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but even in the most inferior writer of the first age of our drama, the faults are not the faults of dullness. The vices of inexperience, audacity, and bad taste, are common enough, but these are redeemed when the true poet falls into the right vein. Dullness-flat, tame, frigid dullness, is alone hopeless and irremediable. Robert Davenport was by no means the most diminutive of a line of heroes. His play has its absurdities, and, perhaps, more than the usual share of wildness and uncouthness; but passages and scenes occur of great beauty, and which, when transplanted into our pages, will, we hope, flourish with a brighter verdure for the removal, and, at any rate, stand a better chance of catching the eye of the general reader of poetry. The subject of this play is the love of King John for Matilda, the daughter of one of his barons, Old Fitzwater, and his various attempts to procure possession of her person, which are intermixed with his contests and disputes with the barons themselves. Soon after the opening, the king is thus made to tempt Matilda, whom he has decoyed into a meeting in his garden.

"K. John. Fair Matilda,

Mistresse of youth and beauty, sweet as spring,
And comely as the holy shining priest,
Deckt in his glorious sacerdotall vestment;
Yet heare the passions of a love-sick prince,

And crown thy too too cruell heart with pitty.

Mat. Yet let fall your too too passionate pleadings,

And crown your royall heart with excellent reason.
K. John. Hear me.

Mat. The queen will heare you.

K. John. Speak but a word that-
Mat. What?

K. John. That may sound like something,

That may but busie my strong labouring heart,
With hope that thou wilt grant, and every morning
I will walk forth and watch the early lark,

And at her sweetest note I will protest,
Matilda spake a word was like that note.

Mat. O how you tempt: remember pray your vows

To my betroth'd Earl Robert Huntington;
Did you not wish, just as the poison toucht
His manly heart, if ever you again

Laid battery to the fair fort of my unvanquish'd
Virtue, your death might be like his untimely,
And [you] be poyson'd [too.] O take heed, sir,
Saints stand upon heaven's silver battlements,

When kings make vows, and lay their listening ears
To princes' protestations.

K. John. So did Matilda swear to live and die a maid,

At which fair Nature, like a snail, shrunk back,

As loath to hear from one so fair, so foul

A wound my vow was vain, made without

Recollection of my reason; and yours,

O madnesse! Maids have sure forsworne such vowes :
For Huntington, he like a heap of summer's

Dust into his grave is swept; and bad vows

Still are better broke than kept.

Mat. Alas, great sir, your queen you cannot make me;
What is it then instructs your tongue? Oh, sir!

In things not right,

Lust is but love's well languag'd hypocrite.

K. John. Words shall convert to deeds then; I am the king.

Mat. Doe but touch me,

[Offers violence, she draws a knife.

And as I grasp steel in my trembling hand,
So sure the king shall see Matilda fall
A sacrifice to virtue.

K. John. Cruell maid,

Crueller than the [goat] that eanes her young
On the rough bosome of a ragged flint:
Go, gett thee to the woods, for thou art wild
As flame, or winter; wheresoe'er thou walk'st
May wild winds chide thee, and the reeling trees,
Like a confused fall of many waters,

Rail on thy rudeness; may the birds that build
Among the wanton branches, 'stead of teaching

Notes to their young, sing something like thy niceness:
And lastly, may the brooks when thou shalt lie

And cast a pair of cruell busie eyes

Upon their subtill slydings; may the water,

The troubled image of my passions, war

With the stones, the matter of thy heart, that thou mayst learn

Thy hardnesse and my sufferings to discern;

And so whilst I (if it be possible) study to forget you,

May beasts, and birds, and brooks, and trees, and wind,

Hear me, and call Matilda too unkind."

Act I. scene I.

There is considerable spirit in the following dialogue-the barons are consulting together in Baynard Castle, when the king is announced.

"Richmond. The king, attended

Onely with the Earle of Chester, Oxford, and some
Other gentlemen, is new landed on the stairs.

Om. The king!

Young Bruce. Shut the stairs' gate.

Fitz. "Twere better gate and stairs

Were floating through bridge; we are safe, my cholerick cousin, As in a sanctuary; 'tis enough

(A man would think) to see a great prince thus,

Enter King, Oxford, Chester, and other Lords.

'Cause wee'd not go to him, to come to us : Indeed, indeed, you speak unkindly.

K. John. Behold, great lords,

The cedars of the kingdome, how the king
(A shrub) shrinks out of majestie

And comes to you; here's a fine conventicle.
Are ye blowing up new fires? and must Fitzwater
(Plain-breasted as his unaffected habite)
Be generall again, again be call'd

The Marshall of Heaven's Army and the church's?
Are you planet-struck! you cannot talke.

Fitz. Your pardon, sir,

I led the barrons, but 'twas when they could not choose

But choose a leader, and then me they chose;

And why so, think ye? they all lov'd your grace,

And grieve, grieve very heartily, I tell you,

To see you by some state-mice so misled:

These state-mice that nibble so upon the land's impaired freedom, That would not so play in the lyon's eare,

But that by tickling him themselves to advantage;

This troubl'd us, and griev'd the body Politique,
And this we sought to mend; I tell truth, John, I,

We are thy friends, John, and if ye take from friendship
The liberty of modest admonition,

Ye leave no mark whereby to distinguish it

From the fawning passion of a dog-base flattery;

If I speak plain, this truth be my defence,

A good man's comfort is his conscience:

And so much for plain Robin.

K. John. Fitzwater, Bruce, Richmond, and stubborn Leister,

This is the last of our admonitions:

Either lay by those arms, those lawless arms,

Which you have lifted 'gainst your lord and king,

And give such pledges as we shall accept

For settling of your loyalties, or here,

By the abused sufferings of a king,

And by the unkind scars with which you have
Deform'd the face of England, misery
Shall overtake you in a shape shall fright

The iron heart of faction, and the king

Shall come no more acquainted with compassion,

But call the bloodiest ends a righteous vengeance."

The most remarkable part of the tragedy is the death of the Lady Bruce and her youngest son, a boy, who die of hunger, while imprisoned in Windsor Castle by the Earl of Chester, under the keeping of a ruffian named Brand, one of that baron's retainers. These scenes are uncommonly pathetic, and produce, quietly and without effort, a deep impression on the heart. Brand is introduced, reading a letter.

Will. Brand, these are to certifie, that Fortune, mistress of changes, with my unluckie stars, hath rendered me a prisoner to my most mortall enemy, Young Bruce.

Brand. That mad Tamberlaine.

'My entreaty is none of the noblest, but direct against my blood, my desires, and my deservings.

Brand. O that I had a leg of that young Bruce but minc'd and butter'd.

'I am credibly possest, his majestie hath into your custody committed his mother, and her young sonne George, whereby you have occasion cast into your hand to parallel their sufferings with my fortunes, not that I would have you banish humanity;

Brand. He need never have writ that, bawds and serjeants have sav'd me the labour.

'Nor give too deep a wound to conscience.

Brand. Another labour sav'd too, usurers do it daily.

'But as I let you understand how I am here accommodated, so shape the duty of a servant to parallel, in their persons, your villified master, Ralph Chester."

Brand. Brave lord, the ladder of my fortunes, shalt thou suffer on that side, and for humanitie's sake, and thread-bare conscience, (a couple of cousin-Germans, that thrice a weeke know not where to get a supper,) shall the friends of him that stands lord of thy fortunes, and thy profest foe, fare well here; now I talk of fare, I receiv'd this letter yesterday, and since they have neither eaten bit, nor drunk drop, nor by these ten stealers shall not, till I hear againe from my lord.-Come out, madam mother, and your young prating brat

Enter Lady and Boy.

they do look hungry already.

Lady. What would our unkind jaylor?

Boy. Sure, mother, Mr. Brand hath brought us victuals.

Brand. No, sirrah, I come to tell you to-day is fasting day.

Lady. Two dayes together.

Good Mr. Brand, 'tis not mine own want beggs,

But my poor boye's; I have held him pretty pastimę

To have him yet forget that wild woolf hunger,

And still the harmlesse soul would point each period

Of his sport, crying, mother, give me bread.

Brand. She has a winning way,

Her carriage and her person are both exquisite:

Faith, tell me, madam, what would you give for some victuals
To give your son?

Lady. Any thing: set thou the price, thou shalt have gold.
Boy. And truly, sir, if you'll but give me a cake,

Or a capon's legge, when I am a man,

I'll give you twenty shillings to buy your boy fine things."

The villain proposes terms which the lady rejects with indignation, and she and her son are again immured without food. Some time after, the scene changes again to the gloomy prison of Windsor Castle, and Brand enters, saying,

"Brand. I wonder how my pair of prisoners fadge?

I am something dogged too at t'other side,

That thus long have not seen them, nor have they eate
I am sure since they came in; in yon madam's eye

I am as ugly as a toad, I will see her,

And contemn her,—you and your brat come out;

Enter Lady and Boy.

Here's meat, I am sure you are hungry.

Boy. O mother, will you be sick now?

Mr. Brand hath brought us meat.

Lady. Oh, on my knee, sir,

I thank you, not for my want, for I feel

Nature almost quite vanquish'd; but for my sonne,
He may live long to thank you.

Boy. Give but my mother

A little piece of bread, and if I live,

(As yet I may do, if you can be mercifull)

I will tell my father such good things of you,

He shall return your kindnesse treble back

To your honest bosome; oh, mother, for some bread!

Brand. Some bread?

Why to have an honest bosome (as the world goes)

Is the next way to want bread; i'faith, tell me,
How have you past the time you wanted victuals?

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