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To seen, allas, þe cristal streemys cleer
On hir cheekys reyne and royle adowne,
Hooly Saint George his hors smote on þe syde
Ful lyche a knight with outen fere or dreede;
With his spere sharp and kene egrounde
be cely mayde, knelyng on hir kne,
be Ouggely monstre dourst it not withseye-
þat whane pe kyng hade Inspeccyoun,
Yiving to him þe laude of þis victorye,
banne he made pe dragoun to be drawe,
He made hem tourne, pe kyng and be cyte,
It must be apparent to anyone familiar with the legend of holiness that Spenser borrowed many hints from this or some very similar version: St. George, like the Red Cross Knight, is Christ's
own special knight of holiness and one who, again like the Red Cross Knight, thirsts for renown. His distinctive service is to fight against sin in its various forms and to uphold truth. The mere mention of the bright steel armor of St. George was seemingly enough of a hint for the later poet to identify it with that armor of the Christian which he assigns to the Red Cross Knight in the introductory letter to Sir Walter Raleigh. Moreover, it needed but the touch of Spenser's genius to identify Una, who is Truth, with the king's daughter, and to convert the sheep which the damsel leads into the "milkwhite lambe" which Una leads, a Christian symbol. Again, the processional rejoicing furnished raw material which Spenser richly elaborated in the concluding episode of his legend.
It remains to observe that Spenser may have taken a hint for the names of the heroes of his first books from etymologies proposed by Caxton in his prefatory remarks to the Life of St. George. After proposing another etymology Caxton remarks: "Or George may be said of gerar, that is holy, and of gyon, that is a wrestler, that is an holy wrestler, for he wrestled with the dragon." May not this chance sentence have served to confirm the poet in his choice of St. George as the hero of Book One, and also have suggested the name of Sir Guyon for the hero of the second book, that other knight who wrestled so valiantly with every form of incontinence? University of Washington.
THE AUTHORSHIP OF THE REVENGER'S TRAGEDY
By E. H. C. OLIPHANT
In the entire range of Elizabethan drama there is scarcely a problem more fascinating than that afforded by The Revenger's Tragedy, not only because it is the greatest play of the period the authorship of which is wholly in doubt (please let that word "wholly" be noted), but also because it is entirely on the strength of his supposed responsibility that Tourneur has been admitted into the hierarchy of the great masters among Shakspere's contemporaries. The Atheist's Tragedy, the only other play credited to him, would scarcely warrant placing him higher than the second rank of dramatists. The determination of the authorship of The Revenger's Tragedy is therefore a matter of no small moment; and I venture to hope that this brief paper will help to settle the question.
The external evidence in Tourneur's favor is far from conclusive. The late seventeenth-century cataloguers Kirkman and Archer supply all there is. The attitude of scholars to the attributions of these old cataloguers is inconsistent and illogical: they accept or reject as the spirit moves them. Where the internal evidence favors an ascription, acecptance is natural and reasonable; but, where the two classes of evidence clash, there is rejection in some cases, and acceptance in others. The injustice may be stated more precisely: where Shakspere is concerned, the attribution is invariably rejected; where he is not concerned, it is sometimes accepted. No doubt, these blundering ascriptions to Shakspere are, on the score of quality, more absurd than that of The Revenger's Tragedy to Tourneur; but there is not a more hopeless disparity between the versification of the least Shaksperean amongst them and that of Shakspere than there is between the verse of The Atheist's Tragedy and that of the play under consideration here. They are so utterly unlike, so markedly at variance in conception of prosodic law, that it is nothing less than amazing that Tourneur's authorship of the greater of the two plays has been so little questioned.
As I have said, the verse is not the verse of Tourneur. If I do not offer proof of the truth of my assertion, it is because the differ
ences are so obvious that it seems unnecessary to do more than invite any student to set them side by side and compare them. Also the vocabulary is not Tourneur's. Nor do the two plays yield much in the way of parallel passages. The most striking is that afforded by the demand for an earthquake and the invocation to "patient Heaven" to express wrath in thunder bolts and lightning (AT, IV, 3) and similar passages in RT, II, 1 and IV, 2; but both are indebted to Marston. We also have the expression ""Tis oracle " in both plays; but we also have "Right oracle" in I, 4 of The Bloody Banquet (henceforth referred to as BB), with which Tourneur had nothing to do, but in which another dramatic writer whose claims to a share in RT have yet to be considered was quite obviously concerned. I hope to show that the author of RT repeated himself in other plays very persistently; therefore the almost complete absence of parallels between AT and RT is highly significant.
As if this were not enough, it is further to be noted that the author of AT is influenced in no small measure by Shakspere, whose influence on RT is negligible. This is a noteworthy fact, though its importance must not be exaggerated.
Fleay favored Webster's authorship of RT; but his reasons are not convincing. If Flamineo in The White Devil, like the Duke in RT, is trodden on, it is not necessary to deduce identity of authorship. Such a piece of theatrical business was not only easily imitable but positively invited imitation in an age so given to heaping physical horror on horror; nor is it safe to build upon resemblances in plot or situation. Nevertheless, there is something to be said for Webster's participation. There are two or three passages in I, 2 that recall him, and the prose thrust into the midst of the verse in IV, 2 would unquestionably be ascribed to him were his presence elsewhere sufficiently indicated. This may be quite possibly an insertion by him; but it does not in itself afford adequate ground for inferring his participation in the play.
Attention has frequently been directed to resemblances between RT and the play of unrecognised authorship known as The Second Maiden's Tragedy (SMT), and the present writer pointed out in
Though I describe it as "negligible," there are certain singular resemblances between RT and parts of Lear, notably IV, 5. The meaning of these I do not propose to enter upon here.
an article in Modern Philology early in 1911 that the closest approximation to the style of RT was to be found in the plays of Middleton. I now go further and say that Middleton is the author of both RT and SMT.
In both will be found almost all the characteristics of Middletonian verse, the prevalence of rhyme, including a fair percentage of double-ending rhyme, varying length of line, an extraordinary fondness for triple endings, a slurring of syllables so as to crowd fourteen or fifteen or even more into the limits of a pentameter (not very common in SMT), the use of words with a contracted "it" (such as "in't") to make double-endings, the use of the Fletcherian extra emphatic syllable, and an occasional resort to a trochaic line after a double-ending. RT is earlier in date than SMT, and does not show the author's characteristics so markedly; but that is as it should be; for his acknowledged plays show us Middleton's steady growth to an individual style. In the later tragedy they are, in many respects, almost as clearly marked as in Women, beware Women" (WBW); even in the earlier, the approximation to the verse of his maturity is much closer than it is to the verse of any other Elizabethan writer.
It would be easy to prove that the mere mechanism of the verse of RT is Middletonian, even if it be not Middleton's; 2 what is of
It may suffice here to say that the proportion of rhyme is heavier than usual even in Middleton's early work, but the percentage of the rhyme that is double-ending is about average. The irregularity of the length of the line, measured by feet, is quite characteristic of him, though more marked than in any other of his plays. Slurred and doubly anapaestic lines are more common than in any other work, even WBW. Trochaic lines occur more frequently than usual, the play in this respect being on the same line with ChM. Dropt syllables are more frequent than usual. The use of the Fletcherian extra emphatic syllable, common enough in the later work, is rare, as in the early plays. The use of double endings is characteristic of the early period, not being excessive; and the trick of deliberately making them by the addition of an address-word or a preposition with an abbreviated "it," so noticeable in the late plays, is absent in the one case, and rare in the other, as in the other early plays. The employment of triple endings, whether in single words or in two or three words, is comparatively light, as in the early work, and there is an average use of the preposition with the abbreviated "it" for the purpose (a characteristically Middletonian trick); but the use of a trohaic address-word, such as 'madam" for a similar purpose, was of later adoption.