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When all is said, however, Edward II. remains a pioneer work of a very noble design, and, as Schelling well remarks, "may be considered the final evolution of the tragic type of the English chronicle play."
What separates Marlowe from Shakespeare is his inability to individualise his characters. But there are not wanting indications in Edward II. which render it conceivable that, had he lived beyond his twenty-nine years, he might have stood second only to Shakespeare-far below him in humour and in power to depict men and women— yet possibly supreme in a different province of dramatic art. As it was, he was "the herald who dropped dead in announcing the victory, the fruits of which he was not to share."
The vivid success which attended the tragedies of Kyd and Marlowe gave the signal for the appearance of a very remarkable group of domestic tragedies in which the poetic element was wholly subordinated to the luridly realistic. These plays were based directly upon incidents which had occupied the pens of the Tyburn chroniclers of the period. Thus, on the murder of a London merchant near Shooter's Hill in 1573 was founded the anonymous tragedy of A Warning for Fair Women. On a murder of peculiar atrocity which occurred in Thames Street, Robert Yarrington founded his Two Tragedies in One. On the murder of two children by their father at Calverley, in Yorkshire, was founded The Yorkshire Tragedy, which appeared at the Globe in 1608, and was afterwards printed under the name of Shakespeare. The most famous of the group is the play based upon the murder of a Kentish gentleman in Edward VI.'s reign and entitled Arden of Feversham. In this play, which was printed in 1592, the character of the victim Arden is drawn in a faint and somewhat wavering outline, but the characters of his wife
PRE SHAKESPEAREAN DRAMA
Alice and her lover Mosbie, who contrived the murder between them, are full of individuality, and appallingly true to life. The guilty fears and suspicions with which Mosbie is haunted, the delicate and complex shades of sentiment in Alice, and the despairing passion by which she is consumed, reveal the work of a master in the delineation of character. The author, whoever he was, was the first to depict a complex woman character upon the tragic stage.1
1 Works upon the early Elizabethan Drama have been greatly multiplied during the last fifteen years. To Dr. A. W. Ward's English Dramatic Literature, J. P. Collier's History of English Dramatic Poetry, and J. A. Symonds's Predecessors of Shakespeare, 1884, would now probably be added by general consent: F. S. Boas, Shakspere and his Predecessors, 1896; Mezières, Prédécesseurs et Contemporains de Shakespeare, 3rd ed. 1881; F. G. Fleay, Chronicle History of the London Stage, 1890; Gayley, Representative English Comedies, 1903; Manly, The Pre-Shakespearean Drama, 1897,; Schelling, The English Chronicle Play, 1902; and Jusserand, Histoire Littéraire, vol. ii, chap. v. Of Lyly (upon whom we are expecting an elaborate monograph by Prof. Feuillerat, of Rennes), the recognised edition is that by R. Warwick Bond (1902). Kyd is edited by Prof. F. S. Boas (1901); Greene by A. Dyce, Dr. Grosart, and Prof. Churton Collins (Clarendon Press); Peele and Marlowe by Dyce, both of whose editions, good though they are, have been superseded by those of A. H. Bullen. For Marlowe may be consulted, further, Ingram's Christopher Marlowe, 1904; A. W. Verity's Marlowe's Influence on Shakespeare, 1886; Churton Collins's Essays and Studies, 1895; Swinburne's Essay in Encyclopædia Britannica; Seccombe and Allen's Age of Shakespeare; Fortnightly Review, September-October, 1905. It is an amusing exercise and test of critical ingenuity to trace the theories of Elizabethan staging as originally constructed upon very slender data by Nathan Drake, Malone, and J. P. Collier, and reflected in the ingenious reconstructions of Philarète Chasles (La Représentation d'une Pièce de Shakespeare en 1613), through the conjectures of F. G. Fleay, J. A. Symonds, H. B. Wheatley, William Archer, E. Bapst, W. W. Greg, F.
Reynolds (Some Principles of Elizabethan Staging), and Karl Mantzius (in his voluminous History of Theatrical Art), down to the elaborately circumstantial theories of the very latest German specialists, such as Dr. Brandl, Robert Prölss (Altenglishes Theater), and Cecil Brodmeier (Die ShakespeareBühne). As in the case with some Teutonic theories concerning Shakespeare's chronology and "Metrik," zeal occasionally outruns discretion, but both zeal and discretion alike seem distanced by prodigious learning.
SPENSER AND HIS SCHOOL
"See in your library whether you have Spenser's Faerie Queene. No English is easier to understand, richer or more flowing; nowhere is there such an assemblage of abundant fiction, blissful imaginations, and marvellous adventures. It is like soaring on the wings of a beautiful swan; this aerial and fantastic world seems Man's natural home. It is like Ariosto, but serious, tender, touching, exalted, Platonican. It resembles in nowise Shakespeare's rapid, tormented, and dazzling Fairyland; it is perfectly calm, bright, and sweet. I shall endeavour to show this delight of Imagination, this beautiful madness of sixteenth-century poetry to our modern public fed on physiological novels."-TAINE, Letters.
Rhyme or classical metres-Gabriel Harvey-Edward DyerTwo great metrical innovations-Edmund Spenser-The Shepheard's Calender-The Faerie Queene-Giles and Phineas Fletcher-Daniel-Drayton.
EVER since the "new learning" had begun to make way in England, English poetry had been mainly experimental and imitative. In the absence of any native literary tradition and of good and available English models, our writers had turned with a commendable humility to the reservoirs of the classics and to the more recent Italian masters. Wyatt and Surrey had followed the Italians; the more original Sackville had been influenced chiefly by Virgil. The writers of 1579 found themselves in the presence of developed literatures, with the formal perfection and maturity of which English literature could not bear comparison. They were oppressed by the superiority of Greek and Latin poetry; and in order to reproduce the merits of the classical poetry they thought that its prosody would first have
to be resurrected. It would not have been so very surprising had the development of poetry in England been injured and retarded as it was deplorably retarded in France by a too timid devotion to these models of antiquity.
Between 1570 and 1580 it was actually being debated whether rhyme should not be altogether discarded, and English poetry written for the future in metres consecrated by Greek or Latin usage. The question of the adaptation of English to classical metres was first raised by Roger Ascham in his Scholemaster of 1570.
Thomas Drant, a Cambridge man of a later generation, translated Horace's Satires and his Ars Poetica into classical metre, and when he died in 1578 left some elaborate posthumous rules whereby English might be twisted into quantitative measures such as sapphics and pentameters, but more especially hexameters. Ascham had found it absurd that such novices in poetry as the English should presume to follow the Goths in rhyming when they had before them the example of Homer and Virgil, the world's greatest poets, who knew not rhyme. William Webbe, the critic, likewise protested against "the tinkerly verse which we call rhyme," and the very lyrists themselves such as Thomas Campion denounced the practice as a concession to childish titillation. These various rules and admonitions were taken up very seriously by the group of poetical theorists who surrounded Sidney. Prominent among these were Gabriel Harvey and Sir Edward Dyer. Gabriel Harvey, a lecturer in rhetoric at Cambridge and author of various works in Latin, a man of genuine learning and not devoid of shrewdness and humour, is now mainly remembered for his devotion to this lost cause of classicism in English poetry. His counsels encouraged Sidney in the metrical experiments which diversified the Arcadia. The material service which he rendered to Spenser by intro