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man has scarcely risen into metaphor, much | ment of a succession of physical horrors, he
less into braggardism:
"O, here I lift this one hand up to heaven,
To that I call:-What, wilt thou kneel with
Do then, dear heart; for heaven shall hear our prayers:
Or with our sighs we 'll breathe the welkin dim,
And stain the sun with fog, as sometime clouds,
was so far under the control of his higher judgment, that, avoiding their practice, he steadily abstained from making his " verses jet on the stage in tragical buskins; every word filling the mouth like the faburden of Bow-Bell, daring God out of heaven with that atheist Tamburlaine, or blaspheming with the mad priest of the sun."+
It is easy to understand how Shakspere, at the period when he first entered upon those labours which were to build up a glorious fabric out of materials that had been pre
When they do hug him in their melting viously used for the basest purposes,—without models, at first, perhaps, not volunta
And in his very crowning agony we hear rily choosing his task, but taking the busionly-
"Why, I have not another tear to shed." It has been said, "There is not a shade of difference between the two Moors, Eleazar and Aaron."* Eleazar is a character in 'Lust's Dominion,' incorrectly attributed to Marlowe. Trace the cool, determined, sarcastic, remorseless villain, Aaron, through these blood-spilling scenes, and see if he speaks in "King Cambyses' vein," as Eleazar speaks in the following lines:
"Now, Tragedy, thou minion of the night,
Rhamnusia's pew-fellow, to thee I'll sing
Still gushing from the conduit-head of Spain.
Mine is the Stage, thine the Tragedy."
But enough of this. It appears to us manifest that, although the author of Titus Andronicus' did choose-in common with the best and the most popular of those who wrote for the early stage, but contrary to his afterpractice a subject which should present to his comparatively rude audiences the excite
*C. A. Brown's Autobiographical Poems of Shakspere.'
ness that lay before him so as to command popular success,-ignorant, to a great degree, of the height and depth of his own intellectual resources,-not seeing, or dimly seeing, how poetry and philosophy were to elevate and purify the common staple of the coarse drama about him,-it is easy to conceive how a story of fearful bloodshed should force itself upon him as a thing that he could work into something better than the dumb show and fiery words of his predecessors and contemporaries. It was in after-years that he had to create the tragedy of passion. Lamb has beautifully described Webster, as almost alone having the power 66 to move a horror skilfully, to touch a soul to the quick, to lay upon fear as much as it can bear, to wean and weary a life till it is ready to drop, and then step in with mortal instruments to take its last forfeit." Lamb adds, "Writers of inferior genius mistake quantity for quality." The remark is quite true,—when examples of the higher tragedy are accessible, and when the people have learnt better than to require the grosser stimulant. Before Webster had written 'The Duchess of Malfi' and 'Vittoria Corombona,' Shakspere had produced 'Lear' and 'Othello.' But there were writers, not of inferior genius, who had committed the same mistake as the author of 'Titus Andronicus'
who use blood as they would "the paint of the property-man in the theatre." Need we mention other names than Marlowe and Kyd? The "old Jeronimo," as Ben Jonson calls it,
† Greene, 1588.
—perhaps the most popular play of the early stage, and, in many respects, a work of great power, thus concludes, with a sort of Chorus spoken by a ghost :—
"Ay, now my hopes have end in their effects,
Here is murder enough to match even 'Andronicus.' This slaughtering work was accompanied with another peculiarity of the
unformed drama-the dumb show. Words were sometimes scarcely necessary for the exposition of the story; and, when they were, no great care was taken that they should be very appropriate or beautiful in themselves. Thomas Heywood, himself a prodigious manufacturer of plays in a more advanced period, writing as late as 1612, seems to look upon these semi-pageants, full of what the actors call "bustle," as the wonderful things of the modern stage:-"To see, as I have seen, Hercules, in his own shape, hunting the boar, knocking down the bull, taming the hart, fighting with Hydra, murdering Geryon, slaughtering Diomed, wounding the Stymphalides, killing the Centaurs, pashing the lion, squeezing the dragon, dragging Cerberus in chains, and, lastly, on his high pyramides writing Nil ultra-oh, these were sights to make an Alexander."* With a stage that presented attractions like these to the multitude, is it wonderful that the young Shakspere should have written a Tragedy of Horrors?
But Shakspere, it is maintained, has given us no other tragedy constructed upon the principle of Titus Andronicus.' Are we quite sure? Do we know what the first Hamlet' was? We have one sketch, which may be most instructively compared with
* An Apology for Actors.'
the finished performance; but it has been conjectured, and we think with perfect propriety, that the 'Hamlet' which was on the stage in 1589, and then sneered at by Nash, "has perished, and that the quarto of 1603 gives us the work in an intermediate state between the rude youthful sketch and the perfected Hamlet,' which was published in 1604."+ All the action of the perfect 'Hamlet' is to be found in the sketch published in 1603; but the profundity of the character is not all there,-very far from it. We have little of the thoughtful philosophy, of the morbid feeelings, of Hamlet. But let us imagine an earlier sketch, where that wonderful creation of Hamlet's character may have been still more unformed; where the poet may have simply proposed to exhibit in the young
man a desire for revenge, combined with irresolution—perhaps even actual madness. Make Hamlet a common dramatic charac
ter, instead of one of the subtilest of metaphysical problems, and what is the tragedy? A tragedy of blood. It offends us not now, softened as it is, and almost hidden, in the atmosphere of poetry and philosophy which surrounds it. But look at it merely with reference to the action; and of what materials is it made? A ghost described; a ghost appearing; the play within a play, and that a play of murder; Polonius killed; the ghost again; Ophelia mad and self-destroyed; the struggle at the grave between Hamlet and Laertes; the queen poisoned; Laertes killed with a poisoned rapier; the king killed by Hamlet; and, last of all, Hamlet's death.
No wonder Fortinbras exclaims
"This quarry cries on havoc." Again, take another early tragedy, of which we may well believe that there was an earlier sketch than that published in 1597—'Romeo and Juliet.' We may say of the delicious poetry, as Romeo says of Juliet's beauty,
that it makes the charnel-house "a feasting presence full of light." But imagine a Romeo and Juliet' conceived in the im
maturity of the young Shakspere's powera tale of love, but surrounded with horror.
+ Edinburgh Review,' vol. lxxi. p. 475.
There is enough for the excitement of an uninstructed audience: the contest between the houses; Mercutio killed; Tybalt killed; the apparent death of Juliet; Paris killed in the churchyard; Romco swallowing poison; Juliet stabbing herself. The marvel is, that the surpassing power of the poet should make us forget that 'Romeo and Juliet' can present such an aspect. All the changes which
we know Shakspere made in 'Hamlet,' and 'Romeo and Juliet,' were to work out the peculiar theory of his mature judgment— that the terrible should be held, as it were, in solution by the beautiful, so as to produce a tragic consistent with pleasurable emotion. Herein he goes far beyond Webster. His art is a higher art.
CHAPTER II. PERICLES.
THE external testimony that Shakspere was the author of 'Pericles' would appear to rest upon strong evidence; it was published with Shakspere's name as the author during his lifetime. But this evidence is not decisive. In 1600 was printed "The first part of the true and honourable history of the Life of Sir John Oldcastle, &c. Written by William Shakespeare; and we should be entitled to receive that representation of the writer of 'Sir John Oldcastle' as good evidence of the authorship, were we not in possession of a fact which entirely outweighs the bookseller's insertion of a popular name in his title-page. In the manuscript diary of Philip Henslowe, preserved at Dulwich College, is the following entry:"This 16 of October, 99, Receved by me, Thomas Downton, of Phillip Henslow, to pay Mr. Monday, Mr. Drayton, and Mr. Wilson and Hathway, for the first pte of the Lyfe of Sr Jhon Ouldcasstell, and in earnest of the Second Pte, for the use of the compayny, ten pownd, I say receved 10li."+ The title-page of 'Pericles,' in 1609, might have been as fraudulent as that of 'Sir John Oldcastle' in 1600.
The play of 'Pericles,' as we learn by the original title-page, was "sundry times acted by his Majesty's servants at the Globe." The proprietary interest in the play for the purposes of the stage (whoever wrote it) no
"Some of the copies have not Shakespeare's name on the title." COLLIER.
'Diary of Philip Henslowe;' edited by J. Payne Collier.
doubt remained in 1623 with the proprietors of the Globe Theatre-Shakspere's fellowshareholders. Of the popularity of 'Pericles' there can be no doubt. It was printed three times separately before the publication of the folio of 1623; and it would have been to the interest of the proprietors of that edition to have included it amongst Shakspere's works. Did they reject it because they could not conscientiously affirm it to be written by him, or were they unable to make terms with those who had the right of publication?
It is a most important circumstance, with reference to the authenticity of 'Titus Andronicus,' that Meres, in 1599, ascribed that play to Shakspere. We have no such testimony in the case of 'Pericles;' but the tradition which assigns it to Shakspere is pretty constant. Malone has quoted a passage from 'The Times displayed, in Six Sestiads,' a poem published in 1646, and dedicated by S. Shephard to Philip, Earl of Pembroke:
"See him, whose tragic scenes Euripides
Crew,' 1652, speaks slightingly of Shakspere, the Lord negligently." It is impossible to and of this particular drama:
"But Shakespeare, the plebeian driller, was Founder'd in his Pericles, and must not pass."
Dryden, in his prologue to Charles Davenant's 'Circe,' in 1675, has these lines:
doubt then that Dryden was a competent reporter of the traditions of the stage, and not necessarily of the traditions that survived after the Restoration. We can picture the young poet, naturally anxious to approach as closely to Shakspere as possible, taking a
"Your Ben and Fletcher, in their first young cheerful cup with poor Lowin in his humble
Did no Volpone, nor no Arbaces, write;
But hopp'd about, and short excursions made From bough to bough, as if they were afraid, And each was guilty of some slighted maid. Shakspeare's own Muse his Pericles first bore; The Prince of Tyre was elder than the Moor. "T is miracle to see a first good play:
All hawthorns do not bloom on Christmasday."
The mention of Shakspere as the author of 'Pericles' in the poems printed in 1646 and 1652 may in some respect be called traditionary; for the play was not printed after 1635, till it appeared in the folio of 1664. Dryden, most probably, read the play in that folio edition. Mr. Collier says, "I do not at all rely upon Dryden's evidence farther than to establish the belief as to the authorship | entertained by persons engaged in theatrical affairs after the Restoration." But is such evidence wholly to be despised? and must the belief be necessarily dated "after the Restoration?" Dryden was himself forty-four years of age when he wrote "Shakspeare's own Muse," &c. He had been a writer for the stage twelve years. He was the friend of Davenant, who wrote for the stage in 1626. Of the original actors in Shakspere's plays Dryden himself might have known, when he was a young man, John Lowin, who kept the Three Pigeons Inn at Brentford, and died very old, a little before the Restoration; and Joseph Taylor, who died in 1653, although, according to the tradition of the stage, he was old enough to have played Hamlet under Shakspere's immediate instruction; and Richard Robinson, who served in the army of Charles I., and has an historical importance through having been shot to death by Harrison, after he had laid down his arms, with this exclamation from the stern republican, "Cursed is he that doth the work of
inn, and listening to the old man's recital of the recollections of his youth amidst those scenes from which he was banished by the violence of civil war and the fury of puritanical intolerance. We accept, then, Dryden's assertion with little doubt; and we approach to the examination of the internal evidence of the authenticity of 'Pericles' with the conviction that, if it be the work of Shakspere, the foundations of it were laid when his art was imperfect, and he laboured somewhat in subjection to the influence of those ruder models for which he eventually substituted his own splendid examples of dramatic excellence.
There is a very striking passage in Sidney's 'Defence of Poesy,' which may be taken pretty accurately to describe the infancy of the dramatic art in England, being written some four or five years before we can trace any connection of Shakspere with the stage. The passage is long, but it is deserving of attentive consideration:
"But they will say, how then shall we set forth a story which contains both many places and many times? And do they not know that a tragedy is tied to the laws of Poesy, and not of History, not bound to follow the story, but having liberty either to feign a quite new matter, or to frame the history to the most tragical convenience ? Again, many things may be told which cannot be showed: if they know the difference betwixt reporting and representing. As for example, I may speak, though I am here, of Peru, and in speech digress from that to the description of Calecut: but in action I cannot represent it without Pacolet's horse. And so was the manner the ancients took by some Nuntius, to recount things done in former time, or other place.
"Lastly, if they will represent an History, they must not (as Horace saith) begin above,
but they must come to the principal point of that one action which they will represent. By example this will be best expressed. I have a story of young Polydorus, delivered, for safety's sake, with great riches, by his father Priamus, to Polymnestor, king of Thrace, in the Trojan war time. He, after some years, hearing of the overthrow of Priamus, for to make the treasure his own, murthereth the child; the body of the child is taken up; Hecuba, she, the same day, findeth a sleight to be revenged most cruelly of the tyrant. Where, now, would one of our tragedy-writers begin, but with the delivery of the child? Then should he sail over into Thrace, and to spend I know not how many years, and travel numbers of places. But where doth Euripides? Even with the finding of the body, leaving the rest to be told by the spirit of Polydorus. This needs no farther to be enlarged; the dullest wit may conceive it."
Between this notion which Sidney had formed of the propriety of a tragedy which should understand "the difference betwixt reporting and representing," there was a long space to be travelled over, before we should arrive at a tragedy which should make the whole action manifest, and keep the interest alive from the first line to the last without
any "reporting at all. When Hamlet' and 'Othello' and 'Lear' were perfected, this culminating point of the dramatic art had been reached. But it is evident that Sidney described a state of things in which even the very inartificial expedient of uniting description with representation had not been thoroughly understood, or at least had not been generally practised. The tragedywriters " begin with the delivery of the young Polydorus, and travel on with him from place to place, till his final murder. At this point Euripides begins the story, leaving something to be told by the spirit of Polydorus. It is not difficult to conceive a young dramatic poet looking to something beyond the "tragedy-writers" of his own day, and, upon taking up a popular story, inventing a machinery for "reporting," which should emulate the ingenious device of Euripides in making the ghost of Polydorus briefly tell the history which a ruder stage would have exhi
bited in detail. There was a book no doubt familiar to that young poet; it was the 'Confessio Amantis, the Confessyon of the Louer,' of John Gower, printed by Caxton in 1493, and by Berthelet in 1532 and 1554. That the book was popular, the fact of the publication of three editions in little more than half a century will sufficiently manifest. That it was a book to be devoured by a youth of poetical aspirations, who can doubt? That a Chaucer and a Gower were accessible to a young man educated at the grammarschool at Stratford, we may readily believe. That was not a day of rare copies; the bountiful press of the early English printers was for the people, and the people eagerly devoured the intellectual food which that press bestowed upon them. 'Appollinus, The Prince of Tyr,' is one of the most sustained, and, perhaps, altogether one of the most interesting, of the old narratives which Gower introduced into the poetical form. What did it matter to the young and enthusiastic reader that there were Latin manuscripts of this story as early as the tenth century; that there is an Anglo-Saxon version of it; that it forms one of the most elaborate stories of the 'Gesta Romanorum?' What does all this matter even to us, with regard to the play before us? Mr. Collier says, "The immediate source to which Shakespeare resorted was probably Laurence Twine's version of the novel of 'Appollonius, King of Tyre,' which first came out in 1576, and was afterwards several times reprinted. I have before me an edition without date, 'Imprinted at London by Valentine Simmes for the widow Newman,' which very likely was that used by our great dramatist.” Mr. Collier has reprinted this story of Laurence Twine with the title-Appollonius, Prince of Tyre: upon which Shakespeare founded Pericles.' We cannot understand this. We have looked in vain throughout this story to find a single incident in 'Pericles,' suggested by Twine's relation, which might not have been equally suggested by Gower's poem. We will not weary our readers, therefore, with any extracts from this narrative. That the author of 'Pericles' had Gower in his thoughts, and, what is more important, that he felt that *Farther Particulars,' p. 36.