British Dramatists from Dryden to Sheridan

By George Henry Nettleton; Arthur Eillicot Case | Go to book overview
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Are infant dwarfs. They frown, and foam, and roar,
While Thumb, regardless of their noise, rides on.
So some cock-sparrow in a farmer's yard,
Hops at the head of an huge flock of turkeys.

DOOD. When Goody Thumb first brought this

Thomas forth, 15
The Genius of our land triumphant reigned; Then, then, O Arthur! did thy Genius reign.

NOOD. They tell me it is5 whispered in the books
Of all our sages, that this mighty hero,

By Merlin's art begot, hath not a bone 20
Within his skin, but is a lump of gristle.

DOOD. Then 'tis a gristle of no mortal kind; Some god, my Noodle, stept into the place
Of Gaffer Thumb, and more than6 half begot
This mighty Tom.

NOOD. 7--Surehe was sent express 25
From heav'n to be the pillar of our state.
Though small his body be, so very small
A chairman's leg is more than twice as large,
Yet is his soul like any mountain big;
And as a mountain once brought forth a mouse, 30
8So doth this mouse contain a mighty mountain.

DOOD. Mountain indeed! So terrible his name,
9The giant nurses frighten children with it,
And cry Tom Thumb is come, and if you are

Naughty, will surely take the child away. 35

NOOD. But hark!10 these trumpets speak the
king's approach.

DOOD. He comes most luckily for my petition.

( Flourish.)



KING. 11Let nothing but a face of joy appear;
The man who frowns this day shall lose his head,
That he may have no face to frown withal.
Smile, Dollallolla! -- Ha! what wrinkled sorrow

12Hangs, sits, lies, frowns upon thy knitted brow? 5
Whence flow those tears fast down thy blubbered
Like a swoln gutter, gushing through the streets?

QUEEN. 13Excess of joy, my lord, I've heard folks
Gives tears as certain as excess of grief.

KING. If it be so, let all men cry for joy, 10
14Till my whole court be drownèd: with their tears;

The trumpet in a tragedy is generally as much as to say Enter King, which makes Mr. Banks, in one of his plays, call it 'the trumpet's formal sound.'
Phraortes, in the Captives [GAY], seems to have been acquainted with King Arthur:

Proclaim a festival for seven days' space,
Let the court shine in all its pomp and lustre,
Let all our streets resound with shouts of joy;
Let music's care-dispelling voice be heard;
The sumptuous banquet and the flowing goblet
Shall warm the cheek and fill the heart with gladness.
Astarbe shall sit mistress of the feast.


Repentance frowns on thy contracted brow.

Sophonisba [THOMSON].

Hung on his clouded brow, I marked despair.


----- A sullen gloom
Scowls on his brow. Busiris [YOUNG].

Plato is of this opinion, and so is Mr. Banks:

Behold these tears sprung from fresh pain and joy.

E[arl] of Essex [BANKS].

These floods are very frequent in the tragic authors:

Near to some murmuring brook I'll lay me down,
Whose waters, if they should too shallow flow,
My tears shall swell them up till I will drown.

LEE'S Sophonisba.

Pouring forth team at such a lavish rate,
That were the world on fire they might have drowned
The wrath of heav'n, and quenched the mighty ruin.

Mithridates [LEE].

One author changes the waters of grief to those of joy:

----- These tears, that sprung from tides of grief,
Are now augmented to a flood of joy.

Cyrus the Great [BANKS].


Turns all the streams of heat, and makes them flow
In pity's channel. Royal Villain [THEOBALD].

One drowns himself:

----- Pity like a torrent pours me down,
Now I am drowning all within a deluge.

Anna Bullen [BANKS].

Cyrus drowns the whole world:
Our swelling grief
Shall melt into a deluge, and the world
Shall drown in tears. Cyrus the Great [BANKS].

'To whisper in books,' says Mr. D[enni]s, 'is errant [arrant] nonsense.' I am afraid this learned man does not sufficiently understand the extensive meaning of the word whisper. If he had rightly understood what is meant by the 'senses whisp'ring the soul,' in the Persian Princess [THEOBALD], or what 'whisp'ring like winds' is in Aurengzebe [DRYDEN], or like thunder in another author, he would have understood this. Emmeline [heroine of King Arthur] in Dryden sees a voice, but she was born blind, which is an excuse Panthea cannot plead in Cyrus [BANKS], who hears a sight:

----- Your description will surpass
All fiction, painting. or dumb show of horror,
That ever ears yet heard, or eyes beheld.
When Mr. D[enni]s understands these, he will understand
whispering in books.


--Some ruffian stept into his father's place,
And more than half begot him.

Mary Q[ueen] of Scots [BANKS].


--For Ulamar seems sent express from heaven,
To civilize this rugged Indian clime.

Liberty Asserted [DENNIS].

'Omne majus continet in se minus, sed minus non in se majus continere potest,' ['The greater ever contains the less, but the less cannot contain the greater'] says Scaliger in Thumbo.-- I suppose he would have cavilled at these beautiful lines in the Earl of Essex [BANK]:

----- Thy most inveterate soul,
That looks through the foul prison of thy body.

And at those of Dryden:

The palace is without too well designed;
Conduct me in, for I will view thy mind.

Aurengzebe [DRYDEN].

Mr. Banks hath copied this almost verbatim:

It was enough to say, here's Essex come,
And nurses stilled their children with the fright.

E[api] of Essex [BANKS].


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British Dramatists from Dryden to Sheridan
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