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reminds us of—that at that period dramatic poems were so far from belonging to the class of compositions that were thought worthy of a dedication, that even in 1616 it was thought a laughable matter, when Ben Jonson gave the title of “ Works" to a collected edition of his dramatic productions. There is no need, therefore, to suppose that the “ Venus and Adonis" was of an earlier origin than his oldest dramas. It was unquestionably his first production in this mixed epico-lyrical species of composition, and Shakspeare named it the first heir of his invention in a general manner, and because poems of such a kind, alone made him a poet in the estimation of his contemporaries. This fact follows clearly enough from the many laudatory notices among contemporary and later writers, of his “Venus and Adonis," and the “Rape of Lucrece;" (Drake, ï. 28) while his dramas from 1590 to 1600, and still later, are very rarely spoken of. The famous passage from the “Groatsworth” is equally inconclusive. After warning his friends, Marlowe, Lodge, and Peele, against the ingratitude and selfishness of the players, he says, “Trust them not: for there is an upstart crowe, beautified with our feathers, that with his tyger's heart wrapt in a player's hide,* supposes he is as able to bombaste out

blanc verse, as the best of you; and being an absolute Johannes Fac-totum, is in his own conceite the only Shakescene in the country.” Now in the first place, the words “beautified in our feathers,” are sufficiently explained by Shakspeare's practice of occasionally adopting in his own works, passages from those of Marlowe, Greene, and others, of which we have a later instance in “Macbeth,” where the song of the witches is borrowed from “ The Witch of Middleton." Some, however, interpret the passage as charging Shakspeare with the wholesale appropriation of entire pieces, by improvement and alterations. The correctness of such a view I do not deny; still it does not follow that these alterations and improvements were not equivalent to an original work ; in other words, the extent of his obligation may have consisted merely in his treating the same subject, and preserving the same general features in the characters and the development of the plot. This of course Greene in his jealousy would not be backward in * Alluding to a verse in the Third Part of “ Henry the Sixth."



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exaggerating. But in any case it does not follow from this pas-
sage that Shakspeare was exclusively occupied with such altera-
tions up to 1592. On the contrary, the words of Greene, that
“this upstarte crowe supposes that he is as able as the best to
bombast out a blanc verse, and is an absolute fac-totum;" fairly
construed, amount to a declaration, that Shakspeare pretended to
be as good a poet as Marlowe or Greene, and had already displayed
uncommon industry as a writer, and had been crowned with
success, and in moving the feelings of the spectators (Shakescene).
We, however, are not disposed on the single testimony of the
envious Greene to believe that this was mere vanity on Shak-
speare's part, and that he owed his theatrical success to his bor-
rowed feathers. On the contrary, we are driven to assume that
Shakspeare was already on a par with the best poets of his age, and
that consequently his labours could not have been confined to
altering and improving the works of others. To the same result
we are led no less irresistibly by the pamphlet of Chettle. For at
most it does but follow from it, that Greene was the only truly
popular writer of comedy, and not that Shakspeare had no reputa-
tion at all, and still less that he had never come forward as an
original author. In truth, the only allowable inference is, that
Shakspeare was not so popular with the multitude as Greene was :
but in this there would be nothing surprising, since in all proba-
bility it was the case still later, for his plays are by no means
written to please the great public. But, besides, the same Chettle
thus speaks of Shakspeare himself: “his demeanour was no less
civil than he excellent in the quality he professes ;" —and again,
“Divers of worship have reported his uprightness of dealing, which
argues his honestie, and his facetious grace in writing, that
approves his art.”—Shakspeare, therefore, was distinguished not
only for his upright and honourable conduct, but also for his skill
in the art he professed, and the wit and grace of his poetry, by
which he approved his art-i. e. his genius. Indeed, the words
“ unrightness in dealing,” refer no doubt directly to Greene's in-
sinuation, that Shakspeare was in the habit of decking himself
in borrowed plumes. Is it possible, then, to conclude from Chettle,
that in 1592, Shakspeare was of no repute as a writer, even because
up to that date he was not an original author, but only an assis-

tant or corrector? On the contrary, it witnesses so decidedly against such an opinion, that it even takes away all weight from Collier's argument drawn from the position which Shakspeare's name holds in the petition to the Privy Council. For it is now well ascertained that Shakspeare was never eminent as a player, (above, p. 75,) and therefore he must have owed his place among the shareholders principally, if not entirely, to his pen. If we keep this fact in remembrance, then the recently discovered document, Cabove p. 74,) where Shakspeare's name stands in 1589 as 12th shareholder in the Lord Chamberlain's company, distinctly proves that even at that early date he must have been a poet of no little distinction. Lastly, if “Titus Andronicus” be, as it unquestionably is, a genuine work of Shakspeare's, which, according to the testimony of Ben Jonson, first appeared at latest in 1589, and perhaps in 1587 or 8; then, all things duly considered, we are driven to suppose that at this date he had already commenced writing for the stage. And this hypothesis best accords with the only direct evidence that has come down to us on this point—the express assertion of Aubrey, (Reed, iii. 218,) that Shakspeare began very early to make essays in the dramatic art, and that his pieces were well received.

The question, therefore, of the date of Shakspeare's first appearance as a dramatic writer, must be decided, we think, in favour of the older disputed pieces, and consequently in favour also of the German critics, Tieck, Schlegel, &c., who for the most part assert their genuineness. This point, however, is but a preliminary one. The decision must ultimately turn upon the external and internal characters of the several pieces. And here it is that the critic's office is first called into operation. All that the historian can do is to shew that it is possible for them to be Shakspeare's.

The oldest of Shakspeare's undoubted pieces are his “Titus Andronicus," and the three parts of “Henry the Sixth,” in tragedy; and in comedy “Love's Labour's Lost,” and the “Two Gentlemen of Verona.” It is by these principally that criticism must be guided in any attempt to determine the genuineness of the other pieces which have been ascribed, with more or less probability, to his youthful pen. To this standard, however, we may now add Pericles, Prince of Tyre.For Shakspeare's authorship of this lovely drama is now admitted by most English critics. (Drake, Collier, &c.) Even Malone was originally of this opinion, and ably enough refuted Steevens, who held it to be an older drama which Shakspeare had merely retouched.

(Reed's Shah speare, xxi. 412.) Subsequently, however, he changed his views, and concurred with Steevens. But this is only a further proof how ill qualified Malone was, by reason perhaps of the very extent of his learning, to judge of genuine poetry. For, in fact, Steevens's reasons (Reed, ib. p. 393) are those of a mere philologist, and even as such not tenable. Thus, in the first place, he objects that the chorus (prologue) in “Pericles” is cast quite differently from that in the “ Winter's Tale,” “ Romeo and Juliet,” and “Henry the Fifth." But this only proves that it was composed at a different and earlier date. Again, dumb-shows are employed in “Pericles," but this is not the case with any other unquestionable piece of Shakspeare, and the way, moreover, in which they are here used differs from that in the “Ferrex and Porrex," and in Gascoigne's “Iocasta.” The remark is quite correct : but again it is only a proof that the piece was written at a time when dumb-show was still in vogue, and that Shakspeare, with his usual fine tact and artistic judgment, felt that if pantomime was to continue available for dramatic purposes, it must cease to be a mere spectacle, and must somehow or other be interwoven with the development of the action. Further, Steevens argues that the asserted resemblance between the “Pericles” and the “Winter's Tale” is not decisive, and that no safe conclusion can be drawn from parallel passages, between it and other genuine pieces, since it would be quite as easy to find as many between Shakspeare and other poets—Fletcher, for instance, in the “Two Noble Kinsmen.” The diction too, he asserts, varies greatly from that of his other productions—ellipses, for instance, are frequent in “Pericles." The observation is true again, but at the same time it is only another proof that “Pericles” is much older than the “Winter's Tale," and that the juvenile productions of Shakspeare, like that of most other writers, are not faultless. The last objection is, that the author has here followed his authority (the old poet Gower in his “Prince Apolyn”) much more closely than Shakspeare usually does ; as, for instance, in “ As You Like It,"

“Hamlet,” “Lear,” &c. This is also correct, though only in part, and even if wholly true it would not decide the point at issue, since in other pieces, as the “Romeo and Juliet,” “Othello,” “Macbeth," &c. he has adhered quite as closely to his originals.

Only two, therefore, of all Steevens' reasons remain worth considering. The first is drawn from the fact that the “Pericles” was not admitted into the first folio by Heminge and Condell. But in answer to this, Malone and Drake (ii. 262) rightly object that Heminge and Condell also forgot the "Troilus and Cressida," and only remembered this unquestionably genuine piece after the whole work, including the table of contents, had been printed—an oversight which even the second edition blindly repeated. It follows therefore a remark which we here make once for all that the absence of a piece from the first folio edition is no proof of its spuriousness; not however conversely, for the English critics maintain that the adoption of a piece, even by Heminge and Condell, by itself is no warranty of its genuineness. For to forget, and to mistake one thing for another, are at all times, and especially under the circumstances of those days, two very distinct matters. In the multitude of Shakspeare's scattered pieces his friends might easily lose sight of one or two, especially of the earlier ones, but well acquainted as they must have been with his style and labours, it was most unlikely that they should mistake the works of other writers for his. Thus even this argument avails nothing against the “Pericles.” Moreover, direct evidence is opposed to it. Not merely is the piece expressly ascribed to Shakspeare by Sheppard, in a work bearing date 1646, and likewise by another otherwise unknown writer, Tatham, in 1652; but even Dryden, in Lis prologue to his tragedy of “ Circe” (1677), speaks of it as the “first born of Shakspeare's muse.” Now Dryden was twenty years old when Shakspeare died; he was extremely intimate with Sir William Davenant (whose first piece bears date 1629), who had been in close and frequent intercourse with Heminge and others of the fellow actors and contemporaries of Shakspeare. Consequently, some credit at least is due to Dryden's wholly unqualified assertion. Lastly, an edition of “Pericles," with Shakspeare's name in full on the title-page, was

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