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O soul, be chang'd into small water drops,
And fall into the ocean, ne'er be found!

My God, my God, look not so fierce on me!
Adders and serpents, let me breathe awhile.
Ugly hell, gape not !-Come not, Lucifer!
I'll burn my books. -Ah Mephistopheles !

[Exeunt DEVILS with FAUST."

The chorus at the close of the tragedy in neat and polished lines draws attention to its moral, an office which justifies to a certain extent their existence, so much has this moral been obscured and overlooked in the course of the play

"Cut is the branch that might have grown full straight,
And buried is Apollo's laurel-bough,

That sometime grew within this learned man.

Faustus is gone regard his hellish fall,

Whose fiendful fortune may exhort the wise,
Only to wonder at unlawful things,

Whose deepness doth entice such forward wits

To practice more than heavenly power permits."

"The services of Marlowe to dramatic literature," says Mr. Ward, "are twofold. As the author who first introduced blank verse to the popular stage, he rendered to our drama a service which it would be difficult to over-estimate. No innovation could have done more to preserve it from the danger of artificiality of form, which so readily leads to artificiality of matter, to which the drama is at all times peculiarly exposed. His second service to the progress of our dramatic literature, though not perhaps admitting of so precise a statement, is even more important than the other . . . it was he and no other who first inspired with true poetic passion the form of literature to which his chief efforts were consecrated. After Marlowe had written it was impossible for our dramatists to return to the cold horrors or tame declamation of the earlier tragic drama : the Spanish Tragedy and Gorboduc had alike been left behind. 'His raptures were all air and fire :' and it is this gift of passion which, together with his services to the outward form of the English drama, makes Marlowe worthy to be called not a predecessor, but the earliest in the immortal company of our great dramatists."

Mr. Ward denies almost entirely to Marlowe "the divine gift of humour, which lies so close to that of pathos." But

pathos, tenderness, and passion no one can deny to him, and he has at times an insight into human nature which gives him possession of the true gift of characterisation, making him see that the real tragedy of human life lies not in the struggle of the human nature against the powers of nature, but in the struggle between the nature and the will of the human being. In Faust the human episode exhibited nothing but the struggle of the human power against Destiny; but in Edward II. he gives us that higher interest which consists in following the struggle of the inward life of a complex human soul. He was the first, as Mr. J. A. Symonds says, to design tragedy on a grand scale. Even in less creditable plays, where character was not a study but merely a creation, he showed himself infinitely superior to preceding and contemporary dramatists. "Before Marlowe plays had been pageants and shows. He first produced dramas. Before Marlowe it appeared seriously doubtful whether the rules and precedents of classic authors might not determine the style of dramatic composition in England as in France : after him it was impossible for a dramatist to please the people by any play which had not in it some portion of the pith of the characters created by Marlowe."

Marlowe was thus fit to be the immediate predecessor of Shakspere. If Shakspere's career had been cut short as early as was that of Marlowe's, there would have been a very little gap between these two great artists. As it was, Shakspere lived to mature and to dignify by self-control powers which Marlowe was squandering and wasting by a wild and purposeless Bohemian life, which could recommend itself only to his lower nature. All those powers which we see in the germ in Marlowe's plays are seen developed and intensified in the works of Shakspere's later and middle life. Marlowe is eloquent, and his blank verse is powerful, but no passage of his comes up to the stately and prophetic warning of the Bishop of Carlisle, on the occasion of the deposition of Richard II.

"My Lord of Hereford here, whom you call king,

Is a foul traitor to proud Hereford's king:

And if you crown him, let me prophesy :
The blood of English shall manure the ground,
And future ages groan for this foul act;

Peace shall go sleep with Turks and infidels,

And in this seat of peace tumultuous wars

Shall kin with kin, and kind with kind confound:

Disorder, horror, fear, and mutiny

Shall here inhabit, and this land be call'd

The field of Golgotha and dead men's skulls.
O, if you raise this house against this house,
It will the wofullest division prove

That ever fell upon this cursed earth.
Prevent, resist it, let it not be so,

Lest child, child's children, cry against you 'woe !'”

Shakspere had outlived the bombast which generally mingled with the stately lines of the more youthful Marlowe.

Marlowe is passionate, and can enter into the world of feeling, but Shakspere excels him in the conceptions of the youthful passions of Romeo and Juliet, and of the deeper and more intense feelings of Othello and Desdemona. Marlowe had

a keen sense of the pathos in life, but he could not have conceived the intense and long drawn-out pathos of Hamlet's love, wrecked by the purpose that life had thrust upon him. "I lov'd Ophelia," says Hamlet, as he leaps into her grave: "forty thousand brothers could not, with all their quantity of love, make up my sum."

He could not have conceived the grief of Brutus, so quiet in its depth and intensity, who replies to Cassius taunting him with the futility of his philosophy-"No man bears sorrow better. Portia is dead." It was Shakspere's sense of those deeper currents of life which stir the surface of things but little, that gave him his pre-eminence in the power of characterisation. Marlowe might have conceived, but he could never have sustained, characters like those of Brutus, of Macbeth, of Hamlet, where "the soul's tragedy" makes the point and interest of the play. And immeasurably superior as Shakspere was in this, the highest branch of dramatic power, he was no less superior in the minor and yet essential attributes of a dramatist. The Merchant of Venice is only one example among many others of a plot cleverly constructed and developed, with its different threads of story running side by side, and then all drawn together towards the end. Almost all Shakspere's plays are examples of that instinctive and technical knowledge of what constitutes an effective mise-en-scène knowledge which can only come naturally to an actor. And then, above all, in addition to those powers which he possessed in common with Marlowe, only heightened and intensified by a life full of experience both of the stage and of the world, Shakspere possessed the capacity for humour-that capacity which serves to harmonise the incongruities and the trivialities of the world. "It is a presence and pervading influence throughout his most

earnest creations. This it is which preserves Shakspere from all eager and shrill intensity: this it is which makes his emotions voluminous and massive." It is this which helped him to be so thorough and so sympathetic in his knowledge and his feeling for the people in the world; it helped him to understand and to sympathise with those things which, to souls that are always high pitched, seem trivial and obscure.

In speaking of Shakspere from the point of view of the history of dramatic literature, we are tempted to indulge in a verbal roar of admiration when the great gap between him and the dramatists of his age becomes evident. How great this gap is, is only too evident to those who make a study of the dramatic literature of the Elizabethan period. As Shakspere is superior to Marlowe in feeling, in thought, in characterisation, in knowledge of what makes a plot and effective mise-en-scène, so is he superior to his many and justly-celebrated successors. Shakspere can dramatise a story as effectively as Beaumont and Fletcher; he can write lyrics as charming and as musical as those of Fletcher; as the songs in As You Like It, in Cymbeline, in Much Ado About Nothing, amply show; he can conceive the spirit of history, and can take us back to the past in a different but certainly in as true and effective a manner as Chapman; as the Roman and English historical plays sufficiently show; he has as high an idea of his art, and as much instinctive moral purpose, as the excellent Ben Jonson; though happily his genius could recognise no reason why it should pose as the teacher of its age. It seems almost impossible to speak of Shakspere without unconsciously depreciating the work of the dramatists of his age. In one or more points some of them approached very near to him; but the important fact to notice is, that from the point of view of what constitutes the ideal drama, Shakspere in his work, taking it all together, was as much superior to them as it is probable that he was in his personality and his life.



Born at Stratford-on-Avon, April 1564; educated at the Free Grammar School, Stratford; married November 1582; well known as a dramatist in London in 1592; returns to Stratford between 1610-1612; died April 1616.


Titus Andronicus, 1585-90; 1 Henry VI., 1590-91; Two Noble Kinsmen, 1612; Henry VIII., 1612-13.


Love's Labour Lost, 1590; Comedy of Errors, 1591; Two Gentlemen of Verona, 1592-93; Midsummer Night's Dream, 1593-94; Merchant of Venice, 1596; Taming of the Shrew, 1597 (?); Merry Wives of Windsor, 1598 (?); Much Ado About Nothing, 1598; As You Like It, 1599; Twelfth Night, 1600-1; All's Well that Ends Well, 1601-2 (?); Measure for Measure, 1603; Troilus and Cressida, 1603 (?); revised, 1607.


2 and 3 Henry VI., 1591-92; Richard III., 1593; Richard II., 1594; King John, 1595; 1 and 2 Henry IV., 1597-98; Henry V., 1599.


Romeo and Juliet, two dates, 1591, 1597 (?); Julius Cæsar, 1601; Hamlet, 1602; Othello, 1604; King Lear, 1605; Macbeth, 1606; Antony and Cleopatra, 1607; Coriolanus, 1608; Timon, 1607-8.


Pericles, 1608; Cymbeline, 1609; Tempest, 1610; Winter's Tale, 1610-11.

"ALL that is known with any degree of certainty concerning Shakspere," says Steevens, "is that he was born upon Stratfordon-Avon, married and had children there; went to London, where he commenced acting and wrote poems and plays; returned

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