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individual points (especially as regards diction). On the contrary, we here not only have a greater variety of different characters than in any of Marlowe's plays, but these characters, even though drawn but in a sketchy manner, and frequently obscure and awkward in the expression of their feelings and thoughts (in consequence of the corrupt state of the text), are nevertheless well planned, naturally conceived, and speak and act throughout in accordance with their natures, as well as with the relations and circumstances in which they are placed ; their natural peculiarities also become unfolded with the course of the action. The latter develops on the given historical basis out of the characters, the interests, the motives and aims, the emotions and passions of the dramatic personages, with that internal necessity which distinguishes historical truth. The arrangement and the succession of the scenes can so readily be surveyed that, in spite of the multiplicity of the events, we never lose sight of the thread. The meaning and significance of the portion of history which is represented, is not, indeed, grasped with sufficient clearness and depth, but, as whole, the plays manifest a more profound understanding of the historical subject and the forces forming it, than is to be found in any of Marlowe's dramas. In short, the delineation of the characters as well as the composition is decidedly superior to Marlowe's contributions to historical drama.
Moreover, if Marlowe were the author of the two plays, he must have written them at the time when he was also working at his Massacre' and his “Edward II.' For R. Greene wrote his 'Groatsworth of Wit' (where he quotes a line from “The True Tragedie ') before the 3rd of September, 1592, on which day he died. Hence • The True Tragedie' must have been on the boards about the ' middle of that year, probably even earlier, as Greene would only have alluded to a piece that had frequently been played and was generally known, if his thrust was to strike home. And as The True Tragedie' is but a continuation of. The First Part of the Contention,' the latter was no doubt written before “The True Tragedie,' and hence cannot well have appeared later than 1591. AC
cordingly (if my conjecture be accepted) it had presumably appeared on the stage soon after Marlowe's · Massacre (in Collier's opinion two years before the latter); but at all events only a short period of time can have intervened between the date of its composition and that of The Massacre and of · Edward II. It would be a most remarkable phenomenon in the history of literature to find that a poet, in the same period of his life, and in the same domain of dramatic art, should have produced such different works, and moreover, the better ones, previous to those that are inferior.
The main point, however, is that in "The First Part of the Contention,' and still more so in "The True Tragedie, there occur scenes of which every reader capable of judging-if only he is unprejudiced-must admit at a first glance that they could not possibly have been written by Marlowe. Take, for instance, the description of the insurrection of the people headed by Jack Cade at the instigation of the Duke of York. In none of Marlowe's dramas have the people been allowed to play any part-in fact, he has not written one comic scene; he did not, as it seems, possess any talent for comedy, or perhaps, in his strivings after the grand and the pathetic, despised it, considering any admixture of comedy a mere disturbance of the tragic effect. This scene, therefore, I consider so important, so decisive in regard to the point at issue, that I give it here, so that the reader, who may not have the two old plays at hand, can judge of it himself:
Enter JACKE CADE, DICKE BUTCHER, ROBIN, WILL, TOM, HARRY, and
the rest, with long staves.
Will (aside). She was a Pedler's daughter indeed, and sold Dany lases.
Robin (likewise). And now being not able to occupie her furd packe, she washes buckes up and down the country.
Cade. Therefore I am honourably borne.
Harry (aside). I, for the field is honourable; for he was borne under the hedge; for his father had no house but the Cage.
Cade. I am able to endure much.
Cade. I feare neither sword nor fire.
Dicke. But methinks he should feare the fire being so often burnt in the hand for stealing of sheepe.
Cade. Therefore be brave, for your Captain is brave, and vowes reformation : you shall have seven half-penny loaves for a penny, and the three hoopt pot shall have ten hoopes, and it shall be felony to drink small beere, and if I be king, as king I will be
All. God save your maiestie.
Cude. I thanke you, good people, you shall all eate and drinke of my score, and go all in my liverie, and weele have no writing but the score and the tally, and there shall be no lawes but such as come from
Dicke (aside). We shall have sore laws then, for he was thrust into the mouth the other day.
George. I, and stinking law too, for his breath stinks so, that one cannot abide it.
Enter WILL with the Clarke of Chattam.
Will. The Clarke of Chattam., he can write and reade and caste account, I took him setting a boyes coppies, and he has a booke in his pocket with red letters.
Cade. Sonnes, hees a conjurer, bring him hither. Now sir, what's your name?
Clarke. Emanuell, sir, and it shall please you.
Dicke. It will go hard with you, I can tell you, for they use to write that oth top of letters.
Cade. And what do you use to write your name? Or do you as auncient forefathers have done, use the score and the Tally?
Clarke. Nay, true sir, I praise God I have been so well brought up, that I can write mine owne name.
Cade. Oh ho's confest, go hang him with his penny inkhorne about his neoke.
Exit one with the Clarke. Enter TOM. Tome. Captaine, Newes, newes, Sir Humphrey Stafford and his brother are comming with the kings power, and mean to kill us all.
Cade. Let them come, hees but a knight is he?
Cade. Why then to equall him, ile make myselfe_knight. Kneele down John Mortemer, Rise up Sir John Mortemer. Is there any more of them that be knights ?
Tom. I, his brother.
Cade. (He knights DICKE BUTCHER). Then kneele down Dicko Butcher, Rise up Sir Dicke Butcher. Now sound up the drumme, etc.
This and the other scenes where Cade and his companions appear, show such marked affinity with the sarcastic and humorous tone in which Shakspeare describes the people and allows them to express themselves (for instance, in Julius Cæsar,' . Coriolanus,' 'Henry IV.,' and Henry V.'), and are so entirely different from anything in Marlowe's pieces, that if noc written by Shakspeare, still less can they have come from Marlowe's pen. Just as much in the style of Shakspeare, and therefore as little in that of Marlowe, is the parting-scene between the Queen and Suffolk, the account of the death of Cardinal Winchester, the soliloquies of Henry VI., and more particularly the murder of Heniy, and the famous monologue (I am myself alone) of Richani, afterwards the Third.
THE FIRST PART OF THE CONTENTION AND
TRAGEDIE'-continued. IF, after what has been said in our last chapter, impartial criticism cannot possibly consider the above two plays as belonging to Marlowe, and still less as the works of Greene, Peele, or Lodge, why may they not have been written by Shakspeare?
Malone was only consistent with his own views when, after having unhesitatingly denied that Shakspeare had any share in The First Part of the Contention' and in
The True Tragedie,' he also refused to acknowledge him as the author of the three parts of Henry VI. The following are Malone's reasons for his view which, in all essential points, is still adhered to by English critics, who accordingly agree with him in rejecting the plays. In the first place they are said to be in every respect too bad and unworthy of Shakspeare. I, on my part, deny this with the fullest conviction, and await the proof which has not yet been adduced, either by Malone or any other critic. It is true, that compared with Shakspeare's later masterpieces, with Richard II.,' with Henry IV.,' etc.but only with these--the two plays do seem imperfect, and to present such great defects as to fall far into the shade. The more important of these defects have already been pointed out on p. 264. The characters are drawn in too sketchy a manner, the figures do not stand out with sufficient fulness and roundness, the meaning and significance of the historical facts have not been clearly enough grasped and explained; the poet was not yet capable of throwing life into the historical subject; the composition, therefore, was hard and stiff, mechanically put together rather than organically arranged, and the action not clearly and thoroughly motived; the dialogue runs too frequently