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plays. A painted board leads the imagina- | bar to the prisoner ;” but what he adds, tion of the audience from one country to having this hint for a clown's licence, soon another; and when the honourable battle of renders the Chief Justice a very insignificant Agincourt is to be fought,“ two armies fly personage. The real wit of Tarleton proin, represented with four swords and buck- bably did much to render the dullness of lers, and then what hard heart will not re the early stage endurable by persons of any ceive it for a pitched field ?” (Sidney—De refinement. Henry Chettle, in his curious fence of Poesy.) The curtain is removed, production, 'Kind-Hartes Dreame,' written and without preparation we encounter the about four years after Tarleton's death, thus Prince in the midst of his profligacy. Ned describes his appearance in a vision ;—“The and Tom are his companions; and when the next, by his suit of russet, his buttoned cap, Prince
says, “Think you not that it was a his tabor, his standing on the toe, and other villainous part of me to rob my father's re- tricks, I knew to be either the body or receivers ?” Ned very charitably answers, semblance of Tarleton, who, living, for his “Why no, my lord, it was but a trick of pleasant conceits was of all men liked, and, youth.” Sir John Oldcastle, who passes by dying, for mirth left not his fellow.” The the familiar name of Jockey, joins this plea- Prince enters and demands the release of sant company, and he informs the Prince his servant, which the Chief Justice refuses. that the town of Deptford has risen with The scene which ensues when the Prince hue and cry after the Prince's man who has strikes the Chief Justice is a remarkable exrobbed a poor carrier. The accomplished ample of the poetical poverty of the early Prince then meets with the receivers whom stage. In the representation, the action he has robbed ; and, after bestowing upon would of course be exciting, but the dialogue them the names of villains and rascals, which accompanies it is beyond comparison he drives them off with a threat that if they bald and meaningless. The audience was, say a word about the robbery he will have however, compensated by Tarleton's iteration them hanged. With their booty, then, of the scene :-“Faith, John, I'll tell thee will they go to the tavern in Eastcheap, what : thou shalt be my lord chief justice, upon the invitation of the Prince :—“We and thou shalt sit in the chair ; and I'll be are all fellows, I tell you, sirs ; an the king the young prince, and hit thee a box on the my father were dead, we would be all kings.” | ear; and then thou shalt say, To teach you The scene is now London, with John Cob- what prerogatives mean, I commit you to bler, Robin Pewterer, and Lawrence Coster- the Fleet.” The Prince is next presented monger keeping watch and ward in the ac
really in prison, where he is visited by Sir customed style of going to sleep. There is John Oldcastle. The Prince, in his dialogue short rest for them; for Derrick, the carrier with Jockey, Ned, and Tom, again exhibits who has been robbed by the Prince's ser-himself as the basest and most vulgar of vant, is come to London to seek his goods. ruffians; but, hearing his father is sick, he Tarleton, the famous Clown, plays the Kent- goes to Court, and the bully, in the twinkish carrier. It matters little what the author ling of an eye, becomes a saintly hypocrite : of the play has written down for him, for _“Pardon me, sweet father, pardon me : his “wondrous plentiful pleasant extemporal good my lord of Exeter, speak for me ; parwit” will do much better for the amusement don me, pardon, good father : not a word : of his audience than the dull dialogue of ah, he will not speak one word : ah, Harry, the prompt-books. In the scene before us now thrice unhappy Harry. But what shall he has to catch the thief, and to take him I do? I will go take me into some solitary before the Lord Chief Justice ; and when place, and there lament my sinful life, the Court is set in order, and the Chief Jus- and, when I have done, I will lay me down tice cries, “ Gaoler, bring the prisoner to the and die”. The scene where the Prince bar,” Derrick speaks according to the book, removes the crown possesses a higher in- Hear you, my lord, I pray you bring the terest, when we recollect the great parallel
scene of Shakspere's Henry IV. Part II., | Now trust me, my lords, I fear not but my son beginning
Will be as warlike and victorious a prince
As ever reigned in England.” “I never thought to hear you speak again.”
Henry IV. dies ; Henry V. is crowned ; • The Famous Victories' was printed in
the evil companions are cast off; the Chief 1594. In that copy much of the prose is Justice is forgiven; and the expedition to chopped up into lines of various lengths, in France is resolved upon. To trace the course order to look like some kind of measure :
of the war would be too much for the patience Hen. V. Most sovereign lord, and well-beloved of our readers. The clashing of the four father,
swords and bucklers might have rendered its I came into your chamber to comfort the melan- stage representation endurable. choly
• The True Tragedy of Richard III.' is the Soul of your body, and finding you at that time only other History, of which we possess a Past all recovery, and dead to my thinking, printed copy, that we can assign to the period God is my witness, and what should I do, before the first real dramatists. This old play But with weeping tears lament the death of you, is a work of higher pretension than “The my father;.
Famous Victories.' Like that play, it conAnd after that, seeing the crown, I took it.
tains many prose speeches which are printed And tell me, my father, who might better take
to have some resemblance to measured lines; it than I,
but, on the other hand, there are many pasAfter your death? but, seeing you live, I most humbly render it into your majesty's sages of legitimate verse which are run to
gether as prose. The most ambitious part of hands, And the happiest man alive that my father lives ; before the battle : and this we transcribe :
the whole performance is a speech of Richard And live my lord and father for ever! Hen. IV. Stand up, my son ;
“ King. The hell of life that hangs upon the Thine answer hath sounded well in mine ears,
crown, For I must needs confess that I was in a very | The daily cares, the nightly dreams, sound sleep,
The wretched crews, the treason of the foe, And altogether unmindful of thy coming: And horror of my bloody practice past, But come near, my son,
Strikes such a terror to my wounded conscience, And let me put thee in possession whilst I live, That, sleep I, wake I, or whatsoever I do, That none deprive thee of it after my death. Methinks their ghosts come gaping for revenge Hen. V. Well may I take it at your majesty's Whom I have slain in reaching for a crown. hands,
Clarence complains and crieth for revenge ; But it shall never touch my head so long as my My nephews' bloods, Revenge ! revenge ! doth father lives.
[He taketh the crown. cry; Hen. IV. God give thee joy, my son;
The headless peers come pressing for revenge; God bless thee and make thee his servant, And every one cries, Let the tyrant die. And send thee a prosperous reign;
The sun by day shines hotly for revenge; For God knows, my son, how hardly I came by it, | The moon by night eclipseth for revenge; And how hardly I have maintained it.
The stars are turn'd to comets for revenge; Hen. V. Howsoever you came by it I know The planets change their courses for revenge; not;
The birds sing not, but sorrow for revenge; And now I have it from you, and from you I | The silly lambs sit bleating for revenge; will keep it :
The screeching raven sits croaking for revenge; And he that seeks to take the crown from my Whole heads of beasts come bellowing for rehead,
venge; Let him look that his armour be thicker than And all, yea, all the world, I think, mine,
Cries for revenge, and nothing but revenge: Or I will pierce him to the heart,
But to conclude, I have deserv'd revenge. Were it harder than brass or bullion.
In company I dare not trust my friend; Hen. IV. Nobly spoken, and like a king. Being alone, I dread the secret foe;
I doubt my food, lest poison lurk therein;
“ Such as give My bed is uncoth, rest refrains my head.
Their money out of hope they may believe, Then such a life I count far worse to be
May here find truth too." Than thousand deaths unto a damned death! How! was 't death, I said? who dare attempt Heywood, in his ' Apology for Actors,' thus
writes in 1612 :—“ Plays have made the Nay, who dare so much as once to think my ignorant more apprehensive, taught the death?
unlearned the knowledge of many famous Though enemies there be that would my body histories, instructed such as cannot read kill,
in the discovery of our English Chronicles: Yet shall they leave a never-dying mind.
and what man have you now of that weak But you, villains, rebels, traitors as you are,
capacity that cannot discourse of any noHow came the foe in, pressing so near ?
table thing recorded even from William the Where, where slept the garrison that should a beat them back?
Conqueror, nay, from the landing of Brute, Where was our friends to intercept the foe?
until this day, being possessed of their All gone, quite fled, his loyalty quite laid a bed.
true use ?" There is a tradition reported Then vengeance, mischief, horror, with mis- by Gildon, (which Percy believes, though chance,
Malone pronounces it to be a fiction,) that Wild-fire, with whirlwinds, light upon your heads, Shakspere, in a conversation with Ben That thus betray'd your prince by your untruth!” Jonson upon the subject of his historical There is not a trace in the elder play of the plays, said that, “ finding the nation gecharacter of Shakspere's Richard :-in that nerally very ignorant of history, he wrote play he is a coarse ruffian only—an intellec
them in order to instruct the people in that tual villain. The author has not even had particular.” It is not recessary that we the skill to copy the dramatic narrative of should credit or discredit this anecdote, to Sir Thomas More in the scene of the arrest
come to the conclusion that, when Shakspere of Hastings. It is sufficient for him to make first became personally interested in proRichard display the brute force of the tyrant. viding entertainment and instruction for the The affected complacency, the mock passion, people, there was a great demand already the bitter sarcasm of the Richard of the his- existing for that species of drama, which torian, were left for Shakspere to imitate and subsequently became important enough to improve.
constitute a class apart from Tragedy or Rude as is the dramatic construction, and Comedy. coarse the execution, of these two relics of the period which preceded the transition state of the stage, there can be no doubt that these had their ruder predecessors, The Legendary History of England was dumb-shows, with here and there explana- seized upon at an early period, as possesstory rhymes adapted to the same gross po- ing dramatic capabilities; and in Ferrex pular taste that had so long delighted in and Porrex,' (sometimes called “GORBODUC,') the Mysteries and Moralities which even we have the work of two poetical minds, still held a divided empire. The growing labouring, however, upon false principles. love of the people for “the storial shows,” | This drama was acted before Queen Elizabeth as Laneham calls the Coventry play of as early as 1562. Thomas Sackville, Lord ‘Hock Tuesday,' was the natural result of Buckhurst, its joint author with Thomas the energetic and inquiring spirit of the age. Norton, was a man of real genius; yet the There were many who went to the theatre to dramatic form overmastered his poetical be instructed. In the prologue to 'Henry capacity. Stately harangues stand in the VIII.' we find that this great source of the place of earnest passion ; rhetorical descrippopularity of the early Histories was still tion thrusts out scenic action. Some of the active :
lines, no doubt, are forcible and impressive,
such as those on the causes and miseries of | isle twenty-four years, died, and was buried civil war:
in his new Troy. His three sons, Locrine, "And thou, O Britain ! whilom in renown,
Albanact, and Camber, divide the land by Whilom in wealth and fame, shalt thus be torn,
consent. Locrine has the middle part, Dismember'd thus, and thus be rent in twain, Loegria ; Camber possessed Cambria, or Thus wasted and defac'd, spoil'd and destroy'd: Wales ; Albanact, Albania, now Scotland. These be the fruits your civil wars will bring. But he in the end, by Humber, king of Hereto it comes, when kings will not consent the Hunns, who with a fleet invaded that To grave advice, but follow wilful will. land, was slain in fight, and his people drove This is the end, when in fond princes' hearts back into Lægria. Locrine and his brother Flattery prevails, and sage rede hath no place. go out against Humber; who, pow marchThese are the plagues, when murder is the ing onwards, was by them defeated, and in
a river drowned, which to this day retains To make new heirs unto the royal crown.
his name. Among the spoils of his camp Thus wreak the gods, when that the mother's
and navy were found certain young maids, wrath
and Estrildis above the rest, passing fair, Nought but the blood of her own child may
the daughter of a king in Germany; from 'suage.
whence Humber, as he went wasting the sea These mischiefs spring when rebels will arise, coast, had led her captive; whom Locrine, To work revenge, and judge their prince's fact.
though before contracted to the daughter This, this ensues, when noble men do fail
of Corineus, resolves to marry. But being In loyal truth, and subjects will be kings. And this doth grow, when lo! unto the prince,
forced and threatened by Corineus; whose Whom death or sudden hap of life bereaves,
authority and power he feared, Guendolen No certain heir remains; such certain heir
the daughter he yields to marry, but in seAs not all only is the rightful heir,
cret loves the other : and ofttimes retiring, But to the realm is so made known to be, as to some private sacrifice, through vaults And truth thereby vested in subjects' hearts." and passages made under ground, and seven
years thus enjoying her, had by her a daughter equally fair, whose name was Sabra. But
when once his fear was off by the death of To the Legends of England belongs 'Lo- Corineus, not content with secret enjoyment, CRINE,' a play falsely ascribed to Shakspere divorcing Guendolen, he made Estrildis now himself, and Shakspere's own ‘Lear. The his queen. Guendolen, all in rage, departs 'Lear' wholly belongs to the Tragic Drama, into Cornwall, where Madan, the son she "the most perfect specimen of the dramatic had by Locrine, was hitherto brought up by art existing in the world.” 'LOCRINE' may Corineus, his grandfather. And gathering here claim a slight notice :
an army of her father's friends and subjects, The subject of this tragedy was a favourite gives battle to her husband by the river with the early poets. We find it in “The Sture ; wherein Locrine, shot with an arrow, Mirror of Magistrates,' in Spenser, and in ends his life. But not so ends the fury of Drayton ; occupying seven stanzas of 'The Guendolen ; for Estrildis, and her daughter Faery Queen' (Book II., Canto 10), and fifty Sabra, she throws into a river; and, to leave lines of the ‘Poly-Olbion. The legend of a monument of revenge, proclaims that the Brutus is circumstantially related in Milton's stream be thenceforth called after the dam' History of England, where the story of sel's name, which, hy length of time, is Locrine is told with the power of a poet :- changed now to Sabrina, or Severn."
“ After this, Brutus, in a chosen place, In Comus' Milton lingers with delight builds Troja Nova, changed in time to about the same story :Trinovantum, now London, and began to “ There is a gentle nymph not far from hence, enact laws, Heli being then high priest in That with moist curb sways the smooth Severn Judæa ; and, having governed the whole stream,
Sabrina is her name, a virgin pure;
-“So fares it with young Locrine"_“So Whilome she was the daughter of Locrine, Humber" - "So martial Locrine". “ So That had the sceptre from his father Brute. Guendolen.” A writer in the 'Edinburgh She, guiltless damsel, flying the mad pursuit Review' most justly calls Locrine "a chaOf her enraged stepdame, Guendolen, racteristic work of its time.” If we were to Commended her fair innocence to the flood,
regard these dumb-shows as the most deciThat stay'd her flight with his cross-flowing sive marks of its chronology, we should carry course.”
the play back to the age when the form of The dumb-show, as it is called, of 'Lo- the moralities was in some degree indispencrine’is tolerably decisive as to the date of sable to a dramatic performance; when the the performance. It belongs essentially to action could not move and develop itself that period when the respective powers of without the assistance of something apaction and of words were imperfectly under- | proaching to the character of a chorus. Thus stood ; when what was exhibited to the eye in. Tancred and Gismunda,' originally acted required to be explained, and what was con- before Queen Elizabeth in 1568, previous to veyed to the imagination of the audience by the first act “ Cupid cometh out of the speech was to be made more intelligible by a heavens in a cradle of flowers, drawing forth sign-painting pantomime. Nothing could be upon the stage, in a blue twist of silk, from more characteristic of a very rude state of his left hand, Vain Hope, Brittle Joy; and art, almost the rudest, than the dumb-shows with a carnation twist of silk from his right which introduce each act of Locrine.' Act I. hand, Fair Resemblance, Late Repentance." is thus heralded :
We have their choruses at the conclusion of “Thunder and lightning. Enter Ate in black,
other acts; and, previous to the fourth act, with a burning torch in one hand, and a bloody not only “Megæra riseth out of hell, with sword in the other. Presently let there come the other furies,” but she subsequently mixes forth a lion running after a bear; then come in the main action, and throws her snake forth an archer, who must kill the lion in a upon Tancred. Whatever period therefore dumb show, and then depart. Ate remains." we may assign to 'Locrine,' varying between
the date of Tancred and Gismunda' and its Ate then tells us, in good set verse, that a mighty lion was killed by a dreadful archer ;
original publication in 1594, we may be sure and the seventeen lines in which we are told
that the author, whoever he was, had not this are filled with a very choice description mels of the early stage. He had not that
power enough to break through the tramof the lion before he was shot, and after he
confidence in the force of natural action and was shot. And what has this to do with the subject of the play ? It is an acted simile :- just characterization which would allow a
drama to be wholly dramatic. He wanted “So valiant Brute, the terror of the world, that high gift of imagination which conceives Whose only looks did scare his enemies,
and produces these qualities of a drama; The archer Death brought to his latest end. and he therefore dealt as with an unimagi0, what may long abide above this ground, native audience. The same want of the In state of bliss and healthful happiness?"
renders his play a succession In the second act we have a dumb-show of of harangues, in which the last thing thought Perseus and Andromeda ; in the third “a of is the appropriateness of language to situacrocodile sitting on a river's bank, and a tion. The first English dramatists, and little snake stinging it;” in the fourth Om- those who worked upon their model, appear phale and Hercules ; in the fifth Jason, to have gone upon the principle that they Medea, and Creon's daughter. Ate, who is produced the most perfect work of art when the great show-woman of these scenes, intro- they took their art entirely out of the produces her puppets on each occasion with a vince of nature. The highest art is a repreline or two of Latin, and always concludes sentation of Nature in her very highest forms; her address with “ So"-"So valiant Brute” | something which is above common reality,