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WILLIAM ROWLEY. Old Law. There is an exquisiteness of moral sensibility, making one's eyes to gush out tears of delight, and a poetical strangeness in the circumstances of this sweet tragi-comedy, which are unlike any thing in the dramas which Massinger wrote alone. The pathos is of a subtler edge. Middleton and Rowley, who assisted in it, had both of them finer geniuses than their associate.
JAMES SHIRLEY Claims a place amongst the worthies of this period, not so much for any transcendant talent in himself, as that he was the last of a great race, all of whom spoke nearly the same language, and had a set of moral feelings and notions in common. A new language, and quite a new turn of tragic and comic interest, came in with the Restoration.
THE CHURCH HISTORIAN.
The writings of Fuller are usually designated by the title of quaint, and with sufficient reason; for such was his natural bias to conceits, that I doubt not upon most occasions it would have been going out of his way to have expressed himself out of them. But his wit is not always a lumen siccum, a dry faculty of surprising; on the contrary, his conceits are oftentimes deeply steeped in human feeling and passion. Above all, his way of telling a story, for its eager liveliness, and the perpetual running commentary of the narrator happily blended with the narration, is perhaps unequalled.
As his works are now scarcely perused but by antiquaries, I thought it might not be unacceptable to my readers to present them with some specimens of his manner, in single thoughts and phrases ; and in some few passages of greater length, chiefly of a narrative description. I shall arrange them as I casually find them in my book of extracts, without being solicitous to specify the particular work from which they are taken.
Pyramids.-" The Pyramids themselves, doting with age, have forgotten the names of their founders.”
Virtue in a short person." His soul had but a short diocese to visit, and therefore might the better attend the effectual informing thereof.” - Intellect in a very tall one. " Oft times such who are built four stories high, are observed to have little in their cock-loft.”
Naturals.--" Their heads sometimes so little, that there is no room for wit; sometimes so long, that there is no wit for so much room.”
Negroes." The image of God cut in ebony."
School-divinity. At the first it will be as welcome to thee as a prison, and their very solutions will seem knots unto thee."
Mr. Perkins, the Divine.-“He had a capacious head, with angles winding and roomy enough to lodge all controversial intricacies."
The same." He would pronounce the word Damn with such an emphasis as left a doleful echo in his auditors' ears a good while after."
Judges in capital cases.--"O let him take heed how he strikes, that hath a dead hand."
Memory." Philosophers place it in the rear of the head, and it seems the mine of memory lies there, because there men naturally dig for it, scratching it when they are at a loss."
Fancy.—“ It is the most boundless and restless faculty of the soul; for while the Understanding and the Will are kept, as it were, in libera custodia to their objects of verum et bonum, the Fancy is free from all engagements: it digs without spade, sails without ship, flies without wings, builds without charges, fights without bloodshed; in a moment striding from the centre to the circumference of the world; by a kind of omnipotency creating and annihilating things in an instant; and things divorced in Nature are married in Fancy as in a lawless place.”
Infants." Some, admiring what motives to mirth infants meet with in their silent and solitary smiles, have resolved, how truly I know not, that then they converse with angels; as indeed
such cannot among mortals find any fitter companions.”
Music.-" Such is the sociableness of music, it conforms itself to all companies both in mirth and mourning ; complying to improve that passion with which it finds the auditors most affected. In a word, it is an invention which might have beseemed a son of Seth to have been the father thereof: though better it was that Cain's great grandchild should have the credit first to find it, than the world the unhappiness longer to have wanted it."
St. Monica.—– Drawing near her death, she sent most pious thoughts as harbingers to heaven, and her soul saw a glimpse of happiness through the chinks of her sickness-broken body."*
Mortality.—“To smell to a turf of fresh earth ; is wholesome for the body, no less are thoughts? of mortality cordial to the soul.”
Virgin.--"No lording husband shall at the same time command her presence and distance ; to be always near in constant attendance, and always to stand aloof in awful observance."
* The soul's dark cottage, batter'd and decay'd, Lets in new lights through chinks which time has made.