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and above all, without that energy of character which is required to hold with a firm hand the reins of poesy not less than of life. Accordingly, he never succeeded in combining the several threads of the action in a single profound principle, pervading but yet lying below the surface of the outward representation. It was beyond his power to adhere throughout to any one constant idea — a particular view of life--as the basis and substance of the whole piece, and out of it to evolve the entire fable; such oneness of idea he was incapable of carrying with equal clearness through the several parts, and of referring back to it again all the leading springs and motives of the action. His details hang together by a loose and external bond; all is on the point of falling to pieces ; and it is only by foreign expedients, by sudden and unaccountable turns of the action, that the inward tendency to dissolution can be checked. His dramas possess, indeed, form and proportion; they are not without keeping and light nimble movement; but this external regularity of form, this outward advance of the plot, does not compensate for the want of inward unity and organic necessity of the several parts. In perfect agreement with all this, his dramatic characters are, it is true, correctly drawn, and are also lively and graceful, but yet devoid of an inner motive of development provided and existing from the beginning; they are not full and well-finished figures, but, for the most part, as it were, sculptured in half-relief, or like ancient illuminations, in which the figures do not at all stand out from the brilliant ground of gold on which they are emblazoned. They are deficient in intrinsic massiveness and solidity of mind; like Greene himself, their life does not pass outwards from within, but conversely, and consequently their inmost and real personality is never laid bare, but reality and appearance float alike before us in a broad, loose, and vague indeterminateness. The language is pure, clear, and graceful, but without ebb and flow; proceeding in one broad unbroken line, and not so much the language of mind, feeling, and passion, as of conversation and narrative. Thus the diction, characters, and structure of his pieces, perfectly accord with each other; and Tieck justly eulogises the tender, soothing harmony of Greene's poetry. They are, in fact, harmonious, composed in one cast and in one spirit ; all his personages breathe the same vital air, and in all we can trace the same handling of the pencil, the same colouring and perspective. But, to use again a previous illustration, it is with them as with ancient paintings, in which, while all the several figures are painted in the same sense and style, we are utterly at a loss to discover any reason for their being brought together, any intrinsic and immediately obvious principle of their combination. By the side of the Saviour, for instance, of the Apostles, or the Virgin, there frequently stands on the same canvas some later Saint, Bishop, or Pope, or even the dedicator of the picture, and his family. Thus, too, the harmony of Greene's pieces does not result from any concrete idea which is the basis of the whole, and from which, as a centre, all the divergent rays proceed, but from the unity of feeling and the general tone of mind in which the several parts are all conceived and executed. In a word, Greene treats dramatic art too much in an epic style: with him the inner life is kept too much in the background; the action does not spring out of adequate motives in the subjective spirit and character of the acting personages, and consequently what takes place appears in the light of an event rather than of an action. This is the apūrov yeūčoc, which in itself involves all the other faults we have pointed out.

For this reason Greene has been most successful in the works wherein he had to handle a fabulous subject of an epical rather than dramatical cast. His “James IV. of Scotland,” and “King Alphonsus of Arragon," in which, on an historical foundation, raised a strange mixed structure--half historical, half fabulousstand a full step lower than his "Orlando Furioso,” (according to Collier's conjecture), one of his carliest dramas; and especially than his “Friar Bacon,” which were both popular favourites, and long maintained their places on the stage. In the former pieces we at once see that the author has ventured on a province for which he was ill qualified : in the latter, on the contrary, the poet appears to move on his native soil—so delicious an air of home here breathes around the reader. As the “ Friar Bacon*" is admitted to be one of Greene's best pieces, it demands at least a brief notice. It is easy to recognise in it all the merits and defects already mentioned. The old popular tradition of Friar Bacon and his magi. cal skill, is interwoven with the story of the love of the Prince Edward and the Earl Lacy for the forester's beautiful daughter, Margaret of Fresingfield. The connexion, however, is wholly epical — altogether extrinsical and factitious; the leading ideas of the legend and of the love-story have nothing in common. Exactly the same is the case with the development of the two actions : in the one, the friar's bold and venturesome design fails through an external cause—the carelessness and stupidity of his assistantand no explanation is afforded why the omniscient and omnipotent Bacon should have confided such important services to such a fool; in the other, the sudden heroism of the Prince, his renunciation in favour of Lacy, and the latter's hesitation and trials, are equally unaccountable and inexplicable; and both appear more like accidental events than deliberate acts. The King, Henry III., the Emperor Frederick, the King of Castile, and his daughter, form, in the spirit of a popular ballad, a brilliant frame-work—the golden-ground of the ancient illuminations; they do not in the least enter into the proper action of the piece, but rather attend upon it with the grotesque and symbolical splendour of the court language of the day, and accept whatever the others determine and accomplish. Nevertheless, the scenes run into each other easily and naturally: the represented action advances with a measured and graceful progress; most of the characters, and especially the comic ones, are, it must be admitted, well executed, though in an epic, relief-like, style of handling; while a fresh clear spirit, and a tint of pure harmonious colouring, play around the whole. In short, the piece possesses, in an eminent degree, all the merits of Greene's manner.

* Translated in Tieck's Vorschule Shakspeares.

Even if the “George-a-Green,” the “Pinner of Wakefield,” which Tieck translated, and at first took to be a youthful work of Shakspeare, but subsequently declared to be Greene's, be not the production of this author, still it is written so completely in his style, and is so excellent a specimen of it, that even on this account alone it deserves a short notice at our hands, and still more so now that, by a discovery made within the last ten years, Greene's claim to the authorship of this piece has been all but positively established. (See R. Greene's Works, by. Rev. A. Dyce, 1831, vol. i. p. iv. v.) The materials of the fable are furnished by two popular legends, which are here again connected with each other, and also with certain events of the reigu of the good King Edward, (in all probability the highly popular Edward III.), without regard to chronology or historical truth.

“George-a-Green," and “Robin Hood,” are not, even in the present day, entirely banished from the memory of Englishinen; and at the period when Greene wrote, they were the favourite heroes of the populace. The characters, which are well conceived and skilfully worked out by the poet, are in the very spirit of the old legends, romances, and ballads, which were still current among the people. Extraordinary personal strength, and an equal degree of courage and honour — a lively light-hearted gaiety, loyalty to their sovereign, attachment to their own class and mode of life—form the principal traits of their characters. Accordingly, they are sketched in a perfectly epic style, and merely from that aspect of their existence which connects them with the outer world —with external relations, circumstances, and events; while the inward life of mind and soul is rarely, if ever, brought before us. In like manner the action is spun out from external causes; and by the accidental concurrence of circumstances and events. With the defeat of the rebellious Earl of Kendall, by the Pinner, and of the Scottish King, by the old Musgrove, and their delivery as prisoners to the King, the thread of the story first laid down is at an end. But at this juncture Robin Hood comes forward, and the action assumes an entirely new turn, in which the shoemakers of the merry city of Bradford play an important part. In short, an essentially new piece opens, in which, however, the story of the Pinner's love for the fair Bettris is incidentally brought to a close. It is manifest that the several movements of the action are not otherwise connected with each other than as the exploits of Diomed depend on the anger of the goéllike Achilles, or the adventurous travels of Ulysses are connected with the manner in which he revenges himself on the insolent suitors. If, however, we allow this epical method to pass, and overlook the frequent offences against the laws of dramatic composition, the whole will appear so highly amusing, the characters drawn so unpretendingly, and with so few, yet delicate and expressive touches; the

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language so unforced, natural, and appropriate; the wit so sprightly and so naïve, and all pervaded with such a tone of hilarity and goodnature, that I am disposed to rank it higher than the Friar Bacon.

Collier, and with him Tieck, places the first appearance of Friar Bacon in the year 1588; from Henslow's Diary it appears to have been acted in London in 1591. Somewhere about this time, probablyin 1589, the “Pinner of Wakefield” may have been composed; in 1593 it was still acted. However, it may, without hesitation, be assumed, that Robert Greene had written for the stage many years before this—at all events as early as 1587. (Collier, ü. 150.)

Christopher Marlowe's oldest piece, “ Tamburlane the Great," is placed by Collier, (iii. 108) on very plausible, not to say certain grounds, in the year 1586. The very choice of such a subject for his first appearance as a dramatic poet, throws some light on his character. The date and place of Marlowe's birth are alike involved in uncertainty: in all probability he was younger, by some years, than his friend Greene. He, too, had enjoyed a good education, and studied at Cambridge, 1583. Howeyer, his wild and irregular courses seem, at a very early period, to have driven him to abandon his destined career. Soon after quitting the University he became a player, and was well received, but appears, after a short time, to have quitted the stage, perhaps as imposing too much restraint on his pleasures, or perhaps that he might be able to devote all his powers and talents to writing. At least we do not meet with his name in any of the contemporaneous lists of players. On the other hand, his great tragedies appeared in quick succession, the “Massacre at Paris," and the “Life and Death of Dr. Faustus," being written (according to Collier) in 1588; his " Jew of Malta," in 1589; and his “Dido,” in which he had the assistance of Nash, in 1590; and in the next year, his best work, “ Edward II.”* These six dramas, besides others, which, perhaps, belong to him, he composed within the short space of six or seven years of a riotous and dissipated career, and distracted by warm feelings and headstrong passions. In this respect he rivalled his companion

* Lust's Dominion, which, in modern times, has been generally ascribed to him, is not his work, but was a later production from the pens of Dicker, Haughton, and Day, as is plain from Dodsley's Old Plays, II. 311, Ed. 1825. (Collier, üi. 96.)

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