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man has scarcely risen into metaphor, much ment of a succession of physical horrors, he less into braggardism :
was so far under the control of his higher “O, here I lift this one hand up to heaven,
judgment, that, avoiding their practice, he And bow this feeble ruin to the earth:
steadily abstained from making his “ If any power pities wretched tears,
jet on the stage in tragical buskins; every To that I call: What, wilt thou kneel with word filling the mouth like the faburden of me ?
[TO LAVINIA. Bow-Bell, daring God out of heaven with that Do then, dear heart; for heaven shall hear our atheist Tamburlaine, or blaspheming with the prayers:
mad priest of the sun.”+ Or with our sighs we 'll breathe the welkin It is easy to understand how Shakspere, at dim,
the period when he first entered upon those And stain the sun with fog, as sometime labours which were to build up a glorious clouds,
fabric out of materials that had been preWhen they do hug him in their melting viously used for the basest purposes, -withbosoms."
out models,-at first, perhaps, not voluntaAnd in his very crowning agony we hear rily choosing his task, but taking the busionly
ness that lay before him so as to command “Why, I have not another tear to shed.” popular success,-ignorant, to a great degree,
of the height and depth of his own intellecIt has been said, “There is not a shade of tual resources,-not seeing, or dimly seeing, difference between the two Moors, Eleazar how poetry and philosophy were to elevate and Aaron.” * Eleazar is a character in and purify the common staple of the coarse ‘Lust's Dominion,' incorrectly attributed to drama about him,-it is easy to conceive Marlowe. Trace the cool, determined, sarcas
how a story of fearful bloodshed should force tic, remorseless villain, Aaron, through these itself upon him as a thing that he could blood-spilling scenes, and see if he speaks in work into something better than the dumb “King Cambyses’ vein,” as Eleazar speaks in show and fiery words of his predecessors and the following lines :
contemporaries. It was in after-years that “Now, Tragedy, thou minion of the night, he had to create the tragedy of passion.
Rhamnusia's pew-fellow, to thee I 'll sing Lamb has beautifully described Webster, as Upon an harp made of dead Spanish bones, almost alone having the power “to move a The proudest instrument the world affords; horror skilfully, to touch a soul to the quick, When thou in crimson jollity shall bathe
to lay upon fear as much as it can bear, to Thy limbs, as black as mine, in springs of
wean and weary a life till it is ready to drop, blood
and then step in with mortal instruments to Still gushing from the conduit-head of Spain.
take its last forfeit.” Lamb adds,“Writers of To thee that never blushest, though thy cheeks
inferior genius mistake quantity for quality.” Are full of blood, O Saint Revenge, to thee
The remark is quite true,—when examples of I consecrate my murders, all my stabs, My bloody labours, tortures, stratagems,
the higher tragedy are accessible, and when The volume of all wounds that wound from
the people have learnt better than to require
the grosser stimulant. Before Webster had Mine is the Stage, thine the Tragedy.”
written "The Duchess of Malfi' and 'Vittoria
Corombona,' Shakspere had produced Lear' But enough of this. It appears to us ma- and ‘Othello.' But there were writers, not of nifest that, although the author of 'Titus inferior genius, who had committed the same Andronicus' did choose -in common with the mistake as the author of Titus Andronicus' best and the most popular of those who wrote —who use blood as they would “the paint of for the early stage, but contrary to his after the property-man in the theatre.” Need we practice—a subject which should present to mention other names than Marlowe and Kyd ? his comparatively rude audiences the excite- The “old Jeronimo,” as Ben Jonson calls it, * C. A. Brown's' Autobiographical Poeins of Shakspere.'
+ Greene, 1588.
-perhaps the most popular play of the early | the finished performance; but it has been stage, and, in many respects, a work of great conjectured, and we think with perfect propower,-thus concludes, with a sort of Chorus priety, that the ‘Hamlet' which was on the spoken by a ghost:
stage in 1589, and then sneered at by Nash, Ay, now my hopes have end in their effects,
“ has perished, and that the quarto of 1603 When blood and sorrow finish my desires.
gives us the work in an intermediate state Horatio murder'd in his father's bower;
between the rude youthful sketch and the Vile Serberine by Pedringano slain;
perfected “Hamlet,' which was published False Pedringano hang'd by quaint device;
in 1604.”+ All the action of the perfect Fair Isabella by herself misdone ;
· Hamlet is to be found in the sketch Prince Balthazar by Belimperia stabb'd; published in 1603; but the profundity of The Duke of Castille, and his wicked son, the character is not all there,—very far Both done to death by old Hieronimo, from it. We have little of the thoughtBy Belimperia fallen, as Dido fell;
ful philosophy, of the morbid feeelings, of And good Hieronimo slain by himself: Hamlet. But let us imagine an earlier
Ay, these were spectacles to please my soul.” sketch, where that wonderful creation of Here is murder enough to match even
Hamlet's character may have been still ‘Andronicus.' This slaughtering work was
more unformed ; where the poet may have accompanied with another peculiarity of the simply proposed to exhibit in the young unformed drama—the dumb show. Words
man a desire for revenge, combined with were sometimes scarcely necessary for the ex
irresolution—perhaps even actual madness. position of the story; and, when they were,
Make Hamlet a common dramatic characno great care was taken that they should be ter, instead of one of the subtilest of metavery appropriate or beautiful in themselves. physical problems, and what is the tragedy ? Thomas Heywood, himself a prodigious ma
A tragedy of blood. It offends us not now, nufacturer of plays in a more advanced
softened as it is, and almost hidden, in the
period, writing as late as 1612, seems to look atmosphere of poetry and philosophy which
surrounds it. But look at it merely with reupon these semi-pageants, full of what the actors call“ bustle," as the wonderful things ference to the action, and of what materials of the modern stage:—“To see, as I have is it made ? A ghost described ; a ghost apseen, Hercules, in his own shape, hunting pearing ; the play within a play, and that a the boar, knocking down the bull
, taming play of murder ; Polonius killed ; the ghost the hart, fighting with Hydra, murdering again ; Ophelia mad and self-destroyed; the Geryon, slaughtering Diomed, wounding the struggle at the grave between Hamlet and Stymphalides, killing the Centaurs, pash
Laertes ; the queen poisoned ; Laertes killed ing the lion, squeezing the dragon, dragging Hamlet; and, last of all, Hamlet's death.
with a poisoned rapier; the king killed by Cerberus in chains, and, lastly, on his high
No wonder Fortinbras exclaims-
This quarry cries on havoc." stage that presented attractions like these Again, take another early tragedy, of which to the multitude, is it wonderful that the
we may well believe that there was an earlier young Shakspere should have written a
sketch than that published in 1597—“Romeo Tragedy of Horrors ?
and Juliet.' We may say of the delicious But Shakspere, it is maintained, has given poetry, as Romeo says of Juliet's beauty, us no other tragedy constructed upon the that it makes the charnel-house “a feastprinciple of Titus Andronicus.'
ing presence full of light.” But imagine quite sure ? Do we know what the first
a Romeo and Juliet' conceived in the imHamlet' was? We have one sketch, which maturity of the young Shakspere's powermay be most instructively compared with
a tale of love, but surrounded with horror.
* 'An Apology for Actors.'
Edinburgh Review,' vol. Ixxi. p. 475.
There is enough for the excitement of an we know Shakspere made in ‘Hamlet,' and uninstructed audience: the contest between Romeo and Juliet,' were to work out the the houses; Mercutio killed; Tybalt killed; peculiar theory of his mature judgmentthe apparent death of Juliet; Paris killed in that the terrible should be held, as it were, the churchyard ; Romco swallowing poison ; in solution by the beautiful, so as to produce Juliet stabbing herself. The marvel is, that a tragic consistent with pleasurable emotion. the surpassing power of the poet should make Herein he goes far beyond Webster. His art us forget that 'Romeo and Juliet' can pre- is a higher art. sent such an aspect. All the changes which
PERICLES. The external testimony that Shakspere was
doubt remained in 1623 with the proprietors the author of 'Pericles' would appear to rest of the Globe Theatre—Shaksperes fellowupon strong evidence ; it was published with shareholders. Of the popularity of ‘Pericles' Shakspere's name as the author during his there can be no doubt. It was printed three lifetime. But this evidence is not decisive. times separately before the publication of the In 1600 was printed “The first part of the folio of 1623; and it would have been to the true and honourable history of the Life of interest of the proprietors of that edition to Sir John Oldcastle, &c. Written by William have included it amongst Shakspere's works. Shakespeare ;'* and we should be entitled to Did they reject it because they could not receive that representation of the writer of conscientiously affirm it to be written by 'Sir John Oldcastle' as good evidence of the him, or were they unable to make terms authorship, were we not in possession of a
with those who had the right of publicafact which entirely outweighs the bookseller's tion? insertion of a popular name in his title-page. It is a most important circumstance, In the manuscript diary of Philip Henslowe, with reference to the authenticity of “Titus preserved at Dulwich College, is the follow- Andronicus,' that Meres, in 1599, ascribed ing entry :-“This 16 of October, 99, Receved that play to Shakspere. We have no such by me, Thomas Downton, of Phillip Henslow, testimony in the case of 'Pericles ;' but the to pay Mr. Monday, Mr. Drayton, and Mr. tradition which assigns it to Shakspere Wilson and Hathway, for the first pte of the is pretty constant. Malone has quoted a Lyfe of Sr Jhon Ouldcasstell, and in earnest passage from “The Times displayed, in Six of the Second Pte, for the use of the com- Sestiads,' a poem published in 1646, and payny, ten pownd, I say receved 10 li.”+ dedicated by S. Shephard to Philip, Earl of The title-page of 'Pericles,' in 1609, might Pembroke :have been as fraudulent as that of 'Sir John “See him, whose tragic scenes Euripides Oldcastle'in 1600.
Doth equal, and with Sophocles we may The play of ‘Pericles,' as we learn by the Compare great Shakspeare: Aristophanes original title-page, was “sundry times acted Never like him his fancy could display: by his Majesty's servants at the Globe.” Witness The Prince of Tyre, his Pericles: The proprietary interest in the play for the
His sweet and his to be admired lay purposes of the stage (whoever wrote it) no He wrote of lustful Tarquin's rape, shows he
Did understand the depth of poesie." * "Some of the copies have not Shakespeare's name on
Six years later, another writer, J. Tatham, + Diary of Philip Henslowe;' edited by J. Payne Collier. in verses prefixed to Richard Brome's ‘Jovial
the title." COLLIER.
Crow,' 1652, speaks slightingly of Shakspere, the Lord negligently." It is impossible to and of this particular drama :
doubt then that Dryden was a competent re“But Shakespeare, the plebeian driller, was
porter of the traditions of the stage, and not Founder'd in his Pericles, and must not pass.” necessarily of the traditions that survived
after the Restoration. We can picture the Dryden, in his prologue to Charles Davenant's young poet, naturally anxious to approach Circe,' in 1675, has these lines :
as closely to Shakspere as possible, taking a “ Your Ben and Fletcher, in their first young cheerful cup with poor Lowin in his humble flight,
inn, and listening to the old man's recital of Did no Volpone, nor no Arbaces, write; the recollections of his youth amidst those But hopp'd about, and short excursions made scenes from which he was banished by the From bough to bough, as if they were afraid, violence of civil war and the fury of puritaAnd each was guilty of some slighted maid. nical intolerance. We accept, then, Dryden's Shakspeare's own Muse his Pericles first bore; assertion with little doubt ; and we approach The Prince of Tyre was elder than the Moor.
to the examination of the internal evidence 'T is miracle to see a first good play: All hawthorns do not bloom on Christmas- viction that, if it be the work of Shakspere,
of the authenticity of “Pericles' with the conday.”
the foundations of it were laid when his art The mention of Shakspere as the author of was imperfect, and he laboured somewhat Pericles' in the pocms printed in 1646 and in subjection to the influence of those ruder 1652 may in some respect be called tradi- models for which he eventually substituted tionary; for the play was not printed after his own splendid examples of dramatic ex1635, till it appeared in the folio of 1664. cellence. Dryden, most probably, read the play in that There is a very striking passage in Sidney's folio edition. Mr. Collier says, “I do not at 'Defence of Poesy,' which may be taken pretty all rely upon Dryden's evidence farther than accurately to describe the infancy of the drato establish the belief as to the authorship matic art in England, being written some four entertained by persons engaged in theatrical or five years before we can trace any connecaffairs after the Restoration.” But is such tion of Shakspere with the stage. The passage cridence wholly to be despised ? and must is long, but it is deserving of attentive conthe belief be necessarily dated “after the sideration: Restoration ?” Dryden was himself forty-four “ But they will say, how then shall we years of age when he wrote “Shakspeare's set forth a story which contains both many own Muse,” &c. He had been a writer for the places and many times? And do they not stage twelve years. He was the friend of know that a tragedy is tied to the laws of Davenant, who wrote for the stage in 1626. Poesy, and not of History, not bound to folOf the original actors in Shakspere's plays low the story, but having liberty either to Dryden himself might have known, when he feign a quite new matter, or to frame the was a young man, John Lowin, who kept the history to the most tragical convenience ? Three Pigeons Inn at Brentford, and died Again, many things may be told which canvery old, a little before the Restoration; and not be showed : if they know the difference Joseph Taylor, who died in 1653, although, betwixt reporting and representing. As for according to the tradition of the stage, he example, I may speak, though I am here, was old enough to have played Hamlet un- of Peru, and in speech digress from that to der Shakspere's immediate instruction; and the description of Calecut : but in action I Richard Robinson, who served in the army cannot represent it without Pacolet's horse. of Charles I., and has an historical import- | And so was the manner the ancients took ance through having been shot to death by by some Nuntius, to recount things done in Harrison, after he had laid down his arms, former time, or other place. with this exclamation from the stern repub- “ Lastly, if they will represent an History, lican, “Cursed is he that doth the work of they must not (as Horace saith) begin above, but they must come to the principal point | bited in detail. There was a book no doubt of that one action which they will represent. familiar to that young poet; it was the 'ConBy example this will be best expressed. I fessio Amantis, the Confessyon of the Louer,' have a story of young Polydorus, delivered, of John Gower, printed by Caxton in 1493, for safety's sake, with great riches, by his fa- and by Berthelet in 1532 and 1554. That ther Priamus, to Polymnestor, king of Thrace, the book was popular, the fact of the publiin the Trojan war time. He, after sonst years, cation of three editions in little more than hearing of the overthrow of Priamus, for to half a century will sufficiently manifest. make the treasure his own, murthereth the That it was a book to be devoured by a child; the body of the child is taken up; youth of poetical aspirations, who can doubt? Hecuba, she, the same day, findeth a sleight That a Chaucer and a Gower were accessible to be revenged most cruelly of the tyrant. to a young man educated at the grammarWhere, now, would one of our tragedy-writers school at Stratford, we may readily believe. begin, but with the delivery of the child ? | That was not a day of rare copies ; the bounThen should he sail over into Thrace, and tiful press of the early English printers was to spend I know not how many years, and for the people, and the people eagerly detravel numbers of places. But where doth voured the intellectual food which that press Euripides? Even with the finding of the bestowed upon them. 'Appollinus, The Prince body, leaving the rest to be told by the spirit of Tyr,' is one of the most sustained, and, perof Polydorus. This needs no farther to be haps, altogether one of the most interesting, enlarged; the dullest wit may conceive it." of the old narratives which Gower introduced
Between this notion which Sidney had into the poetical form. What did it matter formed of the propriety of a tragedy wbich to the young and enthusiastic reader that should understand “the difference betwixt there were Latin manuscripts of this story reporting and representing,” there was a long as early as the tenth century; that there is space to be travelled over, before we should an Anglo-Saxon version of it; that it forms arrive at a tragedy which should make the one of the most elaborate stories of the 'Gesta whole action manifest, and keep the interest Romanorum ? What does all this matter alive from the first line to the last without even to us, with regard to the play before any “reporting” at all. When “Hamlet'
us? Mr. Collier says, “The immediate source and 'Othello' and 'Lear' were perfected, this to which Shakespeare resorted was probably culminating point of the dramatic art had Laurence Twine's version of the novel of been reached. But it is evident that Sidney 'Appollonius, King of Tyre,' which first came described a state of things in which even out in 1576, and was afterwards several times the very inartificial expedient of uniting de- reprinted. I have before me an edition withscription with representation had not been out date, “Imprinted at London by Valentine thoroughly understood, or at least had not Simmes for the widow Newman,' which very been generally practised. The “tragedy- likely was that used by our great dramatist.”. writers” begin with the delivery of the Mr. Collier has reprinted this story of Laurence young Polydorus, and travel on with him Twine with the title—' Appollonius, Prince of from place to place, till his final murder. Tyre: upon which Shakespeare founded PeAt this point Euripides begins the story, ricles. We cannot understand this. We have leaving something to be told by the spirit looked in vain throughout this story to find of Polydorus. It is not difficult to conccive a single incident in ‘Pericles,' suggested by a young dramatic poet looking to something Twine’s relation, which might not have been beyond the “tragedy-writers" of his own day, equally suggested by Gower's poem. We will and, upon taking up a popular story, invent- not weary our readers, therefore, with any exing a machinery for “reporting," which should tracts from this narrative. That the author emulate the ingenious device of Euripides in of 'Pericles' had Gower in his thoughts, and, making the ghost of Polydorus briefly tell the what is more important, that he felt that history which a ruder stage would have exhi
* Farther Particulars,' p. 36.