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This is his father, worne with care and age,
He scorneth me, his father, and this child.”
From the comic parts of the drama, we extract the following short scene as a specimen.
“ Clowne. Why, but heare you mistresse, you know a woman's eyes are like a paire of pattens, fit to save shoo-leather in summer, and to keepe away the colde in winter; so you may like your husband with the one eye, because you are marryed, and mee with the other, because I am your man. Alasse, alasse, thinke, mistresse, what a thing love is; why, it is like to an ostry-faggot, that once set on fire, is as hardly to be quenched, as the bird crocodill driven out of her neast.
Wife. Why, Adam, cannot a woman winke but shee must sleep: and can shee not love, but shee must crie it out at the crosse? know, Adam, I love thee as myselfe, now that wee are together in secret.
Clowne. Mistresse, these wordes of yours are like a foxe-tayle, placed in a gentlewoman's-fanne, which, as it is light, so it giveth life. Oh, these wordes are as sweete as a lilly, whereupon, offering a borachio of kisses to your unseemely personage, I entertaine you upon further acquaintance.
Wife. Alasse, my husband comes.
Smith. Syrrha you, and you houswife, well taken together, I have long suspected you, and now I am glad I have found you together.
Clowne. Truly, sir, and I am glad I may doe you any way pleasure, either in helping you or my mistresse.
Smith. Boy, here, and knave, you shall knowe it straight, I will have you both before the magistrate, and there have you severely punished.
Clowne. Why then, maister, you are jealous ?
Smith. Jealous, knave, how can I be but jealous to see you ever so familiar together? Thou art not onely content to drinke away my goods, but to abuse my wife.
Clowne. Two good qualities, drunkennesse and letchery; but, maister, are you jealous ?
Smith. Yea, knave: and that thou shalt knowe it ere I passe, for I will beswindge thee while this roape will hold.
Wife. My good husband, abuse him not, for he never proffered you any wrong. • Smith, Nay, woman, and thy part shall not be behinde.
Clowne. Why suppose, maister, I have offended you, is it lawful for the maister to beate the servant for all offences ?
Smith. I, marry is it, knave.
Clowne. Then, maister, will I proove by lodgicke, that seeing all sinnes are to receyve correction, the maister is to be corrected of the man: and, sir, I pray you, what greater sinne is then jealousie? 'tis like a mad dogge, that for anger bites himselfe. Therefore, that I may do my duty to you, my good maister, and make a white sonne of you, I will beswinge jealousie out of you, as you shall love me the better while you live.
Smith. What, beat thy master, knave?
Clowne. What, beat thy man, knave? I, maister, and double beate you, because you are a man of credite; and therefore have at you, the fayrest of forty pence.
Smith. Alasse, wife, helpe, helpe, my man kils me.
Wife. Nay, even as you have baked, so brue; jealousie must be driven out by extremities.
Clowne. And that will I doe, mistresse.
Smith. Hold thy hand, Adam, and not onely I forgive and forget all, but I will give thee a good farme to live on.
Clowne. Bee gone, peasant, out of the compasse of my further wrathe, for I am a corrector of vice; and at night I will bring home my mistresse.
Smith. Even when you please, good Adam.
Clowne. When I please; marke thy words, tis a lease paroll, to have and to hold ; thou shalt be mine for ever; and so let's goe to the alehouse.”
[exeunt. The authors we have been considering possess not, it must be confessed, magicians' wands to move our feelings to any point they list. They do not display any deep insight into the mysteries of the heart, whose sweet affections they hardly touch,-neither is there any strong exhibition of the stormy conflicts of the mind, nor yet any deep vein of impassioned poetry. We see things as in “a glass darkly.” But we must not forget that the drama was then in its nonage, nor expect that infancy will produce the fruits of maturity. For, although Greene as well as Kyd, Lilly, Peele, and Marlowe, were living at the time when Shakspeare began his dramatic career, they preceded him as writers for the stage, from which they departed just as he appeared.
Art. V. The Miscellaneous Works in Verse and Prose of Sir
Thomas Overbury, Knt. with Memoirs of his Life. The tenth edition. London, 1754.
This little volume contains the remains of the unfortunate Sir Thomas Overbury, “one of the most finished gentlemen
about the court” of James I. who fell a victim, as is well known, before the ungovernable passions of the Countess of Essex. The murder of this accomplished man is one of the most disgraceful passages of the history of England; but as the tragical story is always related there, we shall turn our attention from so gloomy a subject to the agreeable little volume before us. The sympathy which was universally felt for his melancholy fate is demonstrated by the first forty pages, which consist of elegies and tributes of grief and admiration from all quarters, “on the untimely death of Sir Thomas Overbury, poisoned in the Tower," and on his poem the “ Wife,” with manifold regrets that she “ had grown husbandless of late.” The only “ Verse" by Sir Thomas Overbury himself, in the book, are his famous poem termed the “ Wife," a smaller one on the “ Choice of a Wife," and two or three elegies. The “ Wife” is a didactic poem, and though the precepts which it gives are certainly not of a kind which the reader feels disposed to dispute, they have truly very little to recommend them, being far from remarkable for their ingenuity, and certainly not set off by any charms of poetical grace or ornament. Our rage for reviving the forgotten does not extend so far as to inflict upon our readers many passages, containing nothing better than injunctions to disregard beauty, which, as Sir Thomas observes, is but “skin deep,” and to prefer good, which “is a fairer attribute than white," expressed in a dry style and crabbed versification, though they may be on so universally interesting a subject as the Choice of a Wife. Nevertheless, there are some passages in this little poem which, if they are not of themselves worthy of being quoted, will at least serve as specimens of a composition which has been no small favorite in its day.
The following verses, though they may contain no sentiment of a very striking description, are written with some force of expression.
“So fair, at least, let me imagine her,
That thought to me is truth : opinion
With no eyes shall I see her, but mine own,
In it the relish of the rest doth lie;
And of the face the life moves in the eye.
Beauty in decent shape and colours lies, .
Colours the matter are, and shape the soul;
But from the just proportion of the whole;
Which fears the idol which itself hath fram'd;
Temper than from the object is inflam'd."
• He thus expresses his opinion on the due portion of learning to be allowed in women; an important question, which doubtless is not unfrequently debated in the minds of all those who take an interest in the education of the female mind. Sir Thomas, it will be observed, is of the old school; and we fear the term “domestic charge” is obnoxious to unpleasant commentaries in these days, when cookery books and needleworks are not, as in the “ olden time," the study and pursuits of our ladies of beauty and fashion.
“Give me next good, an understanding wife,
By nature wise, not learned by much art:
More scope of conversation impart :
And judgment to discern, I wish to find :
Learning and pregnant wit in womankind.
Contiguous bus'ness, so to fix the mind,
Their leisure 'tis corrupteth womankind;
In formal ink they thoughts and voices hold,
And make time present travel that of old.
Our life fame pierceth longer at the end,
The small poem on the “Choice of a Wife” is in a lighter style, and composed in a more flowing versification. Take the following specimen.
“ If I were to chuse a woman,
As who knows but I may marry,
Nor a tongue that may miscarry;
I would have her child to such,
Than antiquity can touch ;
Branches, I confess, of worth,
Those descents that brought them forth;
Blushes not for ill thoughts past;
That her dreams are ever chast;
I would have her scatter fears,
After protestations tears;
It is not, however, on the poetry, if it may be so called, of Overbury, that his reputation must be founded—it is the remainder of the volume, “ the Characters or witty Descriptions of the Properties of sundry Persons,” which display the fertile and ingenious character of his mind. From these we intend to