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Title: A Letter on Shakspere's Authorship of The Two Noble Kinsmen - and on the characteristics of Shakspere's style and the - secret of his supremacy
Author: Spalding, William
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A Letter on Shakspere's Authorship of The Two Noble Kinsmen - and on the characteristics of Shakspere's style and the - secret of his supremacy" ***


Transcriber's Notes: Variations in spelling and hyphenation have been
left as in the original. Words in italics in the original are surrounded
by _underscores_. Words in bold in the original are surrounded by =equal
signs=. Words in a Gothic font in the original are surrounded by +plus
signs+. A row of asterisks represents a thought break. In poetry
quotations, a row of periods indicates an ellipsis. A few typographical
errors have been corrected. A complete list follows the text.

                               A LETTER


                        SHAKSPERE'S AUTHORSHIP


                       +The Two Noble Kinsmen;+


                             BY THE LATE

                       WILLIAM SPALDING, M.A.,

                       LITERATURE,' ETC., ETC.

              +New Edition, with a Life of the Author,+


                       JOHN HILL BURTON, LL.D.,

                              AUTHOR OF
                'THE HISTORY OF SCOTLAND,' ETC., ETC.

                             PUBLISHT FOR

                     +The New Shakspere Society+

              BY N. TRÜBNER & CO., 57, 59, LUDGATE HILL,
                         LONDON, E.C., 1876.

                        +Series+ VIII. +No.+ 1

                    JOHN CHILDS AND SON, PRINTERS.


This _Letter_ by Prof. Spalding has always seemd to me one of the ablest
(if not the ablest) and most stimulating pieces of Shakspere criticism I
ever read. And even if you differ from the writer's conclusion as to
Shakspere's part, or even hold that Shakspere took no part at all, in
the Play, you still get almost as much good from the essay as if you
accept its conclusions as to the authorship of _The Two Noble Kinsmen_.
It is for its general, more than for its special, discussions, that I
value this _Letter_. The close reasoning, the spirited language, the
perception and distinction of the special qualities of Shakspere's work,
the investigation into the nature of dramatic art, the grasp of subject,
and the mixt logic and enthusiasm of the whole _Letter_, are worthy of a
true critic of our great poet, and of the distinguisht Professor of
Logic, Rhetoric, and Metaphysics, who wrote this treatise, that at once
delights and informs every one who reads it. No wonder it carrid away
and convinct even the calm judicial mind of Hallam.

Indeed, while reading the _Letter_, one can hardly resist the power of
Prof. Spalding's argument, backt as it is by his well-chosen passages
from the Play. But when one turns to the play itself, when one reads it
aloud with a party of friends, then come doubt and hesitation. One
begins to ask, 'Is this indeed Shakspere, Shakspere at the end of his
glorious career, Shakspere who has just given us Perdita, Hermione and

Full of the heavenly beauty of Perdita's flowers, one reads over _The
Two Noble Kinsmen_ flower-song, and asks, pretty as the fancy of a few
of the epithets is, whether all that Shakspere, with the spring-flowers
of Stratford about him, and the love of nature deeper than ever in his
soul--whether all he has to say of the daisy--Chaucer's 'Quene of
flourës alle'--is, that it is "smelless but most quaint"; and of
marigolds, that they blow on death-beds[v:1], when one recollects his
twenty-years' earlier use of them in _Lucrece_ (A.D. 1594):--

     Without the bed her other fair hand was,
     On the green coverlet; whose perfect white
     Show'd like an April _daisy_ on the grass,
     With pearly sweat, resembling dew of night.
     Her eyes, like _marigolds_, had sheath'd their light,
       And canopied in darkness sweetly lay,
       Till they might open to adorn the day.

Full of the ineffable charm and consistency of Miranda and Perdita, one
asks of Emilia--Chaucer's daring huntress, virgin free, seeking no
marriage-bed--whether Shakspere, at the crisis of her life, degraded her
to a silly lady's-maid or shop-girl, not knowing her own mind, up and
down like a bucket in a well, balancing her lovers' qualities against
one another, saying she'd worn the losing Palamon's portrait on her
right side, not the heart one, her left, &c.; and then (oh dear!) that
Palamon might wound Arcite and _spoil his figure_! What a pity it would

                   Arcite may win me,
     And yet may Palamon wound Arcite to
     The spoyling of his figure. O what pitty
     Enough for such a chance!

                            V. iii. 68-71, p. 81, ed. Littledale.

I say, is it possible to believe that Shakspere turnd a noble lady, a
frank gallant nature, whose character he had rightly seizd at first,
into a goose of this kind, whom one would like to shake, or box her ears
well? The thing is surely impossible. Again, is it likely--and again, I
say, at the end of his career, with all his experience behind him, that
Shakspere would make his hero Palamon publicly urge on Venus in his
prayer to her, that she was bound to protect him because he'd believd a
wanton young wife's word that her old incapable husband was the father
of her child? Is this the kind of thing that the Shakspere of Imogen,
of Desdemona, of Queen Catherine, would put forward as the crown of his
life and work? Again I say, it can hardly be.

Further, when at one's reading-party one turns to the cleverest and most
poetic-natured girl-friend, and says, 'This is assignd to Shakspere. Do
you feel it's his?' She answers, 'Not a bit. And no one else does
either. Look how people's eyes are all off their books. They don't
care for it: you never see that when we're reading one of Shakspere's
genuine plays.' Then when you note Prof. Spalding's own admission
in his _Letter_, p. 81, that in Shakspere's special excellence,
characterization, the play is--as of course it is--weak, and that it is
to be compard on the one hand with his weaker early work, and on the
other with his latest _Henry VIII_, more than half of which Fletcher
wrote, you are not surpris'd to find that in 1840,[vii:1] seven years
after the date of his _Letter_, Professor Spalding had concluded, that
on Shakspere's having taken part in _The Two Noble Kinsmen_, his
"opinion is not now so decided as it once was," and that by 1847 he was
still less decided, and declared the question "really insoluble." Here
is the full passage from his article on Dyce's "Beaumont and Fletcher,"
in the _Edinb. Review_, July 1847, p. 57:--

      "In measuring the height of Beaumont and Fletcher, we cannot
      take a better scale than to put them alongside Shakespeare,
      and compare them with him. In this manner, an imaginary
      supposition may assist us in determining the nature of their
      excellence, and almost enable us to fix its degree. Suppose
      there were to be discovered, in the library of the Earl of
      Ellesmere, or in that of the Duke of Devonshire, two dramas
      not known before, and of doubtful authorship, the one being
      'Hamlet,' and the other 'The Winter's Tale.' We should be at
      no loss, we think, to assign the former to Shakespeare: the
      judgment would be warranted alike by the consideration of the
      whole, and by a scrutiny of particular parts. But with
      regard to the other play, hesitation would not be at all
      unreasonable. Beaumont and Fletcher (as an eminent living
      critic has remarked to us) might be believed to have written
      all its serious parts, more especially the scenes of the
      jealousy of Leontes, and those beautiful ones which describe
      the rustic festival[vii:2]. Strange to say, a case of this
      kind has actually arisen. And the uncertainty which still
      hangs over it, agrees entirely with the hesitation which we
      have ventured to imagine as arising in the case we have

      "In 1634, eighteen years after Beaumont's death, and nine
      after Fletcher's, there was printed, for the first time, the
      play called 'The Two Noble Kinsmen.' The bookseller in
      his title-page declared it to have been 'written by the
      memorable worthies of their time, Mr John Fletcher and Mr
      William Shakespeare, gentlemen.' On the faith of this
      assertion, and on the evidence afforded by the character of
      the work, it has been assumed universally, that Fletcher had
      a share in the authorship. Shakespeare's part in it has
      been denied; though there is, perhaps, a preponderance
      of authority for the affirmative. Those who maintain the
      joint authorship, commonly suppose the two poets to have
      written together: but Mr Dyce questions this, and gives us an
      ingenious theory of his own, which assumes Fletcher to have
      taken up and altered the work long after Shakespeare's labour
      on it had been closed.

      "_The question of Shakespeare's share in this play is really
      insoluble._ On the one hand, there are reasons making it very
      difficult to believe that he can have had any concern in it;
      _particularly the heavy and undramatic construction of the
      piece, and the want of individuality in the characters_.
      Besides, we encounter in it direct and palpable imitations of
      Shakespeare himself; among which the most prominent is the
      wretchedly drawn character of the jailor's daughter. On the
      other hand, there are, in many passages, resemblances of
      expression (in the very particulars in which our two poets
      are most unlike Shakespeare) so close, that we must either
      admit Shakespeare's authorship of these parts, or suppose
      Fletcher or some one else to have imitated him designedly,
      and with very marvellous success. Among these passages,
      too, there are not a few which display a brilliancy of
      imagination, and a grasp of thought, much beyond Fletcher's
      ordinary pitch. Readers who lean to Mr Dyce's theory, will
      desire to learn his grounds for believing that Fletcher's
      labour in the play was performed in the latter part of his
      life. It appears to us that the piece bears a close likeness
      to those more elevated works which are known to have been
      among the earliest of our series: and if it were not an
      unbrotherly act to throw a new bone of contention among the
      critics, we would hint that there is no evidence entitling us
      peremptorily to assert that Fletcher was concerned in the
      work to the exclusion of Beaumont.

      "Be the authorship whose it may, 'The Two Noble Kinsmen' is
      undoubtedly one of the finest dramas in the volumes before
      us. It contains passages which, in dramatic vigour and
      passion, yield hardly to anything--perhaps to nothing--in the
      whole collection; while for gorgeousness of imagery, for
      delicacy of poetic feeling, and for grace, animation, and
      strength of language, we doubt whether there exists, under
      the names of our authors, any drama that comes near to
      it.[viii:1] Never has any theme enjoyed the honours which
      have befallen the semi-classical legend of Palamon and
      Arcite. Chosen as the foundation of chivalrous narrative by
      Boccaccio, Chaucer, and Dryden, it has furnished one of the
      fairest of the flowers that compose the dramatic crown of
      Fletcher, while from that flower, perhaps, leaves might be
      plucked to decorate another brow which needs them not.

      "If the admirers of Fletcher could vindicate for him the
      fifth act of this play, they would entitle him to a still
      higher claim upon our gratitude, as the author of a series of
      scenes, as picturesquely conceived, and as poetically set
      forth, as any that our literature can boast. Dramatically
      considered, these scenes are very faulty: perhaps there
      are but two of them that have high dramatic merits--the
      interrupted execution of Palamon, and the preceding scene in
      which Emilia, left in the forest, hears the tumult of the
      battle, and receives successive reports of its changes and
      issue. But as a gallery of poetical pictures, as a cluster of
      images suggestive alike to the imagination and the feelings,
      as a cabinet of jewels whose lustre dazzles the eye and
      blinds it to the unskilful setting,--in this light there are
      few pieces comparable to the magnificent scene before the
      temples, where the lady and her lovers pray to the gods: and
      the pathetically solemn close of the drama, admirable in
      itself, loses only when we compare it with the death of
      Arcite in Chaucer's masterpiece, 'the Iliad of the middle

All this does but show how well-founded was the judgment which that
sound scholar and able Shaksperian critic, Prof. Ingram,[ix:1] expresst
in our _Transactions_ for 1874, p. 454. My own words on pages 73,
64*,--written after short acquaintance with the play, and under stress
of Prof. Spalding's and Mr Hickson's able Papers, and the metrical
evidence--were incautiously strong. In modifying them now, I do but
follow the example of Prof. Spalding himself. Little as my opinion may
be worth, I wish to say that I think the metrical and æsthetic evidence
are conclusive as to there being two hands in the play. I do not think
the evidence that Shakspere wrote all the parts that either Prof.
Spalding or Mr Hickson assigns to him, at all conclusive. If it could be
shown that Beaumont[ix:2] or any other author wrote the suppos'd
Shakspere parts, and that Shakspere toucht them up, that theory would
suit me best. It failing, I accept, for the time, Shakspere as the
second author, subject to Fletcher having spoilt parts of his conception
and work.

The following scheme shows where Prof. Spalding and Mr Hickson agree,
and where they differ:--

  Prologue                                        | FLETCHER (Littledale).
  Act I. sc. i.    SHAKSPERE. Spalding, Hickson   |
                   (Bridal Song not Sh.'s:        |
                   Dowden, Nicholson, Littledale, |
                   Furnivall[x:1]).               |
  Act I. sc. ii.   SHAKSPERE. Spalding (Sh.       | SHAKSPERE and FLETCHER, or
                   revis'd by Fletcher, Dyce,     | Fletcher revis'd by Shakspere.
                   Skeat, Swinburne, Littledale). | Hickson.
  Act I. sc. iii,  SHAKSPERE. Spalding,           |
     iv.           Hickson, Littledale.           |
  Act I. sc. v.    SHAKSPERE. Spalding, ? Sh.     | ? FLETCHER. Littledale.
                   Hickson.                       |
  Act II. sc. i    *SHAKSPERE. Hickson,           | *FLETCHER. Spalding, Dyce.
    (prose).       Coleridge, Littledale.         |
  Act II. sc. ii,                                 | FLETCHER. Spalding, Hickson,
    iii, iv, v,                                   | Littledale.
    vi.                                           |
  Act III. sc. i.  SHAKSPERE. Spalding,           |
                   Hickson.                       |
  Act III. sc.     *SHAKSPERE. Hickson (not       | *FLETCHER. Spalding, Dyce.
    ii.            Fletcher, Furnivall).          |
  Act III. sc. iii,                               | FLETCHER. Spalding, Hickson,
    iv, v, vi.                                    | Littledale.
  Act IV. sc. i, ii.                              | FLETCHER. Spalding, Hickson.
  Act IV. sc.      *SHAKSPERE. Hickson.           | *FLETCHER. Spalding, Dyce.
    iii.                                          |
  Act V. sc. i     SHAKSPERE. Spalding,           | ? lines 1-17 by FLETCHER.
    (includes      Hickson, &c.                   | Skeat, Littledale.
    Weber's sc.                                   |
    i, ii, iii).                                  |
  Act V. sc. ii.                                  | FLETCHER. Spalding, Hickson,
                                                  | &c.
  Act V. sc. iii,  SHAKSPERE. Spalding,           |
     iv.           Hickson, &c., with a few lines |
                   FLETCHER. Sc. iv. (with        |
                   FLETCHER interpolations.       |
                   Swinburne, Littledale).        |
  Epilogue                                        | FLETCHER. Littledale.

       * Here Prof. Spalding and Mr Hickson differ.

Mr Swinburne, when duly clothed and in his right mind, and not exposing
himself in his April-Fool's cap and bells, will have something to say on
the subject; and it will no doubt be matter of controversy to the end of
time. Let every one study, and be fully convinct in his own mind.

To Mrs Spalding and her family I am greatly obligd for their willing
consent to the present reprint. To Dr John Hill Burton, the Historian of
Scotland, we are all grateful for his interesting Life of his old
schoolfellow and friend, which comes before the author's _Letter_. Miss
Spalding too I have to thank for help. And our Members, Mrs Bidder--the
friend of our lost sweet-natured helper and friend, Richard Simpson--and
Mr *****, for their gifts of £10 each, and the Rev. Stopford Brooke for
his gift of four guineas, towards the cost of the present volume.

To my friend Miss Constance O'Brien I am indebted for the annext Scheme
of Prof. Spalding's argument, and the Notes and Index. The side-notes,
head-lines, and the additions to the original title-page[xi:1] are mine.
I only regret that the very large amount of his time--so much wanted for
other pressing duties,--which Mr Harold Littledale has given to his
extremely careful edition of _The Two Noble Kinsmen_ for us, has thrown
on me, who know the Play so much less intimately than he does, the duty
of writing these _Forewords_. But we shall get his mature opinion in his
Introduction to the Play in a year or two[xi:2].

                                                 F. J. FURNIVALL.

     _3, St George's Square, Primrose Hill,
                          London, N.W., Sept. 27-Oct. 13, 1876._


[v:1] Unsure myself as to the form of oxlip root-leaves, and knowing
nothing of the use of marigolds alluded to in the lines

     "Oxlips in their cradles growing,
      Marigolds on death-beds blowing,"

also seeing no fancy even if there were fact in 'em, I applied to the
best judge in England known to me, Dr R. C. A. Prior, author of the
_Popular Names of British Plants_; and he says "I am quite at a loss for
the meaning of _cradles_ and _death-beds_ in the second stanza.

"The writer did not know much about plants, or he would not have
combined summer flowers, like the marigold and larkspur, with the

"I prefer the reading 'With hair-bells dimme'; for nobody would call the
upright salver-shaped flower of the primrose a 'bell.' The poet probably
means the blue-bell."

On the other hand, Mr Wm Whale of our Egham Nurseries writes: "The
root-leaves of the Oxlip are cradle-shaped, but circular instead of
long. The growth of the leaves would certainly give one an idea of the
stem and Oxlip flowers being lodged in a cradle [? saucer].

"I have seen the marygold[v:A] in my boyish days frequently placed on
coffins; and in a warm death-room they would certainly flower. The
flowers named may be all called Spring-flowers, but of course some
blowing rather later than others."

     [v:A] This is called the _Calendula officinalis_, or
     _Medicinal Marygold_, not the African or French sorts which
     are now so improved and cultivated in gardens.

[vii:1] _Edinb. Review_, July 1840, no. 144, p. 468.

[vii:2] Surely the 'eminent living critic' made an awful mistake about
this. Beaumont and Fletcher write Perdita's flowers, Florizel's
description of her, Autolycus!

[viii:1] In the _Edinburgh Review_ for April 1841, p. 237-8. Prof.
Spalding says that in Fletcher's _Spanish Curate_, "The scene of
defiance and threatening between Jamie and Henrique is in one of
Fletcher's best keys;--not unlike a similar scene in 'The Two Noble
Kinsmen.'" Act III. sc. i.

[ix:1] His Dublin 'Afternoon Lecture' of 1863, shows that he then knew
all that I in 1873 was trying in vain to find a known Shaksperian editor
or critic to tell me.

[ix:2] I name Beaumont because of his run-on lines, &c., and the power I
find in some of the parts of his and Fletcher's joint dramas that I
attribute to him.

[x:1] I cannot get over Chaucer's daisies being calld "smelless but most
quaint." The epithets seem to me not only poor, but pauper: implying
entire absence of fancy and imagination.--F. "Chough hoar" is as bad
though.--H. L.

[xi:1] This was "A Letter / on / Shakspeare's Authorship / of / +The Two
Noble Kinsmen+; / a Drama commonly ascribed / to John Fletcher. /
Edinburgh: / Adam and Charles Black; / and Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown,
Green, and Longman. / London. / M.DCCC.XXXIII."

[xi:2] See the opinion of Mr J. Herbert Stack, an old
_Fortnightly-Reviewer_, in the _Notes_ at the end of this volume.


Introduction. Name of the play (p. 2). Historical evidence in favour
of Shakspere's share in the play (6). Incorrectness of the first
and second folios of his works (7). Internal evidence (10). Marked
differences between Fletcher's and Shakspere's styles (11). Shakspere's
versification (11); abruptness (11); mannerisms and repetitions (12);
conciseness tending to obscurity (13); and rapid conception, opposed to
Fletcher's deliberation and diffuseness (14); his distinct, if crowded,
imagery, to Fletcher's vague indefiniteness (15). Shakspere's metaphors
(16), classical allusions (18), reflective turn of mind (20), conceits
(22), personification (25), all differ from Fletcher's manner (26).

Origin of the story of _The Two Noble Kinsmen_ (26). Sketch of First
Act, and reasons for assigning it to Shakspere (27). Outline of Second
Act, assigned to Fletcher (35). First Scene of Third Act, Shakspere's
(40); Plot of the rest (41). Fourth Act, Fletcher's (44). Description of
Fifth Act, given to Shakspere, omitting one scene (45).

Points of likeness between Shakspere and contemporary dramatists (56).
Impossibility of imitating him (58). Inferiority of the underplot (60).
Reasons for supposing Shakspere chose the subject (62). His studies
(67). Resemblance between classical and romantic poetry (69).
Shakspere's plots contrasted with those of his contemporaries (73); his
treatment of passion (74); unity of conception (78).

Poetical art compared with plastic (83). Greek plastic art aimed at
expressing Beauty and affecting the senses (84); poetry, at expressing
and affecting the mind (86); therefore poetry appeals to wider
sympathies (88). Dramatic poetry the highest form of poetry (92).

Why Shakspere excelled (93). His representations of human nature both
_true_ and _impressive_ (94); he delineated both its intellect and
passion (99). His morality (101); his representations of evil (104).

Conclusion. Summary of the argument as to plot, scenic arrangements, and
execution (105).





William Spalding was born on the 22nd of May in the year 1809, at
Aberdeen. His father was a practising lawyer as a member of the Society
of Advocates in that town, and held office as Procurator Fiscal of the
district, or local representative of the law officers of the crown, in
the investigation of crimes and the prosecution of criminals. Spalding's
mother, Frances Read, was well connected among the old and influential
families of the city. When he went to school, Spalding was known to be
the only son of a widow. He had one sister who died in early life.
Whatever delicacy of constitution he inherited seems to have come from
his father's side, for his mother lived to the year 1874, and died in
the house of her son's widow among her grown-up grandchildren.

Spalding had the usual school and college education of the district. He
attended the elementary burgh schools for English reading, writing, and
arithmetic, and passed on to Latin in the grammar school. In his day the
fees for attendance in that school, whence many pupils have passed into
eminence, were raised from 7_s._ 6_d._ to 10_s._ for each quarter of the
year. Those who knew Spalding in later life, would not readily
understand that as a school-boy he was noticeable for his personal
beauty. His features were small and symmetrical, and his cheeks had a
brilliant colour. This faded as he approached middle age, and the
features lost in some measure their proportions. He had ever a grave,
thoughtful, and acute face, and one of his favourite pupils records the
quick glance of his keen grey eye in the active duties of his class. He
was noticed in his latter years to have a resemblance to Francis and
Leonard Horner, and what Sydney Smith said of the older and more
distinguished of these brethren might have been said of Spalding's
earnest honest face, that "the commandments were written on his
forehead." When he had exhausted his five years' curriculum at the
grammar school, Spalding stepped on a November morning, with some of
his school-fellows, and a band of still more primitive youth, from the
Aberdeenshire moorlands, and the distant highlands, to enter the open
door of Marishal College, and compete for a bursary or endowment. This
arena of mental gladiatorship was open to all comers, without question
of age, country, or creed. The arrangement then followed--and no doubt
still in use, for it has every quality of fairness and effectiveness to
commend it, was this--An exercise was given out. It then consisted
solely of a passage in English of considerable length, dictated to and
written out by the competitors, who had to convert it into Latin. The
name of each competitor was removed from his exercise, and kept by a
municipal officer. A committee of sages, very unlikely to recognise any
known handwriting among the multitude of papers subjected to their
critical examination, sorted the exercises in the order of their merits,
and then the names of the successful competitors were found. My present
impression is that Spalding took the first bursary. It may have been the
second or the third, for occasionally a careless inaccuracy might trip
up the best scholar, but by acclamation the first place was assigned to
Spalding. Indeed, in a general way, through the whole course of his
education he swept the first prizes before him. When he finished the
four years' curriculum of Marishal College, he attended a few classes in
the college of Edinburgh, where the instruction was of another
kind--less absolute teaching, but perhaps opportunities for ascending
into higher spheres of knowledge. It was a little to the surprise of his
companions that he was next found undergoing those "Divinity Hall"
exercises, which predicate ambition to be ordained for the Church of
Scotland, with the prospect, to begin with, of some moorland parish with
a manse on a windy hill and a sterile but extensive glebe, a vista lying
beyond of possible promotion to the ministry of some wealthy and
hospitable civic community. Spalding said little about his views while
he studied for the Church, and nothing about his reasons for changing
his course, as he did, after a few months of study in his usual
energetic fashion. He had apparently no quarrel either with institutions
or persons, stimulating him to change his design, and he ever spoke
respectfully of the established Church of Scotland.

From this episodical course of study he brought with him some valuable
additions to the large stores of secular learning at his command. He had
a powerful memory, and great facilities for mastering and simplifying
sciences as well as languages. He seemed to say to himself, like Bacon,
"I have taken all knowledge to be my province." With any of his friends
who strayed into eccentric by-paths of inquiry he was sarcastic--almost
intolerant, in denouncing their selection. Why abandon the great
literature--the great sciences and the great arts--which the noblest and
strongest intellects in all ages have combined to enrich and bring to
perfection? Master all that has been done in these, in the first place,
and then you may be permitted to take your devious course. In all the
departments of study he seemed to pass over the intermediate agencies,
to contemplate with something like worship the great leading spirits
whose intellectual stature raised them far above the mob. So in
literature, it was in Homer and Shakspeare that he delighted. In the
sciences connected with the analysis and the uses of intellect, he
looked to Aristotle, Hume, and Kant. In the exact sciences, to Galileo,
Tycho Brache and Newton, and so on. In art, he could admit the merits of
a Teniers, an Ostade, or a Morland, in accurately rendering nature, as
he would admit the merit of an ingenious toy. He could not but wonder at
the turbulent power of Rubens, but he was bitter on the purpose these
gifts were put to, in developing unsightly masses of flesh, and motions
and attitudes wanting alike in beauty and dignity. It was in Michel
Angelo, Raphael, and Thorwaldsen, with a select group from those
approaching near to these in their characteristic qualities, that the
young student selected the gods of his idolatry.

This love of art was something new in Spalding's native district. There
all forms of learning were revered, and many a striving rustic devoted
the whole energies of his life to acquire the means of teaching his
fellow-men from the pulpit or the printing press. But art was nought
among them. Spalding was thoroughly attached to his native district, and
could well have said, "I love my fathers' northern land, where the dark
pine trees grow;" but when his thoughts ran on art, he would sometimes
bitterly call the north of Scotland a modern Bœotia. This is not the
place for inquiring how it came to pass, that neglect of art could keep
company with an ardent love of letters, but it is remarkable that the
district so destitute of the æsthetic, gave to the world some
considerable artists. In the old days there was George Jameson; and in
Spalding's own generation, Bœotia produced Dyce, Giles, Philips, and
Cassy as painters, with Brodie as a sculptor. Spalding could not but see
merit in these, for none of them gave themselves to vulgar or purely
popular art. Still he panted after the higher altitudes, and it appeared
to him at one time that in his friend David Scot he had found the
practical master of his ideal field. Scot had, to be sure, grand
conceptions, but he did not possess the gift that enabled the great
masters to abstract them from the clay of the common world. He had the
defect--and his friend seeing it, felt it almost as a personal
calamity--of lapsing into the ungainly, and even the grotesque, in his
most aspiring efforts.

In approaching the time when the book to which this notice is prefixed
was published, one is tempted to offer a word or two of explanation on
its writer not appearing before the world earlier; and when he did
appear choosing so unobtrusive a fashion for his entry. About the time
when his college education ended, there was something like a revival of
literary ambition in Aberdeen, limited to young men who were Spalding's
contemporaries. A few of them appealed for the loudest blasts of the
trumpet of fame, in grand efforts in heroic and satirical poetry, and
their works may be found in the libraries of collectors curious in
specimens of forgotten provincial literature. These authors were
generally clever young men; and like others of their kind, they found in
after life that verse was not the only path to fame or fortune. One of
them became a distinguished pulpit orator. If Paley noticed, as an "only
defect" in a brother clergyman, that he was a popular preacher, Spalding
was apt to take a harsher view of such a failing; nor would he palliate
it on the representation of one who was the friend and admirer of both,
who pleaded the trials that a person so gifted is subjected to, noting
that there were certain eminences that the human head could not reach
without becoming dizzy--as, for instance, being Emperor of Russia,
Ambassador at an oriental court, Provost of a Scotch "Burgh toon"--or a
popular preacher. Another contemporary who courted and obtained
popularity, and still, to the joy of his friends, lives to enjoy it, was
less distasteful to Spalding, though trespassing on his own field of
ambition as a Greek scholar and Homeric critic. But he made the
distinction, that in this instance he thought the homage to popularity
was natural to the man, moving in irresistible impulses unregulated by a
system for bringing popularity in aid of success.

The lookers-on, knowing that Spalding was ambitious, expected to hear
him in the tuneful choir, but he was dumb. He was once or twice, by
those nearest to him, heard in song, and literally heard only, for it is
believed that he never allowed any manuscript testimony of such a
weakness to leave his custody. One satirical performance got popularity
by being committed to memory. It was called "The fire-balloon." In the
year 1828 there was an arousing of public sympathy with the sufferers by
a great conflagration at Merimachi in North America. A body of the
students who had imbibed from the Professor of Natural Philosophy an
enthusiasm about aerostation, proposed to raise money for the sufferers
by making and exhibiting a huge fire balloon. The effort was embarrassed
by many difficulties and adventures affording opportunity for the
satirist. For instance, a trial trip was attempted, and one of "the
committee," who was the son of a clergyman, got hold of the key of his
father's church, and put its interior at the disposal of his colleagues.
The balloon inflated and ascended. The problem of getting it down again,
however, had not been solved. It got itself comfortably at rest in the
roof of a cupola, and the young philosophers then had to wait until it
became exhausted enough to descend.

The literary ambition of young Aberdeen found for itself a very sedate
and respectable looking organ in "_The Aberdeen Magazine_," published
monthly during the years 1831 and 1832, and still visible in two thick
octavo volumes. Spalding was not to be tempted into this project, though
there was a slight touch in it supposed, solely from internal evidence,
to have come from him. A heavy controversy was begun by one calling
himself "a classical reformer," who brought up foemen worthy of his
steel. At the end of the whole was a sting in a postscript, more
effective than anything in the unwieldy body it was attached to. P. S.
As I am no great scholar, perhaps your classical Reformer will have the
goodness to tell me where I can see _The Works of Socrates_. He seems to
allude to them twice [reference to pages]. As he modestly tells us that
he is a much better translator of Homer than Pope was, perhaps he will
be kind enough to favour the world with a translation, to use his own
words, of "those works which have immortalized the name of

The papers in the Aberdeen Magazine were not all of the sombre cumbrous
kind. There was an infusion of fresh young blood, fired perhaps by the
influence of Wilson and Lockhart in Blackwood's Magazine, but seeking
original forms of its own. For the leader of this school, Spalding had
both esteem and admiration, but it was for far other merits than those
of the brisk unrestrained writer of fugitive literature. This was Joseph
Robertson, afterwards distinguished as an archæologist. He survived
Spalding eight years. No lines of study could well be in more opposite
directions than those of the two men who respected each other. While
Spalding revelled in all that was brightest and best in literature and
art, Robertson devoted himself to the development of our knowledge about
the period when the higher arts--those of the painter and the
sculptor--had been buried with the higher literature, and the classic
languages had degenerated, in the hands of those who, as Du Cange, whose
ample pages were often turned by Robertson, called them, were
"Scriptores mediæ et infimæ Latinitatis." The source of Spalding's
admiration was that Robertson's writing was perfect of its kind, and led
to important and conclusive results. It was in this spirit that he
wrote his own "Letter." It did not fulfil a high aspiration, but it must
be perfect; and it was surely a moment of supreme happiness to him, when
he found the unknown author sought for and praised by so cautious and
reserved a critic as Hallam.

The "Letter" was published in 1833. It is characteristic of its author's
distaste of loud applause, that whenever this, his first achievement in
letters, saw the light, he fled, as it were, from the knowledge of what
was said of it, and wandered for several months in Italy and Germany.
This was an era in his life, for it gave him the opportunity of seeing
face to face, and profoundly studying, the great works of art that had
hitherto only been imaged in his dreams from copies and engravings. He
at the same time studied--or rather enjoyed--nature. In his native north
he had been accustomed to ramble among the Grampians at the head of the
Dee, where the precipices are from 1500 to 2000 feet high, and snow lies
all the year round. In these rambles he encountered hardships such as
one would hardly have thought within the capacity of his delicate frame.
He took the same method of enjoyable travelling in the Apennines--that
of the Pedestrian.

He gave to the world a slight morsel descriptive of his experiences and
enjoyments, in the Blackwood's Magazine of November, 1835. They were
told in so fine a spirit, so free both from ungraceful levity and solemn
pedantry, that the reader only regretted that they were too sparingly
imparted. He thus announced his own enjoyment in his pilgrimage: "Among
the ruined palaces and temples of Rome, and in the vineyards and
orange-groves beside the blue sea of Naples, I had warmed my imagination
with that inspiration which, once breathed upon the heart, never again
grows cold. It did not desert me now as I entered this upper valley of
the Apennines to seek a new colour and form of Italian landscape. Happy
and elevating recollections thronged in upon me, and blended with the
clear sunshine which slept on the green undulating hills." This fragment
is the only morsel of autobiographic information left by its author, and
therefore perhaps the following, taken from among many expressions of a
genial spirit enjoying itself in freedom, may not be unacceptable. He
has crossed the high-lying, bare plain of Rosetto, and reaches the
village of Val san Giovanni, where "shelter was heartily welcome, the
sun was set, snow-flakes were beginning to whirl in the air, and before
we reached the village, a sharp snow-storm had set in." Here he is
taking comfort to himself before a huge wood fire, when "a man entered
of superior dress and appearance to the rest, and behind him bustled up
a little wretch in the government indirect-tax livery, who, never saying
by your leave, pushed a chair to the fire for his master. The gentleman
popped down, and turning to me, 'I am the Podestà,' said he. I made my
bow to the chief magistrate of the place. 'I am the Potestà,' said he
again, and our little squinting spy repeated reproachfully, 'His
excellency is the Podestà.'

"I was resolved not to understand what they would be at, and the
dignitary explained it to me with a copious use of circumlocution. He
said he had no salary from the government--this did not concern
me;--that he had it in charge to apprehend all vagabonds; this he seemed
to think might concern me. He asked for my passport, which was exhibited
and found right; and the Podestà proved the finest fellow possible.
These villagers then became curious to know what object I had in
travelling about among their mountains. My reader will by this time
believe me when I say that the question puzzled me. My Atanasio felt
that it touched his honour to be suspected of guiding a traveller who
could not tell what he travelled for. He took on him the task of reply.
Premising that I was a foreigner, and perhaps did not know how to
express myself, he explained that I was one of those meritorious
individuals who travel about discovering all the countries and the
unknown mountains, and putting all down on paper; and these individuals
always ask likewise why there are no mendicant friars in the country,
and which the peasants eat oftenest, mutton or macaroni? He added, with
his characteristic determined solemnity, that he had known several such
inquisitive travellers. This clear definition gave universal

Soon after Spalding's return to Scotland, the late George Boyd, the
sagacious chief of the Firm of Oliver and Boyd, thought he might serve
him in a considerable literary project. It was the age of small books
published in groups--of "Constable's Miscellany," "Lardner's
Cyclopedia," "Murray's Family Library," and the like. With these Mr Boyd
thought he would compete, in the shape of the "Edinburgh Cabinet
Library," and Spalding was prevailed on to write for it three volumes,
with the title, "Italy and the Italian Islands." The bulk of the
contributions to such collections are mere compilations. But Scott,
Southey, Macintosh, and Moore had enlivened them with gifts from a
higher literature, and Spalding's contribution was well fitted to match
with the best of these, though he had to content himself in the ranks of
the compilers, until the discerning found a higher place for his book.

The same acute observer who had set him to this task found another for
him in "The History of English Literature." The _Encyclopedia
Britannica_ in the same manner drew him into contributions which
developed themselves into two works of great value, on "Logic," and on
"Rhetoric." That one of so original and self-relying a nature should
have thus been led by the influence of others into the chief labours of
his life, is explained by the intensity of his desire for perfection in
all he did. Once induced to lift his pen in any particular cause, he
could not lay it down again while there remained an incompleteness
unfilled, or an imperfection unremedied.

In a review on his book on Logic, having detected, from "various
internal symptoms of origin," the style and manner of a personal friend
of his own, he wrote to the culprit in this characteristic form, "very
many thanks for the notice. It may do good with some readers who don't
know the corrupt motives by which it was prompted: and it strikes me as
being exceedingly well and dexterously executed. I am quite sorry to
think how much trouble it must have cost you to pierce into the bowels
of the dry and dark territory, so far as the points you have been able
to reach. I am afraid also that you had to gutta-percha your conscience
a little, before it would stretch to some of your allegations, both
about the work and about the science. I see already so much that I could
myself amend--not in respect of doctrine, but in the manner of
exposition--as to make me regret that I am not in a place where the
classes of students are large enough to take off an edition, and so to
give me by and by the chance of re-writing the book. Yet it is
satisfactory to me to have got clearly the start of the publication of
Hamilton's Lectures, and so to anticipate--for some of the points on
which it will certainly be found that I have taken up ground of my
own--the attention of _some_ of the few men who have written on the
science. Any of them who, having already looked into my book, shall
attempt to master Hamilton's system when it appears in his own statement
of it, are sure to find, if I do not greatly mistake, that I have raised
several problems, the discussion of which will require that my
suggestions be considered independently of Hamilton's, and my little
bits of theory either accepted or refuted. I dare say I told you that
early in the winter I had very satisfactory letters from Germany, and
you heard that the book was kindly taken by some of the Englishmen it
was sent to, and set on tooth and nail, though very amicably, by," &c.

Let us go back to the chronology of his personal history, after his one
opportunity of seeing the world outside of Britain. He had joined the
Bar of Scotland before this episode in his life, and on his return he
took up the position of an advocate prepared for practice. This was no
idle ambitious attempt, for he had endured the drudgery of a solicitor's
office for the mastery of details, and had thoroughly studied the
substance of the law. His career now promised a great future. He was
affluent enough to spurn what Pope called "low gains;" he had good
connections, and became speedily a rising counsel. His career seemed to
be in the line of his friend Jeffrey's, taking all the honours and
emoluments of the profession, and occasionally relaxing from it in a
brilliant paper in the _Edinburgh Review_.[xxi-1] To complete the vista
of good fortune he took to be the domestic sharer of his fortunes a wife
worthy of himself--Miss Agnes Frier, born of a family long known and
respected on the Border. They were married on the 22nd of March in the
year 1838.

Perhaps some inward monitor told him that the fortunes before him were
too heavy to be borne by the elements of health and strength allotted to
him. It was to the surprise of his friends that in 1838 he abandoned the
bar, and accepted the chair of Rhetoric in Edinburgh. In 1845 he
exchanged it for the chair of Rhetoric and Logic at St Andrews. The
emoluments there were an inducement to him, since part of the property
of his family had been lost through commercial reverses over which he
had no control; and he was not one to leave anything connected with the
future of his family to chance. It was a sacrifice, for he left behind
him dear friends of an older generation, such as Jeffrey, Cockburn,
Hamilton, Wilson, and Pillans. Then there were half way between that
generation and his own, Douglas Cheape, Charles Neaves, and George Moir;
while a small body of his contemporaries sorely missed him, for he was a
staunch friend ever to be depended on. He was a great teacher, and left
a well-trained generation of scholars behind him. The work of the
instructor, abhorred by most men, and especially by sensitive men, was
to him literally the "delightful task" of the poet who has endured many
a jibe for so monstrous a euphuism. Even while yet he was himself a
student, if he saw that a companion was wasting good abilities in
idleness or vapid reading, he would burden his own laborious hours with
attempts to stimulate his lazy friend. Just after he had passed through
the Greek class of Marishal College, a temporary teacher for that class
was required. Some one made the bold suggestion of trying the most
distinguished of the students fresh from the workshop, and Spalding
taught the class with high approval. As years passed on, the spirit of
the teacher strengthened within him. The traditions of the older
university were more encouraging to the drilling process than Edinburgh,
where the tendency was towards attractive lecturing. So entirely did the
teacher's duty at last absorb his faculties, that the phenomenon was
compared to the provisions in nature for compensating the loss by
special weaknesses or deficiencies, and that the scholar, conscious that
his own days of working were limited, instinctively felt that in
imparting his stores to others who would distribute them after he was
gone, he was making the most valuable use of his acquirements.

It was a mighty satisfaction to old friends in Edinburgh to hear that
Spalding had condescended to seek, and that he had found, that blessed
refuge of the overworked and the infirm, called a hobby. He was no
sportsman. The illustrious Golfing links of St Andrews were spread
before him in vain, though their attractions induced many a man to pitch
his tabernacle on their border, and it was sometimes consolatorily said
of Professors relegated to this arid social region, that they were
reconciling themselves to Golf. The days were long past for mounting the
knapsack and striding over the Apennines or even the Grampians.
Spalding's hobby was a simple one, but akin to the instincts of his
cultivated taste; it was exercised in his flower-garden. We may be sure
that he did not debase himself to the example of the stupid
floriculturist, the grand ambition of whose life is successfully to
nourish some prize monster in the shape of tulip or pansy. He allied his
gentle task of a cultivator of beautiful flowers, with high science, in
botany and vegetable physiology.

Besides such lighter alleviations, he had all the consolations that the
most satisfactory domestic conditions can administer to the sufferer. In
his later days he became afflicted with painful rheumatic attacks, and
the terrible symptoms of confirmed heart-disease. He died on the 16th of
November, 1859.


[xvii-1] Aberdeen Magazine, II., 350.

[xix-1] Blackwood's Mag., Nov. 1835, p. 669.

[xxi-1] The following list of her father's contributions, drawn up by
Miss Mary Spalding, is believed to be complete.

No. 144. July 1840. Recent Shaksperian literature. (Books by Collier,
Brown, De Quincey, Dyce, Courtenay, C. Knight, Mrs Jameson, Coleridge,
Hallam, &c.)

No. 145. October 1840. Introduction to the Literature of Europe, by
Henry Hallam.

No. 147. April 1841. The Works of Beaumont and Fletcher. With an
Introduction. By George Darley.

No. 164. April 1845. 1. The Pictorial Edition of the Works of
Shakespeare. Edited by Charles Knight.--2. The Comedies, Histories,
Tragedies, and Poems of William Shakespeare. Edited by Charles
Knight.--3. The Works of William Shakespeare. The text formed from an
entirely new collation of the old editions; with the various Readings,
Notes, a Life of the Poet, and a History of the English Stage. By J.
Payne Collier, Esquire, F.S.A.

No. 173. July 1847. The Works of Beaumont and Fletcher. By the Rev.
Alexander Dyce.

No. 181. July 1849. 1. Lectures on Shakespeare. By H. N. Hudson.--2.
Macbeth de Shakespeare, en 5 Actes et en vers. Par M. Emile Deschemps.

_ib._ King Arthur. By Sir E. Bulwer Lytton. 2nd edition, London, 1849,






My dear L----, We have met again, after an interval long enough to have
made both of us graver than we were wont to be. A few of my rarely
granted hours of leisure have lately been occupied in examining a
question on which your taste and knowledge equally incline and qualify
you to enter. Allow me to address to you the result of my inquiry, as a
pledge of the gratification which has been afforded me by the renewal of
our early intercourse.

Proud as SHAKSPEARE'S countrymen are of his name, it is singular, though
not unaccountable, that at this day our common list of his works should
remain open to correction. [Sidenote: The list of SHAKSPERE'S works is
not yet settled.] [Sidenote: Are all his in his publisht "_Works_"?]
Every one knows that some plays printed in his volumes have weak claims
to that distinction; but, while the exclusion even of works certainly
not his would now be a rash exercise of prerogative in any editor, it is
a question of more interest, whether there may not be dramas not yet
admitted among his collected works, which have a right to be there, and
might be inserted without the danger attending the dismissal of any
already put upon the list. [Sidenote: Six "Doubtful Plays:" none by
Shakspere.] A claim for admission has been set up in favour of Malone's
six plays,[1:1] without any ground as to five of them, and [1:2]with
very little to support it even for the sixth. [Sidenote: Ireland's
forgery, _Vortigern_.] [Sidenote: The folly of supposing _Vortigern_
genuine.] Ireland's impostures are an anomaly in literary history: even
the spell and sway of temporary fashion and universal opinion are causes
scarcely adequate to account for the blindness of the eminent men who
fell into the snare. The want of any external evidence in favour of the
first fabrication, the Shakspeare papers, was overlooked; and the
internal evidence, which was wholly against the genuineness, was
unhesitatingly admitted as establishing it. The play of 'Vortigern' had
little more to support it than the previous imposition.

There are two cases, however, in which we have external presumptions to
proceed from; for there are traditions traceable to Shakspeare's own
time, or nearly so, of his having assisted in two plays, still known to
us, but never placed among his works. [Sidenote: Shakspere said
(absurdly) to have helpt in Ben Jonson's _Sejanus_.] The one, the
'Sejanus', in which Shakspeare is said to have assisted Jonson, was
re-written by the latter himself, and published as it now stands among
his writings, the part of the assistant poet having been entirely
omitted; so that the question as to that play, a very doubtful question,
is not important, and hardly even curious. But the other drama is in our
hands as it came from the closets of the poets, and, if Shakspeare's
partial authorship were established, ought to have a place among his
works. [Sidenote: _The Two Noble Kinsmen_ attributed to Shakspere and
Fletcher; and rightly so.] It is, as you know, THE TWO NOBLE KINSMEN,
printed among the works of Beaumont and Fletcher, and sometimes
attributed to SHAKSPEARE and FLETCHER jointly. I have been able to
satisfy myself that it is rightly so attributed, and hope to be able to
prove to you, who are intimately conversant with Shakspeare, and
familiar also with the writings of his supposed co-adjutor, that there
are good grounds for the opinion. [Sidenote: It is unjustly excluded
from _Shakspere's Works_.] The same conclusion has already been reached
by others; but the discussion of the question cannot be needless, so
long as this fine drama continues excluded from the received list of
Shakspeare's works; and while there is reason to believe that there are
many discerning students and zealous admirers of the poet, to whom it is
known only by name. The beauty of the work itself will make much of the
investigation delightful to you, even though my argument on it may seem
feeble and stale.

[Sidenote: I. Historical or External Evidence.]

[Sidenote: II. External Evidence, p. 10.]

The proof is, of course, two-fold; the first branch emerging [2:1]from
any records or memorials which throw light on the subject from without;
the second, from a consideration of the work itself, and a comparison of
its qualities with those of Shakspeare or Fletcher. You will keep in
mind, that it has not been doubted, and may be assumed, that Fletcher
had a share in the work; the only question is,--Whether Shakspeare
wrote any part of it, and what parts, if any?

The Historical Evidence claims our attention in the first instance; but
in no question of literary genuineness is this the sort of proof which
yields the surest grounds of conviction. [Sidenote: I. External
Evidence.] Such questions arise only under circumstances in which the
external proof on either side is very weak, and the internal evidence
has therefore to be continually resorted to for supplying the defects of
the external. It is true that a complete proof of a work having been
actually written by a particular person, destroys any contrary
presumption from intrinsic marks; and, in like manner, when a train of
evidence is deduced, showing it to be impossible that a work could have
been written by a certain author, no internal likeness to other works of
his can in the least weaken the negative conclusion. [Sidenote:
Historical evidence cannot exclude internal, unless the former is
complete.] In either case, however, the historical evidence must be
incontrovertible, before it can exclude examination of the internal; and
the two cases are by no means equally frequent. It scarcely ever happens
that there is external evidence weighty enough to establish certainly,
of itself, an individual's authorship of a particular work; but the
external proof that his authorship was impossible, may often be
convincing and perfect, from an examination of dates, or the like.
Since, therefore, external evidence against authorship admits of
completeness, we are entitled, when such evidence exclusively is founded
on, to demand that it shall be complete. Where by the very narrowest
step it falls short of a demonstration of absolute impossibility, the
internal evidence cannot be refused admittance in contravention of it,
and comes in with far greater force than that of the other. There may be
cases where authorship can be made out to the highest degree, at least,
of probability, by strong internal evidence coming in aid of an external
proof equally balanced for and against; and even where the extrinsic
proof is of itself sufficient [3:1]to infer improbability, internal
marks may be so decided the opposite way, as to render the question
absolutely doubtful, or to occasion a leaning towards the affirmative
side. [Sidenote: Internal evidence the true test for _The Two N. K._]
These principles point out the internal evidence as the true ground on
which my cause must be contested; but it was not necessary to follow
them out to their full extent; for I can show you, that the external
facts which we have here, few as they are, raise a presumption in favour
of Shakspeare's authorship, as strong as exists in cases of more
practical importance, where its effect has never been questioned.

[Sidenote: _The Two N. K._ printed in 1634 as by Fletcher and

The fact from which the maintainers of Shakspeare's share in this drama
have to set out, is the first printing of it, which took place in 1634.
In the title-page of this first edition,[4:1] the play is stated to be
the joint work of Shakspeare and Fletcher. [Sidenote: Steevens's
doubts.] It is needless to enumerate categorically the doubts which have
been thrown, chiefly by the acute and perverse Steevens, on the credit
due to this assertion; for a few observations will show that they have
by no means an overwhelming force, while there are contrary presumptions
far more than sufficient to weigh them down. [Sidenote: A.D. 1634 was 18
years after Shakspere's death, 9 after Fletcher's.] The edition was not
published till eighteen years after Shakspeare's death, and nine years
after Fletcher's; but any suspicion which might arise from the length of
this interval, as giving an opportunity for imposture, is at once
removed by one consideration, which is almost an unanswerable argument
in favour of the assertion on the title-page, and in contravention of
this or any other doubts. [Sidenote: No motive to forge Shakspere's
name, as he (Sh.) had then fallen into neglect.] There was no motive for
falsely stating Shakspeare's authorship, because no end would have been
gained by it; for it is a fact admitting of the fullest proof, that,
even so recently after Shakspeare's death as 1634, he had fallen much
into neglect. Fletcher had become far more popular, and his name in the
title-page would have been a surer passport to public favour than
Shakspeare's. If either of the names was to be [4:2]fabricated,
Fletcher's (which stands foremost in the title-page as printed) was the
more likely of the two to have been preferred. It appears then that the
time when the publisher's assertion of Shakspeare's authorship was made,
gives it a right to more confidence than it could have deserved if it
had been advanced earlier. If the work had been printed during the
poet's life, and the height of his popularity, its title-page would have
been no evidence at all. And when the assertion is freed from the
suspicion of designed imposture, the truth of it is confirmed by its
stating the play to have been acted by the king's servants, and at the
Blackfriars. [Sidenote: _2 N. K._ acted at the Blackfriars (in whose
profits Shakspere had once a share).] It was that company which had been
Shakspeare's; the Globe and Blackfriars were the two theatres at which
they played; and at one or the other of these houses all his
acknowledged works seem to have been brought out. The fact of the play
not having been printed sooner, is accounted for by the dramatic
arrangements and practice of the time: the first collected edition of
Shakspeare's works, only eleven years earlier than the printing of this
play, contained about twenty plays of his not printed during his life;
and the long interval is a reason also why the printer and publisher are
different persons from any who were concerned in Shakspeare's other
works. The hyperbolical phraseology of the title-page is quite in the
taste of the day, and is exceeded by the quarto editions of some of
Shakspeare's admitted works.

[Sidenote: Custom of authors writing plays together.]

Was the alleged co-operation then in itself likely to have taken place?
It was. Such partnerships were very generally formed by the dramatists
of that time; both the poets were likely enough to have projected some
union of the kind, and to have chosen each other as the parties to it.
[Sidenote: Shakspere followed this custom, though rarely.] Although
Shakspeare seems to have followed this custom less frequently than most
of his contemporaries, we have reason to think that he did not wholly
refrain from it; and his favourite plan of altering plays previously
written by others, is a near approach to it. [Sidenote: Fletcher very
often.] As to Fletcher, his name is connected in every mind with that of
Beaumont; and the memorable and melancholy letter of the three
players,[5:1] proves him to have coalesced with other writers even
during that poet's short [5:2]life. This is of some consequence,
because, if the two poets wrote at the same time, it would seem that
they must have done so previously to Beaumont's death; for Shakspeare
lived only one year longer than Beaumont, and is believed to have spent
that year in the country. There is no proof that the drama before us was
not written before Beaumont's death (1615), and it is only certain that
its era was later than 1594. [Sidenote: Fletcher's co-authors.] After
the loss of his friend, Fletcher is said to have been repeatedly
assisted by Massinger: he joined in one play with Jonson and Middleton,
and in another with Rowley. [Sidenote: His sonship to a bishop, no
hindrance.] His superior rank (he was the son of a bishop) has been
gravely mentioned as discrediting his connection with Shakspeare; but
the same objection applies with infinitely greater force to his known
co-operation with Field, Daborne, and the others just named; and the
idea is founded on radically wrong notions of the temper of that age.
[Sidenote: Fletcher's burlesquing Shakspere is no argument against their
having written together.] There is scarcely more substance in a doubt
raised from the frequency with which Shakspeare is burlesqued by
Beaumont and Fletcher. Those satirical flings could have been no reason
why Fletcher should be unwilling to coalesce with Shakspeare, because
they indicate no ill feeling towards him. [Sidenote: Shakspere pokes fun
at Kyd, Peele, Marlowe.] They were practised by all the dramatic writers
at the expense of each other; Shakspeare himself is a parodist, and
indulges in those quips frequently, not against such writers only as the
author of the Spanish Tragedy, but against Peele and even Marlowe, his
own fathers in the drama, and both dead before he vented the jests,
which he never would have uttered had he attached to them any degree of
malice. And therefore also Fletcher's sarcasms cannot have disinclined
Shakspeare to the coalition, especially as his personal character made
it very unlikely that he should have taken up any such grudge as a testy
person might have conceived from some of the more severe.

But the circumstance on which most stress has been laid as disproving
Shakspeare's share in the drama in question, is this. [Sidenote: The _2
N. K._ not in the First Folio of Shakspere's Works, 1623, put forth by
Shakspere's fellows.] While the first edition of it was not printed till
1634, two editions of Shakspeare's collected works had been published
between the time of his death (1616) and that year, in neither of which
this play appears; and it is said that its omission in the first folio
(1623), in particular, is fatal to its claim, since Heminge and
[6:1]Condell, who edited that collection, were Shakspeare's
fellow-actors and the executors of his will, and must be presumed to
have known perfectly what works were and what were not his. I have put
this objection as strongly as it can be put; and at first sight it is
startling; but those who have most bibliographical knowledge of
Shakspeare's works, are best aware that much of its force is only
apparent. The omission in the second folio (1632) should not have been
founded on; for that edition is nothing but a reprint of the contents of
the first; and it is only the want of the play in this latter that we
have to consider. [Sidenote: But the First Folio is not of much
authority.] Now, you know well, that in taking some objections to the
authority of the First Folio, I shall only echo the opinions of
Shakspeare's most judicious critics. It was a speculation on the part of
the editors for their own advantage, either solely or in conjunction
with any others, who, as holders of shares in the Globe Theatre, had an
interest in the plays: for it was to the theatre, you will remark,
and not to Shakspeare or his heirs personally, that the manuscripts
belonged. [Sidenote: It was just a speculation for profit;] The edition
shews distinctly, that profit was its aim more than faithfulness to the
memory of the poet, in the correctness either of his text or of the list
of his works. Even the style of the preface excites suspicions which the
work itself verifies. [Sidenote: designd to put down the Quartos, which
yet it copies.] One object of it was to put down editions of about
fifteen separate plays of Shakspeare's, previously printed in quarto,
which, though in most respects more accurate than their successors, had
evidently been taken from stolen copies: the preface of the folio,
accordingly, strives to throw discredit on these quartos, while the
text, usually close in its adherence to them, falls into errors where it
quits them, and omits many very fine passages which they give, and which
the modern editors have been enabled by their assistance to restore.

[Sidenote: The Table of Contents of the First Folio of Shakspere's Works
is of less worth.]

Here it is, however, of more consequence to notice, that the authority
of the Table of Contents of the Folio is worse than weak. The editors
profess to give all Shakspeare's works, and none which are not his: we
know that they have fulfilled neither the one pledge nor the other.
There is no doubt but they could at least have enumerated Shakspeare's
works correctly: but their knowledge and their design of profit did
[7:1]not suit each other. [Sidenote: It lets in two Plays that are not
Shakspere's.] They have admitted, for plain reasons, two plays which are
not Shakspeare's. Their edition contains about twenty plays never before
printed; it was evidently their interest to enlarge this part of their
list as far as they safely could. [Sidenote: _1 Henry VI_,] The
pretended First Part of Henry VI., in which Shakspeare may perhaps have
written a single scene,[8:1] but certainly not twenty lines besides, had
not been printed, and could be plausibly inserted; it does not seem that
they could have had any other reasons for giving it a place. [Sidenote:
and _Titus Andronicus_.] The Tragedy of the Shambles, which we call
'Titus Andronicus,' if it had been printed at all, had been so only
once, and that thirty years before; therefore it likewise was a novelty;
and a pretext was easily found for its admission. The editors then were
unscrupulous and unfair as to the works which they inserted: professing
to give a full collection, they were no less so as to those which they
did not insert. [Sidenote: _Troilus and Cressida_] 'Troilus and
Cressida,' an unpleasing drama, contains many passages of the highest
spirit and poetical richness, and the bad in it, as well as the good, is
perfectly characteristic of Shakspeare; it is unquestionably his.
[Sidenote: is not in the Table of Contents.] It does not appear in
Heminge and Condell's table of contents, and is only found appended,
like a separate work, to some copies of their edition. Its pages are not
even numbered along with the rest of the volume; and if the first
editors were the persons who printed it, it was clearly after the
remainder of the work. If they did print it, their manner of doing so
shews their carelessness of truth more strongly than if they had omitted
it altogether. They first make up their list, and state it as a full one
without that play, which they apparently had been unable to obtain; they
then procure access to the manuscript, print the play, and insert it in
the awkward way in which it stands, and thus virtually confess that the
assertion in their preface, made in reference to their table of
contents, was untrue. At any rate, a part of their impression was
circulated without this play. [Sidenote: _Pericles_ is not in the
volume, and yet is in part Shakspere's.] 'Pericles' also is wholly
omitted by those editors; it appears for the first time in the third
folio (1666), an edition of no value, and its genuineness rests much on
the internal proofs, which [8:2]are quite sufficient to establish it. It
is an irregular and imperfect play, older in form than any of
Shakspeare's; but it has clearly been augmented by many passages written
by him, and therefore had a right to be inserted by the first editors,
upon their own principles. [Sidenote: The editors of the First Folio put
forth an incomplete book.] These two plays then being certainly
Shakspeare's, no matter whether his best or his worst, and his editors
being so situated that they must have known the fact, their edition is
allowed to appear as a complete collection of Shakspeare's works,
although its contents include neither of the two. They probably were
unable to procure copies; but they were not the less bound to have
acknowledged in their preface, that these, or any other plays which they
knew to be Shakspeare's, were necessary for making up a complete
collection. It in no view suited their purposes to make such a
statement; and it was not made. [Sidenote: We cannot trust the Editors
of the First Folio.] In short, the whole conduct of these editors
inspires distrust, but their unacknowledged omission of those two plays
deprives them of all claim to our confidence. The effect of that
omission, in reference to any play which can be brought forward as
Shakspeare's, is just this, that the want of the drama in their edition,
is of itself no proof whatever that Shakspeare was not the author of it,
and leaves the question, whether he was or was not, perfectly open for
decision on other evidence. It leaves the inquiry before us precisely in
that situation. Why Heminge and Condell could not procure the
manuscripts of 'Troilus,' 'Pericles,' or the 'Two Noble Kinsmen,' I am
not bound to shew. As to the last, Fletcher may have retained a partial
or entire right of property in it, and was alive at the publication of
their edition. Difficulties at least as great attach to the question as
to the other two rejected plays, in which the strength of the other
proofs has long been admitted as counterbalancing them. But the argument
serves my purpose without any theory on the subject. [Sidenote: The
First Folio no evidence against _The Two Noble Kinsmen_.] The state of
it entitles me, as I conceive, to throw the First Folio entirely out of
view, as being no evidence one way or the other.

Laying the folio aside then, I think I have shewn that, in the most
unfavourable view, no doubts which other circumstances can throw on the
assertion made in the title-page of the first edition of the 'Two Noble
Kinsmen,' are of such strength as to ren[9:1]der the truth of it
improbable. [Sidenote: Strong internal evidence will prove it in part
Shakspere's.] Strong internal evidence therefore will, in any view,
establish Shakspeare's claim. But, if the consideration first suggested
be well-founded, (as I have no doubt it is,) namely, that the statement
of the publisher was disinterested, there arises a very strong external
presumption of the truth of his assertion, which will enable us to
proceed to the examination of the internal marks with a prepossession in
favour of Shakspeare's authorship.

As I wish to make you a convert to the affirmative opinion, it may be
wise to acquaint you that you will not be alone in it, if you shall
finally see reason to embrace it. [Sidenote: Early annotators on
Shakspere narrow-minded.] Shakspeare, you know, suffered a long eclipse,
which left him in obscurity till the beginning of last century, when he
reappeared surrounded by his annotators, a class of men who have
followed a narrow track, but yet are greater benefactors to us than we
are ready to acknowledge. The commentators have given little attention
to the question before us; but some of the best of them have declared
incidentally for Shakspeare's claim; and though even the editors who
have professed this belief have not inserted the work as his, this is
only one among many evil results of the slavish system to which they all
adhere. [Sidenote: Yet Pope, Warburton, Farmer, believe _The Two Noble
Kinsmen_ genuine: so does Schlegel.] We have with us Pope, Warburton,
and above all, Farmer, a man of fine discernment, and a most cautious
sifter of evidence. The subject has more recently been treated shortly
by a celebrated foreign critic, the enthusiastic and eloquent
Schlegel,[10:1] who comes to a conclusion decidedly favourable to

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: II. Internal evidence.]

There still lies before us the principal part of our task, that of
applying to the presumption resulting from the external proof, (whatever
the amount of that may be,) the decisive test of the [10:2]Internal
Evidence. Do you doubt the efficacy of this supposed crucial experiment?
It is true that internal similarities form almost a valueless test when
applied to inferior writers; because in them the distinctive marks are
too weak to be easily traced. [Sidenote: Shakspere's work specially fit
for the Internal Evidence test.] But, in the first place, great authors
have in their very greatness the pledge of something peculiar which
shall identify their works, and consequently the test is usually
satisfactory in its application to them; and, secondly and particularly,
Shakspeare is, of all writers that have existed, that one to whose
alleged works such a test can be most confidently administered; because
he is not only strikingly peculiar in those qualities which
discriminate him from other poets, but his writings also possess
singularities, different from, and opposite to, the usual character of
poetry itself.

I cannot proceed with you to the work itself, till I have reminded you
of some distinctive differences between the two writers whose claims we
are to adjust, the recollection of which will be indispensable to us in
considering the details of the drama. [Sidenote: Differences between
Shakspere and Fletcher to be discusst.] We shall then enter on that
detailed examination, keeping those distinctions in mind, and attempting
to apply them to individual passages; and, when all the scenes of the
play have thus passed successively before us, we shall be able to look
back on it as a whole, and investigate its general qualities.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: Shakspere's and Fletcher's versification contrasted.]

The first difference which may be pointed out between Shakspeare and
Fletcher, is that of their versification. You have learned from a study
of the poets themselves, in what that difference consists. [Sidenote:
Shakspere's.] Shakspeare's versification is broken and full of pauses,
he is sparing of double terminations to his verses, and has a marked
fondness for ending speeches or scenes with hemi-stitches. [Sidenote:
Fletcher's.] Fletcher's rhythm is of a newer and smoother cast, often
keeping the lines distinct and without breaks through whole speeches,
abounding in double endings, and very seldom leaving a line incomplete
at the end of a sentence or scene.[11:1] And the opposite taste of the
two poets in their choice and arrangement [11:2]of words, gives an
opposite character to the whole modulation of their verses. [Sidenote:
Modulation of Fletcher's verse: of Shakspere's.] Fletcher's is sweet and
flowing, and peculiarly fitted either for declamation or the softness of
sorrow: Shakspeare's ear is tuned to the stateliest solemnity of
thought, or the abruptness and vehemence of passion. The present drama
exhibits in whole scenes the qualities of Shakspeare's versification;
and there are other scenes which are marked by those of Fletcher's; the
difference is one reason for separating the authorship.

[Sidenote: Shakspere's images and words in _The Two Noble Kinsmen_.]

You will notice in this play many instances of Shakspeare's favourite
images, and of his very words. Is this a proof of the play having been
his work, or does it only indicate imitation? In Shakspeare's case,
such resemblance, taken by itself, can operate neither way. [Sidenote:
Shakspere a mannerist in style, and] Shakspeare is a mannerist in style.
He knew this himself, and what he says of his minor poems, is equally
true of his dramatic language; he "keeps invention in a noted
weed[12:1];" and almost every word or combination of words is so marked
in its character that its author is known at a glance. [Sidenote:
wanting in variety. Shakspere repeats himself.] But not only is his
style so peculiar in its general qualities, as scarcely to admit of
being mistaken; not only is it deficient in variety of structure, but it
is in a particular degree characterised by a frequent recurrence of the
same images, often clothed in identically the same words. You are quite
aware of this, and those who are not, may be convinced of it by opening
any page of the annotated editions. So far, then, this play is only like
Shakspeare's acknowledged works. It is true, that one who wished to
write a play in Shakspeare's manner, would probably have repeated his
images and words as they are repeated here; but Shakspeare would
certainly have imitated himself quite as often. [Sidenote: The likeness
to Shakspere in _The Two Noble Kinsmen_, and the repetitions of him, are
likely to be by him.] The resemblance could be founded on, as indicating
imitation, only in conjunction with other circumstances of dissimilarity
or inferiority to his genuine writings; and where, as in the present
case, there seems to be reason for asserting that the accompanying
circumstances point the work out as an original composition of his, this
very likeness and repetition become a strong argument in support of
those concomitant indications. [12:2]Such repetition is more or less
common in all the play-writers of that age. The number of their works,
the quickness with which they were written, and the carelessness which
circumstances induced as to their elaboration or final correction, all
aided in giving rise to this. [Sidenote: Massinger also repeats himself
much. Fletcher but little.] But all are not equally chargeable with it;
Beaumont and Fletcher less than most, Massinger to an extent far beyond
Shakspeare, and vying with the common-places of Euripides. May not the
professional habits of Shakspeare and Massinger as actors, have had some
effect in producing this, by imprinting their own works in their
memories with unusual strength? Fletcher and his associate were free
from that risk.

[Sidenote: Singularity of Shakspere's style.]

It would not be easy to give a systematic account of those qualities
which combine to constitute Shakspeare's singularity of style. Some of
them lie at the very surface, others are found only on a deeper search,
and a few there are which depend on evanescent relations, instinctively
perceptible to the congenial poetical sense, but extremely difficult of
abstract prose definition. Several qualities also, which we are apt to
think exclusively his, (such, for instance, as his looseness of
construction,) are discovered on examination to be common to him with
the other dramatic writers of his age. Such qualities can give no
assistance in an inquiry like ours, and may be left wholly out of view.
But I think the distinctions which I can specify between him and
Fletcher are quite enough, and applicable with sufficient closeness to
this drama, for making out the point which I wish to prove.

[Sidenote: Qualities of Shakspere's style: energy, obscurity,
abruptness, brevity (in late plays).]

No one is ignorant that Shakspeare is concise, that this quality makes
him always energetic and often most impressive, but that it also gives
birth to much obscurity. He shows a constant wish to deliver thought,
fancy, and feeling, in the fewest words possible. Even his images are
brief; they are continual, and they crowd and confuse one another; the
well-springs of his imagination boil up every moment, and the readiness
with which they throw up their golden sands, makes him careless of fitly
using the wealth thus profusely rendered. He abounds in hinted
descriptions, in sketches of imagery, in glimpses of illustration, in
abrupt and vanishing snatches of fancy. [Sidenote: Shakspere never
vague.] But the merest hint that he gives is of force [13:1]enough to
shew that the image was fully present with him; if he fails to bring it
as distinctly before us, it is either from the haste with which he
passes to another, or from the eagerness induced by the very force and
quickness with which he has conceived the former. [Sidenote: Milton and
language.] It has been said of Milton that language sunk under him; and
it is true of him in one sense, but of Shakspeare in two. [Sidenote:
Shakspere's new meanings and new words.] Shakspeare's strength of
conception, to which, not less than to Milton's, existing language was
inadequate, compelled him either to use old words in unusual meanings,
or to coin new words for himself.[13:2] But his mind had another quality
powerful over his style, which Milton's wanted. [Sidenote: Milton slow,
Shakspere rapid,] Milton's conception was comparatively slow, and
allowed him time for deliberate expression: Shakspeare's was rapid to
excess, and hurried his words after it. When a truth presented itself to
his mind, all its qualities burst in upon him at once, and his
instantaneousness of conception could be represented only by words as
brief and quick as thought itself. [Sidenote: specially in reflective
passages.] This cause operates with the greatest force on his passages
of reflection; for if his images are often brief, his apophthegms are
brief a thousand times oftener: his quickness of ideas seems to have
been stimulated to an extraordinary degree by the contemplation of
general truths. [Sidenote: He forces speech to bear a burden beyond its
strength.] And everywhere his incessant activity and quickness, both of
intellect and fancy, engaged him in a continual struggle with speech; it
is a sluggish slave which he would force to bear a burden beyond its
strength, a weary courser which he would urge at a speed to which it is
unequal. He fails only from insufficiency in his puny instrument; not
because his conception is indistinct, but because it is too full,
energetic, and rapid, to receive adequate expression. It is excess of
strength which hurts, not weakness which incapacitates; he is injured by
the undue prevalence of the good principle, not by its defect.
[Sidenote: Shakspere's obscurity.] The obscurity of other writers is
often the mistiness of the evening twilight sinking into night; his is
the fitful dimness of the dawn, contending with the retiring darkness,
and striving to break out [14:1]into open day. [Sidenote: Fletcher most
unlike Shakspere.] Scarcely any writer of Shakspeare's class, or of any
other, comes near him either in the faults or the grandeur which are the
alternate results of this tendency of mind; but none is more utterly
unlike him than the poet to whom, some would say, we must attribute
passages in this play so singularly like Shakspeare. [Sidenote: Fletcher
diffuse.] Fletcher is diffuse both in his leading thoughts and in his
illustrations. [Sidenote: He amplifies, is elaborate, not vigorous.] His
intellect did not present truth to him with the instant conviction which
it poured on Shakspeare, and his fancy did not force imagery on him with
a profusion which might have tempted him to weave its different
suggestions into inconsistent forms; he expresses thought deliberately
and with amplification; he paints his illustrative pictures with a
careful hand and by repeated touches; his style has a pleasing and
delicate air which is any thing but vigorous, and often reaches the
verge of feebleness. Take a passage or two from the work before us, and
do you say, who know Fletcher, whether they be his, or the work of a
stronger hand.

[Sidenote: Shakspere. Fletcher could not have written these passages,]

                                 He only áttributes
     The faculties of other instruments
     To his own nerves and act; commands men's ser|vice,
     And what they gain in't, boot and glory too.
                                          ... What man
     _Thirds_ his own worth, (the case is each of ours,)
     When that his action's dregged with mind assured
     'Tis bad he goes about?--Act I. scene ii.

                            Dowagers, take hands:
     [15:1]_Let us be widows to our woes_: Delay
     Commends us to a famishing hope.--Act I. scene i.

I do not quote these lines for praise. The meaning of the last quotation
in particular is obscure when it stands alone, and not too clear even
when it is read in the scene. But I ask you, whether the oracular
brevity of each of the sentences is not perfectly in the manner of
Shakspeare. A fragment from another beautiful address in the first scene
is equally characteristic and less faulty:--

[Sidenote: Shakspere, not Fletcher.]

                        [15:2]Honoured Hippolita,
     Most dreaded Amazonian, that hast slain
     The scythe-tusked boar; that, with thy arm as strong
     As it is white, wast near to make the male
     To thy sex captive, but that this thy lord
     (_Born to uphold creation in that hon|our
     First Nature styled it in_) shrunk thee in|to
     The bound thou wast o'erflow|ing, | at once subdu|ing |
     Thy force and thy affection;--Soldieress!
     That equally canst poise sternness with pit|y;--
     Who now, I know, hast much more power o'er | him
     Than e'er he had on thee;--_who owest[15:3] his strength
     And his love too, who is a servant to
     The tenor of thy speech_!

Is this like Fletcher? I think not. It is unlike him in versification
and in the tone of thought; and you will here particularly notice that
it is unlike him in abruptness and brevity. It is like Shakspeare in all
these particulars.

[Sidenote: Shakspere hardly ever vague,]

I have said that Shakspeare, often obscure, is scarcely ever vague; that
he may fail to express all he wishes, but almost always gives distinctly
the part which he is able to convey. [Sidenote: Fletcher unable to grasp
images distinctly.] Fletcher is not only slow in his ideas, but often
vague and deficient in precision. The following lines are taken from a
scene in the play under our notice, which clearly is not Shakspeare's. I
would direct your attention, not to the remoteness of the last conceit,
but to the want of distinctness in grasping images, and the inability to
see fully either their picturesque or their poetical relations.

[Sidenote: Fletcher, not Shakspere.]

     _Arcite._ We were not bred to talk, man: when we are armed,
     And both upon our guards, then _let our fur|y,
     Like meeting of two tides, fly strongly from | us_.

            .       .       .       .       .

     _Palamon._ Methinks this armour's very like that, Ar|cite,
     Thou worest that day the three kings fell, but light|er.

     _Arc._ That was a very good one; and that day,
     I well remember, you out-did me, cous|in:
                      ... When I saw you charge first,
     _Methought I heard a dreadful clap of thund|er
     Break from the troop_.

     _Pal._                 _But still before that flew
     The lightning of your valour._--Act III. scene vi.

[Sidenote: Shakspere metaphorical, but seldom has long description.]

[16:1]Shakspeare's style, as every one knows, is metaphorical to excess.
[Sidenote: His thought and imagination work together.] His imagination
is always active, but he seldom pauses to indulge it by lengthened
description. I shall hereafter have occasion to direct your observation
to the sobriety with which he preserves imagination in its proper
station, as only the minister and interpreter of thought; but what I
wish now to say is, that in him the two powers operate simultaneously.
He goes on thinking vigorously, while his imagination scatters her
inexhaustible treasures like flowers on the current of his meditations.
His constant aim is the expression of facts, passions, or opinions; and
his intellect is constantly occupied in the investigation of such; but
the mind acts with ease in its lofty vocation, and the beautiful and the
grand rise up voluntarily to do him homage. He never indeed consents to
express those poetical ideas by themselves; but he shows that he felt
their import and their legitimate use, by wedding them to the thoughts
in which they originated. [Sidenote: Shakspere's truths and their
imagery glorify one another.] The truths which he taught, received
magnificence and amenity from the illustrative forms; and the poetical
images were elevated into a higher sphere of associations by the dignity
of the principles which they were applied to adorn. [Sidenote: Metaphor
the strength of poetry; simile its weakness.] Something like this is
always the true function of the imagination in poetry, and dramatic
poetry in particular; and it is also the test which tries the presence
of the faculty; metaphor indicates its strength, and simile its
weakness. [Sidenote: Fletcher is diffuse in description and simile,
loses the original thought in it,] Nothing can be more different from
this, or farther inferior to it, than the style of a poet who turns
aside in search of description, and indulges in simile preferably to the
brevity of metaphor, to whom perhaps a poetical picture originally
suggested itself as the decoration of a striking thought, but who
allowed himself to be captivated by the beauty of the suggested image,
till he forgot the thought which had given it birth, and on its
connexion with which its highest excellence depended. [Sidenote: is poor
in metaphor, and picturesque.] Such was Fletcher, whose style is poor in
metaphor. His descriptions are sometimes beautifully romantic; but even
then the effect of the whole is often picturesque rather than poetically
touching; and it is evident that lengthened description can still less
frequently be dramatic. In his descriptions, it is observable that the
poetical relations introduced in illustration [17:1]are usually few, the
character of the leading subject being relied on for producing the
poetical effect. [Sidenote: Fletcher's and Shakspere's descriptions
contrasted.] Fletcher's longest descriptions are but elegant outlines;
Shakspeare's briefest metaphors are often finished paintings. Where
Shakspeare is guilty of detailed description, he is very often laboured,
cold, and involved; but his illustrative ideas are invariably copious,
and it is often their superfluity which chiefly tends to mar the general
effect. [Sidenote: Metaphor in _The Two Noble Kinsmen_ is Shakspere's.]
In the play that you are to examine, you will find a profusion of
metaphor, which is undoubtedly the offspring of a different mind from
Fletcher's; and both its excellence and its peculiarity of character
seem to me to stamp it as Shakspeare's. I think the following passage
cannot be mistaken, though the beginning is difficult, and the text
perhaps incorrect.

[Sidenote: Instances of Shakspere's metaphors.]

                             They two have _cab|ined_
     In many as dangerous, as poor a corn|er--
     Peril and want contending, they have _skiffed_
     Torrents, whose raging _tyranny_ and _pow|er_
     I' the least of these was dreadful; and they have
     Fought out together where _Death's self_ was _lodged_,
     Yet FATE hath BROUGHT THEM OFF. Their _knot_ of love,
     Tied, _weaved_, ENTANGLED, with so true, so long,
     And with a _finger_ of so deep a cun|ning,
     May be _outworn_, never _undone_. I think
     Theseus cannot be _umpire_ to himself,
     _Cleaving his conscience into twain_, and do|ing
     Each side like justice, which he loves best.--Act I. scene iii.

The play throughout will give you metaphors, like Shakspeare's in their
frequency, like his in their tone and character, and like his in their
occasional obscurity and blending together.

[Sidenote: Shakspere's classical images.]

We have been looking to Shakspeare's imagery. You will meet with
classical images in the 'The Two Noble Kinsmen.' Do not allow any
ill-applied notion of his want of learning to convert this into an
argument against his authorship. You will recollect, that an attachment
of this sort is very perceptible in Shakspeare's dramas, and pervades
the whole thread of his youthful poems. It is indeed a prominent quality
in the school of poetry, which prevailed during the earlier part of his
life, perhaps during the whole of it. In his early days, the study of
[18:1]Grecian and Latin literature in England may be said to have only
commenced, and the scenery and figures of the classical mythology broke
on the view of the student with all the force of novelty. [Sidenote:
Elizabethan literature tinged with classicism.] All the literature of
that period is tinged with classicism to a degree which in our satiated
times is apt to seem pedantic. It infected writers of all kinds and
classes: translations were multiplied, and a familiarity with classical
tales and history was sought after or affected even by those who had no
access to the original language. Shakspeare clearly stood in this latter
predicament, his knowledge of Latin certainly not exceeding that of a
schoolboy: but the translated classics enabled him to acquire the facts,
and he shared the taste of the age to its full extent. [Sidenote:
Shakspere's classical allusions.] His admiration of the classical
writers is vouched by the subjects and execution of his early poems, by
numerous allusions in his dramas, particularly his histories, by the
subjects chosen for some of his plays, by one or two imitations of the
translated Latin poets,[19:1] and by many exotic forms in his language,
derived from the same secondary source. Correct tameness is the usual
character of classical allusion in authors well versed in classical
studies. [Sidenote: Milton's classical allusions.] [Sidenote:
Fletcher's.] Even Milton, who has drawn the most exquisite images of
this kind, has sometimes remembered only, where he should have invented:
and Fletcher, whom we have especially to consider, is no exception to
the rule; his many classical illustrations are invariably cold and poor.
[Sidenote: Shakspere's treatment of mythology.] Shakspeare's
mythological images have something singular in them. They are incorrect
as transcripts of the originals, but admirable if examined without such
reference; they are highly-coloured paintings whose subjects are taken
from the simplicity of some antique statue. [Sidenote: His _Venus and
Adonis_.] The 'Venus and Adonis' has some fine and some overcharged
pictures thus formed from the hints which he derived from his
books.[19:2] He received the mythological images but imperfectly, and
his fancy was stimulated without being [19:3]clogged. [Sidenote:
Shakspere's treatment of classical mythology;] He stood but at the
entrance of those visionary forests, within whose glades the heroes and
divinities of ancient faith reposed; he looked through a glimmering and
uncertain light, and caught only glimpses of the sanctity of that world
of wonders: and it was with an imagination heated by the flame of
mystery and partial ignorance that he turned away from the scene so
imperfectly revealed, to brood on the beauty of its broken contours, and
allow fancy to create magnificence richer than memory ever saw. The
occurrence of classical allusions here, therefore, affords no reason for
doubting his authorship even of those passages in which they are found:
and if we could trace any of his singularities in the images which we
have, the argument in his favour would be strengthened by these. Most of
the allusions are too slightly sketched to permit this; but one or two
are like him in their unfaithfulness. We have "Mars' drum" in the 'Venus
and Adonis'; and here beauty is described as able to make him spurn it:
the altar of the same deity is alluded to as the scene of a Grecian
marriage. The "Nemean lion's hide" is here, as his nerve in 'Hamlet.'
[Sidenote: specially in Arcite's prayer in Act V. scene i.] But the most
characteristic use of this sort of imagery is in the prayer in the first
scene of the Fifth Act. [Sidenote: This scene is certainly Shakspere's.]
The whole tenor of the language, the solemnity and majesty of the tone
of thought, the piling up of the heap of metaphors and images, and the
boldness and admirable originality of their conception, all these are
Shakspeare's; and the fact of this accumulation of feeling, thought, and
imagination, being employed to create, out of a fragmentary classical
outline, a picture both new in its features and gorgeously magnificent
in its filling up, is strongly indicative of his hand, and strikingly
resembles his mode of dealing with such subjects elsewhere.

[Sidenote: Shakspere's tendency to reflection.]

You will be furnished with a rule to guide your decision on many
passages of the drama otherwise doubtful, by having your notice slightly
directed to what will fall more properly under our consideration when we
look back on the general scope of the play,--I mean Shakspeare's
prevailing tendency to reflection. The presence of a spirit of active
and inquiring thought through every page of his writings is too evident
to require any proof. It is exerted on every object which comes under
his notice: it is serious when its theme is lofty; and when the subject
is familiar, [20:1]it is contented to be shrewd. [Sidenote: His own
active and inquiring thought, is the only quality of his own that he's
given _all_ his characters.] He has impressed no other of his own mental
qualities on all his characters: this quality colours every one of them.
It is one to which poetry is apt to give a very subordinate place: and,
in most poets, fancy is the predominating power; because, immeasurably
as that faculty in them is beneath its unequalled warmth in Shakspeare,
yet intellect in them is comparatively even weaker. With inferior poets,
particularly the dramatic, inflation of feeling and profusion of imagery
are the alternate disguises which conceal poverty of thought. [Sidenote:
Fletcher's thought, small beside Shakspere's.] Fletcher is a poet of
much and sterling merit; but his fund of thought is small indeed when
placed beside Shakspeare's. [Sidenote: Shakspere's worldly wisdom, and
solemn thought.] He has, indeed, very little of Shakspeare's practical,
searching, worldly wisdom, and none of that solemnity of thought with
which he penetrates into his loftier themes of reflection. [Sidenote:
Shakspere's Imagination the handmaid of his Understanding.] This quality
in Shakspeare is usually relieved by poetical decoration: Imagination is
active powerfully and unceasingly, but she is rebuked by the presence
of a mightier influence; she is but the handmaid of the active and
piercing Understanding; and the images which are her offspring serve but
as the breeze to the river, which stirs and ripples its surface, but is
not the power which impels its waters to the sea. As you go through this
drama, you will not only find a sobriety of tone pervading the more
important parts of it, but activity of intellect constantly exerted.
[Sidenote: Note the mass of general truths and maxims in this part of
_The Two Noble Kinsmen_.] But what demands particular notice is, the
mass of general truths, of practical, moral, or philosophical maxims,
which, issuing from this reflective turn of mind, are scattered through
Shakspeare's writings as thick as the stars in heaven. The occurrence of
them is characteristic of his temper of mind; and there is something
marked in the manner of the adages themselves. They are often solemn,
usually grave, but always pointed, compressed, and energetic;--they vary
in subject, from familiar facts and rules for social life to the
enunciation of philosophical truths and the exposition of moral duty.
You will meet with them in this drama in all their shapes and in every
page [of Shakspere's part of it].

[Sidenote: Shakspere's reach of thought.]

Shakspeare's reach and comprehension of thought is as remarkable as its
activity, while Fletcher's is by no means great, and in this respect
Massinger comes much nearer to him. The simplest fact has many dependent
qualities, and may be related by [21:1]men of different degrees of
intellect with circumstances differing infinitely, a confined mind
seeing only its plainest qualities, while a stronger one grasps and
combines many distant relations. Shakspeare's love of brevity would not
have produced obscurity nearly so often, had it not been aided by his
width of mental vision. [Sidenote: Passages in _The Two Noble Kinsmen_
too comprehensive for Fletcher.] There are many passages in the play
before us which seem to emanate from a mind of more comprehension than
Fletcher's. Look at the following lines. The idea to be expressed was a
very simple one. Hippolita is entreating her husband to leave her, and
depart to succour the distressed ladies who kneel at her feet and his;
and she wishes to say, that though, as a bride, she was loth to lose her
husband's presence, yet she felt that she should act blameably if she
detained him. Fletcher would have expressed no idea beyond that; but on
it alone he would have employed six lines and two or three comparisons.
Hear how many cognate ideas present themselves to Shakspeare's mind in
expressing the thought. The passage is obscure, but not the less like
Shakspeare on that account.

[Sidenote: Shakspere's pregnancy and obscurity.]

                       Though much unlike|ly
     I should be so transported, _as much sor|ry
     I should be such a suitor_; yet I think,
     Did I not, by the abstaining of my joy,
     _Which breeds a deeper longing_, cure the sur|feit
     _That craves a present medicine_, I should pluck
     All ladies' scandal on me--Act I. scene i.

It would be well if Shakspeare's continual inclination to thought gave
rise to no worse faults than occasional obscurity. It was not to be
hoped that it should not produce others. His tone of thinking could
not be always high and serious; and even when it flowed in a lofty
channel, its uninterrupted stream could not always be pure. [Sidenote:
Shakspere's conceits and quibbles.] His judgment often fails to perform
its part, and he is guilty of conceit and quibble, not merely in his
comic vein, but in his most deeply tragical situations. He has indeed
one powerful excuse; he had universal example in both respects to
justify or betray him. But he has likewise another plea, that his
constant activity of mind, and the wideness of its province, exposed him
to pe[22:1]culiar risks. A mind always in action must sometimes act
wrongly; and the constant exercise of the creative powers of the mind
dulls the edge of the corrective. It was not strange that he who was
unwearied in tracing the manifestations of that spirit of likeness which
pervades nature, should often mistake a resemblance in name for a
community of essence,--that he whose mind was sensible to the most
delicate differences, should sometimes fancy he saw distinction where
there was none;--it was not strange, however much to be regretted, that
he who left the smooth green slopes of fancy to clamber among the craggy
steeps of thought, should often stumble in his dizzy track, either in
looking up to the perilous heights above, or downwards on the morning
landscape beneath him. [Sidenote: Shakspere's faults.] While the most
glaring errors of the tropical Euphues are strained allegorical
conceits, Shakspeare's fault is oftener the devising of subtle and
unreal distinctions, or the ringing of fantastical changes upon words.
[Sidenote: Lyly's faults.] Lily's error was one merely of taste;
Shakspeare's was one of the judgment, and the heavier of the two, but
still the error of a stronger mind than the other; for the judgment
cannot act till the understanding has given it materials to work upon,
and those fanciful writers who do not reflect at all, are in no danger
of reflecting wrongly. [Sidenote: Shakspere's evil genius triumphs in
his puns.] Shakspeare's evil genius triumphs when it tempts him to a
pun--it enjoys a less complete but more frequent victory in suggesting
an antithesis; but it often happens that this dangerous turn of mind
does not carry him so far as to be of evil consequence. It aids its
quickness and directness of mental view, in giving to his style a
pointed epigrammatic terseness which is quite its own, and a frequent
weight and effect which no other equals. Where, however, this antithetic
tendency is allowed to approach the serious scenes, it throws over them
an icy air which is very injurious, while it often gives the comic ones
a ponderousness which is altogether singular, and but imperfectly
accordant with the nature of comic dialogue. [Sidenote: Characteristics
of his wit.] The arrows of Shakspeare's wit are not the lightly
feathered shafts which Fletcher discharges, and as little are they the
iron-headed bolts which fill the quiver of Jonson; but they are weapons
forged from materials unknown to the others, and in an armoury to which
they had no access; their execution is [23:1]resistless when they reach
their aim, but they are covered with a golden massiveness of decoration
which sometimes impedes the swiftness of their flight. But whether the
effect of these peculiarities of Shakspeare be good or evil, their use
in helping an identification of his manner is very great. [Sidenote:
Contrast with Fletcher's.] Nothing can be more directly opposite to them
than the slow elegance and want of pointedness which we find in
Fletcher, who is not free from conceits, but does not express them with
Shakspeare's hard quaintness, while he is comparatively quite guiltless
of plays on words. The following instances are only a few among many in
the present drama, which seem to be perfectly in Shakspeare's manner,
and to most of which Fletcher's works could certainly furnish no
parallel, either in subject or in expression.

[Sidenote: Passages by Shakspere, not Fletcher.]

                      Oh, my petition was
     Set down in ice, which, by hot grief uncan|died,
     Melts into tears; so sorrow, wanting form,
     Is pressed with deeper matter.--Act I. scene i.

Theseus speaks thus of the Kinsmen lying before him in the field of
battle desperately wounded:--

[Sidenote: Shakspere metaphors.]

                       Rather than have them
     Freed of this plight, and in their morning state,
     Sound and at liberty, I would them dead:
     But forty thousand fold we had rather have | them[24:1]
     _Prisoners to us than Death_. Bear them speedi|ly
     From _our kind air, to them unkind_, and min|ister
     What man to man may do.--Act I. scene iv.

A lady hunting is addressed in this strain:

                     Oh jewel
     O' the wood, O' the world!--Act III. scene i.

In the same scene one knight says to another,--

[Sidenote: Shakspere metaphor.]

              This question sick between us,
     By bleeding must be cured.

[24:2]And the one, left in the wood, says to the other, who goes to the
presence of the lady whom both love--

     You talk of feeding me, to breed me strength;
     You are going now to look upon a sun,
     That strengthens what _it_ looks on.--Act III. scene i.

The two knights, about to meet in battle, address each other in these

     _Pal._          Think you but thus;
     That there were aught in me which strove to shew
     Mine enemy in this business,--were't one eye
     Against another, arm opposed by arm,
     I would destroy the offender;--coz, I would,
     Though parcel of myself: then from this, gath|er
     How I should tender you!

     _Arc._                   I am in la|bour
     To push your name, your ancient love, our kin|dred,
     Out of my memory, and i' the self-same place
     To seat something I would confound.--Act V. scene i.

And afterwards their lady-love, listening to the noise of the fight,
speaks thus:--

[Sidenote: Shakspere metaphor.]

                    Each stroke laments
     The place whereon it falls, and sounds more like
     A bell than blade.--Act V. scene v.

Shakspeare's fondness for thought, the tendency of that train of
thought to run into the abstract, and his burning imagination, have
united in producing another quality which strongly marks his style, and
is more pleasing than those last noticed. [Sidenote: Shakspere's
personification of mental powers, passions.] He abounds in
Personification, and delights particularly in personifications of mental
powers, passions, and relations. [Sidenote: In _Venus and Adonis_.] This
metaphysico-poetical mood of musing tinges his miscellaneous poems
deeply, especially the Venus and Adonis, which is almost lyrical
throughout; and even in his dramas the style is often like one of
Collins's exquisite odes. [Sidenote: Fletcher uses it but little.] This
quality is common to him with the narrative poets of his age, from whom
[25:1]he received it; but it is adopted to no material extent by any of
his dramatic contemporaries, and by Fletcher less than any. [Sidenote:
Shakspere's distinctive use of Personification.] The other dramatists,
indeed, are full of metaphysical expressions, of the names of affections
and faculties of the soul; but they do not go on as Shakspeare's
kindling fancy impelled him to do, to look on them as independent and
energetic existences. This figure is one of the most common means by
which he elevates himself into the tragic and poetic sphere, the
compromise between his reason and his imagination, the felicitous mode
by which he reconciles his fondness for abstract thought, with his
allegiance to the genius of poetry. [Sidenote: The _Two Noble Kinsmen_
is rich in personifications which must be Shakspere's.] 'The Two Noble
Kinsmen' is rich in personifications both of mental qualities and
others, which have all Shakspeare's tokens about them, and vary
infinitely, from the uncompleted hint to the perfected portrait.

[Sidenote: Instances of these.]

                 Oh Grief and Time,
     Fearful consumers, you will all devour!--Act I. scene i.

                 Peace might purge
     For her repletion, and retain anew
     Her charitable heart, now hard, and harsh|er
     Than Strife or War could be.--Act I. scene ii.

     A most unbounded tyrant, whose success
     Makes heaven unfeared, and villainy assured
     Beyond its power there's nothing,--almost puts
     Faith in a fev|er,| and deifies alone
     Voluble Chance.--Act I. scene ii.

     This funeral path brings to your household graves;
     Joy seize on you again--Peace sleep with him!

                                                  Act I. scene v.

                Content and Ang|er
     In me have but one face.--Act III. scene i.

                Force and great Feat
     Must put my garland on, where she will stick
     The queen of flowers.--Act V. scene i.

[Sidenote: Instances of Shakspere's Personification in _The Two Noble

           Thou (_Love_) mayst force the king
     To be his subject's vassal, and _induce
     Stale Gravity to dance_;--the pollèd bachelor,
     _Whose youth_, (like wanton boys through bon|fires,)
     [26:1]_Has skipt thy flame_, at seventy thou canst catch,
     And make him, to the scorn of his hoarse throat,
     Abuse young lays of love.--Act V. scene ii.

                           Mercy and manly Cour|age
     Are bed fellows in his visage.--Act V. scene v.

                       _Our Reasons are not proph|ets,
     When oft our Fancies are._--Act V. scene v.

The hints which you have now perused, are not, I repeat, offered to you
as by any means exhausting the elements of Shakspeare's manner of
writing. They are meant only to bring to your memory such of his
qualities of style as chiefly distinguish him from Fletcher, and are
most prominently present in the play we are examining. [Sidenote: In
bits of the _Two Noble Kinsmen_ several of Shakspere's distinctive
qualities are often combin'd.] When we shall see those qualities
instanced singly, they will afford a proof of Shakspeare's authorship:
but that proof will receive an incalculable accession of strength when,
as will more frequently happen, we shall have several of them displayed
at once in the same passages. Your recollection of them will serve us as
the lines of a map would in a journey on foot through a wild forest
country: the beauty of the landscape will tempt us not seldom to diverge
and lose sight of our path, and we shall need their guidance for
enabling us to regain it.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: The story of _Palamon and Arcite_.]

The story of PALAMON AND ARCITE is a celebrated one, and, besides its
appearance here, has been taken up by other two of our greatest English
poets. Chaucer borrowed the tale from the _Teseide_ of Boccaccio: it
then received a dramatic form in this play; and from Chaucer's antique
sketch it was afterwards decorated with the trappings of heroic rhyme,
by one who fell on evil days, the lofty and unfortunate Dryden.
[Sidenote: Character of the story of Palamon and Arcite.] It treats of a
period of ancient and almost fabulous history, which originally belonged
to the classical writers, but had become familiar in the chivalrous
poetry of the middle ages; and retaining the old historical characters,
it intersperses with them new ones wholly imaginary, and, both in the
Knightes Tale and in the play, preserves the rich and anomalous
magnificence of the Gothic cos[27:1]tume. [Sidenote: Theseus the centre
of _The Two Noble Kinsmen_.] The character round which the others are
grouped, one which Shakspeare has introduced in another of his works, is
the heroic Theseus, whom the romances and chronicles dignify with the
modern title of Duke of Athens; and in this story he is connected with
the tragical war of the Seven against Thebes, one of the grandest
subjects of the ancient Grecian poetry.

[Sidenote: First Act of _Two Noble Kinsmen_ Shakspere's.]

The whole of the First Act may be safely pronounced to be Shakspeare's.
The play opens with the bridal procession of Theseus and the fair Amazon
Hippolita, whose young sister EMILIA is the lady of the tale. While the
marriage-song is singing, the train are met by three queens in mourning
attire, who fall down at the feet of Theseus, Hippolita, and Emilia.
They are the widows of three of the princes slain in battle before
Thebes, and the conqueror Creon has refused the remains of the dead
soldiers the last honour of a grave. The prayer of the unfortunate
ladies to Theseus is, that he would raise his powerful arm to force from
the tyrant the unburied corpses, that the ghosts of the dead may be
appeased by the performance of fitting rites of sepulture. The duty
which knighthood imposed on the Prince of Athens, is combated by his
unwillingness to quit his bridal happiness; but generosity and
self-denial at length obtain the victory, and he marches, with banners
displayed, to attack the Thebans.

This scene bears decided marks of Shakspeare.--The lyrical pieces
scattered through his plays are, whether successful or not, endowed with
a stateliness of rhythm, an originality and clearness of imagery, and a
nervous quaintness and pomp of language, which can scarcely be mistaken.
[Sidenote: The Bridal Song can't be Fletcher's.] The Bridal Song which
ushers in this play, has several of the marks of distinction, and is
very unlike the more formal and polished rhymes of Fletcher.

[Sidenote: Act I. sc. i.

The Bridal Song is Shakspere's.]

            .       .       .       .       .

     Primrose, first-born child of Ver,
     Merry springtime's harbinger,
         _With her bells dim_:
     Oxlips in their cradles growing,
     _Marigolds on death-beds blowing_,
         Lark-heels trim:
     All, dear Nature's children sweet,
     Lie 'fore bride and bridegroom's feet,
         [28:1]_Blessing their sense_:
     Not an _angel of the air_,
     Bird melodious or bird fair,
          Be absent hence!

            .       .       .       .       .

[Sidenote: Dialogue in I. i. has the characteristics of Shakspere's
style: is crowded, obscure, alliterative, clear and yet confus'd, has
fulness and variety, originality and true poetry.]

But the dialogue which follows is strikingly characteristic. It has
sometimes Shakspeare's identical images and words: it has his quaint
force and sententious brevity, crowding thoughts and fancies into the
narrowest space, and submitting to obscurity in preference to feeble
dilation: it has sentiments enunciated with reference to subordinate
relations, which other writers would have expressed with less grasp of
thought: it has even Shakspeare's alliteration, and one or two of his
singularities in conceit: it has clearness in the images taken
separately, and confusion from the prodigality with which one is poured
out after another, in the heat and hurry of imagination: it has both
fulness of illustration, and a variety which is drawn from the most
distant sources; and it has, thrown over all, that air of originality
and that character of poetry, the principle of which is often hid when
their presence and effect are most quickly and instinctively

     _1 Queen._ (_To Theseus._) For pity's sake, and true gentility's,
     Hear and respect me!

     _2 Queen._ (_To Hippolita._) For your mother's sake,
     And as you wish your womb may thrive with fair | ones,
     Hear and respect me!

     _3 Queen._ (_To Emilia._) Now for the love of him whom Jove hath
     The honour of your bed, and for the sake
     Of clear virginity, be advocate
     For us and our distresses! This good deed
     Shall rase you, out of the Book of Trespasses,
     All you are set down there.

These latter lines are of a character which is perfectly and singularly
Shakspeare's. [Sidenote: Shakspere's gravity and seriousness.] The shade
of gravity which so usually darkens his poetry, is often heightened to
the most solemn seriousness. The religious thought presented here is
most alien from Fletcher's turn of thought.--The ensuing speech offers
much of Shakspeare. [Sidenote: Shakspere sometimes harsh and coarse.]
His energy, sometimes confined within [29:1]due limits, often betrays
him into harshness; and his liking for familiarity of imagery and
expression sometimes makes him careless though both should be coarse, a
fault which we find here, and of which Fletcher is not guilty.
[Sidenote: His bold coinages of words:] Here also are more than one of
those bold coinages of words, forced on a mind for whose force of
conception common terms were too weak.

[Sidenote: to _urn_ ashes;]

[Sidenote: to _chapel_ bones.]

     _1 Queen._ We are three queens, whose sovrans fell before
     The wrath of cruel Creon; who endured
     The beaks of ravens, talons of the kites,
     And pecks of crows, in the foul fields of Thebes.
     He will not suffer us to burn their bones,
     To _urn_ their ashes, nor to take the offence
     Of mortal loathesomeness from the blest eye
     Of holy Phœbus, but infects the air
     With stench of our slain lords. Oh, pity, Duke!
     Thou purger[29:2] of the earth! draw thy fear'd sword,
     That does good turns i' the world: give us the bones
     Of our dead kings, that we may _chapel_ them!
     And, of thy boundless goodness, take some note,
     That for our crowned heads we have no roof
     Save this, which is the lion's and the bear's,
     And vault to every thing.

[Sidenote: Shakspere reflective.]

We now begin to trace more and more that reflecting tendency which is so
deeply imprinted on Shakspeare's writings:--

     _Theseus._ .       .       .       .       .
     King Capanëus[29:3] was your lord: the day
     That he should marry you, at such a seas|on
     As it is now with me, I met your groom
     By Mars's altar. You were that time fair;
     Not Juno's mantle fairer than your tress|es,
     Nor in more bounty spread: your wheaten wreath
     Was then nor threshed nor blast|ed |: Fortune, at you,
     Dimpled her cheek with smiles: Hercules our kins|man
     (Then weaker than your eyes) laid by his club,--
     He tumbled down upon his Némean hide,
     [30:1]And swore his sinews thawed. O, Grief and Time,
     Fearful consumers, you will all devour!

     _1 Queen._ Oh, I hope some god,
     Some god hath put his mercy in your man|hood,
     Whereto he'll infuse power, and press you forth,
     Our undertaker!

     _Theseus._      Oh, no knees; none, wid|ow!
     Unto the helmeted Bellona use | them,
     And pray for me, your sol|dier.|--Troubled I am.
                                                  (_Turns away._)

[Sidenote: A Shakspere fancy.]

[Sidenote: A Shakspere simile.]

     _2 Queen._ Honoured Hippolita, ...
                     ... dear _glass of la|dies_!
     Bid him, that we, whom flaming war hath scorch'd,
     Under the shadow of his sword may cool us.
     Require him, he advance it o'er our heads;
     Speak it in a woman's key[30:2], like such a wom|an
     As any of us three: weep ere you fail;
     Lend us a knee;--
     But touch the ground for us no longer time
     _Than a dove's motion when the head's pluckt off_:
     Tell him, if he i' the blood-siz'd field lay swol|len,
     Shewing the sun his teeth, grinning at the moon,
     What you would do!

            .       .       .       .       .

     _Emilia._                  Pray stand up;
     Your grief is written on your cheek.

[Sidenote: Shakspere.]

     _3 Queen._                           Oh, woe!
     You cannot read it there: there,[30:3] through my tears,
     Like wrinkled pebbles in a glassy stream,
     You may behold it. Lady, lady, alack!
     He that will all the treasure know o' the earth,
     Must know the centre too: he that will fish
     For my least minnow, let him lead his line
     To catch one at my heart. Oh, pardon me!
     Extremity, that sharpens sundry wits,
     Makes me a fool.

     _Emilia._        Pray you, say nothing; pray | you!
     Who cannot feel nor see the rain, being in't,
     Knows neither wet nor dry. If that you were
     The ground-piece of some painter, I would buy | you,
     To instruct me 'gainst a capital grief indeed;
     (Such heart-pierced demonstration;) but, alas!
     Being a natural sister of our sex,
     Your sorrow beats so ardently upon | me,
     That it shall make a counter-reflect against
     My brother's heart, and warm it to some pit|y,
     Though it were made of stone: Pray have good com|fort!

[Sidenote: Shakspere simile,]

            .       .       .       .       .

     [31:1]_1 Queen._ (_To Theseus._) ... Remember that your fame
     Knolls in the ear o' the world: what you do quickl|y,
     Is not done rashly; your first thought, is more
     Than others' labour'd meditance; your premed|itating,
     More than their actions: but, (oh, Jove!) your ac|tions,
     Soon as they move, _as ospreys do the fish_,
     Subdue before they touch. Think, dear duke, think
     What beds our slain kings have!

[Sidenote: metaphor.]

     _2 Queen._                      What griefs, our beds,
     That our slain kings have none.

Theseus is moved by their prayers, but, loth to leave the side of his
newly wedded spouse, contents himself with directing his chief captain
to lead the Athenian army against the tyrant. The queens redouble their
entreaties for his personal aid.

[Sidenote: Shakspere personification.]

     _2 Queen._ We come unseasonably; but when could Grief
     Cull out, as _unpang'd Judgment_ can, fitt'st time
     For best solicitation!

     _Theseus._             Why, good la|dies,
     This is a service whereto I am go|ing,
     Greater than any war: it more imports | me
     Than all the actions that I have foregone,
     Or futurely can cope.

[Sidenote: Shakspere metaphor, force.]

     _1 Queen._            The more proclaim|ing
     Our suit shall be neglected. When her arms,
     Able to lock Jove from a synod, shall
     By warranting moonlight _corslet_ thee,--oh, when
     Her twinning cherries shall their sweetness fall
     Upon thy tasteful lips,--what wilt thou think
     Of rotten kings or blubberd queens? what care,
     For what thou feel'st not; what thou feel'st, being a|ble
     To make Mars spurn his drum?--Oh, if thou couch
     But one night with her, every hour in't will
     Take hostage of thee for a hundred, and
     Thou shall remember nothing more than what
     That banquet bids thee to.

            .       .       .       .       .

     _Theseus._                      Pray stand up:
     I am entreating of myself to do
     That which you kneel to have me. Perithous!
     Lead on the bride! Get you, and pray the gods
     For success and return; omit not any thing
     In the pretended celebration. Queens!
     Follow your soldier....
     ... [32:1](_To Hippolita._) Since that our theme is haste,
     I stamp this kiss upon thy currant lip:
     Sweet, keep it as my token!...

[Sidenote: Shakspere metaphor.]

     _1 Queen._ Thus dost thou still make good the tongue o' the world.

     _2 Queen._ And earn'st a deity equal with Mars.

[Sidenote: Shakspere.]

     _3 Queen._ If not above him; for
     Thou, being but mortal, mak'st affections bend
     To godlike honours; _they themselves, some say,
     Groan under such a mas|tery_.|

     _Theseus._                     As we are men,
     Thus should we do: being sensually subdued,
     We lose our human title. Good cheer, la|dies!
     Now turn we towards your comforts.               (_Exeunt._)

[Sidenote: Act I. scene ii.]

The second scene introduces the heroes of the piece, Palamon and Arcite.
They are two youths of the blood-royal of Thebes, who follow the banners
of their sovereign with a sense that obedience is their duty, but under
a sorrowful conviction that his cause is unjust, and their country
rotten at the core. The scene is a dialogue between them, occupied in
lamentations and repinings over the dissolute manners of their native
Thebes. [Sidenote: has the characteristics of Shakspere.] Its broken
versification points out Shakspeare; the quaintness of some conceits is
his; and several of the phrases and images have much of his pointedness,
brevity, or obscurity. The scene, though not lofty in tone, does not
want interest, and contains some extremely original illustrations. But
quotations will be multiplied abundantly before we have done; and their
number must not be increased by the admission of any which are not
either unusually good or very distinctly characteristic of their author.
Some lines of the scene have been already given.

[Sidenote: Act I. scene iii.]

The third scene has the farewell commendations of the young Emilia and
her sister to Perithous, when he sets out to join Theseus, then before
the Theban walls, and a subsequent conversation of the two ladies.
[Sidenote: is probably all Shakspere's.] Much of this scene has
Shakspeare's stamp deeply cut upon it: it is probably all his. [Sidenote:
Act I. scene iii. has the characteristics of Shakspere.] It is
identified, not only by several others of the qualities marking the
first scene, but more particularly by the wealth of its allusion, and
by a closeness, directness, and pertinency of reply which Fletcher's
most spirited dialogues do not reach. It presents more than one
exceed[33:1]ingly beautiful climax; a figure which repeatedly occurs in
the play, and is always used with peculiar energy.

SCENE--_Before the Gates of Athens.--Enter Perithous, Hippolita, and

     _Perithous._ No further.

     _Hippolita._             Sir, farewell. Repeat my wish|es
     To our great lord, of whose success I dare | not
     Make any timorous question; yet I wish | him
     Excess and overflow of power, an't might | be,
     To dure ill-dealing Fortune. Speed to him!
     Store never hurts good governors.

[Sidenote: Shakspere metaphor,]

     _Perithous._                      Though I know
     His ocean needs not my poor drops, yet they
     Must yield their tribute there. (_To Emilia._) My precious maid,
     Those best affections that the heavens infuse
     In their _best-tempered pieces_, keep _enthroned_
     In your dear heart!

     _Emilia._           Thanks, sir! Remember me
     To our all royal brother, for whose speed
     The great Bellona I'll solicit; and,
     Since in our terrene state, petitions are | not,
     Without gifts, understood, I'll offer to | her
     What I shall be advised she likes. Our hearts
     Are in his army, in his tent.

[Sidenote: phrase.]

     _Hippolita._                  In's bos|om!
     We have been soldiers, and we cannot weep
     When our friends don their helms or put to sea,
     Or tell of babes broacht on the lance, or wom|en
     That have sod their infants in (and after eat | them)
     The brine they wept at killing them; then if
     You stay to see of us such spinsters, we
     Should hold you here for ever.

            .       .       .       .       .

     _Emilia._                      How his long|ing
     Follows his friend!...
                         Have you observëd him
     Since our great lord departed?

     _Hippolita._                   With much la|bour,
     And I did love him for't.[33:2]...

[Sidenote: Female friendship: the description has Shakspere's

[34:1]The description of female friendship which follows is familiar to
all lovers of poetry. It is disfigured by one or two strained conceits,
and some obscurities arising partly from errors in the text: but the
beauty of the sketch in many parts is extreme, and its character
distinctly that of Shakspeare, vigorous and even quaint, thoughtful and
sometimes almost metaphysical, instinct with animation, and pregnant
with fancy; offering, in short, little resemblance to the manner of any
poet but Shakspeare, and the most unequivocal opposition to Fletcher's.

     _Emilia._                         Doubtless
     There is a best, and reason has no man|ners
     To say, it is not you. I was acquaint|ed
     Once with a time when I enjoy'd a play|fellow----
     You were at wars when she the grave enrich'd,
     (Who made too proud the bed,) took leave o' the moon,
     Which then look'd pale at parting, when our count
     Was each eleven.

     _Hippolita._     'Twas Flavina.

[Sidenote: Shakspere fancy.]

     _Emilia._                       Yes.
     You talk of Perithous' and Theseus' love:
     Theirs has more ground, is more maturely seas|oned,
     More buckled with strong judgment; and their needs,
     The one of the other, may be said to wat|er
     Their intertangled roots of love.--But I
     And she I sigh and spoke of, were things in|nocent,--
     Loved for we did, and,--like the elements,
     That know not what nor why, yet do effect
     Rare issues by their operance,--our souls
     Did so to one another. What she liked,
     Was then of me approved; what not, condemned.
     No more arraign|ment.| The flower that I would pluck,
     And put between my breasts, (then but begin|ning
     To swell about the blossom,) she would long
     Till she had such another, and commit | it
     To the like innocent cradle, where, phœnix-like,
     They died in perfume; on my head, no toy
     But was her pattern; her affections, (pret|ty,
     Though happily her careless wear,) I fol|low'd
     For my most serious decking.--Had mine ear
     Stolen some new air, or at adventure humm'd
     From musical coinage,--why, it was a note
     Whereon her spirits would sojourn, rather dwell | on,
     And sing it in her slumbers.--This rehears|al
     [34:2](Which, every innocent wots well, comes in
     Like old importment's bastard) has this end,
     That the true love 'tween maid and maid may be
     More than in sex dividual....

[Sidenote: Act I. scene iv. Shakspere's.]

The fourth scene is laid in a battle-field near Thebes, and Theseus
enters victorious. The three queens fall down with thanks before him;
and a herald announces the capture of the Two Noble Kinsmen, wounded and
senseless, and scarcely retaining the semblance of life. [Sidenote: Has
Shakspere's words and quibbles.] The phraseology of this short scene is
like Shakspeare's, being brief and energetic, and in one or two
instances passing into quibbles.

[Sidenote: Act I. scene v. is Shakspere's.]

The last scene of this act is of a lyrical cast, and comprised in a few
lamentations spoken by the widowed queens over the corpses of their dead
lords. It ends with this couplet:

     The world's a city full of straying streets,
     And death's the market-place, where each one meets.

[Sidenote: Act II. not Shakspere's.]

In the Second Act no part seems to have been taken by Shakspeare.
[Sidenote: The prose of II. i. is not from Chaucer,] It commences with
one of those scenes which are introduced into the play in departure from
the narrative of Chaucer, forming an underplot which is clearly the work
of a different artist from many of the leading parts of the drama. The
Noble Kinsmen, cured of their wounds, have been committed to strait and
perpetual prison in Athens, and the first part of this scene is a prose
dialogue between their jailor and a suitor of his daughter. The maiden's
admiration of the prisoners is then exhibited. [Sidenote: and is very
dull: it is not Shakspere's.] You will see afterwards, that there are
several circumstances besides the essential dulness of this prose part,
which fully absolve Shakspeare from the charge of having written it.

[Sidenote: The verse of Act II. scene i.]

The versified portion of this scene, which follows the prose dialogue
among the inferior characters, presents the incident on which the
interest of the story hinges, the commencement of the fatal and
chimerical passion, which, inspiring both the knights towards the young
Emilia, severs the bonds of friendship which had so long held them
together. The noble prisoners are discovered in their turret-chamber,
looking out on the palace-garden, which the lady afterwards enters. They
speak [35:1]in a highly animated strain of that world from which they
are secluded, and find themes of consolation for the hard lot which had
overtaken them. The dialogue is in many respects admirable. [Sidenote:
The verse of Act II. scene i. has the characteristics of Fletcher:
double endings, end-stopt lines, vague images,] It possesses much
eloquence of description, and the character of the language is smooth
and flowing; the versification is good and accurate, frequent in double
endings, and usually finishing the sense with the line; and one or two
allusions occur, which, being favourites of Fletcher's, may be in
themselves a strong presumption of his authorship; the images too have
in some instances a want of distinctness in application or a vagueness
of outline, which could be easily paralleled from Fletcher's
acknowledged writings. [Sidenote: but romantic;] The style is fuller of
allusions than his usually is, but the images are more correct and
better kept from confusion than Shakspeare's; some of them indeed are
exquisite, but rather in the romantic and exclusively poetical tone of
Fletcher, than in the natural and universal mode of feeling which
animates Shakspeare. [Sidenote: slack dialogue.] The dialogue too
proceeds less energetically than Shakspeare's, falling occasionally into
a style of long-drawn disquisition which Fletcher often substitutes for
the quick and dramatic conversations of the great poet. [Sidenote: II.
i. one of the finest scenes that Fletcher ever wrote.] On the whole,
however, this scene, if it be Fletcher's, (of which I have no doubt,) is
among the very finest he ever wrote; and there are many passages in
which, while he preserves his own distinctive marks, he has gathered no
small portion of the flame and inspiration of his immortal friend and
assistant. In the following speeches there are images and phrases, which
are either identically Fletcher's, or closely resemble his, and the
whole cast both of versification and idiom is strictly his:--

[Sidenote: Act II. scene i. Fletcher's.]

     _Palamon._                Oh, cousin Ar|cite!
     Where is Thebes now? where is our noble coun|try?
     Where are our friends and kindreds? Never more
     Must we behold those comforts; never see
     The hardy youths strive in the games of hon|our,
     Hung with the painted favours of their la|dies,
     Like tall ships under sail; then start among | them,
     And as an east wind leave them all behind | us
     Like lazy clouds, while Palamon and Ar|cite,
     Even in the wagging of a wanton leg,
     Outstript the people's praises, won the gar|lands,
     [37:1]Ere they have time to wish them ours. Oh, nev|er
     Shall we two exercise, like twins of hon|our,
     Our arms again, and feel our fiery hors|es
     Like proud seas under us! our good swords now,
     (Better the red-eyed god of war ne'er wore,)
     Ravish'd our sides, like age must run to rust,
     And deck the temples of the gods that hate | us:
     These hands shall never draw them out like light|ning
     To blast whole armies more.

[Sidenote: Picture fully wrought out.]

[Sidenote: Romantic, pathetic sketch.]

     _Arcite._ ...
     The sweet embraces of a loving wife,
     Loaden with kisses, arm'd with thousand cu|pids,
     Shall never clasp our necks: no issue know | us;
     No figures of ourselves shall we e'er see,
     To glad our age, and like young eagles teach | them
     Boldly to gaze against bright arms, and say,
     "Remember what your fathers were, and con|quer."
     --The fair-eyed maids shall weep our banishments,
     And in their songs curse ever-blinded For|tune,
     Till she for shame see what a wrong she has done
     To youth and Nature.--This is all our world:
     We shall know nothing here but one anoth|er,--
     Hear nothing but the clock that tells our woes;
     The vine shall grow, but we shall never see | it:
     Summer shall come, and with her all delights,
     But dead-cold winter must inhabit here | still!

     _Palamon._ 'Tis too true, Arcite! To our Theban hounds,
     That shook the aged forest with their ech|oes,
     No more now must we halloo; no more shake
     Our pointed javelins, whilst the angry swine
     Flies like a Parthian[37:2] quiver from our rag|es,
     Struck with our well-steel'd darts....

In this scene there is one train of metaphors which is perhaps as
characteristic of Fletcher as any thing that could be produced.
[Sidenote: Lines from II. i. on page 38, of slow orderly development of
ideas, markt by Fletcher's characteristics.] It is marked by a slowness
of association which he often shews. Several allusions are successively
introduced; but by each, as it appears, we are prepared for and can
anticipate the next; we see the connection of ideas in the poet's mind
through which the one has sprung out of the other, and that all are but
branches, of which one original thought is the root. [Sidenote: No leap
to the end, and off with a fresh bound, like Shakspere.] All this is the
work of [37:3]a less fertile fancy and a more tardy understanding than
Shakspeare's: he would have leaped over many of the intervening steps,
and, reaching at once the most remote particular of the series, would
have immediately turned away to weave some new chain of thought:--

[Sidenote: All workt out thro' every step.]

     _Arcite._                ... What worthy bless|ing
     Can be, but our imaginatiöns
     May make it ours? and here, being thus togeth|er,
     We are an endless mine to one anoth|er:
     We are one another's wife, ever beget|ting
     New births of love; we are fathers, friends, acquaint|ance;
     We are, in one another, families;
     I am your heir and you are mine; this place
     Is our inheritance; no hard oppress|or
     Dare take this from us....

But the contentment of the prison is to be interrupted. The fair Emilia
appears beneath, walking in the garden "full of branches green,"
skirting the wall of the tower in which the princes are confined. She
converses with her attendant, and Palamon from the dungeon-grating
beholds her as she gathers the flowers of spring. He ceases to reply to
Arcite, and stands absorbed in silent ecstasy.

     _Arcite._ Cousin! How do you, sir? Why, Palamon!

     _Palamon._ Never till now I was in prison, Ar|cite.

     _Arcite._ Why, what's the matter, man?

     _Palamon._                             Behold and won|der:
     By heaven, she is a goddess;

     _Arcite._                    Ha!

     _Palamon._                       Do rev|erence;
     She is a goddess, Arcite!

The beauty of the maiden impresses Arcite no less violently than it
previously had his kinsman; and he challenges with great heat a right to
love her. [Sidenote: The sharp and spirited quarrel between the Kinsmen,
not Shakspere's.] An animated and acrimonious dialogue ensues, in which
Palamon reproachfully pleads his prior admiration of the lady, and
insists on his cousin's obligation to become his abettor instead of his
rival. It is spirited even to excess; and probably Shakspeare would have
tempered, or abstained from treating so sudden and perhaps unnatural an
access of anger and jealousy, and so utter an abandonment to [38:1]its
vehemence, as that under which the fiery Palamon is here represented as

[Sidenote: Act II. scene i. Fletcher's.]

     _Palamon._                      If thou lovest her,
     Or entertain'st a hope to blast my wish|es,
     Thou art a traitor, Arcite, and a fel|low
     False as thy title to her. Friendship, blood,
     And all the ties between us, I disclaim,
     If thou once think upon her!

     _Arcite._                    Yes, I love | her!
     And, if the lives of all my name lay on | it,
     I must do so. I love her with my soul;
     If that will lose thee, Palamon, farewell!
     I say again I love, and, loving her
     I am as worthy and as free a lov|er,
     And have as just a title to her beau|ty,
     As any Palamon, or any liv|ing
     That is a man's son!

     _Palamon._           Have I call'd thee friend!

            .       .       .       .       .

     _Palamon._ Put but thy head out of this window more,
     And, as I have a soul, I'll nail thy life to't!

     _Arcite._ Thou dar'st not, fool: thou canst not: thou art fee|ble:
     Put my head out? I'll throw my body out,
     And leap the garden, when I see her next,
     And pitch between her arms to anger thee.

[Sidenote: Fletcher has left out Chaucer's making the Knights 'sworn

In transferring his story from Chaucer, the poet has here been guilty of
an oversight. The old poet fixes a character of positive guilt on
Arcite's prosecution of his passion, by relating a previous agreement
between the two cousins, by which either, engaging in any adventure
whether of love or war, had an express right to the co-operation of the
other. Hence Arcite's interference with his cousin's claim becomes, with
Chaucer, a direct infringement of a knightly compact; while in the
drama, no deeper blame attaches to it, than as a violation of the more
fragile rules imposed by the generous spirit of friendship.

In the midst of the angry conference, Arcite is called to the Duke to
receive his freedom; and Palamon is placed in stricter confinement, and
removed from the quarter of the tower overlooking the garden.

[Sidenote: Act II. scene ii. (Weber, sc. iii. Littledale) is

In the second scene of this act, Arcite, wandering in the
[39:1]neighbourhood of Athens, soliloquizes on the decree which had
banished him from the Athenian territory; and, falling in with a band of
country people on their way to games in the city, conceives the notion
of joining in the celebration under some poor disguise, in the hope of
finding means to remain within sight of his fancifully beloved mistress.
[Sidenote: Act II. scene ii. iii. (Weber, sc. iii. iv. Littledale),]
Neither this scene, nor the following, in which the jailor's daughter
meditates on the perfections of Palamon, and intimates an intention of
assisting him to escape, have any thing in them worthy of particular

[Sidenote: Act II. scene iv. (Weber, sc. v. Littledale),]

In the fourth scene, Arcite, victorious in the athletic games, is
crowned by the Duke, and preferred to the service of Emilia.

[Sidenote: Act II. scene v. (Weber, sc. vi. Littledale), are all

In the last scene of the second act, the jailor's daughter announces
that she has effected Palamon's deliverance from prison, and that he
lies hidden in a wood near the city, the scenery of which is prettily

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: Act III. scene i. is Shakspere's.]

Nothing in the Third Act can with confidence be attributed to
Shakspeare, except the first scene. This opening scene is laid in the
wood where Palamon has his hiding-place. Arcite enters; and a monologue,
describing his situation and feelings, is, as in Chaucer, overheard by
Palamon, who starts out of the bush in which he had crouched, and shakes
his fettered hands at his false kinsman. [Sidenote: Arcite's first
speech has Shakspere's clear images, and familiar dress, nervous
expression, &c.] A dialogue of mutual reproach ensues; and Arcite
departs with a promise to return, bringing food for the outcast, and
armour to fit him for maintaining, like a knight, his right to the
lady's love. The commencing speech of Arcite has much of Shakspeare's
clearness of imagery, and of the familiarity of dress which he often
loves to bestow upon allusion; it has also great nerve of expression and
calmness of tone, with at least one play on words which is quite in his
manner, and one (perhaps more) of his identical phrases. The text seems
faulty in one part.

[Sidenote: Act III. sc. i. is Shakspere's.]

[Sidenote: Shaksperean phrases.]

[Sidenote: Shakspere phrase.]

     _Arcite._ The Duke has lost Hippolita: each took
     A several laund. This is a solemn rite
     They owe bloom'd May, and the Athenians pay|it
     _To the heart of ceremony_. Oh, queen Emil|ia!
     Fresher than May, sweeter
     Than her _gold buttons_ on the boughs, or all
     [40:1]The enamell'd knacks o' the mead or garden! Yea,
     We challenge too the bank of any nymph,
     That makes the stream seem flowers!--Thou,--oh jew|el
     _O' the wood, o' the world_,--hast likewise blest a place
     With thy sole presence. In thy rumina|tion
     That I, poor man, might eftsoons come between,
     And chop on some cold thought!--Thrice blessed chance,
     To drop on such a mistress! Expecta|tion
     Most guiltless of | it.| Tell me, oh lady For|tune,
     (Next after Emily my sovran,) how far
     I may be proud. She takes strong note of me,
     Hath made me near her, and this beauteous morn,
     (The primest of all the year,) presents me with
     A brace of horses; two such steeds might well
     Be by a pair of kings back'd, in a field
     That their crowns' titles tried. Alas, alas!
     Poor cousin Palamon, poor prisoner!...
                                     ... If
     Thou knew'st my mistress breathed on me, and that
     I _cared_ her language, lived in her eye, oh coz,
     What passion would enclose thee!

There is great spirit, also, in what follows. Some phrases, here again,
are precisely Shakspeare's; and several parts of the dialogue have much
of his pointed epigrammatic style. The massive accumulation of
reproaches which Palamon hurls on Arcite is, in its energy, more like
him than his assistant; and the opposition of character between Palamon
and his calmer kinsman, is well kept up; but the dialogue cannot be
accounted one of the best in the play.

[Sidenote: Shaksperean string of epithets.]

     _Palamon._           ... Oh, thou most perfid|ious
     That ever gently look'd! The void'st of hon|our
     That e'er bore gentle token! Falsest cous|in
     That ever blood made kin! call'st thou her thine?
     I'll prove it in my shackles, in these hands
     Void of appointment, that thou liest, and art
     A very thief in love, a chaffy lord,
     Not worth the name of villain!--Had I a sword,
     And these house-clogs away!

[Sidenote: Shaksperean word-play.]

     _Arcite._                   _Dear cousin Pal|amon!_

     _Palamon._ _Cozener Arcite!_ give me language such
     As thou hast shewed me feat.

     _Arcite._                    Not finding in
     [41:1]The circuit of my breast, any gross stuff
     To form me like your _blazon_, holds me to
     This gentleness of answer. 'Tis your pas|sion
     That thus mistakes; the which, to you being en|emy,
     Cannot to me be kind....

[Sidenote: Act III. scene ii.]

In the second scene, the only speaker is the jailor's daughter, who,
having lost Palamon in the wood, begins to shew symptoms of unsettled
reason. There is some pathos in several parts of her soliloquy, but
little vigour in the expression, or novelty in the thoughts.

[Sidenote: Act III. scene iii.]

The third scene is an exchange of brief speeches between the two
knights. Arcite brings provisions for his kinsman, and the means of
removing his fetters, and departs to fetch the armour. [Sidenote: is
probably Fletcher's, and not Shakspere's.] In most respects the scene is
not very characteristic of either writer, but leans towards Fletcher;
and one argument for him might be drawn from an interchange of sarcasms
between the kinsmen, in which they retort on each other, former amorous
adventures: such a dialogue is quite like Fletcher's men of gaiety; and
needless degradation of his principal characters, is a fault of which
Shakspeare is not guilty. You may be able, hereafter, to see more
distinctly the force of this reason. The scene contains one strikingly
animated burst of jealous suspicion and impatience.

     _Arcite._ Pray you sit down then; and let me entreat | you,
     By all the honesty and honour in | you,
     No mention of this woman; 'twill disturb | us;
     We shall have time enough.

     _Palamon._                 Well, sir, I'll pledge | you.

            .       .       .       .       .

     _Arcite._ Heigh-ho!

     _Palamon._          For Emily, upon my life!--Fool,
     Away with this strained mirth!--I say again,
     That sigh was breathed for Emily. Base cous|in,
     Darest thou break first?

     _Arcite._                You are wide.

     _Palamon._                             By heaven and earth,
     There's nothing in thee honest!...

[Sidenote: Act III. scenes iv. v.]

In the next two scenes, placed in the forest, the jailor's daughter has
reached the height of frenzy. [Sidenote: Gerrold has no spark of
humour.] She meets the country[42:1]men who had encountered Arcite, and
who are now headed by the learned and high-fantastical schoolmaster
Gerrold, a personage who has the pedantry of Shakspeare's Holofernes,
without one solitary spark of his humour. They are preparing a dance for
the presence of the duke, and the maniac is adopted into their number,
to fill up a vacancy. The duke and his train appear,--the pedagogue
prologuizes,--the clowns dance,--and their self-satisfied Coryphaeus
apologizes and epiloguizes. [Sidenote: Act III. scene iv. v.
Fletcher's.] Some of Fletcher's very phrases and forms of expression
have been traced in these two scenes.

[Sidenote: Act III. scene vi.]

We have then, in the sixth and last scene of this act, the interrupted
combat of the two princes. [Sidenote: Fletcher's, not Shakspere's.] The
scene is a spirited and excellent one; but its tone is Fletcher's, not
Shakspeare's. [Sidenote: Has not Shakspere's grasp of imagery.] The
raillery and retort of the dialogue is more lightly playful than his,
and less antithetical and sententious; and though there are fine images,
they are not seized with the grasp which Shakspeare would have given,
sometimes harsh, but always at least decided. Some of the illustrations
have been quoted (page 17). The knightly courtesy with which the princes
arm each other is well supported; and their dignity of greeting before
they cross their swords, is fine, exceedingly fine. Nothing can be more
beautifully conceived than the change which comes over the temper of the
generous Palamon, when he stands on the verge of mortal battle with his
enemy. [Sidenote: Fletcher's sweet versification and romantic
phraseology.] His usual heat and impatience give place to the most
becoming calmness. The versification is very sweet, and the romantic air
of the phraseology is very much Fletcher's, especially towards the end
of the following quotation.

     _Palamon._          My cause and honour guard | me.

(_They bow several ways, then advance and stand._)

     _Arcite._ And me my love; Is there aught else to say?

     _Palamon._ This only, and no more: Thou art mine aunt's | son,
     And that blood we desire to shed is mu|tual;
     In me, thine; and in thee, mine. My sword
     Is in my hand, and, if thou killest me,
     The gods and I forgive thee! If there be
     A place prepared for those that sleep in hon|our,
     I wish his weary soul that falls may win | it!
     Fight bravely, cous|in;| give me thy noble hand!

     _Arcite._ Here, Palamon; this hand shall never more
     [43:1]Come near thee with such friendship.

     _Palamon._                                 I commend | thee.

     _Arcite._ If I fall, curse me, and say I was a cow|ard;
     For none but such dare die in these just tri|als.
     Once more farewell, my cousin.

     _Palamon._                     Farewell, Ar|cite.
                                                  (_They fight._)

[Sidenote: Act III. scene vi.]

The combat is interrupted by the approach of the Duke and his court;
and Palamon, refusing to give back or conceal himself, appears before
Theseus, and declares his own name and situation, and the presumptuous
secret of Arcite. [Sidenote: is in Fletcher's style.] The scene is good,
but in the flowing style of Fletcher, not the more manly one of
Shakspeare. [Sidenote: Death-penalty for the losing knight, a good
addition to Chaucer.] The sentence of death, which the duke, in the
first moments of his anger, pronounces on the two princes, is recalled
on the petition of Hippolita and her sister, on condition that the
rivals shall meantime depart, and return within a month, each
accompanied by three knights, to determine in combat the possession of
Emilia; and death by the block is denounced against the knights who
shall be vanquished. Some of these circumstances are slight deviations
from Chaucer; and the laying down of the severe penalty is well
imagined, as an addition to the tragic interest, giving occasion to a
very impressive scene in the last act.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: Act IV. all Fletcher's.]

The Fourth Act may safely be pronounced wholly Fletcher's. [Sidenote:
Wants all the leading features of Shakspere's style.] All of it, except
one scene, is taken up by the episodical adventures of the jailor's
daughter; and, while much of it is poetical, it wants the force and
originality, and, indeed, all the prominent features of Shakspeare's
manner, either of thought, illustration, or expression. There are
conversations in which are described, pleasingly enough, the madness of
the unfortunate girl, and the finding of her in a sylvan spot, by her
former wooer; but when the maniac herself appears, the tone and subjects
of the dialogue become more objectionable.

[Sidenote: Act IV. scene ii.]

In the second scene of this act, the only one which bears reference to
the main business of the piece, Emilia first muses over the pictures of
her two suitors, and then hears from a messenger, in presence of Theseus
and his attendants, a description, (taken in [44:1]its elements from the
Knightes Tale,) of the warriors who were preparing for the field along
with the champion lovers. [Sidenote: Emilia's soliloquy on the pictures,
not Shakspere's.] In the soliloquy of the lady, while the poetical
spirit is well preserved, the alternations of feeling are given with an
abruptness and a want of insight into the nicer shades of association,
which resemble the extravagant stage effects of the 'King and No King,'
infinitely more than the delicate yet piercing glance with which
Shakspeare looks into the human breast in the 'Othello'; the language,
too, is smoother and less powerful than Shakspeare's, and one or two
classical allusions are a little too correct and studied for him.
[Sidenote: Act IV. scene ii. Fletcher's.] One image occurs, not the
clearest or most chastened, in which Fletcher closely repeats himself:--

[Sidenote: His description of Arcite, paralleld in his _Philaster_.]

                        What a brow,
     Of what a spacious majesty, he car|ries!
     Arched like the great-eyed Juno's, but far sweet|er,--
     Smoother than Pelop's shoulder. Fame and Hon|our,
     Methinks, from hence, as from a promontor|y
     Pointed in Heaven, should clap their wings, and sing
     To all the under-world, the loves and fights
     Of gods and such men near them.[45:1]

[Sidenote: Act V. is Shakspere's,]

In the Fifth Act we again feel the presence of the Master of the Spell.
Several passages in this portion are marked by as striking tokens of his
art as anything which we read in 'Macbeth' or 'Coriolanus.' The whole
act, a very long one, may be boldly attributed to him, with the
exception of one episodical scene.

[Sidenote: except scene iv. (Weber: sc. ii. Littledale).]

The time has arrived for the combat. Three temples are exhibited, as in
Chaucer, in which the rival Knights, and the [45:2]Lady of their Vows,
respectively pay their adorations. One principal aim of their
supplications is to learn the result of the coming contest; but the
suspense is kept up by each of the Knights receiving a favourable
response, and Emilia a doubtful one. [Sidenote: Act V. sc. ii.[45:3] (i.
L.) is lower in key.] [Sidenote: Act V. sc. i. iii. (Weber: both i.
Littledale) are Shakspere's all through.] Three scenes are thus
occupied, the second of which is in somewhat a lower key than the other
two; but even in it there is much beauty; and in the first and third the
tense dignity and pointedness of the language, the gorgeousness and
overflow of illustration, and the reach, the mingled familiarity and
elevation of thought, are admirable, inimitable, and decisive. From
these exquisite scenes there is a temptation to quote too largely.

[Sidenote: Act V. scene i.]

In the first scene, Theseus ushers the Kinsmen and their Knights into
the Temple of Mars, and leaves them there. After a short and solemn
greeting, the Kinsmen embrace for the last time, Palamon and his friends
retire, and Arcite and his remain and offer up their devotions to the
deity of the place. [Sidenote: Spirit and Language Shakspere's.] A fine
seriousness of spirit breathes through the whole scene, and the language
is alive with the most magnificent and delicate allusion. In Arcite's
prayer the tone cannot be mistaken. [Sidenote: His reflection on Fortune
and strife.] The enumeration of the god's attributes is coloured by all
that energetic depth of feeling with which Shakspeare in his historical
dramas so often turns aside to meditate on the changes of human fortune
and the horrors of human enmity.[46:1]

            .       .       .       .       .

     _Theseus._ You valiant and strong-hearted enemies,
     You royal germane foes, that this day come
     To blow the nearness out that flames between | ye,--
     Lay by your anger for an hour, and dove|-like,
     Before the holy altars of your Help|ers
     (The all-feard Gods) bow down your stubborn bod|ies!
     Your ire is more than mortal: so your help | be!

            .       .       .       .       .

[Sidenote: Shakspere phrases.]

     _Arcite._                        ... Hoist | we
     Those sails that must these vessels port even where
     The Heavenly Limiter pleases!

            .       .       .       .       .

     [46:2]Knights, kinsmen, lovers, yea, my sacrifi|ces!
     True worshippers of Mars, whose spirit in you
     Expels the seeds of fear, and the apprehen|sion
     Which still is father of it,--go with me
     Before the god of our profession. There
     Require of him the hearts of lions, and
     _The breath of tigers, yea the fierceness too,
     Yea the speed also!_ to go on I mean,
     Else wish we to be snails. You know my prize
     Must be draggd out of blood: Force and great Feat
     Must put my garland on, where she will stick
     The queen of flowers; our intercession then
     Must be to him that makes the camp _a ces|tron
     Brimmd with the blood of men_: give me your aid,
     And bend your spirits towards him!

(_They fall prostrate before the statue._)

[Sidenote: Shakspere's own work,]

     Thou mighty one! that with thy power has turn'd
     Green Neptune into purple,--whose approach
     Comets prewarn,--_whose havock in vast field
     Unearthèd skulls proclaim_,--whose breath blows down
     The teeming Ceres' foyson,--who dost pluck
     _With hand armipotent from forth blue clouds_
     The masoned turrets,--that both mak'st and break'st
     The stony girths of cities;--me, thy pup|il,
     Young'st follower of thy drum, instruct this day
     With military skill, that to thy laud
     I may advance my streamer, and by thee
     Be styled the lord o' the day: Give me, great Mars,
     Some token of thy pleasure!

(_Here there is heard clanging of armour, with a short thunder, as the
  burst of a battle; whereupon they all rise and bow to the altar._)

[Sidenote: Shakspere again.]

     Oh, great Corrector of enormous times!
     _Shaker of o'er rank states!_ Thou grand Decid|er
     Of dusty and old ti|tles;|--_that heal'st with blood
     The earth when it is sick_, and cur'st the world
     O' the pleurisy of people! I do take
     Thy signs auspiciously, and in thy name
     To my design march boldly. Let us go!            (_Exeunt._)

[Sidenote: Palamon's prayer in V. ii (i. L.) not equal to V. i. or iii.
(i. L.), but is yet clearly Shakspere's.]

The passionate and sensitive Palamon has chosen the Queen of Love as his
Patroness, and it is in her Temple that, in the [47:1]second scene, he
puts up his prayers. This scene is not equal to the first or third,
having the poetical features less prominently brought out, while the
tone of thought is less highly pitched, and also less consistently
sustained. But it is distinctly Shakspeare's. The rugged versification
is his, and the force of language. [Sidenote: Even the incompetent old
husband bit is his.] One unpleasing sketch of the deformity of decrepit
old age, which need not be quoted, is largely impressed with his air of
truth, and some personifications already noticed are also in his manner.

[Sidenote: Act V. scene ii. (Weber; i. Littledale) is Shakspere's.]

[Sidenote: A Shakspere touch.]

     _Palamon._ Our stars must glister with new fire, or be
     To-day extinct: our argument is love!

            .       .       .       .       .     (_They kneel._)

     Hail, sovereign Queen of Secrets! who hast pow|er
     To call the fiercest tyrant from his rage
     To weep unto a girl!--that hast the might
     Even with an eye-glance to choke Mars's drum,
     And turn the alarm to whis|pers!|...
                                      What gold-like pow|er
     Hast thou not power upon? To Phœbus thou
     Add'st flames hotter than his: the heavenly fires
     Did scorch his mortal son, thou him: The Hunt|ress
     All moist and cold, some say, began to throw
     Her bow away and sigh. Take to thy grace
     Me thy vowd soldier,--who do bear thy yoke
     As 'twere a wreath of roses, yet is heav|ier
     Than lead itself, stings more than net|tles:--
     I have never been foul-mouthed against thy law;
                             ... I have been harsh
     To large confessors, and have hotly askt | them
     If they had mothers: _I_ had one,--a wom|an,
     And women 'twere they wronged....
                                       Brief,--I am
     To those that prate and have done,--no compan|ion;
     To those that boast and have not,--a defi|er;
     To those that would and cannot,--a rejoi|cer!
     Yea, him I do not love, that tells close offices
     The foulest way, nor names concealments in
     The boldest language: Such a one I am,
     And vow that _lover never yet made sigh
     Truer than I_....

(_Music is heard, and doves are seen to flutter: they fall upon their

                         [48:1]I give thee thanks
     For this fair token!...

[Sidenote: Emilia's Prayer is surely Shakspere's.]

Emilia's Prayer in the Sanctuary of the pure Diana, forming the third
scene, is in some parts most nervous, and the opening is inexpressibly
beautiful in language and rhythm. Several ideas and idioms are
identically Shakspeare's.

[Sidenote: Act V. scene iii. (Weber; i. Littledale) Shakspere's]

     _Emilia._ (_Kneeling before the altar._) Oh, sacred, shadowy, cold,
         and constant Queen!
     _Abandoner of revels!_ mute, contemplative,
     Sweet, solitary, white as chaste, and pure
     As wind-fanned snow!--who to thy _female knights_
     Allow'st no more blood than will make a blush,
     Which is there order's robe!--I here, thy priest,
     Am humbled 'fore thine altar. Oh, vouchsafe,
     With that thy rare _green eye_,[49:1] which never yet
     Beheld thing maculate, look on thy virg|in!
     And,--sacred silver Mistress!--lend thine ear,
     (Which ne'er heard scurril term, into whose port
     Ne'er entered wanton sound,) to my petit|ion
     Seasoned with holy fear!--This is my last
     Of vestal office: [49:2]I'm bride-habited,
     But maiden-heart|ed.| A husband I have, appoint|ed,
     But do not know him; out of two I should
     Chuse one, and pray for his success, but I
     Am guiltless of election of mine eyes.[49:2]

            .       .       .       .       .

(_A rose-tree ascends from under the altar, having one rose upon it._)

     See what our general of ebbs and flows
     Out from the bowels of her holy al|tar
     With sacred act advances! But one rose?
     If well inspired, this battle shall confound
     Both these brave knights, and I a virgin flow|er
     Must grow alone unplucked.

(_Here is heard a sudden twang of instruments, and the rose falls from
  the tree._)

     [49:3]The flower is fallen, the tree descends!--oh, mis|tress,
     Thou here dischargest me: I shall be gath|ered,
     I think so; but I know not thine own will;
     Unclasp thy mystery!--I hope she's pleased;
     Her signs were gracious.      (_Exeunt._)

[Sidenote: Act V. scene iv. (Weber; ii. Littledale) is stuff.]

The fourth scene, in which the characters are the jailor's daughter, her
father and lover, and a physician, is disgusting and imbecile in the
extreme. It may be dismissed with a single quotation:

     _Doctor._ What stuff she utters!

[Sidenote: Act V. scene v. (Weber; iii. Littledale). Its strangeness.]

The fifth scene is the Combat, the arrangement of which is unusual.
Perhaps there is nothing in every respect resembling it in the circle of
the English drama. Theseus and his court cross the stage as proceeding
to the lists; Emilia pauses and refuses to be present; the rest depart,
and she is left. She then, the prize of the struggle, the presiding
influence of the day, alone occupies the stage: within, the trumpets are
heard sounding the charge, and the cries of the spectators and tumult of
the encounter reach her ears; one or two messengers recount to her the
various changes of the field, till Arcite's victory ends the fight. The
manner is admirable in which the caution, which rendered it advisable to
avoid introducing the combat on the stage, is reconciled with the pomp
of scenic effect and bustle. [Sidenote: Shakspere's hand is in it.] The
details of the scene, with which alone we have here to do, make it clear
that Shakspeare's hand was in it. The greater part, it is true, is not
of the highest excellence; but the vacillations of Emilia's feelings are
well and delicately given, some individual thoughts and words mark
Shakspeare, there is a little of his obscure brevity, much of his
thoughtfulness legitimately applied, and an instance or two of its
abuse. The strong likeness to him will justify some quotations.

In the following lines Theseus is pleading with Emilia for her presence
in the lists:--

[Sidenote: Shakspere.]

     _Theseus._                 You must be there:
     This trial is as 'twere in the night, and you
     The only star to shine.

[Sidenote: Shakspere.]

     [50:1]_Emilia._         I am extinct.
     There is but envy in that light, which shews
     The one the other. Darkness, which ever was
     The dam of Horror, who does stand accursed
     Of many mortal millions, may even now,
     By casting her black mantle over both
     That neither could find other, get herself
     Some part of a good name, and many a mur|der
     Set off whereto she's guilty.[50:2]

            .       .       .       .       .

One good description is put into the mouth of Emilia after she is left

[Sidenote: Act V. scene v. (Weber; or sc. iii. Littledale). Shakspere's
hand in it.]

[Sidenote: Shakspere.]

     _Emilia._ Arcite is gently visaged; yet his eye
     Is like an engine bent, or a sharp weap|on
     In a soft sheath: Mercy and manly Cour|age
     Are bedfellows in his visage. Palamon
     Has a most menacing aspect: his brow
     Is graved, and seems to bury what it frowns | on;
     Yet sometimes 'tis not so, but alters to
     The quality of his thoughts: long time his eye
     Will dwell upon his object: melanchol|y
     Becomes him nobly; so does Arcite's mirth:
     But Palamon's sadness is a kind of mirth,
     So mingled, as if mirth did make him sad,
     And sadness mer|ry:| those darker humours that
     Stick unbecomingly on oth|ers,| on him
     Live in fair dwelling.

After several alternations of fortune in the fight, she again speaks
thus of the two:

                 ... [51:1]Were they metamor|phosed
     Both into one--oh why? there were no wom|an
     Worth so composed a man! their single share,
     Their nobleness peculiar to them, gives
     The prejudice of dispar|ity,| value's shortness,
     To any lady breathing....

(_Cornets: a great shout, and cry_, Arcite, victory!)

     [51:2]_Servant._          The cry is
     Arcite and victory! Hark, Arcite, vic|tory!
     The combat's consummation is proclaimed
     By the wind instruments.

[Sidenote: Shakspere touch.]

[Sidenote: Shakspere reflection.]

     _Emilia._                Half-sights saw
     That Arcite was no babe: god's-lid! _his rich|ness_
     _And costliness of spirit looked through |him_: | it could
     No more be hid in him than fire in flax,
     Than humble banks can go to law with wa|ters
     That drift winds force to raging. I did think
     Good Palamon would miscarry; yet I knew | not
     Why I did think | so.| _Our Reasons are net proph|ets
     When oft our Fancies are._ They're coming off:
     Alas, poor Palamon!

Theseus enters with his attendants, conducting Arcite, as conqueror, and
presents him to Emilia as her husband. Arcite's situation is a painful
one, and is well discriminated: he utters but a single grave sentence.

     _Theseus._ (_To Arcite and Emilia._) Give me your hands:
     Receive you her, you him: be plighted with
     A love that grows as you decay!

     _Arcite._                       Emily!
     To buy you I have lost what's dearest to | me,
     Save what is bought; and yet I purchase cheap|ly,
     As I do rate your value.

            .       .       .       .       .

[Sidenote: Shakspere touch.]

     _Theseus._ (_To Arcite._)      Wear the gar|land
     With joy that you have won. For the subdued,--
     Give them our present justice, _since I know
     Their lives but pinch them_. Let it here be done.
     The sight's not for our seeing: go we hence
     Right joyful, with some sorrow!--Arm your prize:
     I know you will not lose | her.| Hippolita,
     I see one eye of yours conceives a tear,
     The which it will deliv|er.|

     _Emilia._                    Is this, winning?
     Oh, all you heavenly powers! where is your mer|cy?
     But that your wills have said it must be so,
     And charge me live to comfort this unfriend|ed,
     This miserable prince, that cuts away
     A life more worthy from him than all wom|en,
     I should and would die too.

     [52:1]_Hippolita._          Infinite pity,
     That four such eyes should be so fixed on one,
     That two must needs be blind for't.              (_Exeunt._)

[Sidenote: Act V. scene vi. (Weber; sc. iv. Littledale) is clearly

The authorship of the last scene admits of no doubt. The manner is
Shakspeare's, and some parts are little inferior to his very finest
passages. Palamon has been vanquished, and he and his friends are to
undergo execution of the sentence to which the laws of the combat
subjected them. The depth of the interest is now fixed on these
unfortunate knights, and a fine spirit of resigned melancholy inspires
the scene in which they pass to their deaths.[52:2]

(_Enter Palamon and his knights, pinioned; jailor, executioner, and

     _Palamon._ There's many a man alive that hath outlived
     The love of the people; yea, in the self-same state
     [53:1]Stands many a father with his child; some com|fort
     We have by so considering. We expire,--
     And not without men's pity;--to live still,
     Have their good wishes. We prevent
     [53:2]The loathsome misery of age, beguile
     The gout and rheum, that in lag hours attend
     For grey approachers. We come towards the gods
     Young and unwarped, not halting under crimes
     Many and stale; that sure shall please the gods
     [53:3]Sooner than such, to give us nectar with | them,--
     For we are more clear spir|its!|...

     _2 Knight._                         Let us bid farewell;
     And with our patience anger tottering for|tune,
     Who at her certain'st reels.

     _3 Knight._                  Come, who begins?

     _Palamon._ Even he that led you to this banquet shall
     Taste to you all....

            .       .       .       .       .

     Adieu, and let my life be now as short
     As my leave-taking.                   (_Lies on the block._)

If we were in a situation to give due effect to the supernatural part of
the story, the miserable end of Palamon would affect us with a mingled
sense of pity and indignation. He has been promised success by the
divinity whom he adored, and yet he lies vanquished with the uplifted
axe glittering above his head. Both the drama and Chaucer's poem assume
the existence of such feelings on our part, and hasten to remove the
cause of them. [Sidenote: Chaucer's celestial agency to work out the
plot.] A way is devised for reconciling the contending oracles; and the
catastrophe which effects that end, is, in the old poet, anxiously
prepared by celestial agency.[53:4] Arcite has got the victory in the
field, as his warlike divinity had promised him; and an evil spirit is
raised for the purpose of bringing about his death, that the votary of
the Queen of Love may be allowed to enjoy the gentler meed which his
protectress had pledged herself to bestow. These supernal intrigues are,
in the play, no more than hinted at in the way of metaphor.

A cry is heard for delay of the execution; Perithous rushes in, ascends
the scaffold, and, raising Palamon from the block, announces the
approaching death of Arcite, with nearly the same circumstances as in
the poem. While he rode townwards from the lists, on a black steed which
had been the gift of Emily, he had been thrown with violence, and now
lies on the brink of dissolution. [Sidenote: Description of Arcite's
mishap is bad, but Shakspere's.] The speech which describes Arcite's
misadven[54:1]ture has been much noticed by the critics, and by some
lavishly praised. With deference, I think it decidedly bad, but
undeniably the work of Shakspeare. [Sidenote: Over-labourd, involvd,
hard, yet Shakspere's, with his words and thoughts.] The whole manner of
it is that of some of his long and over-laboured descriptions. It is
full of illustration, infelicitous but not weak; in involvement of
sentence and hardness of phrase no passage in the play comes so close to
him; and there are traceable in one or two instances, not only his
words, but the trains of thought in which he indulges elsewhere,
especially the description of the horse, which closely resembles some
spirited passages in the Venus and Adonis. It is needless to quote any
part of this speech.

[Sidenote: End of the _Two Noble Kinsmen_.]

The after-part of this scene, which ends the play, contains some
forcible and lofty reflection, and the language is exceedingly vigorous
and weighty. In Chaucer, the feelings of the dying Arcite are expressed
at much length, and very touchingly; in the play, they are dispatched
shortly, and the attention continued on Palamon, who had been its
previous object:--

(_Enter Theseus, Hippolita, Emilia, Arcite in a chair._)

     _Palamon._ Oh, miserable end of our alli|ance!
     The gods are mighty!--Arcite, if thy heart,
     Thy worthy, manly heart, be yet unbro|ken,
     Give me thy last words. I am Palamon,
     One that yet loves thee dying.

     _Arcite._                      Take Emil|ia,
     And with her all the world's joy. Reach thy hand:
     Farewell! I've told my last hour. I was false,
     But never treacherous: Forgive me, cous|in!
     One kiss from fair Emilia!--'Tis done:
     Take her.--I die!

     _Palamon._ Thy brave soul seek Elys|ium!

            .       .       .       .       .

[Sidenote: Shakspere.]

     _Theseus._ _His part is played; and, though it were too short,
     He did it well._ Your day is lengthened, and
     The blissful dew of heaven does arrose | you:
     The powerful Venus well hath graced her al|tar,
     And given you your love; our master Mars
     Hath vouched his oracle, and to Arcite gave
     The grace of the contention: So the de|ities
     Have shewed due justice.--Bear this hence.

     _Palamon._                                 Oh, cous|in!
     That we should things desire, which do cost | us
     [55:1]The loss of our desire! that nought could buy
     Dear love, but loss of dear love!

[Sidenote: Shakspere.]

     _Theseus._                        ... Palamon!
     Your kinsman hath confessed, the right o' the la|dy
     Did lie in you: for you first saw her, and
     Even then proclaimed your fancy. He restord | her
     As your stolen jewel, and desired your spir|it
     To send him hence forgiven! The gods my jus|tice
     Take from my hand, and they themselves become
     The executioners. Lead your lady off:
     And call your lovers from the stage of death,
     Whom I adopt my friends.--A day or two
     Let us look sadly, and give grace unto
     The funeral of Arcite; in whose end,
     The visages of bridegrooms we'll put on,
     And smile with Palamon; for whom, an hour,
     But one hour since, I was as dearly sor|ry,
     As glad of Arcite; and am now as glad,
     As for him sorry.--Oh, you _heavenly charm|ers_!
     What things you make of us! For what we lack,
     We laugh; for what we have, are sorry still;
     Are children in some kind.--Let us be thank|ful
     For that which is, and with you leave disputes
     That are above our question.--Let us go off,
     And bear us like the time!                 (_Exeunt omnes._)

You have now before you an outline of the subject of this highly
poetical drama, with specimens which may convey some notion of the
manner in which the plan is executed. But detached extracts cannot
furnish materials for a just decision as to the part which Shakspeare
may have taken even in writing the scenes from which the quotations are
given. If I addressed myself to one previously unacquainted with this
drama, I should be compelled to request an attentive study of it from
beginning to end. [Sidenote: Two authors wrote _The Two Noble Kinsmen_.]
Such a perusal would convince the most sceptical mind that two authors
were concerned in the work; it would be perceived that certain scenes
are distinguished by certain prominent characters, while others present
different and dissimilar features. [Sidenote: Fletcher was one.] If we
are to assume that Fletcher wrote parts of the play, we must admit that
many parts of it were written by another person, and we have only to
inquire who that other was. [Sidenote: The other was Shakspere.] Without
recurring to any external presump[56:1]tions whatever, I think there is
enough in most or all of the parts which are evidently not Fletcher's,
to appropriate them to the great poet whose name, in this instance,
tradition has associated with his. Even in the passages which have been
here selected, you cannot but have traced Shakspeare's hand frequently
and unequivocally. The introductory views which I slightly suggested to
your recollection, may have furnished some rules of judgment, and
cleared away some obstacles from the path; and where I have failed in
bringing out distinctly the real points of difference, your own acute
judgment and delicate taste must have enabled you to draw instinctively
those inferences which I have attempted to reach by systematic

[Sidenote: Fletcher easily distinguisht from Shakspere.]

In truth, a question of this sort is infinitely more easy of decision
where Fletcher is the author against whose claims Shakspeare's are to be
balanced, than it could be if the poet's supposed assistant were any
other ancient English dramatist. If a drama were presented to us, where,
as in some of Shakspeare's received works, he had taken up the ruder
sketch of an older poet, and exerted his skill in altering and enlarging
it, it would be very difficult indeed to discriminate between the
original and his additions. [Sidenote: Shakspere's Histories: their
fault.] He has often, especially in his earlier works, and in his
histories more particularly, much of that exaggeration of ideas, and
that strained and labouring force of expression, which marked the
Hercules-like infancy of the English Drama. [Sidenote: Marlowe.]
[Sidenote: Marlowe's magnificence like Shakspere sometimes.] The
stateliness with which Marlowe paces the tragic stage, and the
magnificence of the train of solemn shews which attend him like the
captives in a Roman procession of triumph, bear no distant likeness to
the shape which Shakspeare's genius assumes in its most lofty moods. And
with those also who followed the latter, or trode side by side with him,
he has many points of resemblance or identity. [Sidenote: Jonson.]
[Sidenote: Massinger.] [Sidenote: Middleton.] Jonson has his seriousness
of views, his singleness of purpose, his weight of style, and his
"fulness and frequency of sentence;" Massinger has his comprehension of
thought, giving birth to an involved and parenthetical mode of
construction; and Middleton, if he possesses few of his other qualities,
has much of his precision and straightforward earnestness of
expression.[57:1] In examining isolated passages with the view of
ascertaining whether they were written by Shakspeare or by any of those
other [57:2]poets, we should frequently have no ground of decision but
the insecure and narrow one of comparative excellence. [Sidenote:
Fletcher and Shakspere contrasted.] [Sidenote: They differ in _kind_.]
When Fletcher is Shakspeare's only competitor, we are very seldom driven
to adopt so doubtful a footing; we are not compelled to reason from
difference in _degree_, because we are sensible of a striking
dissimilarity in _kind_. [Sidenote: Fletcher.] [Sidenote: Shakspere.]
[Sidenote: Fletcher.] [Sidenote: Shakspere.] [Sidenote: Fletcher.]
[Sidenote: Shakspere.] [Sidenote: Fletcher.] [Sidenote: Shakspere.] We
observe ease and elegance of expression opposed to energy and
quaintness; brevity is met by dilation, and the obscurity which results
from hurry of conception has to be compared with the vagueness
proceeding from indistinctness of ideas; lowness, narrowness, and
poverty of thought, are contrasted with elevation, richness, and
comprehension: on the one hand is an intellect barely active enough to
seek the true elements of the poetical, and on the other a mind which,
seeing those finer relations at a glance, darts off in the wantonness of
its luxuriant strength to discover qualities with which poetry is but
ill fitted to deal; in the one poet we behold that comparative
feebleness of fancy which willingly stoops to the correction of taste,
and in the other, that warmth, splendour, and quickness of imagination,
which flows on like the burning rivers from a volcano, quenching all
paler lights in its spreading radiance, and destroying every barrier
which would impede or direct its devouring course. You will remark that
certain passages or scenes in this play are attributed to Shakspeare,
not because they are superior to Fletcher's tone or manner, but because
they are unlike it. [Sidenote: Shakspere's work unlike Fletcher's.] It
may be true that most of these possess higher excellence than Fletcher
could have easily reached; but this is merely an extrinsic circumstance,
and it is not upon it that the judgment is founded. [Sidenote: Test
between Shakspere and Fletcher.] These passages are recognized as
Shakspeare's, not from possessing in a higher degree those qualities in
which Fletcher's merit lies, but from exhibiting other qualities in
which he is partially or wholly wanting, and which even singly, and
still more when combined, constitute a style and manner opposite to his.

Indeed, since Fletcher is acknowledged to stand immeasurably lower than
Shakspeare, the excellence of some passages might perhaps in itself be
no unfair reason for refusing to the inferior poet the credit of their
execution. But an analysis of the means by which the excellence is
produced places us beyond [58:1]the necessity of resorting, in the first
instance at least, to this general ground of decision, which must,
however, be taken into view, when we have been able to assume a position
which entitles us to take advantage of it. [Sidenote: Shakspere's
external qualities in the _Two Noble Kinsmen_.] [Sidenote: Are they
imitations?] In many parts of this play we find those external qualities
which form Shakspeare's distinguishing characteristics, not separately
and singly present, but combined most fully and most intimately; and it
is consequently indisputable that we have, either Shakspeare's own
writing, or a faithful and successful imitation of it. [Sidenote:
Imitation of Shakspere difficult.] It is not easy to perceive with
perfect clearness why it is that imitation of Shakspeare is peculiarly
difficult; but every one is convinced that it is far more so than in the
case of any other poet whatever. [Sidenote: Why it is so.] The range and
opposition of his qualities, the rarity and loftiness of the most
remarkable of these, and still more, the coincident operation of his
most dissimilar powers, make it next to impossible, even in short and
isolated passages, to produce an imitation which shall be mistaken for
his original composition: but there is not even a possibility of success
in an attempt to carry on such an imitation of him throughout many
entire scenes. [Sidenote: Given, his outside dress, ask whether his
spirit is inside it.] Where the external qualities of a work resemble
his, the question of his authorship can be determined in no other way
than by inquiring whether the essential elements, and the spirit which
animates the whole, are his also; and that inquiry is not one for
logical argument; it can be answered only by reflection on the effect
which the work produces on our own minds. [Sidenote: The poetic sense
alone can judge.] The dullest eye can discriminate the free motions of
the living frame from the convulsed writhings which art may excite in
the senseless corpse; the nightly traveller easily distinguishes between
the red and earthy twinkling of the distant cottage-lamp, and the cold
white gleam of the star which rises beyond it;--and with equal quickness
and equal certainty the poetical sense can decide whether the living and
ethereal principle of poetry is present, or only its corporeal clothing,
its dead and inert resemblance. [Sidenote: By the emotion it creates,
must Shakspere's work be judgd.] The emotion which poetry necessarily
awakens in minds qualified as the subjects of its working, is the only
evidence of its presence, and the measure and index of its strength. If
we can read with coldness and indifference the drama which we are now
examining, we must pronounce it to [59:1]be no more than a skilful
imitation of Shakspeare; but we must acknowledge it as an original if
the heart burns and the fancy expands under its influence,--if we feel
that the poetical and dramatic spirit breathes through all,--and if the
mind bows down involuntarily before the powers of whose presence it is
secretly but convincingly sensible. [Sidenote: And his part of _The Two
Noble Kinsmen_ witnesses for itself.] I cannot have a doubt that the
parts of this work which I have pointed out as Shakspeare's will the
more firmly endure this trial, the more closely and seriously they are
revolved and studied.

[Sidenote: Shakspere's share of _The Two Noble Kinsmen_.]

The portions of the drama which, on such principles as these, have been
set down as Shakspeare's, compose a large part of its bulk, and embrace
most of the material circumstances of the story. [Sidenote: Act I.]
[Sidenote: Act III. sc. i.] [Sidenote: Act V. except scene iv.] They
are,--the First Act wholly,--one scene out of six in the Third,--and the
whole of the Fifth Act, (a very long one,) except one unimportant scene.
These parts are not of equal excellence, but the grounds on which a
decision as to their authorship rests, seem to be almost equally strong
with regard to each.

We have as yet been considering these scenes as so many separate pieces
of poetry; and they are valuable even in that light, not less from their
intrinsic merit than as being the work of our greatest poet. If it be
true merely that Shakspeare has here executed some portions of a plan
which another had previously fixed on and sketched, the drama demands
our zealous study, and is entitled to a place among Shakspeare's works.
An examination of separate details cannot enable us to form any more
specific opinion as to the part which he may have taken in its

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: Is the design of _The Two Noble Kinsmen_ Shakspere's?]

But there is a further inquiry on which we are bound to enter, whatever
its result may be,--whether it shall allow us to attribute to Shakspeare
a wider influence over the work, or compel us to limit his claim to the
subsidiary authorship, which only we have yet been able to establish for
him. We must now endeavour to trace the design of the work to its
origin; we must look on the parts in their relation to the whole, and
investigate the qualities and character of that whole which the parts
compose. Such an analysis is essential to an appreciation of the real
merit of the drama, and suggests views of far-greater inte[60:1]rest
than any which offer themselves in the examination of isolated passages.
And it is likewise necessary as a part of the inquiry which is our
object, not merely because it may tend to strengthen or modify the
decisions which we have already formed, but because it will allow us to
determine other important questions which we have had no opportunity of
treating. [Sidenote: Yes, it is.] It will justify us, if I mistake not,
in pronouncing with some confidence, that this drama owes to Shakspeare
much more than the composition of a few scenes,--that he was the poet
who chose the story, and arranged the leading particulars of the method
in which it is handled.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: The tragic-comic underplot not Shakspere's.]

Before we enter the extensive and interesting field of inquiry thus
opened to us, it may be well that I explain the reasons which seem
distinctly to exclude from Shakspeare's part of the work one
considerable portion of it,--the whole of the tragi-comic under-plot. I
have as yet assigned no ground of rejection, but inferiority in the
execution; but there are other reasons, which, when combined with that,
remove all uncertainty. Slightly as this subordinate story has been
described, enough has been said to point out remarkable imitations of
Shakspeare, both in incident and character. [Sidenote: Fletcher's
borrowings in the underplot, from Shakspere.] The insane maiden is a
copy of Ophelia, with features from 'Lear'; the comments of the
physician on her sickness of the mind, are borrowed in conception from
'Macbeth'; the character of the fantastic schoolmaster is a repetition
of the pedagogue in 'Love's Labour Lost'; and the exhibition of the
clowns which he directs, resemble scenes both in that play and in the
'Midsummer Night's Dream.' All these circumstances together, or even one
of them by itself, are enough to destroy the notion of Shakspeare's
authorship. The likeness which is found elsewhere to Shakspeare's style,
(and which is far closer in those other parts of the play than it is
here,) is an argument, as I have shewn, in favour of his authorship; the
likeness here in character and incident is even a stronger one against
it. [Sidenote: Shakspere doesn't imitate himself in character as he does
in style.] In neither of these latter particulars does Shakspeare
imitate himself as he does in style. In some of his earlier plays indeed
we may trace the rude outlines of characters, chiefly comic, which he
was afterwards able to develope with [61:1]greater distinctness and more
striking features; but though the likeness, in those cases, were nearer
and more frequent than it is, the transition from the rude block to the
finished sculpture is the allowable and natural progress of genius.
[Sidenote: He doesn't reproduce a figure badly.] The bare reproduction
of a figure or a scene already drawn with clearness and success, stands
in a very different situation; and, even if it should be nearly equal to
the original in actual merit, it creates a strong presumption of its
being no more than the artifice of an imitator. Where the inferiority of
the execution is palpable, the doubt is raised into certainty.
[Sidenote: Shakspere could not have turned his Ophelia into the Jailer's
daughter of _The Two Noble Kinsmen_.] In the case before us, it is
impossible to receive the idea of Shakspeare sitting down in cold blood
to imitate the Ophelia, and to transfer all the tenderness of her
situation to a new drama of a far lower tone, in which also it should
occupy only a subordinate station. He could not have been guilty of
this; he neither needed it, nor would have done it of free will; and,
therefore, I could not have believed it to be his, though the execution
had been far better than it is. [Sidenote: This Daughter is an utter
failure.] But the inferiority is decided; the imitation produces neither
vigour of style nor depth of feeling; in short, Shakspeare, if he had
made the attempt, could not have failed so utterly. [Sidenote: The
Schoolmaster is not Shakspere's.] The comic parts are only subservient
to the serious portion of this story; and if Shakspeare did not write
the leading part, he was still less likely to have written the
accessory; but, besides, the imitation is equally unsuccessful; and the
original of the schoolmaster is said to have been a personal portrait,
which was very unlikely to have been repeated by the first painter after
the freshness of the jest was gone. I have been the more anxious to
place in its true light the question as to this part of the drama,
because, on its seeming likeness to Shakspeare, Steevens founds an
ingenious hypothesis, by which he endeavours to account for the origin
of the tradition as to Shakspeare's concern in the play. That this is a
designed imitation of Shakspeare is abundantly clear; and it is not
difficult to see why it is an unsuccessful one. [Sidenote: Fletcher's
designd imitation of Shakspere.] Fletcher possesses much humour, but it
is of a cast very unlike Shakspeare's, and very unfit to harmonise with
it, or to qualify him for the imitation which he has here attempted. Why
he made the attempt, we shall be able to discover only when the freaks
of caprice, and of poetical caprice, [62:1]the wildest of all, shall be
fully analyzed and fully accounted for. [Sidenote: The underplot not
Shakspere's.] All that I have to prove is, that this portion of the work
is not, and could not have been, Shakspeare's.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: Shakspere's choice of subjects for his Plays.]

I have said that I consider as his, both the selection of the plot, and
much of its arrangement. [Sidenote: He differs from his chief
contemporaries and successors.] As to the Choice of the Subject, my
position is, that in this particular, Shakspeare stands in unequivocal
opposition to Jonson, Beaumont and Fletcher, and those others,
contemporary with him, or a little his juniors, with whom his name is
generally associated. I can easily shew that this opposition to the
newer school in the choice of stories exists in Shakspeare individually;
and this would be enough for my purpose; but I will go a little farther
than I am called on, because I conceive him to share that opposition
with some other poets, and because views open to us from this
circumstance, which are of some value for the right understanding of his
characteristics. [Sidenote: He belongs to the old school.] I say then,
that in the choice of subjects particularly, as well as in other
features, Shakspeare belongs to a school older than that of Fletcher,
and radically different from it. [Sidenote: Shakspere took old stories;
new poets new ones.] The principle of the contrariety in the choice of
subjects between the older and newer schools, is this: the older poets
usually prefer stories with which their audience must have been
previously familiar; the newer poets avoid such known subjects, and
attempt to create an adventitious interest for their pieces, by
appealing to the passion of curiosity, and feeding it with novelty of
incident. [Sidenote: Early Plays founded on] The early writers may have
adopted their rule of choice from a distrust in their own skill: but
they are more likely to have been influenced by reflecting on the
inexperience of their audience in theatrical exhibitions. [Sidenote:
History and Tales of Chivalry.] By insisting on this quality in their
plots, they hampered themselves much in the choice of them; and the
subjects which offered themselves to the older among them, were mainly
confined to two classes, history and the chivalrous tales, being the
only two cycles of story with which, about the time of Shakspeare's
birth, any general familiarity could be presumed. That such were the
favourite themes of the infant English drama is abundantly clear, even
from the lists of old lost dramas which have been preserved to us.
[Sidenote: Classical fables and foreign novels.] By the time when
Shakspeare stepped into [63:1]the arena, the zeal for translation had
increased the stock of popular knowledge by the addition of the
classical fables and the foreign modern novels; and his immediate
precursors, some of whom were men of much learning, had especially
availed themselves of the former class of plots. [Sidenote: Plots of
Shakspere's successors.] If, passing over Shakspeare, we glance at the
plots of Fletcher, Jonson, or others of the same period, we find, among
a great diversity of means, a search for novelty universally set on
foot. Jonson is fond of inventing his plots; Beaumont and Fletcher
usually borrow theirs; but neither by the former nor the latter were
stories chosen which were familiar to the people, nor in any instance
perhaps do they condescend to use plots which had been previously
written on. [Sidenote: Beaumont and Fletcher's.] Where Beaumont and
Fletcher do avail themselves of common tales, they artfully combine them
with others, and receive assistance from complexity of adventure in
keeping their uniform purpose in view. [Sidenote: Historical Drama grew
obsolete.] The historical drama was regarded by the new school as a rude
and obsolete form; and there are scarcely half a dozen instances in
which any writer of that age, but Shakspeare, adopted it later than
1600. Historical subjects indeed wanted the coveted charm, as did also
the Romantic and the Classical Tales, both of which shared in the
neglect with which the Chronicles were treated. [Sidenote: Plots were
got from foreign novels and invention.] The Foreign Novels, and stories
partly borrowed from them, or wholly invented, were almost the sole
subjects of the newer drama, which has always the air of addressing
itself to hearers possessing greater dramatic experience and more
extended information than those who were in the view of the older

[Sidenote: Shakspere belongs to the older class of dramatists.]

Shakspeare, in point of time, stood between these two classes: does he
decidedly belong to either, or shew a leaning, and to which? He
unequivocally belongs to the older class; or rather, the opposition to
the newer writers assumes in him a far more decided shape than in any of
his immediate forerunners; for in them are found numerous exceptions to
the rule, in him scarcely one. He returns, in fact, to more than one of
the principles of the old school, which had begun in his time to fall
into disuse. [Sidenote: Compare his Histories, narrative chorus long
rymed passages,] The external form of some of his plays, particularly
his histories, is quite in the old taste. The narrative chorus is the
most observable remnant of antiquity; and the long rhymed pas[64:1]sages
frequent in his earlier works, are abundant in the older writers: Peele
uses them through whole scenes, and Marlowe likewise to excess.
[Sidenote: jesters, and choice of known stories.] His continual
introduction of those conventional characters, his favourite jesters, is
another point of resemblance to the ruder stage. [Sidenote: He's of the
school of Lodge and Greene.] And his choice of subjects, when combined
with the peculiarities of economy just noticed, as well as others,
clearly appropriates him to the school of Lodge, Greene, and those elder
writers who have left few works and fewer names. His Historical Plays
are the perfection of the old school, the only valuable specimens of
that class which it has produced, and the latest instance in which its
example was followed; and he has had recourse to the Classical story for
such subjects as approached most nearly to the nature of his English
Chronicles. [Sidenote: Of new novel stories,] And you must take especial
note, that, even in the class of subjects in which he seems to coincide
with the new school,--I mean his Plots borrowed from Foreign Novels,--he
assumes no more of conformity than its appearance, while the principle
of contrariety is still retained. [Sidenote: Shakspere chose the most
widely known.] The new writers preferred untranslated novels, and, where
they chose translated ones, disguised them till the features of the
original were lost: Shakspeare not only uses translated tales--(this
indeed from necessity)--and closely adheres to their minutest
circumstances, but in almost every instance he has made choice of those
among them which can be proved to have been most widely known and
esteemed at the time. Most of his plots founded on fanciful subjects,
whether derived from novels or other sources, can be shewn to have been
previously familiar to the people. [Sidenote: 6 Plays of Shakspere
founded on well-known stories.] The story of 'Measure for Measure' had
been previously told; that of 'As you Like It', he might have had from
either of two popular collections of tales; the fable of 'Much Ado about
Nothing' seems to have been widely spread, and those of 'All's Well that
Ends Well', and 'The Winter's Tale'; 'Romeo and Juliet' appears in at
least one collection of English novels, and in a poem which enjoyed much
popularity. These are sufficient as examples; but a still more
remarkable circumstance is this. [Sidenote: 12 on subjects of former
Plays.] In repeated instances, about twelve in all, Shakspeare has
chosen subjects on which plays had been previously written; nay more, on
the sub[65:1]jects which he has so re-written, he has produced some of
his best dramas, and one his very masterpiece. 'Julius Cæsar' belongs to
this list; '_Lear_' does so likewise; and 'HAMLET.' Is not that a
singular fact? I can use it at present only as a most valuable proof
that the view which I take is an accurate one. But Shakspeare has also,
oftener than once, applied to the chivalrous class of subjects, which
was exclusively peculiar to the older school. Its tales indeed bore a
strong likeness to his own most esteemed subjects of study; for, amidst
all their extravagancies and inconsistencies, the Gothic romances and
poems, the older of them at all events, professed in form to be
chronicles of fact, and in principle to assume historical truth as their
groundwork. [Sidenote: 3 on Classical subjects turned into romances.]
'Pericles' is founded on one of the most popular romances of the middle
ages, which had been also versified by Gower, the second father of the
English poetical school. The characters in 'The Midsummer Night's Dream'
are classical, but the costume is strictly Gothic, and shews that it was
through the medium of romance that he drew the knowledge of them; and
the 'Troilus and Cressida' presents another classical and chivalrous
subject, which Chaucer had handled at great length, also invested with
the richness of the romantic garb and decoration.

[Sidenote: Shakspere chose the story of the _Two Noble Kinsmen_.]

Fletcher and Shakspeare being thus opposed to each other in their choice
of subjects, what qualities are there in the Plot of The Two Noble
Kinsmen, which may appropriate the choice of it to either? In the first
place, it is a chivalrous subject,--a classical story which had already
been told in the Gothic style. [Sidenote: Fletcher would neither have
chosen Chaucer's classical story for his plot,] The nature of the story
then could have been no recommendation of it to Fletcher. He has not a
single other subject of the sort; he has even written one play in
ridicule of chivalrous observances; and the sarcasm of that humorous
piece[66:1], both in the general design and the particular references,
is aimed solely at the prose romances of knight-errantry, a diseased and
posthumous off-shoot from the parent-root, whose legitimate and ancient
offspring, the metrical chronicles and tales, he seems neither to have
known nor cared for. [Sidenote: nor an old story,] Secondly, this story
must have been unacceptable to Fletcher, because it was a fa[66:2]miliar
one in England. This fact is perhaps sufficiently proved by its being
the subject of that animated and admirable poem of Chaucer, which Dryden
has pronounced little inferior to the Iliad or Æneid; but it is still
more distinctly shewn by a third fact, which completely clenches the
argument against Fletcher's choice of it as a subject. [Sidenote: nor
one on which two 16th-century plays had been written.] No fewer than two
plays had been written on this story before the end of the sixteenth
century; the earlier of the two, the Palamon and Arcite of Edwards,
acted in 1566, and printed in 1585, and another play called by the same
name, brought on the stage in 1594.[66:3]

[Sidenote: Fletcher didn't choose the subject of _The Two Noble

It is thus, I think, proved almost to demonstration, that the person who
chose this subject was not Fletcher; and what has been already said,
even without the specific evidence of individual passages, creates a
strong probability that the choice was made by Shakspeare rather than by
any other dramatic poet of his time. If the question be merely one
between the two writers,--if, assuming it to be proved that Shakspeare
wrote parts of the play, we have only to ask which of the two it was
that chose the subject,--we can surely be at no loss to decide.
[Sidenote: Shakspere's study of chivalrous poetry.] But the presumption
in Shakspeare's favour may be elevated almost into absolute certainty,
while, at the same time, some important qualities of his will be
illustrated,--if we inquire what was the real extent to which he
attached himself to the study of the chivalrous poetry, from which this
subject is taken, and the influence which that study was likely to have
had, and did actually exercise on his writings.

If, being told that a dramatic poet was born in England in the latter
half of the sixteenth century, whose studies, for all effectual benefit
which they could have afforded him, were limited to his own tongue, we
were asked to say what course his acquisitions were likely to have
taken, our reply would be ready and unhesitating. English literature was
of narrow extent before the time in question, and, according to the
invariable progress of mental culture, had been evolved first in those
finer branches which issue primarily from the ima[67:1]gination and
affections, and appeal for their effect to the principles in which they
have their source. [Sidenote: Shakspere certain to have first studi'd,
and been influenct by, our old narrative poets,] Poetry had reached a
vigorous youth, history was in its infancy, philosophy had not come into
being. Had the field of study been wider, it was to poetry in an
especial manner that a poet had to betake himself for an experience and
skill in his art, and in the language which was to be its instrument.
And it was almost solely to the narrative poets that Shakspeare had to
appeal for aid and guidance; for preceding writers in the dramatic walk
could teach him little. They could serve as beacons only, and not
examples, and he had to search in other mines for the materials to rear
his palace of thought. [Sidenote: who were of the Gothic school.] But
the English poetical writers who preceded him are all more or less
impressed with the seal of the Gothic school, and the most noted among
them belong to it essentially. Chaucer, Lydgate, and Gower, to more than
one of whom Shakspeare is materially indebted, were the heads of a sect
whose subjects and form of composition were varied only as the various
forms and subjects of the foreign romantic writers. [Sidenote: Britain
the mother of much fine chivalrous poetry.] The rhymed romance, the
metrical vision, the sustained allegorical narrative or dialogue, were
but differing results of the same principle, and forms too of its
original development; for Britain was the mother and nurse of much of
the finest chivalrous poetry, as well as the scene where some of its
most fascinating tales are laid. It is true that English poetry before
the time of Elizabeth presents but few distinguished names; but there is
a world of unappropriated treasures of the chivalrous class of poetry,
which are still the delight of those who possess the key to their secret
chambers, and were the archetypes of the earlier poets of that prolific
age. It is important to recollect, that among the poets who adorn that
epoch, the narrative preceded the dramatic. [Sidenote: Spenser belongs
to the Gothic school.] Spenser belongs, in every view, to the romantic
or Gothic school; the heroic Mort d'Arthur was the rule of his poetical
faith; and it was that school, headed by him, which Shakspeare, on
commencing his course and choosing his path, found in possession of all
the popularity of the day. [Sidenote: Shakspere too.] Every thing proves
that he allowed himself to be guided by the prevailing taste. His early
poems belong in design to Spenser's school, and their style is
[68:1]often imitative of his. In his dramas he has many points of
resemblance to the older chivalrous poets, besides his occasional
adoption of their subjects. His respect for Gower is shewn by the
repeated introduction of his shade as the speaker in his choruses[68:2];
and particular allusions and images, borrowed from Gothic usages and
chivalrous facts, occur at the first blush to the recollection of every
one. But there is a more widely spread influence than all this.
[Sidenote: Shakspere's mistakes and] Many of his most faulty
peculiarities are directly drawn from this source, and his innumerable
misrepresentations or mistakes are not so truly the fruit of his own
ignorance, as the necessary qualities of the class of poets to which he
belonged, shared with him by some of the greatest poetical names which
modern Europe can cite. [Sidenote: anomalies, those of his Gothic
school.] In this situation are indeed almost all the irregularities and
anomalies which have furnished the unbelievers in the divinity of his
genius with objects of contemptuous abuse;--his creation of geographies
wholly fictitious,--his anachronisms in facts and customs,--his
misstatements of historical detail,--his dukes and kings in
republics,--his harbours in the heart of continents, and his journies
over land to remote islands,--his heathenism in Christian lands and
times, and his bishops, and priests, and masses, _in partibus
infidelium_. [Sidenote: Chaucer and Spenser had the like.] We may
censure him for these irregularities if we will; but it is incumbent on
us to recollect that Chaucer and Spenser must bear the same sentence:
and if the faults are considered so weighty as to shut out from our
notice the works in which they are found, the early literature, not of
our own country only, but of the whole of continental Europe, must be
thrown aside as one mass of unworthy fable.

In truth, Shakspeare, in throwing himself on a style of thought and a
track of study which exposed him to such errors, did no more than retire
towards those principles which not only were the sources of poetry in
his own country, but are the fountains from which, in every nation, her
first draughts of inspiration are drunk. [Sidenote: Poetry is first a
falsifying of History,] Poetry in its earlier stages is universally
neither more nor less than a falsifying of history. The decoration of
the Real is an exertion of the fancy which marks an age elder than the
creation of the purely Ideal; it is an effort more successful than the
[69:1]attempt which follows it, and the wholly fictitious has always the
appearance of being resorted to from necessity rather than choice.
Cathay is an older and fitter seat of romance than Utopia; and the
historical paladins and soldans are characters more poetical than the
creatures of pure imagination who displaced them. [Sidenote: and has
Ignorance as her ally.] [Sidenote: Her errors depend on the kind of her
small knowledge.] But this walk of poetry is one in which she never can
permanently linger; her citadel indeed is real existence partially
comprehended, but she is unable to defend the fortress after knowledge
has begun to sap its outworks; she needs ignorance for her ally while
she occupies the domain of history, and when that companion deserts her,
she unwillingly retreats on the Possible and Invented[69:2], where she
has no enemy to contest her possession of the ground.--While however she
does continue in her older haunt, she must sometimes wander out of her
imperfectly defined path, and her errors will depend, both in kind and
in amount, on the amount and kind of her knowledge. That the qualities
of poetical literature, in every nation, are dependent on the number and
species of those experiences from which in each particular case the art
receives its materials, is indeed too evident to need illustration; but
some curious inferences are deducible from an application of this truth
to the contrast which is found between the poetical literature of modern
Europe, and that older school which has been called the classical.
[Sidenote: And hence come distinctive qualities of the Greek and Modern
school.] The inherent excellencies of the ancient Greek poetry may yet
remain to be accounted for from other causes; but this one principle was
adequate to produce the most distinguishing qualities of the pagan
literature, while it is distinctly the very same principle, acting in
different circumstances, which has given birth to the opposite character
of the modern school of invention. [Sidenote: Middle-Age knowledge of
vast extent, but never thorough.] During the period which witnessed the
gradual rise of that anomalous fabric of poetry, from whose prostrate
fragments the perfected literature of Christian Europe has been erected,
knowledge (I am uttering no paradox) was of vast extent; it embraced
many different ages and many distant regions: but it was also
universally imperfect; much was known in part, but nothing wholly.
[Sidenote: So it invested History with incongruous attributes.] Hence
proceeded the specific difference of that widely-spread form of poetical
invention, namely, the super-abundance and incongruity of attributes
with which [70:1]it invested historical truth; and it is not very
difficult to discover why many of those attributes have never thoroughly
amalgamated with the principal mass. The various sources from which the
materials of the romantic poetry were drawn, present themselves at once
to every mind. [Sidenote: Early modern poets invented a national and
original literature,] By the peculiar state of their knowledge, and the
rude activity of spirit which was its consequence, the early poets of
modern Europe were prepared to invent a species of literature which
should be strictly national in its subjects, and in its essential parts
wholly original. That new branch was exposed, however, to modifications
of various kinds. One temptation to introduce foreign elements, by which
its authors were assailed, was singularly strong, and can scarcely in
any other instance have operated on a literature arising in
circumstances otherwise so favourable to originality, as those in which
they were placed. [Sidenote: but, knowing classics badly,] That
temptation was offered by the imperfect acquaintance with the classical
authors which formed one part of their scattered and ill-reconciled
knowledge. [Sidenote: grafted on their own works excrescences from
classical literature,] They were influenced by this cause, as they could
not have failed to be; and the representations of feelings, habits, and
thought, which they borrowed from this source, being in their nature
dissimilar to the constituent parts of the system to which they were
adjected, never could have harmonised with these, and, under any
circumstances, must have always continued to be excrescences. Other
elements of the new system were naturally neither evil in themselves,
nor inconsistent with the principles with which it was attempted to
combine them, but have assumed the aspect of deformity and incongruity
solely from incidental and extraneous causes. [Sidenote: and on History,
fictions and mistakes.] The fictions and mistakes which the ignorance of
those fathers of our modern poetical learning superinduced on history
ancient and modern, and on every thing which related to the then
existing state either of the material world or of human society, were
allowable ornaments, so long as knowledge afterwards acquired did not
stamp on them the brand of falsehood; but the moment that the falsity
was exposed, and the charm of possible existence broken, those adjuncts
lost their empire over the imagination, and with it their appearance of
fitness as materials for mental activity. [Sidenote: Supernaturalism of
the Romantic Poets only believable by superstition.] In supernatural
invention, the early romantic poets [71:1]were still more unfortunate;
for when they endeavoured to colour with imaginary hues the awful
outlines of the true faith, they attempted a conjunction of holiness
with impurity, an identification of the spirit with the flesh, a
marriage between the living and the dead; the purer essence revolted
from the union, and the human mind could acquiesce in imagining it only
while it remained bound in the darkness and fetters of religious
corruption. [Sidenote: Characteristics of early Greek poetry.] Turn now
to the Grecian poetry, and mark how closely the same principles have
operated on it, although the difference of the circumstances has made
the result different. [Sidenote: its tendency to orientalism;] The first
Grecian inventors were, it is true, protected in a great measure from
the influence of any foreign literature, simply by the ignorant rudeness
of those ages of the world during which their task was performed; and
even here I have no doubt that an influence not very dissimilar did
actually operate; for there seems to be good reason for supposing that,
if we had before us the wild songs of such bards as the Thracian
Orpheus, or the old Musæus, we should find them strongly marked by that
orientalism towards which the later Greek poetry which remains to us
betrays so continual a tendency. In other respects, the spirit in which
the Greeks formed their poetical system was identical with our own.
[Sidenote: its falsification of History,] Their elder poets falsified
historical facts, invented or disguised historical characters, and
framed erroneous representations of the past in time and the distant in
place, no otherwise than did the romantic fabulists; and the classical
inventors continued to have sufficient faith placed in their fictions,
merely because knowledge advanced too slowly to allow detection of their
falsity so long as the literature of the nation continued to exist for
it as a present possession. [Sidenote: its treatment of Religion.] With
their religious belief, again, every attractive invention harmonised,
and every splendid addition was readily incorporated as a consistent
part; where all was false, a falsity the more was unperceived or
uncensured, and where sublimity and beauty were almost the only objects
sought, they were gladly accepted from whatever quarter or in whatever
shape they came.

[Sidenote: Shakspere, for his stories and form, left his own time, and
delighted in the past.]

So far as these considerations seem to elucidate the principles on which
Shakspeare proceeded, they do so by exhibiting him as withdrawing from
his own times as to his subjects and the ex[72:1]ternal form of his
works, though not as to their animating spirit,--as placing himself
delightedly amidst the rude greatness of older poetry and past ages, and
viewing life and nature from their covert, as if he had sat within a
solitary and ruined aboriginal temple, and looked out upon the valley
and the mountains from among those broken and massive columns, whose
aspect gave majesty and solemnity to the landscape which was beheld
through their moss-grown vistas. [Sidenote: Thence his faults.] So far
as these views have any force as a defence of faults detected in the
great poet, that defence is founded on the consideration that the errors
were unavoidable consequences of the system which produced so much that
was admirable, and that they were shared with him by those whom he
followed in his selection of subjects and form of writing. So far as all
that has been said on this head has a close application to the main
subject of our inquiry, its sum is briefly this. [Sidenote: Summary of
reasons why Shakspere chose the plot of _Two Noble Kinsmen_.] [Sidenote:
He went back to the school of Chaucer and Spenser; which Milton, after,
sought.] [Sidenote: Shakspere's love of old poems.] An argument arises
in favour of Shakspeare's choice of the plot of this drama, from its
general qualities, as a familiar and favourite story, and one of a class
which had been frequently used by the older dramatists; that argument
receives additional strength from the fact of this individual subject
having been previously treated in a dramatic form; and it is rendered
almost impregnable when we consider the subject particularly as a
chivalrous story, and as belonging and leading us back to that native
school to which Shakspeare, though in certain respects infected by the
exotic taste of the age, yet in essentials belonged,--the wilderness in
which Chaucer had opened up the well-head of poetry, where Gower and
Lydgate had drunk freely, and Sackville had more sparingly dipped his
brow,--the paradise through which Spenser had joyfully wandered with the
heavenly Una,--the patriarchal forest into which afterwards Milton
loved to retire from his lamp-lighted chamber, to sleep at the foot
of some huge over-hanging oak, and dream of mailed knights riding by
his resting-place, or fairy choirs dancing on the green hillocks
around,--the enchanted rose garden where Shakspeare himself gathered
those garlands of beauty, which he has described as adding glory even to
his thoughts of love.

     [73:1]When in the chronicle of wasted time
     I see description of the fairest wights,
     _And beauty making beautiful old ryme_
     In praise of ladies dead and lovely knights;
     Then in the blazon of sweet beauty's best,
     Of hand, of foot, of lip, of eye, of brow,
     I see this antique pen would have expresst
     Even such a beauty as you master now.

                                                    _Sonnet 106._

In the Arrangement of the Plot also there are circumstances which point
emphatically to Shakspeare's agency. [Sidenote: Shakspere seen in the
simplicity of the plot.] One strong argument is furnished by a very
prominent quality of the plot as it is managed,--its simplicity.
[Sidenote: He relied on the execution of the parts, not the complication
of the whole.] This quality is like him, as being in this case the
result of a close adherence to the original story; but it is also like
him in itself, since the arrangement of all his works indicates the
operation of a principle tending to produce it, namely, a reliance for
dramatic effect on the execution of the parts rather than on the
mechanical perfection or complication of the whole. His contemporaries,
in their own several ways, bestowed extreme care on their plots.
[Sidenote: Beaumont and Fletcher's plots depend more on surprise and
incident.] With Beaumont and Fletcher, hurry, surprise, and rapid and
romantic revolution of incident are the main object, rather than tragic
strength or even stage effect: their plays would furnish materials for
extended novels, and are often borrowed from such without concentration
or omission. Shakspeare's comparative poverty of plot is not approached
by them even in their serious plays, and the lively stir of their comic
adventures is the farthest from it imaginable. [Sidenote: B. Jonson's
plots admirably constructed.] Jonson's plots are constructed most
elaborately and admirably: one or two of them are without equal for
skill of conduct and pertinency and connection of parts. This cautious
and industrious poet never confided in his own capability of making up
for feebleness of plan by the force of individual passages; and his
distrust was well judged, for the abstract coldness of his mind betrays
itself in every page of his dialogue, and his scenes need all their
beauty of outline to conceal the frigidity of their filling up. Ford and
Massinger agree much in their choice of plots, both preferring incidents
of a powerfully tragic nature: but their modes of management are widely
different. [Sidenote: Ford's gloomy plots softened by tenderness and
regret.] Ford, on the gloom of whose stories glimpses [74:1]of pathos
fall like moonlight, delights, when he comes to work up the details of
his tragic plan, in softening it down into the most dissolving
tenderness; at his bidding tears flow in situations where we listen
rather to hear Agony shriek, or look to behold Terror freezing into
stone; his emotion is not the rising vehemence of present passion, but
the anguish, subsiding into regret, which lingers when suffering is
past, and suggests ideas of eventual resignation and repose;--his verse
is like the voice of a child weeping itself to sleep. [Sidenote:
Massinger's stage effect by situations, and tragic design.] [Sidenote:
His coldness of expression.] Massinger crowds adventure upon adventure,
and his situations are wound up to the height of unmixed horror; for
stage effect and tragic intensity, some of them, as for example the last
scene in 'The Unnatural Combat', and the celebrated one in 'The Duke of
Milan', are unequalled in the modern drama, and worthy of the sternness
of the antique; but it is in the design alone that the tragic spirit
works; the colouring of the details is cold as monumental marble; the
pomp of lofty eloquence apes the simplicity of grief, or silence is left
to interpret alike for sorrow or despair. To the carefulness in
outlining the plan and devising situations, thus shewn in different
ways, Shakspeare's manner is perfectly alien. [Sidenote: Shakspere's
great aim to bring out character and feeling.] He never exhausts himself
in framing his plots, but reserves his strength for the great aim which
he had before him, the evolution of human character and passion, a
result which he relied on his own power to produce from any plot however
naked. He does not want variety of adventure in many of his plays; but
he has it only where his novel or chronicle gave it to him: he does not
reject it when it is offered, but does not make the smallest exertion to
search for it. [Sidenote: Shakspere's plays with no plot:] Some of his
plays, especially his comedies, have actually no plot, and those, too,
the very dramas in which his genius has gained some of its most mighty
victories. [Sidenote: _The Tempest._] 'The Tempest' is an instance: what
is there in it? A ship's company are driven by wreck upon an island;
they find an old man there who had been injured by certain of them, and
a reconciliation takes place. [Sidenote: _As You Like It._] The only
action of 'As You Like It' is pedestrian; if the characters had been
placed in the forest in the first scene, the drama would have been then
as ripe for its catastrophe as it is in the last. [Sidenote: _Midsummer
Night's Dream_ has no plot.] 'The Midsummer Night's Dream' relates a
midnight stroll in a wood; and the unreal na[75:1]ture of the incidents
is playfully indicated in its name. It is from no stronger materials
than those three frail threads of narrative that our poet has spun
unrivalled tissues of novel thought and divine fancy. And, as in his
lighter works he is careless of variety of adventure, so in his tragic
plays he does not seek to heap horrors or griefs one upon another in
devising the arrangement of his plots. [Sidenote: In the plots of
Shakspere's Tragedies, details and character are the main things.] In
this latter class of his works, the skill and force with which the
interest is woven out of the details of story and elements of character,
make it difficult for us to see how far it is that we are indebted to
these for the power which the scene exerts over us. But with a little
reflection we are able to discover, that there is scarcely one drama of
his, in which, from the same materials, situations could not have been
formed, which should have possessed in their mere outline a tenfold
amount of interest and tragic effect to those which Shakspeare has
presented to us. [Sidenote: He could have made more striking effect out
of _Hamlet_, Acts IV. & V. 4.] 'Hamlet' offers, especially in the two
last acts, some remarkable proofs of his indifference to the means which
he held in his hands for increasing the tragic interest of his
situations, and of the boldness with which he threw himself on his own
resources for the creation of the most intense effect out of the
slenderest outline. [Sidenote: _Othello_, Act III.] But no example can
shew more strikingly his independence of tragic situation, and his power
of concocting dramatic power out of the most meagre elements of story,
than the third act of the Othello. It contains no more than the
development and triumph of the devilish design which was afterwards to
issue in murder and remorse; and other writers would have treated it in
no other style than as necessary to prepare the way for the harrowing
conclusion. In the Moor's dialogues with Iago, the act of vengeance,
ever and anon sternly contemplated, and darkening all with its horror,
is yet but one ingredient in the misery of the tale. [Sidenote: So in
the end of _Lear_,] These scenes are a tragedy in themselves, the story
of the most hideous revolution in a noble nature; and their catastrophe
of wretchedness is complete when the tumult of doubt sinks into
resolved and desolate conviction,--when the Moor dashes Desdemona from
him, and rushes out in uncontrollable agony.--Read also the conclusion
of Lear, and learn the same lesson from the economy of that most
touching scene. [Sidenote: all is left clear for the one group, the
father and his dead child.] The horrors which have gathered so thickly
[76:1]throughout the last act, are carefully removed to the background,
and free room is left for the sorrowful groupe on which every eye is
turned. The situation is simple in the extreme; but how tragically
moving are the internal convulsions for the representation of which the
poet has worthily husbanded his force! Lear enters with frantic cries,
bearing the body of his dead daughter in his arms; he alternates between
agitating doubts and wishing unbelief of her death, and piteously
experiments on the lifeless corpse; he bends over her with the dotage of
an old man's affection, and calls to mind the soft lowness of her voice,
till he fancies he can hear its murmurs. Then succeeds the dreadful
torpor of despairing insanity, during which he receives the most cruel
tidings with apathy, or replies to them with wild incoherence; and the
heart flows forth at the close with its last burst of love, only to
break in the vehemence of its emotion,--commencing with the tenderness
of regret, swelling into choking grief, and at last, when the eye
catches the tokens of mortality in the dead, snapping the chords of life
in a paroxysm of agonised horror.

                     Oh, thou wilt come no more;
     Never, never, never, never, never!
     --Pray you, undo this button: Thank you, Sir.--
     Do you see this?--_Look on her--look_--HER LIPS!
     _Look there! Look there!_

The application here of the differences thus pointed out is easy enough.
Fletcher either would not have chosen so bare a story, or he would have
treated it in another guise. [Sidenote: Incidents of _The Two Noble
Kinsmen_ story] The incidents which constitute the story are neither
many nor highly wrought: they are only the capture of the two
knights,--their becoming enamoured of the lady,--the combat which was to
decide their title to her,--and the death of Arcite after it. And no
complexity of minor adventures is inserted to disturb the simplicity so
presented. [Sidenote: wouldn't have suited Fletcher.] In all this there
is nothing which Fletcher could have found sufficient to maintain that
continuity and stretch of interest which he always thought necessary.
[Sidenote: He'd have added to 'em.] He would have invented accessory
circumstances, he would have produced new characters, or thrust the less
important person[77:1]ages who now fill the stage, further into the
foreground, and more constantly into action: the one simple and
inartificial story which we have, possessing none of his mercurial
activity of motion, and scarcely exciting a feeling of curiosity, would
have been transformed into a complication of intrigues, amidst which the
figures who occupy the centre of the piece as it stands, would have been
only individuals sharing their importance with others, and scarcely
allowed room enough to make their features at all distinguishable.

[Sidenote: Shakspere's handling seen in certain scenes of _The Two Noble

In the management of particular scenes of this play, likewise, certain
circumstances are observable, which, separately, seem to go a certain
length in establishing Shakspeare's claim to the arrangement, and have
considerable force when taken together. [Sidenote: Act I. scene ii.
design'd by Shakspere.] The second scene of the first act would appear
to have been sketched by him rather than Fletcher, from its containing
no activity of incident, and serving no obvious purpose but the
development of the character and situation of the two princes; a mode of
preparation not at all practised by Fletcher. [Sidenote: Act I. scene
iii. also. And] Neither does any consequence flow from the beautiful
scene immediately following; a circumstance which points out Shakspeare
as having arranged the scene, and would strengthen the evidence of his
having written the dialogue, if that required any corroboration.
[Sidenote: Act V. scenes i. ii. iii. [? Emilia with the pictures.]] The
bareness and undiversified iteration of situation in the first three
scenes of the last act form one presumption against the devising of
those scenes by Fletcher. [Sidenote: Act V. scene v. also designd by
Shakspere.] The economy of the fifth scene of that act, in which Emilia,
left alone on the stage, listens to the noise of the combat, is also, to
me, strongly indicative of Shakspeare. The contrivance is unusual, but
extremely well imagined. I do not recollect an instance in Fletcher
bearing the smallest likeness to it, or founded on any principles at all
analogous to that which is here called into operation. In Shakspeare, I
think we may, in more than one drama, discover something which might
have given the germ of it. [Sidenote: Shakspere's expedients for
avoiding spectacles; in] He has not only in his historical plays again
and again regretted the insufficiency of the means possessed by his
stage, or any other, for the representation of such spectacles; but in
several of those plays he has devised expedients for avoiding them. In
'Henry V.' we have the battle of Azincour; but the only encounter of
[78:1]the opposite parties is that of Pistol and the luckless Signor
Dew. [Sidenote: _1 Henry IV._,] In 'the first part of Henry IV.' he has
shewn an unwillingness to risk the effect even of a single combat; for
in the last scene of that play, where prince Henry engages Hotspur, the
spectator's attention is distracted from the fight between them, by the
entrance of Douglas, and his attack on the prudent Falstaff. [Sidenote:
_Richard II._,] In 'Richard II.' the lists are exhibited for the duel of
Bolingbroke and Norfolk, which is inartificially broken off at the very
last instant by the mandate of the king. [Sidenote: Emilia in _Two N.
K._ I. v., like Lady Macbeth in II. ii. of _Macbeth_.] But a more deeply
marked likeness to the spirit in which the scene in 'The Two Noble
Kinsmen' is arranged, meets us in Lady Macbeth watching and listening
while her husband perpetrates the murder, like a bad angel which delays
its flight only till it be assured that the whispered temptation has
done its work. And in this combat scene, even the ancient and artless
expedient used, of relating important events by messengers brought in
for that sole end, and having no part in the action, may be noticed as
belonging to an older form of the drama than Fletcher's, and as being
very frequently practised by Shakspeare himself.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: The motives of the play of _The Two N. K._]

In quitting our cursory examination of the qualities which distinguish
the mechanical arrangement of the play, we may advert to the mode in
which those influences are conceived which give motion to the incidents
of the story, and regulate its progress. [Sidenote: Dramatic art
defin'd.] The dramatic art is a representation of human character in
action; and action in human life is prompted by passion, which the other
powers of the mind serve only to guide, to modify, or to quell. In the
conception of the passions which are chiefly operative in this drama,
there seems to be much that is characteristic of a greater poet than
Fletcher. [Sidenote: In _The Two N. K._ the moving passions are Love and
Jealousy.] In the first place, the passions which primarily originate
the action of the piece are simple; they are Love and Jealousy; the
purest and most disinterested form of the one, and the noblest and most
generous which could be chosen for the other. [Sidenote: This conception
is Shakspere's.] The conception is Shakspeare's in its loftiness and
magnanimity; and it is his also as being a direct appeal to common
sympathies, modified but slightly by partial or fugitive views of
nature. [Sidenote: The keeping close to the leading motives, is
Shakspere's doing.] But it also resembles him in the singleness and
coherence of design with [79:1]which the idea is seized and followed
out. It cannot be necessary that I should specifically exemplify the
closeness with which those ruling passions are brought to bear on the
leading circumstances of the story from first to last. And it is almost
equally superfluous to remind you, how far any such adherence to that
unity of impulse, operates as evidence in a question between the two
poets whom we have here to compare. [Sidenote: Fletcher's inability to
work a character out, to keep one passion always in the front.]
Fletcher, in common with other poets of all ranks inferior to the
highest, is unable to preserve any one form of passion or of character
skilfully in the foreground: he may seem occasionally to have proposed
to himself the prosecution of such an end, but he either degenerates
into the exhibition of a few over-wrought dramatic contrasts, or loses
his way altogether amidst the complicated adventures with which he
incumbers his stories. [Sidenote: Shakspere's definite purpose and
keeping to it.] This inability to keep sight of an uniform design, is in
truth one striking argument of inferiority; and the clearness with which
Shakspeare conceives a definite purpose, and the fixedness with which he
pursues it, go very far to unravel the great secret of his power.
[Sidenote: His relying on the emotion he puts into his characters.] I
have already pointed out to you, perhaps without necessity, wherein it
is that his strength of passion consists; that it is not in the
incidents of his fable, but in his mode of treating the incidents; that
he will not rely on mere vigour or skill of outline in his
stage-grouping, for that influence which he is conscious of being always
able to acquire more worthily, by the beauty and emotion which he
breathes into the organic formation of the living statuary of the scene;
that he refuses to sacrifice to the meretricious attraction of strained
situations or entangled incidents, the internal and self-supporting
strength of his historical pictures of the heart, or the unflinching
accuracy of his demonstrations of the intellectual anatomy. [Sidenote:
Shakspere's unity of purpose, seen in his conception, and his carrying
this out.] In a similar way you will look for his unity of purpose, not
in the mechanical economy of his plots, but in the elementary conception
of his characters, and in his developement of the principles of passion
under whose suggestions those characters act. [Sidenote: Shakspere's
conception of character, and method of developing it.] He chooses as the
subject of his delineation some mightily and truly conceived
impersonation of human attributes, inconsistent it may be in itself,
but faithful to its prototype as being inconsistent according to the
rules which guide inconsistency in our enigmati[80:1]cal mental
constitution; for the exhibition of the character so imagined he devises
some chain of events by which its internal springs of action may be
brought into play; and he traces the motion and results of those
spiritual impulses with an undeviating steadiness of design, which turns
aside neither to raise curiosity nor to gratify a craving for any other
mean excitement. Some singular instances of Shakspeare's fine judgment
in clinging to one great design, are furnished by the 'Othello.'
[Sidenote: Desdemona's murder compard with Annabella's (by Ford).] The
death of Desdemona has been compared with the murder of Annabella, a
scene (evidently drawn from it) in a drama of Ford's on a story which
makes the flesh creep. [Sidenote: Ford's above Shakspere's in pathos.]
Some have pronounced Ford's scene superior in pathos to Shakspeare's: I
think it is decidedly so. The tender mournfulness of the language and
few images is exquisite, and the sweet sad monotonous melody of the
versification is indescribably affecting. Is it from weakness that
Shakspeare has not given to the death of his gentle lady an equally
strong impress of pathos? No. He was not indeed susceptible of the
feminine abandonment of Ford; but he was equal to a manly tone of
feeling, fitted to excite a truer sympathy. [Sidenote: Why? Because of
Shakspere's self-restraint.] He has refused to stretch the chords of
feeling to the utmost in favour of Desdemona; and his refusal has a
design and meaning in it. [Sidenote: The mind of Othello is the centre
of Shakspere's play,] There is anguish in the scene, and the most utter
yielding to overpowering sorrow; but it is the Moor who feels those
emotions, and it is the exhibition of his mind which is the leading end
of this scene, as of the rest of the drama. [Sidenote: and the pathos of
Desdemona's death must be kept down.] The suffering lady is but an
inferior actor in the scene; her situation is brought out with perfect
skill and genuine tenderness, so far as it is consistent with the first
object and illustrative of it; but its expression is arrested at the
point where its further developement would have marred the effect of the
scene as a whole, and broken in on its pervading spirit. Ford had no
such aim in view; and the very scene of his which is so beautiful in
itself, loses almost all its force when regarded as a part of the play
in which it is inserted.

These principles of Shakspeare's could be traced as influencing the
drama of the 'Two Noble Kinsmen,' even if there were nothing farther to
shew their effect than what has been already [81:1]noticed. But their
power is displayed still more admirably in a second quality in the mode
of conception, less open to notice, but breathing actively through all.
There is skill in the mental machinery which gives motion to the story;
but there is even greater art in the application of a hidden influence,
which controls the action of the moving power, and equalizes its
effects. [Sidenote: Shakspere's art in subduing all _The Two Noble
Kinsmen_ to one Friendship.] That secret principle is Friendship, the
operation of which is shewn most distinctly in the Kinsmen, guiding
every part of their behaviour except where their mutual claim to
Emilia's love comes into operation, never extinct even there, though its
effect be sometimes suspended, and awakening on the approach of Arcite's
death, with a warmth which is natural as well as touching. [Sidenote:
Love of Friends the leading idea of _The Two Noble Kinsmen_.] But this
feeling has a farther working: Love of Friends is in truth the leading
idea of the piece: the whole drama is one sacrifice on the altar of one
of the holiest influences which affect the mind of man. Palamon and
Arcite are the first who bow down before the shrine, but Theseus and
Perithous follow, and Emilia and her sister do homage likewise.
[Sidenote: The harmony of its parts, an idea beyond Fletcher.] This
singular harmony of parts was an idea perfectly beyond Fletcher's reach;
and the execution of it was equally unfit for his attempting. The
discrimination, the delicate relief, with which the different shades of
the affection are elaborated, is inimitable. The love of the Princesses
does not issue in action; it is a placid feeling, which gladly
contemplates its own likeness in others, or turns back with memory to
the vanished hours of childhood: with Theseus and his friend, the
passion is exhibited dimly, as longing for exertion, but not gifted with
opportunity; and in the Kinsmen, it bursts out into full activity,
quelling all but the one omnipotent passion, and tempering and purifying
even it. With this exception, you will not look for much of Shakspeare's
skill in delineating character. [Sidenote: Not much of Shakspere's
characterization in _The Two Noble Kinsmen_.] The features of the two
Princes are aptly enough distinguished; but neither in them, nor in any
of the others, is there an approach to his higher efforts. You will
recollect that in his acknowledged works those finer and deeper pryings
into character have place only in few instances; and that the greater
number of his dramas depend for their effect chiefly on other causes,
some of which are energetic in this very play.

[82:1]While you successively inspected particular passages in this
play, your attention was necessarily called both to the character of its
imaginative portions, and to the tone of reflection which is so
frequently assumed in it. [Sidenote: Whose is the ruling temper of _The
Two Noble Kinsmen_?] The drama having been now put entirely before you,
I shall wish you to ponder its ruling temper as a whole, and to
determine whether that temper is Fletcher's, or belongs to a more
thoughtful, inquisitive, and solemn mind. [Sidenote: Seek in it the mind
of its author.] When you institute such a reconsideration, I shall be
desirous that you contemplate the internal spirit of the work from a
loftier and more commanding station than that which you formerly
occupied; and I shall crave you to view its elements of thought and
feeling less as the qualities of a literary work, than as the signs and
results of the mental constitution of its author. [Sidenote: The duty of
our reverence for Shakspere, the Star of Poets, being intelligent.] I
cannot regard as altogether foreign to our leading purpose any inquiry
which may hold out the promise of illustrating the characteristics of
Shakspeare even slightly, and of teaching us to mingle a more active
discernment in the reverence with which we look up to the Star of Poets
from the common level of our unendowed humanity. You will therefore have
the patience to accompany me in the suggestion of some queries as to the
character of his mode of thinking, and the way in which his reflective
spirit and his poetical qualities of mind are combined and influence
each other. We may be able to perceive the more distinctly the real
character both of his intellect and his poetical faculty, if you will
consent that our investigation shall set out from a point which you may
be inclined to consider somewhat more remote than is altogether
necessary. [Sidenote: We'll treat 1. the true functions of Poetry, 2.
its true province.] It is to be desired that we should have clearly in
our view, first, the true functions of the poetical faculty, and,
secondly, the province in poetical invention which legitimately belongs
to the imagination, properly so called. Sound conclusions on both these
points are indispensable to sound criticism on individual specimens of
the poetical art; and when we attempt to reason on particular cases,
without having those conclusions placed prominently in view at the
outset, the vagueness of ordinary language makes us constantly liable to
lose sight of their true grounds and distinctions. The laying down of
such principles at the institution of an inquiry into the poetical
character of a great [82:2]poet, is therefore in no degree less useful,
than the inculcating of familiar truths is in the instructions of
religious and moral teachers; the end in each of the cases being, not
the establishing of new principles, but the placing of known and
admitted ones in an aspect which shall render them influential; and the
necessity in each, arising from the danger which exists lest the
principles, acknowledged in the abstract, should in practice be wholly

[Sidenote: Contrast of the Arts of Poetry and Design, in Lessing's

We can in no way discover the real character and objects of the Poetical
Art so easily as by contrasting it with the Arts of Design; and the
materials for such a comparison are afforded by the Laocoon of Lessing.
[Sidenote: The Greeks subordinated Expression to Beauty.] The principles
established in that admirable essay will scarcely be now disputed, and
may be fairly enough summed up in the following manner.[83:1]--A study
of the Grecian works of art convinces us, that "among the ancients
Beauty was the presiding law of those arts which are occupied with
Form;" that, to that supreme object, the Greek artists sacrificed every
collateral end which might be inconsistent with it; and that, in
particular, they expressed the external signs of mental commotion and
bodily suffering, to no farther extent than that which allowed Beauty to
be completely preserved. [Sidenote: And all Design must do the same,
because] Now, that this subordination of Expression to Beauty is a
fundamental principle of art, and not a mere accidental quality of
Grecian art individually, is proved by considering the peculiar
constitution and mechanical necessities of art. Its representations are
confined to a single instant of time; and that one circumstance imposes
on it two limitations, which necessarily produce the characteristic
quality of the Grecian works. [Sidenote: 1. the expression must be
caught before the highest passion is attaind;] First, "the expression
must never be selected from what may be called the _acme_ or
transcendent point of the action;" and that because, the power of the
arts of design being confined to the arresting of a single point in the
developement of an action, it is indispensable that they should select a
point which is in the highest degree significant, and most fully excites
the imagination; a condition [83:2]which is fulfilled only by those
points in an action in which the action moves onward, and the passion
which prompts it increases; and which is not fulfilled in any degree by
the highest stage of the passion and the completion of the action.
[Sidenote: 2. because the expression must not be that of a momentary
feeling.] [Sidenote: But Poetry is not bound by the limits of the Fine
Arts.] [Sidenote: It can seize passion at its height.] Secondly, a
limitation is imposed as to the choice of the proper point in the onward
progress of the action: for art invests with a motionless and unchanging
permanence the point of action which it selects; and consequently any
appearance which essentially possesses the character of suddenness and
evanescence is unfit to be its subject, since the mind cannot readily
conceive such transitory appearances as stiffened into that monumental
stability.--Since it is by the limitation of the Fine Arts to the
representation of a single instant of time that the two limitations in
point of expression are imposed, and since Poetry is not subject to that
mechanical limitation, but can describe successively every stage of an
action, and every phasis of a passion, it follows that this latter art
is not fettered by the limitation in expression, which is consequent on
the physical limitation of the other; and hence the exhibition of
passion in its height is as allowable in poetry as it is inadmissible in
the arts of design. [Sidenote: Beauty is but one of its many resources.]
And since the whole range and the whole strength of human thought,
action, and passion, are thus left open to the poet as subjects of his
representation, it follows likewise, that Beauty "can never be more than
one amongst many resources, (and those the slightest,) by which he has
it in his power to engage our interest for his characters."

It will be remarked, that the purport of Lessing's reasoning, so far as
he has in express terms carried it, is no more than to demonstrate the
important truth, that the Fine Arts are confined by certain limits to
which Poetry is not subject. His elucidation of the principles of poetry
is purely incidental and negative. His reasoning seems however
necessarily to infer certain further consequences, the examination of
which has a tendency to cast additional light on the true end and
character of the poetical art: and it is for this reason rather than
from any difficulty lying in the way of those implied results, that I
wish now to direct your notice to their nature, and the grounds on which
[84:1]their soundness rests. [Sidenote: Design must represent Form of
permanent feelings.] Lessing's second canon does not assume the arts of
design as pursuing any further end than their original and obvious one,
the Representation of Form: it simply directs that only those
appearances of form shall be represented which admit of being conceived
as permanent. [Sidenote: The object of Art, a true representation of the
Beautiful.] And as the feelings which art desires to awaken are
pleasurable, and as forms, considered merely _as_ forms, give pleasure
only when they are beautiful, art would thus be regarded as proposing
for its object nothing beyond a Representation of the Beautiful, and
Verisimilitude in that representation. The first rule of limitation
however implies a great deal more: it looks to forms, not as such, but
as tokens significant of certain qualities not inherent in their own
nature: for the quality which it requires to be possessed by works of
art, is a capability of exciting the imagination to frame for itself
representations of human action and passion; and in this view, those
feelings which the qualities of form considered as such are calculated
to arouse, are no more than an accidental part of the impression which
the representation makes. It appears, therefore, that art _may_ pursue
two different ends,--the excitement of the feeling which Beauty
inspires, and the excitement of the feeling which has its root in human
Sympathy; and the question at once occurs,--Is each of these purposes of
art equally a part of its original and proper province? [Sidenote: May
it also try to excite feelings inconsistent with the Beautiful, as
Poetry does?] Or, since it is sufficiently clear that the effects which
the last-mentioned canon contemplates as produced by the fine arts, are
effects which are also produced by poetry, (whether its sole effects or
not, it is immaterial to this question to settle,) the question may be
put in another form:--Is it to be believed, that the arts of design,
which have admittedly for one purpose the reproduction of the Beautiful
in form, have also as an equally proper and original purpose the framing
of representations of form calculated to affect the mind with feelings
different from the feeling of the Beautiful,--these feelings being
identically the same with those which are at least the most obvious
effects of poetry? [Sidenote: No.] Reasons crowd in upon the mind,
evincing that the question must be answered by an unqualified negative.
The production of poetical effects cannot have been an _original_
purpose of the fine arts, which certainly were brought into existence
[85:1]by the love of Beauty; and the production of those effects is
plainly also an exertion in which the fine arts overstep their limits,
and wander into the region which belongs of right to the poetical art,
and to it alone. [Sidenote: Expression in Painting and Sculpture is a
borrowd quality.] That Expression in painting and sculpture is an
extraneous and borrowed quality, is made almost undeniably evident by
this one consideration, that it requires, as we have seen, to be always
kept subdued, and allowed to enter only partially into the composition
of the work. [Sidenote: That Fine Art is admired most when it has most
expression, only shows that] And, again, it is no argument against that
position, to say that the strongest and most general interest and
admiration are excited by those works of art in which expression is
permitted to go the utmost length which the physical limits of the art
permit. [Sidenote: Poetry stirs men more than pure Art does.] For the
universality of this preference only proves, that the feelings of our
common humanity influence more minds than does the pure love of the
beautiful; and the greater strength of the feeling produced by
expression, only evinces that poetry, which works its effect by means of
that quality, is a more powerful engine than the sister-art for stirring
up the depths of our nature. And it may be quite true that those works
of art which confine themselves to the attempt to move the calmer
feeling due to Beauty, are the truest to their own nature and proper
aim, although an endeavour to unite with that the attainment of higher
purposes may be admissible, and in some instances highly successful. I
apprehend that although an art should propose as its main end the
production of one particular effect, it does not follow that its effects
should be confined to the production of that alone, if its physical
conditions permit the partial pursuit of others. [Sidenote: Fine Art
_may_ borrow from its loftier sister, Poetry,] More especially, if an
art should admit of uniting, to a certain extent, with its own peculiar
and legitimate end, the prosecution of another loftier than the first,
surely we might expect to find such an art occasionally taking advantage
of the license; and yet its doing so would not compel us to say, that
both these are its proper and original purposes. [Sidenote: but Classic
Art very rarely does, and rightly.] And the fact is, that the attempt is
seldom made; for very few works of classical art exist in which the
union of the two principles is tried, the end sought being usually the
representation of beauty, and that alone. In no way, however, can the
radical difference and opposition between the two qualities be evinced
so satisfactorily as by a comparison [86:1]of the effects which they
severally produce on the mind. [Sidenote: Expression belongs to Poetry.
It excites.] [Sidenote: Poetry stirs men.] Expression, the poetical
element, gives rise to a peculiar activity of the soul, a certain
species of reflective emotion, which, it is true, is easily
distinguishable from underived passion, and does not necessarily produce
like it a tendency to action, but which yet essentially partakes of the
character of mental commotion, and is opposed to the idea of mental
inactivity. [Sidenote: Beauty soothes them.] The feeling which Beauty
awakens is of a character entirely opposite. The contemplation of the
Beautiful begets an inclination to repose, a stillness and luxurious
absorption of every mental faculty: thought is dormant, and even
sensation is scarcely followed by the perception which is its usual
consequence. [Sidenote: Look at the Venus de Medici.] It is with this
softness and relaxation of mind that we are inspired when we look on
such works as the Venus de Medici, in which beauty is sole and supreme,
and expression is permitted to be no farther present than as it is
necessary as an indication of the internal influence of soul, that so
those sympathies may be awakened, without whose partial action even
beauty itself possesses no power. [Sidenote: When ancient art stirs you,
as in the] If we turn to those few works of ancient art, in which the
opposite element is admitted, we are conscious that the soul is
differently acted upon, and we may be able by reflection to disentangle
the ravelled threads of feeling, and distinguish the mental changes
which flow upon and through each other like the successive waves on the
sea-beach. [Sidenote: Apollo and] In contemplating the Apollo, for
instance, a feeling akin to the poetical, or rather identical with it,
is awakened by the divine majesty of the statue; and upon the quiet and
self-brooding luxury with which the heart is filled by the perfect
beauty of the youthful outlines, there steals a more fervent emotion
which makes us proud to look on the proud figure, which makes us stand
more erect while we gaze, and imitate involuntarily that godlike
attitude and expression of calm and beautiful disdain. [Sidenote:
Laocoon,] [Sidenote: it is by their having left their own ground, and
taken that of Poetry, Expression.] Or look to the wonderful Laocoon, in
which the abstract feeling of beauty is even more deeply merged in the
human feeling of the pathetic,--that extraordinary groupe, in which
continued meditation arouses more and more actively the emotion of
sympathy, while we view the dark and swimming shadows of the eyes, the
absorbed and motionless agony of the mouth, and the tense torture of the
iron muscles of [87:1]the body. It is impossible to conceive that an art
can propose to itself, as originally and properly its own, two ends so
difficult of reconcilement and so different in the qualities by which
they are brought about. [Sidenote: Lastly, Fine Art appeals to sight.]
[Sidenote: Poetry never does.] Finally, the Plastic Arts offer form
directly to the sense of sight, whereas it is very doubtful whether
poetry can convey, even indirectly, any visual image. [Sidenote: If Fine
Art rightly includes Expression, then it has Beauty too; while Poetry,
which can't express Beauty directly, has to give up part of its
province, Expression, to Art, which can't use it fully.] Consequently,
the result of admitting Expression as a primary and legitimate end of
the arts of form, would be to ascribe to them an innate and underived
capability of presenting directly to the senses both beauty and the wide
circle of human action and feeling; while the genius of Poetry, by her
nature shut out from direct representation of the beautiful, whose
shadows she can evoke only through the agency of associated ideas, would
have even her own kingdom of thought and passion, her power as the great
interpreter of mind, shared with her by a rival, whom the decision would
acknowledge indeed as possessing a right to the divided empire, but who
is disqualified by the nature of her instruments from exercising that
sovereignty to the full. [Sidenote: Poetry rather lends its help to its
narrower ally, Art.] And, on the other hand, by the acknowledgment that
the arts of form are not properly a representation of human action or
human passion, and that when they aim at becoming so, they attempt a
task which is above and beyond their sphere, and in which their success
can never be more than partial, Poetry is exhibited in an august and
noble aspect, as stooping to lend a share in her broad and lofty
dominion to another art of narrower scope, which is so enabled to gain
over the mind an influence of transcending its own unassisted

[Sidenote: The aims of Poetry:]

If you shall be able to think this excursive disquisition justifiable,
it will be because it insensibly leads us to perceive what truly is the
legitimate and sole end of the Poetical Art, and because it thus clears
the way for one or two elementary propositions regarding the functions
of the Poetical Faculty. [Sidenote: 1. not to represent Beauty to the
eye, but only to the mind.] First, we perceive that poetry does not aim
at the representation of visual beauty. I do not say that beauty may not
form the subject of poetry: my meaning is, that the poet can depict it
poetically in no way except by indicating its effects on the mind. When
poetry mistakingly attempts to represent beauty by its external form,
its failure to affect the mind is signal and complete, and must be
[88:1]so, even supposing it to be possible that the picture should be so
full and accurate that the painter might sketch from it. The reason of
this is perhaps discoverable. [Sidenote: Contrast of the effects of
Beauty and Expression, of Fine Art and Poetry, on the mind.] Such a
description cannot affect the mind with the poetical sentiment, because
it does not represent to the imagination those qualities by which it is
that the poetical effect is produced; and if it were to move the mind
at all, it must be with those feelings which beauty excites when it is
seen corporeally present. It fails to operate even this effect, and why?
Beauty of form affects the mind through the intervention of sense; and
the perception of the sensible qualities of form is followed
instantaneously and necessarily by the pleasurable emotion. [Sidenote:
Beauty gives pleasure, rest, absorption.] This mental process is
involuntary, and the nature of the sentiment excited implies inactivity
and absorption of the mind. [Sidenote: Poetry stirs the Imagination, the
Will, disturbs the passiveness that Beauty produces.] When however the
imagination is called on to combine into a connected whole the scattered
features which words successively present, an effort of the will is
necessary: and the failure in the pleasurable effect appears to be
adequately accounted for (independently of any imperfection in the
result of the combination) by the inconsistency of this degree of mental
activity with the inert frame of mind which is requisite for the actual
contemplation and enjoyment of the beautiful. [Sidenote: It can't
produce an image by sight, but only by association.] When, again, the
poet represents beauty in the method chalked out for him by the nature
of his art, it is quite impossible that he can convey any distinct
visual image; for he represents the poetical qualities by indicating
them as the causes which produce some particular temper or frame of
mind: and as every mind has its distinctive differences of association,
a truly poetical picture is not realised by any two minds with precisely
similar features. [Sidenote: Its effect is opposite to that of Beauty of
Form.] And the mood of mind to which this representation gives birth, is
radically opposite to the other; it is active, sympathetic, and even
reflective: we seem, as it were, to share the feeling with others, to
derive an added delight from witnessing the manner in which they are
affected, or even to have the original passive sentiment of pleasure
entirely swallowed up in that energetic emotion.[89:1] [Sidenote: 2.
Poetry's true subject is Mind, and not external nature,] Secondly, the
true subject of poetry is [90:1]Mind. Its most strictly original purpose
is that of imaging mind _directly_, by the representation of humanity as
acting, thinking, or suffering; it presents images of external nature
only because the weakness of the mind compels it; and it is careful to
represent sensible images solely as they are acted on by mind.
[Sidenote: except as tinged with thought and feeling.] When it makes the
description of external nature its professed end, it in truth does not
represent the sensible objects themselves, but only exhibits certain
modes of thought and feeling, and characterises the sensible forms no
farther than as the causes which produce them. [Sidenote: 3. Poetry is
analytical; it perceives, discriminates.] Thirdly, The most
characteristic function of the poetical faculty is _analytical_; it is
essentially a _perception_, a power of discovery, analysis, and
discrimination. An object having been presented to it by the
imagination, it discovers, and separates from the mass of its qualities,
those of them which are calculated to affect the mind with that emotion
which is the instrumental end of poetry. [Sidenote: Its combinations
depend on its first analysis.] Coincidently with the perception and
discovery of the qualities, it perceives and experiences the peculiar
effect which each particular quality produces; and, lastly, it sets
forth and represents those resulting moods of mind, indicating at the
same time what those qualities of the object are through which they are
excited. Its task of combination is no more than consequent on this
process, and supposes each step of it to have been previously gone
through. [Sidenote: 4. Poetry depends on the power and accuracy of its
perception of the poetical qualities in its materials.] Fourthly, It
follows, (and this is the result which makes the inquiry important,)
that the poetical faculty is measured by the strength and accuracy with
which it perceives the poetical qualities of those objects which the
imagination suggests as its materials, and not by the number of the
ideas so presented. [Sidenote: Of imagination or Imagery.] A
forgetfulness of this truth has occasioned more misapprehension and
[90:2]false criticism than any other error whatever; and we are
continually in danger of the mistake, from the extension of meaning
which use has attached to the word imagination, that term being commonly
employed to designate the poetical faculty. This extended application is
perhaps unavoidable; but it is on that account the more necessary to
guard against the misconception always likely to arise from the original
signification of the word, which we can never discard entirely from the
mind in using it in a secondary sense.--You do not need to be reminded
how completely the history of the poetical art evinces, that these
positions, whether expressly acquiesced in or not, have been invariably
acted on in the judgments which the world has pronounced in particular
cases. [Sidenote: Describing forms by their outsides, is not Poetry.]
[Sidenote: They must be shown as exciting changes of Mind.] The
inadequacy of a representation of forms by their external attributes to
constitute poetical pictures, could be instanced from every bad poem
which has ever been written; and the great truth, that the external
world is exhibited poetically only by being represented as the exciting
cause of mental changes, has been illustrated in no age so singularly as
in our own. [Sidenote: Wordsworth declares that all outward objects can
do this, and become sentient existences.] The writings of Wordsworth in
particular have stretched the principle to the utmost extent which it
can possibly sustain; demanding a belief that all external objects are
poetical, because all can interest the human mind; establishing the
reasonableness of the assumption by the boldest confidence in the
strength and delicacy with which the poetical perception can trace the
qualities which awaken that interest, and the progress of the feeling
itself; and applying the poetical faculty to the transforming of every
object of sense into an energetic, and as it were sentient, existence.
[Sidenote: Mere wealth of imagery is of little worth.] And attention is
especially due to the decision which has always recognized, as the rule
of poetical excellence, the operation of some power independent of mere
wealth of imagination, ranking this latter quality as one of the lowest
merits of poetry. [Sidenote: The greatest poets use the fewest images,]
We are apt to forget that those minds whose conceptions have been the
most strongly and truly poetical, are by no means those whose poetical
ideas have been the most abundant; that an overflow of poetical images
has been coincident with an intense perception of their most efficient
poetical relations only in a few rare instances; and that it is
precisely where the highest elements of the poetical are most active
that [91:1]the imagination is usually found to offer the fewest images
as the materials on which the poetical faculty should work. [Sidenote:
witness Dante, Alfieri.] It is enough to name Dante, or, a still more
singular instance, Alfieri. [Sidenote: Their intensity is their secret.]
In both cases the poetical influence rests on the intensity of the one
simple aspect of grandeur or passion in which a character is presented,
and in both that simplicity is unrelieved and undecorated by any fulness
of imagery.[91:2]

[Sidenote: Application of these principles to the Drama.]

These fundamental principles of the poetical art possess a closer
application to Dramatic Poetry than to any other species. [Sidenote: The
Passions are the chief subjects of Poetry.] All poetry being directly or
indirectly a representation of human character; and human character
admitting of appreciation only by an exhibition of its results in
action; and action being prompted by the passionate impulses of the
mind, which its reflective faculties only modify or stay; it follows
that the Passions are the leading subjects of Poetry, which consequently
must be examined in the first instance with a view to its strength and
accuracy as a representation of the working and results of that
department of the mind. The nature of the dramatic art allows this rule
to be applied to it with the greatest strictness. [Sidenote: They work
more alone in the Drama than elsewhere.] The drama is the species which
presents the essential qualities of poetry less mingled with foreign
adjuncts than they are in any other species; and there seems to be a
cause, (independent of its mechanical necessities,) enabling it to
dispense with those decorations which abound in other kinds of poetry.
The acted drama presents its picture of life directly to the senses, and
permits the imagination, without any previous exertion, to proceed at
once to its proper task of forming its own combinations from the
sensible forms thus offered to it; and even when the drama is read, the
office of the imagination in representing to itself the action and the
characters of the piece, is an easy one, and performed without the
necessity of great activity of mind. [Sidenote: In Epic and other poetry
relying only on words, the effort to turn them into a picture hinders
their prompt action.] On the other hand, in the epic, or any other
species of poetry which represents action by [92:1]words, and not by an
imitation of the action itself, the imagination has at first to form,
from the successively presented features of the poetical description, a
picture which shall be the exciting cause of the poetical impression:
this supposes considerable energy of thought, and the necessity of
relief from that exertion seems to have suggested the introduction of
images of external nature and the like, on which the fancy may rest and
disport itself. [Sidenote: Didactic poetry is not true poetry, but
sermons in verse.] Those classes of poetry which are either partially or
wholly didactic, cannot receive a strict application of the principles
of the pure art; because they are not properly poetry, but attempts to
make poetical forms serve purposes which are not poetical.

[Sidenote: Shakspere again.]

Our journey has at length conducted us to Shakspeare, of many of whose
peculiar qualities we have been gaining scattered glimpses in our
progress. [Sidenote: He takes to Drama, because it's the noblest and
truest form of Poetry, the likest the mind of man.] We remark him
adopting that species of poetry which, necessarily confined by its
forms, is yet the noblest offspring of the poetical faculty, and the
truest to the purposes of the poetical art, because it is the most
faithful and impressive image of the mind and state of man. [Sidenote:
And there he sits enthrond.] We find him seated like an eastern
sovereign amidst those who have adopted this highest form of poetry; and
we cannot be contented that, in reverentially acknowledging his
worthiness to fill the throne, we should render him only a hasty and
undiscerning homage. [Sidenote: But why?] A discrimination of the
particular qualities by which his sway is mainly supported, is rendered
the more necessary by that extraordinary union of qualities, which has
made him what he is, the unapproached and the unapproachable.--We are
accustomed to lavish commendations on his vast Imagination. [Sidenote:
What does his _Imagination_ mean?] Before we can perceive what rank this
quality of his deserves to hold in an estimate of his character, we must
understand precisely what the quality is which we mean to praise.
[Sidenote: his wealth of imagery?] If the term used denotes merely the
abundance of his illustrative conceptions, it expresses what is a
singular quality, especially as co-existent with so many other
endowments, but useful only as furnishing materials for the use of the
poetical power. [Sidenote: of fancy, of conception?] If the word is
meant to call attention to the strength and delicacy with which his mind
grasps and embodies the poetical relations of those overflowing
conceptions, (still considered simply as illustrative or decorative,)
[93:1]the quality indicated is a rare and valuable gift, and is
especially to be noted in an attempt to trace a likeness to his manner.
[Sidenote: No.] Still however it is but a secondary ground of desert; it
is even imperfectly suited for developement in dramatic dialogue, and it
frequently tempts him to quit the genuine spirit and temper of his
scene. [Sidenote: Does Shakspere's imagination mean the grandeur or
loveliness he has given some of his characters?] If, again, in speaking
of the great poet's imagination, we have regard to the poetical
character of many of his leading conceptions, to the ideal grandeur or
terror of some of his preternatural characters, or even to the romantic
loveliness which he has thrown, like the golden curtains of the
morning, over the youth and love of woman,--we point out a quality which
is admirable in itself, and almost divine in its union with others so
opposite, a quality to which we are glad to turn for repose from the
more severe portions of his works,--but still an excellence which is not
the most marked feature of his character, and which he could want
without losing the essential portion of his identity. [Sidenote: No.]
[Sidenote: We could give up Miranda, Ariel, Juliet, Romeo, and yet leave
the true, the highest Shakspere behind, in Richard, Macbeth, Lear,
Hamlet.] We could conceive, (although the idea is sacrilege to the
genius and the altar of poetry,) we could conceive that 'The Tempest'
had remained unwritten, that Miranda had not made inexperience beautiful
by the spell of innocence and youth, that the hideous slave Caliban had
never scowled and cursed, nor Ariel alighted on the world like a
shooting-star,--we could dismiss alike from our memories the moon-light
forest in which the Fairy Court revel, and the lurid and spectre-peopled
ghastliness of the cave of Hecate,--we could in fancy remove from the
gallery of the poet's art the picture which exhibits the two
self-destroyed lovers lying side by side in the tomb of the
Capulets,--and we could discard from our minds, and hold as never having
been invented by the poet, all which we find in his works possessing a
character similar to these scenes and figures;--and yet we should leave
behind that which would support Shakspeare as having pursued the highest
ends of his art, and as having attained those ends more fully than any
other who ever followed them: Richard would still be his; Macbeth would
think and tremble, and Lear weep and be mad; and Hamlet would still pore
over the riddle of life, and find in death the solution of its mystery.
[Sidenote: These show his Imagination, the force with which he throws
himself into their characters.] If it is to such characters as these
last that we refer when we speak of the poet's power of
imagina[94:1]tion, and if we wish to designate by the word the force
with which he throws himself into the conception of those characters,
then we apprehend truly what the sphere is in which his greatness lies,
although we either describe the whole of a most complicated mental
process by naming a single step of it, or load the name of that one
mental act with a weight of meaning which it is unfit to bear.

[Sidenote: Shakspere's supremacy lies in his characterization.]

It is here, in his mode of dealing with human character, that
Shakspeare's supremacy confessedly lies; and the conclusions which we
have reached as to the great purpose of poetry, allow us easily to
perceive how excellence in this department justifies the universal
decision, which places at the summit of poetical art the poet who is
pre-eminently distinguished by it. [Sidenote: Why is his the best?] What
is there in Shakspeare's view of human character which entitles him to
this high praise? [Sidenote: How is he true to Nature and imagination?]
His truth of painting is usually specified as the source of his
strength; in what sense is he true to nature? Is that faithfulness to
nature consistent with any exercise of the imagination in the
representation of character? And how? And again, how does his reflective
temper of mind harmonize with or arise out of the view of human life
which he takes?

[Sidenote: Poetry (or Drama) represent passions.]

Poetry, as we have seen, and dramatic poetry more strictly than any
other species, must be judged primarily as a representation of passion
and feeling; and when it is defective as such, it has failed in its
proper end. Its prosecution of that end, however, is subject to two
important limitations. [Sidenote: But 1. it must show human nature
entirely, both its moving and hindering forces; man's mind as well as
his passions; 2. it must do this impressively, must have a high standard
of character.] First, if it is to be in any sense a _true_
representation of human action, it must represent human nature not
partially, but entirely; it must exhibit not only the moving influences
which produce action, but also the counteracting forces which in real
life always control it. It must be a mirror of the intellectual part of
the human mind, as well as of the passionate. Secondly, if, possessing
the first requisite, truth, it is to be also an _impressive_
representation, (that is, such a representation as shall effect the ends
of poetical art,) it must set up an ideal and elevated standard to
regulate its choice of the class of intellectual endowment which is to
form the foundation of the characters which it portrays. [Sidenote: Ben
Jonson faild in (2), the other Elizabethans in (1).] We discover the
cause of Jonson's inferiority in his failure in obedience to the latter
of these rules, though he scrupulously complied with [95:1]the first: we
discover the prevailing defect of all the other dramatic writers of that
period, to consist in their neglect even of the first and subsidiary
rule, which involved a complete disregard to the other.--These latter
have, as well as Shakspeare, been proposed as models, from their close
imitation of nature. [Sidenote: Shakspere's contemporaries don't imitate
Nature, they distort it, give Passion, and no Reason.] The merit of
truth to nature belongs to them only in a very confined sense. They
seize one oblique and partial aspect of human character, and represent
it as giving a true and direct view of the whole; they are the poets of
the passions, and no more; they have failed to shadow forth that
control which the calmer principles of our nature always exert over the
active propensities. Their excellence consequently is to be looked for
only in scenes which properly admit the force of unchecked passion, or
of passions conflicting with each other; and in those scenes where the
more thoughtful spirit ought to work, we must be prepared to meet either
exaggeration of feeling or feebleness of thought, either the operation
of an evil principle, or, at best, a defect of the good one. [Sidenote:
They like to show the mind in delirium.] Even in their passionate
scenes, the vigour of the drawing is the merit oftener than the
faithfulness of the portrait; they delight to figure the human mind as
in a state of delirium, with the restraining forces taken off, and the
passions and the imagination boiling, as if the brain were maddened by
opiates or fever. Fierce and exciting visions come across the soul in
such a paroxysm; and in the intensity of its stimulated perceptions, it
gazes down into the abysses of nature, with a profound though transitory
quickness of penetration. It is a high merit to have exhibited those
partial views of nature, or even this exaggerated phasis of the mind;
and the praise is shared by no dramatic school whatever; (for the
qualities of the ancient are different;) but it must not be assumed that
the drama fulfils its highest purposes, by representations so partial,
so distorted, or so disproportioned. [Sidenote: They are poets of
impulse.] As these poets of impulse bestowed no part of their attention
on the intellect in any view, they produced their peculiar effect, such
as it was, without any attempt at that higher task of selection and
elevation in intellectual character for which the universality of views
which they wanted must always serve as the foundation. [Sidenote: Ben
Jonson as broad in aim as Shakspere.] They had accordingly little scope
for the due introduction of reflection in their works; and their turn of
mind inclined them little to [96:1]search for it when it did not
naturally present itself.--Jonson resembled Shakspeare in wideness of
aim: he is most unlike him in the method which he adopted in the pursuit
of his end. [Sidenote: Ben Jonson tried at truth to nature,] The two
stood alone in their age and class, as alone aiming at truth to nature
in any sense; both wished to read each of the opposite sides of the
scroll of human character: but the one read correctly the difficult
writing in which intellectual character is traced, while the other
misapprehended and misinterpreted its meaning, and even allowed the
eagerness with which he perused this perplexing page, to withdraw his
attention from the more easy meaning of the other. [Sidenote: but drew
individuals only, portraits of reality, but no types,] The fault of his
characters as intellectual beings, is that they are individuals and no
more; faithful or grotesque portraits of reality, they are not touched
with that purple light which affords insight into universal relations
and hidden causes. [Sidenote: not poetic creations.] His failure is
shewn by its effect: his characters are not so conceived as to lead the
mind to the comprehension of anything beyond their own individual
peculiarities, or to elevate it into that region of active and
conceptive contemplation into which it is raised by the finest class of
poetry: he exhibited reality as reality, and not in its relation to
possibility; he even diverges into the investigation of causes, instead
of seeing them at a glance, and indicating them by effects; he
anatomised human life, and hung up its dry bones along the walls of his

In the close obedience which Shakspeare rendered to each of these two
canons, borne in upon his mind by the instantaneous suggestions of his
happy genius, we may discover the origin of his tremendous power.
[Sidenote: Shakspere's power lay in subordinating Fancy and Passion to
Intellect.] To commence at the point where his adherence to the first
and subsidiary rule is most slightly manifested, it is to be noticed,
that his works are marked throughout by a predominance of the qualities
of the understanding over the fancy and the passions. This is not true
of the fundamental conception of the work, nor of the relations by which
his characters are united into the dramatic groupes; in these
particulars the poetical faculty is allowed to work freely: but it is
after the initial steps have been taken under her guidance, that the
rule is committed to the sterner power of intellect. The stir of fancy
often breaks through the restraints which hold it in check; the warmth
of feeling effervesces very unfrequently. [Sidenote: All his characters
have quiet good sense.] [Sidenote: Shakspere's shrewdness in his minor
scenes.] The poet's personages [97:1]are all more or less marked by an
air of quiet sense, which is extremely unusual in poetry, and
incompatible with the unnecessary or frequent display of feeling; and
accordingly, his less important scenes, whether they be gay or serious,
occupied in the business of the drama, or devoted to an exchange of
witty sallies, possess, where they aim at nothing higher, at least a
degree of intellectual shrewdness, which very often savours of worldly
coldness. [Sidenote: His soberness gives force to his passion.] Viewed
merely as increasing the effect of his passionate scenes, this
prevailing sobriety of tone gives him an incalculable advantage:
passion in his works bursts out when it is let loose, like the spring of
a mastiff unchained. [Sidenote: Shakspere's sober rationality.] It is of
this quality, his sober rationality, that we are apt to think when we
acknowledge his truth of representation; and the excellence is
indispensable to truth in any sense, because the want of it gives birth
to imperfection and distortion of views; but I apprehend that it is to
his aiming at a higher purpose that we have to look for the genuine
source of his power. [Sidenote: But he didn't reproduce the bare
reality.] While we mark the gradual rise of the intellectual element of
poetical character upwards from its lowest stage, we are in truth
approximating to a rule which issues in something beyond a bare and
unselected reproduction of reality. [Sidenote: Poetry aims at general
truth, brings out the relation of one mind to universal nature; it
idealizes and ennobles realities.] Poetry aims at representing the whole
of man's nature; and yet a picture of human character, embracing all its
features, but neither skilfully selecting its aspect nor majestically
combining its component parts, would not effect the ends of poetry: for
that art contemplates not individual but general truth, not that which
is really produced, but that which may be conceived without doing
violence to acknowledged principles; instead of presenting a bare
portraiture of mental changes, it exhibits them in an aspect which
teaches their relation to the system of universal nature; it is
seemingly conversant with facts, but it imperceptibly hints at causes;
it aims at exciting the imagination to frame pictures for itself, and
for that reason, if for no other, it must be permitted to idealize and
ennoble the individual realities from which its materials are collected.
[Sidenote: A Painting pictured a soldier in the midst of foes, yet showd
him alone.] The mode in which poetry affects the mind is illustrated by
the description which we read of a certain ancient painting. That piece
represented a young soldier surrounded by several enemies and
desperately defending himself; but his own figure alone was
[98:1]admitted into the field of view, and the motions and place of his
unseen enemies were indicated solely by the life, energy, and
significance of the attitude in which he was drawn. Shakspeare's
attachment to truth of representation never tempted him to forget the
true purpose of his art. [Sidenote: Shakspere is true to nature in
Poetry's way.] [Sidenote: His characters are not monsters of evil,]
While he is true to nature by attempting the treatment of his whole
subject, he is true to it in the manner and with the restrictions which
the nature of poetry requires; he is true to principles which admit of
being conceived as producing effects, not to effects individually
observed as resulting; the creatures of his conception possess no
qualities which unfit them for exciting the mind as poetical character
should excite it; they are not repulsive by the unexampled and unatoned
for congregation of evil qualities, not mean by the absence of lofty
thought, not devoid of poetical significance by confining the
imagination to the qualities by which they are individually marked.
[Sidenote: nor are they above the influence of evil.] You will
particularly remark, that, while he had to bring out the features of his
characters by subjecting them to tragic and calamitous events, he was
careful not to figure them as unsusceptible of the influence of those
external evils. [Sidenote: Brutus is his one stoical character.] The
lofty view which he took of human nature did indeed admit the idea of a
resistance to calamity, and a triumph over it, based on internal and
conscious grandeur; but this is an aspect in which he does not present
the human mind; the stoical Brutus is the only character in which he has
attempted such a conception, which he has there developed but partially.
But while he was contented, even in his noblest characters, to represent
passion in all its strength and directed towards its usual objects, he
had open to him sources of tragic strength unknown to those poets who
describe passion only. Where passion alone is represented, no spectacle
is so agitating as the conflict of contending passions; and the
narrowness of such views of nature permits that tragic opposition to be
no further exhibited. [Sidenote: Shakspere dealt not with the conflict
of Passions only, but with the strife between the Passions and the
Reason,] Shakspeare had before him a wider field of contrast--the
conflict between the passions and the reason--a struggle between powers
inspired with deadly animosity, and each, as he conceived them,
possessed of gigantic strength. [Sidenote: convulsing the whole being of
man.] He has worthily represented that terrible encounter, engaging
every principle and faculty of the soul, and shaking the whole kingdom
of man's being with [99:1]internal convulsions. It is in such
representations that his power is mainly felt; and his pictures are at
the same time truest to nature and most faithful to the ends of tragic
art, by the subjugation of the intellectual principle which is the
catastrophe of the strife. The reason is assaulted by calamity from
without, and borne down by an host of rebellious feelings attacking it
internally. [Sidenote: Characters showing this mental strife, are
specially dear to Shakspere.] It is to the delineation of such
characters as afford scope for this exhibition of mental commotion that
Shakspeare has especially attached himself: the thoughtful and
reflective in character is at once his favourite resort, and the field
of his triumph.

[Sidenote: He chose the intellectual and reflective in character.]

The poet's selection of the intellectual and reflective in character, as
the subject of his art, is thus indicated as his guiding principle, to
whose operation all other principles and rules are but subservient. The
reflective element however is in excess with Shakspeare, and its undue
prevalence is not destitute of harmony with the principle which produces
its legitimately moderated effects. [Sidenote: He's a Gnomic Poet.] He
is a Gnomic Poet; and he is so, because he is emphatically the poet of
man. [Sidenote: The solemnity of meditation is thro' all his soul.] He
pauses, he reflects, he aphorizes; because, looking on life and death as
he looked on them, viewing the nature of man from so lofty a station,
and with a power of vision so far-reaching, so acute, and so delicate,
it was impossible but the deepest solemnity of meditation should diffuse
itself through all the chambers of his soul. [Sidenote: He makes his
people hint the principles beneath the shews.] His enunciations of
general truth are often serious and elevated even in his gayer works;
and where the scene denied him an opportunity of introducing these in
strict accordance with the business of the drama, he makes his
personages, as it were, step out of the groupe, to meditate on the
meanings of the scene, to hold a delicately implied communication with
the spectator, and to hint the general maxims and principles which lurk
beneath the tragic and passionate shews. He has gone beyond this: he has
brought on the stage characters whose sole task is meditation, whose
sole purpose in the drama is the suggesting of high and serious
reflection. [Sidenote: Jaques, in _As You Like It_, is like a Greek
chorus, which] Jaques is the perfection of such a character; and the
office which he discharges bears more than a fanciful likeness in
conception to the task of the ancient chorus. [Sidenote: gave the
key-note to the audience.] That forgotten appendage of the Grecian drama
originated indeed from incidental causes; but, being continued as a part
of the dramatic plan, [100:1]it had a momentous duty assigned to it: it
suggested, it interpreted, it sympathised, it gave the key-note to the
reflections of the audience. [Sidenote: The highest art made Shakspere
insert his reflective passages in his plays.] A profound sense of the
highest purposes and responsibilities of the art prompted this
employment of the choral songs; and no way dissimilar was the impression
which dictated to Shakspeare the introduction of the philosophically
cynical lover of nature in that one play, and the breaks of reflection
so frequent with him in many others.--It is worthy of remark, that this
spirit of penetrating thought, ranging from every-day wisdom to
philosophical abstraction, never becomes morose or discontented.[101:1]
Man is a selfish being, but not a malignant one; yet the acts resulting
from the two dispositions are often very similar, and it is the error of
the misanthrope to mistake the one for the other. [Sidenote: Shakspere
never made the misanthrope's mistake.] [Sidenote: His sarcasm did not
spring from envy.] Shakspeare's well-balanced mind was in no danger of
this mistake; his keen-sightedness often makes him sarcastic, but the
sarcasm forced on a mind which contrasts the poorness of reality with
the splendours of imagination, is of a different temper from that which
is bred from lowness of thought and fretful envy. [Sidenote: _Timon's_
sternness is softened by tenderness.] Shakspeare has devoted one
admirable drama to the exhibition of the misanthrophic spirit, as
produced by wrongs in a noble heart; but the sternness which is the
master-note of that work is softened by the most beautiful intervals of
redeeming tenderness and good feeling. [Sidenote: _Troilus_ is
Shakspere's only bitter play.] The only work of his evidently written in
ill humour with mankind, is the Troilus, which, both in idea and
execution, is the most bitter of satires.

The application of the distinctive qualities of Shakspeare's tone of
thought to the spirit of 'The Two Noble Kinsmen', is a task for your own
judgment and discrimination, and would not be aided by suggestions of
mine. I have stated the result to which I have been led by such an
application; and I am confident that you will be able to reach the same
conclusion by a path which may be shorter than any which I could clear
for you. In connection however with this inquiry, I would direct your
attention to one other truth possessing a clear application here.
[Sidenote: Shakspere's thoughtfulness a Moral distinction.] Shakspeare's
thoughtfulness goes the length of becoming a Moral distinction and
excellence. [Sidenote: His part of _The Two Noble Kinsmen_ is of higher
tone, and purer, than Fletcher's.] That such a difference does exist
between Shakspeare and Fletcher, is denied by no one; and the moral tone
of this play, in those parts which I have [101:2]ventured to call
Shakspeare's, is distinctly a higher one than Fletcher's. It is uniform
and pure, though the moral inquisition is less severe than Shakspeare's
often is. [Sidenote: Massinger and Ben Jonson too more moral than
Fletcher.] If Massinger or Jonson had been the poet alleged to have
written part or the whole of the work, it would have been difficult to
draw any inference from this circumstance by itself; but when the
question is only between Shakspeare and Fletcher, even an abstinence
from gross violation or utter concealment of moral truth is an
important element in the decision; and the positively high strain here
maintained is a very strong argument in favour of the purer writer.

[Sidenote: Are Johnson, &c. right in condemning Shakspere's morality.]

I am tempted, however, to carry you somewhat further on this head,
because I must confess that I cannot see the grounds on which Johnson
and others have rested their sweeping condemnation of Shakspeare's
morality. There is, it must be admitted, much to blame, but there is
also something worthy of praise; and praise on this score is what
Shakspeare has scarcely ever received. [Sidenote: He admits
licentiousness] He has been charged with licentiousness, and justly; but
even in this particular there are some circumstances of palliation,
besides the equivocal plea of universal example, and the doubt which
exists whether most of his grosser dialogues are not interpolations.
[Sidenote: and coarse speech.] Mere coarseness of language may offend
the taste, and yet be so used as to give no foundation for any heavier
charge. [Sidenote: But who can be tainted by Othello's words?] There
surely never was a mind which could receive one evil suggestion from the
language wrung from the agonized Othello. Even where this excuse does
not hold, Shakspeare preserves one most important distinction quite
unknown to his contemporaries. [Sidenote: Shakspere's contemporaries
make their heroes loose livers.] By them, looseness of dialogue is
introduced indifferently anywhere in the play, licentiousness of
incident is admitted in any part of the plot, and debauchery of life is
attributed without scruple to those persons in whom interest is chiefly
meant to be excited. [Sidenote: He doesn't,] It may be safely stated
that Shakspeare almost invariably follows a rule exactly opposite. His
inferior characters may be sometimes gross and sensual; his principal
personages scarcely ever are so: these he refuses to degrade needlessly,
by attributing to them that carelessness of moral restraint of which
Fletcher's men of pleasure are so usually guilty. [Sidenote: except in
two plays.] There are only two plays[102:1] in which he [102:2]has
violated this rule, exclusively of some unguarded expressions elsewhere.

But the language which has been held on this question would lead us to
believe that his guilt extends further,--that he is totally insensible
to any moral distinctions, and blind to moral aims and influences.
[Sidenote: Most of Shakspere's contemporaries made pleasure the law of
their heroes' lives.] Of most dramatic writers of his time this charge
is too true. Their characters act because they will, not because they
ought,--for happiness, and not from duty:--the lowness of their aim may
be disguised, but it is inherent, and cannot be eradicated. We might
read every work of Fletcher's without discovering (if we were ignorant
of the fact before) that there exists for man any principle of action
loftier in its origin than his earthly nature, or more extended in its
object than the life which that nature enjoys. But nothing of this is
true as to Shakspeare. [Sidenote: Shakspere's morality not of the
loftiest, not like Milton's and] That his morality is of the loftiest
sort cannot be asserted. [Sidenote: Michel Angelo's.] He does not, like
Milton, look out on life at intervals from the windows of his
sequestered hermitage, only to turn away from the sight and indulge in
the most fervent aspirations after immortal purity, and the deepest
adoration of uncreated power; nor does he grovel in the dust with that
ascetic humiliation and religious sense of guilt which overcame the
strong spirit of Michel Angelo. But he shares much of the solemnity of
moral feeling which possesses all great minds, though in him its
influence was restrained by external causes. [Sidenote: He was in the
world, and often of it,] He moves in the hurried pageant of the world,
and sometimes wants leisure to moralize the spectacle; and even when he
does pause to meditate, the world often hangs about his heart, and he
thinks of life as men in action are apt to think of it. [Sidenote: but
evil, to him, was evil, moral law was always shown supreme. Note the
general moral truth in his Tragedies.] But moral truth, seldom lost
sight of, is never misrepresented: evil is always described as being
evil: the great moral rule, though often stated as inoperative, is
always acknowledged as binding. Read carefully any of his more lofty
tragedies, and ponder the general truths there so lavishly scattered;
and you will find that an immense proportion of those apophthegms have a
moral bearing, often a most solemn and impressive one. [Sidenote: Even
in Comedy his reflections are moral.] Even in his lighter plays there is
much of the same spirit: in all he is often thoughtful, and he is never
long thoughtful without becoming morally didactic. This is much in any
poet, and especially in a drama[103:1]tist, who exhibits humanity
directly as active, and is under continual temptations to forget what
action tempts men to forget in real life. [Sidenote: Shakspere right in
letting evil prevail, so long as he shows it evil.] His neglect of duly
distributing punishment and reward is no moral fault, so long as moral
truth is kept sight of in characterizing actions, while that neglect is
borrowed closely from reality. And the same thing is true of his
craving wish for describing human guilt, and darkening even his fairest
characters with the shadows of weakness and sin. [Sidenote: Dramatic
poetry is truest when it shows man most the slave of evil.] The poetry
which depicts man in action is then unfortunately truest when it
represents him as most deeply enslaved by the evil powers which surround
him. [Sidenote: Shakspere bared man's soul,] Different poets have
proceeded to different lengths in the degree of influence which they
have assigned to the evil principle: most have feared to draw wholly
aside the veil which imagination always struggles to keep before the
nakedness of man's breast; and Shakspeare, by tearing away the curtain
with a harsher hand, has but enabled himself to add a tremendously
impressive element of truth to the likeness which his portrait otherwise
bears to the original. [Sidenote: and probed it to its depth.]
[Sidenote: This is why we hold to him.] His view of our state and nature
is often painful; but it is its reality that makes it so; and he would
have wanted one of his strongest holds on our hearts if he had probed
them less profoundly; it is by his unflinching scrutiny of mortal
infirmity that he has forged the very strongest chain which binds us to
his footstool. [Sidenote: He durst not paint good triumphant over evil,
because he knew in life it was not so.] He reverences human nature where
it deserves respect: he knows man's divinity of mind, and harbours and
expresses the loftiest of those hopes which haunt the heart like
recollections: he represents worthily and well the struggle between good
and evil, but he feared to represent the better principle as victorious:
he had looked on life till observation became prophetical, and he could
not fable that as existing which he sorrowfully saw could never be.
[Sidenote: Macbeth, Othello, Hamlet, sink under their temptations.] The
milk of human kindness in the bosom of Macbeth is turned to venom by the
breath of an embodied fiend; the tempered nobility and gentleness of the
Moor are made the craters through which his evil passions blaze out like
central fires; and in the wonderful Hamlet, hate to the guilty pollutes
the abhorrence of the crime,--irresolution waits on consciousness,--and
the misery of doubt clings to the solemnity of meditation. [Sidenote:
And so do we.] This is an awful representation of the human soul; but is
it [104:1]not a true one? [Sidenote: Man's history is written in blood
and tears.] [Sidenote: Shakspere's view of life the fittest to give us
to the truth.] The sibylline volume of man's history is open before us,
and every page of it is written in blood or tears. And not only are such
views of human fate the truest, but they are those which are most fitted
to arouse the mind to serious, to lofty, even to religious
contemplation,--to guide it to the fountains of moral truth,--to lead it
to meditations on the dark foundations of our being,--to direct its
gaze forward on that great journey of the soul, in which mortal life is
but a single step.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: Analogy of this inquiry.]

Oftener than once in this inquiry, I have acted towards you like one
who, undertaking to guide a traveller through a beautiful valley, should
frequently lead him out of the beaten road to climb precipitous
eminences, promising that the delay in the accomplishment of the journey
should be compensated by the pleasure of extensive prospects over the
surrounding region. Conduct like this would be excusable in a guide, if
the person escorted had leisure for the divergence, and it would be
incumbent on him if the acquisition of a knowledge of the country were
one of the purposes of the journey; but in either case the labour of the
ascents would be recompensed to the traveller, only if the landscapes
presented were interesting and distinctly seen. [Sidenote: Aims of this
treatise;] For similar reasons, my endeavour to propose wider views than
the subject necessarily suggested, has, I conceive, been fully
justifiable; but it is for you to decide whether the attempt has been so
far successful as to repay your exertions in attending my excursive
steps. [Sidenote: 1. from Shakspere's studies, to distinguish between
him and his coevals.] The first of our lengthened digressions has
allowed us to combine the known facts as to the kind and amount of
Shakspeare's studies, and to draw from them certain conclusions, which I
cannot think altogether valueless, as to some distinctions between him
and his dramatic coevals, and as to the source of some peculiarities of
his which have been visited with heavy censure. [Sidenote: 2. to trace
the most characteristic qualities of his thought.] In the second
instance in which we have branched off from the main argument, we have
been led to reflect on the most characteristic qualities of the poet's
mode of thought. [Sidenote: Shakspere's variety of faculty.] If there be
any truth or distinctness in the hints which have been imperfectly and
hastily thrown out on this head, your own mind will classify, modify, or
extend them; and, never forgetting what is [105:1]the fundamental
principle of the great poet's strength, you will regard that essential
quality with the more lively admiration, when you discriminate the
operations of the power from the working of those other principles which
minister to it, and when you remark the number, the variety, the
opposition of the mental faculties, which are all thus enlisted under
the banners of the one intense and almost philosophical Perception of
Dramatic Truth. [Sidenote: He, the stern inquisitor into man's heart,]
That stern inquisition into the human heart, which the finest sense of
dramatic perfection elevates into the ideal, and the richest fancy
touches with poetical repose, will awaken in your mind a softened
solemnity of feeling, like that under whose sway we have both wandered
in the mountainous forests which skirt our native river; the continuous
and gloomy canopy of the gigantic pines hanging over-head like a dungeon
roof, while the green sward which was the pavement of the woodland
temple, and the lines of natural columns which bounded its retiring
avenues, were flooded with the glad illumination of the descending
sunset. [Sidenote: the anxious searcher into truth, is yet the happiest
creator of beauty: the 'maker' of Ric. III. and Iago as well as Juliet
and Titania; of Macbeth as well as Hamlet.] We reflect with wonder that
the most anxious of all poetical inquirers into truth, is also the most
powerful painter of unearthly horrors, and the most felicitous creator
of romantic or imaginary beauty; that the poet of Richard and Iago is
also the poet of Juliet, of Ariel, and of Titania; that the fearfully
real self-torture, the judicially inflicted remorse, of Macbeth, is set
in contrast with the wildest figures which superstitious imagination
ever conceived; that on the same canvas on which Hamlet stands as a
personification of the Reason of man shaken by the assaults of evil
within him and without, the gates of the grave are visibly opened, and
the dead ascend to utter strange secrets in the ear of night. [Sidenote:
His faculties early expanded consistently, and workt thro' all his life
actively.] But even this union is less extraordinary than the regular
and unparalleled consistency with which the poet's faculties early
expanded themselves, and the full activity with which through life all
continued to work. [Sidenote: Homer ebbd,] Even the dramatic soul of
Homer ebbed like the sea, sinking in old age into the substitution of
wild and minutely told adventure for the historical portraiture of
mental grandeur and passionate strength. [Sidenote: Milton sank poetry
in polemics.] The youth of Milton brooded over the love and loveliness
of external nature; it was not till his maturity of years that he soared
into the empyrean or descended sheer into the secrets of the abyss; and
[106:1]advancing age brought weakness with it, and quenched in the
morass of polemical disputation the torch which had flamed with sacred
light. [Sidenote: Shakspere alone flowd full tide on.] [Sidenote:
Experience came soon to him; Fancy abode with him to the end.]
Shakspeare alone was the same from youth to age; in youth no
imperfection, in age no mortality or decay; he performed in his early
years every department of the task which he had to perform, and he
laboured in it with unexhausted and uncrippled energies till the bowl
was broken at the fountain; experience visited him early, fancy lingered
with him to the last; the rapid developement of his powers was an
indication of the internal strength of his genius; their steady
continuance was a type and prognostic of the perpetual endurance of his
sway. [Sidenote: Gloster (Ric. III.) was early, Shylock and Hamlet of
middle time, Lear in ripe age, _The Tempest_, near his death.] The cold
and fiendish Gloster was an early conception; the eager Shylock and the
superhuman Hamlet were imagined simultaneously not long afterwards; the
tenderness of Lear was the fruit of the poet's ripest age; and one of
the closing years of his life gave birth to the savage wildness and the
youthful and aerial beauty of 'The Tempest.'

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: Are you convinc't that Shakspere wrote much of _The Two Noble

Our last words are claimed by the proper subject of our inquiry. Have I
convinced you that in the composition of 'The Two Noble Kinsmen',
Shakspeare had the extensive participation which I have ascribed to him?
It is very probable that my reasoning is in many parts defective; but I
place so much confidence in the goodness of the cause itself, that I
would unhesitatingly leave the question, without a word of argument, to
be determined by any one, possessing a familiar acquaintance with both
the poets whose claims are to be balanced, and an ordinarily acute
discernment of their distinguishing qualities. [Sidenote: I'm sure the
question needs only attention.] I am firmly persuaded that the subject
needs only to have attention directed to it; and my investigation of it
cannot have been a failure in every particular. [Sidenote: The external
evidence doesn't include the internal.] The circumstances attending the
first publication of the drama do not, in the most unfavourable view
which can with any fairness be taken of them, exclude us from deciding
the question of Shakspeare's authorship by an examination of the work
itself: and it is unnecessary that the effect of the external evidence
should be estimated one step higher. [Sidenote: Does that give all the
play to Fletcher?] Do the internal proofs allot all to Fletcher, or
assign any share to Shakspeare? [Sidenote: The Story is alien to
Fletcher] The Story is ill-suited for the dramatic purposes [107:1]of
the one poet, and belongs to a class of subjects at variance with his
style of thought, and not elsewhere chosen by him or any author of the
school to which he belonged; both the individual and the class accord
with the whole temper and all the purposes of the other poet, and the
class is one from which he has repeatedly selected themes. [Sidenote:
Fletcher can't have chosen the subject of _The Two Noble Kinsmen_; nor
was its plan his.] It is next to impossible that Fletcher can have
selected the subject; it is not unlikely that Shakspeare may have
suggested it; and if the execution of the plan shall be thought to
evince that he was in any degree connected with the work, we can hardly
avoid the conclusion that it was by him that the subject was chosen. The
proof here, (which I think has not been noticed by any one before me,)
seems to me to be stronger than in any other branch of the argument.
[Sidenote: Its Scenical Arrangement is like Shakspere's.] The Scenical
Arrangement of the drama offers points of resemblance to Shakspeare,
which, at the very least, have considerable strength when they are taken
together, and are corroborative of other circumstances. [Sidenote: Its
Execution is, in great part, so like his,] The Execution of that large
proportion of the drama which has been marked off as his, presents
circumstances of likeness to him, so numerous that they cannot possibly
have been accidental, and so strikingly characteristic that we cannot
conceive them to be the product of imitation. [Sidenote: that many
passages must be set down to him.] Even if it should be doubted whether
Shakspeare chose the subject, or arranged any part of the plot, it seems
to me that his claim to the authorship of these individual parts needs
only examination to be universally admitted; not that I consider the
proof here as stronger than that which establishes his choice of the
plot, but because it is of a nature to be more easily and intuitively

[Sidenote: Look at all the circumstances together,]

In forming your opinion, you will be careful to view the circumstances,
not singly, but together, and to give each point of resemblance the
support of the others. [Sidenote: and see whether the many probabilities
do not make a certainty.] It may be that every consideration suggested
may not affect your mind with equal strength of conviction; but numerous
probabilities all tending the same way are sufficient to generate
positive certainty: and it argues no imperfection in a result that it is
brought out only by combined efforts. In those climates of the New World
which you have visited, a spacious and lofty chamber receives a
diffusive shower of light through a single narrow aperture, while in our
cloudy region we can gather sufficient light for our apart[108:1]ments
only by opening large and numerous windows: the end is not gained in the
latter case without greater exertion than that which is required in the
former, but it is attained equally in both; for the aspect of our
habitations is not less cheerful than that of yours.

On the absolute merit of the work, I do not wish to anticipate your
judgment. [Sidenote: Shakspere's part in _The Two Noble Kinsmen_, is but
a sketch; yet it's better than some of his finisht works.] So far as
Shakspeare's share in it is concerned, it can be regarded as no more
than a sketch, which would be seen to great disadvantage beside finished
drawings of the same master. Imperfect as it is, however, it would, if
it were admitted among Shakspeare's acknowledged works, outshine many,
and do discredit to none. It would be no unfair trial to compare it with
those works of his in which he abstains from his more profound
investigations into human nature, permitting the poetical world actively
to mingle with the dramatic, and the radiant spirit of hope to embrace
the sterner genius of knowledge. [Sidenote: Compare it with the
_Midsummer Night's Dream_; the colouring and outline are from the same
hand. But best, set it beside _Henry VIII._] We may call up before us
the luxurious fancies of the 'Midsummer Night's Dream', or even the
sylvan landscapes of the Forest of Ardennes, and the pastoral groupes
which people it; and we shall gladly acknowledge a similar though
harsher style of colouring, and a strength of contour indicating the
same origin. But perhaps there is none of his works with which it could
be so fairly compared as 'Henry VIII'. [Sidenote: It's more like that,
and nearly as good.] In the tone of sentiment and imagination, as well
as in other particulars, I perceive many circumstances of likeness,
which it will gratify you to trace for yourself. The resemblance is more
than a fanciful one, and the neglected play does not materially suffer
by the comparison.

[Sidenote: _The Two Noble Kinsmen_ ought to be in every '_Shakspere's

This drama will never receive the praise which it merits, till it shall
have been admitted among Shakspeare's undoubted works; and, I repeat, it
is entitled to insertion if any one of the conclusions to which I have
attempted to lead you be sound,--if it be true that he wrote all, or
most, or a few, of those portions of it, which more competent judges
than I have already confidently ascribed to him. Farewell.

                                                            W. S.

_Edinburgh, March 1833._

[In his article on 'Recent Shaksperian Literature' in No. 144 of the
_Edinburgh Review_, July, 1840, page 468, Prof. Spalding states that on
Shakspere's taking part in _The Two Noble Kinsmen_, his "opinion is not
now so decided as it once was."--F.]


[1:1] Locrine--Sir John Oldcastle--Lord Cromwell--The London
Prodigal--The Puritan--The Yorkshire Tragedy.

[1:2] page 2

[2:1] page 3

[3:1] page 4

[4:1] "The Two Noble Kinsmen: presented at the Blackfriers, by the Kings
Majesties servants, with great Applause: written by the memorable
Worthies of their Time, Mr John Fletcher and Mr William Shakspeare,
Gent. Printed at London by Tho. Cotes, for John Watersone; and are to be
sold at the signe of the Crowne, in Pauls Church-yard: 1634."

[4:2] page 5

[5:1] Gifford's Massinger, vol. i. p. xv. [Moxon's ed. p. xxxix, and _B.
and Fl._ i. xiii. The letter is from Nat. Field, Rob. Daborne, and
Philip Massinger, to Henslowe the manager: "You know there is x. _l._
more at least to be receavd of you for the play. We desire you to lend
us v _l._ of that, which shall be allowd to you. Nat. Field." "The money
shall be abated out of the money remayns for _the play of Mr. Fletcher
and ours_. Rob. Daborne."--F.]

[5:2] page 6

[6:1] page 7

[7:1] page 8

[8:1] Act II. Scene 4. The plucking of the roses.

[8:2] page 9

[9:1] page 10

[10:1] Lectures on Dramatic Art and Literature. It would ill become me
to carp at an author whom I have expressly to thank for much assistance
in this inquiry, and to whom I am perhaps indebted for more than my
recollection suggests. But it must be owned, that M. Schlegel's opinion
loses somewhat of its weight from the fact, that he also advocates
Shakspeare's authorship of some of Malone's plays, a decision in which
it is neither desirable nor likely that the poet's countrymen should

[10:2] page 11

[11:1] Weber's Beaumont and Fletcher, vol. xiii., and Lamb, as there

[11:2] page 12

[12:1] Sonnet 76.

[12:2] page 13

[13:1] page 14

[13:2] There are numerous instances of both these effects in the play
before us. "_Counter-reflect_ (a noun); _meditance_; _couch_ and
_corslet_ (used as verbs); _operance_; _appointment_, for military
accoutrements; _globy eyes_; _scurril_; _disroot_; _dis-seat_," &c.

[14:1] page 15

[15:1] t. i. _mourn them ever_

[15:2] page 16

[15:3] _ownest_

[16:1] page 17

[17:1] page 18

[18:1] page 19

[19:1] Farmer's Essay on the Learning of Shakspeare.

[19:2] A singularly rich and energetic piece of colouring in this sort
is near the beginning of the poem, commencing,

     I have been wooed, as I entreat thee now,
     Even by the stern and direful God of War--

and extending through three stanzas.

[19:3] page 20

[20:1] page 21

[21:1] page 22

[22:1] page 23

[23:1] page 24

[24:1] The | is to show the double endings.

[24:2] page 25

[25:1] page 26

[26:1] page 27

[27:1] page 28

[28:1] page 29

[29:1] page 30

[29:2] Perhaps it is worth while to direct attention to this form of
speech. Verbal names expressing the agent occur, it is true, in Fletcher
and others, but they are in an especial manner frequent with Shakspeare,
who invents them to preserve his brevity, and always applies them with
great force and quaintness.

[29:3] Probably Fletcher would not have committed this false quantity.

[30:1] page 31

[30:2] 3 middle-rymes, _key_, _three_, _knee_.

[30:3] _in her eyes_

[31:1] page 32

[32:1] page 33

[33:1] page 34

[33:2] The remainder of this speech, an extremely fine one, has been
quoted incidentally in page 26. Its richness of fancy is wonderful and
most characteristic.

[34:1] page 35

[34:2] page 36

[35:1] page 37

[37:1] page 38

[37:2] This allusion is repeatedly found in Fletcher. Here the
expression of it is defective in precision.

[37:3] page 39

[38:1] page 40

[39:1] page 41

[40:1] page 42

[41:1] page 43

[42:1] page 44

[43:1] page 45

[44:1] page 46

[45:1] In Philaster, Act IV. last scene.

     Place me, some god, upon a Piramis,
     Higher than hill of earth, and lend a voice,
     Loud as your thunder, to me, that from thence
     I may discourse, to all the under world,
     The worth that dwells in him.

Shakspeare, too, was not the most likely person to have given the true
meaning of the βοωπις ποτνια Ἡρη. I am not aware that either Hall or
Chapman shewed him the way. Chapman in the First Book (v. 551) has it;
"She with the cowes fair eyes, Respected Juno."

[45:2] page 47

[45:3] _2 N. K._, Act V. sc. i, ii, iii. Weber, are V. i. Littledale.

[46:1] This beautiful address has been spoken of already.

[46:2] page 48

[47:1] page 49

[48:1] page 50

[49:1] Romeo and Juliet:--Midsummer Night's Dream:--also in Don Quixote,
Parte II. capit. xi.: "Los ojos de Dulcinea deben ser de _verdes

[49:2-49:2] This is the character of Emilia, by Chaucer and Shakspere,
but not by Fletcher of IV. ii., and the author of V. v. (or iii.
Littledale)--if he is not Fletcher--with their inconsistencies of
Emilia's weak balancing of Palamon against Arcite, now liking one best,
then the other, and being afraid that Palamon may get his _figure
spoilt_! F. J. F.

[49:3] page 51

[50:1] page 52

[50:2] The thought here is frequent in Shakspeare's dramas: and the
expression of it closely resembles some stanzas in the Lucrece,
especially those beginning, "Oh, comfort-killing night!"

[51:1] Cp. Beatrice on Don John and Benedick, in _Much Ado_ II. i.

[51:2] page 53

[52:1] page 54

[52:2] It may be well to mention, that this scene contains allusions,
extending through several lines, to the every-way luckless jailor's
daughter. If I conceal the fact from you, you will, on finding it out
for yourself, suspect that I consider it as making against my
hypothesis, which assigns those episodical adventures to a different
author from this scene. Be assured that I do not regard it in that
light. It is plain that the underplot, however bad, has been worked up
with much pains; and we can conceive that its author would have been
loth to abandon it finally in the incomplete posture in which the fourth
scene of this act left it. Ten lines in this scene sufficed to end the
story, by relating the cure of the insane girl; and there can have been
no difficulty in their introduction, even on my supposition of this
scene being the work of the other author. If the two wrote at the same
time, the poet who wrote the rest of the scene may have inserted them on
the suggestion of the other; or if the drama afterwards came into the
hands of that other, (which there seems some reason to believe,) he
could easily insert them for himself. In any view these lines are no
argument against my theory.

[53:1] ? Shakspere and one daughter.

[53:2] Cf. p. 54-5.

[53:3] page 55

[53:4] The description which we have read of Mars's attributes reminds
one strongly and directly of the fine speech in the poem, where old
Saturn, the god of time, enumerates his own powers of destruction. It is
far from unlikely that the one passage suggested the other. The rich can
afford to borrow.

[54:1] page 56

[55:1] page 57

[56:1] page 58

[57:1] Beaumont's style is unluckily not characterized. F.

[57:2] page 59

[58:1] page 60

[59:1] page 61

[60:1] page 62

[61:1] page 63

[62:1] page 64

[63:1] page 65

[64:1] page 66

[65:1] page 67

[66:1] The Knight of the Burning Pestle.

[66:2] page 68

[66:3] Weber's Beaumont and Fletcher. Henslowe MSS. published by
Malone:--Boswell's Shakspeare, vol. iii. p. 303. [See Appx. I. to my
Harrison _Forewords_.]

[67:1] page 69

[68:1] page 70

[68:2] N.B. The Gower choruses in _Pericles_ are NOT Shakspere's.--F.

[69:1] page 71

[69:2] With Knowledge comes the retreat to Invention.

[70:1] page 72

[71:1] page 73

[72:1] page 74

[73:1] page 75

[74:1] page 76

[75:1] page 77

[76:1] page 78

[77:1] page 79

[78:1] page 80

[79:1] page 81

[80:1] page 82

[81:1] page 83

[82:1] page 84

[82:2] page 85

[83:1] It would be unfair not to state, that I quote and refer to the
translation of the Laocoon published by Mr. De Quincey, in Blackwood's
Magazine for November 1826; and that I am not otherwise acquainted with
that or any other work of Lessing.

[83:2] page 86

[84:1] page 87

[85:1] page 88

[86:1] page 89

[87:1] page 90

[88:1] page 91

[89:1] The theory which, denying to the Beautiful any capacity of giving
pleasure through its innate qualities, ascribes its effects exclusively
to the associated ideas which the contemplation of it calls up, proceeds
wholly on the assumption, that the sentiment awakened by Beauty when it
is beheld bodily present, is the same with that which flows from a
poetical description of it. If it be true (as I must believe it is) that
the feelings in the two cases are essentially different, the hypothesis
falls to the ground. Its maintainers seem in truth to have drawn their
conclusions altogether from reflection on the effects produced by Beauty
when it is represented in poetry, where association is undoubtedly the
source of the enjoyment; and an attention to the working of the fine
arts would have taught other inferences.

[90:1] page 92

[90:2] page 93

[91:1] page 94.


[Sidenote: Invention is making a _new_ thing out of a thing already

Alfieri appears to have himself perceived accurately wherein it is that
his power lies, when he says, with his usual self-reliance: "Se la
parola 'invenzione' in tragedia si restringe al trattare soltanto
soggetti non prima trattati, nessuno autore ha inventato meno di me."
"Se poi la parola 'invenzione' si estende fino al _far cosa nuova di
cosa già fatta_, io son costretto a credere che nessuno autore abba
inventato piu di me."

[92:1] page 95

[93:1] page 96

[94:1] page 97

[95:1] page 98

[96:1] page 99

[97:1] page 100

[98:1] page 101

[99:1] page 102

[100:1] page 103

[101:1] ? in Jaques.

[101:2] page 104

[102:1] ? _All's Well_, Bertram; _Othello_, Cassio; _Meas. for Meas._
Claudio; _Ant. & Cleop._ Antony; _Timon_, Alcibiades.--F.

[102:2] page 105

[103:1] page 106

[104:1] page 107

[105:1] page 108

[106:1] page 109

[107:1] page 110

[108:1] page 111


=Repetition=, p. 12. 1. Prologue to _Henry V._:

                           'And at his heels,
     Leashed in like hounds, should famine, sword, and fire,
     Crouch for employment.'

Compare _Antony and Cleopatra_, Act I. scene iv.:

     'Where thou slew'st, Hirtus and Pausa, consuls, at thy heel
      Did famine follow.'

2. _Macbeth_, Act V. scene vii.:

     'They have tied me to a stake: I cannot fly,
      But, bear-like, I must fight the course';

and _Lear_, Act III. scene vii.:

     'I am tied to the stake, and I must stand the course.'

=Conciseness verging on obscurity=, p. 13. _Macbeth_, Act I. scene iii.:

     'Present fears are less than horrible imaginings:
      My thought, whose murder yet is but fantastical,
      Shakes so my single state of man, that function
      Is smothered in surmise, and nothing is
      But what is not.'

Act I. scene vii.:

     'If it were done when 'tis done,' etc.

Act V. scene vii.:

                       'Now does he feel
     His secret murders sticking on his hands:
     Now minutely revolts upbraid his faith-breach;
     Those he commands, move only in command,
     Nothing in love.'

_Coriolanus_, Act IV. scene vii.:

                       'Whether 'twas pride,
     Which out of daily fortune ever taints
     The happy man; whether defect of judgement,
     To fail in the disposing of those chances
     Which he was lord of; or whether nature,
     Not to be other than one thing, not moving
     From the casque to the cushion, but commanding peace,
     Even with the same austerity and garb,
     As he controlled the war; but one of these
     As he hath spices of them all, not all,
     For I dare so far free him,--made him feared,
     So hated, and so banished.'

=Metaphors crowded with ideas=, p. 17. _Julius Cæsar_, Act II. scene i.
l. 81-4.

                       'Seek none, conspiracy.
     Hide it thy visage in smiles and affability;
     For if thou _path_, thy native semblance on,
     Not Erebus itself were dim enough to hide thee from _prevention_.'

_Macbeth_, Act V. scene vii.:

     'Meet we the medicine of the sickly weal,
      And with him pour we in our country's purge,
      Each drop of us. Or so much as it needs
      To dew the sovereign flower and drown the weeds.'

(rather strained figures).

_Hamlet_, Act I. scene iv.:

     'So, oft it chances in particular men,
      That for some _vicious mole_ of nature in them,
      As, in their birth,--wherein they are not guilty,
      Since nature cannot choose his origin,
      By the _o'ergrowth_ of some _complexion_,
      Oft breaking down _pales_ and _forts_ of Reason,
      Or by some habit that too much o'er _leavens_
      The form of plausive manners, that these men
      Carrying, I say, the _stamp_ of one defect,
      Being _nature's livery_, or _fortune's star_,--
      Their virtues else--be they as pure as grace,
      As infinite as man may undergo,--
      Shall in the general censure take _corruption_
      From that particular fault.'

=Conceits and Wordplay=, p. 22. _Richard II_, Act II. scene i.:

     'Old Gaunt indeed and gaunt in being old,' etc.

_Love's Labour's Lost_, Act IV. scene iii.:

     'They have pitched a toil, I am toiling in a pitch!'

=Personification=, p. 25. _Two Gentlemen_, Act I. scene i.:

                      'So _eating Love_
     Inhabits in the finest wits of all.'

_Richard II_, Act III. scene ii.:

     'Foul _Rebellion's_ arms.'

_Midsummer Night's Dream_:

     'The debt that _bankrupt Sleep_ doth Sorrow owe.'

_Henry V_, Act II. scene ii.:

     '_Treason_ and _Murder_ ever kept together.'

_Macbeth_, Act I. scene iii.:

     'If _Chance_ will have me king,
      Why _Chance_ may crown me.'

Act II. scene i.:

                      '_Witchcraft_ celebrates
     Pale Hecate's offerings, and withered _Murder_,
     Alarmed by his sentinel, the wolf.'

_Troilus and Cressida_, Act III. scene iii.:

     '_Welcome_ ever smiles,
      And _Farewell_ goes out sighing.'

       *       *       *       *       *

p. v. _Marigolds._ Dr Prior, writing from his place, Halse, near
Taunton, 11 Oct., 1876, says, "I asked in a family here whether they had
ever heard of marigolds being strown on the beds of dying persons, and
they referred me to a book by Lady C. Davies, _Recollections of
Society_, 1873. At p. 129:

"'Is Little Trianon ominous to crowned women?'

"'Passing through the garden,' said the King, 'I perceived some _soucis_
(marigolds, emblems of sorrow and care) growing near a tuft of lilies.
This coincidence struck me, and I murmured:

     "Dans les jardins de Trianon
      Je cueillais des roses nouvelles.
      Mais, helas! les fleurs les plus belles
      Avaient péri sous les glaçons.
      J'eus beau chercher les dons de Flore,
      Les hivers les avaient detruits;
      Je ne trouvai que des _soucis_
      Qu'humectaient les pleurs de l'Aurore."'

"I am inclined to hold my first opinion that _cradle_ and _death-bed_
refer to the use of the flowers, and not to anything in their growth or

p. 1. _My dear L--._ Altho' Prof. Spalding says that L. was an early
and later friend of his, of great gifts and taste, and that he had
visited the New World (p. 108), yet Mrs Spalding and Dr Burton have
never been able to identify L., and they believe him to be a creation of
the author's.--F.

p. 4. _Shakspere had fallen much into neglect by 1634._ "After the death
of Shakspeare, the plays of Fletcher appear for several years to have
been more admired, or at least to have been more frequently acted, than
those of our poet." Malone, _Hist. Account of the English Stage_,
Variorum Shakspere of 1821, vol. ii. p. 224. And see the lists
following, by which he proves his statement.--F.

       *       *       *       *       *

From the Paper with which Mr J. Herbert Stack opend the discussion at
our Reading of the _Two Noble Kinsmen_, he has allowd me to make the
following extracts:--

     To judge the question clearly, let us note how far the author
     or authors of the _Two N. K._ followed what was the basis of
     their drama--Chaucer's Knightes Tale. We have there the same
     opening incident--the petitions of the Queens, then the
     capture of the Two, then their sight of Emily from the prison
     window, the release of Arcite, his entry into Emilia's
     service, the escape of Palamon, the fight in the wood, the
     decree of Theseus, the prayers to Diana, Venus, and Mars, the
     combat, the victory in arms to Arcite, his death, and
     Palamon's eventual victory in love. But Chaucer is far
     superior to the dramatists. He has no Gaoler's Daughter to
     distract our thoughts. The language of his Palamon is more
     blunt, more soldierlike, more characteristic. His Emilia,
     instead of being equally in love with two men at the same
     time, prefers maidenhood to marriage, loves neither, but
     pities both. At the end of the _play_ we have something coarse
     and hurried: Emilia, during the Tournament, is ready to jump
     into anybody's arms, so that he comes victorious; then she
     accepts Arcite; and on his sudden death, she dries her tears
     with more than the supposed celerity of a modern fashionable
     widow; and, before she is the widow of Arcite, consents to
     become the wife of Palamon. Contrast this with Chaucer, where
     the poem dedicates some beautiful lines to the funeral of
     Arcite and the grief of all, and only makes Emilia yield after
     years to the silent pleading of the woful Palamon and the
     urgency of her brother. Contrast the dying speeches in the two
     works. In the play, Arcite transfers Emilia almost as if he
     were making a will: "_Item_, I leave my bride to Palamon." In
     Chaucer, he says to Emilia that he knows of no man

          'So worthy to be loved as Palamon,
           And if that you shal ever be a wyf
           Forget not Palamon that gentil man.'

     Now here we have a play founded on a poem, the original
     delicate and noble, where the other is coarse and trivial; and
     we ask, 'Was this Shakspere's way of treating his originals?'
     In his earlier years he based his _Romeo and Juliet_ on
     Brooke's poem of the same name--a fine work, and little
     disfigured by the coarseness of the time. Yet he pruned it of
     all really offensive matter, and has given us a perfect
     love-story, as ardent as it is pure. His skill in omission is
     remarkably shown in one respect. In Brooke's poem, Juliet,
     reflecting when alone on Romeo's sudden love, remembers that
     he is an enemy to her house, and suspects that he may intend
     dishonourable love as a base means of wreaking vengeance on
     hereditary foes. It seems to me that a thought so cunning is
     out of character with Juliet--certainly would have been felt
     as a stain on Shakspere's Juliet. That Shakspere deliberately
     omitted this, is known by one slight reference. Juliet says to

          'If thy intent of love be honourable,
           Thy purpose marriage.'

     That is all--no cunning caution, no base doubt.

     Now if in this original, and in this play, we trace the very
     manner of Shakspere's working--taking up gold mixed with
     dross, and purifying it in the furnace of his genius--are we
     to suppose that later in life, with taste more fastidious,
     even if his imagination were less strong, he carried out a
     converse process; that he took Chaucer's gold, and mixed it
     with alloy? That, I greatly doubt. Also, would he imitate
     himself so closely as he is imitated in certain scenes of the
     _Two N. K._?

     Another point. Love between persons of very different rank has
     been held by many dramatists to be a fine subject for the
     stage. Shakspere never introduces it. _Ophelia_ loves a
     Prince, and _Violet_ a duke, and Rosalind a Squire's son; but
     gentlehood unites all. Helena in _All's Well_ is a
     gentlewoman. With anything like levelling aspirations
     Shakspere had clearly no sympathy. In no undoubted play of his
     have we, so far as I remember, any attempt to make the love of
     the lowly born for the high a subject of sympathy: there is no
     Beggar maid to any of his King Cophetuas. Goneril and Regan
     stoop to Edmund through baseness; Malvolio's love for Olivia
     is made ridiculous. The Gaoler's Daughter of the _Two N. K._
     stands alone: like the waiting-maid in the _Critic_, she goes
     mad in white linen, and as painfully recalls Ophelia, as our
     cousins the monkeys remind us of men.

     In some other respects the poem is far superior to the play.
     Chaucer introduces the supernatural powers with excellent
     effect and tact--so as to soften the rigour of the Duke's
     decrees. In the Temple, Palamon, the more warlike in manners
     of the two, is the more reckless and ardent in his love: of a
     simpler nature, Venus entirely subdues and, at the same time,
     effectually befriends him. He prays to her not for Victory:
     for that he cares not: it matters not how events are brought
     about 'so that I have my lady in mine arms.' Arcite, the
     softer and more refined knight, prays simply for Victory. If
     it be true that love changes the nature of men, here we have
     the transformation. The prayer of each is granted, though they
     seem opposed--thus Arcite experiences what many of those who
     consulted old oracles found, 'the word of promise kept to the
     ear, broken to the hope.' Then in the poem Theseus freely
     forgives the two knights, but decides on the Tournament as a
     means of seeing who shall have Emilia. In the play he decides
     that one is to live and marry, the other to die. The absurdity
     of this needless cruelty is evident: it was possibly
     introduced to satisfy the coarse tastes of the audiences who
     liked the sight of an executioner and a block.

     In fact I would say the play is not mainly Shakspere's because
     of its un-Shaksperean depth. Who can sympathize with the cold,
     coarse balancing of Emilia between the two men--eager to have
     one, ready to take either; betrothed in haste to one, married
     in haste to another--so far flying in the face of the pure
     beauty of the original, where Emilia never loses maidenly
     reserve. Then the final marriage of the Gaoler's Daughter is
     as destructive of our sympathy as if Ophelia had been saved
     from drowning by the grave-digger, and married to Horatio at
     the end of the piece. The pedantry of Gerrold is poor, the fun
     of the rustics forced and feeble, the sternness of Theseus
     brutal and untouched by final gentleness as in Chaucer.

     Another argument against Shakspere's responsibility for the
     whole play is the manner in which the minor characters are
     introduced and the underplot managed. A secondary plot is a
     characteristic of the Elizabethan drama, borrowed from that of
     Spain. But Shakspere is peculiar in the skill with which he
     interweaves the two plots and brings together the principal
     and the inferior personages. In _Hamlet_ the soldiers on the
     watch, the grave-diggers, the players, the two walking
     gentlemen, even Osric, all help on the action of the drama and
     come into relation with the hero himself. In _King Lear_,
     Edmund and Gloster and Edgar, though engaged in a subsidiary
     drama of their own, get mixed up with the fortunes of the King
     and his daughters. In _Othello_, the foolish Venetian Roderigo
     and Bianca the courtesan have some hand in the progress of the
     play. In _Romeo and Juliet_, the Nurse and the Friar are
     agents of the main plot, and the ball scene pushes on the
     action. In _Shylock_, Lancelot Gobbo is servant to the Jew,
     and helps Jessica to escape. I need not multiply instances, as
     in _Much Ado about Nothing_, Dogberry, &c. As far as my own
     recollection serves, I do not believe that in any play
     undoubtedly Shakspere's we have a single instance of an
     underplot like that of the Gaoler's Daughter. It might be
     altogether omitted without affecting the story. Theseus,
     Emilia, Hippolyta, Arcite, Palamon, never exchange a word with
     the group of Gaoler's Daughter, Wooer, Brother, two Friends
     and Doctor; and Palamon's only remembrance of her services is
     that at his supposed moment of execution he generously leaves
     her the money he had no further need of to help her to get
     married to a remarkably tame young man who assumes the name of
     his rival in order to bring his sweetheart to her senses. If
     this underplot is due to Shakspere, why is there none like it
     in all his works? If these exceedingly thin and very detached
     minor characters are his, where in his undoubted plays are
     others like them--thus hanging loosely on to the main
     machinery of a play? Nor must we forget that if this underplot
     is Shakspere's, it is his when he was an experienced
     dramatist--so that after being a skilful constructor and
     connecter of plot and underplot in his youth, 'his right hand
     forgot its cunning' in his middle age.

     Two other arguments. In the Prologue of the play, written and
     recited when it was acted, there are two passages expressing
     great fears as to the result,--one that Chaucer might rise to
     condemn the dramatist for spoiling his story,--another that
     the play might be damned, and destroy the fortunes of the
     Theatre[115:1]. Is this the way in which a play partly written
     by Shakspere--then near the close of his successful stage
     career--would be spoken of on its production?

     Another argument is, if Shakspere, using Chaucer's poem as a
     model, spoiled it in dramatising it[115:2], then as a poet he
     was inferior to Chaucer--which is absurd.

     Following high authorities, anybody may adopt any opinion on
     this play and find backers--the extremes being the German
     Tieck, who entirely rejects the idea of Shakspere's
     authorship, and Mr Hickson, who throws on him the
     responsibility for the whole framework of a play and the
     groundwork of every character. I should incline to the middle
     opinion[116:1], that Shakspere selected the subject, began the
     play, wrote many passages; had no underplot, and generally
     left it in a skeleton state; that Fletcher took it up, patched
     it here and there, and added an underplot;--that Fletcher, not
     Shakspere, is answerable for all the departures from Chaucer,
     for all the underplot, and for the revised play as it stands.
     There is nothing improbable in this. After Shakspere retired
     to Stratford, Fletcher may have found the play amongst the
     MSS. of the Theatre, and then produced it after due changes
     made--not giving the author's name. At that time it was the
     custom that a play remained the property of the company of
     actors who produced it. That the Blackfriars Company did _not_
     regard the play as Shakspere's is pretty plain--for in the
     edition of 1623, published by Heminge and Condell of that
     company, Shakspere's own fellow-players, the play is not
     included. Nor does the part authorship account for the
     omission, as plays with less of Shakspere's undoubted
     authorship are there included. But the omission is
     intelligible if the play had been so Fletcherised that it was,
     when acted, generally regarded as Fletcher's. Fletcher was
     alive in 1623 to claim all as his property; but in 1634 he was
     dead. Then the publisher, knowing or hearing that Shakspere
     had a share, printed _his_ name, after _Fletcher's_, as part
     dramatist. Thus I return to the older verdict of Coleridge and
     Lamb, that Shakspere wrote passages of this play, perhaps also
     the outlines, but that Fletcher filled up, added an underplot,
     and finally revised.


[115:1] Does not this as much imply that Fletcher knew he had spoiled
what Shakspere would have done well?--H. L.

[115:2] But this is confessedly the case with Chaucer's _Troilus_.--F.
[Not quite. In _Troilus_ the travestie is intentional: in the _Two N.
K._ Chaucer is solemnly Cibberised.--J. H. S.]

[116:1] Also my view--though I hesitate to express a firm opinion on the
matter--PERHAPS Shakspere worked on the 1594 play as a basis?--H. L.


  ALFIERI. His intensity, p. 91.

  Apollo, the statue, 87.

  _As you like it_, 75, 100.

  BEAUMONT. Partnership with Fletcher, 2, 5, 6, 62, 63, 73.

  Beautiful, the, in Art, 85, 89.

  Bridal Song in _Two Noble Kinsmen_, 27.

  Characterization, Shakspere's, 94.

  CHAUCER. Correspondences in the _Two Noble Kinsmen_ with the _Knight's
      Tale_, 40, 45, 53;
    differences from it, 35, 39, 44, 48, 54;
    his classical subjects, 65, 66;
    influence on Shakspere, 67, 68, 72;
    school founded by him, 67;
    version of the story, 26.

  Classical allusions in contemporary writers, 18, 19.

  Classical mythology in Shakspere, 19;
    poetry, 71;
    story, 64.

  Contemporary dramatists. Their licentiousness, 102;
    points in common with Shakspere, 56, 57;
    representations of passion, 95, 96;
    stage effects, 74;
    subjects, 63, 73.

  DANTE, 91.

  Date of the _Two Noble Kinsmen_ 1634, 4.

  Didactic poetry, 92.

  Editors, Shakspere's first, 6-8.

  Epic poetry, 92.

  Evidence as to authorship of the _Two N. K._, Historical, 3-5;
    Internal, 10-25.

  Fine art, 86.

  FLETCHER. His co-authors, 5, 6;
    diffuseness and elaboration, 14;
    differences between him and Shakspere, 57;
    his 'men of pleasure,' 42, 102;
    popularity, 4;
    plots 63, 66;
    poverty in metaphor, 17,
      and in thought, compared with Shakspere, 20, 21.
    His rhythm, 11;
    his share in the _Two Noble Kinsmen_: all second act, five scenes in
        third act, all fourth act, one scene in fifth act, 35-40, 42-45,
    his slowness of association, 37;
    vague, ill-graspt imagery, 16, 36;
    want of personification, 25;
    wit, 23.

  Folios, Shakspere's first and second, 6-9.

  FORD. Choice of plots, 74;
    'Death of Annabella,' 80.

  Greek arts of design, poetry contrasted with modern, 71, 83.

  Hamlet, 94, 104, 106.

  _Henry VIII_, 109.

  Imagination, 90, 93.

  Invention defind by Alfieri, 92 _n._

  Jailer's daughter, 61.

  Jaques, 100, 101.

  JOHNSON, Dr Sam, 102.

  JONSON, BEN. Comparative failure in delineating passion, 95, 96;
    his plots and Shakspere's, 36, 62, 73;
    his humour, 23;
    his likeness to Shakspere, 57;
    partnership with Fletcher, 6;
    'Sejanus' untoucht by Shakspere, 2.

  Laocoon, the sculpture, 87.

  _Lear_, the end of, 76, 94, 99.

  LESSING'S _Laocoon_, 83;
    principles of plastic art, 83, 86.

  LODGE, 64.

  LYLY. His faults, 22.

  _Macbeth_, 104.

  MARLOWE, 56, 64.

  MASSINGER. Reach of thought, 21, 57;
    repetitions, 12;
    sensational situations, 74.

  Metaphor. Shakspere's metaphorical style, 16;
    examples, 24, 31-33;
    simile and metaphor, 17.


  _Midsummer Night's Dream_, 75, 109.

  MILTON. Inequality of early and late work, 106;
    love of early legend, 72;
    powerful conception, 13;
    purity of mind, 103;
    use of language, 13.

  Origin of the story of _Two N. K._, 38.

  _Othello_, Act III, 75, 99, 104.

  _Palamon and Arcite_ by Edwards, 66.

  Passions the chief subjects of poetry, 92.

  PEELE, 64.

  _Pericles_, 8, 65.

  Personification, 25, 26, 31.

  Plots of plays by Shakspere and others, contrasted, 63.

  Poetry. Characteristics, 90, 91;
    contrast with plastic art, 84-86;
    dramatic poetry the highest form, 92;
    its true functions, 82;
    its true subject, Mind, 90;
    aims, 98;
    and limitations, 95;
    mental effect of poetry, 89.

  SCHLEGEL on the _Two Noble Kinsmen_, 10.

  SHAKSPERE. Arrangement of plots, 73-78;
    belongs to the old school, 62, 64;
    characteristics of his style, 11, 28, 32, 34, 44, 46, 57-59;
    choice of his subjects, well-known stories, 62-66;
    conceits and word-play, 22, 23, 41;
    conciseness, 13;
    contrast to Fletcher, 57;
    detaild description over-labourd, 17, 54;
    difficulty of imitating Shakspere, 58,
      distinctness of his images, 61.
    His familiar images sometimes harsh and coarse, 29;
    imagination, 93, 94;
    mannerism, 12;
    Metaphors, 16, 17, 24;
    morality, 101-103;
    obscurity, 14;
    over-rapid conception, 13;
    personification, 25, 26;
    range of power, 105, 106;
    repetition, 12;
    representations of evil, 104;
    share in the play: first act, one scene in second act, fifth act all
        but one scene, 59;
    sober rationality, 98;
    stage spectacles avoided by him, 78;
    studies, 67, 68;
    tendency to reflection, 20, 21, 100, 101;
    his thought, active, inquiring, put into all his characters, 20;
    treatment of all human nature, 98, 99;
    unity of conception, 79-81;
    versification, 11;
    wit, 23.

  Sketch of the _Two N. K._, 26-55.

  Spectacle. How Shakspere avoided stage spectacles, 78.

  SPENSER, 68, 72.

  _Tempest_, 74, 94, 107.

  Theseus, the centre of the _Two N. K._, 27.

  _Timon_, 101.

  _Titus Andronicus_, 8.

  _Troilus and Cressida_, 8, 65;
    Shakspere's only bitter play, 101.

  _Two Noble Kinsmen._ Date, 4;
    origin of its story, 38;
    plot chosen by Shakspere, 72;
    sketch of it, 26, 55;
    Shakspere's parts of it, 27-35, 40, 45-55, 59, 77;
    Fletcher's parts, 35-40, 42-45, 59;
    Summary of the argument for Shakspere's authorship, 105;
    Table of the opinions on, p. vi., see too p. 10;
    temper of the whole play, 82;
    underplot not Shakspere's, 60, 62;
    leading idea of the play, 81.

  _Venus and Adonis_, 19, 25, 54.

  Venus de Medici, statue, 87.

  WORDSWORTH. The poetical interest of all outward things to, 91.


The following corrections have been made to the text:

      Page xvii: [original has extraneous quotation mark]P. S. As I
      am no great scholar

      Page 36: [Sidenote: II.[period missing in original] i. one of
      the finest scenes that Fletcher ever wrote.]

      Page 40: [Sidenote: Act II. scene v. (Weber, sc. vi.
      [original has extra parenthesis]Littledale), are all

      Page 43: [Sidenote: Act III. scene iv. v. Fletcher's.[period
      missing in original]]

      Page 53: [Sidenote: Chaucer's[letter "s" missing in original]
      celestial agency to work out the plot.]

      Page 63: [Sidenote: Beaumont and[word "and" missing in
      original] Fletcher's.]

      Page 85: [Sidenote: Expression in Painting and Sculpture is a
      borrowd quality.[period missing in original]]

      Page 113: [original has quotation mark]To judge the question

      Page 118, under "Shakspere": distinctness of his images,
      61[page number missing in original].

      [104:1] page 107[original has 7]

      [115:1] he had spoiled what Shakspere[original has Shakpere]
      would have done

Some sidenotes are repeated on successive pages in the original. The
following sidenotes are in the original, but, because of duplication,
they have been omitted from this text.

     Page 8: [Sidenote: It contains two plays not Shakspere's:]

     Page 50: [Sidenote: Act V. scene v. (Weber, or sc. iii.

     Page 52: [Sidenote: Act V. scene v. (Weber; or iii.

     Page 53: [Sidenote: Act V. scene vi. (Weber; sc. iv.
     Littledale) Shakspere's.]

     Page 54: [Sidenote: Act V. scene vi. (Weber; sc. iv.

     Page 55: [Sidenote: Act V. scene vi. (Weber; sc. iv.

*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A Letter on Shakspere's Authorship of The Two Noble Kinsmen - and on the characteristics of Shakspere's style and the - secret of his supremacy" ***

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