« PreviousContinue »
In the first scene of the Third Act Cinna, master in Rome, prepares to succour Marius. In the second scene Marius, prisoner in Minturnum, sleeps expectant of his murderer. This brings us to the story of the Gaul who flinched and Aed from the old soldier's eyes. What though the old Gaul is represented by a comic modern Frenchman?
“Me no point de argent, no point kill Marius. ... Marius, tu es mort. Speak dy preres in dy sleep, for me sal cut off your head from your epaules before you wake. Qui est la! What kind of a man be dis?
Pausanias. What sudden madness daunts this stranger thus ?
Pedro. Oh, me no can kill Marius ! me no dare kill Marius ! adieu, messieurs, me be dead si je touche Marius. Marius est un diable. Jesu Maria sauve moi !
Marius lives for the seventh consulship to which he was destined. But he must quit Minturnum. Marius goes from “walls to woods," and Sylla is then shown in triumph, after Tamburlaine fashion, " in his car triumphant of gold, drawn by four Moors.” He mocks the drawers of his chariot before he sends them away to be killed. Leaving Lucullus to “pursue Mithridates till he be slain,” Sylla sets out to front Cinna in Rome.
From the triumph of Sylla the scene changes to Marius among the mountains, eating roots and getting some encouragement from Echo.
" Then full of hope, say, Echo, shall I go?-Go.
Is any better fortune then at hand ?- At hand."
Young Marius, with soldiers, finds his father, and, at the end of the Third Act, Marius and his son also set out to meet Cinna in Rome.
In the Fourth Act Marius enters Rome with his son. Cinna causes Octavius to be stabbed. Old Marius is for the seventh time made consul. Sylla and his friends are banished, Sylia's house is razed ; his wife and daughter, Cornelia and Flavia, are brought prisoners to Marius. He lets them think they are to die, then, by an unexpected turn, hangs chains of gold upon their necks, frees them, and largely honours their fidelity. A clown scene follows, of a drunken servant who speaks in couplets of Skeltonic rhyme and betrays the whereabouts of Anthony. The eloquence of Anthony disarms his murderers, but a soldier enters suddenly who has not been bewitched by his words. That soldier stabs him. Lectorius enters, pensive. He tells how old Marius died while sitting near a spring :
“ Bright was the day, and on the spreading trees
The frolic citizens of forest sung
This was the sign of death, and Marius died when Sylla was about “to
“the reasons of this ruthless wrack
Carbo, who will not bow to Sylla, is thrown down at Sylla's feet that Sylla may set his foot on Carbo's neck, before ordering his head off. Carinus' head also is taken off. Forty senators are proscribed
" And for our gentlemen are over proud,
Of them a thousand and six hundred die."
Next we are shown young Marius and his friends besieged in Præneste, "all in black and wonderful melancholy." They kill themselves rather than yield. Then we return to Sylla clothed in state, who is made perpetual Dictator, hears of the death of young Marius, and moralises suddenly on his own loss in leaving country life to be a king. After hearing throughout the play of many thousands slain in Sylla's wars, foreign and civil, seeing every now and then a head that he has ordered to be severed from the body, simple spectators of the play must have been much surprised when, among all “the tickle turns lent by inconstant chance," they find that Sylla suddenly dies moralising, with a clown scene thrust into the midst of his moralities. Sylla's Genius appears to warn him of his death, in Latin verses to which he makes reply in kind, and he is shown taking tender farewell of his wife and daughter, before he is carried out dead. With the body "exeunt omnes,” to return and close the entertainment with a procession that sets forth “The Funeral of Sylla in great pomp."
Now let us turn to the play of which Lodge and Greene were the joint authors.
“A Looking Glass for London and England,”
written not later than the year 1591, and first published in 1594, as “made by Thomas Lodge, gentleman, and Robert Greene, in Artibus Magister,” is very religious in its tone. It sets forth a series of pictures of the corruption of life in Nineveh of old ; blends them into sequence that connects them lightly with each other as a sort of tale ; and, after each scene of the misdoing of Nineveh has been represented, points it directly as a lesson for London and England. The play is printed without division into acts, but the group of details forming each of the five acts is distinctly marked in treatment of the subject.
The first scene of the play shows Rasni, King of Nineveh, who enters " from the overthrow of Jeroboam, King of Jerusalem.” The tributary kings of Cilicia, Crete, and Paphlagonia enter with him. His speech mirrors earthly pride boasting itself against Heaven. He is as arrogant as Marlowe's Tamburlaine, who thought kings honoured when they drew his coach and felt the whip of such a charioteer. The God of Jewry may be God in Heaven, “Rasni is god on earth, and none but he.”
The tributary kings echo this note of pride, each ending his flatteries with the line, “ Rasni is god on earth, and none but he." But the King of Paphlagonia takes up the burden of praise only to be interrupted by the approach of Rasni's sister, fair Remilia.
Remilia enters with Radagon, an upstart courtier, who is a very poor man's son, and Alvida, the King of Paphlagonia's wife. Remilia brings her own tribute of Mattery to a brother who exchanges with her 'an unhallowed love. He seeks marriage with her, and she assents :
“Thy sister born was for thy wise, my love." The King of Crete warns against the proposed marriage that defies nature and God, but is rebuked by the base upstart Radagon.
The King of Crete, continuing in protest, is deprived of his crown, which is given to Radagon, who next proceeds to flatter basely, and encourage Rasni's amorous regard to Alvida, the King of Paphlagonia's wife. Then
“ Enter, brought in by an Angel, Oseas the Prophet, and let
down over the stage in a throne.
“ Angel. Amaze not, man of God, is in the spirit
For thou hast preached long to the stubborn Jews,
I'll carry thee to Jewry back again,
Next follows a clown scene, typifying drunken excess of the ignorant. Adam, the smith's man, who is well instructed in the mystery of a pot of ale, enters with a clown and crew of ruffians “ to go to drink." Adam and the clown dispute together, Adam magnifying his office as smith, and proceeding from the praise of the smith's craft to the praise of ale. The clowns and ruffians pass on to their stupid riot and excess, and the scene closes with the comment of the prophet, who sits on the stage enthroned as spectator and chorus to the play
“Oseas. Iniquity seeks out companions still,
Spend less at board, and spare not at the door,
The next scene shows to London, in the mirror of Nineveh, wrong. ful and merciless craft of the usurers. The usurer enters between Thrasybulus, a young spendthrist who has wasted ample means, and an honest debtor through necessity, Alcon, a very poor man, father to the upstart courtier Kadagon. Thrasybulus, now that the time of payment has come, begins by affecting inability to pay. The usurer is merciless. The money is produced : “ Here is thy money, and deliver me the recognizance of my lands." The clock strikes four ; the money was to have been paid between three and four. It is too late, says the usurer; and keeps the lands. Poor Alcon is a day too late with money to redeem his cow. He loses his cow, with lamentations. But Thrasybulus will take him to a lawyer, that he may have justice done. Then follows the comment of Oseas, and his application of the parable to London, whose sins are thus mirrored in Nineveh
“ London, take heed, these sins abound in thee ;
The poor complain, the widows wrongéd be ;
Here ends the First Act of the play. The Second Act opens with entrance of Rasni's sister Remilia, followed by Alvida, the King of Paphlagonia's wise, “and a train of ladies in all royalty." Remilia boasts her own beauty, and prepares her charms for marriage with her brother. She enters her tent at the sound of the approaching pomp of Rasni.
Rasni comes with his lords and his Magi, while they prepare for incestuous marriage with pomps of the flesh. It thunders. Remilia. within her tent, is struck by lightning, and when Rasni draws the curtains of the tent he " finds her strucken black with thunder. "
No balms can restore Remilia ; but Rasni, at suggestion of Radagon. consoles himself at once by taking the King of Paphlagonia's wife. Alvida, for his love. Osea closes the scene with a warning against wantonness