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and cherish them than the father; and no arguments founded on the tenure of property as established by law, or the dependence of the children upon the father for pecuniary support, could prove more than that in that respect also was the law in fault; and that in that respect also it ought to be reformed, as well as in that which was the subject of complaint. A partial remedy was applied by the Act for the Custody of Infants, which was passed in the Session of 1839. By that Act, a mother may petition for access to her children, and (if they are under seven years of age) for their delivery to her custody; and the Judge in Equity to whom she applies may, ' if he shall see fit,' make order for the access of the petitioner to her children, at such
times, and subject to such regulations as he shall deem convenient and just;' or, with similar limitations, may deliver them to her care.
Something has thus been gained for mothers; but it must be observed, that still the exclusive custody and power of preventing access, rests à priori with the husband; and the wife has no redress till, in opposition to his usually ampler means, she has obtained it by costly litigation from the proverbial tardiness of a court of equity. This Act, too, though it withholds (and properly) its benefit from wives against whom adultery has been proved, inflicts no similar penalty upon the proved delinquencies of a husband.
Although, therefore, the law has been slightly reformed, it cannot yet be said to deal impartially with both sexes. It is not yet cleared from the imputation of having too much the impress of man's legislation, and of favouring the father at the expense of the mother's rights. It does not yet recognize equality of right in the two parents. On the contrary, it vests all authority in the father, till the mother, hy appeal to a court of justice, can obtain a participation. This seems to us unjust.
Insanity, imbecility, or crime, duly proved, must, for the sake of the children's welfare, deprive the mother of authority over
them and even of that right of access, which she would use only for their detriment. But nothing else should abrogate her rights. There is no other authority which ought to be superior to hers. That of the father may be equal, (except during the infancy of their offspring.) but never ought to be superior, as long as the children are minors, and parental authority can be enforced. Our present limits will not allow us to enter into an examination of the arguments hy which, in Mr Stevenson's excellent pamphlet, and in other recent publications, the details of this question, on both sides, have been searchingly and ingeniously discussed. We have been obliged to content ourselves with stating broadly and suc
cinctly the conclusions to which we have come after a consideration of the whole question, and the plain principles of immutable justice, which, in our opinion, must be recognized, in any adjustment of its difficulties that can be generally deemed satisfactory and equitable.
If those deviations from justice towards women, which at present deform the law of England, were effectually corrected, we do not doubt that the demands for participation in political power, now made in their behalf, would cease; and their most zealous defenders would recognize the impolicy of attempting to remove them from that sphere, in which their influence may be exerter most beneficially for themselves and others. * If any thing.' says the authoress of Woman's Rights and Duties, urged in • behalf of women, tends to taking them out of their true sphere, • I wish that it may be promptly and completely refuted; for nothing can be for the real good of society, that is not built
upon nature and reason.'- The measure of the rights of wo6
men must be sought for in the real advantage of society at large; it must increase with their own intellectual and moral progress ; for the influence of worth and intelligence is nearly • irresistible. As the peculiar office of man is to govern and defend society, that of women is to spread virtue, affection, and gentleness through it. She has a direct interest in softening and humanizing the other sex. Man is too rugged to be even just towards those whom he only loves, but does not respect : he is too powerful to be swayed by those whom he only re
spects, but does not love. The empire of woman must be won, • not solely through his sense of justice, but by the grace and
delicacy, the tenderness and purity she diffuses through life; * but her rights will neither add dignity to her social influence,
nor bring practical security to her domestic station, except as they are found really to promote the virtue and happiness of.
ART. IX.-The Works of Beaumont and Fletcher.
With an Introduction, by GEORGE DARLEY. 2 vols. 8vo. London: 1840.
which, in our last Number, we bestowed a well-merited commendation. In regard to the new literary matter which they
present to us, we have not much to say. The critical introduetion, though crude and desultory, contains a good deal that is worthy
VOL. LXXIII, NO. CXLVII.
of perusal ; but we should have liked to see the writer's observations expressed in a style more unaffected and perspicuous.
We assume the Dramas which bear the common name of Beau. mont and Fletcher, as the text of the observations we are about to make; but we intend in these to take a wider range than would suffice, if our sole purpose were the special illustration of those fine relies of our older literature. We wish to consider the plays in question, principally as being the representatives of certain qualities and tendencies in the Old English Drama, which were not finally developed till after many vicissitudes. We shall have dccasion to say something as to the general character of that Dramatie School, in which Shakspeare was the teacher, and Beaumont and Fleteher, like all even of their most illustrious contemporaries, were essentially pupils. We shall find it necessary to glance hastily at the earlier history of that school; and we shall then fix our eye upon its revolutions and its progress, during those opening twenty-five years of the seventeenth century which were the term of Fletcher's dramatic authorship.
The golden age of English dramatic literature-reckoning from the earliest plays of Kit Marlowe to the shutting up of the theatres on the breaking out of the Civil War-lasted for about sixty years. A period like this, embracing two generations, could not but have produced many changes; and such a period, in an age like that in which it occurred, promised changes even more rapid and extensive than those which would have appeared in times less fervid and animated. The changes that did take place were very remarkable. They embraced revolutions in the history of the English drama, equally striking with those which distinguished a period not much longer in the dramatic history of ancient Greece.
In the century which elapsed between the earliest tragedy of Æschylus and the latest of Euripides, the serious drama of Attica passed from rude and imperfect strength to the perfection of art, and thence to the first step on the road towards corruption. Genius reigned throughout the whole of that glorious era ; but it was, as it always is, a tributary power, paying homage to several controlling influences. Æschylus was cramped by technical inexperience and misapprehension ; Euripides was seduced by false taste and unsound philosophy; but Sophocles, placed in a situation more favourable than either, and endowed with mental qualities more harmoniously balanced, was able to work with sufficient freedom, and to bestow upon his country dramas worthy in all respects of being esteemed masterpieces of the art.
So was it with the drama of England. Its history begins with Marlowe, and ends with Shirley. The one was the father and teacher of the art: the other was the last man who deserved to be called his descendant and disciple. Shakspeare stood between the two extremes, but greatly nearer to the former than to the latter, in time as well as in spirit. His earliest extant works were composed within a short time after the beginning of the period; his latest nearly thirty years before its close. His dramas we can admire, and in some degree comprehend, without reference to his situation : they are possessions of and for all times. But even in regard to them our comprehension is not sufficiently full, our reverence not sufficiently intelligent, until we have become familiar with the poet's relations towards all the leading dramatists of the time—those from whom he learned, those with whom he laboured, those who were pupils in his school. For a right appreciation of the minor dramatic poets, a similar line of study is yet more desirable.
It is true that, even as to Shakspeare himself, this species of historical criticism is encompassed with difficulties; but these are tenfold more formidable when the enquiry is instituted in regard to the other dramatists. As to all of them, however, the obstacles are now much less than they once were. Our antiquaries have been industrious ; many of our critics have been intelligent. The position of Shakspeare with reference to his predecessors—which is the most interesting point in the investigation is now understood infinitely better than it was : our knowledge of his position with reference to his contemporaries and successors, has also been improved, though less materially. The reciprocal relations of the leading men among the minor dramatists, can never be so fully comprehended; because we can never acquire for this purpose the same wealth of materials which is at our command for the illustration of Shakspeare's works. But here also very much has been effected.
The dramatic literature to which England gave birth during the period of which we now speak, is recognised by universal consent as the normal specimen of the Modern or Romantic dramathe antithesis of the Antique or Classical. Each of these dramatic schools possessed qualities fitting it for holding up to the age which it addressed its own poetic image; therefore each became in its turn the organ of expression for national imagination and sentiment. Each arose in a fortunate time, when language was able to do its bidding-when the character of the people furnished fit materials—when the adventurous cast of general thought and feeling breathed lofty inspiration ; therefore each attained a literary excellence, which gives it a value for generations far distant from its own. The genera are as widely dissimilar as it was possible for them to be, if they were to retain the common essence of the dramatic class ; but each holds the highest place in the genus to which it belongs. Of that antique life, of which ancient Greece was the noblest example, simplicity was the distinctive characteristic. In systems of polity, in arrangements of society, in forms and tones of literature, the same principle predominated. The fact is no theme for praise, but the consequence of a necessary imperfection. The whole development of the ancient world, intellectual, moral, social, and political, was partial and one-sided. A few elements were taken up, which bore a close analogy to each other; all other elements were unknown, ór wilfully overlooked. The task of modern times, on the other hand, is that of uniting into one harmonious whole, elements which are infinitely numerous and essentially dissimilar.
The Attic drama and the old drama of England, became respectively the representatives of these two aspects of life and intellect. Both sprang out of sources which favoured the natural, tendency of each ; but unless these tendencies had pre-existed, the sources would not have exercised any such influence. The drama would either have been derived from other roots, or the accidental circumstances attending its derivation would have been overruled by other and stronger principles.
But an historical survey of the Grecian drama and the old English, in connexion with each other, teaches us one very curious lesson, which the wide dissimilarity between the two kinds is apt to conceal from our view. We have learned long ago to admit, that each of the kinds was the best for its purposes. We do not always perceive so readily, that each of the kinds is in itself imperfect, and that the inventors of each show in their works a consciousness of this imperfection. These two forms of the drama are extremes. The history of each exhibits a frequent striving towards an approximation to the other. The classical drama makes repeated efforts towards complication; the modern drama makes repeated efforts towards the antique simplicity. The proof of these assertions rests upon facts which, separately, are familiar to all attentive students, but which few are accustomed to regard in combination.
It is no part of our present purpose to analyse the Greek drama, either speculatively as to its essence, or historically as to the changes which it underwent; but we may hastily enumerate the principal of those circumstances by which it evinced this quasi-romantic tendency. Some of them are inherent in the form of the classic drama; and among these the foremost place belongs to the Chorus. For we must confess it has often struck us as not a little odd, that the admirers of the Hellenic simplicity should so seldom recollect how their simple and classical