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there was no state nor city in the world that did elect their magistrates with such magnificence, except the city of Venice, unto which the city of London cometh very near. * These exhibitions were more splendid, and, though quaint and whimsical, savoured more of intellect and invention than the similar triumphs' of the present day.

In this age of splendour and expense, the amusements of Whitehall shone forth with surpassing brilliancy. The English court had far outstripped that of France in refined magnificence; and seldom, perhaps, in any country, have the arts which administer to elegant luxury been displayed in a more resplendent and fascinating union than when Queen Anne, with the flower of English beauty and nobility, presented one of those sweet and learned poetic visions, the masques of Jonson. Whatever was most perfect in music, song, dance, mechanism, or scenic decoration, combined to grace these exquisite pageants; and the enchantments of a night, made glorious by such artificers as 'Ben' and Inigo, and the colleagues with whom they were satisfied to labour, lived long in recollection and tradition, and were not fruitlessly remembered, There are numberless thoughts and turns of phrase in Comus,' and in other poems of Milton, which may be distinctly traced to the masques of King James's court. It has been said, and never was a bold assertion less happy, that the taste of Anne, in diversions of this kind, was vulgar;' the conclusion has probably been arrived at with the promptitude usual in such cases, by generalizing on some expressions of an ill-natured letter (obviously written in a moment of spleen and personal disappointment), in which Sir Dudley Carleton passes a brief criticism on the 'Masque of Blackness.'

There is, however, an imputation more serious than that of vulgarity, against the court and its festivities. Dr. Lingard, after describing the splendid masques in which Queen Anne was so much distinguished, adds, that there was

one drawback from the pleasure of such exhibitions, which will hardly be anticipated by the reader. Ebriety at this period was not confined to the male sex, and, on some occasions, females of the highest distinction, who had spent weeks in the study of their respective parts, presented themselves to the spectators in a state of the most disgusting intoxication.'-History of England, vol. ix., p. 109.

This is Dr. Lingard's deduction, and one made by other loose interpreters, (though never, we believe, with the same freedom and latitude of expression,) from that celebrated letter of Sir John Harrington, which has perhaps left more reproach on the manners of King James's time than any other piece of 'secret history' * Progresses of King James, vol. ii., p. 370. G 2



extant. But the truth is, that Sir John's communication has no
reference to the Queen, or to the exhibitions at court, of which
Dr. Lingard speaks. Harrington is describing the incidents of a
four days' entertainment given by Cecil, at Theobalds, (of which
he was then the lord,) during a visit of the King of Denmark to
his brother-in-law, which undoubtedly brought with it an extraor
dinary flood of intemperance. The queen's court was at Green-
wich, where her majesty had recently lain in, and she took no part
in the royal festivities till some days after the departure of the two
kings from Theobalds, Who the ladies were that, on their visit, to
Cecil, rolled about in intoxication,' Harrington does not say; nor
as far as we know, is a single hint of the adventure, or of any
thing similar, to be found elsewhere. We do not infer from this
that Sir John's much-quoted narrative is mere invention; but if
the facts mentioned by him had been of ordinary occurrence, or if
the scandal of this particular incident had attached to ladies who
were usually the partners of the queen's revels, there would surely
have been some bitter chronicler to reinforce the testimony of
Harrington, by telling us how those fair masquers the Arundels and
Bedfords, the Veres, aud Wroths, and Cliffords, on some occa-
sions, or at least on this one, disgraced their rank and accomplish
ments, and put a drawback on the pleasures in which they
y were
engaged, by a public exhibition of ebriety. The pageant in ques
tion, with all its circumstances, Faith, Hope, Charity, Victory,
haranguing in succession; Peace elbowed by her attendants; and the
Queen of Sheba carrying a mess of wine, cream and jelly, is so mean,
and so remote from the style and taste of the Whitehall masques,
that, passing over accidental disorders, we seem to be reading of
a piece composed for the player-boys or children of St. Paul's
and the treatment of the performers, when hors de combat, is just
such as might befit those personages, one being left sick in the
lower hall, and another laid to sleep in the outer steps of the
antechamber.' It is universally known that in those days the
female parts on the stage were always sustained by male per-
formers; and we are no more warranted in drawing from this
story the inference suggested by Dr. Lingard, as to the ordinary
habits and pleasures of James's court, than in classing the wretched
show/of Faith, Hope, and Charity with the brilliant Masque, of
Beautya settimmo noitsfensiT letasio ed to be

But we must draw to an end:-It has been remarked by Mr. D'Israeli, and is no weak argument of merit in James as a sover reign and father, that the three children of this reviled monarch, Henry, Charles (at the time of which we are speaking), and Elizabeth of Bohemia, were among the most popular of English princes. And if we refuse to believe that a worthless king and unnatural

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unnatural parent could have surrounded his throne with such w progeny, it is surely not more credible that an age of profligacy and pedantry, a reign of oppression and of national debasement, should have been succeeded, before the lapse of a single genera tion, by that period in which the English character, considered in all ranks of society, evinced itself most vigorous and masculine, and most apt for counsel, enterprise, and endurance, bolt vienib $1 But, in those days, progresses were changed to marches, and mansions received the sovereign, not with pageants and recitations, but with the pomp and circumstance of war. Compared with scenes of such high and tragic interest, the secure excursions of the peaceful James, however calculated in themselves to excite and detain attention, must appear a slight and spiritless theme. To some minds, indeed, all subjects of this nature may seem barren and trivial; and we grant that, in affairs of mere show and ceremo nial, an over-curious diligence of investigation may be easily, and often justly, ridiculed. But the intercourse of a British monarch with his assembled people, must always afford some matter fitted to engage the grave and enlightened observer; and we need not go far back in the annals of this country to shew instances in which, if the history of public feeling be important in a nation's records, a royal journey or procession has been more truly memorable than a treaty or a conquest. There was no incident of the late röign which entered into the minds and hearts of the people, with a more profound and salutary influence, than the late King's pas sage through London to St. Paul's, on the happy restoration of his health, the same good prince did not repair to Weymouth in vain nor will the Progresses of George the Fourth, in the years following his coronation, cease, for many a day to come, to be freshly remembered,as domestic triumphs, bloodless and un embittered, and a worthy sequel to the warlike glories of the Regency

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of their literature. Hence they are, as might be expected, a reading people; a certain quantity of education is universal among even the lower classes-and among the higher, it is superfluous to insist on the great estimation in which letters must be held, under a system where learning forms the very threshold of the gate that conducts to fame, honours, and civil employment, Amidst the vast mass of printed books, which is the natural offspring of such a state of things, we make no scruple to avow that the circle of their Belles Lettres, comprised under the three heads of drama, poetry, and romances or novels, has always possessed the highest place in our esteem; and we must say that there appears to us no readier or more agreeable mode of becoming intimately acquainted with a people, from whom Europe can have so little to learn on the score of either moral or physical science, than by drawing largely from the inexhaustible stores of their ornamental literature. The publication, by that very active and flourishing association, the Oriental Translation Fund, of the Chinese tragedy which stands at the head of this article, furnishes us with an occasion of introducing some observations on the subject-of throwing, we trust, some new lights upon it, and investing it with additional interest-and we are not aware of any better arrangement than the triple classification above stated; 1. The Drama, 2. Poetry. 3. Romances and Novels.

The Chinese themselves make no technical distinctions between tragedy and comedy in their stage pieces;-the dialogue of which is composed in ordinary prose, while the principal performer now and then chants forth, in unison with music, a species of song or vaudeville, and the name of the tune or air is always inserted at the top of the passage to be sung.

A translator from their language seems, however, at liberty to apply those terms, according to the serious and dignified, or comic and familiar character of the composition which he selects. In chusing his own specimen from among so many, the translator of the Sorrows of Han, we quote his preface, was influenced by the consideration of its remarkable accordance with our own canons of criticism. The unity of action is complete, and the unities of time and place much less violated than they frequently are on the English stage. The grandeur and gravity of the subject, the rank and dignity of the personages, the tragical catastrophe, and the strict award of poetical justice, might satisfy the most rigid admirer of Grecian rules. The translator has thought it necessary to adhere to the original, in distinguishing by name the first act, or proem, from the four which follow it; but the distinction is purely nominal, and the piece consists, to all intents and purposes, of five acts. It is remarkable that this pecu

liar division holds true with regard to a large number of the Hun, dred Plays of Yuen'-from which the present drama is taken.

Love and war, too, very legitimate subjects of tragedy, constitute its whole action, and the language of the imperial lover is frequently passionate to a degree one is not prepared to expect in such a country as China. The nature of its civil institutions, and the degraded state of the female sex, might generally be pronounced unfavourable to the more elevated strains of the erotic muse. The bulk of the people, it might be thought, are too much straitened for the bare means of subsistence, through the pressing demands of an excessive population, to admit of their lounging about and singing, after the most approved manner of idle shepherds and shepherdesses; and the well-educated class, which comprehends almost all the higher ranks, or those in the employ of the government, too proud and unfeeling to make love the theme of their compositions-which are doubtless chiefly confined to moral and speculative, or descriptive subjects. The drama in question, however, may teach us not to pronounce too dogmatically on such points by reasonings à priori, but to wait patiently for the fruits of actual research and experience.

The moral of this play is evidently to expose the evil consequences of luxury, effeminacy, and supineness in the sovereign,

'When love was all an easy monarch's care,

Seldom at council, never in a war.'

The subject is strictly historical, and relates to that interesting period of the Chinese annals when the declining strength of the government emboldened the Tartars in their aggressions, and gave rise to the temporising and impolitic system of propitiating those barbarians by alliances and tribute, which at last produced the downfall of the empire, and the establishment of the Mongol dominion. The drama opens with the entrance of the Tartar Khan, reciting these verses:

'The autumnal gale blows wildly through the grass, amidst our woollen tents,

And the moon of night, shining on the rude huts, hears the lament of the mournful pipe:

The countless hosts, with their bended bows, obey me as their leader;

Our tribes are the distinguished friends of the family of Han.' This formidable Scythian displays his friendship after a singular fashion, as we shall see presently. He ends a speech, which may be considered either as a soliloquy, or as an address to the audience, thus,

We have moved to the south, and approached the border, claiming an alliance with the Imperial race. Yesterday, I despatched an envoy,

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