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And whose soul I love, more than Mounchensey's:
Nor ever in my life did see the man
In honest marriage wed her frankly, boy,
Back'd with the favours of so true a friend." Charles Lamb, who gives the whole of this scene in his 'Specimens,' speaks of it rapturously:"This scene has much of Shakspeare's manner in the sweetness and goodnaturedness of it. It seems written to make the reader happy. Few of our dramatists or novelists have attended enough to this. They torture and wound us abundantly. They are economists only in delight. Nothing can be finer, more gentlemanlike, and noble, than the conversation and compliments of these young men. How delicious is Raymond Mounchensey's forgetting, in his fears, that Jerningham has a 'saint in Essex ;' and how sweetly his friend reminds him!"
The ancient plotters, Clare and Jerningham, are drawn as very politic but not over-wise fathers. There is, however, very little that is harsh or revolting in their natures. They put out their feelers of worldly cunning timidly, and they draw them in with considerable apprehension when they see danger and difficulty before them. All this is in harmony with the thorough good humour of the whole drama. The only person who is angry is Old Mounchensey :
"Clare. I do not hold thy offer competent; Nor do I like the assurance of thy land, The title is so brangled with thy debts.
Old Moun. Too good for thee: and, knight, thou know'st it well,
I fawn'd not on thee for thy goods, not I, "T was thine own motion; that thy wife doth know.
Lady Clare. Husband, it was so; he lies not in that.
Clare. Hold thy chat, quean.
Old Moun. To which I hearkened willingly, and the rather,
Because I was persuaded it proceeded
Nor is my poor distressed state so low
Clare. Let it suffice, Mounchensey, I mislike it;
Nor think thy son a match fit for my child.
Old Moun. I tell thee, Clare, his blood is
good and clear
As the best drop that panteth in thy veins : But for this maid, thy fair and virtuous child, She is no more disparag'd by thy baseness, Than the most orient and the precious jewel, Which still retains his lustre and his beauty Although a slave were owner of the same." For his "frantic and untamed passion" Fabel reproves him. The comic scenes which now occur are exceedingly lively. If the wit is not of the highest order, there is real fun and very little coarseness. We are thrown into the midst of a jolly set, stealers of venison in Enfield Chase, of whom the leader is Sir John, the priest of Enfield. His humour consists of applying a somewhat pious sentence upon every occasion-" Hem, grass and hay—we are all mortal-let's live till we die, and be merry, and there's an end." Mine host of the George is an associate of this goodly fraternity. The comedy is not overloaded, and is very judiciously brought in to the relief of the main action. We have next the introduction of Millisent to the Prioress of Cheston (Cheshunt):—
"Lady Clare. Madam,
The love unto this holy sisterhood,
And our confirm'd opinion of your zeal, Hath truly won us to bestow our child Rather on this than any neighbouring cell. Prioress. Jesus' daughter! Mary's child! Holy matron! woman mild!
For thee a mass shall still be said,
Every sister drop a bead;
And those again succeeding them
Sir Arthur. Madam, for a twelvemonth's approbation,
We mean to make this trial of our child. Your care, and our dear blessing, in mean time,
We pray may prosper this intended work. Prioress. May your happy soul be blithe, That so truly pay your tithe :
He that many children gave,
"T is fit that he one child should have. Then, fair virgin, hear my spell,
For I must your duty tell.
Millisent. Good men and true, stand together,
And hear your charge.
Prioress. First, a mornings take your book,
Bind your beads, and tell your needs,
The sweetness of some of these lines argues the practised poet. Indeed the whole play is remarkable for its elegance rather than its force; and it appears to us exactly such a performance as was within the range of Drayton's powers. The device of Fabel proceeds, in the appearance of Raymond Mounchensey disguised as a friar. Sir Arthur Clare has disclosed to him all his projects. The "holy young novice" proceeds to the priory as a visitor sent from Waltham House to ascertain whether Millisent is about to take the veil "from conscience and devotion." The device succeeds, and the lovers are left together :
"Moun. Life of my soul! bright angel!
Millisent. My heart misgives me; should
You? who are you? the holy Virgin bless me!
Moun. Mounchensey, thy true friend. Millisent. My Raymond! my dear heart! Sweet life, give leave to my distracted soul To wake a little from this swoon of joy.
By what means camest thou to assume this shape?
Moun. By means of Peter Fabel, my kind tutor,
Who, in the habit of friar Hildersham,
Millisent. You are all sweet traitors to my poor old father.
O my dear life, I was a dream'd to-night,
Is in mine eye so glorious as thine own.
Moun. O thou idolatress, that dost this worship
To him whose likeness is but praise of thee! Thou bright unsetting star, which, through this veil,
For very envy mak'st the sun look pale.
Millisent. Well, visitor, lest that perhaps my mother
Should think the friar too strict in his de
Millisent. Sweet life, farewell? 't is done, let that suffice;
What my tongue fails, I send thee by mine eyes."
The votaress is carried off by her brother and Jerningham; but in the darkness of the night they lose their way, and encounter the deer-stealers and the keepers. A friendly forester, however, assists them, and they reach Enfield in safety. Not so fortunate are Sir Arthur and Sir Ralph, who are in pursuit of the unwilling nun. They are roughly treated by the keepers, and, after a night of toil, find a resting-place at Waltham. The priest and his companions are terrified by their encounters in the Chase: the lady in white, who has been hiding from them, is taken for a spirit; and the sexton has seen a vision in the church-porch. The morning however arrives, and we see "Sir Arthur Clare and Sir Ralph Jerningham trussing their points, as newly up." They had made good their retreat, as they fancied, to the inn of mine host of the George, but the merry devil of Edmonton had set the host and the smith to change the sign of the house with that of another inn; and at the real George the lovers were being happily married by the venison-stealing priest, in the company of their faithful friends. Sir Arthur and Sir Ralph are of course very angry when the truth is made known; but reconcilement and peace are soon accomplished:
"Fabel. To end this difference, know, at
What you intended, ere your love took flight
Were minded to have married this sweet
To young Frank Jerningham. To cross this match
I used some pretty sleights, but, I protest,
Such as but sat upon the skirts of art;
Have I effected. Now, methinks, 't is strange That you, being old in wisdom, should thus knit
Your forehead on this match; since reason fails,
No law can curb the lover's rash attempt;
Sir Arthur. Well, 't is in vain to cross the providence:
Ha! ere 't be night I'll serve the good Duke of Norfolk.
Sir John. Grass and hay, mine host; let's live till we die, and be merry, and there's an end."
We lament with Tieck that the continuation of the career of 'The Merry Devil' is possibly lost. We imagine that we should have seen him expiating his fault by doing as much good to his fellow-mortals as he could accomplish without the aid of necromancy. Old Weever, in his 'Funeral Monuments,' has no great faith in his art magic: "Here (at Edmonton) lieth interred under a seemelie Tome, without Inscription, the Body of Peter Fabell (as the report goes) upon whom this Fable was fathered, that he by his wittie devises beguiled the devill: belike he was some ingenious conceited gentleman, who did use some sleighty trickes for his owne disports. He lived and died in the raigne of Henry the Seventh, saith the booke of his merry pranks.”
AS YOU LIKE IT.
'AS YOU LIKE IT' was first printed in the folio collection of 1623.
The exact date of this comedy cannot be fixed, but there is no doubt that it belongs to the first or second year of the seventeenth century. It is not mentioned in the list published by Meres in 1598; and there is an allusion in the comedy which fixes the limits of its date in the other direction: "I will weep for nothing," says Rosalind," like Diana in the fountain." The cross in Westcheap, originally erected by Edward I., was reconstructed in the reign of Henry VI., and converted to the useful purpose of a conduit. The images about the cross were often broken and defaced, probably by the misdirected zeal of the early reformers; and so the heathen deities were called in, and in 1596, according to Stow, was set up an alabaster image of Diana, and water conveyed from the Thames prilling from her breast." Stow gives us this information in 1599; but in 1603, when the second edition of his 'Survey of London' was published, the glories of Diana were passed away; her fountain was no longer "prilling." "The same is ofttimes dried up, and now decayed," says Stow. There can be no doubt that Diana was included in the popular hatred of this unfortunate cross; for although Elizabeth, on the 24th September, 1600, sent a special command to the city respecting "the continuance of that monument," in accordance with which it was again repaired, gilded, and cleansed from dust, "about twelve nights following the image of our Lady was again defaced by plucking off her crown, and almost her head." When Rosalind made the allusion to Diana in the fountain, we may be pretty sure that the fountain was not "dried up."
If we were to accept the oracular decisions of Farmer and Steevens, as to the sources from which Shakspere derived the story of
As You Like It,' we might dismiss the subject very briefly. The one says, with his usual pedantic insolence, "As You Like It' was certainly borrowed, if we believe Dr. Grey and Mr. Upton, from the 'Coke's Tale of Gamelyn,' which, by the way, was not printed till a century afterward, when, in truth, the old bard, who was no hunter of MSS., contented himself solely with Lodge's 'Rosalynd, or Euphues' Golden Legacye,' quarto, 1590."* Thus "the old bard," meaning Shakspere, did not take the trouble of doing, or was incapable of doing, what another old bard, Lodge (first a player, and afterwards a naval surgeon), did with great care-consult the manuscript copy of an old English tale attributed, but supposed incorrectly so, to Chaucer. In spite, however, of Dr. Farmer, we shall take the liberty of looking at the 'Tale of Gamelyn,' in the endeavour to find some traces of Shakspere. Steevens disposes of Lodge's 'Rosalynd' in as summary a way as Farmer does of 'Gamelyn.' Shakespeare has followed Lodge's novel more exactly than is his general custom when he is indebted to such worthless originals, and has sketched some of his principal characters and borrowed a few expressions from it. The imitations, &c., however, are in general too insignificant to merit transcription." All this is very unscrupulous, ignorant, and tasteless. Lodge's 'Rosalynd' is not a worthless original; Shakspere's imitations of it are not insignificant. Lodge's novel is, in many respects, however quaint and pedantic, informed with
* Essay on the Learning of Shakspeare, Boswell's Edition, p. 214.
been the work of an author much inferior to Chaucer." He adds-"As a relique of our ancient poetry, and the foundation, perhaps, of Shakespeare's 'As You Like It,' I could have wished to see it more accurately printed than it is in the only edition which we have of it."+ Of the antiquity of the poem there can be no doubt. It not only employs the old language in the old spirit, but its conception of the heroic character is altogether that of a rude age, when deeds of violence did not present themselves to the imagination as any other than the natural accompaniments of bodily strength and undaunted courage. There is nothing more remarkable than the different modes in which Lodge and Shakspere-who, be it remembered, were contemporaries, and therefore, with the exception of the differences of their individual habits of thought, to be supposed equally capable of modifying their impressions by the associations of a different state of society-have dealt with their common original. In the Tale of Gamelyn,' an old doughty knight, Sir Johan of Boundis, is at the point of death, and directs certain "wise knights" to settle how he shall divide his goods amongst his three sons. The division which they make is, as we shall presently see, not agreeable to the wishes of the father, and he thus decrees that his land shall be divided otherwise than the friends had willed:
a bright poetical spirit, and possesses a pas- | style, and versification, all prove it to have toral charm which may occasionally be compared with the best parts of Sydney's Arcadia.' Lodge most scrupulously follows the 'Tale of Gamelyn,' as far as that poem would harmonise with other parts of his story which we may consider to be his own invention. But he has added so much that is new, in the creation of the incident of the banished king, the adventures of Rosalynd and Alinda (Celia) in the forest, the passion of Rosader (Orlando), and the pretty mistake of Phebe arising out of the disguise of Rosalynd, that it is nothing less than absurd to consider Shakspere's obligations to him as insignificant. It is remarkable that in the two instances where Shakspere founded dramas upon the novels of two contemporary English writers, the 'Rosalynd' of Lodge, and the 'Pandosto' of Greene, he offered a decided homage to their genius, by adopting their incidents with great fidelity. But in the process of converting a narrative into a drama he manifests the wonderful superiority of his powers over those of the most gifted of his fellow-poets, even in a more remarkable way than if, using the common language of criticism, we might call the 'As You Like It' and the Winter's Tale' his own invention; especially in the exquisite taste with which he combines old materials with new, narrates what is unfit to be dramatically represented, represents what he finds narrated, informs the actors with the most lively and discriminating touches of character, and throws over the whole the rich light of his poetry and his philosophy. We believe that our readers will not, in this point of view consider the space ill bestowed which we shall devote to an analysis of Lodge's 'Rosalynd,' as compared with the 'As You Like It.'*
"The Coke's Tale of Gamelyn," says Tyrwhitt, "is not to be found in any of the MSS. of the first authority; and the manner,
*A reprint of this uncommonly rare tract forms part of a series entitled 'Shakespeare's Library, a Collection of the Romances, Novels, and Histories used by Shakespeare as the Foundation of his Dramas. Now first collected and accurately reprinted from the Original Editions, with Introductory Notices by J. Payne Collier, Esq., F.S.A.' Such a work, so edited, is of the greatest value to the students and lovers of Shakspere.
"For Godd 'is love, my neighbouris,
And I will delin my londe
Johan myn eldest sone shall
That was my fadir's heritage
And middillist sonè shall
And all myn othir purchasis
† Introductory Discourse to the Canterbury Tales.'