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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.

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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 :

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"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.
And never shall our bonny riders rest;
Nor rusting canker have the time to eat
Their light-borne snaffles, nor their nimble
spurs ;

Nor lay aside their jacks of gymold mail;
Nor hang their staves of grained Scottish ash
In peaceful wise upon their city walls;
Nor from their button'd tawny leathern belts
Dismiss their biting whinyards,- till your

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

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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,
And I am joyful, countess; else, I die.
Cou. I will, my liege.

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,
Thou hast with all devout obedience;
Employ me how thou wilt in proof thereof.

Edw. Thou hear'st me say that I do dote
on thee.

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,
But an attorney from the court of hell;
That thus have housed my spirit in his form,
To do a message to thee from the king.
The mighty king of England dotes on thee:
He, that hath power to take away thy life,
Hath power to take thine honour; then con-

To pawn thine honour, rather than thy life;
Honour is often lost, and got again;
But life, once gone, hath no recovery.
The sun, that withers hay, doth nourish grass;
The king, that would distain thee, will advance

The poets write, that great Achilles' spear
Could heal the wound it made: the moral is,
What mighty men misdo, they can amend.
The lion doth become his bloody jaws,
And grace his foragement, by being mild
When vassal fear lies trembling at his feet.
The king will in his glory hide thy shame;
And those, that gaze on him to find out thee,
Will lose their eyesight, looking in the sun.
What can one drop of poison harm the sca,
Whose hugy vastures can digest the ill,
And make it lose his operation?

The king's great name will temper thy misdeeds,

And give the bitter potion of reproach
A sugar'd sweet and most delicious taste:
Besides, it is no harm to do the thing

Which without shame could not be left undone.

Thus have I, in his majesty's behalf,
Apparell'd sin in virtuous sentences,
And dwell upon thy answer in his suit.
Cou. Unnatural besiege! Woe me, unhappy,
To have escaped the danger of my foes,
And to be ten times worse invired by friends!
Hath he no means to stain my honest blood,
But to corrupt the author of my blood,
To be his scandalous and vile solicitor?
No marvel though the branches be infected,
When poison hath encompassed the root:
No marvel though the leprous infant die,
When the stern dam envenometh the dug.
Why, then, give sin a passport to offend,
And youth the dangerous rein of liberty:
Blot out the strict forbidding of the law;

And cancel every canon that prescribes
A shame for shame, or penance for offence.
No, let me die, if his too boist'rous will
Will have it so, before I will consent
To be an actor in his graceless lust.

War. Why, now thou speak'st as I would have thee speak;

And mark how I unsay my words again.
An honourable grave is more esteem'd,
Than the polluted closet of a king:

The greater man, the greater is the thing,
Be it good, or bad, that he shall undertake:
An unreputed mote, flying in the sun,
Presents a greater substance than it is:
The freshest summer's day doth soonest taint
The loathed carrion that it seems to kiss:
Deep are the blows made with a mighty axe:
That sin doth ten times aggravate itself
That is committed in a holy place:
An evil deed, done by authority,
Is sin and subornation: Deck an ape
In tissue, and the beauty of the robe
Adds but the greater scorn unto the beast.
A spacious field of reasons could I urge
Between his glory, daughter, and thy shame:
That poison shows worst in a golden cup;
Dark night seems darker by the lightning

Lilies, that fester, smell far worse than weeds;
And every glory that inclines to sin,
The shame is treble by the opposite.
So leave I, with my blessing in thy bosom;
Which then convert to a most heavy curse,
When thou convert'st from honour's golden

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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
Which cannot check itself on poverty.-
Now, boy, what news?

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
His mother's visage; those his eyes are hers,
Who, looking wistly on me, made me blush;
For faults against themselves give evidence:
Lust is a fire; and men, like lanthorns, show
Light lust within themselves, even through

Away, loose silks of wavering vanity!
Shall the large limit of fair Brittany
By me be overthrown? and shall I not
Master this little mansion of myself?
Give me an armour of eternal steel;
I go to conquer kings: And shall I then
Subdue myself, and be my enemy's friend?
It must not be.-Come, boy, forward, advance!
Let's with our colours sweep the air of France.
Lod. My liege, the countess, with a smiling

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,
That my unwillingness, my husband's love,
Your high estate, nor no respect respected
Can be my help, but that your mightiness
Will overbear and awe these dear regards,—
I bind my discontent to my content,
And, what I would not, I'll compel I will;
Provided that yourself remove those lets
That stand between your highness' love and

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?

My thrice loving liege,
Your queen, and Salisbury my wedded hus-

Who living have that title in our love,
That we cannot bestow but by their death.
Edw. Thy opposition is beyond our law.
Cou. So is your desire: If the law
Can hinder you to execute the one,
Let it forbid you to attempt the other:
I cannot think you love me as you say,
Unless you do make good what you have


Edw. No more; thy husband and the queen shall die.

Fairer thou art by far than Hero was;
Beardless Leander not so strong as I:
He swom an easy current for his love:
But I will, through a helly spout of blood,
Arrive that Sestos where my Hero lies.

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.
[Turning suddenly upon him, and showing
two daggers.
Here by my side do hang my wedding knives:
Take thou the one, and with it kill thy


And learn by me to find her where she lies;
And with the other I'll despatch my love,
Which now lies fast asleep within my heart:
When they are gone, then I'll consent to

Stir not, lascivious king, to hinder me;
My resolution is more nimbler far,
Than thy prevention can be in my rescue,
And, if thou stir, I strike; therefore stand

And hear the choice that I will put thee to:
Either swear to leave thy most unholy suit,
And never henceforth to solicit me;

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

wouldst stain,

My poor chaste blood. Swear, Edward, swear,
Or I will strike, and die, before thee here.
Edw. Even by that Power I swear, that
gives me now

The power to be ashamed of myself,

I never mean to part my lips again
In any word that tends to such a suit.
Arise, true English lady; whom our isle
May better boast of, than e'er Roman might
Of her, whose ransack'd treasury hath task'd
The vain endeavour of so many pens:
Arise; and be my fault thy honour's fame,
Which after ages shall enrich thee with.
I am awaked from this idle dream."

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

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