תמונות בעמוד



HIS appearance of a regular tragedy, with the division of

acts and scenes, and the accompaniment of the antient chorus, represented both at the Middle-temple and at Whitehall, and written by the most accomplished nobleman of the court of queen Elisabeth, seems to have directed the attention of our more learned poets to the study of the old classical drama, and in a short time to have produced vernacular versions of the JOCASTA of Euripides, as it is called, and of the ten Tragedies of Seneca. I do not find that it was speedily followed by any original compositions on the same legitimate model.

The JOCASTA of Euripides was translated by George Galcoigne and Francis Kinwelmersh, both students of Grays-inn, and acted in the refectory of that society, in the year 1566. Gascoigne translated the second, third, and fifth acts, and Kinwelmersh the first, and fourth. It was printed in Gascoigne's poems, of which more will be said hereafter, in 1577, under the following title, “ Jocasta, a Tragedie written in Greeke " by Euripides. Translated and digested into Acte, by George Gascoigne and Francis Kinwelmershe of Graies inn, and there “ by them presented, An. 1566.” The Epilogue was written in quatraines by Christopher Yelverton, then one of their brother students. So strongly were our audiences still attached to spectacle, that the authors did not venture to present their play, without introducing a DUMB Shew at the beginning of every act. For this, however, they had the example and authority of GORDOBUC. Some of the earliest specimens of Inigo Jones's Grecian architecture are marred by Gothic ornaments.

It must, however, be observed, that this is by no means a just or exact translation of the JOCASTA, that is the PHOENISSÆ, of Euripides. It is partly a paraphrase, and partly an abridgement, of the Greek tragedy. There are many omiffions, retrenchments, and transpositions. The chorus, the characters, and the substance of the story, are entirely retained, and the tenor of the dialogue is often preserved through whole scenes. Some of the beautiful odes of the Greek chorus are neglected, and others substituted in their places, newly written by the tranNators. In the favorite address to Mars, Gascoigne has totally deserted the rich imagery of Euripides, yet has found means to form an original ode, which is by no means destitute of pathos or imagination.

O fierce and furious Mars! whose harmefull hart
Reioiceth most to shed the giltlesse blood;
Whose headie will doth all the world subvart,
And doth enuie the pleasant merry mood
Of our estate, that erst in quiet stood :
Why dost thou thus our harmlesse towne annoy,
Whych mighty Bacchus gouerned in ioy?

Father of warre and death, that dooft remoue,
With wrath full wrecke, from wofull mothers breft
The trusty pledges of their tender loue !
So graunt the goddes, that for our finall rest
Dame Venus' pleafant lookes may please thee best:
Whereby, when thou shalt all amazed stand,
The sword may fall out of thy trembling hando:

And thou mayst proue some other way ful wel

The bloody prowess of thy mighty speare, • See Phoeniss. pag. 140. edit. Barnes. • So Tibullus, where he cautions Mars Ω πολύμοχθος "Αρης,

not to gaze on his mistress. Lib. iv. ii. 3. Τί ποθ' αιμα

.... At tu, violente, caveto, Koy qurálo na lixon, &c.

Ne tibi miranti turpiter arma cadant.


Wherewith thou raiseft from the depth of hel
The wrathful sprites of all the Furies there ;
Who, when they wake, do wander euery where,
And neuer reft to range about the costes,
T'enrich that pit with spoyle of damned ghoftes.

And when thou hast our fields forsaken thus,
Let cruel DISCORD beare thee company,
Engirt with snakes and serpents venemous ;
Euen She, that can with red vermilion die
The gladsome greene that florisht pleasantly ;
And make the greedy ground a drinking cup,
To sup the blood of murdered bodies


Yet thou returne, O loie, and pleasant Peace!
From whence thou didst against our willes depart:
Ne let thy worthie mind from trauel cease,
To chase disdayne out of the poysned heart,
That raysed warre to all our paynes and smart,
Euen from the breast of Oedipus his sonne
Whose swelling pride hath all this iarre begon, co.

I am of opinion, that our translators thought the many mythological and historical allusions in the Greek chorus, too remote and unintelligible, perhaps too cumbersome, to be exhibited in English. In the ode to CONCORD, which finishes the fourth act, translated by Kinwelmershe, there is great elegance of expression and versification. It is not in Euripides,

O blifsefull CONCORD, bred in facred brest
Of hym that rules the restlesse-rolling skie,
That to the earth, for mans assured rest,
From height of heauens vouchsafest downe to flie!

< Act ii. Sc. ult.

In thee alone the mightie power doth lie,
With sweet accorde to keepe the frowning starres,
And euerie planet els, from hurtful warres.

In thee, in thee, such noble vertue bydes,
As may commaund the mightiest gods to bend :
From thee alone such sugred frendship flydes
As mortall wights can scarcely comprehend.
To greatest strife thou setst deliteful end.
O holy Peace, by thee are only found
The passing ioyes that euerie where abound !

Thou only, thou, through thy celestiall might,
Didst first of all the heauenly pole devide
From th' old confused heap, that Chaos hight:
Thou madste the sunne, the moone, the starres, to glyde
With ordred course, about this world so wyde:
Thou hast ordaynde Dan Tytans shining light
By dawne of day to change the darksome night.

When tract of time returnes the lusty vero,
By thee alone the buds and blofsoms spring,
The fields with flours be garnisht euery where ;
The blooming trees aboundant fruite doe bring,
The chereful byrdes.melodiously doe fing:
Thou doest appoynt the crop of summers seede,
For mans releefe, to ferue the winters neede.

Thou dost inspire the hearts of princely peers;
By prouidence proceeding from aboue,
In flowring youth to choose their proper feeres ;
With whom they liue in league of lasting loue,
Till fearfull death doth flitting life remoue :

[blocks in formation]

And looke howe fast to death man payes his due !
So fast agayne doeft thou his stock renue.
By thee the basest thing aduanced is :

where doest graffe such golden peace,
As filleth man with more than earthly blisse:
The earth by thee doth yeelde her sweete increase,
At beck of thee al bloody discords cease.
And mightiest realmes in quyet do remayne,
Whereas thy hand doth hold the royall rayne.
But if thou fayle, then all things gone to wrack:
The mother then doth dread her natural childe;
Then euery towne is subicct to the fack,
Then spotles maydes, then virgins be defilde ;
Then rigour rules, then reason is exilde ;
And this, thou woful THEBES! to ovr greate payne,
With present spoyle art likely to sustayne.
Methink I heare the waylful-weeping cryes
Of wretched dames in euery coast resound !
Methinks I see, howe vp to heauenly skies,
From battred walles the thundring-claps rebound :
Methink I heare, howe al things go to ground:
Methink I see how souldiers wounded lie

With gasping breath, and yet they cannot die, &c'. The constant practice of ending every act with a long ode sung by the chorus, seems to have been adopted from GORDOBUCÓ.

I Act iv. Sc. ult.

be proper to observe here, that the tragedy of TANCRED and GISMUND, acted also before the queen at the Inner. temple, in 1568, has the chorus. The title of this play, not printed till 1592, shews the quick gradations of tafte. It is faid to be “ Newlie revived and polished

according to the decorum of these daies, " by R. W. Lond. printed by T. Scarlet,

" &c. 1592." 4to. R. W. is Robert Wilmot, mentioned with applause as a poet in Webbe's Discourse, Signat. C 4. The play was the joint-production of five ftu. dents of the society. Each seems to have taken an act, At the end of the fourth is Compofuit Cbr. Hatton, or fir Christopher Hatton, undoubtedly the same that was af. terwards exalted by the queen to the office of lord Keeper for his agility in dancing.


« הקודםהמשך »