« ZurückWeiter »
It illustrates Shakespeare in this manner: it gives us a curious account of the proceedings of the Dogberries of that day for the arrest of suspected persons, and shows in some degree how much to the life our great dramatist drew the characters he introduced. Lord Burghley was on his way to his house at Theobald's, “ in his coach," when he observed at Enfield such inefficient and Dogberry-like arrangements made for the seizure of the parties implicated, one of whom was only to be recognized by having “a hooked nose,” that, instantly on his arrival at home, he despatched the letter in question to Sir Francis Walsingham, complaining of the absurd mode in which the public service was to be executed, thereby enabling offenders rather to escape than to be brought to justice. The extreme speed with which he was anxious that his communication to the Secretary should be conveyed may be judged from the superscription, in the following singular form.
“ To the R. Honorable my verie loving frend, Sir Francis Walsingham, Knight, Hir Mats Principall Secretary,
hast “ W. BURGHLEY."
We may presume, after this “ post-laste” injunction, that the messenger lost no time in placing the letter in Walsingham's hands. In order to render its contents perfectly intelligible, we must premise (and here we are indebted to Mr. Lemon's research and acuteness) that by 10th August, 1586, the ministers of Elizabeth were in full possession of the details of a plot by Anthony Babington, in concert with the Queen of Scots, to murder the Queen of England ; and they had just arrived at that point, when the arrest or escape of any of the conspirators would have been of the utmost consequence. Ballard, one of the principal
gives us a rries of that ows in some rew the chaway
to his observed at ements made om was only instantly on estion to Sir ode in which ing offenders The extreme unication to ed from the
conspirators, had been taken up on the 4th of August, (six
Sir Francis Secretary,
“Sir-As I cam from London homward, in my coche, I sawe at every townes end the number of x or xii, standyng, with long staves, and untill I cam to Enfeld I thought no other of them, but that they had stayd for avoyding of the rayne, or to drynk at some alehowse, for so they did stand under pentyces (penthouses) at ale howses. But at Enfeld fyndyng a dosen in a plump, whan ther was no rayne, I bethought my self that they war appointed as watchmen, for the apprehendyng of such as are missyng; and theruppon I called some of them to me apart, and asked them wherfor they stood there? and one of them answered, “To take 3 yong men.' And demandyng how they shuld know the persons, one answered with these wordes : Marry, my Lord, by intelligence of ther favor.' What meane you by that?' quoth 1. "Marry,' sayd they, “one of. the partyes hath a hooked nose.'-' And have you,' quoth I, no other mark?'—No,' sayth they. And then I asked who apoynted them; and they answered one Bankes, a Head Constable, whom I willed to be sent to me. Suerly, sir, who so ever had the chardge from yow hath used the matter negligently ; for these watchmen stand so oppenly in plumps, as no suspected person will come neare them ; and if they be no better instructed but to fynd 3 persons by one of them havyng
ction, that Isingham's utelligible emon's reministers ot by Anto murder jat point, ould have principal
a hooked noso, they may miss therof. And thus I thought good to advertise yow, that the Justyces that had the chardg, as I thynk, may use the matter more circumspectly. From Theobaldes, 10 Aug., 1586.
It will be observed that the constables are represented by Lord Burghley as standing under penthouses, to aroid the rain, and it will be recollected that there is in “ Much ado about Nothing” a singular, but of course merely accidental, coincidence of expression :
“Stand thee, close, then, under this penthouse, for it drizzles rain ;"
although these words are put into the mouth of Borachio to Conrade, and not assigned to any of the “watchmen.”
The letter of Lord Burghley is, as we have remarked, entirely in his handwriting ; and as it has never yet been printed, and relates to an event of so much historical importance as the trial and execution of Mary Queen of Scots, it is on all accounts more worthy of insertion.
J. PAYNE COLLIER. Kensington, 6 February, 1844.
N.B. The event to which this letter relates occurred at the very season when I have supposed Shakespeare first came to London from Stratford upon Avon.
Art. II.-Remarks on the similarity of a passage in Marlowe's
Edward II. and one in the First Part of the Contention.
inted by the rain,
Malone, in his Essay on the Chronological Order of Shakespeare's plays, has given us a very imperfect argument in support of his latest opinion, that Marlowe was the author of the “ True Tragedie," and probably also of the first part of the “Contention," merely adducing two passages of remote similarity, but sufficient, in his estimation, to overthrow his previous arguments in favour of attributing the authorship of them to Peele and Greene. The two well known lines
“ What, will the aspiring blood of Lancaster
Sink into the ground ? I thought it would have mounted.”
-Scorning that the lowly earth
9 as the
The same thought, it will be observed, though expressed in
and on these coincidences, if they can be so called, he
I have recently observed a far more important evidence than either of these, and as it seems to have entirely escaped the notice of the critics, it may be considered of sufficient importance for a short paper for the Shakespeare Society. In Marlowe's Edward II., act ii., sc., 2, occur the following lines
“ The wild Oneyl, with swarms of Irish kerns,
Now, in the first part of the “ Contention,” repr. p. 37, nearly the same lines occur, with merely an alteration to agree with the context
" The wilde Onele, my Lorde, is up in armes,
This, it is evident, is far too near an approximation to the other to have been the result of chance, nor could we for a moment adopt such a supposition. It shows clearly enough, that there is some history attached to the authorship of those plays, I mean the first and second parts of the “Contention," that still remains to be unravelled ; and it considerably strengthens the argument by which I endeavoured to prove, that the groundwork was not by Shakespeare, however unwilling we may be to believe that our poet was not the writer of a part of them. Taken in connexion with this last found evidence of the hand of Marlowe having been engaged in them, the similarities adduced by Malone are by no means devoid of weight. I may also add another, which occurs only a few lines afterwards
“ The haughty Dane commands the narrow scas.” In the “ True Tragedie," 1595, repr. p. 124, we have
“ Sterne Fawconbridge commands the narrow seas." This may probably be of still less importance than those adduced by Malone, but I cannot help thinking that any reader who will regard these similarities impartially, more especially in connexion with the one just discovered, which could not by any possibility have been the result of chance, and who, by the bye, has not entirely eschewed verbal criticism, will come to the conclusion that the probabilities are now greatly in favour of Marlowe being the original author, or at least one of the original authors of the two dramas upon which Shakespeare