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which two editions were published in 1600 by the same bookseller, the one with Shakspere's name, the other without (the one without a name being the most correct), was unquestionably not written by Shakspere, because we have record of a payment to the actual writers. This circumstance compelled us to inquire into the authorship of Pericles,' almost wholly with reference to the internal evidence. And upon the same principle we must examine • The London Prodigal' and · The Yorkshire Tragedy.' It is manifest that the initials W. S. upon the title-pages of the early copies cannot be received as evidence at all of the authorship, however convenient it might have been for a publisher to accept them as evidence fifty years after Shakspere's death. W. S. might, without any attempt to convey the notion that · Locrine' was written by Shakspere, have fairly stood for William Smith; and in the same way the W. S. of · Thomas Lord Cromwell,' and the W. S. of The Puritan,' might have represented Wentworth Smith, a well-known dramatic author at the date of the publication of those plays, who wrote many pieces in conjunction with the best poets of that prolific period of the stage. We proceed to an analysis of . Locrine,' not, as we would repeat, to attempt any display of ingenuity in finding parallels or contrasts, but, inquiring into the broad principles of Shakspere's art, to apply something like a test of the genuineness of those productions which have been assigned to him at various periods since they were written, some very loosely and hastily, as we think, and others upon grounds that demand a patient and careful examination.
According to Tieck, ‘Locrine' is the earliest of Shakspere's dramas. He has a theory that it has altogether a political tendency: “ It seems to have reference to the times when England was suffering through the parties formed in favour of Mary Stuart, and to have been written before her execution, while attacks were feared at home, and invasions from abroad.” It was corrected by the author, and printed, he further says, in 1595, when another Spanish invasion was feared. We confess ourselves utterly at a loss to recognise in ‘Locrine' the mode in which Shakspere usually awakens the love of country. The management in this particular is essentially different from that of “King John' and · Henry V.' • Locrine’ is one of the works which Tieck has translated, and his translation is no doubt a proof of the sincerity of his opinions; yet he says, frankly enough, “ It bears the marks of a young poet unacquainted with the stage, who endeavours to sustain himself constantly in a posture of elevation, who purposely neglects the necessary rising and sinking of tone and effect, and who, with wonderful energy, endeavours from beginning to end to make his personages speak in the same highly-wrought and poetical language, while at the same time he shakes out all his school-learning on every possible occasion.” To reduce this very just account of the play to elementary criticism, Tieck says, first, that the action of the play is not conducted upon dramatic principles; second, that the language is not varied with the character and situation; third, that the poetry is essentially conventional, being the reflection of the author's school-learning. It must be evident to all our readers that these characteristics are the very reverse of Shakspere. Schlegel says of Locrine,' “ The proofs of the genuineness of this piece are not altogether unambiguous; the grounds for doubt, on the other hand, are entitled to attention. However, this question is immediately connected with that respecting · Titus Andronicus,' and must be at the same time resolved in the affirmative or negative.” We dissent entirely from this opinion. It appears to us that the differences are as strikingly marked between Locrine' and • Titus Andronicus' as between • Titus Andronicus' and • Othello. Those productions were separated by at least twenty years. The youth might have produced Aaron; the perfect master of his art, Iago. There is the broad mark of originality in the characterization and language of Titus Andronicus.' The terrible passions which are there developed by the action find their vent in the appropriate language of passion, the bold and sometimes rude outpourings of nature. The characters of Locrine' are moved to passion, but first and last they speak out of books. In Shakspere, high poetry is the most natural language of passion. It belongs to the state of excitement in which the character is placed; it harmonizes with the excited state of the reader or of the audience. But the whole imagery of · Locrine’ is mythological. In a speech
twenty lines we have Rhadamanthus, Hercules, Eurydice, Erebus, Pluto, Mors, Tantalus, Pelops, Tithonus, Minos, Jupiter, Mars, and Tisiphone. The mythological pedantry is carried to such an extent, that the play, though unquestionably written in sober sadness, is a perfect travesty of this peculiarity of the early dramatists. Conventional as Greene and Marlowe are in their imagery, a single act of • Locrine' contains more of this tinsel than all their plays put together, prone as they are to this species of decoration. In the author of 'Locrine' it becomes so entirely ridiculous, that this quality alone would decide us to say that Marlowe had nothing to do with it, or Greene either. There is another peculiarity also in · Locrine' which distinguishes it as much from “Titus Andronicus' as it does from the accredited works of the best dramatists of the early period. We allude to the incessant repetitions of a phrase, in the endeavour to be forcible and rhetorical. Sparingly used, all poets know the power of an echo which intensifies the original sound; but we will select a few such passages from · Locrine' which are the mere platitudes of weakness and inexperience:
“ These arms, my lords, these never-daunted arms."
Brutus, that was a terror to his foes."
(Ay, mighty kings are subject to mishap).”
No doubt we may find this rhetorical form amongst the founders of our drama, and often in an excess which approaches to the ridiculous; take a passage from Greene's Orlando Furioso, for example :
“ Although my country's love, dearer than pearl,
Or mines of gold, might well have kept me back ;
Could by despairing keep Orlando back.”
“ If Fortune favour me in mine attempts,
Thou shalt be queen of lovely Albion.
The latter passage, as well as that of Greene, is evidently part of the system of rhetoric upon which both writers proceeded, although in Greene the management is more spirited. We know of nothing like examples of this system in Shakspere, except in one playful piece of comedy, where the principle is applied with the greatest nicety of art:
Por. If you had known the virtue of the ring,
(Merchant of Venice,' Act V.)
Let us, however, proceed to a rapid examination of 'Locrine,' in its action and characterization.
The dumb-show, as it is called, of Locrine'is tolerably decisive as to the date of the performance. It belongs essentially to that period when the respective powers of action and of words were imperfectly understood; when what was exhibited to the eye required to be explained, and what was conveyed to the imagination of the audience by speech was to be made more intelligible by a sign-painting pantomime. Nothing could be more characteristic of a very rude state of art, almost the rudest, than the dumb-shows which introduce each act of · Locrine.' Act I. is thus heralded :
“ Thunder and lightning. Enter Ate in black, with a burning torch in one hand, and a bloody sword in the other. Presently let there come forth a lion running after a bear; then come forth an archer, who must kill the lion in a dumb show, and then depart. Ate remains."
Ate then tells us, in good set verse, that a mighty lion was killed by a dreadful archer; and the seventeen lines in which we are told this are filled with a very choice description of the lion before he was shot, and after he was shot. And what has this to do with the subject of the play? It is an acted simile:
“ So valiant Brute, the terror of the world,
Whose only looks did scare his enemies,
In the second act we have a dumb-show of Perseus and Andromeda ; in the third “a crocodile sitting on a river's bank, and a little snake stinging it;" in the fourth Omphale and Hercules; in the fifth Jason, Medea, and Creon's daughter. Ate, who is the great showwoman of these scenes, introduces her puppets on each occasion with a line or two of Latin, and always concludes her address with “ So”
266 So valiant Brute “ So fares it with young Locrine ”—“ So Humber"_“So martial Locrine ”—“So Guendolen." A writer in the 'Edinburgh Review' most justly calls Locrine " a characteristic work of its time.” If we were to regard these dumb-shows as the most decisive marks of its chronology, we should carry the play back to the age when the form of the moralities was in some degree indispensable to a dramatic performance; when the action could not move and develop itself without the assistance of something approaching to the character of a chorus. Thus in Tancred and Gismunda,' originally acted before Queen Elizabeth in 1568, previous to the first act “ Cupid cometh out of the heavens in a cradle of flowers, drawing forth upon the stage, in a blue twist of silk, from his left hand, Vain Hope, Brittle Joy; and with a carnation twist of silk from his right hand, Fair Resemblance, Late Repentance.” We have there choruses at the conclusion of other acts; and, previous to the fourth act, not only “Megæra riseth out of hell, with the other furies,” but she subsequently mixes in the main action, and throws her snake upon Tancred. Whatever period therefore we may assign to · Locrine,' varying between the date of • Tancred and Gismunda' and its original publication in 1594, we may be sure that the author, whoever he was, had not power enough to break through the trammels of the early stage. He had not that confidence in the force of natural action and just characterization which would allow a drama to be wholly dramatic. He wanted that high gift of imagination which conceives and produces these qualities of a drama; and he therefore dealt as with an unimaginative audience. The same want of the dramatic power renders his play a succession of harangues, in which the last thing thought of is the appropriateness of language to situation. The first English dramatists, and those who worked upon their model, appear to have gone upon the principle that they produced the most perfect work of art when they took their art entirely out of the province of nature. The highest art is a representation of Nature in her very highest forms ; something which is above common reality, but at the same time real. The lowest art embodies a principle opposite to nature; something purely conventional, and consequently always uninteresting, often grotesque and ridiculous. Locrine' furnishes VOL. XII.