Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

I have endeavored to avoid parallels that do not seem to me to point specifically to Middleton. For example, I have ignored the description of a person as a building in I, 4 ("A fair, comely building, newly fallen ") and the parallels in Game, V, 3 (“This fair structure of comely honor "), Witch, I, 1 (" "Tis a fair building "), and BB, I, 3 ("There's a fair house within; but 'tis ill furnisht "), because I think it likely that many parallels could be found in the work of other dramatists. So also with the very Middletonian use of "pleasure" as a verb, meaning "oblige" (II, 1). So too with the characteristic, but not very significant "for this," in III, 5 ("4") "Camphire her face for this, and grieve her Maker . . . all for this?"; Ph, I, 4, "Did she neglect the presence and opinion of her friends / For this?"; SMT, V, 2, 'Didst thou make haste to leave the world for this?"; RG, V, 2, "Did I engage my whole estate for this?". There are also contractions that seem to point to Middleton; and, without desiring to attach undue importance to it, I may direct attention to Middleton's fondness for the use of the word "able " applied to something abstract or inanimate, as, in WBW, III, 1, "A welcome / Able to draw men's envies upon man," or, in Widow, III, 3, "Clothes able to make a man an unbeliever," of which RT, III, 5, contains a couple of instances-one when Vendice, with the skull in his hand, says "Here's an eye / Able to tempt a great man to serve God"; and the other / when he speaks of his joy as "Able to make a man spring up and knock his forehead / Against yon silver ceiling."

I may, also, in the briefest possible way draw attention to (a) the use of "breke custom" in I, 1, "That the uprightest man, if such there be, That sin but seven times a day, broke custom / And made up eight with looking after her " (MOQ, III, 1, "I'll break through custom "); (b) the turn of phrase in IV, 4, "I'll give you this: that one I never knew / Plead better for and 'gainst the devil than you" (Witch, II, 2, " Nay, I'll say that for him: he's the uncivil'st gentleman "; Widow, I, 1, "Nay, I'll say that for thee: I ne'er found thee but honest"; Trick, V, 2, "I'll say that for you, brother"); (c) the resemblance between "All the farthingales that fall plump about twelve o'clock at night upon the rushes" (II, 2) and “"Twill fall at the very throb of a farthingale. / Graz. Not if it fall on the rushes" (MOQ, I, 2).

Apart from versification, I find but four common characteristics

of Middleton that are not to be found in RT, and I consider it but fair that I should name them. The first is an adjunctive use of "I thank," of which I may quote as examples, "E'en to my face he plies it hard, I thank him" (Ph, I, 2) and "They're very still, I thank my happiness" (WBW, I, 1). The second is a breaking up of the sentences so that one is followed by another that is explanatory or that consists of an extension of the idea, as in "He's a right tyrant now; he will not bate me / Th' affliction of my soul: he'll have all parts" (SMT, I, 1); or, "There's no hope of ever meeting now: my way's not thither" (MD, I, 2). There may seem nothing very markedly distinctive in the couple of isolated passages here quoted; but they are in fact entirely characteristic of Middleton, and, in their form, almost peculiar to him. The third is his habit of turning what would with most writers be a subordinate sentence into the principal one, as in, "I think of nobody when I'm in play, I am so earnest" (WBW, I, 2); or ""Tis a very small thing that we withstand, / Our weakness is so great " (Trick, III, 1), where the natural form of construction would be "When I'm in play, I am so earnest that I think of nobody" and "Our weakness is so great that 'tis a very small thing that we withstand." The fourth is his trick of homely simile, none the less effective for its homeliness, as in ""Tis like one that commits sin and writes his faults in his forehead" (MD, IV, 1); "I'm like a man plucked up from many waters / That never looked for help" (SMT, V, 2); "As if a drunkard, to appease Heaven's wrath, / Should offer up his surfeit for a sacrifice" (WBW, IV, 3); "As if a queen should make her palace of a pest-house " (Changeling, V, 2); "Is like one falls to meat and forgets grace (Widow, V, 1); ""Tis like a jewel of that precious value / Whose worth's not known but to the skilful lapidary" (Game, V, 3). The importance of the absence of these four characteristics must not be exaggerated, in view of the presence of all others, for they are absent also from MT, MW, The Family of Love, and the Middleton part of 1HW, to say nothing of Spanish Gipsy, his part-authorship of which has been questioned, or Blurt, Master Constable, which seems to me to be falsely attributed to him, and to be in reality the work of Thomas Dekker. Moreover, A, YFG, and what seems to be the Middleton part of FQ fail in regard to three of the four; Trick and Ph in regard to two; and five other of

his acknowledged plays in regard to one. It is evident, therefore, that to look in every one of his plays for every one of his traits of sentence-formation or his tricks of expression is to demand too much. The significant facts are that there is nothing in RT inconsistent with the theory of his authorship and that there is very much that is consistent with no other view whatever. There is scarcely a scene which does not seem to me markedly his, and none that may not be his; and, despite the Websterian appearance of some of IV, 2, I believe the play to be wholly Middleton's.

It may be pointed out, in conclusion, that the muddling of the parts of Ambitioso and Supervacuo in V, 1 and 3 and the double naming of Vendice's brother are facts that imply revision; and, though it has been declared that the play shows plentiful signs of having been carefully edited, I think that good reasons might be adduced for the view that, whoever edited it, it was not the author.

Is there any theory that will fit the facts that I have cited, save the theory of Middleton's authorship? Those who are content to think that Henry VIII contains much matter written by Shakspere in the manner of Fletcher, and that Barnavelt was written by a dramatist who tried, and succeeded in, writing some scenes as Fletcher, and others as Massinger, would have written them, may be satisfied with an explanation that somebody (Tourneur, let us say) set himself out deliberately to imitate Middleton, or that Middleton was so struck by the work of the author of this play that he forthwith altered his own style and thenceforward wrote nothing save in imitation of him. If anyone finds such an explanation satisfactory, nothing more need be said.

The versification of Middleton's later period was deliberate and markedly different from that of his earlier period. So much may be admitted without any acceptance of a theory of imitation of someone else. Critics often speak of Middleton's versification as if it were slipshod or careless: it is nothing of the sort; it is unorthodox; it is of a markedly individual freedom; but it has rules of its own, as has the verse of Fletcher, in which it finds its nearest affinity. Amazing as is the difference between Middleton's earlier and later manners, it is not incredible, as is the difference between AT and RT. It is not difficult to imagine a man of genius-as Middleton was saying to himself, "Hitherto I have written regular, orthodox verse: it does not satisfy me. It is unnatural and

wofully lacking in freedom. Will it not be possible to infuse into my verse the lifelikeness of prose dialogue without impairing, perhaps even while heightening, its poetical qualities? If I can do it, beshrew the rules: let me make my own." It may be that Fletcher followed his lead or that he followed Fletcher's. Each was a genius in this matter of versification, and each had the necessary daring. The change from the early to the late Middleton is then, I maintain, a comprehensible change, even apart from the touches of the later manner that we see sticking out here and there from the verse of the early work; but the change from the style of AT to that of RT, assuming them both to be from the pen of Tourneur, is not comprehensible-to me, at least. The style of AT is some twenty years ahead of its time. In saying that I am not wishing to say that it was the best of its time, for to my thinking, the style of twenty years later was markedly inferior, for it was the style of Shirley. But the point is, that AT deviates from the verse of the time in one way, and RT in quite another way, a way diametrically opposed to that of AT. To ask us to acecpt the one author for the two plays is to ask us to regard him not as a deliberate artist, but as a mere experimenter, though an experimenter of genius.

So much for the versification: if it be markedly reminiscent of Middleton, shall it not be regarded as Middleton's, especially when it is accompanied by his manner of sentence-making, by his cast of thought, by his dramatic technique, by his sovereign mastery of words? And then, in addition to all this, we have the question of the parallels. What are we to deduce from them? That Middleton, though not the author of the play, was so obsessed by it that his later plays, such as WBW, NW, MD, Changeling, FQ, contain many passages resembling passages in it, and that other plays more or less close to it in date, such as Ph, YFG, OL, are as liberally besprinkled with parallels? Is it not a much safer and more reasonable deduction to regard the passages in question not as denoting imitation, but as showing that they came from the one mint? If these parallels were confined to one or two of his plays, I might consider a theory of plagiarism; when I find them scattered throughout practically the entire body of his plays, I feel it necessary to look for some other explanation, and the only satisfactory one I can discover is that Middleton was the author of RT, as of the others.

1

MILTON IN SPAIN

BY E. ALLISON PEERS

The history, such as it is, of the vogue of Milton in Spain, is strikingly different from that of the influence of every other English man of letters who has up to the present been studied in his relations with Spanish literature. A few English writers, notably Byron and Scott, exercised a real and lasting influence both upon individual Spanish authors and upon the course of the literature of Spain. A larger number, such as "Ossian," Richardson, Fielding, Gray, Collins, Thomson and Young, were known only to a few Spanish writers, to whom they made special individual appeal, and though these did something to make them known in their own country, they never succeeded in causing them to become established as other than recognised exotics.

The story of the influence of Milton in Spain conforms to neither of these types. Although the eighteenth century was well on its way before he became known, his greatness was recognised, and he was translated, appreciated, commented upon and criticised by one after another of the greatest authors of the day. This phenomenon continued well into the nineteenth century,-until, in fact, the "new Romanticism" in Spain of 1835 forced other writers into prominence, when Milton, with many others, became for a time forgotten. Only towards the end of the century was he once more studied and read. The interesting fact, however, is that in spite of the attention paid to him (or rather, to his Paradise Lost, for

1 See Philip H. Churchman, "The Beginnings of Byronism in Spain," in Revue Hispanique, Vol. XXIII, 1910, and "Byron and Espronceda," Revue Hispanique, Vol. xx, 1909, together with E. Allison Peers, "The Earliest Notice of Byron in Spain," Revue de littérature comparée, Vol. II, 1922, and "Sidelights on Byronism in Spain," Revue Hispanique, Vol. L, 1921.

* See Philip H. Churchman and E. Allison Peers, "A Survey of the Influence of Sir Walter Scott in Spain," Revue Hispanique, Vol. LV, 1922. * See E. Allison Peers, "The Influence of Ossian in Spain," in Philological Quarterly, Vol. IV, pp. 121 ff.

See E. Allison Peers, "The Influence of Young and Gray in Spain," in Modern Language Review, Vol. XXI, and "Minor English Influences on Spanish literature,” in Revue Hispanique, Vol. LXII.

« VorigeDoorgaan »