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Her. She is quite lost.
Duch. Pray, give me, sir, your pardon:
I know I talk not wisely: but if you had
The burthen of my sorrow, you would miss
Sometimes your better reason.
Now I'm well.'
-vol. v. pp. 341, 342. Shirley is still more successful in a kind of romantic tragi-comedy, crowded in general with incident and adventure, often wild and extravagant, but always full of life and amusement; sometimes, as in the diverting play of the Sisters,' the comic part greatly predominating ; sometimes, as in the · Young Admiral,' the interest being serious and tragic, but the catastrophe without bloodshed. It is not easy to give a fair notion of these pieces, by extracting single speeches or even scenes. It is the general effect of the whole drama, with all its intricacies of plot, however inconsistent, its rapid succession of perilous or diverting situations, however strangely brought about, and its varieties of character-it is the animation, the excitement of the dramatized romance-for such, as in a former article we attempted to explain, are all the plays of this school, which constitutes their chief excellence.
The · Brothers' is another drama of the same class, though less raised above the level of common life. In this play, the bustle and intricacy of a Spanish plot is mingled up with scenes of a kind of quiet pathos, in which Shirley, apt to overstrain the more violent passions, is often inimitably happy. There is something exquisitely touching in the following scene. Nothing is laboured,—nothing forced. The truth,—the simplicity of nature is perfectly preserved, while a hue of poetic fancy is thrown over the whole dialogue. Its very tranquillity is affecting, and a deep emotion is produced by the absence of all effort to produce emotion. Fernando, the elder son of Don Ramirez, is in love with Felisarda, the poor daughter of Theodoro, and the humble companion of Jacinta. Ramirez is supposed to have died in a fit of passion at the disobedience of Fernando, in refusing to pay his court to the rich heiress Jacinta, of whom his brother Francisco is enamoured. With his dying breath he disinherits Fernando, who is reduced to the most abject poverty.
· Fel. Why should Í
any entertainment to my fears?
Suspicions are but like the shape of clouds,
And idle forms i' the air, we make to fright us.
I will admit no jealous thought to wound
Fernando's truth, but with that cheerfulness,
My own first clear intents to honour him
Can arm me with, expect to meet his faith
As noble as he promisd.—Ha! 'tis he.
My poor heart trembles like a timorous leaf,
Which the wind shakes upon his sickly stalk,
And frights into a palsy.
Fel. Shall I want fortitude to bid him welcome - [Asile,
Sir, if you think there is a heart alive
That can be grateful, and with humble thought
And prayers reward your piety, despise not
The offer of it here; you have not cast
Your bounty on a rock; while the seeds thrive
Where you did place your charity, my joy
May seem ill dress'd to come like sorrow thus,
But you may see through every tear, and find
My eyes meant innocence, and your hearty welcome.
Fer. Who did prepare thee, Felisarda, thus
To entertain me weeping ? Sure our souls
Meet and converse, and we not know't ; there is
Such beauty in that watery circle, I
Am fearful to come near, and breathe a kiss
Upon thy cheek, lest I pollute that crystal ;
And yet I must salute thee, and I dare,
With one warm sigh, meet and dry up this sorrow.
Fel. I shall forget all misery; for when
I look upon the world, and race of men,
I find them proud, and all so unacquainted
With pity to such miserable things
As poverty hath made us, that I must
Conclude you sent from heaven.
Fer. Oh, do not flatter
Thyself, poor Felisarda ; I am mortal;
The life I bear about me is not mine,
But borrow'd to come to thee once again,
And, ere I go, to clear how much I love thee
But first, I have a story to deliver,
A tale will make thee sad, but I must tell it, -
There is one dead that lov'd thee not.
Fel. One dead
That lov'd me not? this carries, sir, in nature
No killing sound; I shall be sad to know
I did deserve an enemy, or he want
A charity at death.
Fer. Thy cruel enemy,
And my best friend, hath took eternal leave,
And's gone—to heaven, I hope; excuse my tears,
It is a tribute I must
Fel. Ha! your father ?
Fer. Yes, Felisarda, he is gone, that in
The morning promis'd many years ; but death
Hath in few hours made him as stiff, as all
The winds of winter had thrown cold upon him,
And whisper'd him to marble.
Fel. Now trust me,
My heart weeps for him ; but I understand
Not how I was concern'd in his displeasure ;
And in such height as you profess.
Fer. He did
Command me, on his blessing, to forsake thee.
Was't not a cruel precept, to enforce
The soul, and curse his son for honest love?
Fel. This is a wound indeed.
Fer. But not so mortal;
For his last breath was balsam pour'd upon it,
By which he did reverse his malediction;
And I, that groan'd beneath the weight of that
Anathema, sunk almost to despair,
Where night and heavy shades hung round about me,
Found myself rising like the morning star
To view the world.
Fel. Never, I hope, to be
Fer. This was a welcome blessing.
Fel. Heaven had a care of both: my joys are mighty.
Vouchsafe sir, your pardon, if I blush,
And say I love, but rather than the peace
That should preserve your bosom suffer for
My sake, 'twere better I were dead.
Fer. No, live,
And live for ever happy, thou deserved'st it.
It is Fernando doth make haste to sleep
In his forgotten dust.
Fel. Those accents did
Not sound so cheerfully.
Fer. Dost love me?
Fel. Sir ?
Fer. Do not, I prithee, do not; I am lost,
Alas! I am no more Fernando, there
Is nothing but the empty name of him
That did betray thee; place a guard about
Thy heart betime, I am not worth this sweetness.
Fel. Did not Fernando speak all this ? alas,
He knew that I was poor before, and needed not
Despise me now for that.
Fer. Desert me, goodness,
When I upbraid thy wants. 'Tis I am poor,
For I have not a stock in all the world
Of so much dust, as would contrive one narrow
Cabin to shroud a worm; my dying father
Hath given away my birthright to Francisco;
I'm disinherited, thrown out of all,
But the small earth I borrow, thus to walk on;
And having nothing left, I come to kiss thee,
And take my everlasting leave of thee too.
Farewell! this will persuade thee to consent
To my eternal absence.
Fei. I must beseech you stay a little, sir,
And clear my faith. Hath your displeased father
Depriy'd you then of all, and made Francisco
The lord of your inheritance, without hope
To be repair’d in fortune ?
Fer. 'Tis sad truth.
Fel. This is a happiness I did not look for.
Fer. A happiness!
Fel. Yes, sir, a happiness.
Fer. Can Felisarda take delight to hear
What hath undone her servant ?
Fel. Heaven avert it.
But 'tis not worth my grief to be assured
That this will bring me nearer now to him
Whom I most honour of the world; and 'tis
My pride, if you exceed me not in fortune,
That I can boast my heart, as high, and rich,
With noble flame, and every way your equal ;
And if you be as poor as I, Fernando,
I can deserve you now, and love you more
Than when your expectation carried all
The pride and blossoms of the spring upon it.
Fer. Those shadows will not feed more than your fancies:
Two poverties will keep but a thin table;
And while we dream of this high nourishment,
We do but starve more gloriously.
Fel. 'Tis ease
And wealth first taught us art to surfeit hy:
Nature is wise, not costly, and will spread
A table for us in the wilderness;
And the kind earth keep us alive and healthful,
With what her bosom doth invite us to;
The brooks, not there suspected, as the wine
That sometimes princes quaff, are all transparent,
And with their pretty murmurs call to taste them.
In every tree a chorister to sing
Health to our loves; our lives shall there be free
As the first knowledge was from sin, and all
Our dreams as innocent.
Fel. Oh, Felisarda ?
If thou didst own less virtue I might prove
Unkind, and marry thee: but being so rich
In goodness, it becomes me not to bring
One that is poor in every worth, to waste
So excellent a dower: be free, and meet
One that hath wealth to cherish it-I shall
Undo thee quite; but pray for me, as I,
That thou mayst change for a more happy bridegroom;
I dare as soon be guilty of my death,
As make thee miserable by expecting me.
Farewell! and do not wrong my soul, to think
That any storm could separate us two,
But that I have no fortune now to serve thee.
Fel. This will be no exception, sir, I hope,
When we are both dead, yet our bodies may
Be cold, and strangers in the winding sheet,
We shall be married when our spirits meet.'- vol. i. pp.
246–252. Scenes like this are interspersed throughout the whole of the intermediate compositions which form nearly two-thirds of Shirley's dramas. They bear considerable resemblance to some of Calderon's plays, those which are not in his more serious vein, but more elevated and poetical than those Capo y Espada comedies, from which the later English comic writers borrowed so largely. There is the same disregard of probability, (this, however, the animation and activity of the scene scarcely allow us time to detect, or inclination to criticize)-the same love of disguises, princesses in the garb of pages, princes who turn out to be changelings, and humbler characters who turn out to be princes, everybody in love, and everybody in love with the wrong personuntil
, by some unexpected dénouement, they all fall into harmonious and well-assorted couples and a general marriage winds up the whole piece. Like the great Spanish dramatist, Shirley delights in throwing his leading characters into the most embar
situations—their constancy is exposed to the rudest trials; sometimes he has caught the high chivalrous tone of self-devotion, the sort of voluntary martyrdom of love which will surrender its object, either at the call of some more commanding duty, or for
greater glory and happiness of its mistress. We would direct particular attention to « The Grateful Servant.'
There is still another class of drama in which Shirley is extremely successful, though here, likewise, the skill of the author is rather shown in the general conduct of his piece, than in the striking execution of single parts. It is a poetic comedy of English and domestic manners, mingled with serious, sometimes with