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'Quite so, but that need not prevent her from thinking of Sir Andrew for a husband," said the banker's wife; and alarmed

of her own, Miss Birrell produced a cup of tea and changed the subject.

At supper that night the lawyer had an intuition of some restlessness in 'Tilda's mind. "What's the very latest news?" he asked, and she told him of Norah's new employment.

He heard of it with no great satisfaction. "But I suppose she'll find him somebody," said he.

"If she played her proper cards she would not waste her time with Maurice."

"Pooh!" said Miss 'Tilda. "You men! You cannot see the very nose in front of you; it takes the like of me and Mrs Semple

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But not another word on to find gossip already so close the subject could he get out on what she thought a secret of her.

(To be continued.)

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"KNOW then," said the spectre to the Author of 'Waverley,' "that I am the spirit of that unhappy Elizabeth or Betty Barnes, long cook maid to Mr Warburton, the painful collector . of the largest collection of ancient plays ever known. Yes, stranger, it was these illfated hands that consigned to grease and conflagration the scores of small quartos which, did they now exist, would drive the whole Roxburghe Club out of their senses - it was these unhappy pickers and stealers that singed fat fowls and wiped dirty trenchers with the lost works of Beaumont and Fletcher, Massinger, Jonson, Webster,-what shall I say? -even of Shakespeare himself!"

This passage from the original preface to the 'Fortunes of Nigel' has done more to diffuse the fame and blacken the character of Mrs Elizabeth Barnes (or Baker) than any other statement concerning this remarkable woman. The 'Dictionary of National Biography' (under Warburton, Somerset Herald) gives "Baker," not "Barnes," as the surname of the great Elizabeth. Possibly Barnes was her maiden name and Baker that which she bore in matrimony. The lady, in either case, has indeed reason to call herself "unhappy." Every passing historian of our early dramatic literature throws his stone on her cairn. Her misdeeds, if misdeeds they were, are grossly exaggerated. I know no evidence, not a tittle of evidence, that she destroyed scores of small quartos,' as Scott makes her allege. Her master himself, Mr Warburton,

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and the cantankerous Gifford, the editor of 'The Quarterly Review,' and of Ben Jonson and Massinger, and a bitter admirer of old plays, do not accuse Elizabeth of destroying any printed books or any plays by Ben Jonson, Webster, and Beaumont and Fletcher. Sir Walter playfully invented these misdeeds, and though "there was mair tint at Flodden" than a general massacre of Beaumonts, Fletchers, and Websters could counter - balance, Mrs Barnes spared the manuscripts of these authors, either in sympathy with their genius or because perhaps she had no chance of getting at them.

Concerning the motives of this Destroying Angel in the House we have no direct information. I shall later propose the theory that, as Dryden tells us of himself and of another poet whom he does not name, Mrs Barnes sacrificed bad poets to the manes of a good poet-Shakespeare. This motive is at least a vera causa; it actually did animate Dryden and the other unnamed poet, probably Milton. It is also true that Woman has a general tendency to burn all manuscript matter except the letters dictated by passion and preserved by sentiment, which are apt to rise up against her in judgment or to fall (in novels) into the hands of the grasping and unscrupulous blackmailer. One lady burned

a mass of the documents of the exiled Stuart princes; another committed to the flames the entire correspondence between Sir Walter Scott and his friend, Lord Kinedder; and an old lady's hearth has been found littered with royal seal impressions and charred fragments of historical papers inadvertently left within her reach. It may be urged by some that Mrs Barnes merely yielded to the inscrutable propensity of her sex or to a passion for "tidying up." She was apparently a good cook; at least, she was long in the service of Mr Warburton: she gave satisfaction.

Like many great studious men, he may have cherished a more than artistic passion for his attached domestic; it may not have been merely (as in the affair of Mr Pickwick and Mrs Bardell) a "case of chops and tomato sauce." Mr Warburton, in early days, clearly reposed full confidence in the sound sense and literary judgment of Elizabeth. When Mr John Stuart Mill handed over to Mrs Taylor the entire manuscript of Mr Carlyle's 'French Revolution,' he, being in love, fondly supposed that the lady would cherish and peruse that formidable mass of papers. Mrs Taylor, on the other hand, seems to have appointed her cook as literary taster, and the fate of the manuscript is for ever unknown, like the grave of Arthur. Non est inventus is all that we can say; for it is ridiculous to suppose that the most determined cook can have sacrificed so huge a pile to making curling papers and

lighting fires, in the space of a few weeks. Possibly Mrs Taylor's cook regarded all waste-paper as her perquisite, and sold it as such to a ragand-bone shop. and-bone shop. Mr Warburton, no doubt, in the first ardour of his intimacy with Elizabeth Barnes, may have credited her with literary appreciation, and for this reason entrusted her with more than fifty unique manuscripts by the mellow glories of our early stage. Nor need he have been mistaken in his estimate. Elizabeth has gone and made no sign. According to Mr Swinburne, John Webster, the dramatist (whom Betty did not burn), "has given us the clue to his nature in a single and an imperishable sentence

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-'I rest silent in my own work."" So does Elizabeth Barnes! She may have thought that some of our early dramas, from Greene's to Massinger's, are rather a disgrace than otherwise to a people calling itself Protestant and civilised. She may have deemed that we already possess quite enough of our early drama; indeed there is plenty of it. Even Mr Swinburne confessed that he had not an exhaustive knowledge of the entire works of Heywood, some two hundred plays. The learned and disinterested Monsieur Jusserand, in his 'Literary History of the English People,' appears to come to much the same conclusion, that there is quite enough of the post-Reformation drama, as we shall see. But Elizabeth, with monumental reserve, "remains silent in her own work."

We are not very exactly informed as to the extent of her


In 1805 Mr Gifford, in his edition of all that Betty spared of Massinger (four volumes), avers that the lost plays were "collected with care by Mr Warburton (Somerset Herald), and applied with perseverance by his cook to the covering of his pies." As usual no authority for this detail is given, nor is it credible that the anti-Elizabethan Elizabeth sent up to table pies covered with ancient manuscripts. Would an artist like her even line pie-dishes with grubby old written papers? Mr Gifford goes on: "Mr Warburton, becoming the master of treasures which ages may not reproduce, 'lodges them,' as he says, 'in the hands of an ignorant servant,' and when, after a lapse of years, he condescends to revisit his hoards, finds that they have been burned from an economical wish to save him the charges of more valuable brown paper.

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Mr Warburton, if any one, is to blame. Having procured, nobody knows how (could it be from the stores of the Stationers' Company?), plays which H. Moseley, in 16531660, intended to print, but wisely refrained from printing, Mr Warburton's first impulse was to entrust them to his Elizabeth. Later, in the fury of disappointment, he called her "an ignorant servant," but, too manifestly, he had once entertained another ideal of Mrs Barnes, a vision that had perished.

himself that we do not know precisely what the lost plays were. Gifford, for example, gives as Warburton's one list of Massinger's burned plays, while Warburton himself gives another. Mrs Barnes appears to have entertained an especial grudge against Massinger. But she has spared enough to fill four large volumes. Gifford credits Mrs Barnes with relieving the world of twelve; Warburton assigns to her the destruction of fourteen of Massinger's dramas. Of these, seven were entered for printing in the books of the Stationers' Company in 1653, and four in 1660. "The Wandering Lovers" is named by Gifford, not by Warburton. Mrs Barnes was falsely accused of burning "The Tyrant," which, in fact, was disposed of at Warburton's own sale in 1759. Charles I. read it at Newmarket, and erased, as "too insolent and to be changed," a passage on tyrannical taxation. Both Warburton and Gifford mention, as "Fast and Welcome," a play thought to be "Taste and Welcome. Yet another play was of 1597, when Massinger was aged thirteen. He cannot have written it.

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Thus carelessly are the feats of Mrs Barnes recorded. She is stated to have made away with four "comedies" by the gloomy Ford; two of Rowley; one play (of 1594, all about Job) by Greene; one tragicomedy by Cyril Tourneur ; one tragedy by Chapman ("The Yorkshire Gentlewoman and her Sons"); one play, "The So careless was Warburton Maiden's Holiday," by Marlowe

and Day, and a number of pieces by anonymous authors. Her whole score is fifty-two, or, by another account, fifty-five; but, in any case, three plays escaped among them, "The Second Maiden's Tragedy," endorsed "William Gouge," then "Thomas Goughe," then "George Chapman," and, finally, "Will Shakspear." Betty put an end to only four of so-called Shakespearian plays, "Duke Humphrey," "A Play," "Henry I.," and "Henry II.," all entered for printing in 1660. Probably they were all untradesmanlike imitations.1

While Mrs Barnes is cursed in all our Histories of English Literature, while Mr Saintsbury even calls her "that evil cook" (she may have been a hasty critic, but her cookery is unimpeached), are we sure that she did a great disservice to our national glories? Humphrey Moseley, we must not forget, did not, after all, think the lost plays worth printing. I regard Betty with gratitude: she lightened the labours of the sad historian of our literature.

Before we condemn Mrs Barnes too severely we should ask ourselves, Is not the enthusiasm of professed lovers of the early stage a trifle overstrained? Charles Lamb was a pioneer (1808), an explorer, and he naturally delighted in his own discoveries. But he did not say that the old plays were well constructed, or meritorious throughout; he confined himself to picking out the plums, in his delightful

book of extracts. The public may read the extracts, it certainly does not read the plays en masse, and youth is obliged to get up, for examinations, the names of dramas which it will never see. Complete editions are rare and expensive.

For example, take the dramatic works of Thomas Middleton (1570-1627). Of these we possess Dyce's edition, and another, in eight volumes, edited by Mr Bullen. Of that edition but four hundred copies were printed. Middleton is not very popular. Mr Bullen quotes an anonymous writer in the 'Encyclopædia Britannica' to the effect that, in certain qualities, Middleton is the early dramatist that comes nearest to the Master," Shakespeare. In fact, like all the rest, Middleton is left "in the ruck,”—he never catches the judge's eye. Justly does Mr Edmund Gosse write that "too many of Middleton's plays have survived.

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He is weighed down by his abundance. . . By Lamb and later critics the cult of these writers has been pushed to some extravagance." These were the very principles of Elizabeth Barnes. Perhaps Mr Gosse will kindly accept the Presidency of the Elizabeth Barnes Society?


The more we read these playwrights, the more purely miraculous does the aculous does the genius of Shakespeare seem. But even about Shakespeare always candid? Thackeray writes of Helen Pendennis (her portrait is said to be drawn in part from his mother) that she


1 Gentleman's Magazine, 1815, vol. lxxxv., pp. 217-222. Frederick Thornhill,

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