« ПредишнаНапред »
Although our author wrote several plays, we are not aware that an account has been given of any of them, whilst his prose works have been sought for with great care. The first play we shall notice is The honorable historie of frier Bacon and frier Bongay. It is founded on the popular subject of the magic skill of friar Bacon. The incidents are as follow :-Prince Edward (afterwards Edward the first) having, whilst hunting in Suffolk, become enamoured of Margaret, the daughter of one of his father's keepers, celebrated through the county for her beauty, sends Lacy, Earl of Lincoln, in the disguise of a farmer, to court her for him.-Lacy himself falls in love with the maid, and she, at the same time, regards him with a favorable eye. Meanwhile, the prince, doubtful of the success of Lacy's mission, resorts to the famous friar Bacon, at Oxford, for advice and assistance. The friar, by the power of his art, makes the Earl and Margaret palpable to the vision of the prince, who beholds them at the moment they are about to be united by friar Bongay; who, spell-bound by Bacon, suddenly becomes speechless, and is whisked off to Oxford by one of Bacon's spirits. The prince hastens to Fresingfield, to revenge himself on his faithless courtier, to whom, however, he becomes reconciled, and consents to his marriage with Margaret. The king having, also, arrived at Oxford with the King of Castile, and Elinor his daughter, Lacy writes to the maid of Fresingfield, feigning a forced marriage with a Spanish lady, to try her affection; a circumstance which Margaret takes so much to heart, that she has determined to retire to a convent and take the veil, when Lacy arrives and persuades her not to relinquish the love of man entirely for that of heaven.—The royal visitors are entertained with an exhibition of the surpassing influence of friar Bacon over the world of spirits, and depart for Windsor, where the prince is united to the Spanish princess, and the Lincoln Earl to Margaret on the same day.
The supernatural parts of this play are vastly inferior in power to the Doctor Faustus of his friend Marlowe. It excites no terror, but has rather the appearance of the hocus pocus of a common conjuror. With some extravagance, it possesses a few touches of feeling and occasional beauty of imagery. It appears from the preface to Perimedes, the Blacksmith, that his blank verse had been censured, because he could not make it “jet upon the stage in tragicall buskins, every word filling the mouth like the faburden of Bo-Bell.” But, though generally inferior to both Peele and Marlowe, it is not deficient in harmony. Prince Edward describes Margaret in the following terms :
“ Edward. I tell thee, Lacie, that her sparkling eyes Do lighten forth sweet Love's alluring fire :
And in her tresses she doth fold the looks
The following scene discloses an interesting situation.Greene had found the right vein, although he does not go very deep into it.
“ Edward. I tell thee, Peggie, I will have thy love,
Margret. Pardon, my lord, if Jove's great roialtie
Edw. I have learn’d at Oxford then this point of schooles,
Lacie. Rather than live and misse fair Margret's love,
Prince Edward, stop not at the fatall doome,
Marg. Brave Prince of Wales, honour'd for royal deeds,
Edw. Lacie shall die as traitor to his lord.
Marg. Why, thinks king Henrie's sonne that Margret's love
Lacie. If ought betides to lovely Margret,
Marg. Rid me, and keepe a friend worthe many loves.
Marg. And, if thy mind be such as fame hath blazde,
Edw. Edward, art thou that famous prince of Wales
And Ned, as he is true Plantagenet,
Lacie. Humbly I take her of my soveraigne,
Marg: And doth the English prince mean true ?
Edw. I will, faire Peggie, as I am true lord.
Marg. Then, lordly sir, whose conquest is as great,
Bacon, worn out with watching the brazen head which he had framed, enjoins his schollar to supply his place, and awaken him at the propitious moment of its speaking.
“ Bacon. Miles, thou knowest that I have dived into hell,
Wake me, for then by magicke art I'le worke
Then, farewell Bacon's glory and his fame.”
The head at length finds a tongue — it speaks,“ time is”- Miles thinks this too insignificant a speech for which to disturb his master ;-again it is heard, “ time was”- Miles waits for something more ;-the head exclaims, "time's past”a horrible noise succeeds, the head is dashed to pieces, and the friar awakes to see his hopes of fame crumbled in the dust, with the object of his seven years'labour.-In consequence of this failure, and the tragical effect of one of his magical representations, the friar becomes penitent, and abandons the black art.
Margaret, when about to retire to a nunnery, thus tenderly bids adieu to her young hopes, with “ sweet reluctant amorous delay.”
“ Marg. Now, farewell, world, the engin of all woe!
The play of A Looking Glasse for London was written by Thomas Lodge, in conjunction with "Greene. The subject is the abominations of Nineveh, which, by means of a monologue, spoken by the prophet “ Oseas” in the nature of a chorus, is made applicable to London. On this foundation, the writers have framed a sort of drama, which they have peopled with divers insane persons. Indeed, we never met with any thing more outrageously extravagant than the greater part of it. The style, which is abundantly metaphorical, is in the most vile and perverted taste. The comic parts are infinitely the best, and are by no means contemptible.
The following is the only sober piece of blank verse we could find, which is not without a touch of feeling. A son having, on his elevation to a place of dignity, disowned his parents, the mother appeals to Rasni, the king.
“ Samia. O, politicke in sinne and wickednesse,