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HIS WITCH OF EDMONTON.
“ Pen. 'T is long agone, since first I lost my heart;
Cal. What say'st thou?
I must leave the world
You have forgot, Penthea,
vol. i. 291-293.
There are passages of equal power and beauty in the plays called “ Love's Sacrifice," “ The Lover's Melancholy," and in “ Fancies Chaste and Noble.” In “ Perkin Warbeck," there is a more uniform and sustained elevation of style. But we pass all those over, to give our readers a word or two from “ The Witch of Edmonton," a drama founded upon the recent execution of a miserable old woman for that fashionable offence; and in which the devil, in the shape of a black dog, is a principal performer! The greater part of the play, in which Ford was assisted by Dekkar and Rowley, is of course utterly absurd and contemptible—though not without its value as a memorial of the strange superstition of the age; but it contains some scenes of great interest and beauty, though written in a lower and more familiar tone than most of those we have already exhibited. , As a specimen of the range of the author's talents, we shall present our readers with one of these. - Frank Thorney had privately married a woman of inferior rank ;; and is afterwards strongly urged by his father, and his own inclination, to take a second wife, in the person of a rich yeoman's daughter whose affections were fixed upon him. After taking this unjustifiable step, he is naturally troubled with certain inward compunctions, which manifest
themselves in his exterior, and excite the apprehensions of his innocent bride. It is her dialogue with him that we are now to extract; and we think the picture that it affords of unassuming innocence and singleness of heart, is drawn with great truth, and even elegance. She begins with asking him why he changes countenance so suddenly. He answers
" Who, I? For nothing.
Come, you shall not,
I'm all yours.
You are not; if you keep
From some distaste
Come: in nothing.
You, sweet, have the power
sea, VOL. II.
WITCH OF EDMONTON.
To make it ebb or flow into my face,
Change thy conceit, I pr‘ythee:
Sus. Come, come: these golden strings of flattery
Then look here;
Heaven shield it! Where?
You speak riddles.”
vol. ii. p. 437–440. The unfortunate bigamist afterwards resolves to desert this innocent creature: but, in the act of their parting, is moved by the devil, who rubs against him in the shape of a dog! to murder her. We are tempted to give the greater part of this scene, just to show how much beauty of diction and natural expression of character may be combined with the most revolting and degrading absurdities. The unhappy bridegroom says
Why would you delay? we have no other business
Sus. And will not that, sweet-heart, ask a long time?
Fie, fie! why look,
Farewell. [Kisses her.
wilt return ?
But this request
Sus. That I may bring you thro' one pasture more,
Frank. Why, 'tis granted: come, walk then.
Nay, not too fast:
Frank. Now, your request
What? so churlishly?
Frank. Why, you almost anger me. -- 'Pray you begone.
betide you homewards.
Tush! I fear none : To leave you is the greatest I can suffer.
Frank. So! I shall have more trouble.” Here the dog rubs against him; and, after some more talk, he stabs her! * Sus.
Why then I thank you ;
would thus bestow me on another.
Frank. Not yet mortal ? I would not linger you,
[Stabs her again.
vol. ii. p. 452.-455. We cannot afford any more space for Mr. Ford; and what we have said, and what we have shown of him, will probably be thought enough, both by those who are disposed to scoff, and those who are inclined to admire. It is but fair, however, to intimate, that a thorough perusal of his works will afford more exercise to the former disposition than to the latter. His faults are glaring and abundant; but we have not thought it necessary to produce any specimens of them, because they
FORD FAULTS AND MERITS.
are exactly the sort of faults which every one acquainted with the drama of that age reckons upon finding. Nobody doubts of the existence of such faults: But there are many who doubt of the existence of any counterbalancing beauties; and therefore it seemed worth while to say a word or two in their explanation. There is a great treasure of poetry, we think, still to be brought to light in the neglected writers of the age to which this author belongs; and poetry of a kind which, if purified and improved, as the happier specimens show that it is capable of being, would be far more delightful to the generality of English readers than any other species of poetry. We shall readily be excused for our tediousness by those who are of this opinion ; and should not have
; been forgiven, even if we had not been tedious, by those who look upon it as a heresy." Itobora wid to sol