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[The following and subsequent poems are by John Byrom, a native of Manchester. He was well educated, but declined to take advantage of an offered fellowship in the university of Cambridge, from a dislike to the clerical profession, and endeavoured to make a livelihood by teaching short-hand writing in London. Ultimately, he succeeded to some property, and came to the close of his days in affluence (1763), aged 72. The | Phoebe of his poetry was a daughter of the celebrated Bentley.]
I am content, I do not care,
With more of thanks and less of thought,
With good and gentle humoured hearts,
For chance or change of peace or pain,
I suit not where I shall not speed,
Of ups and downs, of ins and outs,
With whom I feast I do not fawn,
Not that I rate myself the rule
Fond of a true and trusty tie,
If names or notions make a noise,
The point impartially I poise,
* One poem, entitled Careless Content, is so perfectly in the manner of Elizabeth's age, that we can hardly believe it to be an imitation, but are almost disposed to think that Byrom had transcribed it from some old author.—South EY.
Sweet music went with us both all the wood through, The lark, linnet, throstle, and nightingale too; Winds over us whispered, flocks by us did bleat, And chirp went the grasshopper under our feet. But now she is absent, though still they sing on, The woods are but lonely, the melody's gone:
[One of six imitations of English poets, written on the sub
ject of tobacco, by Isaac Hawkins Browne, a gentleman of
fortune, born 1705, died 1760. The present poem is the imita
tion of Ambrose Philips.]
Little tube of mighty power,
| Object of my warm desire,
And thy pretty swelling crest,
With my little stopper prest;
Breathing from thy balmykisses.
Happy thrice, and thrice again,
Who when again the night returns,
(Little cricket full of play),
| Can afford his tube to feed
- With the fragrant Indian weed:
Pleasure for a nose divine,
Incense of the god of wine.
Happy thrice, and thrice again,
[Song—Away! let nought to Love Displeasing.”]
Our name while virtue thus we tender, Will sweetly sound where'er 'tis spoke;
And all the great ones, they shall wonder How they respect such little folk.
*This beautiful piece has been erroneously ascribed to John | Gilbert Cooper, author of a volume of poems, and some prose works, who died in 1769.
What though, from fortune's lavish bounty,
We'll find, within our pittance, plenty,
Still shall each kind returning season
For we will live a life of reason,
Through youth and age, in love excelling,
Sweet-smiling peace shall crown our dwelling,
How should I love the pretty creatures, While round my knees they fondly clung!
To see them look their mother's features, To hear them lisp their mother's tongue!
And when with envy Time transported, Shall think to robus of our joys;
You'll in your girls again be courted, And I’ll go wooing in my boys.
The tragic drama of this period bore the impress of the French school, in which cold correctness or turgid declamation was more regarded than the natural delineation of character and the fire of genius. One improvement was the complete separation of tragedy and comedy Otway and Southerne had marred the effect of some of their most pathetic and impressive dramas, by the intermixture of farcical and licentious scenes and characters, but they were the last who committed this incongruity. Public taste had become more critical, aided perhaps by the papers of Addison in the “Spectator,’ and other essayists, as well as by the general diffusion of literature and knowledge. Great names were now enlisted in the service of the stage. Fashion and interest combined to draw forth dramatic talent. A writer for the stage, it has been justly remarked, like the public orator, has the gratification of “wit. nessing his own triumphs; of seeing in the plaudits, tears, or smiles of delighted spectators, the strongest testimony to his own powers.’ The publication of his play may also insure him the fame and profit of authorship. If successful on the stage, the remuneration was then considerable. Authors were generally allowed the profits of three nights' performances; and Goldsmith, we find, thus derived between four and five hundred pounds by She Stoops to Conquer. The genius of Garrick may also be considered as lending fresh attraction and popularity to the stage. Authors were ambitious of fame as well as profit by the exertions of an actor so well fitted to portray the various passions and emotions of human nature, and who partially succeeded in recalling the English taste to the genius of Shakspeare.
One of the most successful and conspicuous of the tragic dramatists was the author of the “Night Thoughts,' who, before he entered the church, produced three tragedies, all having one peculiarity, that they ended in suicide. The Revenge, still a popular acting play, contains, amidst some rant and hyperbole, passages of strong passion and eloquent declamation. Like Othello, “The Revenge’ is founded on jealousy, and the principal character, Zanga, is a Moor. The latter, son of the Moorish king Abdallah, is taken prisoner after a conquest by the Spaniards, in which his father fell, and is condemned to servitude by Don Alonzo. In revenge, he sows the seeds of jealousy in the mind of his
conqueror, Alonzo, and glories in the ruin of his
Dr Johnson's tragedy of Irene was performed in 1749, but met with little success, and has never since been revived. It is cold and stately, containing some admirable sentiments and maxims of morality, but destitute of elegance, simplicity, and pathos. At the conclusion of the piece, the heroine was to be strangled upon the stage, after speaking two lines with the bowstring round her neck. The audience cried out “Murder! murder!’ and compelled the actress to go off the stage alive, in defiance of the author. An English audience could not, as one of Johnson's friends remarked, bear to witness a strangling scene on the stage, though a dramatic poet may stab or slay by hundreds. The following passage in ‘Irene' was loudly applauded:–
spair and suicide, and the dramatic artevinced in the characters and incidents, drew loud applause. ‘The Gamester’ is still a popular play.
[The Gamester's Last Stake.]
Beverley. Why, there's an end then. I have judged deliberately, and the result is death. How the self. murderer's account may stand, I know not; but this I know, the load of hateful life oppresses me too much. The horrors of my soul are more than I can bear. [Offers to kneel]. Father of Mercy! I cannot pray; despair has laid his iron hand upon me, and sealed me for perdition. Conscience 1 conscience thy clamours are too loud: here's that shall silence thee. [Takes a phial of poison out of his pocket.] Thou art most friendly to the miserable. Come, then, thou cordial for sick minds, come to my heart. [Drinks it..] Oh, that the grave would bury memory as well as body for, if the soul sees and feels the sufferings of those dear ones it leaves behind, the Everlasting has no vengeance to torment it deeper. I’ll think no more on it; reflection comes too late; once there was a time for it, but now 'tis past. Who's there?
Jar. One that hoped to see you with better looks. Why do you turn so from me ! I have brought comfort with me; and see who comes to give it welcome. Bev. My wife and sister! Why, 'tis but one pang more then, and farewell, world.
Enter MRs Brover LEY and Charlotte.
Mrs B. Where is he? [Runs and embraces him.] 0, | I have him " I have him 1 And now they shall never part us more. I have news, love, to make you happy for ever. Alas! he hears us not. Speak to me, love; I have no heart to see you thus. Bev. This is a sad place. Mrs B. We came to take you from it; to tell you the world goes well again; that Providence has seen our sorrows, and sent the means to help them ; your uncle died yesterday. Bev. My uncle? No, do not say so. 0 ! I am sick at heart! Mrs B. Indeed, I meant to bring you comfort. Bev. Tell me he lives, then; if you would bring me comfort, tell me he lives. Mrs B. And if I did, I have no power to raise the dead. He died yesterday. Bev. And I am heir to him : |
Jar. To his whole estate, sir. But bear it patiently, pray bear it patiently. Bev. Well, well. [Pausing.] Why, fame says I am rich then 2 Mrs B. And truly so. Why do you look so wildly? Ber. Do I? The news was unexpected. But has he left me all? Jar. All, all, sir; he could not leave it from you. Bev. I am sorry for it. Mrs B. Why are you disturbed so? Bev. Has death no terrors in it ! Mrs B. Not an old man's death; yet, if it trouble you, I wish him living. Bev. And I, with all my heart; for I have a tale to tell, shall turn you into stone; or if the power of speech remain, you shall kneel down and curse me. Mrs B. Alas! Why are we to curse you? I'll bless you ever. Bev. No; I have deserved no blessings. All this large fortune, this second bounty of heaven, that might have healed our sorrows, and satisfied our utmost hopes, in a cursed hour I sold last night. Mrs B. Impossible ! Bev. That devil Stukely, with all hell to aid him, tempted me to the deed. To pay false debts of honour, 136
and to redeem past errors, I sold the reversion, sold it for a scanty sum, and lost it among villains. Char. Why, farewell all then. Ber. Liberty and life. Come, kneel and curse me. Mrs B. Then hear me, heaven. [Kneels.] Look down with mercy on his sorrows! Give softness to his looks, and quiet to his heart! On me, on me, if misery must be the lot of either, multiply misfortunes 1 I'll bear them patiently, so he be so ! These hands shall toil for his support; these eyes be lifted up for hourly blessings on him; and every duty of a fond and faithful wife be doubly done to cheer and comfort him. So hear me! so reward me ! [Rises. Ber. I would kneel too, but that offended heaven would turn my prayers into curses; for I have done a deed to make life horrible to you. Mrs B. What deed 2 Jar. Ask him no questions, madam; this last misfortune has hurt his brain. A little time will give him patience.
Ber. Why is this villain here? Stuk. To give you liberty and safety. There, madam, is his discharge. [Gives a paper to Charlotte.] The arrest last night was meant in friendship, but came too late. Char. What mean you, sir? Stuk. The arrest was too late, I say; I would have kept his hands from blood; but was too late. Mrs B. His hands from blood ' Whose blood Stuk. From Lewson's blood. Char. No, villain quickly. Stuk. You are ignorant then; I thought I heard the murderer at confession. Char. What murderer? Not Lewson 3 worship you. Stuk. And so I would ; but that the tongues of all cry murder. I came in pity, not in malice; to save the brother, not kill the sister. Your Lewson's dead. Char. O horrible ! it. Silence, I charge you. Proceed, sir. | Stuk. No; justice may stop the tale; and here's an evidence.
Enter Stukely. i | o
Yet what of Lewson; speak
And who is murdered Say he lives, and I will kneel and
and possessor of all. Daw. Had he but stopped on this side murder, we had been villains still. Lew. [To Beverley.] How does my friend? Bev. Why, well. Who's he that asks me? h Mrs B. "Tis Lewson, love. Why do you look so at im? Bev. [Wildly..] They told me he was murdered Mrs B. Ay; but he lives to save us. Bev. Lend me your hand; the room turns round. Lew. This villain here disturbs him. Remove him from his sight; and on your lives see that you guard him. [Stukely is taken off by Dawson and Bates.] How is it, sir? Bev. 'Tis here, and here. [Pointing to his head and heart.] And now it tears me ! Mrs B. You feel convulsed, too. turbs you? Bev. A furnace rages in this heart. [Laying his your native hell; there you shall rack me ! pause from pain! give me, love? Mrs B. Alas! for what? Bev. For meanly dying. Mrs B. No ; do not say it. Bev. As truly as my soul must answer it.
Oh, for a Where is my wife? Can you for
pressed by shame, pent in a prison, and tormented with my pangs for you, driven to despair and madness, I took the advantage of his absence, corrupted the poor wretch he left to guard me, and swallowed lson. Lew. Oh, fatal deed Bev. Ay, most accursed. And now I go to my account. Bend me, and let me kneel. [They lift him from his chair, and support him on his knces.] I’ll pray for you too. Thou Power that mad'st me, hear me. If, for a life of frailty, and this too hasty deed of death, thy justice doom me, here I acquit the sentence; but if, enthroned in mercy where thou sitt'st, thy pity hast beheld me, send me a gleam of hope, that in these last and bitter moments my soul may taste of comfort! And for these mourners here, O let their lives be peaceful, and their deaths happy. Mrs B. Restore him, heaven! 0, save him, save
him, or let me die too !
Lew. And of a thousand frauds; his fortune ruined by sharpers and false dice; and Stukely sole contriver
What is it dis
hand upon his heart.] Down, restless flames 1 down to
Had Jarvis staid this morning, all had been well; but,
Bev. No ; live, I charge you. We have a little one; though I have left him, you will not leave him. To Lewson's kindness I bequeath him. Is not this Charlotte : We have lived in love, though I have wronged you. Can you forgive me, Charlotte :
Char. Forgive you ! O, my poor brother
Bev. Lend me your hand, love. So ; raise me—no; it will not be; my life is finished. O for a few short moments to tell you how my heart bleeds for you; that even now, thus dying as I am, dubious and fearful of a hereafter, my bosom pang is for your mise
ries. Support her, Heaven And now I go. 0, mercy! mercy! [Dies. Lew. How is it, madam? My poor Charlotte, too !
Char. Her grief is speechless.
Lew. Jarvis, remove her from this sight. [Jarvis and Charlotte lead Mrs Beverley aside.] Some ministering angel bring her peace. And thou, poor breathless corpse, may thy departed soul have found the rest it prayed for. Save but one error, and this last fatal deed, thy life was lovely. Let frailer minds take warning; and from example learn that want of prudence is want of virtue. [Eccunt.
Of a more intellectual and scholar-like cast were the two dramas of Mason, Elfrida and Caractacus. They were brought on the stage by Colman (which Southey considers to have been a bold experiment in those days of sickly tragedy), and were well received. They are now known as dramatic poems, not as acting plays. The most natural and affecting of all the tragic productions of the day, was the Douglas of Home, founded on the old ballad of Gil Morrice, which Percy has preserved in his Reliques. “Douglas' was rejected by Garrick, and was first performed in Edinburgh in 1756. Next year Lord Bute procured its representation at Covent Garden, where it drew tears and applause as copiously as in Edinburgh. The plot of this drama is pathetic and interesting. The dialogue is sometimes flat and prosaic, but other parts are written with the liquid softness and moral beauty of Heywood or Dekker. Maternal affection is well depicted under novel and striking circumstances—the accidental discovery of a lost child—‘My beautiful! my brave l’-and Mr Mackenzie, the ‘Man of Feeling,” has given as his opinion that the chief scene between Lady Randolph and Old Norval, in which the preservation and existence of Douglas is discovered, has no equal in modern and scarcely a superior in the ancient drama. Douglas himself, the young hero, “enthusiastic, romantic, desirous of honour, careless of life and every other advantage when glory lay in the balance, is beautifully drawn, and formed the schoolboy model of most of the Scottish youth “sixty years since.” As a specimen of the style and diction of Home, we subjoin part of the discovery scene. Lord Randolph is attacked by four men, and rescued by young Douglas. An old man is found in the woods, and is taken up as one of the assassins, some rich jewels being also in his possession.
[Discovery of her Son by Lady Randolph.] Paison ER—LADY RANDolph–ANNA, her maid.
Lady R. Account for these; thine own they cannot be
For these, I say: be steadfast to the truth;
Pris. Alas! I’m sore beset; let never man,
For sake of lucre, sin against his soul!
Eternal justice is in this most just
I, guiltless now, must former guilt reveal.
The truth direct; for these to me foretell
Beneath the ford, used oft to bring within
Lift up their hands, and wonder who could do them;
And such a man was I; a man declined,