1824 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Thomas Middleton

Bryan Waller Procter, in Effigies Poeticae, or, the Portraits of the British Poets (1824) 26-27.



From a Print prefixed to his Dramatic Works.

Scarcely any thing is known of MIDDLETON. He seems to have held some office in the city; but, further, all that can be known of him lies in his works. He was the author of several plays of great merit; particularly, "Women beware of Women," and "The Witch," from which last Shakspeare probably borrowed his idea of the witches in Macbeth. How much he improved upon them is well known. There is something graceful in the aspect of Middleton, and an expression in the eye which is above the common look of mere worldly intelligence. He was a man of undoubted genius. The characters of Leantio and Bianca, the Duke, Livia, and others, in his drama founded upon the story of Bianca Capello, (who was the mistress of one of the De Medici,) betray great power and dramatic skill; and his witches in the play of "The Witch," are as airy as the winds whereon they ride. Middleton's original conception of those "weird women," is nothing extraordinary; but his handling of the scenes wherein they appear, is altogether masterly. It may compete with any thing of the kind in the whole range of the drama.