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a mere epithalamium. But, in fact, it would in any case be a strange and almost impertinent proceeding to present a noble patron with a wedding present in the form of a poem where love—from its serious and ethical side-is made a subject for laughter and represented only from a comic aspect, in its faithlessness and levity, as a mere play of the imagination, and where even the marriage feast of Theseus appears in a comical light owing to the manner in which it is celebrated. And it would have even been a greater want of tact to bring a piece, composed for such an occasion, on to the public stage either before or after the earl's marriage.*
* Karl Elze (Essays on Shakspeare, p. 37, translated by L. D. Schmitz, London, 1871) has recently brought forward the hypothesis, and, in his usual scholarly manner, endeavoured to prove that A Midsummer Night's Dream was not written for the marriage festival of the Earl of Southampton, but, no doubt, for the wedding of the Earl of Essex, which took place in the first months of the year 1590. His placing the piece back to the year 1589–30, and classing it in the same series with Shakspeare's earliest comedies—with The Comedy of Errors, The Tro. Gentlemen of Verona, etc. --will, as I think, be a stumbling-block in the way of any one who knows how to estimate the beauties of A Midsummer Night's Dream, and who possesses any fine feeling for the differences of language, versification, composition and the leading motives of a poem. But apart from this objection, which, I admit, rests upon the unsafe ground of the feeling for style-apart from the inappropriateness of the subject for a wedding present, and apart also from the fact that Shakspeare's intimate relation with the Earl of Essex is a mere conjecture which cannot be proved by any authentic data, the hypothesis is contradicted by the circumstance that the marriage of the Earl of Essex (like that of the Earl of Southamptom) was celebrated without the Queen's permission, accordingly.clandestinely.' On this account it is not even known when the marriage took place, and that it must have taken place at latest in March or at the beginning of April, 1590. is only conclu led from the birth of the eldest chill in January, 1591. Dr. Elze tries in vain to find his way out of this difficulty, which lie holds against Tieck's hypothesis. For even though Southampton may have had moro reasons for keeping his marriage a secret than Essex, still a wedding with “song and merriment’and with theatrical representa ions—hence with the participation of a whole company of players—is evidently 110 clandestine’ marriage, and could not well have been kept secret from the Queen. Elze, it is true, thinks that Oberon's behest to che elves, “Now, until break of day,' etc., obviously contains the poet's congratulations upon a marriage, and that the lines can scarcely be understood otherwise. I think, however, that the lines are to be understood only by its being presupposed that the piece refere to
Als regards The Tempest,' on the other hand, Drake * has made it seem very probable that the piece cannot have been written before 1609-10. As has already been pointed out, a grave seriousness pervades the whole, and the formation of the characters, composition and language testi fy so decidedly to the poet's perfect mastery of his art, that the drama-as indeed is assumed by most commenifators-must unquestionably be reckoned among Shakspeare's last works. We only know that it was performed at court on the 1st of November, 1611,f and
a marriage outside of the theatre. Directly, of course, they do refer to the marriage in the play, to the accomplishment of the object for the sake of which the fairies had come from India to Athens. It is much the same as regards the already quoted lines at the end of the piece : • If we shadows have offended,' etc., which Elze thinks would be exceedingly flat and meaningless had they not been spoken at Essex's wedding. But the reference which Elze assigns to these lines, can, in iny opinion, be found only by our being first convinced of the esistence of such a reference. Taken by themselves the lines have precisely as much sense and significance as similar passages in several others of Shakspeare's pieces, where the actors at the conclusion beg for a favourable reception of the play, and to be excused for any shortcomings and defects in the performance; their significance is even enhanced by the fact, that Shakspeare-as he is fond of doing -points 10 the meaning and significance of his composition as whole in thọ closing words. Lastly, Elze endeavours to apply the allegorical explanation in favour of his hypothesis, according to which, (in the celebrated passage in act ii. 1, “My gentle Puck, coine hither,' etc.,) Cynthia is supposed to signify the Queen; the Earth (!) the Countess of Sheffield ; the little Western Flower, the Countess of Essex (the mother of the bridegroom); Cupid, the Earl of Leicester (!);-an hypothesis which N. J. Halpin discusses at full length in his Oberon's Vision in the Midsummer Night 8 Dream, illustrated, etc., (London: pr. for the Sh. Soc. 1843). But I am bold enough, with Delius, not only at once to deny the allegorical significance of these lines, but to maintain that such a frosty and forced allegory might possibly suit the style of J. Lilly (from wliose Endymion Halpin has borrowed it, and arranged it to suit the above passage), but that for this very reason it is thoroughly un-Shakspearian. In addition to this the connı ction between A Midsummer Night's Dreamı ard the so-called masques—upon which great emphasis is laidto me, as already said, to be a very distant one, from which little or nothing can be deduced in favour of the marriage-hypothesis.
* Life and Times of Shakspeare, ii. 503
+ Péter Cunningham, Extracts from the Accounts of the Revels, etc., p. 211. According to an article in The Athenieurn of June, 1818
therefore K. J. Klement's* strange opinion naturally falls to the ground of itself. According to him the drama was written especially for the festival arrar ged in honour of the marriage of the Count Palatine with the Princess Elizabeth in 1612, and he considers fit a thoroughly political piece, Prospero being supposed to represent King James, Alonso the King of Spain, Mirenda the Princess Elizabeth, Ferdinand the Count Palatine, the witch Sycorax-only imagine!—the deceased Queen Elizabeth, and Caliban, partly the Indian savagjes in general, partly the colony of Virginia which Elizabeth honoured with her special patronage. Equally unte:hable is Hunter's f opinion, according to which 'The Tem pest' is supposed to be the play mentioned by Meres under the title of Love's Labour Won' (which however no longer oxists under this name), and that it appeared on the stage as early as 1595. For • Love's Labour Won' is without doubt · All's Well that Ends Well;' moreover, one of Gonzalo's speeches (ii. 1) is taken almost word for word from a passage in Florio's translation of Montaigne's Essays, and this did not appear till 1603. Lastly, as even Malone pointed out, Shakspeare's description of the tempest, as already said, bears an unmistakable resemblance to the account which Silvester Jourdan gives of the hurricane which in July 1609 scattered the fleet, then on its way to Virginia and under the command of Sir G. Sommers, and drove the Admiral's ship on to the rocky shores of the Bermudas. Even the fact of the piece having been performed at court in 1611, and of its having been repeated at the beginning of 1613, during the festivities in honour of the marriage of the Princess Elizabeth, proves that it must at the time have still been
p. 863, The Extracts from the Accounts of the Revels, etc., are suspected of being forgeries in so far as they concern the theatrical perforniances, hence alsu as regards the representation of Othello and Measure for Measure. Further remarks on this point in the note at the end of Book vii.
* Shakspeare's Sturm historisch beleuchtet. Leipzig, 1846.
+ Disquisitions on the Scene, Origin, and Date of Shakspeare's Tempest. London, 1839.
| Discovery of the Bermudas, etc., 1610
a new and favourite piece. This is corroborated, also, by a passage in Ben Jonson's · Bartholomew Fair,' which was played for the first time in 1614; he there ridicules such poets as exhibit 'servant-monsters' and produce 'tales, tempests, and such-like drolleries.'
What is most probable, therefore, is that “The Tempest' must be assigned to the year 1611.*
* M. Carrière (No. 2 of his explanations to W. v. Kaulbach s Shakspeare-galerie, Berlin, 1857) in his ingenious description of Shakspeare's Seelenleben und Geistesgeschichte, establishes an hypothesis both profound and interesting (which Campbell had already incidentally brought forward), that The Tempest is Shakspeare's last dramatic work, and that he wrote the play, at all events, somewhat with the intention of offering it to his country as his farewell, a legacy of the mind and spirit in which he had conceived and poetically described life and history. Carrière illustrates and explains the piece in the spirit of this hypothesis, and in doing so, I am glad to say, agrees with my interpretation in all essential points. I, on my part, would be inclined to share so pleasing an hypothesis, were it not th: t the data we possess regarding the origin of Henry VIII. (which I shall speik of when discussing the piece) force us to assume that Henry VIII, was written one year later.
LOVE'S LABOUR'S LOST. THE TWO GENTLEMEN
ALL'S WELL THAT ENDS WELL.
1. Love's LABOUR'S Losr.
• Love's Labour's Lost' is directly connected with Twelfth Night,' that is, if we consider the latter as standing midway between Shakspeare's comedies of Fancy and his comedies of Intrigue. The fantastic element is decidedly prominent. Caprice and accident, whimsical freaks, strange fantastico-comic characters and situations carry on their game, but intrigue predominates, inasmuch as the little action there is in the play turns upon the plots and counter-plots of the two contending parties in the sphere of love. This play accordingly forms the beginning of a series of pieces which may be termed the Comedies of Intrigue.
The young King of Navarre with three of his knightly companions form the strange resolution of devoting three years to study and philosophy in strict seclusion from the world and especially from all female society. They have bound themselves by an oath to keep this engagement. Their resolution, however, is soon thwarted by the arrival of the beautiful Princess of France accompanied by her ladies, who seeks an interview on urgent affairs of state, and therefore cannot be refused. All the champions of philosophy and seclusion fall in love with these ladies, who are as lovable as they are mischievous. Hereupon ensues a lively combat of wit and caprice, in which the knights either taunt and ridicule one another on account of their kroken vow-trying at the same time to justify themselves, or seek to win their ladies' hearts; the latter, however, cleverly manage to defend themselves, outdo wit by wit, and satisfactorily punish the gentlemen for