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the present, the great number of the dramas extant, and to men of moderate means, the comparatively great expense of even the cheapest editions. Many, too, would not care to read through the whole works of any one dramatist, and to most, such a task would be tiresome and profitless; and therefore to such, as well as to all who desire to know wherein the glory of these old writers consisted, it is hoped the present volume will prove acceptable.
The editor, assisted by the criticisms of those writers most competent to judge, has endeavoured to select from the works of the greatest of the Elizabethan dramatists those which display the highest genius, are most characteristic of their authors, and are best fitted for general perusal. With regard to this last point, he has found that the best dramas are generally the freest from impurity, and in the following pages almost nothing has been thought necessary in the way of purgation. As any one who can spare a sixpence can purchase the works of Shakespeare, they have been excluded from the selection. To ensure correctness of text, the best editions-in the case of Ben Jonson, the original quartohave been used. Prefixed to each selection is a brief biography of the author, which, sad to say, is generally little more than a confession of inability to write a biography for lack of material. Where no good purpose was to be served by retaining the antiquated spelling, it has been modernized; and wherever it was thought necessary to the understanding of the text by an ordinary reader, notes have been appended at the foot of the page. The editor has avoided wasting space by indulging in the note critical, or by pointing out to the reader—what he is no doubt able enough to discover for himself—the beauties of an author, and the feelings which it has been generally thought they are fitted to call forth. The notes are purely explanatory; and where the editor has been unable to throw light on a word or passage, he has seldom attempted a conjecture which might be misleading. Those notes which are not his own, the editor has always endeavoured to remember to acknowledge, although, no doubt, he has occasionally omitted to do so; and to the labours of the editors of the various excellent editions of the dramatists he has been indebted for much valuable assistance. It is hoped that these notes will be found conducive to the purpose which this volume is designed to serve, viz. to enable the general reader to form an intelligent acquaintance with, and appreciation of, the best works of our greatest dramatists.
It has been thought appropriate to prefix a short Introduction, giving a brief account of the origin and early history of the British Drama; and as the book is meant mainly for general readers, the editor has deemed it not out of place to begin by describing what is generally allowed to be
the origin of the Greek, the parent of the European Drama. The chief purpose of the Introduction, however, is to endeavour to discover the germs from which arose the early British Drama, and to trace its history down to the time when what is known as the ‘legitimate drama' had taken firm root in our literature, i.e. down to about the date of our first specimen from John Lilly. Of course, with the small space which could be allotted to this purpose, the editor has been compelled to restrict himself to a brief statement of facts; and many things have been necessarily omitted which are highly interesting in connection with our dramatic history, but which would have been out of place in a book of this kind. All the best and most recent authorities have been consulted to obtain material for the Introduction; but any one at all acquainted with the subject, knows that any writer on the early history of our Drama must be largely indebted to the invaluable work of Mr. J. P. Collier.
In conclusion, both publisher and editor hope that, as a whole, this volume will be found adapted to the purpose for which it is intended.
J. S. K.
EDINBURGH, February 1870.
ORIGIN AND EARLY HISTORY
OETRY, in respect of the form which it may assume, has been
divided into three kinds ----Epic, Lyric, and Dramatic: the first (from the Greek, epos, a word) consisting of the stately narration
of heroic actions; the second (from the root of lyre) setting forth human emotions in such a form as admits of being set to music; and the last (in Greek signifying 'action,' from drað, to do, to act) is concerned with the representation (as distinct from the narration) of human actions, and exhibits a number of persons, called the dramatis persone, or persons of the drama, in continued and animated conversation,-the progress of the story, action, or plot being gathered from their sayings and doings. The two main divisions of the drama are tragedy and comedy; the former of which Aristotle well defines as the imitation of some action that is serious, entire, and of a proper magnitude,effecting through pity and terror the refinement of these and similar affections of the soul. Tragedy, in its best form, concerns itself with the deepest, noblest, most earnest side of man's nature, striving to elicit our strongest sympathy in behalf of others who are vividly represented before us as actually taking part in certain scenes of life which bring upon them sorrow and suffering. Comedy, on the other hand, deals with the ordinary commonplace events of everyday life, and ministers to the amusement of the spectator by exhibiting the ludicrous mistakes and follies of his fellow-men. Tragic poetry has been described as that which interests the mind in the highest degree, and comic poetry as that which engages us in the most complete lawlessness. In comedy, gloom, sadness, sobriety, have no recognised existence; while gaiety, joviality, riotous mirth, are unknown in tragedy. Tragedy, consistently with its origin, as will be seen, shows us man, if we may so speak, in the struggle for existence,' fighting against fate, striving to hold his own against unfeeling nature and man's inhumanity ; while comedy exhibits him in a state of unconcern and self-abandonment.
If it were left to mere conjecture to account for the origin of the drama, one might very naturally suppose that it took its rise partly from what appears to be an innate propensity in man, as it is certainly a universal practice, to take an interest in and to recount the sayings and doings of others. Even among the cultivated classes of the present day—and far more so is it the case among the uncultivated and uneducated, who are living examples of what all classes at one time were—when two or three are met together, are not the affairs of themselves and their friends almost invariably the staple subject of conversa
tion ? And if any one with his ears open passes two gossips in conversation, he is almost sure to observe that the one is recounting to the other, in an animated and dramatic manner; some exploit of which he or she is the victorious hero or heroine. In this way, however, the origin of the epic would perhaps be more appropriately accounted for, it being essentially a narrative set forth by one narrator, generally interspersed with fragments of conversation, and resembling the drama in being concerned with the exhibition of a progressive action. The epic, we believe, was the first form of poetry, if not of all literature, and at first was probably nothing more than mere narrative vigorously and picturesquely set forth.
The epic in many respects bears a considerable resemblance to, and one would fancy could not fail to suggest, the drama, which, we shall see, was not exactly the case. Theoretically, however, to account for the origin of the latter, in addition to the gossiping or story-telling propensity in man, we have also to take into consideration the earliest developed and perhaps the strongest of all his propensities—that of imitation or mimicry. This propensity is seen in earliest childhood : without it there would be no possibility of education. Are not the very games of children merely the mimicry of the serious life-business of their elders ? Savages have been described as the children of nature; and they do resemble children in many respects, especially in the nature of their amusements, which are generally mere imitations or representations of their most serious employments-war and the chase. Among nearly every known people on the face of the globe, from the ultra-civilised and theatre-loving Parisian down to the almost brute-like Australian, is there something to be found corresponding to dramatic representation, something imitative of active life. Doubtless in many instances, among savage nations, this takes a very rude form ; but even in its rudest form it is an outcome of the same propensity as the most elaborate production of the greatest dramatist,-viz. a desire to afford pleasure by representing the realities of active life. In its rudest form it is to be seen in the war-dance of the North American Indians and other savages, which is simply a representation of a battle, and may be regarded as tragedy in its crudest form ; while the comic and love dances of the South Sea Islanders and others exhibit comedy in its earliest stage. Indeed, dancing seems at all times to have been intimately connected with dramatic representation; and one of the most important parts of the ancient classic drama, the chorus, takes its name from this fact. When the Spaniards visited Peru, they found the natives in possession of a drama of a comparatively advanced order. “ The Incas,' says Garcilaso de la Vega, represented upon festival days tragedies and comedies in due form, intermingling them with interludes which contained nothing low or grovelling. The subjects of their tragedies were the exploits and victories of their kings and heroes. On the other hand, their comedies were drawn from agriculture and the most common actions of human life; the whole mingled with sentences full of sense and gravity.' The Chinese are known to have had a drama from a very early period
-no doubt of a somewhat grotesque kind, characteristic of the people—which to all appearance must have been of native growth ; and there is no satisfactory proof that the Indians were indebted to the Greeks for the idea of their most elaborate and certainly ancient drama. Indeed, the love of dramatic representation is as prevalent and as natural to man as religion itself, with which it is very often found in some way connected, and to which the European drama, ancient and modern, owes to a large extent its origin.
Notwithstanding this innate propensity to dramatize the facts of human life, it can scárcely be said that to it is to be ascribed the origin of the Greek drama, of which the modern European drama may be regarded as the lineal
descendant. The idea of dramatic representation was familiar to the Greeks eren before the invention of the drama proper. It was customary among them to represent certain legends connected with the gods in a visible dramatic form. * Thus,' says Ottfried Müller, the historian of Greek literature, 'Apollo's combat with the dragon, and his consequent flight and expatriation, were represented by a noble youth of Delphi ; in Samos, the marriage of Zeus (Jupiter) and Hēra (Juno) was exhibited at the great festival of the goddess. The Eleusinian Mysteries were (as an ancient writer expresses it) “a mystical drama," in which the history of Demeter and Ceres was acted, like a play, by priests and priestesses.
There were also mimic representations in the worship of Bacchus: thus, at the Anthesteria at Athens, the wife of the second archon, who bore the title of Queen, was betrothed to Dionysus in a secret solemnity, and in public processions even the god himself was represented by a man.' But it is to the rites connected with the worship of Bacchus that we must look for the immediate origin of the drama. It was the custom, especially among the Dorians of the Peloponnesus, to celebrate at certain seasons of the year, generally in early spring and in autumn, the worship of Dionysus (popularly identified with the Latin Bacchus), not so much as the god of wine, or the vine, but mainly as the personification of the productive force of nature. This they did at first by singing wild, impassioned songs, known as dithyrambs, generally improvised under the influence of wine, and which were accompanied with sacrifices, orgies, and rites of various kinds. “But the worship of Bacchus,' says Müller, ‘had one quality which was more than any other calculated to give birth to the drama, and particularly to the tragedy; namely, the enthusiasm, which formed an essential part of it. This enthusiasm proceeded from an impassioned sympathy with the events of nature in connection with the course of the seasons; especially with the struggle which Nature seemed to make in winter, in order that she might break forth in spring with renovated beauty. About 580 B.C., Arion the lyric poet, we have good authority for believing, improved upon the wild, improvised dithyrambs mentioned above, by inventing what was called the tragic chorus, being a regular choral song sung by a number of people who probably represented the companions of Bacchus, and who danced around the altar, on which a goat was sacrificed. Hence, it is said, the origin of tragedy, which thus means literally the goat-song, from the Greek tragos, a goat, and õdē, a song : chorus in Greek literally means a dance, or company of dancers. This dithyrambic tragic chorus continued to chant the sorrows and mishaps of Bacchus as the god of nature, in his struggle for life with the adverse powers of winter,—the particular festival at which it was sung being held at the end of winter or in early spring; hence the meaning which came to be attached to the words tragic and tragedy, for it was from this particular part of the worship of Bacchus that tragedy was developed. The further development of tragedy, according to Müller, belongs to the Athenians; while among the Dorians it seems to have been preserved in its original lyric form. Müller supposes that, even in the above elementary form of tragedy, the leaders of the chorus came forward separately, and narrated the perils which threatened the god, and his final escape from or triumph over them; the body of the chorus afterwards
expressing its feelings, as if at passing events.
The next important innovation in connection with the worship of Bacchus, which indeed marks the birth of the regular tragic drama, according to all accounts, was made by Thespis, a native of Attica, about 535 B.C. To give rest to the singers, and relieve the monotony of the long effusions of the chorus, he is said to have come forward, or caused an actor to come forward, probably on a small platform, and recite a legend connected with some god or hero. Now,