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“ to Pluto's damned lake, to According to Tieck, “ Locrine’ is the
but at the same time real. The lowest art Cease off your hasty chase of savage beasts ! embodies a principle opposite to nature ; Prepare to see a heart oppress'd with care; something purely conventional, and conse Address your ears to hear a mournful style! quently always uninteresting, often grotesque
No human strength, no work can work my and ridiculous. ' Locrine' furnishes abundant
weal, examples of the characteristics of a school of Care in my heart so tyrant-like doth deal.
You Dryades and lightfoot Satyri, art which may be considered as the antithesis of the school of Shakspere.
You gracious fairies, which at even-tide
Your closets leave, with heavenly beauty stord, We hopelessly look for any close parallel
And on your shoulders spread your golden of the fustian of "Locrine' in the accredited
locks; works of Greene, or Marlowe, or Kyd, who
You savage bears, in caves and darken'd dens, redeemed their pedantry and their extrava
Come wail with me the martial Locrine's gance by occasional grandeur and sweetness.
death; The dialogue from first to last is inflated
Come mourn with me for beauteous Estrild's beyond all comparison with any contempo death : rary performance with which we are ac
Ah! loving parents, little do you know quainted. Most readers are familiar with a What sorrow Sabren suffers for your thrall.” gentleman who, when he is entreated to go down, says, the infernal deep, with Erebus and tor- earliest of Shakspere's dramas. He has a tures vile also.” The valiant Pistol had, no theory that it has altogether a political doubt, diligently studied 'Locrine;' but he tendency: “It seems to have reference was a faint copyist of such sublime as the to the times when England was suffering following:
through the parties formed in favour of “ You ugly spirits that in Cocytus mourn,
Mary Stuart, and to have been written And gnash your teeth with dolorous laments; before her execution, while attacks were You fearful dogs that in black Lethe howl, feared at home, and invasions from abroad." And scare the ghosts with your wide-open It was corrected by the author, and printed, throats;
he further says, in 1595, when another You ugly ghosts, that flying from these dogs Spanish invasion was feared. We confess Do plunge yourselves in Puryflegethon ; ourselves utterly at a loss to recognise in Come all of you, and with your shrieking notes * Locrine the mode in which Shakspere Accompany the Britons' conquering host.
usually awakens the love of country. The Come, fierce Erinnys, horrible with snakes;
management in this particular is essentially Come, ugly furies, armed with your whips;
different from that of 'King John' and You threefold judges of black Tartarus,
‘Henry V.' 'Locrine’ is one of the works And all the army of your hellish fiends, With new-found torments rack proud Locrine’s lation is no doubt a proof of the sincerity
which Tieck has translated, and his transbones!"
of his opinions; yet he says, frankly enough, The speech of Sabren, before she “ “ It bears the marks of a young poet unmended her fair innocence to the flood,” acquainted with the stage, who endeavours with other scattered passages here and there, to sustain himself constantly in a posture afford evidence that, if the author possessed of elevation, who purposely neglects the little or nothing of what may be properly
necessary rising and sinking of tone and called dramatic power, he might, could he effect, and who, with wonderful energy, enhave shaken off the false learning and ex deavours from beginning to end to make his travagance of his school, have produced personages speak in the same highly-wrought something which with proper culture might and poetical language, while at the same have ripened into poetry :
time he shakes out all his school-learning “You mountain nymphs which in these deserts on every possible occasion.” To reduce this reign,
very just account of the play to elementary
criticism, Tieck says, first, that the action | passion, but first and last they speak out of the play is not conducted upon drama- of books. In Shakspere, high poetry is the tic principles ; second, that the language is most natural language of passion. It benot varied with the character and situation ; longs to the state of excitement in which the third, that the poetry is essentially conven character is placed ; it harmonizes with the tional, being the reflection of the author's excited state of the reader or of the audience. school-learning. It must be evident to all But the whole imagery of ‘ Locrine’ is myour readers that these characteristics are the thological. In a speech of twenty lines very reverse of Shakspere. Schlegel says of we have Rhadamanthus, Hercules, Eurydice, ‘Locrine,' “ The proofs of the genuineness of Erebus, Pluto, Mors, Tantalus, Pelops, Tithis piece are not altogether unambiguous; thonus, Minos, Jupiter, Mars, and Tisiphone. the grounds for doubt, on the other hand, The mythological pedantry is carried to such are entitled to attention. However, this an extent, that the play, though unquestionquestion is immediately connected with that ably written in sober sadness, is a perfect respecting “Titus Andronicus,' and must be travesty of this peculiarity of the early at the same time resolved in the affirmative dramatists. Conventional as Greene and or negative.” We dissent entirely from this Marlowe are in their imagery, a single act opinion. It appears to us that the differences of 'Locrine' contains more of this tinsel are as strikingly marked between “ Locrine' than all their plays put together, prone and Titus Andronicus' as between Titus as they are to this species of decoration. Andronicus' and 'Othello. Those produc- In the author of 'Locrine’ it becomes so tions were separated by at least twenty years. entirely ridiculous, that this quality alone The youth might have produced Aaron ; the would decide us to say that Marlowe had perfect master of his art, Iago. There is the nothing to do with it, or Greene either. broad mark of originality in the characteri- It belongs, if not to a period scarcely rezation and language of 'Titus Andronicus.' moved from the rude art of the early stages, The terrible passions which are there de- at least to a period when the principles of veloped by the action find their vent in the real dramatic poetry had not been generally appropriate language of passion, the bold received. It is essentially of the first tranand sometimes rude outpourings of nature. sition state, in point of conception and exeThe characters of 'Locrine' are moved to cution.
THE DRAMATISTS OF SHAKSPERE'S FIRST PERIOD.
The royal patent of 1574 authorized in the proprietors or shareholders in the general exercise of their art and faculty “ James adventure. Of these five original patentees, Burbadge, John Perkyn, John Lanham, Wil- four remained as the “ sharers in the Blackliam Johnson, and Robert Wilson,” who are friars Playhouse” in 1589, the name only of described as the servants of the Earl of John Perkyn being absent from the subLeicester. Although on the early stage the scribers to a certificate to the Privy Council, characters were frequently doubled, we can that the company acting at the Blackfriars scarcely imagine that these five persons were “ have never given cause of displeasure in of themselves sufficient to form a company that they have brought into their plays matof comedians. They had, no doubt, subordi- ters of state and religion.” This certificate nate actors in their pay; they being the -which bears the date of November, 1589—
exhibits to us the list of the professional | at least a year before the date of this certicompanions of Shakspere in an early stage ficate ; for he was the successor of Tarleton of his career, though certainly not in the in the most attractive line of characters, and very earliest. The certificate represents the Tarleton died in 1588. We hold that Shakpersons subscribing it as “ her Majesty's spere had won his position in this company poor players,” and sets forth that they are at the age of twenty-five by his success as a “all of them sharers in the Blackfriars Play- dramatic writer; and we consider that in house.” Their names are presented in the the same manner George Peele had preceded following order :
him, and had acquired rank and property 1. James Burbadge.
amongst the shareholders, chiefly by the 2. Richard Burbadge.
exercise of his talents as a dramatic poet. 3. John Laneham.
There can be little doubt that
the 4. Thomas Greene.
early stage, the occupations of actor and 5. Robert Wilson.
“maker of plays” for the most part went to6. John Taylor.
gether. The dialogue was less regarded 7. Anth. Wadeson,
than the action. A plot was hastily got up, 8. Thomas Pope.
with rude shows and startling incidents. 9. George Peele.
The characters were little discriminated ; 10. Augustine Phillipps.
one actor took the tyrant line, and another 11. Nicholas Towley.
the lover ; and ready words were at hand 12. William Shakespeare.
for the one to rant with and the other to 13. William Kempe.
whine. The actors were not very solicitous 14. William Johnson.
about the words, and often discharged their 15. Baptiste Goodale.
mimic passions in extemporaneous eloquence. 16. Robert Armyn.
In a few years the necessity of pleasing more In the Account of GEORGE PEELE and his refined audiences changed the economy of Writings,' prefixed to Mr. Dyce's valuable the stage. Men of high talent sought the edition of his works (1829), the editor says, theatre as a ready mode of maintenance by “I think it very probable that Peele occa their writings ; but their connexion with the sionally tried his histrionic talents, particu- stage would naturally begin in acting rather larly at the commencement of his career, than in authorship. The managers, thembut that he was ever engaged as a regular selves actors, would think, and perhaps actor I altogether disbelieve.” But the pub- rightly, that an actor would be the best lication, in 1835, by Mr. Collier, of the above judge of dramatic effect; and a Master of certificate of the good conduct in 1589 of Arts, unless he were thoroughly conversant the Blackfriars company, which he discovered with the business of the stage, might better amongst the Bridgewater Papers, would ap- carry his taffeta phrases to the publishers of pear to determine the question contrary to sonnets. The rewards of authorship through the belief of Mr. Dyce. Mr. Collier, in the the medium of the press were in those days tract in which he first published this im- small indeed ; and paltry as was the dramaportant document*, says, with reference to tist's fee, the players were far better paythe enumeration of Peele in the certificate, masters than the stationers. To become a “George Peele was unquestionably the dra- sharer in a theatrical speculation offered a matic poet, who, I conjectured some years reasonable chance of competence, if not of ago, was upon the stage early in life.” The wealth. If a sharer existed who was name of George Peele stands ninth on this cellent” enough in “the quality" he prolist ; that of William Shakespeare the twelfth. fessed to fill the stage creditably, and added The name of William Kempe immediately to that quality “a facetious grace in writfollows that of Shakspere. Kempe must ing," there is no doubt that with “ uprighthave become of importance to the company ness of dealing” he would, in such a com
* New Facts regarding the Life of Shakespeare.' pany as that of the Blackfriars, advance
rapidly to distinction, and have the counte- | brought to the task a higher poetical feeling, nance and friendship of “ divers of worship.” and more scholarship, than had been preSuch was the character given to Shakspere viously employed in the rude dialogue which himself in 1592. One of the early puritani- varied the primitive melodramatic exhibical attacks upon the stage has this coarse tions, which afforded a rare delight to auinvective against players : “Are they not diences with whom the novel excitement of notoriously known to be those men in their the entertainment compensated for many of life abroad, as they are on the stage, roysters, its grossnesses and deficiencies. Thomas brawlers, ill-dealers, boasters, lovers, loiterers, Nash, in his address "To the Gentlemen Sturuffians ? So that they are always exercised dents of both Universities,' prefixed to in playing their parts and practising wicked Greene’s ‘Menaphon,' mentions Peele amongst ness ; making that an art, to the end that the most celebrated poets of the day, “ they might the better gesture it in their the chief supporter of pleasance now living, parts ?” By the side of this silly abuse may the Atlas of poetry, and primus verborum be placed the modest answer of Thomas Hey-artifex; whose first increase, the 'Arraignwood, the most prolific of writers, himself an ment of Paris,' might plead to your opinions actor : "I also could wish that such as are his pregnant dexterity of wit, and manifold condemned for their licentiousness might by variety of invention, wherein (me judice) he a general consent be quite excluded our goeth a step beyond all that write.” “The society; for, as we are men that stand in the Arraignment of Paris,' which Nash describes broad eye of the world, so should our man as Peele's first increase, or first production, ners, gestures, and behaviours, savour of such was performed before the Queen in 1584, by government and modesty, to deserve the the children of her chapel. It is called in good thoughts and reports of all men, and to the title-page “a pastoral.” It is not imabide the sharpest censure even of those that probable that the favour with which this are the greatest opposites to the quality. mythological story of the Judgment of Paris Many amongst us I know to be of substance, was received at the Court of Elizabeth of government, of sober lives, and temperate might in some degree have given Peele his carriages, housekeepers, and contributory to rank in the company of the Queen's players, all duties enjoined them, equally with them who appear to have had some joint interest that are ranked with the most bountiful ; with the children of the chapel. The pasand if, amongst so many of sort, there be toral possesses little of the dramatic spirit ; any few degenerate from the rest in that but we occasionally meet with passages of good demeanour which is both requisite and great descriptive elegance, rich in fancy, expected from their hands, let me entreat though somewhat overlaboured. The godyou not to censure hardly of all for the mis- desses, however, talk with great freedom, we deeds of some, but rather to excuse us, as might say with a slight touch of mortal vulOvid doth the generality of women : garity. This would scarcely displease the Parcite paucarum diffundere crimen in omnes; courtly throng; but the approbation would Spectetur meritis quæque puella suis.' be overpowering at the close, when Diana
Those of Peele's dramatic works which have bestows the golden ball, and Venus, Pallas, come down to us afford evidence that he pos- and Juno cheerfully resign their pretensions sessed great flexibility and rhetorical power,
in favour of the superior beauty, wisdom, without much invention, with very little dis- and princely state, of the great Eliza. Such crimination of character, and with that ten scenes were probably not for the multitude dency to extravagance in the management who thronged to the Blackfriars. Peele was of his incidents which exhibits small ac the poet of the City as well as of the Court. quaintance with the higher principles of the He produced a Lord Mayor's Pageant in dramatic art. He no doubt became a writer 1585, when Sir Wolstan Dixie was chief mafor the stage earlier than Shakspere. He gistrate, in which London, Magnanimity, * * Apology for Actors.'
Loyalty, the Country, the Thames, the Sol
dier, the Sailor, Science, and a quaternion of pany in 1589. He is one of the three to nymphs, gratulate the City in melodious whom Robert Greene in 1592 addressed his verse. Another of his pageants before “Mr. dying warning. Peele was, according to the William Web, Lord Mayor," in 1591, has repentant profligate, driven, like himself, to come down to us. He was ready with his extreme shifts. He was in danger, like verses when Sir Henry Lee resigned the Greene, of being forsaken by the puppets office of Queen's Champion in 1590; and upon " that speak from our mouths.” The reason the occasion also of an Installation at Windsor that the players are not to be trusted is in 1593. When Elizabeth visited Theobalds because their place is supplied by another : in 1591, Peele produced the speeches with “ Yes, trust them not; for there is an upstart which the Queen was received, in the absence crow beautified with our feathers, that, with of Lord Burleigh, by members of his house- his tiger's heart wrapped in a player's hide, hold, in the characters of a hermit, a gar- supposes he is as well able to bombast out a dener, and a mole-catcher. In all these blank verse as the best of you; and, being an productions we find the facility which dis- absolute Johannes factotum, is in his own tinguished his dramatic writings, but nothing conceit the only Shake-scene in a country.” of that real power which was to breathe a new ROBERT GREENE has been described by his life into the entertainments for the people. friend Henry Chettle as a man of indifferent The early play of “Sir Clyomon and Sir years, of face amiable, of body well-proporClamydes’ is considered by Mr. Dyce to be tioned, his attire after the habit of a scholarthe production of Peele. It is a most tedious like gentleman, only his hair somewhat long." drama, in the old twelve-syllable rhyming Greene took his degree of Bachelor of Arts verse, in which the principle of alliteration is at Cambridge in 1578, and his Master's degree carried into the most ludicrous absurdity, in 1583. The “somewhat long hair” is and the pathos is scarcely more moving than scarcely incompatible with the “attire after the woes of Pyramus and Thisby in A ‘Mid- the habit of a scholar.” Chettle's description summer Night's Dream.' One example of a of the outward appearance of the man would lady in distress may suffice:
scarcely lead us to imagine, what he has
himself told us, that “his company were “ The sword of this my loving knight, behold, I here do take,
lightly the lewdest persons in the land.” In
one of his posthumous tracts, “The RepentOf this my woeful corpse, alas, a final end to make !
ance of Robert Greene,' which Mr. Dyce, the Yet, ere I strike that deadly stroke that shall
editor of his works, holds to be genuine, he my life deprave,
says, “I left the University and away to Ye, Muses, aid me to the gods for mercy first London, where (after I had continued some to crave !"
short time, and driven myself out of credit
with sundry of my friends) I became an In a few years, perhaps by the aid of better author of plays, and a penner of love pamexamples, Peele worked himself out of many phlets, so that I soon grew famous in that of the absurdities of the early stage; but he quality, that who for that trade grown so had not strength wholly to cast them off. ordinary about London as Robin Greene ? We shall notice his historical play of “ Ed- Young yet in years, though old in wickedward I.' in the examination of the theory ness, I began to resolve that there was nothat he was the author of the three Parts of thing bad that was profitable: whereupon I Henry VI. in their original state; and it is grew so rooted in all mischief, that I had as scarcely necessary for us here to enter more great a delight in wickedness as sundry hath minutely into the question of his dramatic in godliness; and as much felicity I took in ability. It is pretty manifest that a new villainy as others had in honesty.” The race of writers, with Shakspere at their head, whole story of Greene's life renders it too was rising up to push Peele from the posi- probable that Gabriel Harvey's spiteful carition which he held in the Blackfriars com cature of him had much of that real re