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cited all that he had been able to discover upon the subject of the murder. Joseph Grimstone listened very quietly, following Talbot Bulstrode with a shining track of lead-pencil hieroglyphics over the greasy paper, just as Tom Thumb strewed crumbs of bread in the forest-pathway, with a view to his homeward guidance. The detective only looked up now and then to drink a glass of sherry, and smack his lips with the quiet approval of a connoisseur. When Talbot had told all that he had to tell, Mr. Grimstone thrust the memorandum-book into a very tight breast-pocket, and taking his hat from under the chair upon which he had been seated, prepared to depart.

“If this information about the money is quite correct, sir," he said, “I think I can see my way through the affair ; that is, if we can have the numbers of the notes. I can't stir a peg without the numbers of the notes."

Talbot's countenance fell. Here was a death-blow. Was it likely that Aurora, that impetuous and unbusiness-like girl, had taken the numbers of the notes, which, in utter scorn and loathing, she had Aung as a last bribe to the man she hated ?

“I'll go and make inquiries of Mrs. Mellish,” he said ; " but I fear it is scarcely likely I shall get the information you want.”

He left the room; but five minutes afterwards returned triumphant.

“Mrs. Mellish had the notes from her father," he said. “Mr. Floyd took a list of the numbers before he gave his daughter the money."

“Then if you'll be so good as to drop Mr. Floyd a line, asking for that list by return of post, I shall know how to act,” replied the detective. “I haven't been idle this afternoon, gentlemen, any more than you. I went back after I parted with you, Mr. Bulstrode, and had another look at the pond. I found something to pay me for my trouble.”

He took from his waistcoat-pocket a small object, which he held between his finger and thumb.

Talbot and John looked intently at this dingy object, but could make nothing out of it. It seemed to be a mere disc of rusty metal.

“It's neither more nor less than a brass button,” the detective said, with a smile of quiet superiority; "maker's name, Crosby, Birmingham. There's marks upon it which seem uncommon like blood; and unless I'm very much mistaken, it'll be found to fit pretty correct into the barrel of your pistol, Mr. Mellish. So what we've got to do is to find a gentleman wearin', or havin' in his possession, a waistcoat with buttons by Crosby, Birmingham, and one button missin'; and if we happen to find the same gentleman changin' one of the notes that Mr. Floyd took the numbers of, I don't think we shall be very far off layin' our hands on the man we want."

With which oracular speech Mr. Grimstone departed, charged with a commission to proceed forthwith to Doncaster, to order the immediate printing and circulating of a hundred bills, offering a reward of 2001. for such information as would lead to the apprehension of the murderer of James Conyers. This reward to be given by Mr. Mellish, and to be over and above any reward offered by the Government.

A History of Comedy. *

Among our cousins-german it is growing more and more the fashion to write a monogram on some interesting subject, which, without entering into minute details, gives a general and yet tolerably precise idea to the reader of the subject thus handled. Among these books, the work which we have now under notice is one of the best of its class. Dealing with comedy historically, Dr. Mähly traces it from the earliest source to the present day; but only turns his attention, and wisely so, to those nations which have produced a native school of comedy. It is perfectly true that traces of dramatic scenes may be found in Java and in the Sandwich Islands, in Kamschatka and the Aleutian Islands; but they rarely offer a contribution to ethnology, and are of but very slight value to literature. Having thus narrowed his ground, Dr. Mähly opens his discourse with comedy as found among the Greeks, and then traces it through the principal European nations.

The origin of comedy among the Greeks is obscure, and many doubts existed about it even in ancient times, Aristotle himself leaving the question undecided. Only so much is certain, that the worship of the same god to whom tragedy owes its origin, Dionysos, was the incitement to comedy. The vintage is the mother of all masquerades, and is the occasion for every sort of gibe and joke; and this is found even at the present day in France and Spain and Italy, as it forms part of the southern character. From the earliest period we discover a marked vis comica among the Greeks, which is based on the national character, and constantly finds a vent in literature. Homer the divine was himself author of a comic epic. If we turn to Megara, the celebrated town for jesters and practical jokers, we find the character-masks of the merry cook and servant invented there; and even in Lacedæmon the severe, we are amazed by all sorts of jests and thefts, and ridicule of foreign physicians, &c. At the Greek colony of Tarentum, poor limping Vulcan and his angry motherin-law Juno are exposed to laughter on the stage; while in Sicily, the characters of the drunkard and the parasite are added to the repertoire. But it is not till we arrive at the three brilliant names of Cratinus, Aristophanes, and Eupolis, that Greek comedy really possesses a habitation and a name. It must not be forgotten that ancient comedy was entirely political, and played the part of the journalists of more recent times; literature, science, religion, and art, lived, so to speak, in the open air, and thus offered rich material for the playwright. After the political comedy proper, of which Aristophanes was the most distinguished representative, came the “middle comedy,” in which classes of society were ridiculed that possessed no political power, such as the orators, philosophers, and hetairæ; and the

* Wesen und Geschichte des Lustspiels. Vorlesungen von Dr. J. Mähly. Leipzig, J. J. Weber.

authors found ample material in the erotic adventures of the gods, who at that day were really harmless foes. It is greatly to be regretted that no single piece belonging to this later school, which had a poet like Menander as its coryphæus, has come down to us; and we can only form an approximative idea of it through the imitations produced by Roman playwrights. In this school, then, we find the source of modern comedy, with one exception, that love is entirely excluded, because the scene of the action was laid in the streets, which women did not enter.

The Romans, among whom reverence for the marriage yoke was much stronger than among the Athenians, might have remedied this fault; but unfortunately their chief stage-writers—for instance, Plautus, Cecilius, and Terence-confined themselves to a strict copy of the Attic model. The real national comedy of the Romans, or what is called the fabula togata, never became thoroughly popular, although old Italian comedy had attained a position which promised well for the future development. Oscan games, Atellans and Fescennines, became favourites from the first time that the Romans witnessed the pantomimes of Etruscan players; and though the form was rough and the art coarse, both were national; and the appearance of various masks, which were standing types in such pieces,—the Bucco, or chattering idiot; the Maccus, or fool and harlequin; the Pappus, or miserly, enamoured old man; and the Dossennus, or moralising quack,-displays no ordinary talent for observation, and a healthy feeling for the comic element. These masks, however, were not entirely suppressed by imitation of the Greek plays, and their vitality was so great that many centuries later they reappeared in the form of Pulcinello, Harlequin, and the other permanent figures of the Italian stage, where they were known under the name of Zanni (from sannio).

Quintilian, one of the most admired Roman critics, passes a very severe judgment on Roman comedy; but if we regard the matter more closely, such a verdict speaks more in favour of the Greek comedy than to the discredit of the Roman. Plautus, the elder of the two Roman playwrights whose comedies have come down to us, possesses wit, humour, a talent for combination, and undeniable comic gifts. A man of the people by birth and education, he was able to reproduce the lower classes excel lently, even in their colloquial peculiarities. In his plot he certainly imitates the Greek school; but his mode of treating it often seems to be original. His slaves and parasites are inexhaustible in humorous ideas and striking wit, which usually appear the more comical through the contrast with the position of the speakers; while his jeux de mots are generally happy, and irresistibly compel laughter. There is no more cynicism than a solid Roman organisation could bear, and every where we find in him fresh colouring, daring traits, coarse humour,—but never tedium. Terence, if compared with his elder contemporary, is decidedly poorer in vis comica and originality, but superior in the art of dialogue. Whoever wishes for pure Latin must turn to Terence, but for amusement he must apply to Plautus. Terence was one of the first classical

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poets known in the middle ages, and the use of bis plays in convents for the purpose of studying Latin, induced the nun Hroswitha von Gandersheim, at the close of the tenth century, to write her comedies with the express intention of obscuring the reputation of Terence. Her plays are unmistakably in the style of Terence, although the incidents are of an ascetic nature. The French especially studied Terence assiduously, as is seen in the case of Molière; and the value of Roman comedy cannot be estimated too highly in one respect, -it was the founder of the modern drama, for the latter was developed from the burlesque comedy rather than from the medieval mysteries. If we remain in Italy, we find the “Mime" taking the place of comedy, and henceforth holding unopposed possession of the stage. Under the Emperors it assumed a constantly more absurd and immoral character, imitating the tendencies of life and art at that period. Hence it is not surprising that the councils should prohibit Christians from attending such performances; and as the prohibition was continually repeated, it is evident that the community still continued to eat the forbidden fruit. Cassiodorus, writing in the sixth century, alludes to the mimic performances in Italy as something familiar at that day; and though long forgotten and buried, their main features have existed to the present day, and what is called commedia dell'arte owed its origin in great measure to them.

More might be expected from Italian comedy than it really offers, for at the outset it ran in two parallel currents, the learned and the popular; and thus, while the aristocracy flocked to see reproductions from the Classics, farce was left to its innate coarseness. It is surprising that such men as Bibbiena, Ariosto, Machiavelli, and Aretino, who combined a knowledge of the Classics with a decided poetic tendency, had not the tact or inclination to undertake a reconciliation between the two great branches of the drama; but they preferred to display a monstrous immorality, which prevents any analysis of their plays, though it is characteristic of Leo X. and his ecclesiastical dignitaries, that they took the greatest pleasure in the most lubricous scenes. To Cardinal Bibbiena must be granted the honour of having produced the first comedy upon the classical model in his Calandria, the most effective scenes being taken from the Menachmi of Plautus, with added looseness of his own. Even greater is the license in Ariosto's comedies, the Cassaria, the Lena, and others; the intrigue and plan of which are principally borrowed from the Captivi of Plautus, and the Eunuchus of Terence. Machiavelli, although superior to all the Italian playwrights in sarcastic power, and a rare combination of sense, wit, and taste, is also disfigured by the same loathsome immorality. In proof of this, we need only allude to his Mandragola, which so pleased his sanctity the pope that he ordered it to be constantly performed. Possibly the greatest sinner in this respect is Pietro Aretino, whose name we only mention pro memoriâ, as his plays defy all rules of art. The commedia dell' arte slumbered for a long time in Italy; but in the last century it obtained a devoted and zealous partisan in Count Gozzi, who felt a desire to rival Goldoni, who at that time was all the fashion at Venice. By one fantastic fairy-tale Gozzi brought the old neglected comedy back to the boards, and Goldoni's star set for ever. Gozzi had certainly not expected this triumph, and it led him to make fresh attempts. He created a tremendous furore, monks even going to the theatre in disguise to witness his plays; and Goldoni was so utterly cowed that he went to Paris, where he wrote pieces in French. Since that period nothing noteworthy in the shape of comedy has been produced in Italy.

Spain has been from the earliest period the home of comedy, and the temperament of the people was admirably adapted for it. Still this comedy is not, strictly speaking, comedy : the most tragical incidents may perhaps occur in the course of the play; the Spaniard can stand poisoning and stabbing, and calmly see the volcanic outburst of passion; but so long as all ends happily, he goes home fully satisfied with his comedy, as he calls

Hence it is that the genuine term for such plays is comedias de capa y espada (mantle-and-sword pieces); in other words, such as move in circles of private life, in contradiction to those whose sphere is the very highest society, the court, &c. In them, too, as on the old English boards, but little attention was paid to scenery; an advantage for the art, as the eye was not occupied at the expense of the mind, and the actors were often obliged to tell the public where they were supposed to be, and what was the significance of such or such a mask. The first great stage poet of Spain was Cervantes y Alcala. Unfortunately most of his earlier, and perhaps better comedies, are lost to us, and the later ones are written with feverish haste, as if to dim the rising star of Lope de Vega; but their light was not brilliant enough, and no one in the world could compete in power of production with the latter marvel among poets. Old Cervantes has given utterance to his anger with his youthful rival in Don Quichotte, in which will be found a very sharp criticism on Lope; but a personal bitterness can be traced in it. Many reproaches, however, are not unfounded; thus, for instance, Lope's neglect of the unities. In the first act we have a child in arms, who in the second becomes a bearded man; or the first act is laid in Europe, the second in Asia, and the whole ends in Africa. But Cervantes himself fell into the same error; and his works display a hurried execution, visible in the confused composition, and the general resemblance of the characters. But even had Cervantes been a greater poet than he really was, he could not blame the Spaniards for the veneration which they felt for Lope de Vega, who, in spite of his rapidity, was a poet from head to foot. Nor did he only write,-his life was filled with love and war adventures before he took holy orders, that he might devote his leisure hours exclusively to art. It is not known, within a hundred or so, how many dramas he wrote; he himself says 1500, and he frequently composed a new play before breakfast. All these 1500 plays are praiseworthy for some quality, and many of them are first-rate. Lope is certainly the greatest poet of all times in his power of invention, and

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VOL. VII.

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