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If any other recollection were wanting, these | It is this instinctive justice in Faulconbridge, simple words would make us feel that John —this readiness to uplift the strong hand in was as surely the murderer of Arthur, when what he thinks a. just quarrel,—this abanthe terrors of the boy drove him to an incon- donment of consequences in the expression siderate attempt to escape from his prison, of his opinions,—that commands our sympaas if the assassin, as some have represented, thies for him whenever he appears upon the rode with him in the dim twilight by the

The motives upon which he acts are side of a cliff that overhung the sea, and entirely the antagonist motives by which suddenly hurled the victim from his horse John is moved. We have, indeed, in Shakinto the engulfing wave ; or as if the king spere none of the essay-writing contrasts of tempted him to descend from his prison at smaller authors. We have no asserters of Rouen at the midnight hour, and, instead of adverse principles made to play at see-saw, giving him freedom, stifled his prayers for with reverence be it spoken, like the Moloch pity in the waters of the Seine. It is thus and Belial of Milton. But, after some rethat we know the anger of “ the distemper'd flection upon what we have read, we feel lords” is a just anger, when, finding Arthur's that he who leapt into Coeur-de-lion's throne, body, they kneel before that “ruin of sweet and he who hath “a trick of Cæur-de-lion's life,” and vow to it the “worship of revenge.” face,” are as opposite as if they were the The short scene between Salisbury, Pem- formal personifications of subtlety and canbroke, the Bastard, and Hubert, which im- dour, cowardice and courage, cruelty and mediately succeeds, is as spirited and kindliness. The fox and the lion are not characteristic as anything in the play. more strongly contrasted than John and Here we see “the invincible knights of Faulconbridge ; and the poet did not make old” in their most elevated character, the contrast by accident. And yet with what fiery, implacable, arrogant, but still drawing incomparable management are John and the their swords in the cause of right, when that Bastard held together as allies throughout cause was intelligible and undoubted. The these scenes. In the onset the Bastard character of Faulconbridge here rises far receives honour from the hands of John,above what we might have expected from and he is grateful. In the conclusion he the animal courage and the exuberant spirits sees his old patron, weak indeed and guilty, of the Faulconbridge of the former acts. but surrounded with enemies,—and he will The courage is indeed here beyond all not be faithless. When John quails before doubt :


power of a spiritual tyrant, the Bastard “ Thou wert better gall the devil, Salisbury:

stands by him in the place of a higher and a
If thou but frown on me, or stir thy foot, better nature. He knows the dangers that
Or teach thy hasty spleen to do me shame, surround his king :-
I'll strike thee dead.”

“ All Kent hath yielded; nothing there holds

out But we were scarcely prepared for the rush of tenderness and humanity that accompany

But Dover castle: London hath received,

Like a kind host, the dauphin and his powers: the courage, as in the speech to Hubert :

Your nobles will not hear you, but are gone “ If thou didst but consent To offer service to your enemy.” To this most cruel act, do but despair,

But no dangers can daunt his resolution :And, if thou want'st a cord, the smallest thread

“Let not the world see fear, and sad distrust, That ever spider twisted from her womb Govern the motion of a kingly eye: Will serve to strangle thee; a rush will be Be stirring as the time; be fire with fire; A beam to hang thee on; or, wouldst thou Threaten the threat'ner, and outface the brow drown thyself,

Of bragging horror: so shall inferior eyes, Put but a little water in a spoon,

That borrow their behaviours from the great, And it shall be as all the ocean,

Grow great by your example, and put on Enough to stifle such a villain up."

The dauntless spirit of resolution."

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The very necessity for these stirring words | annihilated. Causes and

consequences, would show us that from henceforth John is separated in the proper history by long but a puppet without a will. The blight of digressions and tedious episodes, are brought Arthur's death is upon him; and he moves together. The attributed murder of Arthur on to his own destiny, whilst Faulconbridge lost John all the inheritances of the house defies or fights with his enemies ; and his of Anjou, and allowed the house of Capet to revolted lords, even while they swear triumph in his overthrow. Out of this grew “A voluntary zeal, and unurged faith,"

a larger ambition, and England was invaded.

The death of Arthur and the events which to the invader, bewail their revolt, and marked the last days of John were separated lament

in their cause and effect by time only, over ** That, for the health and physic of our right, which the poet leaps. It is said that a man We cannot deal but with the very hand

who was on the point of drowning saw, in an Of stern injustice and confused wrong." instant, all the events of his life in connection

with his approaching end. So sees the poet. But the great retribution still moves on

It is his to bring the beginnings and the ward. The cause of England is triumphant ; ends of events into that real union and de“ the lords are all come lack :”—but the

pendence which the philosophical king is “poisoned by a monk :"

historian may overlook in tracing their “ Poison’d,-ill fare;-dead, forsook, cast off: course. It is the poet's office to preserve a And none of you will bid the winter come, unity of action; it is the historian's to show To thrust his icy fingers in my maw;

a consistency of progress. In the chroniclers Nor let my kingdom's rivers take their course we have manifold changes of fortune in the Through my burn’d bosom; nor entreat the life of John after Arthur of Brittany has north

fallen. In Shakspere Arthur of Brittany is To make his bleak winds kiss my parched at once revenged. The heartbroken mother lips,

and her boy are not the only sufferers from And comfort me with cold :-I do not ask you

double courses. The spirit of Constance is much, I beg cold comfort; and you are so strait,

appeased by the fall of John. The Niobe of And so ingrateful, you deny me that.”

a Gothic age, who vainly sought to shield

her child from as stern a destiny as that The interval of fourteen years between the with which Apollo and Artemis pursued the death of Arthur and the death of John is daughter of Tantalus, may rest in peace.




'A MIDSUMMER-NIGHT'S DREAM' was first | Fisher. It is difficult to say whether both of printed in 1600. In that year there ap- these were printed with the consent of the peared two editions of the play:-the one author, or whether one was genuine and the published by Thomas Fisher, a bookseller ; other pirated. If the entries at Stationers' the other by James Roberts, a printer. The Hall may be taken as evidence of a prodifferences between these two editions are prietary right; the edition by Fisher is the very slight. Steevens, in his collection of genuine one, "A booke called A Mydsomer twenty plays, has reprinted that by Roberts, Nyghte Dreame' having been entered by giving the variations of the edition by him Oct. 8, 1600. One thing is perfectly


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clear to us — that the original of these before expressed, that he had written these editions, whichever it might be, was printed for the stage before his twenty-fifth year, from a genuine copy, and carefully super- when he was a considerable shareholder in intended through the press. The text ap- the Blackfriars company, some of them, perpears to us as perfect as it is possible to be, haps, as early as 1585, at which period the considering the state of typography in that vulgar tradition assigns to Shakspere-a day. There is one remarkable evidence of husband, a father, and a man conscious of this. The prologue to the interlude of the the possession of the very highest order of Clowns, in the fifth act, is purposely made talent—the dignified office of holding horses inaccurate in its punctuation throughout. at the theatre door. The year 1594 is, as The speaker“ does not stand upon points.” nearly as possible, the period where we would It was impossible to have effected the object place 'A Midsummer-Night's Dream,' with better than by the punctuation of Roberts's reference to our strong belief that Shakspere's edition; and this is precisely one of those earliest plays must be assigned to the commatters of nicety in which a printer would mencement of his dramatic career; and that have failed, unless he had followed an ex- two or three even of his great works had tremely clear copy, or his proofs had been then been given to the world in an unformed corrected by an author or an editor. The shape, subsequently worked up to completeplay was not reprinted after 1600, till it was ness and perfection. But it appears to us a collected into the folio of 1623; and the misapplication of the received meaning of text in that edition differs in few instances, words to talk of “ the warmth of a youthful and those very slight ones, from that of the and lively imagination” with reference to preceding quartos.

"A Midsummer Night's Dream,' and the Malone has assigned the composition of Shakspere of thirty. We can understand “A Midsummer-Night's Dream' to the year these terms to apply to the unpruned luxu1594. We are not disposed to object to this, riance of the 'Venus and Adonis;' but the —indeed we are inclined to believe that he poetry of this piece, the almost continual has pretty exactly indicated the precise year, rhyme, and even the poverty of the fable, as far as it can be proved by one or two are to us evidences of the very highest art allusions which the play contains. But we having obtained a perfect mastery of its entirely object to the reasons upon which materials after years of patient study. Of Malone attempts to show that it was one of all the dramas of Shakspere there is none our author's earliest attempts in comedy." more entirely harmonious than "A MidHe derives the proof of this from the poetry summer-Night's Dream.' All the incidents, of this piece, glowing with all the warmth of all the characters, are in perfect subordinaa youthful and lively imagination, the many ation to the will of the poet. Throughout scenes which it contains of almost continual the whole piece,” says Malone, “the more rhyme, the poverty of the fable, and want of exalted characters are subserviert to the discrimination among the higher personages.” interests of those beneath them.” Precisely Malone would place 'A Midsummer-Night's so. An unpractised author-one who had Dream' in the same rank as 'The Two Gen- not “a youthful and lively imagination” tlemen of Verona,''Love's Labour ’s Lost, under perfect control,—when he had got and “The Comedy of Errors;' and he sup- hold of the Theseus and Hippolyta of the poses all of them written within a year or heroic ages, would have made them ultratwo of each other. We have no objection to heroical. They would have commanded believe that our poet wrote 'A Midsummer- events, instead of moving with the superNight's Dream' when he was thirty years of natural influence around them in harmony age, that is in 1594. But it so far exceeds and proportion. “Theseus, the associate of the three other comedies in all the higher Hercules, is not engaged in any adventure attributes of poetry, that we cannot avoid worthy of his rank or reputation, nor is he repeating here the opinion which we have in reality an agent throughout the play."

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Precisely so. An immature poet, again, if | power of the English language for purposes the marvellous creation of Oberon and Ti- of poetry, that composition would be the tania, and Puck, could have entered into such Midsummer-Night's Dream.' This wona mind, would have laboured to make the derful model, which, at the time it appeared, power of the fairies produce some strange must have been the commencement of a and striking events. But the exquisite great poetical revolution,—and which has beauty of Shakspere's conception is, that, never ceased to influence our higher poetry, under the supernatural influence, “the from Fletcher to Shelley,-was, according to human mortals” move precisely according Malone, the work of “ the genius of Shakto their respective natures and habits. De- speare, even in its minority.metrius and Lysander are impatient and Mr. Hallam has, as might be expected, revengeful ;-Helena is dignified and affec- taken a much more correct view of this tionate, with a spice of female error ; question than Malone. He places 'A MidHermia is somewhat vain and shrewish. summer-Night's Dream' among the early And then Bottom! Who but the most skilful plays; but, having mentioned The Comedy artist could have given us such a character ? of Errors,' The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Of him Malone says, “Shakspeare would ‘Love's Labour's Lost,' and 'The Taming of naturally copy those manners first with the Shrew,' he adds, “ Its superiority to those which he was first acquainted. The am- we have already mentioned affords some bition of a theatrical candidate for applause presumption that it was written after them."* he has happily ridiculed in Bottom the 'A Midsummer-Night's Dream' is menweaver.” A theatrical candidate for ap- tioned by Francis Meres in 1598. The date plause! Why, Bottom the weaver is the of the first publication of the play, therefore, representative of the whole human race. in 1600, does not tend to fix its chronology. His confidence in his own power is equally Nor is it very material to ascertain whether profound, whether he exclaims, “Let me it preceded 1598 by three, or four, or five play the lion too ;” or whether he sings years. The state of the weather in 1593 alone, " that they shall hear I am not and 1594, when England was visited with afraid ;” or whether, conscious that he is peculiarly ungenial seasons, may have sugsurrounded with spirits, he cries out, with gested Titania's beautiful description in Act his voice of authority,“ Where's Peas-blos- II., Scene 2. The allusion of two lines in som ?” In every situation Bottom is the Act V. is by no means so clear :same,—the same personification of that self

“ The thrice three Muses mourning for the love which the simple cannot conceal, and

death the wise can with difficulty suppress. Ma- Of learning, late deceased in beggary." lone thus concludes his analysis of the internal evidence of the chronology of 'A

This passage was once thought to allude Midsummer-Night's Dream :'

to the death of Spenser. But the misfortunes drama, of which the principal personages

and the death of Spenser did not take place

till 1599. Even if the allusion were inserted are thus insignificant, and the fable thus

between the first production of the piece and meagre and uninteresting, was one of our author's earliest compositions, does not, there- its publication in 1600, it is difficult to

understand how an elegy on the great poet fore seem a very improbable conjecture; nor

could have been called are the beauties with which it is bellished inconsistent with this supposition.” “Some satire, keen and critical.” The beauties with which it is embellished

T. Warton suggested" that Shakspeare here, include, of course, the whole rhythmical perhaps, alluded to Spenser's poem entitled structure of the versification. The poet has

“The Tears of the Muses, on the Neglect and here put forth all his strength. We ven

Contempt of Learning.' This piece first ture to offer an opinion that, if any single composition were required to exhibit the

* Literature of Europe,' vol. ii. p. 387.

" That a


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appeared in quarto, with others, 1591.” We little weight, and the point is certainly of greatly doubt the propriety of this conjec- very small consequence. ture, which Malone has adopted. Spenser's poem is certainly a satire in one sense of the “This is the silliest stuff that e’er I heard,” word; for it makes the Muses lament that says Hippolyta, when Wall has “discharged” all the glorious productions of men that his part. The answer of Theseus is full of proceeded from their influence had vanished instruction :-“The best in this kind are but from the earth. All that

shadows; and the worst are no worse, if

imagination amend them.” It was in this was wont to work delight

humble spirit that the great poet judged of Through the divine infusion of their skill,

his own matchless performances. He felt And all that else seemed fair and fresh in sight, the utter inadequacy of his art, and indeed So made by nature for to serve their will, Was turned now to dismal heaviness,

of any art, to produce its due effect upon the Was turned now to dreadful ugliness.”

mind, unless the imagination, to which it

addressed itself, was ready to convert the Clio complains that mighty peers “only shadows which it presented into living forms boast of arms and ancestry;” Melpomene, of truth and beauty. “I am convinced," that “all man's life meseems a tragedy;' says

Coleridge, “ that Shakspeare availed Thalia is “made the servant of the many;"

himself of the title of this play in his own Euterpe weeps that “now no pastoral is to mind, and worked upon it as a dream throughbe heard ;” and so on. These laments do out.” The poet says so, in

express words :not seem to be identical with the

' If we shadows have offended, - mourning for the death

Think but this, (and all is mended), Of learning, late deceased in beggary.

That you have but slumber'd here,

While these visions did appear. These expressions are too precise and limited And this weak and idle theme, to refer to the tears of the Muses for the No more yielding but a dream, decay of knowledge and art. We cannot Gentles, do not reprehend.” divest ourselves of the belief that some real | But to understand this dream to have all person,

and some real death, were alluded to. its gay, and soft, and harmonious colours May we hazard a conjecture ?—Greene, a impressed upon the vision—to hear all the man of learning, and one whom Shakspere golden cadences of its poesy—to feel the in the generosity of his nature might wish perfect congruity of all its parts, and thus to point at kindly, died in 1592, in a con- to receive it as a truth-we must not suppose dition that might truly be called beggary. that it will enter the mind amidst the But how was his death, any more than that lethargic slumbers of the imagination. We of Spenser, to be the occasion of “

must receive it satire, keen and critical ?” Every student of our literary history will remember the

“As youthful poets dream famous controversy of Nash and Gabriel

On summer eves by haunted stream." Harvey, which was begun by Harvey's pub- Let no one expect that the beautiful inlication, in 1592, of 'Four Letters, and certain fluences of this drama can be truly felt when Sonnets, especially touching Robert Greene, he is under the subjection of the literal and and other parties by him abused.' Robert prosaic parts of our nature: or, if he haGreene was dead; but Harvey came forward, bitually refuses to believe that there are in revenge of an incautious attack of the higher and purer regions of thought than unhappy poet, to satirize him in his grave- are supplied by the physical realities of the to hold up his vices and his misfortunes to world. In these cases he will have a false the public scorn—to be “keen and critical” standard by which to judge of this, and of upon “learning, late deceased in beggary.” | all other high poetry—such a standard as The conjecture which we offer may have that possessed by a critic-acute, learned, in


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