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vertible proof that these pieces were originally and entirely written by Shakspeare. “Who” (says Mr. Capell,) “ sees not the future monster, and acknowledges at the same time the pen that drew it, in these two lines only, spoken over a king who lies stabb’d before him, [i. e. before Richard duke of Glofter,]
“What, will the aspiring blood of Lancaster
“ Sink in the ground? I thought it would have mounted.” let him never pretend to discernment hereafter, in any case of this nature."
The two lines above quoted are found in The True Tragedie of Richard Duke of Yorke, &c. on which, according to my hypothesis, Shakspeare's Third Part of K. Henry VI. was formed. If therefore these lines decisively mark the hand of Shakspeare, the old as well as the new play must have been written by him, and the fabrickwhich I have built with some labour, falls at once to the ground. But let not the reader be alarmed; for if it suffers from no other battery but this, it may last till - the crack of doom." Marlowe, as Dr. Farmer observes to me, has the very same phraseology in King Edward II:
-fcorning that the lowly earth • Should drink his blood, mounts up to the air.” and in the fame play I have lately noticed another line in which we find the very epithet here applied to the pious Lancastrian king:
“ Frown'st thou thercat, aspiring Lancaster ?". So much for Mr. Capell's irrefragable proof. It is not the proper business of the present essay to enter further into this subject. I merely seize this opportunity of saying, that the preceding passages
now incline me to think Marlowe the author of The True Tragedie of Richard Duke of Yorke, and perhaps of the other old drama also, entitled The First Part of the Contention of the two famous Houses of Yorke and Lancaster.
The latter drama was entered on the Stationers' books by T. Millington, March 12, 1593-4. This play, however, (on which The Second Part of King Henry VI. is formed,) was not then printed; nor was The true Tragedie of Richard Duke of Yorke, &c. on which Shakspeare's Third Part of King Henry VI. is founded,' entered at Stationers' Hall at the same time: but they were both printed anonymously by Thomas Millington, in quarto, in the year 1600.
A very ingenious friend has suggested to me, that it is not probable that Shakspeare would have ventured to use the ground-work of another dramatist, and form a new play upon it, in the lifetime of the author or authors. I know not how much weight this argument is entitled to. We are certain that Shakspeare did transcribe a whole scene almost verbatim from The old Taming of a Shrew, and incorporate it into his own play on the same subject; and we do not know that the author of the original play was then dead. Supposing however this argument to have some weight, it does not tend in the flightest degree to overturn my hypothesis that The Second and Third Parts of King Henry VI. were formed on the two preceding dramas, of which I have already given the titles ; but merely to fhew, that I am either mistaken in fupposing that they were new-modelled and rewritten in 1591, or in my conjecture concerning the authors of the elder pieces on which those of Vol. II,
Shakspeare were formed. Greene died in September 1592, and Marlowe about May 1543. By afligning our poet's part in these performances to the end of the year 1593 or the beginning of 1594, this objection is done away, whether we suppose Greene to have been the author of one of the elder plays, and Marlowe of the other, or that celebrated writer the author of them both.
Dr. Farmer is of opinion, that Ben Jonson particularly alludes in the following verses to our poet's having followed the steps of Marlowe in the plays now under our consideration, and greatly surpassed his original :
" For, if I thought my judgment were of years,
Or sporting Kyd, or Marlow's mighty line." From the epithet Sporting, which is applied to Kyd, and which is certainly in some measure a quibble on his name, it is manifest that he must have produced some comick piece upon the scene, as well as the two tragedies of his composition, which are now extant, Cornelia, and The Spanish Tragedy. This latter is printed, like many plays of that time, anonymously. Dr. Farmer with great probability suggests to me, that Kyd might have been the author of The old Taming of a Shrew printed in 1594, on which Shakspeare formed a play with nearly the same title. S The praise which Ben Jonson gives to Shakspeare, that he “outshines Marlowe and Kyd, on this hypothesis, will
8 Kyd was also, I suspect , the author of the old plays of Hamlet, and of King Leir. See p. 111.
appear to stand on one and the same foundation ; namely on his eclipfing those ancient dramatists by new-modelling their plays, and producing pieces much superior to theirs, on stories which they had already formed into dramas, that, till Shakspeare appeared, satisfied the publick, and were classed among the happiest efforts of dramatick art,
4. A MIDSUMMER Night's DREAM, 1592.
The poetry of this piece, glowing with all the warmth of a youthful and lively imagination, the many scenes which it contains of almost continual rhyme, the poverty of the fable, and want of discrimination among the higher personages, dispose me to believe that it was one of our author's earliest attempts in comedy.
9 See p. 97, n. 3.
* Dryden was of opinion that Pericles, Prince of Tyre, was our author's first dramatick coniposition :
Shakspeare's own muse his Pericles first bore,
Prologue to the tragedy of Circe, by Charles
D'Avenant, 1677. Mr. Rowe in his Life of Shakspeare (first edition) says, " There is good reason.to believe that the greatest part of Pericles was not written by him, though it is owned some part of it certainly was, particularly the last act.” I have not been able to learn on what authority the latter assertion was grounded. Rowe in his second edition omitted the paffage.
Pericles was not entered in the Stationers' books till May 2, 1608, nor printed till 1609 ; but the following lines in a metrical pamphlet, entitled Pimlzco, or Runne
It seems to have been written', while the ridicu. loas compositions, prevalent among the histrionick : tribe, were strongly impressed by novelty on his
mind. He would naturally copy those manners first, with which he was first acquainted. The ambition of a theatrical candidate for applause he has happily ridiculed in Bottom the weaver. But among the more dignified persons of the draina we
Red-cap , 1595, ascertain it to have been written and exhibited on the stage, prior to that year :
" Amazde I stood to see a crowd
(As at a new play,) all the roomes
66 Came to fee Shore or Pericles." The play of Jane Shore is mentioned (together with another very ancient piece not now extant) in The. Knight of the Burning Pefile, 1613: “I was ne'er at one of these plays before ; but I should have feen Jane Shore, and my husband hath promised me any time this twelvemonth to carry me to The Bold Beauchamps.” The date of The Bold Beauchamps is in some measure ascertained by a passage in D'Avenant's Playhouse to be let :
There is an old tradition, " That in the times of mighty Tamburlaine, “ Of conjuring Fouftus , and The Beauchamps Bold,
“You poets used to have the second day.” Tamburlain and Fauftus were exhibited in or before 1590.
The lamentable end of Shore's wife also made a part of the old anonymous play of King Richard III. which was entered in the Stationers' books, June 19, 1594. Both the dramas in which Jane Shore was introduced were probably on the stage soon after 1590; and from the manner in which Pericles is mentioned in the verses above quoted, we may prefume, that drama was equally ancient and equally well known.