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chronicler. When Shakspere dealt with heroic subjects, as in his 'Henry V.,' he kept pretty closely to the original narratives; but he breathed a life into the commonest occurrences, which leaves us to wonder how the exact could be so intimately blended with the poetical, and how that which is the most natural should, through the force of a few magical touches, become the most sublime. We do not trace this wonderful power in the play before us: talent there certainly is, but the great creative spirit is not visible.
The play opens with Robert of Artois explaining to Edward III. the claims which he has to the crown of France through his mother Isabelle. This finished, the Duke of Lorraine arrives to summon Edward to do homage to the King of France for the dukedom of Guienne. The scene altogether reminds us of the second scene of the first act of Henry V.,' where the Archbishop of Canterbury expounds the Salic law, and the ambassadors of France arrive with an insolent message to Henry from the Dauphin. The parallel scenes in both plays have some resemblance to the first scene of 'King John,' where Chatillon arrives with a message from France. It is probable that the Henry V.' of Shakspere was not written till after this play of Edward III.;' and the 'King John,' as we now have it, might probably be even a later play: but the original 'King John,' in two Parts, belongs, without doubt, to an earlier period than the 'Edward III.,' and the same resemblance in this scene holds good with that play. Upon the departure of Lorraine, the rupture of the league with the Scots is announced to Edward, with the further news that the Countess of Salisbury is besieged in the castle of Roxburgh. The second scene shows us the countess upon the walls of the castle, and then King David of Scotland enters, and thus addresses himself to Lorraine :
"Dav. My lord of Lorraine, to our brother of France
Commend us, as the man in Christendom Whom we most reverence and entirely love. Touching your embassage, return, and say, That we with England will not enter parley, Nor never make fair weather, or take truce;
But burn their neighbour towns, and so persist
With eager roads beyond their city York.
Nor lay aside their jacks of gymold mail;
Cry out Enough; spare England now for pity.'
Farewell and tell him, that you leave us here
Before this castle; say, you came from us Even when we had that yielded to our hands."
If this speech be not Shakspere's, it is certainly a closer imitation of the freedom of his versification, and the truth and force of his imagery, than can be found in any of the historical plays of that period. We do not except even the Edward II.' of Marlowe, in which it would be difficult to find a passage in which the poetry is so little conventional as the lines which we have just quoted. And this brings us to the important consideration of the date of Edward III.' Ulrici holds that it was written at least two years before it was published. We cannot see the reason for this opinion. It was entered on the Stationers' registers on the 1st of December, 1595, and we have pretty good evidence in many cases that such entry was concurrent with the time of the original performance. If the 'Edward III.,' then, was first produced in 1595, there can be no doubt that Shakspere's historical plays were already before the public-the 'Henry VI.,' and 'Richard III.,'-in all probability the Richard II.' Bearing this circumstance in mind, we can easily understand how a new school of writers should, in 1595, have been formed, possessing, perhaps, less original genius than some of the earlier founders of the drama, but having an immense advantage over them in the models which the greatest of those founders had produced. Still this consideration does not wholly war
rant us in hastily pronouncing the play before us not to be Shakspere's. As in the case of Arden of Feversham,' we have to look, and we look in vain, for some known writer of the period whose works exhibit a similar combination of excellences.
The Countess of Salisbury is speedily relieved from her besiegers by the arrival of Edward with his army. The king and the countess meet, and Edward becomes her guest. His position is a dangerous one, and he rushes into the danger. There is a very long and somewhat ambitious scene, in which the king instructs his secretary to describe his passion in verse. It is certainly not conceived in a real dramatic spirit. The action altogether flags, and the passion is very imperfectly developed in such an outpouring of words. The next scene, in which Edward avows his passion for the countess, is conceived and executed with far more
"Cou. Sorry I am to see my liege so sad : What may thy subject do, to drive from thee This gloomy consort, sullen melancholy?
Edw. Ah, lady, I am blunt, and cannot straw
The flowers of solace in a ground of shame :Since I came hither, countess, I am wrong'd. Cou. Now, God forbid, that any in my house
Should think my sovereign wrong! Thrice gentle king,
Acquaint me with your cause of discontent.
Edw. How near then shall I be to remedy? Cou. As near, my liege, as all my woman's power
Can pawn itself to buy thy remedy.
Edw. If thou speak'st true, then have I my redress:
Engage thy power to redeem my joys,
Swear, countess, that thou wilt. Cou. By heaven I will.
Edw. Then take thyself a little way aside; And tell thyself a king doth dote on thee: Say, that within thy power it doth lie
To make him happy; and that thou hast
To give me all the joy within thy power: Do this, and tell me when I shall be happy.
Cou. All this is done, my thrice dread
That power of love, that I have power to give,
Edw. Thou hear'st me say that I do dote
Cou. If on my beauty, take it if thou canst; Though little, I do prize it ten times less: If on my virtue, take it if thou canst; For virtue's store by giving doth augment: Be it on what it will, that I can give, And thou canst take away, inherit it. Edw. It is thy beauty that I would enjoy. Cou. Oh, were it painted, I would wipe it off, And dispossess myself, to give it thee: But, sovereign, it is soldered to my life; Take one, and both; for, like an humble shadow,
It haunts the sunshine of my summer's life.. Edw. But thou mayst lend it me, to sport withal.
Cou. As easy may my intellectual soul Be lent away, and yet my body live, As lend my body, palace to my soul, Away from her, and yet retain my soul. My body is her bower, her court, her abbey, And she an angel, pure, divine, unspotted; If I should lend her house, my lord, to thee, I kill my poor soul, and my poor soul me."
The Earl of Warwick, father to the Countess of Salisbury, is required by Edward, upon his oath of duty, to go to his daughter, and command her to agree with his dishonourable proposals. This very unnatural and improbable incident is found in the story of 'The Palace of Pleasure;' but it gives occasion to a scene of very high merit-a little wordy, perhaps, but still upon the whole natural and effective. The skill with which the father is made to deliver the message of the king, and to appear to recommend a compliance with his demands, but so at the same time as to make the guilty purpose doubly abhorrent, indicates no common power:
"War. How shall I enter in this graceless errand?
I must not call her child; for where's the father
That will, in such a suit, seduce his child? Then, Wife of Salisbury,- shall I so begin?
No, he's my friend; and where is found the friend
That will do friendship such endamagement? Neither my daughter, nor my dear friend's wife.
I am not Warwick, as thou think'st I am,
To pawn thine honour, rather than thy life;
The poets write, that great Achilles' spear
The king's great name will temper thy misdeeds,
And give the bitter potion of reproach
Which without shame could not be left undone.
Thus have I, in his majesty's behalf,
And cancel every canon that prescribes
War. Why, now thou speak'st as I would have thee speak;
And mark how I unsay my words again.
The greater man, the greater is the thing,
Lilies, that fester, smell far worse than weeds;
the Prince of Wales arrives at the Castl of Roxburgh, and the conflict in the mind of the king is well imagined:
"Edw. I see the boy. Oh, how his mother's face,
Moulded in his, corrects my stray'd desire, And rates my heart, and chides my thievish eye;
Who, being rich enough in seeing her,
Yet seeks elsewhere; and basest theft is that
Pri. I have assembled, my dear lord and
The choicest buds of all our English blood, For our affairs in France; and here we come, To take direction from your majesty.
Edw. Still do I see in him delineate
Away, loose silks of wavering vanity!
Desires access unto your majesty.
[Advancing from the door, and whispering him.
Edw. Why, there it goes! that very smile of hers
Hath ransom'd captive France; and set the king,
The dauphin, and the peers, at liberty.Go, leave me, Ned, and revel with thy friends. [Exit Prince."
The countess enters, and with the following scene suddenly terminates the ill-starred passion of the king :
"Edw. Now, my soul's playfellow! art thou
To speak the more than heavenly word of yea, To my objection in thy beauteous love?
Cou. My father on his blessing hath commanded
Edw. That thou shalt yield to me.
Cou. Ay, dear my liege, your due.
Edw. And that, my dearest love, can be no less
Than right for right, and tender love for love.
Cou. Than wrong for wrong, and endless hate for hate.
But,-sith I see your majesty so bent,
Edw. Name them, fair countess, and, by heaven, I will.
Cou. It is their lives, that stand between our love,
That I would have chok'd up, my sovereign. Edw. Whose lives, my lady?
Who living have that title in our love,
Edw. No more; thy husband and the queen shall die.
Fairer thou art by far than Hero was;
Cou. Nay, you'll do more; you'll make the river too,
With their heart-bloods that keep our love asunder,
Of which, my husband, and your wife, are twain.
Edw. Thy beauty makes them guilty of their death,
And gives in evidence, that they shall die;
Upon which verdict, I, their judge, condemn
The remarks of Ulrici upon this portion of the play are conceived upon his usual Cou. O perjured beauty! more corrupted principle of connecting the action and chajudge!
When, to the great star-chamber o'er our heads,
The universal sessions calls to count
This packing evil, we both shall tremble for it.
Edw. What says my fair love? is she resolute?
Cou. Resolute to be dissolved; and, therefore, this,
Keep but thy word, great king, and I am thine.
Stand where thou dost, I'll part a little from
And see how I will yield me to thy hands.
And learn by me to find her where she lies;
Stir not, lascivious king, to hinder me;
And hear the choice that I will put thee to:
racterization of Shakspere's dramas with the development of a high moral, or rather Christian, principle. He is sometimes carried too far by his theory; but there is something far more satisfying in the criticism of his school than in the husks of antiquarianism with which we have been too long familiar: -“We see, in the first two acts, how the powerful king (who in his rude greatness, in his reckless iron energy, reminds us of the delineations of character in the elder 'King John,' 'Henry VI.,' and 'Richard III.') sinks down into the slough of common life before the virtue and faithfulness of a | powerless woman; how he, suddenly enchained by an unworthy passion, abandons his great plans in order to write verses and spin intrigues. All human greatness, power, and splendour fall of themselves, if not planted upon the soil of genuine morality: the highest energies of mankind are not proof against the attacks of sin, when they are directed against the weak unguarded side this is the substance of the view of life here taken, and it forms the basis of the first Part. But true energy is enabled again to elevate itself! it strengthens itself from the virtues of others, which by God's appointment are placed in opposition to it. With this faith, and with the highest, most masterly, deeply penetrating, and even sub
Or else, by heaven [kneeling], this sharp- lime picture of the far greater energy of a pointed knife
woman, who, in order to save her own honour
Shall stain thy earth with that which thou and that of her royal master, is ready to
My poor chaste blood. Swear, Edward, swear,
The power to be ashamed of myself,
I never mean to part my lips again
commit self-murder, the second act closes. This forms the transition to the following second Part, which shows us the true heroic greatness, acquired through self-conquest, not only in the king, but also in his justly celebrated son. For even the prince has also gone through the same school: he proves this, towards the end of the second act, by his quick silent obedience to the order of his father, although directly opposed to his wishes."
In the third act we are at once in the heart of war; we have the French camp, where John with his court hears of the