網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版
[ocr errors]

.

.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

middle pe

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

.

.

.

Of Mixed Tragedy and Comedy.

CHRONOLOGICAL TABLE OF SHAKSPERE'S PLAYS. King John

1596 to 1599; Henry VI., Part I. . Alluded to by Nashe in Henry IV. Two Parts

middle

• Pierce Pennilesse,' 1592

Henry VI., Part II. . Printed as The First Part Henry V. period.

of the Contention,' 1594

Henry VI., Part III.. Printed as "The True COMEDY.

Tragedy of Richard Two Gentlemen of Verona

Duke of York,'

1595

Richard II. Comedy of Errors

• Printed

1597 Second early Richard III.

Printed

. 1597 Love's Labour's Lost

Romeo and Juliet
• Printed

1597 period ;All's Well that Ends Well

Love's Labour's Lost Printed

1593 1589 to 1593. Henry IV., Part I.

Printed Taming of the Shrew

1598 Henry IV., Part II. . . Printed

1600 Midsummer Night's Dream

Henry V.
. Printed

1600 Merchant of Venice

Merchant of Venice . . Printed 1600. Mentioned Much Ado about Nothing

by Meres

1598 1594 to 1599;

Midsummer Night's Dream Printed 1600. Mentioned Merry Wives of Windsor

by Meres

1598 Twelfth Night

Much Ado about Nothing Printed

1600 riod. As You Like It.

. Entered at Stationers' Hall

1600 Romeo and Juliet (complete)

All's Well that Ends Well Held to be mentioned by

Meres as "Love's La. THE TRAGEDY OF PASSION AND CHARACTER.

bour's Won'.

1598

Two Gentlemen of Verona Mentioned by Meres 1598 Hamlet (complete)

Comedy of Errors Mentioned by Meres 1598 Othello

First matured
King John.

Mentioned by Meres 1.598 Lear period; Titus Andronicus

Printed

160) 1600 to 1608. Merry Wives of Windsor Printed Macbeth

1602 Hamlet Printed

1603 Twelfth Night.

Acted in the Middle TemTHE POETICAL LEGENDARY TALE, OR ROMANTIC

ple Hall.

1G02 Othello Acted at Harefield

1602 DRAMA.

Measure for Measure Acted at Whitehall . 1604 As You Like It

Lear

. Printed 1608. Acted at Whitehall

1607 Cymbeline

First matured

Taming of the Shrew Winter's Tale

Supposed to have been period ;

acted at Henslow's TheTempest 1600 to 1608.

atre, 1593. Entered at Pericles

Stationers' Hall. 1607 Troilus and Cressida . Printed 1609. Previously

acted at Court

1609 TRAGI-COMEDY.

Pericles
. Printed

1609
Second ma-
The Tempest

Acted at Whitehall 1611 Measure for Measure

The Winter's Tale

Acted at Whitehall . 1611 Troilus and Cressida

tured period;
Henry VIII.

Acted as a new play when Timon of Athens 1609 to

tl:e Globe was burned . 1613 1615.

Out of the thirty-seven Plays of Shakspere, ROMAN PLAYS.

the dates of thirty-one are thus to some exCoriolanus

tent fixed in epochs. These dates are, of

Second maJulius Cæsar

tured period;

course, to be modified by other circumstances. Antony and Clcopatra

There are only six Plays remaining, whose -1609 to

dates are not thus limited by publication, by

1615. Henry VIII.

the notice of contemporaries, or by the record We subjoin a Chronological Table of Shak

of their performances; and these certainly spere's Plays, which we have constructed

belong to the poet's latter period. They are with some care, showing the positive facts Macbeth.

Julius Cæsar. which determine dates previous to which Cymbeline. Antony and Cleopatra. they were produced.

Timon of Athens. Coriolanus.

.

[ocr errors]

.

.

BOOK II.

CHAPTER I.

TITUS ANDRONICU S.

8

TAE external evidence that bears upon the belonged. But neither was the name of authorship of “Titus Andronicus' is of two | Shakspere affixed to the first editions of kinds :

Richard II.,'‘Richard III.,' and 'Henry IV., 1. The testimony which assigns the play Part I.;' nor to the first three editions of to Shakspere, wholly or in part.

' Romeo and Juliet;' nor to Henry V. These 2. The testimony which fixes the period of similar facts, therefore, leave the testimony its original production.

of Hemings and Condell unimpeached. The direct testimony of the first kind is We now come to the second point-the unimpeachable : Francis Meres, a contempo- testimony which fixes the date of the original rary of Shakspere-a man intimately ac- production of Titus Andronicus.' There are quainted with the literary history of his day two modes of viewing this portion of the —not writing even in the later period of evidence; and we first present it with the Shakspere's life, but as early as 1598—com- interpretation which deduces from it that the pares, for tragedy, the excellence of Shak- tragedy was not written by Shakspere. spere among the English, with Seneca among Ben Jonson, in the Induction to his 'Barthe Latins, and says, witness," for tragedy, tholomew Fair,' first acted in 1614, says"his Richard II.,'‘Richard III.,''Henry IV.,' “He that will swear "Jeronimo,' or · An'King John,' Titus Andronicus, and his dronicus,' are the best plays yet, shall pass “Romeo and Juliet.'”

unexcepted at here, as a man whose judgThe indirect testimony is nearly as im- ment shows it is constant, and hath stood portant. The play is printed in the first still these five-and-twenty or thirty years. folio edition of the poet's collected works— Though it be an ignorance, it is a virtuous an edition published within seven years after and staid ignorance; and, next to truth, a his death by his intimate friends and “fel- confirmed error does well.” Percy offers lows;” and that edition contains an entire the following comment upon this passage,

in scene not found in either of the previous his ‘Reliques of Ancient Poetry:'~“ There quarto editions which have come down to us. is reason to conclude that this play was That edition does not contain a single other rather improved by Shakespeare with a few play upon which a doubt of the authorship fine touches of his pen, than originally written has been raised; for even those who deny by him: for, not to mention that the style is the entire authorship of 'Henry VI. to less figurative than his others generally are, Shakspere have no doubt as to the partial this tragedy is mentioned with discredit in authorship.

the Induction to Ben Jonson's Bartholomew Against this testimony of the editors of Fair,' in 1614, as one that had been then exthe first folio, that Shakspere was the author | hibited “five-and-twenty or thirty years;' of 'Titus Andronicus,' there is only one fact which, if we take the lowest number, throws to be opposed—that his name is not on the it back to the year 1589, at which time title-page of either of the quarto editions, Shakespeare was but 25: an earlier date than although those editions show us that it was can be found for any other of his pieces.” acted by the company to which Shakspere With the views we entertain as to the com

mencement of Shakspere's career as a dra- | sider that it possesses an importance much matic author, the proof against his author- higher than belongs to the proof, or disproof, ship of 'Titus Andronicus,' thus brought from the internal evidence, that this painful forward by Percy, is to us amongst the most tragedy was written by Shakspert. The convincing reasons for not hastily adopting question is not an isolated one. It requires the opinion that he was not its author. The to be treated with a constant reference to external evidence of the authorship, and the the state of the early English drama,—the external evidence of the date of the author- probable tendencies of the poet's own mind ship, entirely coincide : each supports the at the period of his first dramatic producother. The continuation of the argument tions,—the circumstances amidst which he derived from the early date of the play was placed with reference to his audiences, naturally runs into the internal evidence of the struggle which he must have undergone its authenticity. The fact of its early date to reconcile the contending principles of the is indisputable; and here, for the present, practical and the ideal, the popular and the we leave it.

true,—the tentative process by which he We can scarcely subscribe to Mr. Hallam's must have advanced to his immeasurable strong opinion, given with reference to this superiority over every contemporary. It is question of the authorship of Titus An- easy to place “Titus Andronicus' by the side dronicus,' that, “in criticism of all kinds, we of “Hamlet,' and to say,—the one is a low must acquire a dogged habit of resisting work of art, the other a work of the highest testimony, when res ipsa per se vociferatur to art. It is easy to say that the versification the contrary.

.** The res ipsa may be looked of “Titus Andronicus' is not the versification upon through very different media by dif- of 'A Midsummer Night's Dream. It is ferent minds: testimony, when it is clear, and easy to say that Titus raves and denounces free from the suspicion of an interested bias, without moving terror or pity; but that Lear although it appear to militate against con- tears up the whole heart, and lays bare all clusions that, however strong, are not in- the hidden springs of thought and passion fallible, because they depend upon very nice that elevate madness into sublimity. But analysis and comparison, must be received, this, we venture to think, is not just criticism. more or less, and cannot be doggedly resisted. We may be tempted, perhaps, to refine too Mr. Hallam says, “Titus Andronicus' is now, much in rejecting all such sweeping comby common consent, denied to be, in any parisons; but what we have first to trace is sense, a production of Shakspeare.” Who relation, and not likeness :-if we find likeare the interpreters of the “

ness in a single “trick or line,” we may insent ?” Theobald, Johnson, Farmer, Stee- deed add it to the evidence of relation. But vens, Malone, M. Mason. These critics are relation

may

be established even out of diswholly of one school; and we admit that they similarity. No one who has deeply contemrepresent the " common consent” of their plated the progress of the great intellects of own school of English literature upon this the world, and has traced the doubts, and point-till within a few years the only school. fears, and throes, and desperate plunges of But there is another school of criticism, which genius, can hesitate to believe that excellence maintains that “Titus Andronicus' is in every in art is to be attained by the same process sense a production of Shakspere. The Ger- through which we may hope to reach excelman critics, from W. Schlegel to Ulrici, agree lence in morals—by contest, and purification, to reject the "common consent” of the Eng- --until habitual confidence and repose suclish critics. The subject, therefore, cannot ceed to convulsive exertions and distracting be hastily dismissed; the external testimony aims. He that would rank amongst the heroes cannot be doggedly resisted. But, in enter- must have fought the good fight. Energy of ing upon the examination of this question all kinds has to work out its own subjection with the best care we can bestow, we con- to principles, without which it can never be* Literature of Europe,' vol. ii. p. 385.

come power. In the course of this struggle

common con

what it produces may be essentially unlike | tone was not long sufficient for him. He to the fruits of its after-peacefulness :—for soon desired, from that stage which signithe good has to be reached through the evil fies the world' (an expression that Schiller -the true through the false—the universal might properly have invented for Shakspere), through the partial. The passage we sub- to speak aloud what the world seemed to join is from Franz Horn ; and we think that him,—to him, the youth who was not yet it demands a respectful consideration : able thoroughly to penetrate this seeming.

A mediocre, poor, and tame nature finds Can there be here a want of colossal errors ? itself easily. It soon arrives, when it endea- Not merely single errors. No: we should vours earnestly, at a knowledge of what it have a whole drama which is diseased at its can accomplish, and what it cannot. Its very root,—which rests upon one single monpoetical tones are single and gentle spring- strous error. Such a drama is this Titus.' breathings; with which we are well pleased, The poet had here nothing less in his mind but which pass over us almost trackless. A than to give us a grand Doomsday-drama. very different combat has the higher and But what, as a man, was possible to him in richer nature to maintain with itself; and “Lear,' the youth could not accomplish. He the more splendid the peace, and the brighter gives us a torn-to-pieces world, about which the clearness, which it reaches through this Fate wanders like a bloodthirsty lion, or as combat, the more monstrous the fight which a more refined or more cruel tiger, tearing must have been incessantly maintained. mankind, good and evil alike, and blindly

“Let us consider the richest and most treading down every flower of joy. Neverpowerful poetic nature that the world has theless a better feeling reminds him that ever yet seen ; let us consider Shakspere, as some repose must be given ; but he is not boy and youth, in his circumscribed external sufficiently confident of this, and what he situation,—without one discriminating friend, does in this regard is of little power. The without a patron, without a teacher,—with personages of the piece are not merely heaout the possession of ancient or modern lan- thens, but most of them embittered and guages,-in his loneliness at Stratford, fol blind in their heathenism ; and only some lowing an uncongenial employment; and single aspirations of something better can then, in the strange whirl of the so-called arise from a few of the best among them ;great world of London, contending for long aspirations which are breathed so gently as years with unfavourable circumstances, in scarcely to be heard amidst the cries of wearisome intercourse with this great world, desperation from the bloody waves that roar which is, however, often found to be little ; almost deafeningly." -but also with nature, with himself, and The eloquent critic adds, in a note,"Is with God :- What materials for the deepest it not as if there sounded through the whole contemplation! This rich nature, thus cir piece a comfortless complaint of the incomcumstanced, desires to explain the enigma of prehensible and hard lot of all earthly ? Is the human being and the surrounding world. it not as if we heard the poet speaking with But it is not yet disclosed to himself. Ought Faust-All the miseries of mankind seize he to wait for this ripe time before he ven upon me ?' Or with his own ‘Hamlet,'tures to dramatise ? Let us not demand How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable anything super-human : for, through the ex Seem to me all the uses of this world ! pression of error in song, will he find what Fie on 't! O, fie! 't is an unweeded garden accelerates the truth ; and well for him that That grows to seed; things rank and gross in he has no other sins to answer for than poeti

nature cal ones, which later in life he has atoned

Possess it merely.' for by the most glorious excellences ! “And now, let us bethink ourselves, in oppo

“ The elegiac tone of his juvenile poems sition to this terrible feeling, of the sweet allows us to imagine very deep passions in blessed peacefulness which speaks from out the youthful Shakspere. But this single of all the poet's more matured dramas : for

II.,

instance, from the inexhaustibly joyful- | the whole of that action vividly, with referminded "As You Like It. Such a contest ence to its capacity of manifesting itself followed by such a victory!”

distinctly to an audience, so that even the It is scarcely necessary to point out that deaf should partially comprehend: the this argument of the German critic is pantomime must be acted over and over founded upon the simple and intelligible again in his mind, before the wand of the belief that Shakspere is, in every sense of magician gives the agents voice. When all the word, the author of Titus Andronicus. this is done, all contradictions reconciled, all Here is no attempt to compromise the ques- obscurities made clear, the interest prolonged tion, by the common English babble that and heightened, and the catastrophe natu

Shakspere may have written a few lines in rally evolved and matured, the poet, to use this play, or given some assistance to the the terms of a sister-art, has completed that author in revising it.” This is Malone's design which colour and expression are to opinion, founded upon an idle tradition, men make manifest to others with something tioned by Ravenscroft in the time of James like the distinctness with which he himself

,-a tradition contradicted by Ravenscroft has seen it. We have no hesitation in behimself, who, in a prologue to his alteration lieving that one of the main causes of Shakof Titus Andronicus,” says

spere's immeasurable superiority to other

dramatists is that all-penetrating power of “To-day the poct does not fear your rage;

combination by which the action of his Shakespear, by him revived, now treads the

dramas is constantly sustained ; whilst in stage.”

the best pieces of his contemporaries, with In Malone's posthumous edition, by Boswell, rare exceptions, it flags or breaks down into “those passages in which he supposed the description,—or is carried off by imagery,hand of Shakspere may be traced are marked or the force of conception in one character with inverted commas." This was the sys-overpowers the management of the other tem which Malone pursued with Henry instruments—cases equally evidencing that VI.;' and, as we fully believe, it was founded the poet has not attained the most difficult upon a most egregious fallacy. The drama art of controlling his own conceptions. And belongs to the province of the very highest thus it is that we so often hear Christopher poetical art ; because a play which fully Marlowe, or Philip Massinger,—to name the realizes the objects of a scenic exhibition very best of them,-speaking themselves requires a nicer combination of excellences, out of the mouths of their puppets, whilst and involves higher difficulties, than belong the characterization is lost, and the action is to any other species of poetry. Taking the forgotten. But when do we ever hear the qualities of invention, power of language, individual voice of the man William Shakversification, to be equal in two men, one spere ? When does he come forward to bow devoting himself to dramatic poetry, and to the audience, as it were, between the the other to narrative poetry, the dramatic scenes ? Never is there any pause with him, poet has chances of failure which the nar that we may see the complacent author rative poet may entirely avoid. The dia- whispering to his auditory—“This is not exlogue, and especially the imagery, of the actly what I meant; my inspiration carried dramatic poet are secondary to the invention me away ; but is it not fine ?” The great draof the plot, the management of the action, matic poet sits out of mortal ken. Ile rolls and the conception of the characters. Lan-away the clouds and exhibits his world. guage is but the drapery of the beings that There is calm and storm, and light and the dramatic poet's imagination has created. darkness; and the material scene becomes They must be placed by the poet's power of alive ; and we see a higher life than that of combination in the various relations which our ordinary nature : and the whole soul is they must maintain through a long and elevated ; and man and his actions are presometimes complicated action : he must see sented under aspects more real than reality,

« 上一頁繼續 »