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and was content.1 Shakespeare, again, is anything but universal. His love of authority and contempt for the "mutable rank-scented many " are essentially Tudor and pre-Armada sentiments. His power, then and now, is largely a corollary of the fact that he was so perfect a representative of his age and country. Like every very great writer, Shakespeare has an energetic people behind him. While uttering supremely what he himself thinks and feels, he is at the same time uttering what is felt and thought most deeply by the best minds among his contemporaries.
Among other causes which have contributed to give Shakespeare his position of supremacy, it is possible now to specify only four: (1) His service to the common speech of Englishmen by fixing the functions of new words and enriching the vernacular with new phrases of unrivalled pith and potency; (2) the exquisite alternations of quickness and emphasis, of verisimilitude and beauty, of touch-and-go playfulness and solemn music, of comic and tragic tone which he obtains by turning from prose to verse, or vice versa, every such change being consciously or unconsciously modulated and motived; (3) the consummation of dramatic blank verse in his hands between 1600 and 1612-increasing vibration and flexibility, unlimited variety of music and expression, the double-ending and varied pause so regulated as to set up a continuous flow of vital rhythm; (4) his powerful double appeal in each successive age to play-goer and student.
Among the shoals of modern Shakespeare books, upon the genesis of which we have thus endeavoured to throw a ray of light, we select those for mention which we should like every genuine Shakespeare student to possess:
Editions with Variorum Notes: "Boswell's Malone"* (24
1 See Stephen's Studies of a Biographer, iv. 8; Seccombe and Allen, Age of Shakespeare, 1904, ii. 128-31; Bookman, October, 1903. The present chapter has been most kindly read by, among others, Mr. A. H. Bullen, Mr. Walter Sichel, Dr. J. W. Allen and Dr. Furnival, Both Mr. Bullen and Dr. Furnival dissent from the views expressed in regard to the sonnets at the foot of p. 229; Dr. Allen dissents from the view that Macbeth is the least actable of the tragedies; Dr. Furnival disagrees with the view taken of Shakespeare's marriage and with the preference given to Richard II. over King John.
vols. 1821); Furness's Variorum (12 vols.). Sumptuous Printing: The Stratford Town Shakespeare, 10 vols. (the 10th vol, to include new critical essays by various hands), printed at Stratford under the care of A. H. Bullen. Apparatus Criticus: Cambridge Edition, 1863-6, or 1893; The Arden Shakespeare; The Bankside (20 vols.). Facsimiles: First Folio (Clarendon Press, 1902) and Poems (1905); Furnivall's ShakespeareQuarto Facsimiles (40 vols.). One-Volume Text: Globe Edition (since 1891 with good Glossary); Leopold Shakespeare * (with Furnivall's introduction). Pocket Play-per-Volume Editions: The First Folio Edition (40 vols.); The Little Quarto Edition (40 vols.). Sources: Douce's Illustrations of Shakespeare (1807 and 1839); J. Hunter's New Illustrations (1845); Collier and Hazlitt's Shakespeare Library, 1875; Skeat's Shakespeare's Plutarch, 1875; Boswell-Stone's Shakespeare's Holinshed, 1896; Ander's Shakespeare Books, 1903. Lexicons and Grammars: A. Schmidt's Shakespeare Lexicon (1874); J. Bartlett's Concordance, 1895; E. A. Abbott's Shakespearean Grammar; Franz's Shakespeare Grammatik; Fleay and Dowden's Handbooks. Lives: J. O. Halliwell-Phillipp's Outlines (10th ed. 1898); Sidney Lee's Life (5th ed. 1905), with which should be used as supplementary D. H. Madden's Diary of Master William Silence, 1897; C. I. Elton's Will. Shakespeare, His Family and Friends, 1904; and J. W. Gray's Shakespeare's Marriage, 1905. Shakespeare Reference: Shakespeare's Centurie of Praise, 1874; Fresh Allusions to Shakespeare, 1886 (New Shakespeare Soc. Publications), and The Praise of Shakespeare (ed. Hughes), 1904. Critics: Eighteenth century-Johnson's Preface, 1765; R. Farmer's Essay on the Learning of Shakespeare, 1767; Nathan Drake's Shakespeare and His Times, 1817; see N. Smith's EighteenthCentury Essays on Shakespeare). Romantic-Coleridge's Notes and Lectures (ed. 1883); Hazlitt's Characters of Shakespeare's Plays; Schlegel's Shakespeare and the Drama, 1815; Goethe's Wilhelm Meister and Heine's Frauen-Gestalten. Modern-Dowden's Shakspere, His Mind and Art, 1875; Brandes's William Shakespeare, 1898; A. C. Bradley's Shakesperean Tragedy (1904), and Essays by Landor, the Citation of William Shakespeare for deer-stealing, and Imaginary Conversations, passim), Swinburne, Lowell, Wyndham, Moulton, and A. W. Ward. Foreign-Kreyssig, Brandl, Mezières, Stapfer, Beljame, and Jusserand,
THE LATER CONTEMPORARIES AND SUCCESSORS
"Of the later dramatists, I think Beaumont and Fletcher rank next to Shakespeare in the amount of pleasure they give, though not in the quality of it, and in fanciful charm of expression. In spite of all their coarseness, there is a delicacy, a sensibility, an air of romance, and above all, a grace in their best works that make them for ever attractive to the young, and to all those who have learned to grow old amiably." —J. R. LOWELL, Old English Dramatists.
Beaumont and Fletcher-Ben Jonson-Volpone-The Alchemist-Jonson's later comedies-Chapman-Marston-Dekker
As to the gulf which separates Shakespeare from his fellow Elizabethans the opinion of Alexander Dyce, perhaps the most thorough-going student of the old English drama that we can boast, is well worth hearing. "Lamb and Hazlitt," he says, "have on the whole exaggerated the general merits of the dramatists of Elizabeth and James's days. Shakespeare,' says Hazlitt, towered above his fellows in shape and gesture proudly eminent, but he was one of a race of giants, the tallest, the strongest, the most graceful and beautiful of them; but it was a common and a noble brood.' A falser remark, I conceive, has seldom been made by critic. Shakespeare is not only immeasurably superior to the dramatists of his time in creative power, in insight into the human heart, and in profound thought; but he is moreover utterly unlike them in almost every respect.
The plays which approach most nearly at any one given point to the current of Shakespearean drama are probably those of Beaumont and Fletcher. But this label of "Beaumont and Fletcher" amounts very often to hardly more than a chronological expression signifying that the plays were written between the accession of James I. and the meeting of the Long Parliament by well-accredited collaborating playwrights of the period. The Beaumont and Fletcher folios of 1647 and 1679 were a kind of large repertory of post-Shakespearean drama, generally romantic in type, but extremely various in point of merit. Beaumont's share in these plays was comparatively small; but both Fletcher and Massinger had a large share in the contents, sometimes writing alone, but more often in collaboration with Middleton, Rowley, and others. Fletcher was an extraordinarily versatile writer, a veritable Proteus of the drama of that day. This renders it extremely difficult to fix his work by internal evidence. The distribution of plays in the Beaumont and Fletcher corpus must therefore always remain extremely tentative; and we must be continually on our guard against the eagerness of the specialist to reach definite conclusions in the matter. Roughly speaking, however, there can be no doubt that John Fletcher, who, with the exception of Heywood, was probably the most prolific dramatist of the day, was the protagonist of the plays.
John Fletcher, youngest son of Richard Fletcher, who acted the ungrateful part of chaplain to Mary Stuart in the last days of her life, and eventually became Bishop of London, was born at Rye, in Sussex, in 1579. He was educated at Benet (Corpus) College, Cambridge, and had certainly commenced his literary career in London by the year 1607. It is probable that he began writing for the stage a few years earlier than that. The Woman's Prize, a kind
of sequel to The Taming of the Shrew, and Wit at Several Weapons, both very early plays (1604-6), show the influence of the Lord Chamberlain's company and its great dramatist upon this young recruit to the ranks of the playwriting and theatrical wits.
He seems to have become acquainted with Francis Beaumont not later than 1607, and their first successful play, The Romance of Philaster, was probably written between 1608 and 1610. The fluency and versatility of his endowment must have attracted the attention of Shakespeare about the same time; and during 1613 we find Shakespeare contributing scenes and passages to the two predominantly Fletcherian plays of Henry VIII. and The Two Noble Kinsmen. In general popularity, facility in writing, and honest love of popular applause, and also in apparent indifference to the final form of his productions, Fletcher seems to have approached the great dramatist more nearly than any other writer of the age. Subsequently he became a close ally of Massinger. He died at the zenith of his fame, a victim of the plague, in August, 1625, and was buried near Massinger in St. Saviour's, Southwark.
Francis Beaumont, the descendant of a good Leicestershire family, famous for its lawyers, was born within the borders of Charnwood Forest at Grace-Dieu in 1584, and was educated at Broadgates Hall, Oxford, whence he migrated to the Inner Temple in 1600. A literary friendship with Ben Jonson, and an intimacy with Fletcher, formed probably much about the same time, brought him into connection with the stage a few years after his settlement in London. In 1605 he inherited part of the property of his elder brother, the poet, Sir John Beaumont; but he seems to have clung to the Bohemian habits of a writer for the stage until at least 1613, when he married a lady of