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of dramatists, and the lyrical genius which “ The wise, and many-headed bench, that sits will place him for ever amongst the first of Upon the life and death of plays and wits, English poets, were budding only at the (Compos’d of gamester, captain, knight, close of the sixteenth century. We can
knight's man, scarcely believe that his genius was only
Lady, or pucelle, that wears mask or fan, called out by the “wonderful consimility of
Velvet, or taffeta cap, rank'd in the dark fancy” between him and Francis Beaumont;
With the shop's foreman, or some such brave and that his first play was produced only in
spark 1607, when he was thirty-one and Beaumont
That may judge for his sixpence) had, before
They saw it half, damn'd thy whole play, and twenty-one. It is possible that in his earlier days he wrote in conjunction with some of
Their motives were, since it had not to do the veterans of the drama. Shakspere is
With vices, which they look'd for, and came held to have been associated with him in the
to. * Two Noble Kinsmen.' We shall discuss
I, that am glad thy innocence was thy guilt, that question elsewhere. At the end of the And wish that all the Muses' blood were spilt sixteenth century, Fletcher would be gather In such a martyrdom, to vex their eyes, ing materials, at any rate, for some of those Do crown thy murder'd poem : which shall pictures of manners which reveal to us too rise much of the profligacy of the fine people of A glorified work to time, when fire the early part of the seventeenth century.
Or moths shall eat what all those fools adThe society of the great minds into which
mire." he would be thrown at the Falcon, and the The diary of Henslowe during the last Mermaid, and the Apollo Saloon, would call three years of the sixteenth century contains out and cherish that freshness of his poetical abundant notices of MICHAEL DRAyton as a nature which survives, and indeed often dramatist. According to this record, of rides over, the sapless conventionalities and which we have no reason to doubt the corfrigid licentiousness of his fashionable ex rectness, there were extant in 1597 Mother perience. In the company of Shakspere, Red Cap,' written by him in conjunction and Jonson, and Chapman, and Donne, he with Anthony Munday; and a play without would be taught there was something more a name, which the manager calls a "book in the friendship, and even in the mere in- wherein is a part of a Welshman,” by Draytercourse of conviviality, of men of high ton and Henry Chettle. In 1598 we have intellect, than the town could give. He 'The Famous Wars of Henry I. and the would learn from Jonson's 'Leges Convi- Prince of Wales,' by Drayton and Thomas viales,' that there was a charm in the social Dekker ; 'Earl Goodwin and his three Sons,' hours of the "eruditi, urbani, hilares, ho- | by Drayton, Chettle, Dekker, and Robert nesti,” which was rarely found amidst the Wilson ; the ‘Second Part of Goodwin,' by courtly hunters after pleasure ; and that a Drayton ; ‘Pierce of Exton,' by the same festival with them was something better four authors ; 'The Funeral of Richard Ceur than even the excitement of wine and music. de Lion,' by Wilson, Chettle, Munday, and A few years after this Fletcher ventured out Drayton ; "The Mad Man's Morris,' 'Hanof the track of that species of comedy innibal and Hermes,' and 'Pierce of Wincheswhich he won his first success, giving a real ter,' by Drayton, Wilson, and Dekker ; “Wilpoem to the public stage, which, with all its liam Longsword,' by Drayton ; Chance faults, was a noble attempt to emulate the Medley,' by Wilson, Munday, Drayton, and lyrical and pastoral genius of Shakspere. Dekker ; ‘Worse Afeard than Hurt,' * Three To our minds there is as much covert advice, Parts of the Civil Wars of France,' and if not gentle reproof, to Fletcher, as there is ‘Connan, Prince of Cornwall,' by Drayton of just and cordial praise, in Jonson's verses and Dekker. In 1600 we have the Fair upon the condemnation of The Faithful Constance of Rome,' in two parts, by MunShepherdess' by the audience of 1610 : day, Hathway, Drayton, and Dekker. In
1601, “The Rising of Cardinal Wolsey,' by Drayton that "he esteemed not of him." Munday, Drayton, Chettle, and Wentworth That Shakspere loved him we may readily Smith. In 1602, 'Two Harpies,' by Dekker, believe. They were nearly of an age, DrayDrayton, Middleton, Webster, and Munday. ton being only one year his elder. They This is a most extraordinary record of the were born in the same county—they had extent of dramatic associations in those each the same love of natural scenery, and days; and it is more remarkable as it regards the same attachment to their native soil. Drayton, that his labours, which, as we see, Drayton exclaimswere not entirely in copartnership, did not
“My native country then, which so brave spirits gain for him even the title of a dramatic
hath bred, poet in the next generation. Langbaine If there be virtues yet remaining in thy mentions him not at all. Philipps says no
earth, thing of his plays. Meres indeed thus
Or any good of thine thou bred'st into my writes of him : “We may truly term Michael birth, Drayton Tragediographus, for his passionate Accept it as thine own, whilst now I sing of penning the downfalls of valiant Robert of thee; Normandy, chaste Matilda, and great Gaves Of all thy later brood th' unworthiest though ton." But this praise has clearly reference
I be." to the ‘Heroical Epistles' and the 'Legends.' If 'The Merry Devil of Edmonton' be his, It is his own Warwickshire which he inthe comedy does noć place his dramatic vokes. They had each the same familiar powers in any very striking light; but it acquaintance with the old legends and chrogives abundant proofs, in common with all nicles of English history; the same desire his works, of a pure and gentle mind, and a
to present them to the people in forms which graceful imagination. Meres is enthusiastic should associate the poetical spirit with a about his moral qualities ; and his testimony just patriotism. It was fortunate that they also shows that the character for upright walked by different paths to the same object. dealing which Shakspere won so early was
However Drayton might have been assonot universal amongst the poetical adven- ciated for a few years with the minor draturers of that day: “As Aulus Persius matists of Shakspere’s day, it may be doubted Flaccus is reported among all writers to be whether his genius was at all dramatic. of an honest and upright conversation, so
Yet was he truly a great poet in an age of Michael Drayton (quem toties honoris et great poets. Old Aubrey has given us one amoris causa nomino), among scholars, sol
or two exact particulars of his life :-“He diers, poets, and all sorts of people, is held
lived at the bay window bouse next the east for a man of virtuous disposition, honest
end of St. Dunstan's Church, in Fleet Street." conversation, and well-governed carriage,
Would that bay window house were standwhich is almost miraculous among good wits ing! Would that the other house of prein these declining and corrupt times, when cious memory close by it, where Izaak Walthere is nothing but roguery in villainous
ton kept his haberdasher's shop, were standman, and when cheating and craftiness is ing also! He“who has not left a rivulet counted the cleanest wit and soundest wis-(so narrow that it may be stepped over) dom.” The good wits, according to Meres
, without honourable mention ; and has aniare only parcel of the corrupt and declining
mated hills and streams with life and passion times. Yet, after all, his dispraise of the above the dreams of old mythology;"* and times is scarcely original : “You rogue,
he who delighted to sit and sing under the here's lime in this sack too. There is no
honeysuckle hedge while the shower fell so thing but roguery to be found in villainous gently upon the teeming earth,—they loved
not the hills and streams and verdant meaJonson was an exception to the best of his contemporaries when he said of dows the less because they daily looked upon
* *Henry IV.,' Part I., Aet 11., Se. iv.
* Charles Lamb.
the tide of London life in the busiest of her Quake, guzzle-dogs, that live on spotted lime, thoroughfares.
Scud from the lashes of my yerking rhyme.” The Cleopatra' of SAMUEL DANIEL places His first performance, 'The Metamorphoses him amongst the dramatic poets of this of Pygmalion's Image,' has been thought by period ; but his vocation was not to the Warton to have been written in ridicule of drama. He was induced, by the persuasion Shakspere's Venus and Adonis. The author of the Countess of Pembroke,
says, "To sing of state, and tragic notes to frame."
“Know, I wrot
These idle rhymes, to note the odious spot After Shakspere had arisen he adhered to
And blemish, that deforms the lineaments the model of the Greek theatre. According
Of modern poesy's habiliments.” to Jonson, “Samuel Daniel was no poet." Jonson thought Daniel" envied him," as he In his parody, if parody it be, he has conwrote to the Countess of Rutland. He tells trived to produce a poem, of which the Drummond that “ Daniel was at jealousies licentiousness is the only quality. Thus we with him." Yet for all this even with Jon- look upon a sleeping Venus of Titian, and son he was a good man.” Spenser formed
see but the wonderful art of the painter; a the same estimate of Daniel's genius as the dauber copies it, and then beauty becomes Countess of Pembroke did :
deformity. He is angry that his object is “Then rouse thy feathers quickly, Daniel,
misunderstood, as well it might be:And to what course thou please thyself ad
“O these same buzzing gnats
That sting my sleeping brows, these Nilus But most, meseems, thy accent will excel
rats, In tragic plaints, and passionate mischance."*
Half dung, that have their life from putrid Daniel did wisely when he confined his
slime, “ tragic plaints” to narrative poetry. He
These that do praise my loose lascivious went over the same ground as Shakspere in
For these same shades I seriously protest, his Civil Wars ;' and there are passages of
I slubbered up that chaos indigest, resemblance between the dramatist and the
To fish for fools, that stalk in goodly shape : descriptive poet which are closer than mere
What though in velvet cloak, yet still an accident could have produced. The imitation, on whatever side it was, was indicative of respect.
He had the ordinary fate of satirists—to live John Marston, a man of original talent, in a state of perpetual warfare, and to have took his Bache r's degree at Oxford in 1592. offences imputed to him of which he was There is very little known with any precision blameless. The "galled jade” not only about his life ; but a pretty accurate opinion winces, but kicks. The comedy of The of his character may be collected from the Malecontent,' written in 1600, appears to notices of his contemporaries, and from his have been Marston's first play; it was own writings. He began in the most dan- printed in 1605. He says in the Preface, gerous path of literary ambition, that of “ In despite of my endeavours, I understand satire, bitter and personal :
some have been most unadvisedly over“Let others sing, as their good genius moves,
cunning in misinterpreting me, and with
subtilty (as deep as hell) have maliciously Of deep designs, or else of clipping loves. Fair fall them all that with wit's industry
spread ill rumours, which springing from Do clothe good subjects in true poesy;
themselves, might to themselves have heavily But as for me, my vexed thoughtful soul
returned.” Marston says in the Preface to Takes pleasure in displeasing sharp control. one of his later plays, “ So powerfully have
I been enticed with the delights of poetry,
* Colin Clout's come Home again.'
*'Scourge of Villainy: Three Books of Satire:' 1598.
and (I must ingenuously confess), above better Ramp up, my genius, be not retrograde; desert, so fortunate in these stage-pleasings, But boldly nominate a spade a spade. that (let my resolutions be never so fixed, to What, shall thy lubrical and glibbery muse call mine eyes unto myself) I much fear that Live, as she were defunct, like punk in stews !
Alas! that were no modern consequence, most lamentable death of him
To have cothurnal buskins frighted hence.
No, teach thy Incubus to poetize,
And throw abroad thy spurious snotteries, He adds, “the over-vehement pursuit of
Upon that puft-up lump of balmy froth, these delights hath been the sickness of my
Or clumsy chilblain'd judgment; that with youth.” He unquestionably writes as one
oath who is absorbed by his pursuit; over whom
Magnificates his merit; and bespawls it has the mastery. In his plays, as well as
The conscious time with humorous foam, and in his satires, there is no languid task-work ;
brawls, but, as may be expected, he cannot go out of
As if his organons of sense would crack himself. It is John Marston who is lashing The sinews of my patience. Break his back, vice and folly, whatever character may fill O poets all and some! for now we list the scene;
and from first to last in his Of strenuous vengeance to clutch the fist.” reproof of licentiousness we not only see his familiarity with many gross things, but The following advice is subsequently given
to him :cannot feel quite assured that he looks upon them wholly with pure eyes. His temper “ You must not hunt for wild outlandish terms, was no doubt capricious. It is clear that To stuff out a peculiar dialect; Jonson had been attacked by him previous But let your matter run before your words. to the production of "The Poetaster.' He And if at any time you chance to meet endured the lash which was inflicted on him Some Gallo-Belgic phrase, you shall not in return, and became again, as he probably
straight was before, the friend of Jonson, to whom he
Rack your poor verse to give it entertainment, dedicates · The Malecontent'in 1605. Gifford
But let it pass; and do not think yourself has clearly made out that the Crispinus of
Much damnified if you do leave it out, The Poetaster' was Marston. Tucca thus
When nor your understanding nor the sense
Could well receive it." describes him, in addressing the player : “ Go, and be acquainted with him then; he Marston, with all his faults, was a scholar is a gentleman, parcel poet, you slave ; his and a man of high talent; and it is pleasant father was a man of worship, I tell thee.
to know that he and Ben were friends after Go, he pens high, lofty, in a new stalking this wordy war. He appears to us to describe strain, bigger than half the rhymers in the himself in the following narrative of a town again : he was born to fill thy mouth, scholar in "What You Will:'Minotaurus, he was; he will teach thee to tear and rand. Rascal, to him, cherish his
“I was a scholar: seven useful springs
Did I deflour in quotations muse, go ; thou hast forty-forty shillings, I mean, stinkard ; give him in earnest, do, he
Of cross'd opinions 'bout the soul of man; shall write for thee, slave! If he pen for
The more I learnt the more I learnt to doubt,
Knowledge and wit, faith's foes, turn faith thee once, thou shalt not need to travel with
about. thy pumps full of gravel any more, after a blind jade and a hamper, and stalk upon
Nay, mark, list ! Delight, Delight, my spaniel, boards and barrel heads to an old cracked
slept, whilst I bauz'd * leaves, trumpet.” Jonson, in the same play, has
Toss’d o'er the dunces, por'd on the old print parodied Marston's manner, and has introduced
many of his expressions, in the fol * Mr. Dilke, in his valuable • Selection from the Early lowing verses, which are produced as those of
Dramatic Writers,' prints three of Marston's plays. He
says this word may be derived from baiser, to kiss; and that Crispinus :
basse has been used by Chaucer in this sense.
Of titled words, and still my spaniel slept. At length he wak’d, and yawn'd, and by yon Whilst I wasted lamp-oil, 'bated my flesh,
sky, Shrunk up my veins, and still my spaniel For aught I knew, he knew as much as I.
slept. And still I held converse with Zabarell, Aquinas, Scotus, and the musty saw
How 'twas created, how the soul exists : Of antic Donate, still my spaniel slept.
One talks of motes, the soul was made of Still on went I, first an sit anima,
motes; Then, an it were mortal ; oh, hold, hold,
Another fire, t' other light, a third a spark of At that they are at brain buffets, fell by the
star-like nature; ears,
Hippo, water; Anaximenes, air ; Amain, pell-mell together; still my spaniel Aristoxenus, music; Critias, I know not what; slept.
A company of odd Phrenetici Then whether 't were corporeal, local, fix'd, Did eat my youth ; and when I crept abroad, E.ctraduce; but whether 't had free will Finding my numbness in this nimble age, Or no, 0 philosophers,
I fell a railing.” Stood banding factions, all so strongly propp'd, I stagger'd, knew not which was firmer part ; In the following Chapters of this Book we But thought, quoted, read, observed, and shall give a brief analysis of several of the pried,
plays belonging to this period, which have Stuff'd noting books, and still my spaniel been ascribed to Shakspere.
SIR JOHN OLDCASTLE. Part I.
The mode in which some of the German, but who stood far below him in mind and critics have spoken of this play is a rebuke talent." Our own critics, relying upon the to dogmatic assertions and criticism. Schle- internal evidence, agreed in rejecting it. gel says-putting ‘Sir John Oldcastle,' Malone could "not perceive the least trace " Thomas Lord Cromwell,' and “The York- of our great poet in any part of this play.” shire Tragedy' in the same class—“The He observes that it was originally entered last three pieces are not only unquestionably on the Stationers' registers without the name Shakspere's, but in my opinion they deserve of Shakspere ; but he does not mention the to be classed among his best and maturest fact, that of two editions printed in 1600 one works. ... Thomas Lord Cromwell' and bears the name of Shakspere, the other not. 'Sir John Oldcastle' are biographical dra- The one which has the name says—“As it mas, and models in this species ; the first is hath bene lately acted by the Right honorlinked, from its subject, to · Henry VIII.,' able the Earle of Notingham, Lord High and the second to ‘Henry V.' ”. Tieck is Admirall of England, his Seruants.” In equally confident in assigning the authorship 1594 a play of Shakspere's might have been of this play to Shakspere. Ulrici, on the acted, as, we believe, ‘Hamlet' was, at Hencontrary, takes a more sober view of the slowe's theatre, which was that of the Lord matter. He says—“ The whole betrays a High Admiral his servants, but in 1600 a poet who endeavoured to form himself on play of Shakspere's would have unquestionShakspere's model, nay, even to imitate him, I ably been acted by the Lord Chamberlain