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THEB. 1037-8); “ blossoms of your love" and špwtos ăvoos ; and so forth. « Such similarities of expression are cumulatively very remarkable,” says Mr. Collins. Interesting they certainly are, but surely not significant of anything save the quite spontaneous duplication of many forms of phrase in different lands and times, and the passage of others from age to age in the common stream of literature. The lean-waisted form of the wolf, surely, is equally notable to all who know him ; and “blossoms of love" is a natural trope wherever tropes are turned. After pronouncing such things cumulatively remarkable, Mr. Collins admits :“All these may be of course, and most of them almost certainly are, mere coincidences.”

When, again, we are led for firmer footing to instances of positive “Greekisms” in the plays, that is, actual impositions of Greek idiom upon English speech, we are left asking whether the classical thesis has not by this time destroyed itself. Mr. Collins's main contention, as we saw, is that Shakespeare read Latin fluently, but resorted to Latin translations for his knowledge of the Greek classics. Now he has insensibly reached the position that Shakespeare was so steeped in Greek as to think in Greek idiom when

2

1 Studies, p. 51.

2 Id. p. 52.

writing dramatic English. The argument is in the air.

Leaving the special question of Shakespeare's learning for further separate discussion, let us now ask, How shall we ascertain or prove an influence upon Shakespeare's thinking from what he read ? That he had read this book or that is a matter of interest for all his students ; but the weighty question is, What part did any book or books play in developing his mind? On this problem Mr. Collins had little to say. In concluding his examination of my own essay, he admitted that Montaigne's Essays, which were certainly known to Shakespeare, “could hardly have failed to attract and interest him greatly";' and again : “ It may have been that, with a genius stimulated, and even enriched, by the author of the APOLOGY OF RAIMOND SEBONDE, he went on with the creation of Hamlet, and of Vincentio, or at all events made them the mouthpieces of his own meditative fancies. But we must guard against the old fallacy of post hoc, ergo propter hoc.? And he concludes thus : “ The true nature of Shakespeare's indebtedness to Montaigne may be fairly estimated if we say what, we believe, may be said with truth, that had the Essays never appeared

1 Studies, p. 294.

(. . 2 Id. p. 295

there is nothing to warrant the assumption that what he has in common with Montaigne would not have been equally conspicuous.”

Does the same formula hold, then, for the alleged saturation of Shakespeare with the classics ? How, to come to the point, is a literary influence to be proved or disproved ? Mr. Collins, after proffering his classical parallels, candidly indicates a consciousness that he has raised more problems than he claims to have solved :

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“But, it may be urged, if Shakespeare was acquainted with the Greek dramas he would have left unequivocal indications of that acquaintance with them by reproducing their form, by drawing with unmistakable directness on their dramatis personae for archetypes, by borrowing incidents, situations and scenes from them, or at least by directly and habitually referring to them. The answer to this is obvious. Of all playwrights that have ever lived Shakespeare appears to have been the most practical and the most conventional. The poet

of all ages was pre-eminently the child of his own age. He belonged to a guild who spoke a common language, who derived their material from common sources, who cast that material in common moulds, and who appealed to a common audience. The Elizabethan drama was no exotic, but drew its vitality and nutriment from its native soil. The differences which separate Actic tragedy from Elizabethan are radical and essential. Had Shakespeare known the Greek plays by heart he could not have taken them for his models, or transferred, without recasting and reconstructing, a single scene from them. He had also to consider what appealed to his audience. The works of the Attic masters were as yet familiar only to scholars. Allusions to the legends of the houses of Atreus

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applicable critical principles in a general Introduction. And as Mr. Collins brought fresh learning to the support of the opinion combated by me in the further essay on “The Learning of Shakespeare,” which first appeared as a magazine article in 1898, I have inserted in that a discussion of his arguments on this head, in addition to what I have said on the subject in the Introduction. The problems discussed in the three essays being

terdependent, they are here grouped together, and so submitted to the candid attention of Shakespeare students.

JOHN M. ROBERTSON.

May 1909.

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