Saturday, May 3, 2014

Thesis gems

I'm coming across all kinds of gems while traipsing through Civil War-era newspapers searching for Shakespeare.  Here are a few of today's greats:

From a review of Chapman, Dekker, Webster, Middleton, Marston, and others, 1863:

Chapman's worth is based on his "wonderful" translation of The Iliad, though his own dramatic work is dismissed out of hand thusly: "The best of his surviving plays, if the epithet 'best' can be applied where all is bad, are..."
Dekker is discussed for his authorship of a play with "a title too strong for ears polite" and his quarrel with Ben Jonson.
Webster gets this lovely sentence: "The 'Duchess of Malfy' and the 'White Devil' are powerful dramas, but are stuffed too full of horrors to suit the taste of a modern audience."
Middleton: "His name would hardly have been kept alive by his dramatic performances, although they were twenty in number, but for a single circumstance...The conclusion, taking into account the relative powers of the two authors, is irresistible that he filched from Shakespeare, not the other way round." (Regarding Macbeth.)
Marston: "He was a rough and vigorous satirist, and had the honor of seeing one of his satirical performances burned on account of its licentiousness."


From 1863, directly below an advertisement for the last night of the "play in five acts, Jack Cade":

NOTICE: I forewarn all persons from harboring or entertaining my wife, MRS. HATTIE MILLER, as she has been seduced and eloped with a scoundrel by the name of William Alvin Lloyd, and I will not be responsible for any debts contracted by her.--SAM K. MILLER.


From 1864, directly below an 
advertisement for the play "Trying a Shrew, or, The Day After the Wedding":

MATRIMONY.--Two young gentlemen, who are both good looking, intelligent, refined, and tried soldiers of Pickett's Division, are desirous of commencing a series of correspondence with any young ladies who may have a view to matrimony after the adjustment of existing troubles.  The ladies must possess similar qualifications.

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