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and historical battles are described, and many of the incidents are of a bloodthirstiness and ghastliness t h a t it takes a Renaissance

mind to delight in, especially in the closing p a r t s where t h e scene is I t a l y , and Nashe breaks out into the old cry against I t a l i a n v i c e and its corrupting influence on English morals. The University W i t s were a factor of enormous i m p o r t a n c e irt the development of English literature. They represent a more bourgeois stream t h a t absorbed what was best in the c o u r t l y t r a d i t i o n of Spenser and Lyly and developed it on a broader and more realisticbasis, infusing a new vigour into the lovely b u t s l i g h t l y a n a e m i c and artificial visions of the courtly poets. The r o m a n t i c splendours of Marlowe's earlier plays are not likely to be overlooked. W h a t is more apt to be forgotten is the realistic tendencies of the p a m p h l e t s of Greene and Nashe, which represent the soil on which t h e romance throve, and which was sending up shoots of its own into the luxuriant overgrowth the social protest of H i e r o n i m o , t h e Machiavellianism of Marlowe's later plays, and their terser, more k n o t t y imagery, tendencies t h a t burst out in full force in the succeeding period of the r e v o l t . Of a third and still more popular level t h a t r e m a i n e d impervious to courtly culture, represented at its best in t h e novels of Deloney (see below, J a c o b e a n P r o s e ) , but also in t h e last offshoots of the moralities, which provided a point of d e p a r t u r e for the' Jonsonian comedy of humours, and in the jest books and b r o a d s i d e ballads hawked about the streets, there is no room to speak. It produced little of permanent value, but its existence should be kept i a mind.

6. T h e Elizabethan S h a k e s p e a r e
The man who most completely synthesized the a c h i e v e m e n t s of t h e University W i t s , who combined the tendencies of K y d and Marlowe, and Lyly too, and brought them to perfection, was W i l l i a m Shakespeare (1564-1616). Already in 1592, on his d e a t h bed one might say v Greene had warned his companions against a c e r t a i n ' u p s t a r t crow,, beautified w i t h our own feathers, t h a t , w i t h his t i g e r ' s heart w r a p t in a p l a y e r ' s hide (a parody of a line from H e n r y VI), supposes, he is as well able to bombast out a blank verse as the best of you; and being an absolute J o h a n n e s F a c t o t u m , is in his own conceit t h e only Shakescene in a c o u n t r y . ' W i t h i n a year both Greene and M a r l o w e were dead, Kyd had w i t h d r a w n from the stage, and so had Peele, who was soon to die in misery like his fellows; Lodge had saved himself by taking to medicine, and Shakespeare, a f t e r the reopening of t h e theatres was left as the one o u t s t a n d i n g d r a m a t i s t of the day, a n d was to remain so until about the turn of t h e c e n t u r y a younger generation appeared on the scene, the men of the revolt. Of Shakespeare's life we do not know v e r y much, and what w e

do know*from various official documents and entries in archives is not' v e r y j i n t e r e s t i n g , but there is an astonishing w e a l t h of such doc u m e n t a r y detail. He was, like his coeval Marlowe, the son of a wellt o - d o provincial tradesman, whose business however had begun to fall off already during W i l l i a m ' s childhood. Nevertheless he must have attended the very good grammar school of his n a t i v e S t r a t f o r d , where he would obtain a fairly thorough grounding in L a t i n , though later he evidently preferred to read his classics in translations. W e know of his hasty marriage at the age of eighteen to a w o m a n very considerably older than himself, and the birth of his first child some six months after; of his departure about 1585 to London, leaving his wife a n d family behind him. A rather distinct a n i m u s against nagging wives in his earliest comedies may suggest a reason. Then comes a b l a n k of some seven years, during which he was probably learning his new profession, and finding his feet in the theatrical world. By 1592 he had already written a number of plays and was a n a m e to be reckoned w i t h , as Greene's acrimony shows. During the h u n g r y p l a g u e years of 1592-3, when the London theatres were closed and most actors on tour in the provinces or on the continent, he was a b l e to rely on the protection of the Earl of S o u t h a m p t o n , to w h o m he dedicated his two verse tales written then, and probably his sonnets too. And when the theatres reopened he appears as a shareholder in t h e newly organized company of the Lord C h a m b e r l a i n ' s Men, i. e. he was able to contribute capital to the undertaking. And a f t e r t h a t the records are mainly a succession of financial operations. H e was able to pay for a coat of arms, and to buy up property in his n a t i v e town, finally acquiring the finest house in the place. After a b o u t 1603 he seems to have given up acting, for which his talent was not o u t s t a n d i n g , and at last, about 1612, he abandoned the t h e a t r e c o m p l e t e l y and retired to live in his fine house in a p p a r e n t l y P h i l i s t i n e prosperity without giving a further thought to the d r a m a or even to poetry. W h e n he was buried as an honoured citizen in his parish church, his r e l a t i o n s hinted at his fame as an epical writer on his m o n u m e n t , b u t there was no word to suggest that he was the greatest d r a m a t i s t of all t i m e . That however is in complete accord with the general s t a t u s of p o p u l a r drama at the time plays were not ' l i t e r a t u r e ' . It is no doubt the banality of these facts t h a t has inspired various romantically minded cranks with the idea t h a t S h a k e s p e a r e could not the author of his own plays, a theory for which there is not t h e ghost of a foundation. In the first place, even s u p p o s i n g they were written by a highly placed personage, there would be no reason that he should hide the fact. Play-writing was not a disgrace, even if it brought no great fams; several noblemen are said to h a v e written for the stags, a n i already before Shakespeare's r e t i r e m e n t , gentlemen like Beaumont ware certainly producing plays w i t h o u t losing caste. And also, what has advanced against S h a k e s p e a r e as an author, t h a t he took no interest in preserving his works for p o s t e r i t y , would apply even more to the supposed a u t h o r who had such an itch to see

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his plays produced t h a t he arranged with i n f i n i t e i n g e n u i t y to f a t h e r them on someone else, but showed no desire to see t h e m p r i n t e d . Besides, in the narrow world of the t h e a t r e such a m y s t i f i c a t i o n could not have been sustained for long. Ben J o n s o n in his gossip would h a v e been sure to let something slip, but he shows not the least suspicion. He sneers at Shakespeare's ' s m a l l Latin and less Greek,' w i t h the natural contempt of the learned man for mere g r a m m a r - s c h o o l acquirements; but the plays themselves j u s t i f y the sneers they show a better acquaintance with translations of the classics t h a n w i t h the classics themselves, though not complete ignorance of L a t i n either. And further the author of these plays was obviously not an a m a teur writing for his own pleasure, but a man of the t h e a t r e with an eye to the box office receipts, following every change, of fashion with a very wary eye. Shakespeare's knowledge was wide and a b o v e all v a r ied, but such knowledge was not the monopoly of the aristocracy, nor the kind that a university education would bring. In fact any theory that tries to deny Shakespeare's i d e n t i t y has riot got a leg t o stand on, and is not worth discussing. It is a p i t y to h a v e to w a s t e even a page on the question, but its constant recrudescence u n f o r t u nately makes it necessary. The canon of Shakespeare's works is m a i n l y established by the big Folio edition, prepared as a memorial to him by his colleagues Heminges and Condell in 1623, seven years after his d e a t h , and a f t e r Jonson had set an example by publishing his own plays as ' w o r k s ' . The texts used were based in the main on t h e p r o m p t copies k e p t in the archives of the Globe theatre, and may h a v e u n d e r g o n e some revision by others in the course of various productions, b u t are on t h e whole fairly reliable. Two plays, P e r i c l e s and T h e Two Noble Kinsmen, were not included, possibly because Shakespeare only had a part share in them, though H e n r y V I I I, of which this is equally true, was printed. T h e r e m a i n i n g 35 plays are probably by Shakespeare throughout, though a t t e m p t s have been made to ascribe some of them, mainly the earlier ones, either in p a r t or entirely to others. On the whole Heminges and Condell seem to have rescued the canon completely, or nearly so. A^eres mentions a comedy, L o v e's L a b o u r ' s W o n, which unless it was preserved under another name has disappeared, and there is mention in a book-seller's catalogue of a C a r d n i o by S h a k e s p e a r e and Fletcher, on which a very much altered 18th c. version a p p e a r s to be based. Of the 36 plays of the First Folio, about half had appeared in Quarto editions during Shakespeare's life t i m e , some a n o n y m o u s l y , some under his name, some in very bad p i r a t e d versions, some in texts that may even have been set up from S h a k e s p e a r e ' s own rough copy. In such cases the Folio text seems generally to h a v e been set up f r o m the Quarto, but after it had been compared with the p r o m p t copy and corrected by it. In a later edition of the Folio a n u m b e r of further plays were added, which had been a t t r i b u t e d either directly t o Shakespeare, or to ' W . S.' in earlier Q u a r t o s , but of these only

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P e r i c l e s seems to bear any sign of Shakespeare's h a n d . These, together with a few others, form the so-called S h a k e s p e a r e Apocrypha. The problem of the order in which Shakespeare's plays were written is an important one, in which the Folio gives no assistance: but in its general lines it can be regarded as solved. The dates of a few plays are fairly definitely established by topical references, performances at court, and the like. For a great many more a lower limit can be fixed by the publication of Q u a r t o editions, entries in the Stationers' Register, mention by other writers and the like. One of the most important sources is Francis Meres, who in 1598 published in his P a l l a d i s T a m i a a survey of c o n t e m p o r a r y literature, including a list of Shakespeare's twelve best comedies and tragedies up to date. On the basis of this rough scaffolding, s t y l i s t i c criteria have been elaborated by which a fairly acceptable chronological order has been fixed, mainly by means of metrical tests. Shakespeare's early verse is like Marlowe's, with p r e d o m i n a n t l y end-stopped lines and masculine endings. As he progresses this metrical stiffness tends to loosen up more and more feminine endings increase and so do run-on lines or e n j a m b m e n t . The figures do n o t , of course, give an absolutely smooth development, the curve has its ups and downs, nor do the two points run absolutely parallel, but the general tendency is plain. And to these two points come f u r t h e r ones in the early plays rhyme is still frequent, indeed it shows a fairly steady increase up to the group of 'lyrical plays' round a b o u t 15946, then drops abruptly, while in the late plays the increase of 'weak endings' on a proclitic that really should belong to the following line is again fairly steady. Most of these developments, it may be noted, are not peculiar to Shakespeare, but characteristic of the general development of blank verse. However the various d r a m a t i s t s do differ a m o n g themselves considerably with regard to such figures, and metrical tests are of some help in deciding not only questions of chronology, but also of authorship when they are supported by other m a t e r i a l . Within the sequence of plays thus established certain groups stand out clearly as being related in mood and general stylistic features, and so Shakespeare's work has been divided into four main periods: the period of apprenticeship stretching from about 1588 down to the closing of the theatres in the plague years of 15923, and comprising mainly historical plays or chronicles, and comedies, all of them rather t e n t a t i v e and experimental. It is in t h i s period that the exacter chronology is most under dispute. The second period does not differ from the first in mood or in subjects, only in the complete mastery of the medium; it is the period of the great r o m a n t i c comedies and the riper historical plays, and stretches from the reopening of the theatres in 1594, down to about 1600, when Shakespeare comes under the influence of the revolt, abandons his gay r o m a n t i c comedies and turns mainly to tragedy, with a few plays t h a t technically pass as comedies because of their happy endings, but have n o t h i n g of the

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gay brilliance of the true comedies. Tragedy, at this time, is not of course an entirely new genre for Shakespeare; there had been earlier attempts, but they were exceptions, now it is the tragedies that dominate. And then about 1609 begins the last period of the romances, which reflect the new theatrical fashion i n a u g u r a t e d by B e a u m o n t and Fletcher. Formerly it used to be supposed t h a t these periods reflected stages in Shakespeare's internal development; t h a t some tremendous internal crisis or bitter disappointment determined the turn to pessimistic tragedies, and that the romances of the last period 'on the heights' give the serene philosophy of the m a t u r e sage, who after wrestling with the demons of despair, has in the a u t u m n of his life won through to a belief in a benign providence, and in t i m e as the u l t i m a t e healer of all ills. By now the idea of a mental crisis and a period of pessimism has f o r t u n a t e l y been abandoned, though not perhaps for the true reason, that it is the reflection of a general change of theatrical fashions. The belief in the ripe philosophy of the romances seems harder to kill, largely it would seem because the new fashion t h e y reflect was so obviously introduced by B e a u m o n t and Fletcher, and the idea t h a t Shakespeare could have been ' i n f l u e n c e d ' by his inferiors fills the heart of many a Shakespearian scholar with indescribable rage. Of course it is not a question of 'influence' in t h e sense of a free artist admiring and i m i t a t i n g the work of a n o t h e r , but of a man of the theatre giving his audience the sort of t h i n g it e v i d e n t l y wanted while still treating the new genre in his own way. Shakespeare's first a t t e m p t at d r a m a would seem to be H nr y VI P a r t I. In a way it was an extraordinarily a m b i t i o u s project, for the play makes no sense by itself and must h a v e been planned from the first as part of a series, and the idea of a series was in itself something new. In another way it was rather modest, for the history plays that existed so far, like T h e F a m o u s V i c t o r i e s of H e n r y V (of which this was to some extent a c o n t i n u a t i o n ) , or T h T r o u b l e s o m e R e i g n of K i n g J o h n , were very unpretentious affairs, and E d w a r d II had not yet been w r i t - ' ten. It was Shakespeare's purpose to d r a m a t i z e the national catastrophe of the Wars of the Roses as treated by Hall, and to make of it, like G o r b o d u c, a vehicle of the political ideas of his class the necessity for national unity, for a strong central government to check the power of the feudal aristocrats and to stress the horror of civil war and rebellion. But his concept of history was considerably in advance of H a l l ' s , and he saw the disaster not as God's punishment for the infringement of his d i v i n e order, but as caused by human jealousies and h u m a n ambitions. T h u s while ITall t r e a t s Richard of York with s y m p a t h y , as the true heir to the t h r o n e done out of his b i r t h r i g h t , and only stepping in when H e n r y ' s i n c o m p e t e n c e makes it almost a d u t y , Shakespeare makes of him a M a c h i a v e l l i a n villain, scheming against God's anointed d f a c t o d e p u t y . And he conceived the whole in three, or possibly four s e p a r a t e movements.

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The first shows how during H e n r y ' s minority, owing to the jealousy and factions among the nobility, England loses her d o m i n i o n s in France. The second shows York gradually emerging as the dominant figure among the pack of savage wolves that the young H e n r y is unable to keep in check, while in the third part the chaos of civil war engulfs the country. Whether the fourth movement, which does bring in the idea of retribution and atonement in the h i s t o r y of Richard III, was part of the original plan is less certain. In any case, the overall plan shows a quite remarkable grasp of the main tide of events and the power to shape a more definite p a t t e r n out of t h e chaotic mass of happenings recorded by Hall. The execution however is not as good as the plan, and this is especially true of the first p a r t . Partly this seems to be because the play is not altogether of a piece, and there has been some rather obvious t i n k e r i n g with it. As first planned it probably concentrated even more on the e v e n t s in France, and on events rather than personalities, giving a broad, frescolike effect. And the way the events have been telescoped and shifted about in time to produce a clearer unity is really masterly. On the French side everything has been crystallized round the figure of J o a n of Arc, who in Hall represents merely a v e r y minor incident, occupying less than a year out of the twenty t h a t Shakespeare covers. To see in her brief triumph the essential turn in the fortunes of France is easy enough for a modern, but to realize her i m p o r t a n c e from Hall's account demands sheer genius. Possibly Shakespeare had read a more glamorous account in French it is characteristic of him t h a t he did not rely on a single source for his histories but read widely and in various works but if so it has not been i d e n t i f i e d . And most probably it was the dramatic appeal of the episode and the p a t r i o t i c desire to ascribe the ultimate success of the French to mere witchcraft that suggested the stress on J o a n . For in his t r e a t m e n t of her he follows his English sources entirely in blackening her character and even goes beyond them. On the English side the movement is a crescendo of deaths. One after the other the great warriors of Henry V ' s generation are destroyed, leaving a younger generation of men without p a t r i o t i s m and without stamina, eaten up with jealousy and hatred of one another, who sacrifice the heroes to their own petty schemes. However this double movement has been very much weakened by a sense of patriotism that tries after all to minimize the English losses, lets every French success be followed by a more spectacular English v i c t o r y , and even tries to make of the final eviction a sort of English t r i u m p h . And further the fresco effect has been spoilt by a sequence of more personal scenes introducing York and his claims to the t h r o n e t h a t seem to be a later addition and differ in style from the s u r r o u n d i n g matter. If we omit those three scenes we get a s t r u c t u r a l line t h a t makes much better sense, and a style that seems to be progressively improving with each act. It appears most clearly in the first act, marked by an excess of purely decorative inversions, a sort of s t a c c a t o abruptness,

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a use of rather learned imagery, and patches of i m i t a t i o n Marlowe. In the succeeding two acts these mannerisms decrease progressively, leaving something with very little i n d i v i d u a l i t y a b o u t it, a d e q u a t e , but not obviously Shakespearian; till with the sequence of T a l b o t ' s death comes a sudden rise, and we seem to be transported to the r h y m ing period of R i c h a r d II. These scenes were in fact probably rewritten for a later revival, for it was not unusual on such occasions to refurbish the most effective scenes, as with T h e S p a n i s h T r a g e d y . After that we drop back for a while into the more pedestrian style, and then with the last few scenes comes something purely Shakespearian and on the level of the succceding parts. A possible explanation of this v a r i e t y of styles .is that Shakespeare began writing rather tentatively, intending to keep almost exclusively to the French wars, and developing his style with r e m a r k a b l e r a p i d i t y as he wrote. T h a t having come to J o a n ' s execution, and h a v i n g destroyed all the English leaders, he introduced York already to be her judge. And then realizing that York would need a more detailed introduction, he abandoned the play for a while, t u r n i n g perhaps to comedy, and then after a pause in which he had developed his s t y l e yet further, resumed work, introducing the first series of York scenes, and rounding the play off. Here the scene of M a r g a r e t ' s c a p t u r e and the beginning of the love that is to prove so fatal in t h e succeeding play, is incredibly n a i v e in its whole concept, but in language it already shows the typical early Shakespearian imagery drawn from n a t u r e and country life. The second part shows a considerable a d v a n c e in most respects the writing, the poetry, the character-drawing. It is a l r e a d y a play of conflicting personalities, not of personified forces. But again t h e general concept is in advance of the execution. York, w h o is the p l a y ' s real centre, remains a very shadowy figure, though p r o b a b l y on the stage, his silent presence will make itself more strongle felt. And if in the first part Shakespeare had left him some positive features, making him at times the mouthpiece of p a t r i o t i c laments, here he is entirely blackened. His patriotism is unmasked as mere egoism, his laments for E n g l a n d ' s losses are simply regrets for the loss of what he regards as his own property, and in the final scenes he seems to go out of h!3 mind altogether in baffled megalomaniac rage. The figure on whom Shakespeare has concentrated all his skill is the Good D u k e Humphrey, actually a secondary figure as far as the plot goes, and of importance only as the one upright patriot left, the man w h o might have helped Henry to save his crown, and who H e n r y a b a n d o n s to his enemies. York has no need to plot against him actively, he joins finally with his own enemies to destroy him, but still leaves the work to the others. For at H e n r y ' s court dog eats dog, and York is content from the first to play a w a i t i n g game while his opponents destroy each other. H u m p h r e y is in himself a tragic figure, the man who devotes himself to a master who betrays him, he might have been the hero of a very effective tragedy, but he drops out of the play too soon to be

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its centre. Yet while he is there it is on h i m t h a t all t h e light is focused. He is quite a complex figure already, we see him in his sincerity, his force of character, his p a t r i o t i s m , heartiness and good sense. He is invested with personal traits t h a t i n d i v i d u a l i z e him, such as his love of caustic jokes. He is shown in his relations with his wife, his friends, his enemies, the common people, and all their various comments on him make his character stand out in still sharper relief. There is perhaps a certain artlessness in the way episodes are brought in for the purpose of exhibiting some p a r t i c u l a r facet of his personality without forming an organic part of the plot. S o m e t h i n g of the same kind appears in Marlowe too, and shows the d i f f i c u l t y the playwrights still found in elaborating a technique of p o r t r a i t u r e in which character and plot could be developed s i m u l t a n e o u s l y . T h a t is probably a part of the reason that even in later plays like R o m e o a n d J u l i e t and K i n g J o h n it is still the secondary figures that are most strongly individualized. P a r t 3 marks a further advance, both in d r a m a t i s m and in character-drawing. The first is partly due to the subject m a t t e r , for the struggle of all against all in P a r t 2 has now crystallized into the one great opposition of York and Lancaster. Yet w i t h i n t h a t dominant movement the play of individual selfishness continues. It is not an opposition of loyalties, the upholding of a cause believed to be just, but a naked struggle for power, and men change sides as t h e y change hats when moved by interest or pique. Brother t u r n s against brother, and in one symbolical scene the very words of t h e famous 33rd Homily against Rebellion have been presented in action: ' T h e brother to seek and often to work the death of his brother, the son of t h e father, the father to seek or procure the death of his sons.' Chaos has broken in, cruelty, slaughter, revenge and self-interest reign supreme. Only poor, saintly Harry, who once he has lost his t h r o n e is treated with more sympathy than the bigoted weakling of the preceding part, wins through to a realization of what the mad struggle for e m p t y power has cost his country. But even he does not grasp the fuU measure of his responsibility, and at the very moment when he believes that his mildness and mercy must have won the people's heart he is cast down from the throne a second time. W h a t the c o u n t r y needs is, as York had told him long ago, a king who can 'act controlling laws.' These three plays must have been in existence by 1592 when Greene quoted from the last of them. J u s t when the f o u r t h play of the series, R i c h a r d III, was composed is not known, b u t there would seem to be a considerable gap between t h e m . For though the first three show a remarkable evolution, they do not suggest the great jump in achievement that comes with the new p l a y . It is true, the action seems to hurry on without a break, and t h a t the theme of the new play was already forming in Shakespeare's mind as he wrote P a r t 3. One can almost see. the exact point when R i c h a r d , who till then had been the most a t t r a c t i v e of the three brothers brave, loyal, u n d a u n t e d , the man who pumps energy into his elder brother and

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who takes the death of his father most to heart, s u d d e n l y u n m a s k s himself as the jealous scheming v i l l a i n who will destroy t h e whole of his kindred. It is true also t h a t the material was much more t r a c t able for a d r a m a t i s t , the scheme of rise and fall, of c r i m e and punishment, gave in itself the basic p a t t e r n of E l i z a b e t h a n t r a g e d y , and the central figure here is also the bearer of the a c t i o n . But t h a t does not explain the immense difference both in the s t y l e and the character-drawing. The long-drawn descriptive similes of H n r VI have suddenly disappeared, the language has t a k e n on a new flexibility. It seems not improbable that Shakespeare had changed companies "for a while and joined Strange's Men, for w h o m he must h a v e w r i t ten T i t u s A n d r o n i c u s , and t h a t the c o m p l e t i o n of his historical series was postponed till he r e t u r n e d to his original c o m p a n y . A comparison of two sections from R i c h a r d ' s last monologue in H n r VI 3, and his opening monologue in the new p l a y , which repeats the sam2 themes will show a great deal of the difference.
T h e n , s i n c e t h e h e a v e n s h a v e s h a p ' d m y b o d y so Let h e l l m a k e c r o o k ' d m y m i n d t o a n s w e r i t . J h a v e n o b r o t h e r , I a m l i k e no b r o t h e r ; A n d t h i s w o r d ' l o v e ' , w h i c h g r e y b e a r d s call d i v i n e , Be r e s i d e n t in m e n l i k e o n e a n o t h e r , A n d not in m e : I a m myself a l o n e . Clarence, beware; thou keep'st me from the light; B u t I w i l l s o r t a p i t c h y d a y for t h e e ; For I will b u z z a b r o a d s u c h p r o p h e c i e s , T h a t E d w a r d s h a l l be t e a r f u l of h i s l i f e . B u t 1, t h a t a m n o t s h a p ' d for s p o r t i v e N o r m a d e t o c o u r t an a m o r o u s tricks,

looking-glass;

I, t h a t a m r u d e l y s t a m p ' d , a n d w a n t l o v e ' s m a j e s t y To strut before a w a n t o n a m b l i n g n y m p h ; 1, t h a t a m c u r t a i l ' d of t h i s fair p r o p o r t i o n , C h e a t e d of f e a t u r e by d i s s e m b l i n g n a t u r e , D e f o r m ' d , u n f i n i s h ' d , s e n t b e f o r e rny t i m e I n t o t h i s b r e a t h i n g w o r l d , scarce half m a d e u p , A n d t h a t so l a m e l y a n d u n f a s h i o n a b l e T h a t dogs b a r k at me, as I h a l t by t h e m ; W h y , 1, in t h i s w e a k p i p i n g t i m e of p e a c e , H a v e no d e l i g h t t o pass a w a y t h e t i m e , U n l e s s t o see my s h a d o w in t h e s u n A n d d e s e a n t on m i n e o w n deformity. A n d t h e r e f o r e , since 1 c a n n o t p r o v e a l o v e r , To entertain these fair well-spoken days, 1 a m d e t e r m i n e d to p r o v e a v i l l a i n , A n d h a t e t h e i d l e p l e a s u r e s of t h e s e days. Plots have I laid, inductions dangerous,. By drunken prophecies, libels and dreams,

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T o set m y b r o t h e r C l a r e n c e a n d t h e k i n g In d e a d l y h a t e t h e o n e a g a i n s t t h e o t h e r .

Allowance must be made for the position of the two monologues. The second is nearly twice as long as the first, because it forms a prologue to the whole play, and can be developed more f u l l y . But it has a new emotional power, and Richard shows a feeling of bitterness and contempt both for his own deformity and for those more fortunate t h a n he that contrasts with the boastfulness of his earlier speech. But what stands out most markedly is the use of the unexpected and therefore creative epithet 'amorous looking-glass', 'ambling n y m p h ' , 'breathing world', 'weak piping t i m e ' . This is already the work of a man who can play with the language at will. And in his evocation of Richard's character there is a new freedom. He had a fine model to work on, for this part of H a l l ' s Chronicle was based on More's life of Richard, in itself an interesting psychological s t u d y , based on facts that More had gleaned from his former master Cardinal Morton (the bishop of Ely in the play), and v a r i o u s i n t i m a t e details have been incorporated into the play,as with t h e arrest of H a s t i n g s . B u t even here Shakespeare has altered some of the details in accordance with his concept of R i c h a r d ' s character, and while in t h e history the peers are cowed into subjection by a group of armed men bursting in on them, Shakespeare's hero puts down all opposition by the force of his personality. That demonic strength of will is especially strongly brought out in the scene of Anne's surrender, where, with everything iled against him, over the very body of the saint who should have een her father-in-law, and whom he has murdered, he drives her with consummate agility of mind from position to position, bewildering her and throwing her own weakness, in her face when he offers her his breast to stab, till hypnotized by the idea t h a t she can reform him she submits. That is Shakespeare's own c o n t r i b u t i o n to the character. But from the stage Machiavel, especially from Barabas, he has borrowed many traits, especially R i c h a r d ' s delight in his own cleverness and the gusto with which he follows the p a t h of crime, his hypocrisy and actor's ability. Richard can change his role like a chameleon, moving from heartiness and a p p a r e n t frankness to unctuous religiosity, from bland kindliness to b r u t a l f u r y , all in a moment. By the merest hint he can set his tools to work, and make them feel that they are doing the p l a n n i n g when they are merely echoing his suggestions. But then, when he has reached his goal, the Elysium of an earthly crown that he had once promised his father, the strength goes out of him. The glory he had promised himself has turned to ashes, he is a prey to fears. When he tries to hypnotize Elizabeth as he had done Anne, it is he who is p u t on the defensive, and though Elizabeth seems to s u b m i t like Anne, she has in fact outwitted him. And so we come to his last great monologue on the eve of Bosworth field, when he obtains an insight into himself and realizes that he is not himself alone, as he had boasted, that there are

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two l's within him, and the one must condemn t h e other, and hesinks. into the despair the ghosts of his many v i c t i m s h a v e called down upon him. It is a moment of u t t e r weakness, and he still has the energy to pull himself out of it. He dies s t u b b o r n l y , r e s i s t i n g fate to t h e end, and in that last losing b a t t l e he gains the s t a t u r e of a tragic hero, bloody and unbowed. P r o b a b l y he wins more of our a d m i r a t i o n n o w than he did at the time, for it is as a criminal w i t h despair in his heart that he dies, and despair was after all the crowning sin t h a t cut m a n off from forgiveness, but for us he does gain in m a g n i t u d e t h r o u g h that dogged, desperate struggle. It is in its way a compelling p o r t r a i t , in s p i t e of its r a t h e r obvious, staginess. Chiefly it is drawn from the outside, and it is only occasionally that we catch a glimpse of the inner man. B u t , especially irt the first half, the brilliance of the outer effects, t h e irony, h u m o u r and gusto, and the rush of the action, carry one with t h e m , and o n e does not feel t h a t a n y t h i n g is lacking. And even if the elements are mostly unoriginal, they are brought out with a force t h a t had n e v e r been achieved before. It is not only on the p o r t r a i t u r e however t h a t the sense of tragedy depends. The sense of an i n e v i t a b l e p a t t e r n t h a t the basic theme of crime and punishment suggests has been reinforced by various outward effects, again somewhat stagy and obvious, b u t effective and b r i l l i a n t l y - e m p l o y e d . The c o n s t a n t use of tragic i r o n y , a s i n A r d e n of F e v e r s h a m , increases this sense of a louring; fate, and so does the operation of M a r g a r e t ' s curse, again as i n A r d n, which serves to draw the e v e n t s together and place t h e m as steps in an inescapable development. And t h e fugal laments' of the women, with their strong rhetorical p a t t e r n i n g , r e p e a t i n g an effect that had already been evolved in the symbolical scene of t h e horrors of civil war in H n r VI 3, but now made more effective by their careful placing, give the play s o m e t h i n g of t h e g r a n d e u r of Greek tragedy. It is the most artificial of S h a k e s p e a r e ' s plays, with something of the severe order of a r i t u a l , and in t h a t it represents, an experiment that was not repeated S h a k e s p e a r e ' s d e v e l o p m e n t was to be in the direction of a greater looseness of s t r u c t u r e t h a t gives, a more i m m e d i a t e impression of life itself. Nor does he build so strongly on the after all slightly cheap idea of fate a g a i n . But it a l r e a d y marks a definite peak of achievement. The four early comedies show a no less impressive r a p i d i t y of development t h a n the histories, but also a r a t h e r more conscious search for a point of departure. For a c t u a l l y these seem to be t h e f i r s t comedies ever w r i t t e n for the public stage, and each is an e x p e r i m e n t in a different genre. T h e T a m i n g o f t h e S h r e w is obviously the earliest of them, though this has not been generally admitted. The earlier belief that it was based on t h e a n o n y m o u s T h e Taming o f a S h r e w (Q. 1594) which is more p r o b a b l y an imitation of Shakespeare's play led to its being regarded as a late work, and hence to desperate efforts on t h e p a r t of critics t o present what is really a very unpretentious farce as a work of mature

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genius, an a t t i t u d e that still continues to play a p a r t . But the style, t h e passages of Marlovian imitation, the preponderance of simile over metaphor and of decorative classical imagery, the c r u d i t y of the stage technique, all mark it as an early work, and more or less on a level w i t h H e n r y VI 1, the only other play of S h a k e s p e a r e ' s with such passages of Marlovian imitation. It is a c o m b i n a t i o n of native farce in the main plot, with an Italian comedy of i n t r i g u e in the subplot, based on the translation of Ariosto's T h e Supposes. The Comedy o f E r r o r s on the other hand has usua l l y been taken as the first experiment, and r a t h e r severely treated by the critics on that account. It must be a d m i t t e d t h a t the premise of identical twins on which it is built seems r a t h e r far-fetched to us now, and that also accounts for much critical d i s a p p r o v a l . But it was 2 premise that had the sanction of Roman comedy behind it, and here Shakespeare had conceived the actually extremely a m b i t i o u s plan of outdoing the great models of perfection. It is characteristic too t h a t he chose for his model P l a u t u s ' s M e n a e c h m i , practically the one Roman comedy that is not based on dupery for its hilarious misunderstandings, for Shakespeare from the first was not interested in deception and trickery as the basis of comedy. And in his "treatment of his source he shows an astonishing mastery of stage craft. He gives the farce a new dimension of pathos by enclosing it in the f r a m e story of the unhappy father, condemned to d e a t h an effect t h a t he borrowed again from T h e S u p p o s e s on which he had recently been working, although there it was a purely fictitious situ a t i o n and part of the general dupery. And this f r a m e action also shows an advance on T h e S h r e w , which too is placed within .a frame that serves to distance the i m p r o b a b i l i t i e s of the action. There however the frame is separate from the main play, nor does in contrast w i t h it in mood, while here the blending of the two opposite moods js very subtly achieved. Then further Shakespeare has complicated P l a u t u s ' s rather simple plot by the addition of a f u r t h e r pair of twin servants, which greatly increases the complexity and the hilarity of t h e misunderstandings. He gets his action under way at once almost a n d continues with a rising crescendo of m i s u n d e r s t a n d i n g s till in the final scene the stage is a seething mass of people all t a l k i n g at cross purposes, all maintaining a part of the t r u t h , in which no two accounts tally, till the final spectacular r e v e l a t i o n comes. In Plautus the real misunderstandings do not begin until t h e last act, and the final denouement is a very tame affair with only the two brothers and a slave together on the stage. For this finale Shakespeare had his models, both Italian and even native, as in G a m m e r G u rt o it's N e e d l e , but such a brilliant effcct had never been achieved before. And the way in which he has taken l i t t l e h i n t s f r o m Plautus, developing them into subsidiary actions, t h a t f i n a l l y merge into the general chaos of the last scene, as with the episode of t h e goldsmith, is also beautifully done. Here Shakespeare was developing what was to be one of his basic

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comic

themes, the discrepancy between a p p e a r a n c e and r e a l i t y . He had touched on it in T h S h r e w already, m a i n l y in the f r a m e plot of the tinker Sly which actually c o n t a i n s much of the best, work in that play , to some extent too in t h e final c o n t r a s t between the two sisters, when Bianca, the obedient d a u g h t e r t u r n s out to be the disobedient wife. But there the t h e m e is not as basic as it is here. In the same way he repeats the theme of the nagging wife, which t h e r e had been basic, and here is only s u b s i d i a r y . But he t r e a t s it w i t h a great deal more s u b t l e t y . Adriana is not a shrew who is brought to heel by rather violent methods methods i n c i d e n t a l l y t h a t are extremely amusing through being disguised as solicitude. She is a loving and f a i t h f u l wife, who has in fact a great deal to c o m p l a i n of. And there is much subtlety in the way she is t r a p p e d i n t o p u t t i n g herself in the wrong when the abbess takes her to task in t h e final scene. And the homily on wifely obedience t h a t then follows gains greatly in complexity and d r a m a t i c interest through being s l i g h t l y off the mark all the time, while K a t h a r i n a ' s parallel h o m i l y is s i m p l y preaching without any d r a m a t i c interest. And there is also a c h a n g e in Shakespeare's own a t t i t u d e . Wifely obedience is still held up as t h e ideal, but it is held up not because God has ordained t h a t w o m a n should be the weaker vessel and must obey, but because she really is the weaker vessel and cannot hope to impose her will on a m a n w h o is determined, and any a t t e m p t s for her to do so will only poison t h e life of the home. Above all Adriana is allowed to present her own case, and she presents it strongly, so that we are offered a choice of opinions, even though the dice are rather weighted against her. It is not only in the greater suppleness of t h e t h o u g h t t h a t t h e comedy marks an advance, The v a r i e t y of moods is also greater. In T h e S h r e w a pair of hard-boiled lovers and of r o m a n t i c ones are contrasted, but nothing is made of the c o n t r a s t and we see nothing of Lucentio's actual wooing, only his d i s t i n c t l y inept first raptures. Here, placed squarely in the centre as a sort of c l i m a x t h a t strong mark on the centre is very c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of S h a k e s p e a r e ' s structure is a scene of romantic wooing, which is not a b s o l u t e l y necessary to the plot, though it will help to round off t h e end nicely, and it is carried off perfectly successfully, w i t h a h i n t again of p a t h o s in the young m a n ' s bewilderment t h a t his honest love should be t r e a t ed with contumely. Above all the language is a l r e a d y far beyond anything in T h e S h r e w ; simile has definitely given way to more concentrated metaphor, and much of the imagery in its richness a n d fuller development is very close to t h a t of the earlier s o n n e t s . Whether T h e T w o G e n t l e m e n of V e r o n a is actually later t h a n T h e C o m e d y of E r r o r s is not perhaps very certain. It does not show any very marked a d v a n c e at least, but it is probably the first of the comedies in which s o m e t h i n g f r o m Lyly appears, in the dialogue of the two s e r v a n t s , and also p e r h a p s in the opposition between love and friendship and t h e b e t r a y a l of the one by the other, the theme of so m a n y of t h e s o n n e t s . Rather

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surprisingly Shakespeare seems to have begun with a distinct aversion for Lyly, whose first two comedies were c e r t a i n l y a v a i l a b l e in p r i n t , even if he had not been able to see any of them acted. One would, from his decidedly romantic bent, have expected h i m to feel an affinity from the first; but possibly L y l y ' s r a t h e r f l i r t a t i o u s treatment of love as a childish disease inflicted by a mischievous Cupid grated on him, who had grown up in the sentimental t r a d i t i o n of t r u e love of the popular ballads. Here however there is already s o m e t h i n g of L y l y ' s mockery of the extravagances of lovers, not so much in the actual presentation of the lovers themselves, as in t h e speech and comments of the servants. Launce at least is perfectly a c q u a i n t e d with the etiquette of courtly love, and the demand for secrecy on the part of the lover. But there is also direct game with the lovers themselves, as when J u l i a pretends disdain and tears up her lover's letter, only to grovel on the ground to collect the pieces the moment she is alone. The incident itself is based on the source, an episode from Montemayor's pastoral romance, D i a ri a, but it has been treated in a much lighter vein which is distinctly Lylian in effect. Basically however the play is not in the Lylian mood, but in t h a t of t h e t r a d i t i o n a l romances of the popular stage in which a more or less serious or at least sentimental plot is enlivened by comic episodes, t h e v e i n t h a t Greene in particular was exploiting. And it is these comic interludes that are the best things in it. Launce, the comic s e r v a n t , is one of Shakespeare's most delightful studies, far better t h a n the later Launcelot Gobbo for instance; but his part consists mainly of s e p a r a t e little turns in the manner of a modern cabaret artist, the sort of t h i n g probably that the famous clown Tarleton filled out his popular one-man shows with. Finally with L o v e ' s Labour's L o s t Shakespeare submitted to the Lylian comedy of love, which was to r e m a i n the basis of nearly all his further comedies, until the new fashion of the satirical comedy of town life turned him away from comedy altogether. Sometimes the play is regarded as a very early work on account of the great preponderance of rhyme, and the frequency of doggerel that seems impossibly bad. In fact it is so bad that it c a n n o t possibly have been intended seriously by anyone capable of w r i t i n g the rest of the play. It represents a special kind of sophistication, and an a t t e m p t , no doubt, to capture the effect of the improvised r h y m e s for which Tarleton was famous. We meet with it already in T h e Comedy of Errors. It seems probable that L o v e's L a b o u r ' s L o s t was written for a special performance, probably by children, d u r i n g the time when the theatres were closed for the plague, and for an aristocratic audience, so that the turn to Lyly was more or less under compulsion. And one of the main themes of the play, which explains the 'perj u r y ' of the King of Navarre and his courtiers, who nearly all bear the names of the great Huguenot generals of the civil wars in France, is a satire on Henry of Navarre, who in 1593 had shocked the Pro-

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testant world by deciding t h a t P a r i s was well worth a mass, and gone over to the Catholic f a i t h . His apostasy had not however brought its hoped for reward i m m e d i a t e l y , and it was not u n t i l t h e following year that he was crowned king, which would explain the strange ending in which the king does not get t h e hand of the French princess after all, but is left dangling in the air together with his courtiers. That however is only one, and by no means the most i m p o r t a n t , from a complexity of themes t h a t weave in and out of the p l a y . T h e key situation, in which the men one after the other confess t h e i r love and the infringement of their oath is clearly borrowed from L y l y ' s G a 1 1 a t h a, and with it the whole idea of love t a k i n g its revenge on those who try to resist its power, And round t h a t key s i t u a t i o n a complex plot has been constructed, one of t h e very few p l o t s t h a i Shakespeare invented himself. But even in t u r n i n g to Lyly and court comedy Shakespeare refused L y l y ' s world of mythological make-believe. It is real men and women t h a t he places on the stage, a l t h o u g h in a rather fanciful situation, and Cupid and his arrows h a v e been banished from the scene. And in order to account for the broken o a t h , natural enough for D i a n a ' s n y m p h s , the idea of the a c a d e m y , an a c t ual Renaissance concept, had to be devised. It is a m i s t a k e however to see in the opposition of the idea of abstract scholarship and love anything very basic to the p l a y ' s meaning. The t h e m e is r a t h e r lack of self-knowledge. The young men's scholarship was never very serious, and they abandon it without a n y real struggle, and d e v o t e themselves whole-heartedly to the pursuit of love. B u t t h e y c l o t h e that love, genuine in itself, in the f l i r t a t i o u s forms of c o u r t l y love, with the result t h a t the ladies accept it s i m p l y as a g a m e , and are taken by surprise when it ends in an offer of marriage, s e n d i n g t h e young men off discomfited. It is in fact a sort of s a t i r e on t h e L y l i a n mode and on courtly a r t i f i c i a l i t y . Various other themes also weave in and o u t . To the c o u r t l y affectations of speech other abuses of language, p e d a n t i c and v u l g a r , are added, and there are probably various personal skits to which we have lost the key. Don Armado is almost c e r t a i n l y a p o r t r a i t of the Spaniard Perez, Philip II's secretary, who had t a k e n r e f u g e f r o m his former master and was trying to gain the p a t r o n a g e of v a r i o u s English noblemen. It may be t h a t the whole idea of the a c a d e m y was a dig at Sir Walter Raleigh, the head of a rival faction to t h a t of Essex, with whom S o u t h a m p t o n was allied. Raleigh was in disgrace at the time having got one of the maids of honour with child, a n d was consoling himself in the country with his scientific friends, who were suspected of atheism, and there would be s o m e t h i n g v e r y p i q u a n t in the idea of just such a group forswearing love. And it may be also that the black-eyed Rosalind has something to do with t h e d a r k l a d y of the sonnets. But such speculations are of very l i t t l e i m p o r t a n c e . The comedy owes its effect chiefly to its elegant lightness of mood a n d its kaleidoscopic shifts and changes. It offers l i t t l e scope for c h a r a c -

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ter-drawing, but the picture of the princess, with her tact and good feeling, the easy reins with which she manages her r a t h e r quarrelsome ladies, the ready wit with which she laughs off inconveniences, and yet makes fun of the inadequate reception offered her, is a very pleasant picture of true good breeding, and already shows a r e m a r k a b l e gift for delicate, unobtrusive modelling. It is through very similar touches that glimpses of the true H a m l e t are suggested behind the obscuring veil of his melancholy. W i t h i n these two lines of development, history and comedy, it is very difficult to find a satisfactory place for the tragedy of T it u s A n d r o n i c u s . The statement on the t i t l e page of the Q u a r t o suggests that it was written for Strange's men, a p p a r e n t l y the only play of Shakespeare's that was; and, one would suppose, in 1592. Which further seems to suggest that it was a c t u a l l y the p l a y of Titus and Vespasia that they produced for the first time that spring. For in their very next play there is a fairly clear allusion to Titus. And that further would explain its close connection with three of the favourites of Strange's repertoire T h e Span i s h T r a g e d y , T h e J e w o f M a l t a , and Peele's B a t t l e of A l c a z a r supposing that Shakespeare had temporarily joined Strange's company and was actually performing in these plays. And that further might explain why the succession of historical plays was interrupted, and the writing of R i c h a r d III postponed. The real difficulty with T i t u s is that the style does not fit with any of Shakespeare's other plays. There are. parts, especially the more highly decorated ones, that are i n d u b i t a b l y Shakespearian and point to the elaborate style of the verse epics t h a t were soon to be written. But great parts of the play, most especially the opening act, are not especially like Shakespeare, and they do c o n t a i n a great many of Peele's stylistic mannerisms, though otherwise the style is not really like Peele's either it lacks for instance his elaborate heaping of complex attributes. W h a t is perhaps strangest of all is that the use of rhetorical figures, which in S h a k e s p e a r e ' s other plays had been increasing steadily, is very much c u r t a i l e d , though one might expect them to be especially in evidence in such a stiff and formal tragedy. It would seem in fact that Shakespeare, either consciously or unconsciously, was i m i t a t i n g T h e B a t t l e o f A l cazar. However the most important model, not for the s t y l e but the theme and d r a m a t i c treatment, was T h e S p a n i s h Tragedy, though the villainous Aaron is modelled on B a r a b a s . And though the play may seem crude and revolting to us, it c e r t a i n l y was a great improvement of K y d ' s ; it avoids many of its weaknesses, and successfully exploits the horrors that seem to have proved such an attraction. This too is a tragedy of revenge in which both the crime and its pun-

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ishment are enacted, and the f r u s t r a t e d hero, u n a b l e to o b t a i n justice for himself, again falls into a melancholy, approaching madness at times, from which he finally arouses himself when the opportunity comes. But Titus, unlike Hieronimo, is placed squarely in the centre from the first, and he is a much more impressive f i g u r e than poor Hieronimo, who only very g r a d u a l l y a t t a i n s a tragic s t a ture through his sufferings and the doggedness with which he pursues his aims. But also he bears far more responsibility for the sorrows t h a t overwhelm him. And that responsibility is twofold, p a r t l y t h r o u g h his very v i r t u e in rejecting the throne when it is offered him, and p a r t ly through his implacability in m a i n t a i n i n g the t r a d i t i o n of blood sacrifice; both points are Shakespeare's i n v e n t i o n . W i t h all his stern Roman v i r t u e s T i t u s is a somewhat repellent figure, but he is formed on the heroic scale of tragedy. And the tragedy unrolls itself, if not with an effect of i n e v i t a b i l i t y the horrors are too excessive for that at least within a logical p a t t e r n of cause and effect. The horrors themselves, however revolting they may appear, h a v e the whole weight of classical practice and theory behind t h e m , and are all included in the list of themes the scholar Scaliger had established murder, rape, multilation, exile; the final c a t a s t r o p h e is a r e p e t i t i o n of the bloody banquet o f T h y e s t e s i n which the p a r e n t s are given their c h i l d r e n ' s flesh to eat. It is in execrable taste, but it has t h e support of the approved critical opinion of the t i m e . And when it is all over there is at least a sense of release and reconciliation, which again is lacking in T h e Spanish T r a g e d y the cycle of crimes has worked itself out, innocent people have suffered and perished along with the bad, but the bad have been wiped out; a v i s t a is opened into a brighter f u t u r e with a new and milder emperor on the throne, and one may feel that all the suffering has n o t been entirely in v a i n . That is a peculiarly Shakespearian effect, emotional rather than logical it is true, for one's mind may tell one that Lucius has not in fact given any proofs of his mildness, any more t h a n Fortinbras can really convince one that he will be a better king t h a n Claudius, but the emotional effect is what is i m p o r t a n t . It is not a good play, though it is more competently w r i t t e n t h a n T h e Span i s h T r a g e d y , hut at least one can say t h a t no one in England had as yet shown so firm a grasp of the essential effects of tragedy. Already many of these early plays had, as we h a v e seen, been pointing forward to the heavily decorated s t y l e of the sonnets and verse tales that were written during the plague years of 15923. L o v e's L a b o u r ' s L o s t already includes a n u m b e r of sonnets or near sonnets embedded in the text. And w i t h the reopening of the theatres Shakespeare's second period begins w i t h a group of plays in which the reflection of this excursion into pure poetry is especially strong R o m e o a n d Juliet, A M i d s u m m e r Night's Dream, King John and R i c h a r d II in

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p a r t i c u l a r . It was to be a part of Shakespeare's f u r t h e r development t o purge his style of the over-ornamentation it had acquired at this t i m e , to evolve a more restrained and more s t r i c t l y f u n c t i o n a l use of imagery, and to rid himself of the excess of ingenious conceits that do grate in R o m e o a n d J u l i e t . But a b o v e all w h a t the new period was to bring was a much firmer grasp of c h a r a c t e r and personality. Basically the plays that follow do not differ in subject and mood f r o m the earlier ones. Even though he was probably the first to int r o d u c e comedy on the public stage, S h a k e s p e a r e ' s genius does not seem to have lain so much in opening up new p a t h s , as in bringing those in existence to perfection, and during the years t h a t now followed, while he was the only dramatist w o r t h y of the n a m e , for the University Wits had all disappeared, he can h a r d l y be said to have introduced any essential innovations. In comedy the period of search and e x p e r i m e n t a t i o n was over, a n d the Lylian type of love comedy was to p r e d o m i n a t e with its gentle mockery of the foolishness, blindness, and wrong-headedness of those in love. A M i d s u m m e r Night's D r e a m (1594) continues the half-rebellious acceptance of L y l y ' s scheme. The mischievo u s Cupid has been dethroned, and in his place S h a k e s p e a r e has evolved a whole new mythology of love with the fairies w a t c h i n g benevol e n t l y over the mortals, curing them of their i r r a t i o n a l infatuations, though making comical mistakes themselves, and bringing reward t o honest love. There was probably even a d e f i n i t e i n t e n t i o n behind t h e choice of Athens, the true home of Cupid, for the s e t t i n g of the play, and the introduction of English fairies on classical ground. But actually these fairies themselves were largely S h a k e s p e a r e ' s inv e n t i o n , and it was he who imposed these tiny gossamer creatures on t h e rest of the world. For the normal fairies of English folklore were a b o u t the size of children, and they were noted and feared for their mischievous pranks changing unbaptized babies in their cradles, leading folks astray, preventing the b u t t e r from c o m i n g and the various other tricks that Puck relates. But they were to some extent preservers of the home too, punishing sluts by k n o t t i n g their hair in elflocks, and unchastity by pinching the offenders black and blue, as in E n d y m i o n and T h e Merry W i v e s of Winds o r , and were thus not inappropriate g u a r d i a n s of t r u e love. However besides these more normal fairies or good-folk, as they were euphemistically called, there does seem in some p a r t s of the country to have been a vaguer tradition also of tiny creatures living in flower bells, on which Shakespeare built for his play. On the basis of this concept Shakespeare evolved a complex plot, apparently his own invention, with even more levels of action and of mood than in normal court comedy. Again t h e r e is a sort of frame, dominated by the figures of Theseus and H i p p o l y t a , representing the perfect type of lovej guided by reason, s t a b l e and r e s t r a i n e d , the fitting crown to a life of heroic action, not as w i t h L y l y ' s Alexander, an aberration from the true path of glory. The h e a d y , irrational love

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of the young people, developed in a fugal p a t t e r n , d o m i n a t e s the three central acts; it is irrational in itself, and most of all when t h e young people themselves t r y t o ground it in reason, b u t our s y m p a thies are invoked for it too, even while we laugh at i t , a n d it is at least no more irrational t h a n t h a t which t h e old f a t h e r wishes to impose on them. There is no reason in it, t h e y change a b o u t , at least the young men do, under t h e influence of t h e love magic as g i d d i l y as when shot by C u p i d ' s arrows, they cannot see where there happihess really lies, they could be perfectly h a p p y in a n y of t h e p e r m u tations t h e s i t u a t i o n offers, but the new deities of love w a t c h over them and bring t h e m to happiness in s p i t e of themselves. As to w h a t is appearance and what reality, we h a r d l y know ourselves, for there is a very strong suggestion t h a t all t h e mad h a p p e n i n g s in t h e wood are in fact a dream, a piece of midsummer madness t h e action itself, be it noted, takes place on May D a y , not m i d s u m m e r and Theseus is there to tell us t h a t the mind of t h e lover is as unreliable as that of the l u n a t i c or the poet. T h e M e r c h a n t o f V e n i c e (c. 1596) is a swerve away from the comedy of love, probably dictated by a w a v e of a n t i - J e w i s h feeling when the Jewish doctor Lopez was condemned and executed for a supposed plot against the Queen's life. It m a r k s a n e w p e a k in the development of Shakespeare's p o r t r a i t u r e . E v e n t h o u g h t h e main outlines of Shylock's character were given by Marlowe, t h e touch of life that was lacking in Barabas is entirely S h a k e s p e a r e ' s own. For he has entered into his character, makes h i m t h i n k and feel and speak as a man in his s i t u a t i o n must t h i n k and feel, w i t h t h e result t h a t the figure remains alive and convincing f r o m w h a t e v e r s t a n d p o i n t we regard it. T h a t he was intended to arouse t h e s y m p a t h y t h a t he does now is, I t h i n k , impossible. For to s y m p a t h i z e w i t h S h y l o c k means inevitably to condemn his opposite A n t o n i o , w h o h a s largely helped to make him what he is, and of t h a t there is no h i n t in t h e p l a y . Besides, whenever the pathos of the figure t h r e a t e n s to rise too high, there is always something, a h i n t of meanness or a swerve i n t o the grotesque, to dispel it. Shylock is for Shakespeare n o t only t h e J e w , he is the usurer, the man who makes money increase against t h e law of nature, and he embodies the power and t h e c r u e l t y of w e a l t h in the new capitalist world t h a t was forming, of which t h e h u m a n i s t values of Belmont are the antipole. After t h a t however the comedy of love asserts itself again. Much Ado a b o u t N o t h i n g (1598) brings o u t t h e t h e m e of appearance and r e a l i t y in two c o n t r a s t i n g plots, in t h e one a pair of romantic lovers are separated through appearances and slander, in the other, of Shakespeare's own devising, a p a i r of high-spirited and w i t t y rebels against love are t h r o w n i n t o each o t h e r ' s a r m s not through the arrows of an outraged Cupid b u t again by w h a t is a form of slander, and the idea of the power of opinion is underlined by Dogberry's remark on t h e low-comedy level 'Masters, it is proved already t h a t you are little better t h a n false knaves, and it will go near

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to be thought so shortly.' A s Y o u L i k e I t (1599) brings together all the various permutations of the lover's position developed in Heywood's P l a y o f L o v e , f u r t h e r v a r i e d by differences of a t t i t u d e the high-flown Petrarchistic, t h e pure, t h e gross, the lover who cannot pierce through to reality, the girl who would like to play the imperious coquette but cannot bring her lover up to the mark, the proud beauty conquered by d i s d a i n , the u n w a n t e d lover fooled into playing the go-between, with scenes of wooing by innuendo and at cross purposes, as with Lyly. And against t h i s kaleidoscopic picture of love's waywardness appears t h e melancholy J a q u e s , neither loved nor loving, a figure who already foreshadows t h e new period of revolt about to dawn. For he is a s a t i r i c p i c t u r e of the angry young man of the day, of the new group of s a t i r e writers like Hall and Donne and Marston, whose violent d i a t r i b e s against the times had become such a pest that they were all consigned to the flames together with the writings of Nashe and H a r v e y by order of Archbishop Whitgift in 1599, and the further p r i n t i n g of all epigrams and satires interdicted. But the mood t h a t these young J u v e n a l s were giving vent to could not be dispelled by bonfires, the revolt was already under way and had found a footing on t h e stage too, t h e first humour comedies of Chapman and Jonson had been produced, and within a year or two Shakespeare himself was to present the melancholic on the boards, not as a figure of f u n t o be laughed a t , but as the young Hamlet proclaiming that the t i m e is out of j o i n t . T h e time for the romantic comedy of love was v i r t u a l l y over, t h e new fashion of the humour comedy with its realistic pictures of town life, its collections of odd characters or humours, of which J a q u e s himself is already an example, was sweeping the stage. Shakespeare however did not quite give up. Twelfth N i g h t , the swan song of his comedies of love, was an a t t e m p t to compromise with the new form, and on to the r o m a n t i c and slightly satirical tale o f A p o l o n i u s and S i l l a, which he manipulated so as to bring in figures who know themselves too little and whose a t t i t u d e to love is falsified by t h a t lack of self-knowledge, together with nearly all the situations i l l u s t r a t i v e of the waywardness and irrationality of love of his earlier comedies, he engrafted his trio of Jonsonian humours: the a d d l e - p a t e d heir s q u a n d e r i n g away his fortune, the parasitic hanger-on of feudal society, a slightly paler reflection of his own Falstaff, and Malvolio, the man of the bourgeoisie with his self-love and sour c o n t e m p t of these care-free drones whose place he longs for. And in his choice of these t h r e e types Shakespeare actually gave a much shrewder diagnosis of the social situation in his day t h a n Jonson for all his photographic realism. Only, while Malvolio's dreams end in discomfiture, many of Shakespeare's-audience were actually to see the day of his t r i u m p h . T h e p l a y does not seem to have been well received, at least there was no q u a r t o edition, and it remained Shakespeare's last comedy of love. Where T h e Merry Wives of W i n d s o r stands

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with regard to this line of development it is d i f f i c u l t to say, for its date is uncertain. As a. realistic bourgeois comedy of i n t r i g u e it s t a n d s by itself, a n d . m a y either represent a f u r t h e r a t t e m p t at accommodation to new theatrical fashions, or more p r o b a b l y it is a rather earlier a t t e m p t at a genre t h a t had had a certain a m o u n t of success about 1597 or 1598, with P o r t e r ' s pleasant l i t t l e comedy of provincial life, T w o Angry Women of Abingdon, and Haughton's E n g l i s h m e n f o r m y M o n e y , a London comedy, with both of which T h e M e r r y W i v e s has a good deal in common. A far from trustworthy t r a d i t i o n has it t h a t the play was written at the express command of E l i z a b e t h , who wished to be shown Falstaff in love. It is probably only the r a t i o n a l i z a t i o n of a feeling that the comedy is quite unlike Shakespeare's other ones, and that it is rather a desecration of the earlier p o r t r a i t of F a l s t a f f , for here he scarcely rises much above the level of the old Roister Doister type. Shakespeare obviously did not subscribe to the theory of the classicists including Sidney , who saw in comedy a b o v e all a means of deflecting from specific vices through ridicule. Of t h a t there is only little mainly in the first two comedies of shrewishness, b u t also in T h e M e r c h a n t o f V e n i c e (where it is h a r d l y ridicule). Nor did he, any more t h a n Lyly, follow t h e practice of classical comedy in rousing laughter through dupery, either successful or unsuccessful, t h a t is by encouraging our sense of s u p e r i o r i t y . At the beginning there is some classical duping of p a r e n t s t a k e n from Ariosto, and at t h e end some Jonsonian duping and d e f l a t i n g of Malvolio's self-love, but scarcely a n y t h i n g of t h e kind in between. The girls do not hoodwink their parents, they r u n a w a y . Shakespeare is not out to castigate vices or follies; the failings t h a t he pokes gentle fun at are chiefly the inherent inadequacies of h u m a n n a t u r e , t h a t rouse a sigh of s y m p a t h y inability to distinguish a p p e a r a n c e from reality, insufficient self-knowledge, the a b s u r d i t y of lovers, for which we are more inclined to envy t h a n to blame t h e m . And t h a t which overcomes the adversities of life is above all an honest and a cheerful heart. The comic world of Shakespeare is not realistic in any normal sense of the word, it is a colourful, f a n t a s t i c world of romance, in which probability counts for nothing; yet it is a world in which, in spite of its prevailing gaiety, tears and sorrow mingle as in ours. And its inhabitants and it is this that gives it t h e s t a m p of a u t h e n t i c i t y are men and women like ourselves. The modelling is for t h e most part only slight, but extremely delicate, and each of the heroines in particular is a very distinct i n d i v i d u a l , while the background figures are given with sharp incisive strokes. Again like L y l y , Shakespeare did not strive after any u n i t y of mood, as in classical comedy. Scene follows scene with all the v a r i e t y of a modern r e v u e : contrasting plots weaving in and out, contrasting social levels, c o n t r a s t i n g characters. Yet the result is not confusion b u t a single prevalent atmosphere, different for each play, though similar in essence. T h e

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proportions and also the quality of t h e ingredients v a r y . H e r e a strok of pathos appears, there a touch of near t r a g e d y . Yet e a c h play i harmonized to a whole by its highly i n d i v i d u a l s e t t i n g , by t h e inter crossing of the various levels, which are not kept so s t r i c t l y separate as with Lyly, but connect up at various points and g e n e r a l l y flow together in a grand finale, by the light these d i f f e r e n t levels often cast on one another, and by the poetry and t h e wit t h a t p l a y over t h e m all. Shakespear's verbal humour alone s t r e t c h i n g f r o m the despised pun or the bawdy joke to the humorous c o m m e n t t h a t reflects a whole philosophy of life is itself a s u b j e c t w o r t h y of a separate s t u d y . All t h a t can be said here is t h a t it shows a greater v a r i e t y of effects than with any other comic writer. The history plays of the second period do not d e m a n d a n y very detailed account. As plays they none of them h a v e t h e dramatic effectiveness and outward brilliance of R i c h a r d HI, though t h e y are incomparably better written and more deeply experienced in their details than that crude but effective work. O u t w a r d l y , with t h e exception of K i n g J o h n , an a d a p t a t i o n and compression of an earlier play in two parts, they represent a second t e t r a l o g y , preceding the first in time, and starting with the original sin of Richard Il's deposal and murder, out of which H e n r y ' s later troubles arose; but covering as they do a wider span of history and lacking an ultimate catastrophe towards which to move, they r e m a i n , except for the two parts of H n r IV, which form a whole together, much more independent. R i c h a r d II, the most d r a m a t i c of t h e m , suffers from being obviously the second part of a p l a y t h a t either has been lost, or is the anonymous T h o m a s o f W o o d s t o c k , in which is contained an account of R i c h a r d ' s own tragic f a u l t , the murder of his uncle, a figure rather like S h a k e s p e a r e ' s own Duke H u m p h r e y . But Richard's tragedy only arises r a t h e r indirectly out of this tragic fault, and much more out of his own b r i l l i a n t but shallow and irresponsible character; the line of action r e m a i n s disappointingly ragged and desultory, and in spite of separate impressive scenes, does not build up to the tragedy it might have been. R i c h a r d himself, though he owes as much to Marlowe's E d w a r d as Shylock does to B a r a h a s , is an interesting study, and he gains from the contrast with his opposite Bolingbroke, who is much more effectively given and more interesting as a concept than the Machiavellian Mortimer, But still, compared with the brilliant sharpness of v i s i o n in the H e n r y IV plays, the characters seem slightly pale and visionary. H e n r y IV is full of wonderfully conceived scenes and episodes, as good in their way as anything in Shakespeare, b u t it remains a collection of episodes rather than a d r a m a . T h e preceding careful but i m i t a t i v e character studies had shown the w a y , and here figure after figure stands out as a fully conceived p e r s o n a l i t y , each with his own way of speaking and of t h i n k i n g . For sheer craftsmanship of portraiture the scene (Part I, III. i) in which t h e rebels, their nerves jangling from the incompatibility of their characters, spar with

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one another over the f u t u r e division of the k i n g d o m , is a masterpiece of realistic evocation, and yet it only contains one of t h e more outstanding figures in the play. And besides the bluff, choleric, fireeating Hotspur of this scene, there is his opposite, P r i n c e H a l , t h e gay young scamp with t h e heart of gold, who when he must assume the responsibilities of the crown will shine forth as t h e ideal monarch, the heroic Henry V, but meanwhile is sadly grieving his f a t h e r ' s heart with his dissolute ways; there is the K i n g himself, weighed down by his conscience and the worries his ill-gotten crown has brought him, for usurpation has brought anarchy with it, and t h o u g h , unlike his f u t u r e grandson, he is strong enough to deal w i t h t h e s i t u a t i o n , it is slowly breaking him, Here too, as in the first series, Shakespeare keeps to his rational reading of history; H e n r y feels t h e h a n d of God weighing on him, but it is in fact the burden of his own acts, just as when in R i c h a r d II the Bishop of Carlisle prophesies all the dire ills that will spring from H e n r y ' s act of u s u r p a t i o n , he envisages them not as God's p u n i s h m e n t , but as the logically i n e v i t a b l e result of breaking the dynastic succession. And above all there is the figure of Falstaff the real Falstaff, not the surrogate of T h e Merry W i v e s , t h e s u b l i m a t i o n of the t y p e of t h e v a i n g l o r i o u s coward of Roman comedy, who has so burst the bounds of t h e t y p e t h a t he hardly seems to belong to it any more, and one would say it was life itself speaking through him. Yet in spite of the fidelity and s u b t l e t y of Shakespeare's portraiture, he is not consistent in his m e t h o d , and is always ready to t a k e conventional short cuts t h a t result in a somewhat bewildering mixture of apparent n a i v e t y and c o m p l e x i t y , which makes Shakespearian i n t e r p r e t a t i o n peculiarly d i f f i c u l t . A notorious case in point is H a l ' s first soliloquy in which he makes it p a i n f u l l y clear to us t h a t he is not as bad as he seems, t h a t he despises t h e boon companions with whom he mixes, and will one d a y t h r o w off the clouds t h a t smother up his beauty and shine all t h e b r i g h t e r by concrast. Accepted on the realistic level t h a t would m a k e of h i m an odious hypocrite, even worse t h a n his cold, c a l c u l a t i n g f a t h e r . However that is scarcely t h e effect t h a t was intended, and a c t u a l l y Shakespeare is merely w a r n i n g the less intelligent of t h e a u d i e n c e not to think too badly of H a l ' s wild oats, because he will r e f o r m . In t h e same way his v i l l a i n s in their soliloquies are most u n r e a l i s t i c a l l y clear-minded about themselves, and never try to m a k e themselves out better t h a n they are. Yet at other times S h a k e s p e a r e seems to make rather heavy demands on the c a p a c i t y of his audience, or his critics claim t h a t he does, which is not p e r h a p s the s a m e t h i n g . B u t at least it can be said t h a t the things he considers need e x p l a i n i n g and what he leaves unexplained are often s t r a n g e l y at v a r i a n c e , and that while a great deal of modern criticism is u n d o u b t e d l y o v e r - s u b t l e in its interpretations and claims to discover meanings t h a t could not possibly be p u t across in performance, it may be e q u a l l y wrong to go to the extremes of another, and less popular school, and refuse to see any subtleties. But so much p r o b a b l y must be conceded, t h a t he

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was careful to make what was really i m p o r t a n t to him a b u n d a n t l y clear. Only two tragedies can be reckoned to this period R o m e o a n d J u l i e t (1594) at the very beginning, and J u l i u s C a e s a r (1599) near the end. The first, like most of the work in the lyrical group, is still somewhat experimental. It is in fact a romance that might equally well have ended happily, as far as t h e story itself goes, which means that it is lacking in one of the most central elements of tragedy, the sense of inevitability. T h a t is a point t h a t Renaissance theory did not stress at all particularly, yet Shakespeare took considerable pains to create the effect artificially through the introductory 'choruses' to the first two acts stressing the fate of t h e 'star-crossed' lovers and pointing forward to the catastrophe, and by a r a t h e r marke d underlining of the series of pure accidents engineered by f a t e that lead to the tragic end. These two choruses are, c h a r a c t e r s t i c a l l y for this preiod, in sonnet form; and it is also c h a r a c t e r i s t i c for Shakespeare as a whole that it is only the first act t h a t is marked off in this way. Shakespeare's plays do not as a rule divide clearly into acts, his early quartos have no act divisions, and those in t h e Folio most probably were introduced later, at a t i m e when his c o m p a n y had begun to concentrate more on performances in the p r i v a t e house at Blackfriars rather than at the Globe. For it was an old t r a d i t i o n of the private theatres to have pauses filled in with music between the acts, while the public theatres played without a break, unless the a u t h o r had chosen to mark his acts especially by means of prologues or dumb shows. Shakespeare certainly was aware of t h e R o m a n convention that a play should be divided into five acts, and he often seems to have set out with the intention of a r t i c u l a t i n g his p l a y into acts, but it is as a rule only the first act and occasionally the last one t h a t represents a real structural u n i t . Another point in which R o m e o and J u l i e t departs from the basic type of tragedy is in the milieu. Renaissance theory, following classical practice, insisted very strongly t h a t tragedy should deal only with kings and people in high position. One may say that this is merely an empty convention, but it does secure for tragedy a certain elevation, a feeling of momentousness, for the f a t e of the ruler does affect the whole nation. And it is a fact t h a t only a v e r y few of the so-called domestic tragedies manage to rise above the pathetic into the truly tragic where the feeling of pity is absorbed into a more powerful sense of awe and admiration at s o m e t h i n g heroic. There is nothing heroic about Romeo and J u l i e t , they belong to romance, but something of tragic awe is achieved by making of them t h e playthings of forces beyond them, and the central d r a m a t i c conflict lies really between love and hate, the age old f a m i l y feud t h a t embodies the anarchy of the Middle Ages, the subject too of t h e earlier histories. The tragic error here is not so much t h a t of t h e young people, except in as far as they have chosen to disregard those darker forces, as of their parents, and, like Antigone, they are the innocent v i c t i m s . Only

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while Antigone makes her choice open-eyed and heroically, Romeo and Juliet are blindly following their instincts, and by so much the less heroic. The play ends with the t r i u m p h of love, t h e lovers themselves have been destroyed, but the feud ends w i t h their deaths, and that is a point on which Shakespeare in comparison w i t h his source, a verse tale by A r t h u r Brooke, lays considerable stress. With the relatively passive role assigned them it was not necessary that the young people should s t a n d out at all markedly as personalities, and they remain more or less general types. Of the two it is Juliet who shows more i n i t i a t i v e and firmness, and t h a t is rather characteristic of Shakespeare's presentation of love, in the comedies also. P a r t l y no doubt it is a result of the P e t r a r c h i s t i c tradition that assigned to the man the role of l a n g u i s h i n g c o m p l a i n e r , while for the cruel beauty there was no elaborated c o n v e n t i o n once she had abandoned her cruelty. W h e n he w r o t e t h e p l a y Shakespeare had not yet undertaken his first real p o r t r a i t studies. E v e n if he had it is doubtful whether he would or could h a v e i n d i v i d u a l i z e d his central figures much more t h a n he did. But his growing interest in portraiture is already to be felt in the secondary figures. It is still r a t h e r simple portraiture, t h a t fixes on a few marked or even grotesque features and develops them with clear, broad strokes, as in R i c h a r d III, and it n a t u r a l l y leads to ' h u m o u r ' types t h e s a n g u i n e Old C a p u l e t , with a touch of choler when opposed, Mercutio, whose v e r y n a m e suggests the mercurial, and a b o v e all the b a w d y old nurse all of them basically figures of c o m e d y . And this, together w i t h t h e r o m a n tic subject, lends the t r a g e d y an atmosphere of peculiar lightness that fits in with the mood of the whole period. The greatest advance t h a t the play marks in comparison with the first period is in the language and poetry, and t h e new emotional power t h a t they bring. W h e n V a l e n t i n e in T h e T w o G e n t l e m e n o f V e r o n a is banished from his love, he can only express his sorrow by proving its existence to himself w i t h formal a r g u m e n t s and frigid conceits:
And why not death r a t h e r t h a n l i v i n g t o r m e n t ? To d i e is t o be b a n i s h e d f r o m m y s e l f : A n d S i l v i a is m y s e l f : b a n i s h ' d f r o m h e r Is self f r o m self a d e a d l y b a n i s h m e n t ! W h a t l i g h t is l i g h t if S i l v i a be n o t s e e n ? W h a t joy is joy if S i l v i a be n o t b y , U n l e s s it b e t o t h i n k t h a t she is by And feed u p o n t h e s h a d o w of p e r f e c t i o n . . E x c e p t I be b y S i l v i a i n t h e n i g h t , T h e r e is n o m u s i c in t h e n i g h t i n g a l e ; U n l e s s I l o o k on S i l v i a T h e r e is n o d a y for m e S h e is m y e s s e n c e ; a n d If I be n o t by h e r f a i r in t h e d a y , t o look u p o n . I l e a v e t o be, influence

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Foster'd, i l l u m i n ' d , I f l y not death, to Tarry I here, I but B u t , f l y I hence, I

cherish'd. kept a l i v e . f l y h i s deadly d o o m : attend on d e a t h ; f l y a w a y from l i f e .

Romeo's speech in the same circumstances has a q u i t e different sense of urgency and despair. H e too plays w i t h conceits, b u t they come t u m b l i n g out among the rushing s p a t e of v a r i a t i o n s as though grief had loosened his associations and he catches up his words again in a different sense. Although he is a c t u a l l y a r g u i n g w i t h t h e friar to prove that banishmsnt is worse t h a n d e a t h , his speech smacks far less of the syllogism. He has no t i m e to recall all t h e joys he will be missing; one of them happens to rise out of his circling t h o u g h t s , and he dwells on it longingly, but it is the idea of b a n i s h m e n t itself that obsesses him and to which he keeps r e t u r n i n g , not of p l e a s u r e s :
'Tis torture, and not mercy: h e a v e n is here, Where J u l i e t lives; and every cat and dog A n d l i t t l e mouse, every unworthy t h i n g , L i v e here in h e a v e n and m a y look on her; But R o m e o m a y n o t : more v a l i d i t y , More honourable state, more courtship l i v e s In carrion flies than R o m e o : t h e y m a y s e i z e On the w h i t e wonder of dear J u l i e t ' s h a n d , And steal immortal blessings from her l i p s , Who, e v e n in pure and vestal m o d e s t y , Still blush, as t h i n k i n g their o w n kisses s i n ; Flies may do this, but I from this m u s t f l y : T h e y are free men, but I am b a n i s h e d . And s a y s t thou yet that e x i l e is not d e a t h ? H a d s t thou no poison m l x ' d , no s h a r p - g r o u n d k n i f e . N o s u d d e n m e a n of death, t h o u g h ne'er s o m e a n , B u t 'banished' to kill m e ? ' B a n i s h e d ! ' 0 friarl The damned use that word in h e l l ; H o w l i n g s attend it: how hast thou t h e h e a r t , B e i n g a d i v i n e , a g h o s t l y confessor, A s i n - a b s o l v e r , and m y friend profess'd, To m a n g l e me w i t h that word ' b a n i s h e d ' ?

There are in the play passages t h a t repel one with their complicated conceits, but side by side with t h e m there are passages of pure poetry so vivid and true that nothing can stale t h e m :
L o v e ' s heralds s h o u l d be thoughts, Which ten t i m e s faster g l i d e than t h e s u n ' s b e a m s , D r i v i n g back s h a d o w s over louring h i l l s .

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W h a t a perfect p i c t u r e t h a t last line gives, and w i t h w h a t economy of means. Or R o m e o ' s words at the first sight of J u l i e t :
O, she doth teach the torches to burn b r i g h t : It s e e m s she h a n g s upon t h e cheek of n i g h t Like a. rich jewel in an E t h i o p ' s ear.

Compare this description of daybreak


N i g h t ' s c a n d l e s are burnt out and jocund day S t a n d s t i p t o e on the m i s t y m o u n t a i n tops

and the perfunctory mention of the sunset in T h e T w o Gentlem e n : ' T h e sun begins to gild the western s k y . ' H e r e we are a l r e a d y on a level with t h a t exquisite passage in H a m l e t , w h e r e after the horrors of the night on the b a t t l e m e n t s day breaks a n d ,
The morn in russet m a n t l e clad W a l k s o'er the dew of y o n high e a s t w a r d

hill.

Then there is the whole balcony scene, and t h e no less lovely scene of the p a r t i n g , with its leitmotif:
It w a s t h e n i g h t i n g a l e , and not t h e lark, T h a t pierced t h e fearful h o l l o w of t h i n e ear.

There are not as yet the deeper and more intellectual tones of the great tragedies, nor their overwhelming power, b u t for sheer simple, sensuous beauty of language Shakespeare never surpassed these scenes, except perhaps in A M i d s u m m e r N i g h t ' s Dream, written at t h e same t i m e as this. T h e imagery is still ornamental and extraneous in t h e main. It offers l i t t l e pictures, n o t compressed emotions or hints of deep correspondences, as in t h e l a t e r tragedies. But it has nevertheless an i m p o r t a n t f u n c t i o n to p e r f o r m , for it fills the play with joy and brightness and the sense of the young love t h a t is, after all, to t r i u m p h . A radiance permeates it all t h a t comes f r o m the r u n n i n g images of light; J u l i e t ' s b e a u t y fills her v e r y t o m b with a blaze of glory, and s u n , moon, stars, torches, g l e a m i n g jewels shed their light over e v e r y t h i n g . J u l i u s C a e s a r has none of t h i s r a d i a n c e ; b u t n e i t h e r has it the tortured anguish of the tragic period. It impresses one r a t h e r with a sense of calm balance. This was S h a k e s p e a r e ' s first direct contact with P l u t a r c h , whose c o m p a r a t i v e biographies in which a figure from Greek history was weighed against a R o m a n were t o give him a further insight into character and m o t i v a t i o n , and p r o v i d e t h e basis of two more tragedies. Here he was c o m b i n i n g two of P l u t a r c h ' s biographies, t h a t of Caesar and of B r u t u s , t r e a t i n g his source fairly freely, as in the English chronicles. But it was a source t h a t offered

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him infinitely more than Hall could, and in places lie was able to follow the text of N o r t h ' s translation almost exactly, in others he expanded a mere hint into a whole scene. His m a t e r i a l , as he picked it, centring only on Caesar's murder and the r e t r i b u t i o n that falls on the murderers, follows the basic scheme of c r i m e and p u n i s h m e n t ; only here the 'criminal' is acting from unselfish motives. And the idea t h a t evolves out of it, is not so much t h a t of r e t r i b u t i o n as of the hopeless struggle to hold up an i n e v i t a b l e historical process; the spirit of the dead Caesar proves far more powerful t h a n the living man whose physical weaknesses and mental hollowness Shakespeare purposely stresses. The essential tragedy lies in t h e collapse of the high ideals for which Brutus sacrifices his friend a n d , u l t i m a t e l y , himself, and in the irony of the fact that it is B r u t u s himself, whom the conspirators need to lend the colour of moral i n t e g r i t y to their act, who by his very insistence on m a i n t a i n i n g t h a t s t a n d a r d of integrity allows the power to slip out of his h a n d s and is t h e worst enemy of his own high cause. In a way it would appear to be the most pessimistic of all the tragedies, for it shows up the ineffectualness of integrity in a world governed by a m b i t i o n and jealousy; it is in fact the tragedy of Duke Humphrey, who trusts in his own v i r t u e to protect him from the wolves around him, but conceived on a much wider and stubtler plane. And yet the final t r i b u t e t h a t B r u t u s receives from the mouth of his enemy does much to redress t h e balance, and leaves one with the feeling that the standard was worth m a i n t a i n i n g , and t h a t Brutus's integrity, ineffectual and even stained as it becomes in the course of the struggle, is greater t h a n its l i m i t a t i o n s . These final summings up, which were in part, necessitated by t h e absence of a curtain and the need to clear the corpses off t h e stage, are important indicators not only of Shakespeare's own a t t i t u d e to each individual tragedy, but also, taken as a whole, of his a t t i t u d e to tragedy itself. For while his contemporaries generally wind up w i t h a rather platitudinous moral saw, such as pride will h a v e a fall, or sin receives its due punishment, Shakespeare is interested a b o v e all in t h e personality of his hero, and, with the one exception of t h e 'dead butcher' Macbeth, he stresses his essential n o b i l i t y . It is a point t h a t two at least of the more recent schools of criticism need to ponder that momentarily very wide spread one that reacts against the 'Bradleian' approach through the characters and seeks only for a v e r y abstract philosophical content that it even tends to derive f r o m p a t t e r n s of imagery rather t h a n from the plain surface meaning of t h e action, and another less popular one, that is only beginning to raise its head more vociferatively, which, starting above all w i t h Othello, denies the heroic nature and nobility of Shakespeare's figures, and seeks to present them not as greater but as less t h a n average h u m a n i t y . As far as one can tell, the creative process w i t h S h a k e s p e a r e starts from the plot, which may be chosen for v a r i o u s reasons, sometimes purely external, such as rivalry with a p o p u l a r hit or exploitation of a popular fashion, as with H a m l e t , M e a s u r e for Mea-

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s u r e , or C m b 1 i n e, s o m e t i m e s for the political message that it contains, with the early histories and the later M a c b e t h and C o r i o l a n u s , which seem to have been called forth in the first place by political events; or sometimes s i m p l y for their d r a m a t i c possibilities. But once the plot was chosen, the central problem for him seems to have been to elaborate the kind of character t h a t will fit the often highly improbable story and make it seem real, to show how the character moulds the action and is in its t u r n moulded by it. The f u r t h e r and more abstract ideas t h a t result from these interactions are in the main secondary products, t h a t do not seem to have worried him much, and that he certainly docs not u n d e r l i n e at all specifically, leaving it to his audience to m a k e out of t h e m what they like, if they like. The central purpose of J u l i u s C a e s a r is not to show t h a t integrity must suffer when it is faced w i t h practical issues, or any other abstract meaning t h a t can be read into it, but to present a stirring d r a m a t i c action t h a t we can enter into f u l l y by participating in the emotions, the tensions, the motives of those most deeply concerned in it. The kernel does not lie in t h e p o r t r a i t of Brutus purely as a portrait, and in so far the B r a d l e i a n approach does leave something to be desired, though it comes v e r y close to t h a t kernel and helps us to see why it is t h a t figures like t h a t of B r u t u s do affect us so deeply, since they are moulded in such detail t h a t they give us the very effect of life. T h e real kernel lies r a t h e r in t h e r e l a t i o n of that portrait, and of the many other p o r t r a i t s , to t h e a c t i o n , and in our own emotional participation in those relations. For it is not on the hero alone t h a t our a t t e n t i o n is centred and t h a t again is a certain weakness of B r a d l e y ' s method t h a t it does centre entirely in the hero but on the contrasts and clashes with other figures, including the many-headed crowd. And it is because our a t t e n t i o n is so centred on these concrete relations t h a t t h e almost n i h i l i s t i c logical inference to which the action would point forms so small a part of the play's total effect. We are not presented w i t h a generalized view of the h u m a n condition, but a concrete experience: t h i s is w h a t has happened to one man, what may happen to others, and l i v i n g through it ourselves widens our knowledge of t h e h u m a n c o n d i t i o n ; but it is not what must happen to all men. And t h a t is t r u e of Shakespeare's tragedies as a whole, with a certain exception as regards K i n g L e a r , where a chain of v a r y i n g and o f t e n conflicting c o m m e n t s on man's relation to the metaphysical powers gives a stronger sense of some universal philosophical problem. But even t h a t is only posed, no real solution is offered, though p r e s u m a b l y the Christian doctrine, unknown in the pagan world of t h e play, is intended to be contrasted with them mentally. But S h a k e s p e a r e ' s tragedies are above all tragedies of the individual, of a u n i q u e p e r s o n a l i t y , not of h uraanum genus. And in t h a t they are typical of the Renaissance.

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Book VI The Period of Revolt (1598-1612)

1. T h e evolt
The Tudor compromise on which the life of 16th c. E n g l a n d rested represented a rather precarious balance of forces, w i t h a crippled aristocracy and an advancing capitalist class, b e t w e e n which the Crown was able to play the part of supreme a r b i t e r and achieve an independence it had never known before. Yet the s i t u a t i o n was fraught with various contradictions, which the rising t i d e of prosperity was able to cover up, but could not resolve. A set-back in t h i s t i d e was all that was needed to lay the contradictions bare in all their seriousness, and this set-back came in the nineties. T h e defeat of t h e Armada had been a t r i u m p h , but it had not banished t h e t h r e a t of a new invasion, and military preparations were laying a h e a v y b u r d e n on the people. W i t h i n a short period taxes had been t r e b l e d . T h e plague of 1592 had been productive of u n e m p l o y m e n t , p o v e r t y and unrest, and it was followed by several years of dearth which sent t h e prices of grain soaring and offered wide scope to t h e h a t e d engrossers. Antwerp was recovering from the effects of t h e Spanish F u r y a n d regaining much of her old trade, and the D u n k i r k p i r a t e s , a result of the continued state of rebellion in the N e t h e r l a n d s t h a t E n g l a n d herself was abetting in every way, were becoming a serious obstacle to trade communications with the continent. T h e boom years were over and people were beginning to look about t h e m more c r i t i c a l l y . Already the Marprelate tracts of the A r m a d a year and after had disclosed a belligerent trend in the P u r i t a n m o v e m e n t , a d e f i n i t e hostility to the principles of the Anglican church, and religion in those days was the form in which class ideology clothed itself. And n o w t h e causes for discontent were piling u p . . P e o p l e were b e g i n n i n g to look about them and to see in the monopolies the main cause of t h e rising prices, to realize too t h a t Elizabeth was using these monopolies, originally intended as an encouragement to p r i v a t e enterprise, as a cheap way

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of rewarding her court favourites, themselves b a d l y h i t by the devaluation of the silver coinage. The Earl of Essex, e. g. one of t h e great noblemen of the realm, was dependent on his monopoly in the trade of sweet wines for his income, and he was ruined f i n a n c i a l l y when the queen refused to renew it. E l i z a b e t h ' s last P a r l i a m e n t showed a truculence t h a t had never been known before, and instead of passing the budget at once, called for a redressal of grievances, among which the question of the monopolies loomed large. E l i z a b e t h , always sensitive to popular feeling, caved in at once, protested that she was unaware of the burden laid on her beloved citizens, and promised t h a t the matter should be seen to. But not even the a b o lition of the monopolies could relieve the tensions t h a t had been created. The young men who grew up into t h i s s i t u a t i o n were not u n n a turally deeply affected by the general feeling of d i s c o n t e n t . T h e most obvious reflection is the burst of verse satires in the last years of the century, nearly all written by men born a b o u t 1575 Joseph Hall's V i r g i d e m i a r u m (15978), M a r s t o n ' s S c o u r g e of V i l l a i n y (1598), G u i l p i n ' s S k i a l e t h e i a , o r T h e Shadow of T r u t h (1598), M y c r o c y n i c o n , o r S i x S n a r l i n g S a t i r e s (1599) by T. M. (sometimes assumed to be Thomas Middleton), Donne's S a t i r e s which did not see p r i n t till much later, and various others. The inhibition against such writings in 1599 put a stop to the flood, b u t could not r e m o v e the cause. Yet, though the impulse behind t h e m was social d i s c o n t e n t , as the authorities well knew, the form and m a n n e r , and t h e s u b j e c t s too, were conventional, and mainly dictated by the R o m a n satirists. Contemporary abuses, enclosures, engrossing, monopolies do come into them, but do not loom at all large. Courtiers, s y c o p h a n c y , o s t e n t a t i o n play a larger part, and sexual vices a still larger. B u t it is not so much the actual abuses castigated, as the general s p i r i t of cynical disillusionment t h a t is i m p o r t a n t . It was these young men with their affectation of melancholic discontent, pilloried at first on the stage in the shape of C h a p m a n ' s Dowsecer and S h a k e s p e a r e ' s J a q u e s , t h a t were soon to become its heroes. Together with a l l this went a violent reaction against P e t r a r c h ism and the idealization of love, felt already in the sexual themes of the satires. Donne's E l e g i e s and his songs, not published till after his death, but certainly circulating in m a n u s c r i p t s long before, are among the most obvious reflections; and so is M a r s t o n ' s P gm a 1 i o n ' s I m a g e, an offshoot of the erotic verse tales following on V e n u s a n d A d o n i s , which were in themselves in their growing fleshliness a departure from t h e p u r e a m o r r a t i o n a1 i s of the P e t r a r c h i s t i c tradition, but which Marston now developed in a v e i n of cynical sniggering. And where the E l i z a b e t h a n poets had been intoxicated with visions of b e a u t y , now men like Donne were revolting not only against the t h r e a d b a r e imagery of darts, wounds and flames, but against the b e a u t i f u l image in a n y form, and

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seeking their images from daily life, from the sciences, t h e dissecting room and the law courts. The revulsion against the ideals of the high Renaissance went further still, and soon Cicero, who for the 16th c. had shared almost in the divinity of P l a t o as the great model of perfect eloquence, was, in i m i t a t i o n of Montaigne, being proclaimed an e m p t y w i n d - b a g , and where Ascham had exclaimed, 'Ye know not what h u r t ye do to learning, that care not for words, but for matter, and so m a k e a divorce between the tongue and the heart,' Bacon looked back on Ascham's days as a time when men hunted 'more a f t e r t h e choicencss of the phrase, and the round and clean composition of t h e sentence, and the sweet falling of the clauses, and the v a r y i n g and i l l u s t r a t i o n of their works with tropes and figures, t h a n after t h e weight of matter, worth of subject, soundness of a r g u m e n t , life of i n v e n t i o n , and depth of j u d g m e n t . ' Instead of Cicero the new model of eloquence was the compact, lapidary style of Tacitus and Seneca the philosopher and rhetorician. On the stage the new movement makes itself felt first in the satirical humour comedies, introduced by C h a p m a n , a man of the older generation, and by the younger Ben J o n s o n , D o n n e ' s coeval. These plays were in fact a sort of d r a m a t i z a t i o n of the form of R o m a n satire; and where the satirists gave a series of l i t t l e sketches of antisocial types, the humour comedy gives a collection of such types fitted into the framework of a plot so r u d i m e n t a r y t h a t it can hardly be said to exist, the i m p o r t a n t point being s i m p l y t h e presentation of these types or humours and their final d e f l a t i o n . C h a p m a n ' s A H u m o r o u s D a y ' s M i r t h (1597) gives us a m o n g others the melancholic Dowsecer, the P u r i t a n hypocrite, the p e d a n t i c fool, the gallant, placed in a French courtly s e t t i n g ; J o n s o n ' s E v e r y Man in His H u m o u r is directly bourgeois in milieu, and though the first version was placed in Italy, after the success of the species was firmly established he worked it over and t r a n s f e r r e d his characters to London, which had been their s p i r i t u a l home f r o m the first. And from now on the realistic London s e t t i n g (and it is still only with regard to the setting t h a t one can speak of realism) t h e bourgeois milieu, and the deflating and mocking of fools and gulls and those afflicted with self-love was to be the essential basis of comedy for t h e next twelve years or more. N a t u r a l l y all this is not the result merely of an economic crisis. The revulsion from the ideals of the high Renaissance and t h e realization t h a t the visions of the early h u m a n i s t s had not been and would not be fulfilled was bound to have come in a n y case, and something of the same spirit of disillusionment can be felt on t h e c o n t i n e n t too, in Montaigne for instance. The preparation for it can be felt already in the work of the University W i t s , in M a r l o w e ' s decline from his dream of the boundless power of the h u m a n will, in t h e satires of Greene and Nashe, even in L y l y ' s later plays. B u t t h e v i o l e n c e of the reaction is nowhere so great as in E n g l a n d , and t h e cause of t h a t vio-

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lence can be sought for in the disillusionment t h a t the crisis had brought forth. Nowhere else is there such a clearly marked wedge i n t e r v e n i n g between Renaissance and Baroque as here. Yet, opposed to the high Renaissance in mood though it is, the Revolt does not involve any such change in the kind of vision as does the transition to Baroque, nor any rejection of t h e basic a s s u m p t i o n s . That is, it is still a part of the Renaissance, and the Renaissance categories of m u l t i p l i c i t y , objectivity, separation of the p a r t s , stability, explicitness, the closed s t r u c t u r e and the stress on the i n d i v i d u a l , still dominate. Indeed some of these points even reach their finest flowering now, as with the individual p o r t r a i t u r e , for t h e revolt was preeminently a bourgeois movement, like t h e Renaissance itself in its essence, and it brought out some of the features t h a t were obscured by the courtly traditions more clearly. J o n s o n is q u i t e as much a figure of t h e Renaissance as is Shakespeare, and t h e only one of the rebels who to some extent points forward to t h e B a r o q u e vision is Donne. Not even the heady intoxication of the Renaissance has a b a t ed, only it is now an intoxication with the dark sides of life.

2. T h e J a c o b e a n S h a k e s p e a r e
The effect of a l l this is clearly to be felt in the c h a n g e of mood t h a t marks Shakespeare's third period. Yet we h a v e seen t h a t he did not succumb to the new fashion without a struggle, and it is p r o b a b l e that the change was not altogether a b r u p t ; t h a t t h e r e was some overlapping between the periods, and that the earliest p l a y s in t h e new fashion a c t u a l l y come before and not a f t e r T w e l f t h Night. The first of these is probably ' r o i l u s a n d Cressida, a play of uncertain date, apparently intended for p r i v a t e performance. And it seems to put f i n i s to the whole idea of love as t h e ennobling principle in life t h a t had played such a central p a r t in l i t e r a t u r e from the days of the troubadours down to the P e t r a r c h i s t s . Love was in time to reassert itself as the d o m i n a n t theme, as it still is, it might again be glorified, its joys and its power h y m n e d , it might be presented as what makes life worth living for, but it was never again, in England at least, to be accepted as the s h a p i n g principle in life itself. France had yet to produce its A s t r (1608), in which love still appears as the moral force that moulds and refines manners and holds society together, but in England t h a t sort of idea had died out a f t e r the burst of sonnet w r i t i n g in the early nineties, and S h a k e s p e a r e ' s play merely marks the fact. It is based on Chaucer's verse novel, but it presents the lovers in a very different light. Cressida a p p e a r s as a calculating minx, holding back not out of t i m i d i t y or in obedience to social conventions, but simply because she believes, like Mrs. Peachurn, that by holding men off you keep them on. Troilus is still o u t w a r d ly the Petrarchistic lover, and treated with more s y m p a t h y , but Petrarchism applied to such an object as her becomes s l i g h t l y ridicu-

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lous, and Diomed shows us what easy game she is for a m a n of the world who can read her true character at a glance, and w h a t callow n a i v e t y it is to break one's heart over a t h i n g like her. T r o i l u s ' s disillusionment is genuine enough, and poignant too. B u t even Troilus's love though some of the love scenes seem to r e v e r t to t h e technique of R o m e o a n d J u l i e t - is not b a t h e d in s t a r l i t radiance, but through an imagery based on food and t a s t e is reduced to mere appetite, while a constant harping on syphilis in t h e other p a r t s provides a further kind of comment. Supporting this deflation of the P e t r a r c h i s t i c v a l u e s is a deflation of every other kind of v a l u e as well h o n o u r , heroism, patriotism, glory. The heroes of the I l i a d on t h e Greek side are presented as louts, fools, ruffians, swaggerers, w i n d - b a g s , schemers. Ulysses launches his great speech on degree merely as t h e prelude to a querulous complaint of Achilles' disrespect, and the whole s u b - p l o t turns o r a complicated intrigue to prick t h e b u b b l e of Achilles' v a n i t y , a scheme of little men under the shadow not of a hero but a loutish ruffian. The Trojans, whom the English accepted as the forefathers of the British nation, come off rather better. They do s t a n d for courtesy, bravery, for a greater refinement of manners, b u t also for a concept of honour that proves out of keeping w i t h t h e times, and t h a t is hollow in itself. They debate the question of honour and v a l u e , only to decide in the end t h a t their honour depends on t h e r e t a i n i n g of a whore, to whom they have no right, f r o m her cuckold of a husband. And for that mistaken sense of honour Troy must fall. W e can tell from Shakespeare's use of imagery in T i t u s A n d r o n i c u s , -tn L u c r e c e and H a m l e t , t h a t for h i m , as indeed for the Re naissance in general, the fall of Troy was t h e s y m b o l of t h e ultimate in human woe. He does not present t h a t c a t a s t r o p h e here, b u t he foreshadows it in the final scene. Hector, t h e one man of full heroic stature in the play, is killed, not in fair fight but b y Achilles' band of ruffianly Myrmidons, while Achilles looks on and pockets t h e glory for himself. And to point the irony, it is in his p u r s u i t of a m a n 'in sumptuous a r m o u r ' who proves to be a 'Most p u t r i f i e d core, so fair without' t h a t H e c t o r has got separated from his men and falls into Achilles' hands. The light has gone out of t h e world, and all for 'a whore and a cuckold;' and finally P a n d a r u s is left on t h e stage to sum things up with a bawdy joke about his pox-eaten bones. And yet even in this play, which seems to represent t h e u t m o s t of disillusionment and to embody the mood of the younger rebels more completely than they ever did themselves, there r e m a i n s a glory in t h e poetry that would deny its very basis. H a m 1 t too is a play t h a t m a y be said to give t h e quintessence of the revolt. Here also exact d a t e s c a n n o t be given beyond the entry in the Stationers' Register (1602) and the pirated auarto, apparently based on a slightly d i f f e r e n t version of 1603, followed by the good q u a r t o of 1604. The idea of t a k i n g t h e m e l a n c h o l y revenger struggling for justice as the m o u t h p i e c e of t h e n e w s p i r i t of disil-

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iusionment was probably not Shakespeare's however, t h o u g h he was the first to realize its possibilities more f u l l y . It a p p e a r s a l r e a d y in the additions to T h e S p a n i s h T r a g e d y (1601), where the complaints of the world and t h e t i m e s are much s h a r p e r and more specific t h a n in K y d ' s text; and M a r s t o n ' s A n t o n i o's R ev n g e, a rather free a d a p t a t i o n of the H a m l e t s t o r y , also full of typical diatribes, pretty certainly preceded S h a k e s p e a r e ' s version. The further spate of revenge plays like C h e t t l e ' s H o f f m a n , the anonymous R e v e n g e r ' s T r a g e d y or C h a p m a n ' s R e v e n g e of u s s D ' A m b o i s were all later. But t h e old play of H a m l e t , probably by K y d , was also being revived in t h e late nineties, and H a m l e t takes its place in a general and t y p i c a l recrudescence of the revenge theme at t h i s t i m e . The story of H a m l e t goes back, v i a the lost p l a y , to Belleforest's collection of n o v e l 1 e, and the medieval chronicle of Saxo G r a m m a t i c u s . It may be t h a t the old G e r m a n i c legend derives from the Greek legend of Orestes' revenge, and was brought to the North by some of the many Norsemen who had served in t h e Byzantine army, or again the obvious s i m i l a r i t y may be due merely t o coincidence. The loss of the later link in this c h a i n , S h a k e s p e a r e ' s immediate source, is more regrettable, because it leaves us u n a b l e t o determine how much of the alterations in the plot are d u e to Shakespeare's t r e a t m e n t of the story, and how much to K y d . T h e ghost we know appeared in the old play, dressed in a w h i t e sheet and crying, 'Revenge! revengel' The more restrained and realistic t r e a t m e n t is Shakespeare's; but presumably t h e g h o s t ' s f u n c t i o n as t h e revealer of a secret, the most essential a l t e r a t i o n which r a t h e r b a d l y upsets the logic of t h e structure, belonged already to t h e U r - H a m 1 t, for the motif occurs also in A n t o n i o's R v n g e. In the n ov e l 1 a the original murder is no secret. H a m l e t himself was a boy at the time, u n a b l e to do a n y t h i n g , and forced t o p r e t e n d madness in order to save his own life, and most of t h e tension of t h e s t o r y lies in the uncle's a t t e m p t s to discover w h e t h e r his n e p h e w is really as harmless as he seems. By making the murder a secret, revealed only to Hamlet by the ghost, a great deal of inner d r a m a t i s m is gained, but the reason for the pretended madness disappears. H a m l e t ' s a n t i c s merely arouse the k i n g ' s suspicions w i t h o u t b r i n g i n g h i m a n y obvious advantage, and he seems deliberately to be p l a c i n g h i n d r a n c e s in his own path. And t h a t piece of inconsistency is p r o b a b l y a t t h e root of the whole so-called H a m l e t problem, over which so much ink has been wasted. The assumed madness is effective scenically, it allows Hamlet to throw his satire straight in his enemies* faces in t h e s a m e way Marston's A n t o n i o disguises himself as a fool because it gives him 'a p a t e n t of i m m u n i t i e s ' ; it could h a v e been j u s t i f i e d t h r o u g h Hamlet's fear t h a t in his overwrought s t a t e he might be t e m p t e d t o give away his secret anyhow and was t r y i n g t o guard against a n y t h i n g he might say being taken in earnest, or t h r o u g h his need for a s a f e t y valve to give vent to his pent up emotions. But the p r e t e n d e d mad369

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Hess seems to have been so much a part of the t h e a t r i c a l tradition t h a t Shakespeare felt no need to j u s t i f y it at all. Actually the Hamlet problem, though it draws n o u r i s h m e n t from this inconsistency, has centred more in the reasons for H a m l e t ' s delay. For the Elizabethan playgoer that could have presented no problem at all. Hamlet delays because he is a melancholic revenger, and because melancholy was the fashionable pose of the young malcontents. All a t t e m p t s to find another reason for his p r o c r a s t i n a t i o n h a v e simply been projections of the critic's own personality on to the character: Goethe conceived him as a noble weakling like his own Clavigos and Weisslingens, and overlooked the harsh core of almost savage cruelty in him; Coleridge saw him as a spineless t h i n k e r like himself; those who object to personal revenge h a v e p o s t u l a t e d a similar objection in him, but though Hamlet d o u b t s m a n y things, the one thing he never doubts is the necessity for revenge and his own intense desire for it; those whose interest centres in social reform h a v e fastened on the single tag:
T h e t i m e Is out of j o i n t ; O c u r s e d spite T h a t ever I w a s b o r n t o set it r i g h t l

The mere death of Claudius, they say, will not put the t i m e right. But according to Elizabethan beliefs the foul murder of the Lord's anointed was enough in itself to put the t i m e out of j o i n t , as in M a cb t h, and nowhere in the play is there any suggestion t h a t Hamlet looks beyond the punishment of t h a t murder to set the t i m e right. Finally those who admire action have denied t h a t there is any delay at all, maintaining that H a m l e t ' s self-reproaches are merely the index of his own impatience to act, and overlooking the fact t h a t Shakespeare, in contravention of the whole d r a m a t u r g i c a l system of his day, which strove after the utmost compression of the action, introduced the only scene in the whole of E l i z a b e t h a n d r a m a (II. i) that marks a break in the time-scheme not essential to the action, to showt h a t for two whole months Hamlet has done n o t h i n g but brood. Hamlet is afflicted by melancholia, in t h e E l i z a b e t h a n sense of the word, there cannot be the least doubt about it. He himself in his soliloquies speaks of his weakness and refers to the disease by name. He is not able however to associate his i n a b i l i t y to act with t h a t disease; for him it remains inexplicable and tortures h i m , but for most of the audience, or those who would be likely to ask the question at all, the reason would be clear enough. And for his s t u d y of the melancholic Shakespeare turned to the most easily a v a i l a b l e treatise on the subject, that of Timothy Bright, borrowing not only various s y m p t o m s , but even echoing B r i g h t ' s very words at times. To many bardolaters this has seemed a terrible d e g r a d a t i o n of Shakespeare's originality, and they refuse to a d m i t it. A c t u a l l y it is a v e r y fine proof of his artistic conscientiousness: the genius lies in bringing those t r a i t s to life, not in observing or i n v e n t i n g t h e m , and above all in the way one is made to feel the real H a m l e t s h i m m e r i n g through the

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veil of his disorder and of his assumed madness. The melancholic was in himself something of a split personality, with his a l t e r n a t i n g fits of lethargy and hectic excitement. H a m l e t is not so far gone in melancholy as Hieronimo, he never loses control of himself c o m p l e t e l y , except perhaps in his last outburst over O p h e l i a ' s grave, the almost traditional scene in which the sight of a n o t h e r ' s grief spurs him to the utmost. But he is subject to fits of extreme e x c i t e m e n t , as in his 'wild and whirling words' after the g h o s t ' s revelations, or his exultation when he has put his enemy to flight after the p e r f o r m a n c e of his 'mouse-trap.' A l t e r n a t e l y he has his fits of brooding, when he longs to take refuge in suicide. He has, as Bright put it, his false and Sardonian laughter, and his suspiciousness, which he shares with Hieronimo. It is a part of his tragedy that he cannot trust others, that his very first reaction on hearing of his f a t h e r ' s murder is to bury it at once in his own mind and let no one else know of it, not even the men who have proved their loyalty and could best help him. W h e t h e r he is really justified in his distrust of Rosencrantz and G u i l d e n s t e r n we do not know. Objectively, in t r y i n g to get at the reason for his antic behaviour, they are, as they believe, t r y i n g to cure h i m . When appealed to in the n a m e of their former friendship they are f r a n k , and it is their very frankness that cuts them off from H a m l e t ' s confidence. Horatio, who is a kind of chorus figure, s t a n d i n g for o b j e c t i v e t r u t h , seems inclined to regret their fate. His r a t h e r mild protest is overtoned by H a m l e t ' s vehement accusations, but it is an open question whether we should really |ook at e v e r y t h i n g through H a m l e t ' s eyes, and dramatically it is important that the point is raised at all. It would have been equally easy to have spared them, or to have made their guilt more evident. As it is, the worst t h a t can be said of t h e m is that they have quite innocently been drawn into the orbit of Claudius's crime. And t h a t is part of the n a t u r e of the c r i m e itself, t h a t it spreads like an ulcer, c o n t a m i n a t i n g everyone who comes in contact with it an idea t h a t is brought out in the u n d e r c u r r e n t of the imagery, in which disease, infection and c o r r u p t i o n is a c o n s t a n t l y recurring theme. H a m l e t ' s mind too has become t a i n t e d , in spite of the ghost's warnings. If his treatment of his f r i e n d s is an open question, his behaviour to Ophelia is not, nor is his u t t e r lack of compunction over the death of the man he had hoped once to make his fatherin-law. It hardly seems possible that this is the same man who in his normal moments is so tender of other people's feelings, who treats his inferiors with such frank a f f a b i l i t y and kindliness. And t h a t is the real core of his tragedy, his disillusionment w i t h life. U n l i k e Hieronimo and Titus, his melancholy is caused not by f r u s t r a t i o n , but by the shock of his m o t h e r ' s unseemly marriage, though later events may aggravate the condition. And from the first he is touchcd with t h a t revulsion against sex and all it stands for, so typical of the revolt. He does not go so far in his disgust as C h a p m a n ' s Dowsecer, who is after all a figure of fun, but from the first ' f r a i l t y , thy n a m e is woman' he has forgotten Ophelia. And P o l o n i u s ' s warnings to his

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daughter, which have aroused the ire of so m a n y critics, are not entirely misplaced. Hamlet has once had the power to see, ' W h a t a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason! how i n f i n i t e in f a c u l t y ! in form, in moving, how express and a d m i r a b l e ! in action how like an angel! in apprehension how like a god! t h e b e a u t y of t h e world! the paragon of nature!' But now he has lost t h a t power, and t h a t is not H a m l e t ' s tragedy alone, but that of his whole g e n e r a t i o n . And Shakespeare was better able to express it than the a n g r y young men of the day themselves, who had grown up as rebels w i t h o u t a n y accompanying sense of loss. That is what makes H a m l e t t h e s u p r e m e expression of the mood of the time, t h a t it was w r i t t e n by some one not fully caught up in it, and therefore better able to u n d e r s t a n d it in all its implications. It is however a mood not necessarily bound down to any particular time, and as the great tragedy of disillusionment H a m l e t has its appeal for all times. In the same way H a m l e t ' s p o r t r a i t , a l t h o u g h determined in many ways by contemporary theories, is universal in its a p p e a l . Everyone at some time has found a difficulty in p u t t i n g his i n t e n t i o n s into action, even if it is only the action of going to the d e n t i s t , and like Hamlet has ingeniously found reasons for p u t t i n g off, or deceived himself with the pretence of action, possibly even of action t h a t actually stands in the way of his proper purpose. H a m l e t has theological theory on his side when he suspects t h a t the ghost may be an emissary of Satan. But every theatre-goer knows i m m e d i a t e l y t h a t t h e ghost is a true ghost besides H a m l e t ' s doubts only appear after he has already decided to present his ' m o u s e - t r a p ' , as a j u s t i f i c a t i o n for what is really a piece of folly; for the trap does not a c h i e v e t h e hoped for effect of a public confession, it only makes H a m l e t ' s position clear to his enemy. Chance offers him one last o p p o r t u n i t y before t h e king can take action, and he lets it slide, for reasons t h a t again may be valid in themselves, though they reduce him from the seeker a f t e r justice to the mere revenger; but the irony is t h a t the reasons do not after all a p p l y , for the king is unable to pray. On a smaller scale everyone has done something of the same kind himself, and e v e r y o n e feels therefore a rather special kinship with H a m l e t hence t h e extreme, subjectivism of so many interpretations. T h a t is not of course the only reason for the peculiar fascination of t h e figure, t h o u g h it is a not u n i m p o r t a n t one. But even more i m p o r t a n t is its e x t r e m e complexity, the almost infinite v a r i e t y of facets t h a t it shows thinker, aesthete, ironist, man of action, brooder, k i n d l y c o m p a n i o n , tortured soul, he combines in himself so many and such c o n f l i c t i n g t r a i t s that one feels one can never get behind t h e m all and pierce through to the real H a m l e t ; though equally one never d o u b t s for a m o m e n t that there is a real H a m l e t . What harmonizes them together is t h e intensity of his emotion; we have felt with him so strongly at every moment that the question of probability simply c a n n o t arise probable or not, he exists. And he exists not only as a figure b u t as p a r t of a structure equally varied and fascinating. If H a m l e t seems t h e deepest

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of tragedies it is also the most exciting, and if H a m l e t the prince gives the effect of the complexity of a living man, whom we know i n t i m a t e ly and from every side, and who offers the more surprises t h e better we know him, H a m l e t the play packs into its five acts all the variety of a complex society. H a m l e t is contrasted w i t h two other men in a similar position Fortinbras, who f i n d i n g revenge impossible, seeks another outlet for his a c t i v i t y , and Laertes, who w i t h o u t stopping to t h i n k , forces his way into the palace at the head of t h e citizens and demands satisfaction. Yet if H a m l e t ' s lethargy p r e v e n t s his revenge, Laertes' rashness is equally u n p r o d u c t i v e , and he falls an easy prey to C l a u d i u s ' s clever plausibility. And those c o n t r a s t i n g lines, and a good many more, are fitted into a plot t h a t in s p i t e of some ragged ends and inconsistencies, holds well together, rises in regular steps to its climax, the closet scene, and falls again to its a p p o i n t e d end H a m l e t is destroyed, as we know he must be, b u t he has achieved his task, and we feel a sense of exaltation t h a t he has, and a hope for a better f u t u r e . These two plays are the fullest expression of t h e disillusionment of the time, and having completed them Shakespeare was free to go on to other themes. Disillusionment r e m a i n s as an element in many of them in O t h 1 1 o, in L e a r and T i m o n, b u t it is a more particular disillusionment, and subsidiary to other themes. W i t h and through H a m l e t Shakespeare had evolved his own concept of tragedy, which was to remain peculiarly his, for no one else succeeded in working out a tragedy on those p a r t i c u l a r lines, w i t h the hero not so much crushed by outward circumstances, t h o u g h of course they too must play their p a r t , but destroyed by s o m e t h i n g working within him and tearing him a p a r t . In H a m l e t it is his melancholy, not properly a part of his n a t u r e but an enemy t h a t has gained e n t r a n c e within him, and much more terrible t h a n his external o p p o n e n t , against which he must struggle and which t h r e a t e n s to d i s r u p t his whole personality. There the concept had to some extent been prepared by others, though it had remained more a l a t e n t possibility t h a n an elaborated concept. In O t h e l l o the jealousy t h a t converts t h e noble, confident Moor into a raving monster is still more p a t e n t l y introduced from w i t h o u t , and by a h u m a n agency. For O t h e l l o is not by nature jealous, t h a t point is driven well home, and it is only the positive proof, as he takes it, of his wife's i n f i d e l i t y t h a t breaks down the pales and forts of reason, to quote H a m l e t ' s words. T h e angry passion t h a t threatens to engulf Lear, t h a t for a t i m e even does rob him completely of his reason, is more a p a r t of his real n a t u r e t h a t had had no o p p o r t u n i t y to burgeon out as long as his will was undisputed; and it is no doubt for that reason t h a t t h e final p u r g a t i o n does not merely restore him to the man he was, and he undergoes a moral regeneration, when, h a v i n g sunk to the level of the lowest o u t c a s t s of humanity he can see himself as no more t h a n they, a bare, forked animal, and realize the unpaid debt he owed t h e m when he was their king and ruler.

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With M a c b e t h the threat of the f a m o u s Gunpowder Plot, from which J a m e s together with his whole P a r l i a m e n t escaped by a h a i r ' s breadth, turned Shakespeare back to one of his earlier political themes and to the horrors of usurpation. Basically the p a t t e r n is the same as that of R i c h a r d III, the rise and fall of the usurper who must, from the very n a t u r e of his i l l e g i t i m a t e power, develop into the bloodthirsty t y r a n t . But Shakespeare's t r e a t m e n t of the theme is very different now. F u n d a m e n t a l l y one can say the political theme no longer interested him; it is there, and o b v i o u s enough, but it contributes very little to the real effect of the play, which is a pure tragedy and not a history. W h a t interested Shakespeare now was rather the effect of the crime on the noble M a c b e t h , and the moral disintegration of the man 'too full of the milk of h u m a n kindness' who succumbs, not to his conscience at least not if conscience means recognition of the moral qualities of one's actions b u t to the sense of insecurity and emptiness that the t h r o n e has brought him. To a certain extent that is true of Richard also, b u t the effect on Macbeth is far more terrible. Murder has aroused in him not exactly blood lust, but a sort of dull impulsion to go on killing and killing as the one solution to his problems his mind is still c a p a b l e of. His feelings are all deadened, he too is a prey to melancholy, but it is a different kind from H a m l e t ' s unrelieved by any excitement except an occasional outburst of irritable rage. Thus while R i c h a r d ' s crimes are performed gaily, and with Machiavellian v i r t u o s i t y in order to achieve the throne, and the disintegration passed over very r a p i d l y , here it sets in already with the murder in the second act, even before the climax or turn of the action has been reached, and fills out the greater part of the play. It is true, the earlier scenes, up to and including the murder, are much the strongest and remain in the mind more vividly than the rest, but f u n d a m e n t a l l y t h e play is a b o u t t h e 'o'ergrowth' of evil in Macbeth's soul. In a way A n t o n y a n d C l e o p a t r a too centres still in deterioration if not in actual disintegration. At least t h r o u g h o u t the first three acts the stress is definitely on what the opening lines suggest
T h e t r i p l e p i l l a r o( t h e w o r l d t r a n s f o r m ' d I n t o a s t r u m p e t ' s tool; behold a n d sec.

Antony spouts glorious verse, and Cleopatra laughs at him and keeps him on by holding him off, t h w a r t i n g his every mood; their life together is presented as sybaritic luxury and wastefulness, and his passion as an itch in the blood he cannot throw off. And as the catastrophe approaches the love itself turns sour and gives way to irritation and frustration. Antony at bay has lost most of his magnanimity, has lost his generalship, can no longer face the s i t u a t i o n soberly. And yet even now one may be beginning to ask oneself w h e t h e r , if to be conqueror of the world means to be a cold and passionless Octavius, it is not better after all to be an A n t o n y . And w i t h the catastrophe

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itself the whole view point seems to s h i f t , and all t h e splendour of Shakespeare's poetry is concentrated on glorifying t h e pair and the love for which they have lost the world. Cleopatra has t h r o w n off her courtesan's tricks and appears in all her r e g a l i t y . Yet to t h e end she remains an enigma. She dies greatly, but w h a t part love for A n t o n y plays in her decision, and what the realization t h a t she c a n n o t hope to entangle the cold Octavius, nobody can say. And w i t h t h a t t h e whole question of the p l a y ' s meaning, if it ever was intended to have a 'meaning', remains open. The emotional effect of t h e closing scenes is of an apotheosis, compared with which death and disaster seem negligible. Yet logic seems to tell us t h a t t h a t apotheosis r u n s counter to the greater part of the play, t h a t the love A n t o n y dies h a p p y in is an illusion, and that Cleopatra in her death is at most acting to herself the part she had acted to A n t o n y , since she has chosen death rather than the disgrace of a Roman t r i u m p h . Logic, I t h i n k , is wrong. But the very fact that it is wrong shows how l i t t l e i m p o r t a n c e Shakespeare can have attached to elaborating a meaning; t h a t his interest centred in telling a moving story and presenting living characters in all their complexity, and that the very enigma of C l e o p a t r a ' s motives, as told by P l u t a r c h , fascinated h i m , and he was u n w i l l i n g to sacrifice it even to the apotheois he was so e v i d e n t l y b u i l d i n g up to. The last two tragedies, C o r i o l a n u s and Ti of A t h e n s , were again taken from P l u t a r c h t h e l a t t e r however merely from a very brief mention but show a d i s t i n c t f a l l i n g a w a y , not only in the conception of the divided p e r s o n a l i t y but 1 a b o v e all in tragic power and in portraiture. Coriolanus's pride, inculcated in him by his mother, is clearly brought out as a t r a g i c flaw, but the figure does not seem to have a t t r a c t e d Shakespeare, he took small pains to elaborate or even humanize him, and t h e choice of the subject seems to have been dictated by political r a t h e r t h a n a r t i s t i c considerations. In the summer of 1607 there had been an u p r i s i n g of the peasantry in the Midland counties against the enclosures w i t h which the opening scene in particular, but also the whole t r e a t m e n t of t h e plebs, is probably connected. T i m o n is generally supposed to be a rough d r a f t , never completed, possibly w i t h some scenes by another hand. It contains, together with L e a r , some of S h a k e s p e a r e ' s most energetic social criticism in the manner of t h e r e v o l t , but as a play it is h a r d l y satisfactory. Two so-called comedies also belong to this period the earlier part of i t : A 1 l's W e l l t h a t E n d s W e l l , distinctly among Shakespare's less s a t i s f a c t o r y works, and Measure for Measure, based on the old p l a y of Promos a n d C a s s a n d r a , which begins m a g n i f i c e n t l y but r u n s into the sand owing to an over-sophistication of the plot, for which the a t t e m p t to work in a sort of c o m p l i m e n t to the newly crowncd James I may perhaps be responsible. The achievement of these years lies a b o v e all in t h e five great tragedies t h a t form an absolute s u m m i t in the history of t h e d r a m a . And what gives t h e m extraordinary power is at the last analysis not

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their p o r t r a i t u r e , magnificent though that is, nor their d r a m a t i c ten- ; sion, b u t above all their poetry. It is through t h e power of t h e poetry t h a t the story of Macbeth, in itself as sordid as t h a t of Zola's T h e r e s e R a c q u i n , is raised to an a p o c a l y p t i c v i s i o n of the struggle of good and evil, that the querulous v a n i t y of a Lear and the question of how many knights he shall h a v e to serve him in his d a u g h t e r ' s house assumes a cosmic significance, or a n a s t y l i t t l e tale of intrigue and murder has become one of the great tragedies of the world. No amount of psychological insight could work t h a t wonder, and those who object to Bradley's analyses t h a t t h e y relegate the most important point to a side line are right in t h a t . B u t in s h i f t i n g the centre of interest to a philosophical meaning, t h e y are for the most part getting even further from the mark. A ' m e a n i n g ' can be read into a n y t h i n g , and the super-subtle meanings t h a t so many critics now try to impose on Shakespeare's tragedies are mostly only their own rather shallow philosophies spun out of a c h a n c e text or two taken out of their d r a m a t i c context, much as a preacher spins his sermon out of a biblical text, or based on a set of images or comments carefully picked and arranged in new p a t t e r n s and arabesques. Ima* gery plays a tremendous part in the poetry of these plays. It has become much more functional and much more concentrated t h a n in the earlier plays, it never strikes one now as something imposed on the thought for the sake of its decorative effect, but as the form of t h e thought itself and in this Shakespeare was in t u n e w i t h the general trend of the times; it would be impossible to say who was leading and who was following in the whole development of d r a m a t i c poetry during these years. But imagery can only create a mood, or rouse an emotion, it cannot state a meaning, least of all a meaning t h a t is not in tune with the general line of the action. A really satisfactory account of Shakespeare's poetry at t h i s time, or at any other, has yet to be w r i t t e n ; all t h a t can be done here is to offer a few random hints. To begin with the imagery, there is its part in building up a general mood the images of disease and decay in H a m l e t , suggesting something rotten in the s t a t e of Denmark, the ravenous beasts of L e a r , the more mischievous, noxious ones of 0 t h 1 1 o that seem to reflect on Iago's malice. T h e effect had been used already by Marlowe, but here it is employed with much more s u b t l e t y and v a r i e t y . Often a particular figure is surrounded by his own special aura of imagery M a c b e t h ' s a p o c a l y p t i c imagination is contrasted with his wife's e a r t h y , concrete vision and Banquo's homely, half-humorous outlook; or O t h e l l o ' s r o m a n t i c , exotic imagery is contrasted with the commercial, practical interests of Iago. Then there is the tremendous concentration achieved by using a word slightly out of its true meaning, so t h a t w h i l e t h e mind gropes for the sense; a whole host of secondary meanings rise to t h e surface; 'light thickens," says Macbeth, and dusk appears as s o m e t h i n g tang ible, hindering motion and crushing one with its w e i g h t ; o r ' c u r t a i n ' d sleep,' referring in the first place to the bed curtains, but because of

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the unusualness of the c o m b i n a t i o n arousing ideas of secludedness. quiet, safety. Heavy Latinisms, often a p p a r e n t l y pure i n v e n t i o n s l i k e e x s u f f l i c a t e orvastidity, p r o b a b l y modelled in p a r t on Marston, b u t used more sparingly and t a c t f u l l y , give a sense of grandeur and solemnity. Various figures of r h e t o r i c t h a t cause a sense of bafflement, and for t h a t reason call up v a r i o u s i n d e f i n i t e associations hypallage, by which the logical r e l a t i o n s w i t h i n t h e s e n t e n c e are shifted a b o u t ; prolepsis, by which a f u t u r e result is a n t i c i p a t e d ('The air n i m b l y and sweetly recommends itself u n t o our g e n t l e senses', i.e. made gentle by it), and every kind of l i b e r t y w i t h t h e l a n g u a g e occur. All t h i s might be expected to produce a result so m a n n e r e d and so difficult to follow t h a t it would cause i r r i t a t i o n rather t h a n a sense of power, as the same sort of tendencies with Marston d o act on one. But these mannerisms are applied w i t h t a c t , t h e y do n o t dominate the style but provide a background t h a t keeps t h e i m a g i n a tion alert. The real power of the poetry consists in s o m e t h i n g t h a t defiesanalysis. ' P u t up your bright swords, for t h e dew will rust t h e m , ' s a y s . Othello when confronted by B r a b a n t i o ' s a n g r y mob of followers,, and the effect lies not in any one point, b u t t h e flowing together of many effects. D r a m a t i c a l l y there is the sense of c a l m , s l i g h t l y humorous superiority, t h a t results from the contrast w i t h t h e whole context. But also there is the v i v i d pictorial effect of swords g l e a m i n g i a the torchlight contained in the one word b r i g h t , which a g a i n depends largely on the context; the contrast between t h e heated altercation and t h e cool freshness of the dew; t h e s m o o t h s o l e m n i t y of the slow monosyllables, and the perfect s i m p l i c i t y of it. In Macbeth's. monologue, the tortuousness of t h e opening lines, a n d the dull hammerlike repetitions suggest the convolutions of t h o u g h t in a m i n d tortured by the need for a decision and fearful of even f o r m u l a t i n g the idea of murder ( a s s a s s i n a t i o n , i n c i d e n t a l l y is now a fairly common word, but it is used by S h a k e s p e a r e only in this s i n g l e passage):
If it were done w h e n 'tis done, then 'twere well It were done q u i c k l y ; il the a s s a s s i n a t i o n Could t r a m m e l up the consequence, and catch W i t h h i s surcease success; that but t h i s b l o w Might be the be-all and the e n d - a l l here. But here, upon this bank a n d shoal of t i m e , We'd Jump the life to come.

The language is kept abstract, the one image ' t h i s bank and shoaE of time' is intellectual rather t h a n visual in its a p p e a l , b u t so concentrated t h a t it packs a whole philosophy into a couple of w o r d s , with time as a mighty river compared to which a m a n ' s life a p p e a r s as a mere shallow over which the stream rolls on. B u t as t h e a r g u m e n t s

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pile up the imagination the last judgement:

kindles to a v a s t cosmic p i c t u r e inspired by

Besides, this Duncan H a t h b o r n e h i s f a c u l t i e s so m e e k , h a t h been So c l e a r in h i s g r e a t o f f i c e , t h a t h i s v i r t u e s Will plead like angels t r u m p e t - t o n g u ' d against T h e deep d a m n a t i o n of h i s t a k i n g o f f ; And pity, like a naked new-born babe, S t r i d i n g t h e b l a s t , or h e a v e n ' s c h e r u b i n h o r s ' d J J p o n t h e s i g h t l e s s c o u r i e r s of t h e a i r , S h a l l b l o w t h e h o r r i d deed in e v e r y e y e , That tears shall drown the wind.

The picture has need to be of some splendour, for it is the chief counterpoise to the powers of darkness, more concretely embodied by -the weird sisters; but the strange picture of p i t y , so weak and yet so s t r o n g , is to be taken up in a f u r t h e r series of images and symbols, -to culminate in the bloody child of t h e a p p a r i t i o n s , and t h e avenger Macduff 'from his mother's womb u n t i m e l y r i p p ' d . ' And it is largely because Macbeth is surrounded with images such as these t h a t we feel him to be, in spite of his crimes, a splendid figure of a man, who has somehow gone wrong, but remains splendid - even in his downfall. And that is perhaps the most essential effect of S h a k e s p e a r i a n tragedy, that it fills one with an exhilarating sense of t h e splendour of humanity. Sometime about the year 1G07 in all p r o b a b i l i t y appeared the play of P r i c 1 s, based on the A l e x a n d r i a n r o m a n c e of A p o 1l o n i u s o f T y r e that had been popular since Old English times. The text has come down to us in an a b o m i n a b l e s t a t e in w h a t must be a pirated quarto, and it was not printed in t h e First Folio; but the last three acts seem undoubtedly to be by Shakespeare, and t h e y usher i n the romances of his fourth and last period. W h e t h e r it was the success of this play, or of B e a u m o n t ' s P h i 1 a s t r, which probably belongs to the same year, or the fact t h a t the K i n g ' s men in 1609 took over as their winter headquarters the p r i v a t e house in Blackfriars, within the limits of the city but outside t h e j u r i s d i c t i o n of t h e City Council and h i t h e r t o occupied by a c h i l d r e n ' s t r o u p e , or his retirement to Stratford, or a combination of all these causes, is p e r h a p s uncertain, but the whole mood of Shakespeare's work s u d d e n l y alters. And whatever part the other causes may have played, I t h i n k it is undeniable that in C m b 1 i n e, his next play, he was t a k i n g P h i 1 a s t r as his model. It is to my mind the least S h a k e s p e a r i a n and quite the most unpleasant of all his plays. The a u t o m a t i c responses to codes of behaviour t h a t t a k e the place of m o t i v a t i o n and p o r t r a i t u r e , the meek submissiveness of the heroine, t h e s e n t i m e n t a l i t y , t h e opposition of .a slimily vicious court and a wildly r o m a n t i c pastoral v i r t u e , are .all strongly reminiscent of P h i 1 a s t r, and u n l i k e Shakespeare.

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The opposition of pastoral v i r t u e and s i m p l i c i t y , and the ills of courtly life continues in T h Winter's T a l e and even, with a more exotic p a s t o r a l i t y , in T h e T m p s t, it is one of the basic themes of the romances; but the pastoral of T h W i n t c r ' s T a 1 takes us back again to A s Y o u L i k e I t , it has a s u n n y , homespun, concrete atmosphere t h a t is v e r y different from B e l a r i u s ' s rocky cave, and the court also is free of the heavy a t m o s p h e r e of prurient sexuality t h a t hangs over C y m b e l i n e ' s . But the s u r p r i s e resuscitation of Hermione is certainly B e a u m o n t e s q u e . A n o t h e r t h e m e that runs through all the romances, i n c l u d i n g P e r i c l e s , is t h e relation between father and daughter, mostly expressed in a r e u n i o n . Such reunions are a frequent motif in A l e x a n d r i a n r o m a n c e , but t h e special stress on the f a t h e r - d a u g h t e r motif does seem to suggest something more personal in the choice of subjects, which m a y p e r h a p s be connected with Shakespeare's retirement to S t r a t f o r d to live w i t h his family once more and with the birth of his f i r s t - g r a n d d a u g h t e r at this time. But it should be remembered t h a t this motif is a l r e a d y inherent in P e r i c l e s , where Shakespeare seems r a t h e r to h a v e been concluding s o m e t h i n g begun by another man. The two last plays, H e n r y V I I I and T h e Noble Kinsmen, t o g e t h e r w i t h the lost C a r d n i o were w r i t t e n in c o l l a b o r a t i o n w i t h F l e t c h e r , t h e rising star of the third generation of p l a y w r i g h t s . The general tendency among critics is to laud t h e r o m a n c e s as the crown of Shakespeare's achievement. P e r s o n a l l y I c a n n o t share the enthusiasm. Far from being a c l i m b i n g to f u r t h e r h e i g h t s , they seem to me a d i s a p p o i n t i n g dcscent from the tragedies, a n d , r o m a n c e against romance, I find the earlier r o m a n t i c comedies far h e a l t h i e r , happier and w a r m i n g in every way. Ever? t h e poetry, which far from following B e a u m o n t ' s crystal lucidity, c o n t i n u e s t h e tendencies of the preceding period, carrying the language often to a height of knottiness and impressionistic u n i n t e l l i g i b i l i t y , seems to c o m e dangerously near to mannerism, in spite of much t h a t is u n d e n i a b l y effective. But the present cult of the romances seems to me m a i n l y d i c t a t e d by a rather hysterical refusal to a d m i t t h a t S h a k e s p e a r e ' s was not a constant p a t h of i m p r o v e m e n t , though there is p e r h a p s a c e r t a i n prejudice on my part due to the distressing a m o u n t of b u n k u m t h a t has been w r i t t e n about them.

3. Dramatists of the Revolt the Leaders


Shakespeare touches on all three periods of the E l i z a b e t h a n d r a m a , and bestrides t h e m like a colossus. And in some ways his o u t s t a n d i n g position has given him a slightly unfair a d v a n t a g e over his c o n t e m p o raries. W h e n a man has once been acclaimed as a genius, his work is studied with p a r t i c u l a r concentration and w i t h a c e r t a i n u n c r i t i c a l awe. Intense f a m i l i a r i t y helps one to discover beauties and s u b t l e t i e s

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t h a t one overlooks with lesser lights, even to reconcile oneself to what one would condemn in others. Shakespeare is i n d i s p u t a b l y the greatest d r a m a t i s t of his day. No other man has such a wide scope and var i e t y , no other man maintains such a consistently high level. But how uncritical much of the adulation of Shakespeare t h a t passes for criticism is, can be seen, for instance, in the w a y m a n y of his most fanatical admirers pour scorn on his well attested work in T h T w o Noble Kinsmen, some of it every bit as fine as a n y t h i n g in the last period, because it is not included in t h e s t a n d a r d editions, while they will enthuse over the work of the despised Fletcher in H e n r y V I I I because they h a v e been f a m i l i a r w i t h it f r o m childhood. Among Shakespeare's contemporaries there are s e p a r a t e plays, sometimes in a similar vein, sometimes in a t o t a l l y different one, t h a t are well able to stand beside his, though t h e r e is no body of work t h a t can be mentioned in the same, b r e a t h . T h e merits of some of these are beginning to be more widely recognized, t h o u g h t h e only names t h a t have to some extent penetrated into world l i t e r a t u r e are those of Marlowe and Jonson. B E N J O N S O N (1572-1637) was the d o m i n a n t s p i r i t of t h e revolt as far as the stage was concerned, even though he was not actually the first exponent of the humour comedy with which his n a m e is especially associated. There are few i n d i v i d u a l s in English l i t e r a t u r e who live so v i v i d l y as personalities, a p a r t from their works, as Jonson. One might almost compare him to t h a t other literary dictator, Dr. Samuel Johnson, with whom he had a lot more in common than just the name, although he had no Boswell to p o r t r a y him. His grumpy, disapproving conversations with D r u m m o n d of H a w t h o r n d e n , his b a t t l e royal with Marstow and Dekker t h a t has been celebrated as the war of the theatres, a few stray anecdotes, fix the p i c t u r e of t h e man in his truculence, his downrightness and intellectual honesty. Jonson came from poor surroundings, his s t e p - f a t h e r was a b r i c k - l a y e r , but he received a good education at W e s t m i n s t e r school, and though he never attended the university he became one of t h e acknowledged classical scholars of his day, and had an honorary degree conferred on him by both universities. His youth seems to h a v e been spent in various ways before he drifted to the theatre, and of his earliest work we know very little either. He was concerned with N a s h e in t h e scandalous I s l e of D o g s (1597), and T h e C a s e Is Altered, a r o m a n t i c comedy of the traditional type, a l t h o u g h based on Plautus, probably belongs to the same year. His a d m i r a t i o n for P l a u t u s and Aristophanes, working with the spirit of the times, soon led him to realistic, 1 satirical comedy however, and after C h a p m a n had shown the w a y with A n Humoro u s D a y's M i r t h , he followed suit with a still more realistic and bourgeois comedy E v e r y M a n in h i s H u m o u r and the comedy of humours was established, the opposite in every way
' R e a l i s t i c in r e g a r d t o t h e l u m i l i a r , e v e r y d a y s e t t i n g , t h a t I.

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of the Shakespearian type. Shakespeare's comedy is p e r m e a t e d w i t h the spirit of gaiety. If he makes f u n of the c o n s t a b l e and his men in M u c h A d o a b o u t N o t h i n g he does so only because their foolishness will raise a laugh; there is no hint of i n d i g n a t i o n a g a i n s t , say, the conditions t h a t permit such incompetence, only good-humoured badinage. But Jonson cannot endure a fool; and whenever he draws one he must draw a wise man to rail against h i m , to underline every piece of foolishness and express the a u t h o r ' s i r r i t a t i o n at it. And the fools that he draws are not, as with Shakespeare, provincial vestry-men, constables and country g e n t l e m e n , s e r v a n t s and professional jesters. They are the typical figures of London life who must have formed a large part of his audience: young men f r o m t h e country who wish to pass as men of wit and fashion by b u y i n g a new suit of clothes and ' d r i n k i n g ' tobacco, citizens who a p e t h e aristocracy, men of no account who boast of their f a m i l i a r i t y w i t h t h e upper circles, would-be poets stuck fast in the stilted s t y l e of t h e worst sonneteers, all men who wish to pass for more t h a n t h e y are. These and the rogues and cheats that prey on them are held up to scorn in this and the succeeding comedies. Jonson is p r e e m i n e n t l y t h e poet of London life, and he studied it with the a v i d i t y of a Dickens. Many of his contemporaries sneered at his photographic realism, as in t h a t anonymous satirical play T h e R e t u r n from Parnass u s (1601) where he is abused as 'a mere empiric, one t h a t gets what he hath by observation, makes only n a t u r e privy to what he indites: so slow an inventor t h a t he were better b e t a k e himself to his old t r a d e of bricklaying: a bold whoreson, as confident now in m a k i n g a book as he was in past times in laying of a brick.' Of r o m a n t i c i s m there is no longer a trace. His comedies mostly h a v e h a r d l y even a love interest. Indeed many of them scarcely have a plot, as his a n o n y m o u s critic complained. J o n s o n ' s method, at least in these earlier comedies, was to imagine a number of clearly marked types, and to display their oddities, their habits and conversation, m a n i p u l a t i n g t h e m , as Chapman had done, into a scene of general d i s c o m f i t u r e at t h e e n d . To some extent E l i z a b e t h a n r o m a n t i c comsdy, with its large v a r i e t y of intermingling plots and social levels, provided a basis, and so did the last offshoots of the moralities, which had become more and more realistic in tone. But the real inspiration c a m e r a t h e r from R o m a n satire with its series of brief character sketches i l l u s t r a t i n g the vices and follies of the day, and probably also from T h e o p h r a s t u s ' s C h a r a c t e r s , rather more detailed studies of v a r i o u s social and psychological types which had recently been edited (1592) and were soon to enjoy an immense vogue in E n g l a n d ; while the looseness of s t r u c ture and general absence of plot received its s a n c t i o n from t h e older type of Greek comedy, the v e t u s c o m e d i a of A r i s t o p h a n e s , to which Jonson directly appealed in his next play. Behind it all lay of course the psychological theory of the h u m o u r s and the interest of the Renaissance in personality. O n l y t h a t v e r y interest was leading now to a debasement of the original sense of t h e

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t e r m . The theory of four essential types of character works very well a s a basis of classification, but it does not cover the immense variety of individual idiosyncrasies t h a t exist and for which no satisfactory term had been evolved. And in popular usage the term h u m o u r was taking on more and more of this wider sense, till in the late nineties it had become a fashionable word for a n y sort of freakishness, caprice or affectation. Jonson himself protested against the misapplication of the word, but even for him it has more the. sense of some 'one peculiar quality (that) Doth so possess a man, t h a t it doth draw All his affects, his spirits and his powers, . . . all to r u n one w a y . * And he tends to lay the stress on oddities of c h a r a c t e r , freaks and cranks, and men with an idee fixe, displayed from t h a t one aspect of their natures. His figures are purely two-dimensional, w i t h o u t real solid i t y . While Shakespeare's interest in i n d i v i d u a l i t y led to an increase in depth and complexity, J o n s o n ' s led r a t h e r to an increase in breadth and a stressing of the infinite v a r i e t y of h u m a n n a t u r e within a single play. And by displaying his flat figures in ever varying combinations and contrasting them in every conceivable way, by c o n s t a n t l y altering the light t h a t falls on t h e m , he does in the end achieve an effect of solidity. The play must have been a great success in its day, and it probably contributed considerably to the modish use of t h e word h um o u r that Shakespeare ridicules in his N y m . P r o b a b l y too it aroused discussion among the intellectuals and doubts as to t h e legitimacy of the form. In his next comedy, E v e r y M a n O u t o f his H u m o u r (1599) Jonson not only stressed t h e general tendencies much more strongly, but placed the whole in a f r a m e w o r k compara b l e to the earlier and by now outmoded mythological inductions, in which the supposed author and a c r i t i c a l l y - m i n d e d friend keep up a running commentary on the whole play, t h u s giving him the o p p o r t u n i t y to explain his intentions, to develop his whole theory of the humours, and to defend his practice by t h e appeal to v t u s c o m d i a. The result is something r a t h e r a r t i f i c i a l , lacking the v e r v e and sense of overflowing life of the earlier p l a y . The satire is much more pungent and galling, and includes more d e f i n i t e social abuses like the engrosser. It is J o n s o n ' s i n t e n t i o n to
scourge those apes A n d t o t h e s e c o u r t e o u s eyes set up a m i r r o r A s l a r g e as is t h e s t a g e w h e r e o n w e a c t , W h e r e w e s h a l l see t h e t i m e ' s d e f o r m i t y A n a t o m i z e d in e v e r y n e r v e a n d s i n e w W i t h c o n s t a n t c o u r a g e a n d c o n t e m p t of f e a r .

T h a t is already completely in the mode of t h e r e v o l t and the verse satires of Donne and Marston. And in the end he deflates his characters much more completely by encouraging t h e m t h r o u g h his chorus figure, a descendant of the old Vice, to indulge their follies to the

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height till the b u b b l e bursts and they are purged of their evil humours: the doting husband discovers his wife's fickleness and at last determines to play the master in his house; the w o u l d - b e g a l l a n t finds t h a t his aspirations bring him to the d e b t o r ' s prison, the b o a s t i n g swashbuckler is unmasked as a coward, and even the e n v i o u s man (the Vice) is cured of his envy by seeing the general failure a b o u t h i m hence the title. It was J o n s o n ' s opinion, fully in accordance with Horace and Renaissance critical theory in general (but not w i t h Aristophanes), that comedy should expose general failings and not a c t u a l persons. However in his next two comedies, C n t h i a ' s R e v e l s , or The F o u n t a i n of S e l f - L o v e and P o e t a s t e r , he was drawn into a personal quarrel with his colleagues Marston and Dekker at least Dekker believed Hedon and Anaides in the first play to be intended as satirical p o r t r a i t s of his friend and himself, while Jonson later complained t h a t for three years the p a i r had been ridiculing him. He certainly had been i n v i t i n g ridicule, for though the satirical commentators of his plays were scarcely intended as selfportraits, they were expressing his views, and seem to present h i m as the one y i r t u o u s man in a world of cheats and fribbles. C y n thia's R v 1 s is in itself an e x t r a o r d i n a r i l y dull play, w r i t t e n for the newly organized troupe of the Children of the Chapel at Blackfriars in an a t t e m p t to recapture the courtly, allegorical a t m o s p h e r e of Lyly, combining it with violent satire on c o u r t l y affectations, vanity and pretensions (though still with t h e t r a d i t i o n a l c o m p l i m e n t s to the aging queen herself), and also some of the t e c h n i q u e of the moralities such as the disguise of the vices as their opposite v i r t u e s . Poetaster however contained an u n a m b i g u o u s a t t a c k on t h e pair of d r a m a t i s t s in which Jonson did introduce himself in the figure of Horace administering a purge to the poetaster, who was m a d e to cough up long strings of those ink-horn terms of which Marston was so fond. The sting was taken out of the satire however by Dekker catching wind of J o n s o n ' s intentions and producing a counterblast in the s h a p e of his S a t i r o m a s t i x t h a t was produced almost simultaneously at the Globe, and seems to have won t h e battle. At least Jonson vacated the field and turned to tragedy. Actually Jonson had no u n d e r s t a n d i n g of the tragic muse. H i s play on Richard III, if it was ever completed, was not considered worthy of a place in his own collection of his works. And S j a n u s h i s F a l l (1603) is r e a l l y a satire again, only overshadowed by a spirit of gloom and terror. For his scene J o n s o n chose one of the most vicious periods of R o m a n history, which he drew with p a i n f u l care to historical accuracy in the depiction of manners and customs, a n d in the details of portraiture, proudly giving his sources in the margin of the published text; while his central figure, the p a r a s i t e S e j a nus who by f l a t t e r y and intrigue establishes himself as the chief instrument of the emperor's t y r a n n y , has not one single redeeming feature, nothing even t h a t can compel a grudging a d m i r a t i o n for his

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power or his abilities. His fall, when it comes, is cruel and horrible, t h o u g h scarcely more t h a n he deserves except t h a t it drags his whole l a m i l y with him, but it brings no sense of relief. When his pride and a m b i t i o n threaten to overshoot the mark, Tiberius merely replaces one loathsome favourite with another even more loathsome; for the ineffective noble Romans who go to their deaths f u l m i n a t i n g against v i c e and expatiating on the v i r t u e s of t h e old r e p u b l i c a n times, it makes no difference the toll of deaths will obviously c o n t i n u e under t h e new favourite too. There is power in t h e p l a y ; t h e solid, unspectacular verse has sincerity, and there is considerable s u b t l e t y in "the portrait of the emperor, the apparent tool of his own tools, keeping himself in the background, m a i n t a i n i n g a pretence of democratic methods but exercising the most ruthless t y r a n n y t h r o u g h those tools w h o imagine they are using h i m . But there is no d r a m a t i c tension, o n l y a sense of louring disaster, and no one for whom one can really feel the slightest concern. It is strange in a w a y t h a t J o n s o n , who w a s more likely than any of his fellows to be f a m i l i a r with Aristotle's analysis of tragedy and its effects, should so c o m p l e t e l y and disastrously have disregarded his precepts; of the hero neither too good for poetic justice to reach, nor too bad to awake our s y m p a t h i e s there is no trace Sejanus is just exactly the sort of figure Aristotle expressly excluded from tragedy; instead of the double effects of p i t y and fear (or as Sidney better formulated it, p i t y and a d m i r a t i o n ) there is only terror. And after t h a t , the lack of a n y t h i n g one would be inclined to accept as catharsis need scarcely surprise one, since t h e meani n g of the term is uncertain any way. Typical expression of the mood of t h e r e v o l t though S e j a n u s is, with its theme of present corruption and past v i r t u e s , it is not surprising that it proved too heavy fare for t h e p l a y g o i n g public. However the discipline of working on a concentrated plot and port r a i t u r e in depth seems to have given J o n s o n what he needed, and the t h r e e comedies that now followed, V o 1 p o n (1606), p i c oe n e or T h e S i l e n t Woman (1609) and T h A l c h e m i s t (1610), are in their very different way scarcely less great than Shakespeare's. Volpone, it is true, seems to challenge a comparison w i t h Shylock, which he cannot possibly sustain, though he does have something of the J e w ' s sombre grandeur. U l t i m a t e l y both plays deal w i t h the power of money in the modern world, and S h a k e s p e a r e ' s view is the broader and serener, for he sees both its power for evil and for good. Jonson sees only its c o r r u p t i n g power, but he p u t s t h a t view across with a force and concentration t h a t are m a g n i f i c e n t . And here there is already something like a break through to t h e d o m i n a n t , unifying concept of Baroque art. And also, in t h e a v o i d a n c e of the romantic fairy-story elements of Shakespeare's plot, t h e presentation of a world t h a t at least superficially seems identical w i t h t h a t of every day though on closer inspection it too will reveal itself as fantastically improbable , Jonson s t a n d s in a line of d e v e l o p m e n t that leads on to r a t i o n a l i s m and a sober factual realism. R o m a n t i c comedy

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was in fact never to recover from the blow dealt it by t h e r e v o l t . For the next two centuries Shakespeare's comedies b u t n o t his tragedies, which never suffered a complete eclipse were to fall i n t o disrepute, and it was only the romantics t h a t restored t h e m to favour, though the type, as a living form has never been successfully resuscitated. W h a t gives these three comedies of J o n s o n ' s their special power is their organization round a plot t h a t holds the a t t e n t i o n in its own right. F u n d a m e n t a l l y Jonson still follows the p o r t r a i t - g a l l e r y method of his earlier humour comedies, but in V o 1 p o n and T h e Alchemist at least he has chosen plots t h a t lend themselves to the method without any forcing. The crowd of f o r t u n e h u n t e r s t h a t flock around the supposedly dying Volpone, and more especially the dupes that seek the good offices of the alchemist and his accomplices, give ample scope for a wide gallery of s h a r p l y v i g n e t t e d types t h a t in T h e A l c h e m i s t are b e a u t i f u l l y contrasted in their manner of speech. The method of listening to chance c o n v e r s a t i o n s in taverns and public places, note-book in h a n d , of which d r a m a t i s t s were now being accused, certainly proved its worth here. E a c h figure is a perfect individual, whose accents can never be mistaken for another's. And this applies also to B a r t h o l o m e w F a i r (1615), which even though it drops back into the r a m b l i n g , unorganized structure of the earlier comedies, is in every other way w o r t h y to s t a n d together with the great three. It was separated from t h e m by t h e tragedy of C a t i 1 i n as little tragic in its effect as S j a n u s, and for similar reasons but it was the last of the great comedies, and it was already out of t u n e with the times. T h e change in t h e a t m o sphere of the theatre t h a t Shakespeare had sensed in good t i m e had brought with it a new kind of comedy too, not exactly r o m a n t i c , but rather an inversion of the high-flown themes of love and honour of the romances, in which w i t t y conflicts between the sexes took the place of satirical f u l m i n a t i o n s against vice. The comedy of h u m o u r s did not die out completely, indeed it remained as an element w i t h i n the new love-game comedies of Fletcher and his school, b u t as a pure type it had lost its wider appeal, and it was p r o b a b l y a certain awareness of this and a half-hearted a t t e m p t to catch t h e p o p u l a r t a s t e in other ways t h a t is the cause of the declining v i g o u r of J o n s o n ' s later comedies. T h e D e v i l I s a n A s s (1616) centres in the amusing device of bringing a minor imp of S a t a n on t h e stage as a Vice figure, and showing his n a i v e inadequancy to t h e viciousness of modern times, and the fall here is not yet very marked, though perceptible. T h e S t a p l e o f N e w s (1625) also is saved to some extent by the originality of its theme, which is in fact a p r o p h e t i c vision of a modern newspaper office. After t h a t however the life goes out completely from the last three T h e N e w I n n , T h e M a g n e t i c L a d y and T h e T a l e o f a T u b (1633). Four supremely good comedies are in themselves enough to establish a firm r e p u t a t i o n , and it is by them t h a t J o n s o n chiefly lives

25'

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today. But his plays, though both in bulk and in q u a l i t y they loom largest, are only one side of his work. The series of masques and entertainments t h a t he wrote for the court, beginning w i t h T h e M a s q u e o f B l a c k n e s s (1605) and even earlier, and c o n t i n u e d in an unbroken chain for some t h i r t y years, represents a b o d y of work of considerable merit in itself, and brings out a v e r y different side of J o n s o n ' s personality; romantic, delicate, graceful, they show qualities that are not entirely lacking even in some of the comedies, but only rarely to be met there. In the a n t i m a s q u e s on t h e other hand, the prologues to the masque proper, J o n s o n could indulge his love of realism', sometimes in scenes of pure comedy, s o m e t i m e s in poeticized form as in the masque of witches or of gypsies. T h e whole form of art was extremely mixed, consisting of songs, dialogue and ballet the central part in which the queen and her ladies performed in magnificent and fantastic costumes and it was a considerable question who was most important, the poet and i n v e n t o r , the designer of the elaborate scenery and costumes, or the musician. And when towards the end of his life Jonson started his quarrel w i t h Inigo J o n e s , the great architect and designer, the court seem to h a v e decided that Jones was more essential to them, and J o n s o n lost his position as royal masque-maker. His last years were filled w i t h illness, paralysis, and financial worries, and he lived to see himself left behind by the advancing fashions. Nevertheless, even fn his old age J o n s o n had a considerable following of younger men, such as Herrick, who liked to visit him and listen to his conversation, and regarded themselves with pride as of 'the tribe of Ben.' His w i d e knowledge of the classics and forthright judgement in literary m a t t e r s made of him something of a literary dictator already the first of a line of such figures that was continued by Dryden, Pope, and Samuel J o h n s o n , marking the true period of classicism in English l i t e r a t u r e , when the idea of fixed rules and canons of art imposed itself. Not t h a t t h e rule of the dictator himself was ever absolute or u n d i s p u t e d ; he was, even at his most powerful, only the a d m i n i s t r a t o r and interpreter of the canons fixed by the theoreticians of a n t i q u i t y , and he owed his position purely to the force of his personality moulding p u b l i c opinion. Jonson could not impose his ideas on the stage, or not for long at least, but his influence on the lyrical poetry of the period from 1600-1640 was tremendous, and it is probably owing largely to him and his severe classical taste that the metaphysical style did not manage to impose itself in England to anything like the extent t h a t it did in Germany. Jonson's lyrics however will have to be left for a later section. J O H N M A R S T O N (1576-1634), J o n s o n ' s most v i r u l e n t opponent in the war of the theatres, is, as might be expected, his opposite in many ways. In comparison with the part he appears to h a v e played in the movement of revolt, his plays now seem s i n g u l a r l y unrewarding. P a r t l y this is due to the extreme mannerism of his s t y l e which was in a way his most important contribution to d r a m a in his d a y partly to the rather crude sensationalism of most of his plots. It is, of

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course, very difficult now to say who influenced whom at a t i m e when everything was in the melting pot, and people's whole a t t i t u d e to poetry and style was undergoing a r e v o l u t i o n , but it seems as though the knottiness of Shakespeare's later style, his heavy L a t i n i s m s , and the complex p a t t e r n s of repetition t h a t he uses especially in L e a r , were largely due to Marston. Marston came of a good middlc-class f a m i l y , his mother was Italian, and it is possible t h a t his style was influenced by I t a l i a n Mannerism, or equally he may have been modelling himself on Donne, whose Catholic background might again t a k e us to I t a l y . As a young man fresh from the university he threw himself into the wave of satire writing of the later nineties, and shocked people w i t h his scurrilously erotic love poem P g m a 1 i o n ' s I m a g e , which, after it had been severely criticized, he s a n c t i m o n i o u s l y declared to have been intended as a parody to throw discredit on t h e whole species. After the holocaust of the satires he turned to the stage, w r i t i n g for the new boys' company of St. P a u l ' s , which had been re-formed in 1599. One of their first productions was his A n t o n i o and Me 1 1 i d a, a r o m a n t i c tale of love and a d v e n t u r e s in the t r a d i tional manner, but with an accompaniment of h u m o u r s a t i r e in imitation of Jonson; yet with a commentator who is obviously meant as a counterblast t o J o n s o n ' s envious Macilente the h a p p y Feliche, who can envy no man, but who rails against fools and rascals with the same vehemence. The second part, A n t o n i o ' s Revenge, is however in a very different vein, a bloodcurdling t r a g e d y of revenge t h a t is certainly based on the H a m l e t legend, b u t p r o b a b l y precedes Shakespeare's p l a y . 1 If it does, it is i m p o r t a n t both as indicating the action of the U r - H a m 1 c t (which on t h i s supposition would seem already to have included most of t h e main features of Shakespeare's plot, unless it was M a r s t o n ' s p l a y t h a t suggested some of them to him), and also as showing how a c o n t e m p o r a r y would already have been guided to take the story and w h a t Shakespeare would have needed to stress particularly if he had intended to infuse a different content into it. If on the contrary it was modelled on Shakespeare's H a m l e t , it is no less i m p o r t a n t , as showing w h a t a not unintelligent contemporary saw in the p l a y . T h u s either way it .is an important witness to the impression likely to h a v e been m a d e by Hamlet in its day, and thus to Shakespeare's probable i n t e n t i o n s . The plot of M a r s t o n ' s tragedy is grotesquely c o m p l i c a t e d and absurd in its m o t i v a t i o n . Piero arranges to accuse his own d a u g h t e r of adultery and has her imprisoned as a p r e l i m i n a r y to revenge on his son-in-law, whose father he has already murdered and whose mother he promptly prepares to marry. Antonio has seen his f a t h e r ' s ghost in a dream, he suspects Piero, but he has no d e f i n i t e knowledge; he appears, book in hand and clothed in black, philosophizing in t h e approved manner of melancholies. To his mother he appears mad,
< The chief a r g u m e n t is t h a t D e k k e r in S a t i r o m a s t l x H a m l e t as if It w e r e t h e o n l y p l a y on t h e s u b j e c t (1601) s p e a k s of t h e U r.

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before Piero he dissembles madness as his only weapon, though both effects are passed over very r a p i d l y indeed. And then comes t h e climax of the tragedy with Antonio kneeling before his f a t h e r ' s t o m b ; the ghost appears and discloses the whole t r u t h to him, and n o w Antonio in wild and whirling words and veiled double meanings hurls his defiance at the court. He has an o p p o r t u n i t y to kill his enemy, but lets it pass 'I'll force him feed on life Till he shall l o a t h e i t . ' Instead he kills P i e r o ' s little son, gloating over t h e s t r e a m s of blood and the sweet perfume of revenge, while the ghost groans below in the cellarage. In the scene that corresponds to t h e closet scene of H a m 1 t he appears with hands dripping with blood, e x u l t i n g in his revenge a n d suddenly decides to kill his mother too: ' W h y lives t h a t mother?' G h o s t : ' P a r d o n ignorance.' It is a passage c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of one aspect of Marston's method, his frequent a b r u p t , s t e n o g r a p h i c notation of extremely important points, which often makes h i m extraordinarily obscure and difficult to follow, even a p a r t f r o m t h e turgidit y of his style. On the ghost's advice A n t o n i o now disguises himself t o escape Piero's plots, assuming much to his friends' disgust a cap a n d bells because a fool has p a t e n t of i m m u n i t y though this time t o o he makes no use of that p a t e n t for satirical retorts. Mellida dies of grief, believing him to be dead, and her death is described by Antonio's mother, much as Ophelia's is. But A n t o n i o has n o w sunk into a lethargy of despair, s u b m i t t i n g to the will of heaven, t h i n k i n g of himself and all mankind as ' v e r m i n bred of p u t r e f a c t e d s l i m e , ' and it is only the grief of another of Piero's v i c t i m s t h a t s t i n g s h i m into energy:
' S l i d , sir, ye liel by the heart of grief, thou l i e s t . I scorn't that any wretched should s u r v i v e , O u t m o u n t i n g me in that s u p e r l a t i v e ; Most miserable, most u n m a t c h ' d in w o e l W h o dare assume that but A n t o n i o ?

It is H a m l e t again, s t u n g to e m u l a t i o n by Laertes' grief. But after t h a t the two plays part c o m p a n y . A conspiracy is immediately formed, and the conspirators, including A n t o n i o ' s mother, come disguised as masquers to the wedding festivities, surround Piero, revile and t a u n t h i m , and do him to death in t r i u m p h . And t h a t final masque of revengers was to become an almost s t a n d i n g ingredient of later revenge plays. It shows at least t h a t t h e o b j e c t i v e obstacles to drawing a sword in the presence of t h e t y r a n t were t a k e n so much for granted t h a t they needed no stressing. A n t o n i o ' s R e v e n g e shows so close a parallel with the plot of H a m 1 t in all its details, t h a t one may well wonder whether Shakespeare's play was not after all t h e earlier one. It^shows no v e r b a l echoes however, as the later M a l c o n t e n t does, except for one speech t h a t is obviously connected with H a m l e t ' s 'Tis now t h e very witching time of n i g h t , ' but which is a c t u a l l y more appropriate to Marston's play. Nor does it make use of one t h e a t r i c a l trick

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that after H a m l e t was to become almost o b l i g a t o r y , t h e monologue, skull in hand. Not t h a t such points are of much v a l u e as proofs. The greatest difference lies in the concept of t h e hero A n t o n i o is above all a Senecan revenger, delighting in b l o o d t h i r s t y t h o u g h t s . And though he falls into melancholic lethargy, he does not reproach himself for his delay, which after all is not great. Nor is he so isolated from everyone as H a m l e t deliberately isolates himself. All t h a t is probably only t h e reflection of Marston's own itch for s e n s a t i o n a l i s m and tells us n o t h i n g either about the r e l a t i o n to S h a k e s p e a r e ' s play or the character of the U r - H a m 1 t. B u t it does show v e r y clearly that if Shakespeare had intended H a m l e t ' s delay to express a n y thing more t h a n t h e traditional lethargy of t h e melancholic revenger he would have needed to make his point extremely clear, as in fact Chapman does later with his stoical revenger Clermont w h o has a definite ethical repugnance to revenge. Marston was to have considerable influence on later revenge plays, though more through T h e M a l c o n t e n t t h a n A nt o n i o. But already with this play he made a deep impression through the unusualness of his style. The prologue seems like the announcement of a program:
The rawish dank of c l u m s y winter ramps The f l u e n t s u m m e r ' s v e i n : and drizzling sleet Chilleth t h e w a n bleak cheek of t h e n u m b ' d e a r t h . W h i l s t s n a r l i n g g u s t s n i b b l e t h e juiceless l e a v e s From the n a k ' t s h u d d e r i n g branch and peels t h e s k i n From off the soft and d e l i c a t e aspects. 0 n o w , m e t h i n k s , s o m e sullen, tragic scene Would s u i t the t i m e w i t h pleasing congruence. May w e be h a p p y in our weak devoir, And all part pleased in most w i s h ' d c o n t e n t . But s w e a t of H e r c u l e s can ne'er beget So blest an issue. Therefore we p r o c l a i m . If any spirit breathes w i t h i n t h i s round U n c a p a b l e of w e i g h t y passion (As from h i s birth b e i n g hugged in t h e arms And nuzzled ' t w i x t t h e breasts of h a p p i n e s s ) , W h o w i n k s and s h u t s h i s a p p r e h e n s i o n up From c o m m o n sense of w h a t men were and are, And w o u l d not k n o w w h a t m e n m u s t be: let such Hurry a m a i n from our b l a c k - v i s a g ' d s h o w s l We shall alright their eyes. B u t if a breast Nail'd to t h e earth w i t h grief; if any heart Pierc'd through w i t h anguish, pant w i t h i n t h i s r i n g ; If there be a n y b l o o d , w h o s e heat is c h o k ' d And s t i f l e d w i t h true sense of m i s e r y ; If ought of t h e s e strains fill t h i s consort up, Th' arrive most w e l c o m e . O t h a t our power Could lackey or keep w i n g w i t h our desires,

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T h a t w i t h u n u s e d p a i z e of s t y l e a n d s e n s e W e m i g h t w e i g h t m a s s y in j u d i c i o u s s c a l e Y e t h e r e ' s t h e p r o p t h a t d o t h s u p p o r t our h o p e s : W h e n our scenes f a l t e r , or i n v e n t i o n h a l t s , Your f a v o u r w i l l g i v e c r u t c h e s to o u r f a u l t s .

'Unused paize (weight) of style and sense' o r i g i n a l i t y and forcefulness that sums up Marston's aim v e r y well; but it also sums up the tendencies of the period, and it would a p p l y equally well to the anti-Ciceronian reaction in prose writing. T h e forcefulness but not the originality at any price would even a p p l y to J o n s o n . However, though the aim was the same, the means did differ considerably. For Marston one of the most obvious s h o r t - c u t s to o r i g i n a l i t y lay in the vocabulary. Here the first line alone c o n t a i n s three words unknown to Shakespeare. And when Jonson t u r n e d his guns on Marston it was here that he found the weak spot for a t t a c k . Of the words the poet is forced to vomit up in P o e t a s t e r r e t r o g r a d e , reciprocal, i n c u b u s , g l i b b e r y, lubrical, def u n c t , m a g n i f i c a t e, s p u r i o u s , s n o t t e r i e s , c h i l b l a i n d, c l u m s y , puffy, inflate, turgidous, o b 1 a t r a n t, etc., quite a number have found acceptance in the language today. But the interesting point a b o u t t h e list is its variety; it is not only the Latin polysyllables and i n k h o r n t e r m s t h a t strike one, though they do predominate. But some of the f o r m s , l i k e c l u m s y ' n u m b , frozen', or p u f f y are s i m p l e E n g l i s h words t h a t Jonson must have objected to either as v u l g a r or dialectal. It was not preciosity, the straining after refinement and learning, as with Euhuism, that led Marston astray, but the desire to s t a r t l e with the Unexpected and the forceful. Sweetness of melody means nothing to Marston, he seems deliberately to seek heavy, g r a t i n g consonant combinations. His imagery like D o n n e ' s is n a t u r a l i s t i c , not decorative: 'nuzzled 'twixt the breasts of h a p p i n e s s , ' ' n a i l ' d to the earth with grief.' And he too uses intellectual, ' m e t a p h y s i c a l ' conceits, that are not a mere ingenious p l a y i n g w i t h the language in complex arabesques, as with the P e t r a r c h i s t s , but an exploitation of the various meanings of a word t h a t achieves t h e effect of imagery by suggesting hidden connections: 'If ought of these strains fill this consort up.' S t r a i n is used first in t h e sense of 'feeling, disposition,' perhaps the most common meaning t h e n , b u t also with a hint of its primary sense of 'effort, stress.' However t h e word could also mean 'tune, melody,' and when we come to c o n s o r t , which was also used in the sense of 'concert, orchestra,' it is t h a t meaning t h a t leaps to the mind, pushing the other out. The different meanings are not kept separate, but run together into a highly compressed metaphor, the feelings of the audience are likened to the p a r t s of an orchestral piece, but there is also the sense of stress b e h i n d it all. And it is this extreme compression t h a t gives the metaphysical style, and with it Shakespeare's latest style, so much of its force. It was not Mars-

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ton's invention, it was not the invention of any one man, but he did contribute greatly to its spread. T h a t he was very successful in his own application of it can hardly be m a i n t a i n e d . Passages of u n d o u b t ed power do break upon one from time to time. The description of winter here has an angular strength of its own. But t h e general effect is hysterically forced, and crabbed, and he seems for the most part to be a t t i t u d i n i z i n g rather t h a n feeling,, even though he did somewhat curb his youthful exuberance in his later plays. The tragicomedy of T h e M a l c o n t e n t (1604) is considerably better t h a n A n t o n i o ' s R e v e n g e , and here the debt to H a m 1 t is indisputable; for this too is basically a revenge play, although the final masque leads only to the d e t h r o n e m e n t of the usurper, not to his murder. The t i t l e figure is the deposed D u k e of Genoa, living disguised as an out-at-elbows courtier, a t y p e t h a t Donne had described in his satires, at the court of his s u p p l a n t e r . And like H a m l e t he is full of b i t t e r , sardonic c o m m e n t s on t h e times, always ready to rail cynically against m a n k i n d . And t h e society at the court is indeed depraved enough for the tongue of a J u v e n a l , and given up to lust and vices of every sort: the new Duchess is carrying on an intrigue with a courtier, the other ladies are all living more or less promiscuously, the old bawd Maquerelle has her h a n d s full, and the disguised Malevole himself takes a cynical delight in encouraging their viciousness, i. e. he combines the H a m l e t role with that of the J o n s o n i a n commentator and the old t r a d i t i o n of the Vice. He himself is ready to t a k e on the p a r t of p a n d e r , and is even sent to solicit his own wife on the duke's behalf, though f o r t u n a t e l y she at least proves v i r t u o u s . It was a highly successful play the K i n g ' s Men even paid it the compliment of stealing it from the Children of the Chapel , and above all the dark picture of the vices of the court must have made a deep impression, and the t h e m e of t h e lust and insatiety of women. The lustful woman was not in herself a new figure on the stage, we can find her already in T i t u s A n d r o n i c u s, but there Tamora had been presented as a horrible exception to her sex, while here it is the v i r t u o u s Maria who seems the exception. H a m l e t had dwelt with a rather lurid insistence on ' t h e rank sweat of an enseamed b e d , ' " b u t t h a t had been in large p a r t an index of his own diseased state. Rather surprisingly it would seem to h a v e been Dekker who in L u s t ' s D o m i n i o n (1600) first placed the theme more squarely in the centre. But it would appear to h a v e been Marston's play that was largely responsible for the bawds and centaurs t h a t loom so large in the background of K i n g Lear. Marston's own favourite among his works was the tragedy of S o p h o n i s b a , a play on a classical subject in which h i s usual cynicism and invective are less marked. And there is in fact a good deal to be said for this play, though it has not a t t r a c t e d so much attention as the more sensational ones. But Marston is not a s a t i s f a c t o r y dramatist even at his best. He had a considerable gift of language, especially of strong, rather brutal imagery, which however is too

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common at this time to impress one very deeply, while his plotting is ragged and his character-drawing r u d i m e n t a r y . It is true, there are plays, like T h e Revenger's T r a g e d y probably by Middleton which with similar weaknesses m a n a g e to produce a deep impression through the force of their poetry and their lurid atmosphere alone. But for that a certain intensity and a r t i s t i c sincerity are necessary. Marston is always ready to destroy his effect for the sake of a laugh or an impropriety, and he cannot achieve t h a t w h i t e heat of indignation which alone could disinfect the equivocal n a t u r e of his subjects. The castigator of vice is always to some extent in danger of the charge that his interest is due less to the cause of m o r a l i t y than his prurient imagination that derives a pleasure from the thought of the vices it attacks; and with Marston the suspicion seems to force itself on one. His influence on his f e l l o w - d r a m a t i s t s would appear to have been considerable, but it was scarcely h e a l t h y , and the loss to literature was not great when in 1609 he retired from t h e stage to enter the church instead. It is probably sheer coincidence t h a t with his retirement the energy seems to ebb away from t h e r e v o l t , and the new mode of Beaumont and Fletcher begins to impose itself. But he does seem to have played an i m p o r t a n t part in i n t r o d u c i n g and maintaining the atmosphere of the revolt on the stage. Besides tragedies and tragicomedies M a r s t o n also wrote a number of comedies not for the most part of much interest. The earlier ones, J a c k D r u m's E n t e r t a i n m e n t and What Y o u W i 1 I are largely taken up with mockery of J o n s o n , but T h e D u t c h C o u r t e s a n (1604), which to t h e modern mind at least approaches more closely to t r a g i c o m e d y , is more interesting. Also, apart from its actual merits, it marks a phase in t h e history of the revolt with its constant itch for more and more d a r i n g themes. In the same year appeared T h e H o n e s t W h o r e by Middleton and Dekker, and probably also M e a s u r e for Measure with its background of brothels. W h o was a c t u a l l y t h e first to make the step is uncertain, but from now on the p r o s t i t u t e was to become an important figure in comedy. In t h e following year appeared E.a s t w a r d H o , a good, solid comedy of London life by Chapman, Jonson and Marston in collaboration t h e war of the theatres had already been patched up, and Marston had even w r i t t e n complimentary verses for the quarto of J o n s o n ' s S j a n u s. It gives a convincing picture both of the strength a n d t h e weaknesses of the citizen class, and though it brought its a u t h o r s into trouble because of some remarks about J a m e s ' s favourizing of t h e Scots, it is not, like the early humour comedies, p u r e l y s a t i r i c a l . No one has succeeded in disentangling the shares of t h e three a u t h o r s concerned the play makes a perfectly homogeneous impression, and is not strongly reminiscent of any of them. B u t if, as seems most o f t e n to be assumed, the lion's share was Marston's, it shows h i m in an unexpectedly a t t r a c t i v e light, and suggests t h e possibility of f a t h e r i n g some further anonymous plays of considerable merit on him T h e L o n-

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d o n P r o d i g a l and T h e P u r i t a n (both included in t h e Shakespeare Apocrypha). If these plays could be brought together under a single personality, they would represent a v e r y respectable body of work. G E O R G E CHAPMAN (1560-1634), except for his claim to t h e earliest of t h e humour comedies, can only be regarded as a leader of the revolt in as far as he was n o b o d y ' s follower, unless it was Marlowe's. Properly speaking he belonged by birth to t h e generation of the University Wits, but his appearance as a d r a m a t i s t coincides with t h a t of t h e new generation of rebels, and like t h e m he catered chiefly for t h e two c h i l d r e n ' s troupes once t h e y were formed and their audience of middle-class intellectuals. But like Shakespeare he lacks the satirical belligerence of the younger men, though he was not unaffected by it. And even more t h a n Shakespeare he can claim to be t h e most philosophically minded of the d r a m a t i s t s . As a young man he had belonged together with Marlowe to t h a t group of poets and scientists t h a t centred round Sir W a l t e r Raleigh and seems to h a v e been known by some such n a m e as the School of N i g h t , or of Atheists. It was he t h a t completed the unfinished f r a g m e n t of Hero a n d L e a n d e r , and his first production, encouraged by Marlowe himself, was a philosophical poem, T h e S h a d o w o f Night, in which, in contrast with the still d o m i n a n t t r a d i t i o n of P e t r a r c h i s m and its cult of brightness and b e a u t y , he t u r n s to night as t h e source of peace and security:
Rich taper'd s a n c t u a r y of the blest, Palace of ruth m a d e all of tears and rest. To t h y black s h a d e s and desolation 1 consecrate m y l i f e .

What is chiefly remembered of the poem n o w is its extreme o b s c u r i t y , its turgid and magniloquent language. And in t h e preface to O v i d ' s B a n q u e t o f S e n s e in the t r a d i t i o n of t h e erotic love tales, but q u i t e u n l i k e t h e m in the k n o t t i n e s s of its s t y l e C h a p m a n boldly defended obscurity, provided it is not a m a t t e r of a f f e c t a t i o n but rooted in t h e heart of its subject and ' u t t e r e d w i t h fitness of figure and expressive epithets.' And in t h a t intellectual a p p r o a c h he was preparing the way for t h e style of D o n n e and t h e m e t a p h y s i c a l s . His great poetic work however was the t r a n s l a t i o n of H o m e r ' s t w o epics which appeared in i n s t a l m e n t s between 1598 and 1616. C h a p m a n ' s first a t t e m p t at d r a m a , T h e B l i n d Beggar of A l e x a n d r i a (1596), is an e x t r a o r d i n a r i l y n a i v e and clumsy affair, more r o m a n t i c t h a n comic, t h a t seems to h a v e been concocted for the admirers of such popular romances as M u c e d o r u s , and of Marlowe's by now rather a n t i q u a t e d verse. Neverheless it has a certain sting in its tail in its very sceptical a t t i t u d e to love and women, for the hero, by leading a q u a d r u p l e life w i t h c o n s t a n t changes of disguise, manages to run a harem of women, whom he f i n a l l y marries off to others, and it may have b e e n t h a t f l i p p a n t a t t i t u d e t h a t

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secured the play its popularity. A n H u m o r o u s Day'? Mirth in the following year is much more openly sophisticated with its reliance on conversation and h u m o u r types t h a t are finally deflated, though without any satirical i n d i g n a t i o n . Several further comedies followed for the boys' troupes A l l F o o l s , based on two comedies of Terence, and M a y D a y , a r e a r r a n g e m e n t of an Italian comedy, in both of which the classical, a n t i r o m a n t i c proclivities that determined Jonson's d r a m a too, p r e d o m i n a t e bustling, complicated comedies of dupery with a large gallery of humours, ending with a general deflation of follies and vices. And then with S i r G i l e s G o o s e c a p , a modernization of the Troilus and Cressida story, and more especially T h e G e n t l e m a n Usher and M o n s i e u r d ' O l i v e , comes a sudden t u r n to more serious, romantic comedy with a simpler plot, a reduction of the satire, which is concentrated on a single figure, and. a corresponding stressing of a poetic idealistic strain, just at a t i m e when t h e stage had plunged more strongly than ever for realism and satire. T h e G e n t l e m a n U s h e r is also r e m a r k a b l e as the first clear expression of C h a p m a n ' s stoicism, developed at some length in an extraneous episode in which a wounded nobleman, h a v i n g by his p a t i e n c e conquered the terrible pains of his wound, is saved f r o m t h e v e r y jaws of death and transformed into a sort of saint with v i s i o n a r y powers. And then in the next year comes T h e W i d o w ' s T e a r s (1605), a savage onslaught on the a n i m a l i t y of w o m e n ' s passions in crassest contrast with the Platonics of M o n s i e u r d'O l i v e . It seems impossible to read any tendency i n t o this zigzag line. The very fact that Chapman did not evolve a c h a r a c t e r i s t i c type of comedy of his own would suggest t h a t comedy did not suit his bent of mind. Indeed one might say t h a t he had l i t t l e d r a m a t i c gift whatever, for his tragedies, though impressive in their massive way, affect one much more strongly through s e p a r a t e speeches t h a n as organized wholes. And that is especially true of t h e first of t h e m , u s s d'A m b o i s, which though it has more of action, tension and excitement in it than any of the others, is also the least coherent. It is an a t t e m p t to revive the figure of the M a r l o v i a n s u p e r m a n , complete with all the tremendous cosmic imagery of meteors, earthquakes and storms, but in order to show t h a t in the mean, miserable thing the world has becomc, there is no room for the man of outstanding v i r t u e in the classical sense of the word, i. e. m a n l y s t r e n g t h of mind and honesty. Bussy is foredoomed because his v i r t u e s shine too brightly, because if he could have his way the court would have to be swept clean.,As a tragic concept it is powerful enough, and shows a r e m a r k a b l e breadth and originality of mind at a t i m e when almost the only tragic patterns were variations on t h e themes of c r i m e or revenge. But C h a p m a n was unable to e m b o d y his t h e m e in action appropriate to it. Bussy spouts magnificent poetry in praise of his own v i r t u e and in contempt of those a b o u t h i m , and t h e a d m i r a t i o n he arouses even in his enemies shows that we are meant to t a k e him at

his own v a l u a t i o n . But he does nothing at all to e m b o d y for us t h e v i r tue of which he boasts, beyond fighting some r u f f i a n l y duels and carrying on an intrigue with a married woman for which he f i n a l l y gets murdered, but which doss not convincc one either as a d e v a s t a t i n g passion or as something so ennobling t h a t it justifies itself, b u t r e m a i n s a rather nasty little intrigue. Nor is the tragedy i m p r o v e d by the complex machinery of secret passages, ghosts, c o n j u r a t i o n s of the devil and such like r o m a n t i c trappings. Yet much of the poetry is extremely fine, so fine t h a t it may carry one over the essential w e a k nesses. There is a magnificent swing to B u s s y ' s a s p i r a t i o n s :
M a n is a t o r c h b o r n e in t h e w i n d ; a d r e a m B u t of a s h a d o w , s u m m ' d witli all h i s s u b s t a n c e ; A n d as g r e a t s e a m e n , u s i n g all t h e i r w e a l t h A n d s k i l l s in N e p t u n e ' s deep i n v i s i b l e p a t h s , In t a l l s h i p s r i c h l y b u i l t arid r i b b ' d w i t h b r a s s , To put a girdle round a b o u t the w o r l d ; W h e n t h e y h a v e d o n e it ( c o m i n g n e a r t h e i r h a v e n ) Are glad to give a warning-piece, and call A poor, staid fisherman, that never past His c o u n t r y ' s sight, to wait and guide t h e m in: So w h e n wo w a n d e r f u r t h e s t t h r o u g h t h e w a v e s Of g l a s s y G l o r y , a n d t h e g u l f s of S t a t e , T o p t w i t h all t i d e s , s p r e a d i n g all o u r r e a c h e s . A s il e a c h p r i v a t e a r m w o u l d s p h e r e t h e e a r t h , W e m u s t t o V i r t u e for h e r g u i d e r e s o r t , Or w e s h a l l s h i p w r e c k in o u r s a f e s t p o r t .

Unlike most of his contemporaries, who sought force t h r o u g h compression of the language, Chapman likes to d r a w out his images and give them weight through the thought t h e y c a r r y . It may be t h a t these expanded similes were suggested by the epic similes of H o m e r , but they are used very differently not as a d e c o r a t i v e effect to mark the highlights of the action, but as vehicles of t h o u g h t . And it is the thought t h a t is for C h a p m a n the main p o i n t , t h a t for which the drama seems to exist. As he put it, ' m a t e r i a l i n s t r u c t i o n , elegant and sententious excitation to v i r t u e , and deflection from her contrary, being the soul, limbs, and l i m i t s of a u t h e n t i c t r a g e d y . ' His figures are always ready to discourse at length on any a b s t r a c t topic of material instruction. Bussy's enemies, as t h e y a w a i t t h e outcome of the plot to murder him, meditate c a l m l y and in long, i n v o l u t e d sentences on the disparity between n a t u r e ' s gifts to men and t h e fortune she allots t h e m :
N o w s h a l l w e see t h a t n a t u r e h a t h n o e n d In her great works responsive to their w o r t h s , T h a t s h e t h a t m a k e s so m a n y e y e s a n d s o u l s T o see a n d foresee, is s t a r k b l i n d h e r s e l f ; A n d as i l l i t e r a t e m e n s a y L a t i n p r a y e r s B y r o t e of h e a r t a n d d a l l y i t e r a t i o n .

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In w h o s e hot zeal a man w o u l d t h i n k t h e y W h a t they ran so away w i t h , and were sure

knew

To h a v e rewards proportion'd to their labours, Yet may implore their own confusions For a n y t h i n g they know, which often times I t f a l l s o u t t h e y i n c u r ; so n a t u r e l a y s A deal of stuff t o g e t h e r , a n d b y use, O r by t h e m e r e n e c e s s i t y of m a t t e r , E n d s such a w o r k , f i l l s it or l e a v e s it e m p t y Of s t r e n g t h , or v i r t u e , e r r o r or c l e a r t r u t h , Not knowing what she does; b u t usually Gives what she calls merit to a m a n . A n d belief m u s t a r r i v e h i m on h u g e r i c h e s , Honour and happiness, that e f f e c t s h i s r u i n ; E v e n as in ships of war, whose l a s t s of powder Arc laid, men t h i n k , to make t h e m l a s t , and guards, When a disorder'd spark that powder taking, B l o w s up w i t h s u d d e n v i o l e n c e a n d h o r r o r Ships that, kept e m p t y , had sail'd long w i t h terror.

And so it goes on for another forty lines. It is, of course, the core of the play's whole message, and resumes t h e t h e m e of B u s s y ' s opening words, 'Fortune, not reason, rules the s t a t e of t h i n g s . ' A n d it was against the onslaughts of fortune t h a t C h a p m a n was to erect his rampart of stoical philosophy. But one cannot help feeling t h a t t h e two men who are preparing to destroy n a t u r e ' s masterpiece are scarcely the ones to repine at the pointlessness of c r e a t i n g m a n t o such an end, and also t h a t blind Fortune is scarcely to b l a m e for t h e explosion, when Bussy has so flauntingly been s t r i k i n g t h e sparks himself. Chapman had little sense of t h e stage. H i s plays are difficult to follow, not only because of the notorious o b s c u r i t y of the language, but because they are so badly contrived. C h a r a c t e r s a p p e a r and disappear without ever being introduced, it is o f t e n h a r d t o tell who or what they are. The exposition in most plays is i n a d e q u a t e , past events are referred to without the least e x p l a n a t i o n , a n d it becomes extremely difficult to follow the thread of the n a r r a t i v e . It is in a n y case impossible to judge Elizabethan plays by modern s t a n d a r d s . Plots are often fantastically improbable, c h a r a c t e r - d r a w i n g is o f t e n crude or n a i v e . It is v e r y often the force of t h e p o e t r y alone t h a t gives the play whatever merit it has. Here we have a p l a y in which t h e poetry is often obscure, turgid or inflated, t h a t has no psychological or plot interest to recommend it, and yet by t h e energy and toughness of its language, and the occasional flashes of s u p r e m e poetry t h a t burst out of the murky mass, achieves in an age of m a n y s t r i k i n g p l a y s a force and i n d i v i d u a l i t y of its own. N o t h i n g could be more exaggerated, more confused and in worse taste t h a n t h e first four lines of Bussy's death speech; and then out of the welter comes s o m e t h i n g t h a t raises the r a n t to the s u m m i t of poetry:

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My sun is t u m ' d to b l o o d , in w h o s e red b e a m s P i n d u s and Ossa, hid in driits of s n o w , Laid on m y liver, from their v e i n s Melt l i k e t w o h u n g r y torrents, e a t i n g rocks, Into the ocean of all h u m a n l i f e And m a k e it bitter o n l y w i t h m y blood. O frail c o n d i t i o n of strength, valour v i r t u e , In rne, like w a r n i n g fire upon t h e top Of s o m e steep beacon, on a steeper h i l l . Made to express i t ; l i k e a ( a i l i n g star, S i l e n t l y g l a n c ' d , that l i k e a t h u n d e r b o l t Look'd h a v e struck and shook the f i r m a m e n t .

The star 'silently glanced' is wonderful, but w h a t gives the speech i t s whole power is the ocean of all h u m a n life m a d e b i t t e r with his blood, a whole philosophy of p a n t h e i s m , one of the main tenets of the Stoa, packed into a single phrase. In a way u s s d'A m b o i s is C h a p m a n ' s worst tragedy, in another it is his best. For if the later ones overcome its most obvious weaknesses, the poetic fire in them dies down progressively too, and t h e last ones are undeniably dull. The two p a r t s of the C o n s p i r a c y and T r a g e d y o f B y r o n (1608) m a n a g e to s t r i k e a balance between the two tendencies, and form together a solid and powerful d r a m a , and they show C h a p m a n t u r n i n g once more to contemporary French events: H e n r y IV's famous general had been executed at Paris for high treason just a few years before. O n l y this t i m e it is the failure of the superman t h a t is depicted. Bussy, t h o u g h he is killed in t h e end, has at least achieved recognition for his v i r t u e . Byron's pride in his own achievements however is presented as inordinate, and he is drawn more as a w a r n i n g against a m b i t i o n and disloyalty t h a n as an example of the greatness of t h e h u m a n s p i r i t , though his verse may sometimes catch the same magnificent s w i n g as Bussy's:
G i v e me a spirit that on t h i s l i l e ' s rough sea L o v e s t ' h a v e his s a i l s f i l l ' d w i t h a l u s t y w i n d , E v e n till h i s s a i l - y a r d s t r e m b l e , h i s m a s t s crack, And h i s rapt ship run on her s i d e so l o w That she drinks water and her keel p l o u g h s air. There is no danger to a man that k n o w s W h a t l i f e and death is.

And opposed to his egotism stands the figure of the king, ruled not by pride and a m b i t i o n b u t by reason and t r u e v i r t u e , w h o places t h e good of his people above that of himself, and is r e a d y all t h e t i m e to forgive his erring s e r v a n t because he u n d e r s t a n d s h i m so c o m p l e t e l y . H e is the first of C h a p m a n ' s stoical figures, who a f t e r this are to d o m i n a t e his tragedies c o m p l e t e l y . Stoicism was extremely prevalent t h r o u g h o u t the R e n a i s s a n c e ;

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