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CHAPTER IV.

TROILUS AND CRESSIDA.

The original quarto edition of "Troilus and their height of pleasure) to be born in that sea Cressida,' printed in 1609, bears the following that brought forth Venus. Amongst all there title :—The famous Historie of Troylus and is none more witty than this: and had I time I Cresseid. Excellently expressing the Begin- would comment upon it, though I know it needs ning of their Loues, with the Conceited not (for so much as will make you think your Wooing of Pandarus Prince of Licia. Written testern well bestowed), but for so much worth by William Shakespeare. London, Imprinted

as even poor I know to be stuffed in it. It

deserves such a labour, as well as the best by G. Eld, for R. Bonian and H. Walley, and

And believe are to be sold at the Spred Eagle in Paules comedy in Terence or Plautus.

this, that when he is gone, and his comedies Churchyeard, ouer against the great North

out of sale, you will scramble for them, and set Doore, 1609. In the same year a second edition was put forth by the same publishers, warning, and at the peril of your pleasures' loss

up a new English Inquisition. Take this for a in the title-page of which appears, “As it

and judgments, refuse not, nor like this the less was acted by the King's Majesty's Servants for not being sullied with the smoky breath of at the Globe.” No other edition of the play the multitude; but thank fortune for the scape was published until it appeared in the folio it hath made amongst you, since by the grand collection of 1623.

possessors' wills I believe you should have The first quarto edition of 1609 contains prayed for them rather than been prayed. And the following very extraordinary preface : 80 I leave all such to be prayed for (for the states A never writer to an ever reader.

of their wit's healths) that will not praise it.

Vale." “News. “Eternal reader, you have here a new play, In 1609, then, the reader is told, “ You have never staled with the stage, never clapper-clawed here a new play, never staled with the stage, with the palms of the vulgar, and yet passing

never clapper-clawed with the palms of the full of the palm comical ; for it is a birth of your vulgar;” and he is further exhorted—“refuse brain, that never undertook anything comical not, nor like this the less for not being sullied vainly; and were but the vain names of comedies with the smoky breath of the multitude." changed for the titles of commodities, or of The reader is also invited to spend a sixpence plays for pleas, you should see all those grand upon this play :-“Had I time I would censors, that now yle them such vanities, flock comment upon it, though I know it needs to them for the main grace of their gravities; not, for so much as will make you

think

your especially this author's comedies, that are so testern well bestowed.” Never was one of framed to the life, that they serve for the most Shakspere's plays set forth during his life common commentaries of all the actions of our

with such commendation as here abounds. lives, showing such a dexterity and power of His Comedies “are so framed to the life, wit, that the most displeased with plays are

that they serve for the most common compleased with his comedies. And all such dull

mentaries of all the actions of our lives.” and heavy-witted worldlings as were capable of the wit of a comedy, coming by re

The passage towards the conclusion is the port of them to his representations, have found

most remarkable :-“ Thank Fortune for the that wit there that they never found in them. scape it hath made amongst you, since by selves, and have parted better witted than they the grand possessors' wills I believe you came; feeling an edge of wit set upon them should have prayed for them rather than more than ever they dreamed they had brain to been prayed.” We have here, then, first, a grind it on. So much and such favoured salt most distinct assertion that, in 1609, (Troilus of wit is in his comedies, that they seem (for I and Cressida' was a new play, never staled

never

The pro

with the stage. This, one might think, the name, it is sufficient to know that for would be decisive as to the chronology of this person, and not for the public, Shakspere this play; but in the Stationers' books is wrote this wonderful comedy." the following entry :-“Feb. 7, 1602. Mr. prietors of the Globe Theatre were clearly Roberts. The booke of Troilus and Cresseda, hostile to the publication of Shakspere's as yt is acted by my Lo. Chamberlen's men.' later plays; and, in fact, with the exception Malone assumes that the Troilus and of'Lear,' and 'Troilus and Cressida,' no play Cressida' thus acted by the Lord Chamber was published between 1603 and Shakspere's lain's men (the players at the Globe during death. Now, in the title-page of the original the reign of Elizabeth) was the same as that 'Lear, published in 1608, there is the published in 1609. Yet there were other following minute particularity :“As it was authors at work upon the subject besides played before the King's Majesty at WhiteShakspere. In Henslowe's manuscripts there hall upon St. Stephen's night in Christmas are several entries of monies lent, in 1599, holidays, by his Majesty's Servants playing to Dekker and Chettle, in earnest of a book usually at the Globe, on the Bank's side.” called "Troilus and Cressida.' This play, From this statement it appears to us highly thus bargained for by Henslowe, appears probable that, in the instances both of 'Lear' to have been subsequently called “Aga- and "Troilus and Cressida,' the plays were memnon.' The probability, is, that the rival performed, for the first time, before the King ; company at the Globe had, about the same that the copies so used were out of the period, brought out their own “Troilus and control of the players who represented these Cressida ;' and that this is the play referred dramas; and that some one, authorized or to in the entry by Roberts in 1602; for if not, printed each play from the copy used that entry had applied to the "Troilus and on these occasions. Let us look again at Cressida’ of Shakspere, first published in the passage in the preface to “Troilus and

309, how are we to account for the sub- Cressida’ under this impression :—“Thank sequent entry in the same registers made Fortune for the scape it hath made amongst previously to the publication of that edition? you, since by the grand possessors' wills I Altogether the evidence of the date of the believe you should have prayed for them play, derived from the entry of 1602, appears rather than been prayed.” There is an to us worth

very
little.

obscurity in this passage. “I believe you And here arises the question, whether the should have prayed for them rather than expressions in the preface“ never staled with been prayed” is quite unintelligible, if "the

never clapper-clawed with the grand possessors” had been the proprietors palms of the vulgar,”—“not sullied with of the Globe Theatre. But suppose the grand the smoky breath of the multitude," mean possessors to be, as Tieck has conjectured, that the play had not been acted at all, or some great personage, probably the King that it had not been acted on the public himself, for whom the play was expressly stage. There is a good deal of probability written, and a great deal of the obscurity of in the conjecture of Tieck upon this subject: the preface vanishes. By the grand pos

-“ In the palace of some great personage, sessors' wills you should have prayed for for whom it was probably expressly written, them (as subjects publicly pray for their it was first represented ; according to my rulers) rather than been prayed (as you are belief for the King himself, who, weak as he by players who solicit your indulgence in was, contemptible as he sometimes showed prologues and epilogues). himself, and pedantic as his wisdom and short-sighted as his politics were, yet must “The original story,” says Dryden, “was have had a certain fine sense of poetry, wit, written by one Lollius, a Lombard, in Latin and talent, beyond what his historians have verse, and translated by Chaucer into ascribed to him. But whether the King, or English ; intended, I suppose, as a satire on some one else of whom we have not received the inconstancy of women. I find nothing

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of it among the ancients, not so much as the consideration of Chaucer's poem of 'Troilus name Cressida once mentioned. Shakspeare and Creseide' without noticing the high (as I hinted), in the apprenticeship of his honour it has received in having been made writing, modelled it into that play which is the foundation of one of the plays of Shakenow called by the name of Troilus and spear. There seems to have been in this Cressida.'” Chaucer himself speaks of “Myne respect a sort of conspiracy in the commenAuctor Lollius ;” and in his address to the tators upon Shakespear against the glory of Muse, in the beginning of the second book, our old English bard. In what they have

written concerning this play, they make a To every lover I me excuse

very slight mention of Chaucer; they have That of no sentiment I this endite,

not consulted his poem for the purpose of But out of Latin in my tongue it write." illustrating this admirable drama; and they Without entering into the question who have agreed, as far as possible, to transfer to Lollius was, or believing more than that another author the honour of having supplied “Lollius, if a writer of that name existed at materials to the tragic artist. Dr. Johnson all, was a somewhat somewhere,” says, “Shakspeare has in his story followed, once receive the “Troilus and Creseide' of for the greater part, the old book of Caxton, Chaucer as the foundation of Shakspere's which was then very popular ; but the chaplay. Of his perfect acquaintance with that racter of Thersites, of which it makes no poem there can be no doubt. Chaucer, of all mention, is a proof that this play was written English writers, was the one who would have after Chapman had published his version of the greatest charm for Shakspere. "The Homer.' Mr. Steevens asserts that “ShakRape of Lucrece’ is written precisely in the speare received the greatest part of his same versification as Chaucer's "Troilus and materials for the structure of this play from Creseide. When Lorenzo, in . The Merchant the Troye Boke of Lydgate.' And Mr. Malone of Venice,' exclaims,

repeatedly treats the 'History of the De“ In such a night,

struction of Troy, translated by Caxton,' as Troilus, methinks, mounted the Trojan walls, Shakspeare's authority' in the composition And sigh'd his soul toward the Grecian tents, of this drama.

The fact is, that Where Cressid lay that night,”—

the play of Shakespear we are here conwe may be sure that Shakspere had in his sidering has for its main foundation the mind the following passages of Chaucer : poem of Chaucer, and is indebted for many “Upon the wallés fast eke would he walk, accessory helps to the books mentioned by And on the Greekés host he would ysee,

the commentators. And to himself right thus he would ytalk :

“We are not, however, left to probability • Lo! yonder is mine owné lady free,

and conjecture as to the use made by ShakeOr ellés yonder there the tentés be,

spear of the poem of Chaucer. His other And thence cometh this air that is so sote, sources were Chapman’s translation of Homer, That in my soul I feel it doth me bote.' the “Troye Boke' of Lydgate, and Caxton's

History of the Destruction of Troy.' It is The day go'th fast, and after that came eve, well known that there is no trace of the And yet came not to Troilus Creseid :

particular story of Troilus and Creseide' He looketh forth by hedge, by tree, by grove, among the ancients. It occurs, indeed, in And far his head over the wall he laid."

Lydgate and Caxton; but the name and Mr. Godwin has justly observed that the actions of Pandarus, a very essential perShaksperean commentators have done in

sonage in the tale as related by Shakespear justice to Chaucer in not more distinctly and Chaucer, are entirely wanting, except associating his poem with this remarkable

a single mention of him by Lydgate, and play :

that with an express reference to Chaucer as " It would be extremely unjust to quit the his authority. Shakespear has taken the * Coleridge's Literary Remains,' vol. ii. p. 130. story of Chaucer with all its imperfections

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and defects, and has copied the series of its Criticism in Tragedy,' thus speaks of Shakincidents with his customary fidelity; an spere's performance :exactness seldom to be found in any other “For the play itself, the author seems to dramatic writer." *

have begun it with some fire; the characters Although the main incidents in the ad- of Pandarus and Thersites are promising ventures of the Greek lover and his faithless enough ; but, as if he grew weary of his mistress are followed with little deviation, task, after an entrance or two he lets them yet, independent of the wonderful difference fall; and the latter part of the tragedy is in the characterization, the whole story nothing but a confusion of drums and trumunder the treatment of Shakspere becomes pets, excursions and alarms. The chief perthoroughly original. In no play does he sons who give name to the tragedy are left appear to us to have a more complete mastery alive : Cressida is false, and is not punished. over his materials, or to mould them into Yet, after all, because the play was Shakmore plastic shapes by the force of his most speare's, and that there appeared in some surpassing imagination. The great Homeric places of it the admirable genius of the poem, the rude romance of the destruction author, I undertook to remove that heap of of Troy, the beautiful elaboration of that rubbish under which many excellent thoughts romance by Chaucer, are all subjected to his lay wholly buried.The mode in which wondrous alchemy; and new forms and Dryden got rid of the rubbish, and built up combinations are called forth so lifelike, that his own edifice, is very characteristic of the all the representations which have preceded age and of the man :them look cold and rigid statues, not warm “I new modelled the plot; threw out and breathing men and women. Coleridge's many unnecessary persons; improved those theory of the principle upon which this was characters which were begun and left uneffected is, we have no doubt, essentially finished,

-as Hector, Troilus, Pandarus, and true :

Thersites; and added that of Andromache. “I am half inclined to believe that Shake- After this I made, with no small trouble, an spear's main object (or shall I rather say his order and connection of all the scenes, reruling impulse ?) was to translate the poetic moving them from the places where they heroes of Paganism into the not less rude, but were inartificially set.” more intellectually vigorous, and more fea The result of all this is, that the Ghost of turely, warriors of Christian chivalry, and to Shakspere, in the concluding lines of the substantiate the distinct and graceful profiles Prologue, thus enlightens the audience as or outlines of the Homeric epic into the to the dominant idea of the Troilus and flesh and blood of the romantic drama,—in Cressida :'short, to give a grand history-piece in the “My faithful scene from true records shall tell robust style of Albert Durer.”+

How Trojan valour did the Greek excel; To Dryden's alteration of Troilus and Your great forefathers shall their fame regain, Cressida' was prefixed a prologue, “ spoken And Homer's angry ghost repine in vain." by Mr. Betterton, representing the Ghost of Coleridge says, there is no one of ShakShakspere.” The Ghost appears to have en- spere's plays harder to characterize.” He tirely forgotten what he was on earth, and to has overlooked the circumstance that, when present a marvellous resemblance, in his the “rubbish” was removed, it became a mind at least, to Mr. John Dryden. He true record, a faithful chronicle, of the says,

heroic actions of the Trojans,—our “great “ In this my rough-drawn play you shall behold forefathers."

admiration for Some master-strokes."

“glorious John” in his own proper line, we Dryden, in his elaborate 'Preface to Troilus must endeavour to understand what Shakand Cressida, containing the grounds of spere's “Troilus and Cressida' is, by com

paring it with what it is not in the alteration * Life of Chaucer,' vol. i. (4to) p. 315. † Literary Remains,' vol ji. p. 183.

before us.

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The notion of Dryden was to convert the is the high morality of the characterization, Troilus and Cressida' into a regular tragedy. we can scarcely say that he has made the He complains, we have seen, that “the chief representation too prominent. When he persons who give name to the tragedy are drew Cressida, we think he had the feeling left alive: Cressida is false and is not strong on his mind which gave birth to the punished.” The excitement of pity and terror, 129th Sonnet. A French writer, in a notice we are told, is the only ground of tragedy. of this play, says, “ Les deux amants se Tragedy, too, must have “a moral that di- voient, s'entendent, et sont heureux.” Shakrects the whole action of the play to one spere has described such happiness :centre.” To this standard, then, is Shak “A bliss in proof,—and proved, a very woe; spere's "Troilus and Cressida' to be reduced. Before, a joy proposed; behind, a dream : The chief persons who give name to the

All this the world well knows; yet none tragedy are not to be left alive. Cressida is knows well not to be false ; but she is to die : and so

To shun the heaven that leads men to this

hell."
terror and pity are to be produced. And
now comes the moral :-

It was this morality that Shakspere meant Then, since from home-bred factions ruin to teach when he painted this one exception springs,

to the general purity of his female characLet subjects learn obedience to their kings." ters. He did not, like the dramatists of the The management by which Dryden has ac age of the Restoration, make purity the complished this metamorphosis is one of the exception : his estimate of women most remarkable examples of perverted in- formed upon a truer standard. But when genuity. He had a licentious age to please. Dryden undertook to remodel Shakspere, He could not spare a line, or a word, of female morality, like every other morality, what may be considered the objectionable was merely conventional: virtue was an scenes between Pandarus, Troilus, and Cres affair of expediency, and not of principle. sida. They formed no part of the “rubbish' With an entire submission, then, to the he desired to remove. He has heightened genius of his age, does Dryden retain and them wherever possible; and what in Shak- heighten the scenes between Troilus and spere was a sly allusion becomes with him a Cressida until she quits the Trojan camp. positive grossness. Now let us consider But in all this, as we are to see in the for a moment what Shakspere intended by sequel, Cressida is a perfectly correct and these scenes. Cressida is the exception to amiable personage. We are told, indeed, of Shakspere’s general idea of the female cha- her frank reception of the welcome of the racter. She is beautiful, witty, accomplished, Grecian chiefs ; but there is no Ulysses to but she is impure. In her, love is not a pronounce a judgment upon her character. sentiment, or a passion,-it is an impulse. She admits, indeed, the suit of Diomedes, Temperament is stronger than will. Her and she gives him pledges of her affection ; love has nothing ideal, spiritual, in its but this is all a make-believe, for, like a composition. It is not constant, because it dutiful child, she is following the advice of is not discriminate. Setting apart her in- her father :constancy, how altogether different is Cres “ You must dissemble love to Diomede still : sida from Juliet, or Viola, or Helena, or False Diomede, bred in Ulysses' school, Perdita! There is nothing in her which Can never be deceived could be called love ; no depth, no concen

But by strong arts and blandishments of love. tration of feeling,-nothing that can bear

Put 'em in practice all; seem lost and won, the name of devotion. Shakspere would not

And draw him on, and give him line again.” permit a mistake to be made on the subject; Upon this very solid foundation, then, are and he has therefore given to Ulysses to built up the terror and pity of Dryden's describe her, as he conceived her. Consider tragedy : and so Troilus, who has witnessed ing what his intentions were, and what really | Cressida's endearments to Diomede, refuses

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