief abstract.
Andrugio, duke of Genoa, is defeated at sea by Piero, duke of Venice, formerly his rival, and now his bitter enemy, who offers a large reward, and his choicest love, to any one who will bring him Andrugio's head. He also compels the Genevese, as the price of peace, to banish their duke and his son Antonio, upon pain of death. Both are cast upon “ the Venice marsh." Antonio, urged by his passion for Mellida, the daughter of Piero, appears at court in the dress of an Amazon, where he was well received, and might have been secure, if a letter, addressed to Mellida, planning their flight, had not fallen into Piero's hands, and obliged Antonio to make a
* Published 1606.
precipitate escape. Andrugio, weary of lurking about, resolves to discover himself to Piero, and claim the offered reward.—Antonio is at the same time feigned to be dead-Piero is astonished at, and apparently overcome by, the magnanimity of his rival. The princely foes are to all seeming reconciled, and the hand of the fair Mellida given to Antonio.
This, upon the whole, is an excellent play—the design is simple--the passions of that description which the author could manage—and the plot conducted without embarrassment or extravagance in situation or language.
When Antonio first beholds Mellida after his arrival at Venice, he exclaims with intense eagerness,
“ Anto. Come down; she comes like-0, no simile
The following scene between Andrugio and his attendant, after their defeat, is, perhaps, the finest Marston has written: it is earnest, noble, princely.
“ And. Is not yon gleam the shuddering morn, that Aakes With silver tincture the east verge of heaven?
Luc. I think it is, so please your excellence.
And. Away! I have no excellence to please.
[Gives him a letter.
Philosophy maintains that Nature's wise,
[He throws himself on the ground.
Luc. Sweet lord, abandon passion, and disarın.
And. More low'ring fate! Oh, Lucio, choke that breath.
mind shall shake.
And. Wouldst have me go uņarm'd among my foes?