Page:Notes and Queries - Series 11 - Volume 11.djvu/324

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Parallels, therefore, between Webster's plays and ' The Wife,' the signed pieces of ' Newes,' or any of Cocke's three Characters, if such exist, cannot be accounted for by identity of authorship. Arid such parallels do exist. ' The Duchess of Malfy ' borrows from ' The Wife,' and ' The Devil's Law Case ' not only from four of the nine signed pieces of ' Newes,' but also from one of Cocke's three Characters. I have already drawn attention to two parallels between ' The Wife ' and ' The Duchess of Malfy ' : one of these is from the text of the play, and the other (repeated also in ' The Devil's Law Case ') from the author's Preface to the first quarto of 1623. I have also shown that there are several striking parallels between ' The Devil's Law Case ' and the ' Newes.' Amongst the pieces of ' Newes ' laid under contribution in this play are four of those identified by the names or initials of their authors, viz. :

' Newes from Court,' Sir T. Over-bury.

' Newes from the verie Countrie,' I. D. (John Donne ?).

' Newes from my Lodging,' B. R. (Benjamin Rudy era?).

' Newes of my Morning Worke,' Mist. B.

And an apophthegm from a fifth, viz.,

' Countrey Newes,' Sir T. R. (Thomas Roe ?), reappears in ' A Cure for a Cuckold.' All but one of these parallels furnished by the signed pieces of ' Newes ' will be found recorded in my former article (see US. viii. 264, 284). The 'Newes from Court' parallel, which I had overlooked, is as follows :--

. . . .wit and a woman are two fraile things, and both the frailer by concurring.

' Newes from Court.

Romelio [to Winifred] thou knowest, wit

and a woman Are two very frail things. ' D.L.C., I. n.

So much for the ' Newes.' I come now to the Character of ' A Tinker,' one of the three 1615 Characters claimed by Cocke, in which there occurs the following passage :

" The companion of his travels is some foule sunne-burnt Queane, that since the terrible statute recanted gypsisme, and is turned pedleresse. So marches he all over England with his bag anJ baggage."

That Webster was a man who joked with difficulty is only too plainly appa- rent to any one familiar with his plays. He preferred, when possible, to borrow his jokes. Here was a chance too good to be missed. Though he had no tinker in ' The Devil's Law Case,' he had a solicitor,

and solicitors too carried bags. Contilupo, counsel for the plaintiff, is accordingly made to inquire,

Where is our solicitor With the waiting-woman ?

and Ariosto to exclaim,

Room for the bag and baggage ! I have noted also two phrases, one ini

The Duchess of Malfy ' arid the other in. ' The Devil's Law Case,' which seem to- argue Webster's acquaintance with the

arliest edition of the ' Characters.' The- resemblance s here, though comparatively

light, are not altogether trivial. BAROISF BOURGEOIS does not claim any of the pre- 1615 Characters as Webster's, and as these- were first published with the ' Newes * in the second edition of 1614, they must obviously be treated as in the same cate- gory. In order that these phrases may be distinguished from the more conspicuous:; parallels with the additional Characters of 1615, 1 repeat them here :

She [' A Very Woman '] is ... .a man's Walking- consumption. ' A Very W r oman.' Cardinal (indicating Julia). Yond's mv lingring. consumption. ' D.M./ V. ii.

Knaves rent him like Tenter-hookes.

'A Golden Asse.' They '11 rent thee like tenter-hooks.

' D.L.C.,' II. i. To these may be added :

She leaves the neat youth, telling his lushious-' tales, and puts back the serving-man's putting; forward with a frown. ' A Good Woman.'

What cannot a neat knave with a smooth tale Make a woman believe ? ' D.M.,' I. ii.

Some then, at least, of the passages' common to Webster's plays, and the writings published under Sir Thomas Overbury's name, indicate borrowing on Webster's part from the work of other writers. If this is the explanation of some of the parallel passages, it seems natural to assume that it is the explanation of ail- But Webster's ' White Devil,' printed in 1612, arid his * A Monumental Column,' printed in 1613, present one or two striking parallels with the ' New and Choise Characters,' first published in 1615.

Plagiarism by Webster can, therefore,, only be assumed on the supposition that he was familiar with these Characters several years before they found their way" into print. This is by no means unlikely. Several of Donne's poems, for instance, were referred to by his contemporaries- nearly twenty years before they were issued from the press, and the circulation. of works in manuscript was evidently at: