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few mourners in sable robes following the bier. The audience is silent as the imaginary corse; but their imaginations are not stimulated with gorgeous scenery. There is no magical perspective of the lofty roof and long-drawn aisles of Westminster Abbey; no organ peals, no trains of choristers with tapers and censers sing the Requiem. The rushes on the floor are matched with the plain arras on the walls. Bedford speaks:
Hung be the heavens with black, yield day to night."
Lofty in his tone, corresponding with the solemn and unvarying rhythm. It is the "drumming decasyllabon" which Nash ridicules. The great master of a freer versification is not yet confident of his power. The attention of the auditory is fixed by the stirring introduction. There are old remembrances of national honour in every line. The action moves rapidly. The mourners disperse; and by an effort of imagination the scene must be changed from England to France. Charles the king marches with drum and soldiers. The English are encountered, the French are beaten. The Maid of Orleans appears. The people will see the old French wars which live in their memories fought over again; and their spirits rise with every alarum. But the poet will show too the ruinous course of faction at home. The servingmen of Gloucester and Winchester battle at the Tower gates. The Mayor of London and his officers suppress the riot. Again to Orleans, where Salisbury is slain by a fatal linstock. All is bustle and contention in France; but the course of intrigue in England is unfolded. The first page of the fatal history of York and Lancaster is here read. We see the growth of civil war at home; we trace the beginnings of disaster abroad. The action presents a succession of events, rather than developing some great event brought about by a skilful adjustment of many parts. But in a "chronicle history" this was scarcely to be avoided; and it is easy to see how, until the great principle of art which should produce a Lear and a Macbeth was evolved, the independent succession of events in a chronicle history would not only be the easiest to portray by a young writer, but would be the most acceptable to an uncritical audience, that had not yet been taught the dependences of a catastrophe upon slight preceding incidents, upon niceties of character, upon passion evolved out of seeming tranquillity, the danger of which has been skilfully shadowed forth to the careful observer. It was in detached passages, therefore, that the young poet would put out his strength in such a play. The death of Talbot and his son was a fit occasion for such an effort; and the early stage had certainly seen nothing comparable in power and beauty to the couplets which exhibit the fall of the hero and his boy. Other poets would have noticed the scene. Shakspere painted it; and his success is well noticed by Thomas Nash, who for once loses his satirical vein in fervent admiration:-" How would it have joyed brave Talbot (the terror of the French) to think that, after he had lain two hundred years in his tomb, he should triumph again on the stage, and have his bones new embalmed with the tears of ten thousand spectators at least (at several times), who, in the tragedian
that represents his person, imagine they behold him fresh bleeding!"* The prejudices of the age are gratified by the condemnation of the Pucelle; but the poet takes care to make it felt that her judges are "bloody homicides." At the very close of the play a new series of events is opened, ending here with the mission of Suffolk to bring a bride for the imbecile king; but showing that the issue is to be presented in some coming story. The new play is a success; and the best of his brother poets have a ready welcome for the author, in spite of a sneer or two at “ Shake-scene."
* Pierce Pennilesse.
NOTE ON THE DATE OF NASH'S EPISTLE PREFIXED TO
THOMAS NASH took his degree of Bachelor of Arts at Cambridge in 1585. In a tract published in 1595, Cambridge is said to have been unkind to Nash in weaning him before his time. As he never took a higher degree than that of Bachelor of Arts, he is supposed to have left the university in some disgrace. He is held to have travelled before he acquired a distinction amongst the satirical and controversial writers of London. In the address to Menaphon' he says to the gentlemenstudents-" Read favourably to encourage me in the firstlings of my folly." It has been usual to assign the date of this epistle to 1589. The first recorded edition of Greene's Menaphon' bears the date of that year. Nash in the epistle promises a satirical work called 'Anatomy of Absurdities,' and in 1589 such a work appears. Mr. Dyce, however, fixes the date of the first edition of 'Menaphon' as 1587; but he cites the title from the earliest edition he has met with, that of 1589. It would be satisfactory to know upon what authority an earlier date than that of 1589 is given to Nash's edition. If Nash wrote the epistle in 1589, his high praise of Peele as the Atlas of poetry, and the omission of all mention of Marlowe, looks like partiality, if not prejudice. If it first appeared in 1587 there is less suspicion for an unworthy motive for the omission of Marlowe. The same reasoning applies to Shakspere. But we apprehend that the date of 1587 is a mistake. The reference made in the epistle of Nash to a play of Hamlet-" whole Hamlets-I should say handfulsof tragical speeches" (see p. 259)—has been held by persons whose opinions are entitled to more weight than our own to be an allusion to the Hamlet of Shakspere—an earlier Hamlet than any we possess. But this does not fall in with the theory that Shakspere first began to write for the stage about six or seven years after he became connected with the theatre. It is, therefore, convenient to adopt Mr. Dyce's date of 1587 without inquiry; and to say "there cannot be a moment's doubt" that the Hamlet alluded to by Nash "was written and acted many years before Shakspeare's tragedy." See Mr. Collier's Introduction to The History of Hamlet,' 1841; in which he says, without qualification, "Malone erred as to the date of Greene's Menaphon.'" Malone gives the date as 1589. But in his Introduction to Nash's Pierce Pennilesse,' 1842, Mr. Collier speaks more doubtingly :-" We take the date of Greene's 'Menaphon,' 1587, from the edition of that author's Dramatic Works by the Rev. A. Dyce. He does not seem to have met with any copy of it of so early a date as 1587, and quotes the title-page of the impression of 1589." As regards the possible allusion to Shakspere's first Hamlet, we look upon the difference of two years as a matter of little importance; for a Hamlet whose characteristic was "whole handfuls of tragical speeches" might have been as readily produced by the Shakspere of twenty-three as by the Shakspere of twenty-five. (See our Notice on the Authenticity of Titus Andronicus, p. 58, and the Introductory Notice to Hamlet.)
NOTE ON MARLOWE.
It has long been the fashion to consider Marlowe as the precursor of Shakspere; to regard Marlowe as one of the founders of the regular drama, and Shakspere only as an improver. The internal evidence for this belief has been entered into with some fulness in our Essay on the Three Parts of Henry VI., &c. We may here say a few words as to the external evidence. Marlowe was killed in a wretched brawl on the 1st of June, 1593. Of his age nothing is exactly known; but he took his degree of Bachelor of Arts, in Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, in 1583; and that of Master of Arts in 1587. The age of Elizabeth had its boy bachelors, as well as that of her father. Youths went earlier to the university than in our time, and received their first degree earlier. We may conclude, therefore, that Marlowe was not older than Shakspere. Phillips, in his 'Theatrum Poetarum,' thus speaks of him :-" Christopher Marlowe, a kind of a second Shakspeare (whose contemporary he was), not only because like him he rose from an actor to be a maker of plays, though inferior both in fame and merit," &c. We have no distinct record of Marlowe as an actor. We know that he was early a maker of plays. There appears to be little doubt that he was the author of 'Tamburlaine;' and 'Tamburlaine' is mentioned by Greene in 1588. But Hamlet is mentioned by Nash in 1587 (if 1587 be the date of Greene's ' Menaphon '), and the evidence is quite as good that this was the Hamlet of Shakspere, as that the other was the Tamburlaine' of Marlowe. The young Shakspere and the young Marlowe, it may be supposed, were nearly of the same age. What right have we to infer that the one could produce a Tamburlaine' at the age of twenty-four or twenty-five, and the other not produce an imperfect outline of his own Hamlet at the same age? Malone connects the supposed date of Shakspere's commencement as a dramatic writer with the notice of him by some of his contemporaries. He passes over Nash's "whole Hamlets;" he maintains that Spenser's description, in 1591, of the "gentle spirit," who
"Doth rather choose to sit in idle cell
applied not to Shakspere, but to Lyly, who was at that instant most active in "mockery;" but he fixes Shakspere with having begun to write in 1592, because Greene in that year sneers at him as "the only Shake-scene in a country." Does a young writer suddenly jump into the distinction of a sneer of envy from one much older in reputation, as Greene was? In an age when there were no newspapers and no reviews, it must be extremely difficult to trace the course of any man, however eminent, by the notices of the writers of his times. An author's fame, then, was not borne through every quarter of the land in the very hour in which it was won. More than all, the reputation of a dramatic writer could scarcely be known, except to a resident in London, until his works were comImitted to the press. The first play of Shakspere's which was printed was The First Part of the Contention (Henry VI., Part II.), and that did not appear till 1594. Now, Malone says, "In Webbe's Discourse of English Poetry,' published in 1586, we meet with the names of most of the celebrated poets of that time; particularly those of George Whetstone and Anthony Munday, who were dramatic writers; but we find no trace of our author, or of any of his works." But Malone does not tell us that in Webbe's Discourse of Poetry,' we find the following passage :-" I am humbly to desire pardon of the learned company of gentlemen scholars, and students of the universities and inns of court, if I omit their several commendations in this place, which I know a great number of them have worthily deserved, in many rare devices and singular inventions of poetry for neither hath it been my good hap to have seen all which I have heard of, neither is my abiding in such place where I can with facility get knowledge of their works." "Three years afterwards," continues Malone, "Puttenham printed his Art of English Poesy;'
and in that work also we look in vain for the name of Shakspeare." The book speaks of the oneand-thirty years' space of Elizabeth's reign; and thus puts the date of the writing a year earlier than the printing. But we here look in vain for some other illustrious names besides that of Shakspere. Malone has not told us that the name of Edmund Spenser is not found in Puttenham; nor, what is still more uncandid, that not one of Shakspere's early dramatic contemporaries is mentioned neither Marlowe, nor Greene, nor Peele, nor Kyd, nor Lyly. The author evidently derives his knowledge of " poets and poesy" from a much earlier period than that in which he publishes. He does not mention Spenser by name, but he does" that other gentleman who wrote the late Shepherd's Calendar.'" The Shepherd's Calendar' of Spenser was published in the year Malone goes on to argue that the omission of Shakspere's name, or any notice of his works, in Sir John Harrington's Apology of Poetry,' printed in 1591, in which "he takes occasion to speak of the theatre, and mentions some of the celebrated dramas of that time," is a proof that none of Shakspere's dramatic compositions had then appeared. The reader will be in a better position to judge of the value of this argument by a reference to the passage of Sir John Harrington :"For tragedies, to omit other famous tragedies: that, that was played at St. John's in Cambridge, of Richard III., would move, I think, Phalaris the tyrant, and terrify all tyrannous-minded men." [This was a Latin play, by Dr. Legge, acted some years before 1588.] "Then for comedies. How full of harmless mirth is our Cambridge' Pedantius' and the Oxford Bellum Grammaticale'!" [Latin plays again.] "Or, to speak of a London comedy, how much good matter, yea, and matter of state, is there in that comedy called The Play of the Cards,' in which it is showed how four parasitical knaves robbed the four principal vocations of the realm; videl, the vocation of soldiers, scholars, merchants, and husbandmen! Of which comedy, I cannot forget the saying of a notable wise counsellor that is now dead, who, when some (to sing Placebo) advised that it should be forbidden, because it was somewhat too plain, and indeed as the old saying is (sooth boord is no boord), yet he would have it allowed, adding it was fit that they which do that they should not, should hear that they would not.”
Nothing, it will be seen, can be more exaggerated than Malone's statement, "He takes occasion to speak of the theatre, and mentions some of the celebrated dramas of that time." Does he mention 'Tamburlaine,' or 'Faustus,' or 'The Massacre of Paris,' or 'The Jew of Malta'? As he does not, it may be assumed with equal justice that none of Marlowe's compositions had appeared in 1591; and yet we know that he died in 1593. So of Lyly's Galathea,' ' Alexander and Campaspe,'' Endymion,' &c. So of Greene's Orlando Furioso,' Friar Bacon,' 'James IV.' So of the Spanish Tragedy' of Kyd. The truth is, that Harrington in his notice of celebrated dramas was even more antiquated than Puttenham; and his evidence, therefore, in this matter, is utterly worthless. But Malone has given his crowning proof that Shakspere had not written before 1591, in the following words :-" Sir Philip Sidney, in his 'Defence of Poesie,' speaks at some length of the low state of dramatic literature at the time he composed this treatise, but has not the slightest allusion to Shakspeare, whose plays, had they then appeared, would doubtless have rescued the English stage from the contempt which is thrown upon it by the accomplished writer; and to which it was justly exposed by the wretched compositions of those who preceded our poet. The Defence of Poesie' was not published till 1595, but must have been written some years before." There is one slight objection to this argument: Sir Philip Sidney was killed at the battle of Zutphen, in the year 1586; and it would really have been somewhat surprising if the illustrious author of the 'Defence of Poesy' could have included Shakspere in his account" of the low state of dramatic literature at the time he composed this treatise," which was in effect a reply to‘The School of Abuse ' of Gosson, and to other controversialists of the puritanical faction, who were loudest about 1580.