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Fletcher says, which make a tragedy; it is a succession of comic incidents and practical jokes which make a comedy. Between Ralph Roister Doister and As You Like It-between Gorboduc and Hamlet-there is a comparatively small gap in time, but an immeasurable one from the point of view of dramatic art. It is, then, to the genius of those men who are called Shakspere's predecessors, and above all to the genius of Shakspere himself, that we owe the rapid and brilliant growth of the drama from 1580 to 1608; it is to the vigorous English genius, freed from restraint, and stimulated by national excitement and prosperity, that we owe this burst of unparalleled and peculiarly English and national art.

CHAPTER VII.

SHAKSPERE'S PREDECESSORS.

LYLY, John, 1554-1606.-The Woman in the Moon, written before 1584; Alexander, Campaspe, and Diogenes, prob. 1584; Sapho and Phao, prob. 1584; Endymion, the Man in the Moon, prob. 1591; Galathea, prob. 1592; Mydas, prob. 1592; Mother Bombie, prob. 1594; Love's Metamorphosis, prob. 1601.

LODGE, Thomas, 1558(?)-1625.-The Wounds of Civill War lively set forth in the true tragedies of Marius and Scylla, acted 1590 circ.

NASH, Thomas, 1565 circ.-1602 circ.-Summer's Last Will and Testament, acted 1592.

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PEELE, George, 1552 circ.-1597 circ.-The Arraignment of Paris, 1584;
Sir Clyomen and Sir Clamydes, circ. 1584; Pageants, 1585-1591;
Chronicle of Edward I., 1593; The Battle of Alcazar, pub. 1594, acted
by 1591; Old Wives' Tale, acted before 1595; David and Bethsabe, by
1598.
KYD, Thomas, d. 1594 circ.-The Spanish Tragedy, acted prob. in 1588.
GREENE, Robert, 1559-60(?)-1592.- Orlando Furioso, acted by 1591;
Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay, acted by 1591; Alphonsus, King of
Aragon, acted by 1592; James IV. of Scotland, acted by 1592;
George-à-Greene, the Pinner of Wakefield, acted by 1592; A Looking-
Glass for London and England, written with Lodge, acted by 1592.

THE drama was therefore comparatively unemancipated when Lyly, the first of that group of men called Shakspere's predecessors, lived and wrote. Shakspere was undoubtedly infinitely greater from every point of view than any of his contemporaries—Marlowe perhaps excepted-because of the youthful promise of his genius, which his short life did not allow him to mature. Yet the condition of the stage, after these artists had lived and written, compared with what it had been before, shows how greatly their work had tended to develop its possibilities. Shakspere at his best obeyed no rules with the strength and freedom of genius he succeeded ultimately in emancipating himself from conventions and formulas; but the way was prepared for him by these men: they did much to

loosen the hold of stage-convention, and in the work of some of them,—in the versification of Greene and Marlowe,—in the attempts at characterisation of Kyd,-we see more than hints of that dramatic power which makes the greatness of Shakspere's genius.

Among these men, Shakspere's contemporaries in point of time, but his predecessors in the dramatic art, Lyly stands not only first but alone. His work belongs to that earlier period of art and literature, that time of imitation and attempt, which prepared and gave place to the robuster and more original form of art which marks the most brilliant period of the Elizabethan age. In dramatic literature Lyly's work had the same characteristics that distinguished it in other fields of literature: there is visible the same careful attention to style, the same careful elaboration of literary details, the same fantastic and refined idealism.

Classical allusion, alliteration, antithesis, "the uncalled-for pun," are characteristic of his dramatic work, as they do his literary work. Lyly, during his university career, had acquired two things: an acquaintance with Ovid, to whom he was attracted by his taste for allegory, and a superficial but wide acquaintance with the classics, both of which he turned to account in his literary work. Most of his plays are derived from classical history or legend: and "from Jupiter himself down to the humblest serving-man all are familiar with passages from Ovid, Virgil, and Cicero." He it was who carried to its greatest extent the tendency of the time to introduce classical deities as representatives of corresponding qualities; and in most of his plays there is an allegorical meaning, not indeed as a rule deep or significant,perhaps allusions to some small contemporary intrigue,—yet a meaning going beyond that of the actual facts of the plot, which gives ample exercise to the ingenuity and industry of his commentators. But what more than anything else stamps Lyly's work as belonging to a lower period of art than that of his companions in the group of Shakspere's predecessors is the mark which it bears of servility to the needs and taste of the court. Yet not the arduous work of the whole of Lyly's literary life, beginning with the publication of the Euphues in 1579 and lasting till his death in 1606,—not all the attacks which in defiance of friendship he made on Gabriel Harvey in the cause of his patron, the Earl of Oxford, not all his complimentary allegorical allusions to the Queen, not all his open, shameless flattery to her,could gain for him the office he so much coveted—that of Master

of the Revels. But the absence of high originality in Lyly's works, the absence of that robuster genius which characterised the works of Greene and Marlowe, the sameness and slightness of his thought,-was due to his prostration before the fashionable ideal, to the fact that he looked upon his work mainly as a profession, and as one that could be remunerative in proportion as it produced works that pleased; and that only secondarily did he regard it seriously as an art. Lyly's art indeed consisted in pleasing if he can be said to have had genius, it must be found to consist in his perfect adaptability to the fashionable literary needs of the time, in his capacity for clothing slight thoughts in an agreeable, graceful form.

Lyly's first play, The Woman in the Moon, is, considering the tendencies of its author, tolerably straightforward and simple both in construction and language. Pandora, the woman in the moon, is created by Nature with the help of Concord and Discord in answer to the demands of the shepherds for a representative of the female sex. This being is gifted with various qualities by the gods, Saturn making her sullen, Jove proud, and Mars bloody-minded. She becomes involved in complications by Venus, and is ultimately banished to the moon, whither her husband Stesias is bound to follow her, he becoming the man in the moon as she the woman in the moon. In this play, whose plot is of little interest, commentators cannot even prove there are no clear allusions to contemporary events, though one goes so far as to think that there is a meaning in the story-a meaning which identifies Elizabeth with the moon and this is the "piquantest thing in the whole play." Additional interest has been infused into two of Lyly's plays, Midas and Endymion, by finding in them significant but dark allusions to contemporary events. Midas is supposed to represent occasionally Philip of Spain, Diana Elizabeth, Lesbos being England, "which the gods pitched out of the world as not controlled by any in the world." Significant in its allusions, but less widely national in its tendency, is the play of Endymion. Endymion's sleep represents Leicester's imprisonment at Greenwich. The intervention of Eumenides, who pleads with Cynthia for the shortening of Endymion's sleep, is the mediation of the Earl of Sussex between Leicester and the Queen. Tellus, who is supposed to represent the Countess of Sheffield, to whom Leicester was clandestinely married, endeavours to draw Endymion away from Cynthia: "the sweetness of thy life: the bitterness of thy death." Floscula says to her and the speech contains a specimen of the nature of the flattery that was administered

to Elizabeth-"Madame, if you would compare the state of Cynthia with your own: and the height of Endimion his thoughts with the meanness of your fortune, you would rather yield than contend, being between you and her, no comparison and rather wonder than rage at the greatness of his mind, being affected with a thing more than mortal.' Endymion tries to hide "his thoughts, which are stitched to the stars," to dissemble his passion for Cynthia, the sweet Cynthia whom "time cannot touch, because she is divine, nor will offend because she is delicate;" but he cannot conceal it from Tellus. She sends Endymion into a deep sleep, from which he is revived by the kiss of Cynthia—“I will not be so stately, good Endimion, not to stoop to do thee good: and if thy liberty consist in a kiss from me, thou shalt have it: and though my mouth hath been heretofore as untouched as my thoughts, yet now to recover thy life (though to restore thy youth it be impossible), I will do that to Endimion which never yet mortal man could boast of heretofore, nor shall ever hope for hereafter."

There is a certain idealism in the play, refined perhaps almost to affectation, which suggests the really high standards of true Euphuism, of which Lyly and the so-called Euphuists are only degenerate followers. Endymion's elaborate speech to Cynthia has in it a touch of true chivalry:-"I honoured your highness above all the world; but to stretch it so far as to call it love, I never durst. There hath none pleased my eye but Cynthia, none delighted mine ears but Cynthia, none possessed my heart but Cynthia. I have forsaken all other fortunes to follow Cynthia, and here I stand ready to die if it please Cynthia. Such a difference hath the gods set between our states that all must be duty, loyalty and reverence, nothing (without it vouchsafe your highness) be termed love. My unspotted thoughts, my languishing body, my discontented love, let them obtain by princely favor that which to challenge they must not presume, only wishing of impossibilities: with imagination of which I will spend my spirits, and to myself, that no creature may hear, softly call it love. And if any urge to utter what I whisper, then will I name it honor. From thy sweet contemplation, if I be not driven, I shall live of all men the most content, taking more pleasure in mine aged thoughts, than ever I did in my youthful actions."

In the same way Phao, in the play of Sapho and Phao, is resigned to live for ever in love with the unattainable beauty and greatness of Sapho, though Sapho, through the influence of

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