which is the most natural should, through the force of a few magical touches, become the most sublime. We do not trace this wonderful power in the play before us : talent there certainly is, but the great creative spirit is not visible.

The play opens with Robert of Artois explaining to Edward III. the claims which he has to the crown of France through his mother Isabelle. This finished, the Duke of Lorraine arrives to summon Edward to do homage to the King of France for the dukedom of Guienne. The scene altogether reminds us of the second scene of the first act of Henry V.,' where the Archbishop of Canterbury expounds the Salic law, and the ambassadors of France arrive with an insolent message to Henry from the Dauphin. The parallel scenes in both plays have some resemblance to the first scene of

King John,' where Chatillon arrives with a message from France. It is probable that the “ Henry V.' of Shakspere was not written till after this play of - Edward III. ;' and the • King John,' as we now have it, might probably be even a later play: but the original * King John,' in two Parts, belongs, without doubt, to an earlier period than the · Edward III.,' and the same resemblance in this scene holds good with that play. Upon the departure of Lorraine, the rupture of the league with the Scots is announced to Edward, with the further news that the Countess of Salisbury is besieged in the castle of Roxburgh. The second scene shows us the countess upon the walls of the castle, and then King David of Scotland enters, and thus addresses himself to Lorraine:

Dav. My lord of Lorraine, to our brother of France
Commend us, as the man in Christendom
Whom we most reverence and entirely love.
Touching your embassage, return, and say,
That we with England will not enter parley,
Nor never make fair weather, or take truce ;
But burn their neighbour towns, and so persist
With eager roads beyond their city York.
And never shall our bonny riders rest;
Nor rusting canker have the time to eat
Their light-borne snaffles, nor their nimble spurs ;
Nor lay aside their jacks of gymold mail;
Nor bang their staves of grained Scottish ash
In peaceful wise upon their city walls;
Nor from their button'd tawny leathern belts
Dismiss their biting whin rds, -till your king
Cry out · Enough ; spare England now for pity.'
Farewell : and tell him, that you leave us here
Before this castle; say, you came from us
Even when we had that yielded to our hands."

If this speech be not Shakspere's, it is certainly a closer imitation of the freedom of his versification, and the truth and force of his imagery, than can be found in any of the historical plays of that period. We do not except even the · Edward II.' of Marlowe, in which it would be difficult to find a passage in which the poetry is so little conventional as the lines which we have just quoted. And this brings us to the important consideration of the date of · Edward III. Ulrici holds that it was written at least two years before it was published. We cannot see the reason for this opinion. It was entered on the Stationers' registers on the 1st of December, 1595, and we have pretty good evidence in many cases that such entry was concurrent with the time of the original performance. If the ' Edward III.,' then, was first produced in 1595, there can be no doubt that several of Shakspere's historical plays were already before the public—the “Henry VI.,' and · Richard III.,'—in all probability the Richard II.' Bearing this circumstance in mind, we can easily understand how a new school of writers should, in 1595, have been formed, possessing, perhaps, less original genius than some of the earlier founders of the drama, but having an immense advantage over them in the models which the greatest of those founders had produced. Still this consideration does not wholly warrant us in hastily pronouncing the play before us not to be Shakspere’s. As in the case of • Arden of Feversham,' we have to look, and we look in vain, for some known writer of the period whose works exhibit a similar combination of excellences.

The Countess of Salisbury is speedily relieved from her besiegers by the arrival of Edward with his army. The king and the countess meet, and Edward becomes her guest. His position is a dangerous one, and he rushes into the danger. There is a very long and somewhat ambitious scene, in which the king instructs his secretary to describe his passion in verse. It is certainly not conceived in a real dramatic spirit. The action altogether flags, and the passion is very imperfectly developed in such an outpouring of words. The next scene, in which Edward avows his passion for the countess, is conceived and executed with far more success :

Cou. Sorry I am to see my liege so sad :
What may thy subject do, to drive from thee
This gloomy consort, sullen melancholy ?

Edw. Ah, lady, I am blunt, and cannot straw
The flowers of solace in a ground of shame :-
Since I came hither, countess, I am wrong'd.

Cou. Now, God forbid, that any in my house
Should thiuk my sovereign wrong! Thrice gentle king,
Acquaint me with your cause of discontent.

my woman's

Edw, How near then shall I be to remedy?
Cou. As near, my liege, as all

Can pawn itself to buy thy remedy.

Edw. If thou speak'st true, then bave I my redress :
Engage thy power to redeem my joys,
And I am joyful, countess; else, I die.

Cou. I will, my liege.

Swear, countess, that thou wilt.
Cou. By heaven I will.

Edw. Then take thyself a little way aside;
And tell thyself a king doth dote on thee :
Say, that within thy power it doth lie
To make him happy; and that thou hast sworn
To give me all the joy within thy power :
Do this, and tell me when I shall be happy.

Cou. All this is done, my thrice dread sovereign :
That power of love, that I have power to give,
Thou hast with all devout obedience;
Employ me how thou wilt in proof thereof.

Edw. Thou hear'st me say that I do dote on thee.

Cou. If on my beauty, take it if thou canst;
Though little, I do prize it ten times less :
If on my virtue, take it if thou canst ;
For virtue's store by giving doth augment:
Be it on what it will, that I can give,
And thou canst take away, inherit it.

Edw. It is thy beauty that I would enjoy.

Cou. O, were it painted, I would wipe it off,
And dispossess myself, to give it thee:
But, sovereign, it is solder'd to my life;
Take one, and both; for, like an humble shadow,
It haunts the sunshine of my summer's life.

Edw. But thou mayst lend it me, to sport withal.

Cou. As easy may my intellectual soul
Be lent away, and yet my body live,
As lend my body, palace to my soul,
Away from her, and yet retain my soul.
My body is her bower, her court, her abbey,
And she an angel, pure, divine, unspotted ;
If I should lend her house, my lord, to thee,
I kill my poor soul, and my poor soul me."

The Earl of Warwick, father to the Countess of Salisbury, is required by Edward, upon his oath of duty, to go to his daughter, and command her to agree with his dishonourable proposals. This very unnatural and improbable incident is found in the story of • The Palace of Pleasure ;' but it gives occasion to a scene of very high merit-a little wordy, perhaps, but still upon the whole natural and effective. The skill with which the father is made to deliver the message of the king, and to appear to recommend a

compliance with his demands, but so at the same time as to make the guilty purpose doubly abhorrent, indicates no common power:

War. How shall I enter in this graceless errand ?
I must not call her child; for where's the father
That will, in such a suit, seduce his child ?
Then, Wife of Salisbury,--shall I so begin ?
No, he's my friend ; and where is found the friend
That will do friendship such endamagement ?
Neither my daughter, nor my dear friend's wife.
I am not Warwick, as thou think'st I am,
But an attorney from the court of hell ;
That thus have hous'd my spirit in his form,
To do a message to thee from the king.
The mighty king of England dotes on thee :
He, that hath power to take away thy life,
Hath power to take thine honour; then consent
To pawn thine honour, rather than thy life;
Honour is often lost, and got again;
But life, once gone, hath no recovery.
The sun, that withers hay, doth nourish grass ;
The king, that would distain thee, will advance thee.
The poets write, that great Achilles' spear
Could heal the wound it made : the moral is,
What mighty men misdo, they can amend.
The lion doth become his bloody jaws,
And grace his foragement, by being mild
When vassal fear lies trembling at his feet.
The king will in his glory hide thy shame;
And those, that gaze on him to find out thee,
Will lose their eyesight, looking in the sun.
What can one drop of poison harm the sea,
Whose hugy vastures can digest the ill,
And make it lose his operation ?
The king's great name will temper thy misdeeds,
Aud give the bitter potion of reproach
A sugar'd sweet and most delicious taste :
Besides, it is no harm to do the thing
Which without shame could not be left undone.
Thus have I, in his majesty's behalf,
Apparel'd sin in virtuous sentences,
And dwell upon thy answer in his suit.

Cou. Unnatural besiege! Woe me, unhappy,
To have escap'd the danger of my foes,
And to be ten times worse invir'd by friends!
Hath he no means to stain my honest blood,
But to corrupt the author of my blood,
To be his scandalous and vile solicitor?
No marvel though the branches be infected,
When poison hath encompassed the root :
No marvel though the leprous infant die,

When the stern dam envenometh the dug.
Why, then, give sin a passport to offend,
And youth the dangerous rein of liberty :
Blot out the strict forbidding of the law;
And cancel every canon that prescribes
A shame for shame, or penance for offence.
No, let me die, if his too boist'rous will
Will have it so, before I will consent
To be an actor in his graceless lust.

War. Why, now thou speak’st as I would have thee speak;
And mark how I unsay my words again.
An honourable grave is more esteem’d,
Than the polluted closet of a king :
The greater man, the greater is the thing,
Be it good, or bad, that he shall undertake :
An unreputed mote, flying in the sun,
Presents a greater substance than it is :
The freshest summer's day doth soonest taint
The loathed carrion that it seems to kiss :
Deep are the blows made with a mighty axe:
That sin doth ten times aggravate itself
That is committed in a holy place :
An evil deed, done by authority,
Is sin and subornation : Deck an ape
In tissue, and the beauty of the robe
Adds but the greater scorn unto the beast.
A spacious field of reasons could I urge
Between bis glory, daughter, and thy shame :
That poison shows worst in a golden cup;
Dark night seems darker by the lightning flash;
Lilies, that fester, smell far worse than weeds ;
And every glory that inclines to sin,
The shame is treble by the opposite.
So leave I, with my blessing in thy bosom ;
Which then convert to a most heavy curse,
When thou convert'st from honour's golden name
To the black faction of bed-blotting shame! [Erit.

Cou. I 'll follow thee : And, when my mind turns so,
My body sink my soul in endless woe!

[Exit." There is a line in the latter part of this scene which is to be found also in one of Shakspere's Sonnets—the ninety-fourth :

“ Lilies, that fester, smell far worse than weeds." In our illustration of the Sonnets we have expressed a decided opinion that the line was original in the sonnet, and transplanted thence into this play. The point was material in considering the date of the sonnet, but it throws no light either upon the date of this play or upon its authorship.*

* See Poems, p. 252.

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