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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 upon 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
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:
carcely 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 Of this my woeful corpse, alas, a final end to
one of his posthumous tracts, “The Repentmake!
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
semblance which renders a caricature most as reading “ Greene's works over and over.' effective: “I was. altogether unacquainted Some of these tales are full of genius, illwith the man, and never once saluted him regulated no doubt, but so pregnant with inby name: but who in London hath not heard vention, that Shakspere in the height of his of his dissolute and licentious living; his fame did not disdain to avail himself of the fond disguising of a Master of Art with stories of his early contemporary. The draruffianly hair, unseemly apparel, and more matic works of Greene were probably much unseemly company; his vainglorious and more numerous than the few which have Thrasonical braving ; his fripperly extem- come down to us; and the personal character porizing and Tarletonizing ; his apish coun- of the man is not unaptly represented in terfeiting of every ridiculous and absurd toy; these productions. They exhibit great pomp his fine cozening of jugglers, and finer jug- and force of language ; passages which degling with cozeners ; his villainous cogging generate into pure bombast from their amand foisting ; his monstrous swearing and bitious attempts to display the power of horrible forswearing ; his impious profaning words ; slight discrimination of character ; of sacred texts; his other scandalous and incoherence of incident; and an entire abblasphemous raving ; his riotous and out- sence of that judgment which results in harrageous surfeiting; his continual shifting of mony and proportion. His extravagant lodgings ; his plausible mustering and ban- pomp of language was the characteristic queting of roysterly acquaintance at his first of all the writers of the early stage except coming; his beggarly departing in every Shakspere ; and equally so were those athostess's debt; his infamous resorting to the tempts to be humorous which sank into the Bankside, Shoreditch, Southwark, and other lowest buffoonery. In the lyrical pieces filthy haunts; his obscure lurking in basest which are scattered up and down Greene's corners; his pawning of his sword, cloak, and novels, there is occasionally a quiet beauty what not, when money came short; his im- which exhibits the real depths of the man's pudent pamphleting, fantastical interluding, genius. Amidst all his imperfections of chaand desperate libelling, when other cozening racter, that genius is fully acknowledged by shifts failed ?”* This is the bitterness of the best of his contemporaries. revenge, not softened even by the penalty THOMAS LODGE was Greene's senior in age, which the wretched man had paid for his and greatly his superior in conduct. He offence, dying prematurely in misery and had been a graduate of Oxford ; next a solitariness, and writing from his lodging at player, 'though probably for a short time; a poor shoemaker's these last touching lines was a member of Lincoln's Inn; and, finally, to the wife whom he had abandoned : “Doll, a successful physician of the name of Thomas I charge thee by the love of our youth, and Lodge is held to be identical with Lodge by my soul's rest, that thou wilt see this man the poet. He was the author of a tragedy, paid: for if he and his wife had not succoured | The Wounds of Civil War: lively set forth me, I had died in the streets.” As a writer in the true Tragedies of Marius and Sylla.' he was one amongst the most popular of his He had become a writer for the stage before day. His little romances of some fifty pages the real power of dramatic blank verse had each were the delight of readers for amuse- been adequately conceived. His lines posment, for half a century. They were the sess not the slightest approach to flexibility; companions of the courtly and the humble, they invariably consist of ten syllables, with -eagerly perused by the scholar of the Uni- a pause at the end of every line-"each alley versity and the apprentice of the City. They like its brother;" the occasional use of the reached the extreme range of popularity. triplet is the only variety. Lodge's tragedy In Anthony Wood's time they were “mostly has the appearance of a most correct and lasold on ballad-monger's stalls ;” and Sir boured performance; and the result is that Thomas Overbury describes his Chambermaid of insufferable tediousness. In conjunction **Four Letters, &c., 1592.'
with Greene he wrote ' A Looking Glass for