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coigne, based on the Italian version of the Euripidian Phanissa, by Ludovico Dolci, and written in blank verse much after the pattern of Gorboduc; and The Misfortunes of Arthur, produced before the Queen at Greenwich by eight members of Gray's Inn (of whom Francis Bacon was one) in February, 1588. Impossible from the point of view of intrinsic literary interest, these plays are all of an historical value as illustrating the final process by which English tragedy (which admittedly owed more to foreign. examples than even comedy) was evolved from mysteries and moralities through the transitional phase of chroniclehistories. The enumeration brings us to the threshold of the immediate predecessors of Shakespeare; to the mysterious ten years from 1580 to 1590, when the bats that flit about the twilight of the drama give place to the immediate harbingers of the mightiest dawn in all our literature.

In order to understand this marvellous transformationscene we shall have to go for some assistance to the political and social history of the period.1

1 Among the more indispensable books for the study of the rise of the Drama in England are J. Payne Collier's History of English Dramatic Poetry, 1879; Dr. A. W. Ward's English Dramatic Literature, 1899; E. K. Chambers's The Mediaval Stage,* 1903; A. W. Pollard's English Miracle Plays, Moralities, and Interludes (ed. 1904); Gayley's Representative English Comedies, 1903. In addition to these the student of the ancient English Drama will be anxious to consult Dodsley's Collection of Old English Plays, and the texts of the four great cycles of miracle plays, edited-the York Plays, by Lucy Toulmin Smith; the Chester Plays, by T. Wright; the Towneley or Wakefield Plays, by England and Pollard; and the Ludus Coventriæ, by Halliwell Phillipps. And references on the subject generally may also be given to Ten Brink's History of English Literature (Bell, vol. ii.), Jusserand's Le Théâtre en Angleterre, Davidson's Studies in the English Miracle Plays (1892), Courthope's History of English Poetry (vol. i.), Creizenach's Geschichte des neueren Dramas, 1893, and K. L. Bates's The English Religious Drama, 1893, with a bibliography.



"It is especially with reference to the drama and its characteristics in any given nation, or at any particular period, that the dependence of genius on the public taste becomes a matter of the deepest importance.”—COLERIDGE, Lectures.

Actors and theatres-Lyly-Greene-Peele-Kyd-MarloweTamburlaine-Faustus-Edward II.—Arden of Feversham.

THE marvellously rapid expansion of English life and literature in the middle of Elizabeth's reign is seen nowhere more clearly than in that exuberance of dramatic production which first made itself felt between 1580 and 1590. The famous writer of interludes, John Heywood, lived to the very threshold of this period, but the interludes themselves had long been superseded as an oldfashioned transitional form. Deeper still in oblivion were the moralities or allegorical plays from which the interludes had, in a sense, been evolved. Such plays lingered on, to be sure, in the country and among ruder town audiences, but in cultured circles they were quite eclipsed by novelties bearing the stamp of Italy or the classics. Comedies in Latin, French, Italian, and Spanish were thoroughly "raked," as Greene expressly declares, to furnish the playhouses of London. Between these admirers of classical models and the conservative audiences who loved the old medleys, there were, no doubt, some eclectics who aimed at creating a drama out of elements furnished by each of the other schools. Nearly all the attempts in the various kinds at the period have utterly disappeared. Those that have survived best are the most ambitious and

the most experimental, such as Edwardes's Damon and Pythias and Whetstone's Promos and Cassandra, and several plays by George Gascoigne. But although several of these are important historically, they are almost, without exception, dreary, sapless, and unexhilarating. In ten years' time, in the interval between the appearance of The Shepheards Calender, Astrophel and Stella, Faustus, and The Jew of Malta, what an extraordinary change seems suddenly to have come over the landscape! The golden age of our literature has, in effect, suddenly set in; and this age is dominated by the romantic drama. By the close of Elizabeth's reign twelve theatres existed in London, where in 1558 not a single public playhouse could have been heard or even dreamed of. Dramatic poets sprang up by tens, and plays, many of which have taken their place in the world's literature, were written by fifties. How did this surprising literature so suddenly come into being? From a seemingly barren waste, how sprang up this chorus of song-a chorus so melodious that in poetry Elizabethan has almost become a synonym for sweet and tunable?

The more we study it the more clearly perhaps shall we discern the sharply cut characteristics which fitted this one age of a small people in a small country to form the alembic of such a marvellous intellectual product as the drama of Shakespeare.

The sudden and unexpected character of the development might be compared with the blossoming period of Athenian literature in the generation that followed that of Themistocles. It was an age of resistance to external pressure, and the extraordinary success of Henry VIII. and of his daughter Elizabeth in affirming national independence in every way, both in secular and also in religious. matters, can hardly have failed greatly to exhilarate that instinct of national identity and national pride which

the whole trend of circumstances in the closing years of the fifteenth century had contributed to prepare. Free in respect to mind, body, and estate to an extent rarely, if ever, attained before or since, Englishmen were all the time, politically speaking, under a despotism. They had no hand whatever in steering the ship of State. Such a combination has ever been favourable to the emergence of great writers.

The time was one of daring expansion and of vehement utterance. England had thrown off its old insularity and was looking outwards into the world; its vision was not yet blurred and narrowed by Puritanism. The national genius was craving for popular literary expression. The overwhelming popularity of the stage pointed superior minds to the conquest of the Drama, where the conflict seemed to lie between the popular drama, which was not literary, and the literary drama, which was not popular. As a whole the playgoers, with Queen Elizabeth at their head, were demanding situation-plays with ingenious devices from Italian novels, spiced with plenty of native English wit, and with a large infusion of jigging and clownage. Of the vast majority of plays produced under these influences before 1588 we know little or nothing. The names of some of them have survived, but most of them have perished utterly. The playwright then did not mind mixing tragedy with comedy, prose with verse, town with country, kings with clowns. He set at naught the unities of classical and Aristotelian tradition. Sidney and his scholarly friends laughed at the absurdities of the popular theatre. They eschewed rhyme, and hoped to be able to bring hexameter into general use. They sighed after Terence, Italy, and Seneca, and wished to have tragedy, comedy, and pastoral carefully discriminated with a due observance of the unities of time and place such a development, in fact, as led in France to

the declamatory drama of Racine. The bulk of the playgoing public cared for none of these things. They prefered the rhyme of King Cambises to the blank verse of Gorboduc. They liked their playwrights to leap lightly over great intervals of time and space, and thought themselves "ill-provided if they were not taken within the space of two hours from Genesis to the Day of Judgment." The public, indeed, were ready to follow a dramatic author of vigorous imagination wherever he desired to lead them. These were the circumstances in which great leaders and innovators responded to the nation's literary need, and in which during the years between 1579 and 1589 such amazing strides were made.

At the same time another influence of the greatest possible importance was in operation-a change, namely, in the condition of the theatre by the growth of a class of habitual spectators and of professional performers.

The details of the transformation are not recoverable; but it is clear that during the generation that preceded 1580 the permanent stage gradually discarded the homely properties of the movable platform; the hall or inn-yard is superseded by the regular theatre; the servitor or strolling minstrel by the professional player; the morality, comic or serious, by comedy and tragedy; and the clerk or court poet, who wrote interludes, by the professional dramatist or playwright.

The old-fashioned moralities were played by roving companies, at first in open spaces or inn-yards, afterwards in the banqueting-halls of nobles. Early, however, in Henry VIII.'s reign, or even before 1509 in some cases, the great nobles began to attach permanent troupes of players (by origin choristers) to their households.

In the early days of Elizabeth the principal companies of these trained actors were Lord Leicester's, Lord Warwick's (afterwards Lord Hunsdon's), and Lord Clinton's

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