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belonged to Sir Thomas Lucy. For this he was prosecuted by that gentleman, as he thought, somewhat too severely, and in order to revenge that ill-usage he made a bailad upon him. And though this, probably his first essay in poetry, be lost, yet it is said to have been so very bitter that it redoubled the prosecution against him to that degree that he was compelled to leave his business and family in Warwickshire and shelter himself in London.
Admitting the facts of the deer-stealing and the ballad, which are very likely to be true, though resting on no authority except that of Rowe, and that of the expression, “ An I have not ballads made on you all, and sung to filthy tunes ”it is respectfully suggested that deer-stealing and balladmaking were both too popular and too common in that age to entail odium on the offender or occasion a runaway to London. Indeed, the Lucy feud was a religious one, and not one contingent on a ballad. The Lucys were Puritans: the Cloptons, the Catesbys, and the inhabitants of Stratford were adherents of the antique. William Lucy, the father of Sir Thomas, and the friend of Bishop Latimer, had occasioned more than one riot in Stratford, by enforcing the law too rigorously; the Lucys, the Grevilles, and the Combes representing Puritanism—the Catesbys and Cloptons defending the early faith, and supporting the populace. Powerful at the Court of the Tudors, allied remotely to the blood royal, the Lucys and coadjutors were rigid in presenting and persecuting recusants, and in enforcing the penal laws against the same. Thus, in 1592, they presented as a recusant Mrs. Clopton, widow of William Clopton, Henley-in-Arden, Mrs. Mary Arden, widow; and the name of John Shakespeare, not attending service for fear of process for debt, also graces the list. The statute, framed to prevent the people from harboring Jesuits and papal emissaries, as every student of early English law is aware, exacted attendance once a month at the regular parish services. That the people of Stratford hated the Lucys, as represented by Sir Thomas, and the Grevillesas represented by Sir Fulke and Sir Edward—and feared as thoroughly as they hated the exponents of the odious statute, is apparent from the town records printed by Mr. Halliwell. Indeed, in an action for trespass, Sir Edward Greville against the burgesses of Stratford, in 1601, the name of John Shakespeare appears on the list of witnesses for the defendants. A rampant zealot, with a mania for litigation, hereditary dislike of Sir Thomas Lucy is enough to account for the Justice Shallow (alias Lucy) in the “Merry Wives of Windsor,” published in 1602, and probably suggested by the trespass-suit of 1601, without assuming that Sir Thomas had ever prosecuted the poet for deer-stealing.
It is quite likely, therefore, that Shakespeare's going to London was a deliberate act and part of a life-dream, engendered, perhaps, by witnessing the crude dramatic performances of his day at Coventry: a 'life-dream as ever-crescent in its faculty as the summer grass is, as dumb and secret until it burst the shell as the germinal acorn whence the oak. Many an English boy has since tempted the whirlpool of London, pricked by the same dream ; many a beardless American has in like manner dared destiny, one in a hundred to wrestle successfully in the melée of New York. Inseparable from the poetic prompting and its motive is the fame-dream; and to assume that the Avon bard was an exception in this respect is to assume the monstrosity of a coherent story without a predominant motive, of a poet without poetic sensibility.
Again, of the two, in the sixteenth century, the drama led to fame and fortune more rapidly and directly than did lyric poetry. The profession of the dramatist was to London then what that of the novelist is now, a nostrum to make one's way, in the world and enable him at his own proper cost to build a windmill. Greene, the Roberto of his own “Never Too Late," mended his fortune in this way.
Puritanism had not yet leavened the whole lump of Eng. lish sentiment; the profession of actor or dramatist was still sesame to fame and fortune ; Bishops like Bale and Still were reckoned among the patrons of the stage; and more than probable it is that the Stratford boy had long cogitated of London and fame as a dramatic poet. The few extant facts point to this hypothesis; his fruitful career is one only to be accounted
for by presupposing a fixed idea : a life-dream, powerful, pervasive, as only a life-dream can be to an imaginative mind, and forever impelling to literary work.
A somewhat subordinate but important question here suggests itself, and pauses for answer. Was the first life.dream of the boy-bard that of fame as a lyric poet, or that of fame as an actor or dramatist? Was it as the Pindar or Euripides of his age that he cogitated of celebrity?
The former hypothesis is supported by the fact that his first entry for publication at Stationers' Hall, in 1593, consists of the two long poems," Venus and Adonis," and "Lucrece." Again, lyric fame is more likely than dramatic to have constituted the first air-castle of a boy imprisoned amid Stratford silences, and taking his first lessons in poetry from the antique ballad-love then current, the lyric quality of which is abundantly illustrated in Percy's “Reliques ;" while, again, Ovid ranked foremost in the Latin curriculum of 1600, and the airy, transformative fantasquerie of the fanciful pagan distinctly tinges the “ Midsummer Night's Dream,” though the materials of the play were indigenous. Yet again, and of no less value as a determinant, the invention of Shakespeare, in his first period of production, is as spontaneously and distinctively lyrical, though wrought into dramatic form, as that of Shelley in “Queen Mab,” and breaks into bubbles of song so frequently as to suggest either an affectation of Pindaric bent, or that the writer had on hand a store of rhyming tid-bits which he intended to work into the dramatic fabric at every admissible opportunity.
The theory that his first fame-dream was that of actor and dramatist rests upon the three considerations: that he drifted to the theatre at once, after his advent in London ; that he was,
from the beginning, assiduous both as actor and dramatic author; and that, at the latter, Greene's "Groatsworth of Wit,” 1592, a year before the entry of the poems at Stationers' Hall, delivers the mordant thrust
“There is an upstart crow beautified with our feathers, that, with his tiger's heart wrapped in a player's bide, supposes he is as well able to bombast out a blank verse as the best of you,”
appropriating one of the finest passages in “ Henry VI.,” in the double function of stiletto with which to stab, and identitymark with which to point the allusion. The true solution lies probably in the union of the two. The broad interval that now separates the playwright and the poet did not then exist. Poetry had three divisions-epic, lyric, and dramatic. Poets were of three kinds—a playwright was a dramatic poet.
Shakespeare's literary faculty was balanced as upon a pivot between the lyric and the dramatic. His plays are intensely lyrical; his poems intensely dramatic. His materials fell into the one form or the other by a kind of natural selection. In his vocabulary no thorough distinction between dramatic poetry and lyric poetry was possible. Poetry was. In action, hu- . man action, with its netted and meshed complexity of passion and emotion, it fell into dramatic form, taking that form by virtue of an inner necessity; in simple beauty, into the lyric form, taking that form by virtue of an interior necessity. But in the one, poetry was just as potential as in the other; and that the Elizabethan magician felt this in his very soul, whether he comprehended it in his understanding or not, his spontaneous adaptation of dress to thought, now descending to prose, now stalking in stately blank verse, now falling into rhyme, now breaking into bubbles and sunlit foam of song, abundantly evidences.
The life-dream of a bundle of human faculties thus balanced, of a poetic fecundity thus determincd, would naturally dwell on poetry as potential and poetic form as subordinate. He went to London as a poet: the shape into which his musings eddied and curled, as they lifted themselves spectre-like from the vasty deep of his wondrously prolific imaginationfogs from the soul-sea within him,—was a secondary consideration. His keen, practical mind accepted the conditions of success : money in the capacity of an actor and playwright: empty fame in poetry not adapted to the market: and thus, if aright we read the facts of his life, he entered the theatrical profession.
But whence came the marvelous fathom of man and of what Mr. Carlyle calls the infinitudes? Was it instinctive, intuitive? Or was it the result of observation, enlightened by almost superhuman insight? The mythical conception of Shakespeare assumes the former; but careful analysis of the facts proves it to be untenable. Imagine an sage in which the theatre is the centre of thought: with few clubs, without coffee-houses, newspapers, novels. Here, in his hexagonal, half-roofed wooden building of the Elizabethan era, with its boxes, admission from a shilling to half a crown, its congregation on the stage of the wits and critics, its actors in the costume of everyday life, met of an afternoon the Sidneys, the Bacons, the Raleighs, Essexes, and Cecils of the British metropolis; the Falstaffs of the day; the weatherbronzed adventurer of the sea, just from Guinea ; the vexed Bermoothes, of the romance-land of the Indias ; soldiers of fortune and vagabond Bohemians of all types ; honest citizens and grave burgesses ; voluptuaries and coxcombs by the dozen -all uniting to form a school of observation, of allusion, of wit, of imagination, never since concentrated in a 'theatre, and five years of which were a dramatic education: a school having the same advantage over newspapers, novels, and books, as media of information, that the actual seeing of a murder has over the intellectual apprehension that a murder has been committed, or the actual study of fossils over a textbook.
Study it from every standpoint, and the most curious phenomenon presented by the Elizabethan period of English history, transitional as it was, is its heterogeneity : the motley of extravagancies, conceits, queer humors and whims, oddities of dress, individualisms in manners and opinions, no central authority anywhere, which formed the observational materials of Shakespeare's dramas. It was an age of medley, of monads; and thus from the people he met daily, to the people he embodied in drama, intervened but a step. Nor yet had geographer of Ariel and Caliban exorcised the still-vexed Bermoothes ; nor yet had Puritan severity thoroughly inoculated religious conviction with the intense but limited religionism that conquered English thought a century later: a consideration in which the critic may find the key to the moral range VOL. XXVI. —NO. LII.