The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume XIII. The Victorian Age, Part One.

VIII. Nineteenth-Century Drama

§ 4. H. H. Milman

The plays of Henry Hart Milman, afterwards dean of St. Paul’s, reveal a taste somewhat surer; although, in Fazio, a tragedy published in 1815 and produced in London in 1818, there is plenty of false fire. Milman took inspiration rather from Fletcher or Massinger than from Kotzebue or “Monk” Lewis; and Fazio, at least, is a very lively drama, if not a good tragedy. It is a tale, placed in Italy, of robbery and supposed murder, of splendid harlotry and devoted conjugal affection; and its acting qualities kept it on the stage nearly all through the nineteenth century. It has another title to remembrance: from it, Hazlitt drew a speech which he hurled at the head of Coleridge in the attack referred to above. Milman’s other plays show less of false taste and less of theatrical merit, being, for the most part, dramatic poems rather than stage-plays. The Fall of Jerusalem (1820) and The Martyr of Antioch (1822) are both founded upon a legitimately conceived struggle between two passions or ideas. Belshazzar (1822) contains some good lyrics. Anne Boleyn (1826), Milman’s last dramatic composition, was, also, his poorest. He cannot, perhaps, be accused of misrepresenting facts and characters so grossly as some later historical dramatists; but his anxiety to state a good case for protestantism against Roman catholicism mars the dramatic quality of the play. In this connection, the plays of Henry Montague Grover are worth mention. Grover, in 1826, published a play on the same subject, Anne Boleyn, in the preface to which he hints that Milman had made unacknowledged use of his manuscript. Such a complaint is not uncommon among dramatic authors.