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ROILUS AND CRESSIDA made its first appearance in To in a quarto pamphlet, with a sort of preface by the publisher, asserting that the play had never been acted. This was in Shakespeare's forty-fifth year, when he had attained the height of his dramatic popularity. The first edition bore the following title, which, like the preface, is evidently not from the author's own hand:—“The Famous Historie of Troylus and Cresseid. Excellently expressing the beginning of their loues, with the conceited wooing of Pandarus Prince of Licia. Written by William Shakespeare. London Imprinted for R. Bonian and H. Walley. 1609—4to.” The preface, found in all the copies bearing this title-page, is as follows:–

“A never Writer to an ever Reader. , News.-Eternal reader, you have here a new play, never staled with the stage, never ol. with the palms of the vulgar, and yet passing full of the palm comical; for it is a birth of your brain, that never undertook anything comical vainly: and were but the vain names of comedies changed for the titles of commodities, or of plays for pleas, you should see all those d censors, that now style them such vanities, flock to them for the main grace P their gravities; especially this author's comedies, that are so framed to the life, that they serve for the most common commentaries of all the actions of our lives, showing such a dexterity and power of wit, that the most displeased with plays are pleased with his comedies. And all such dull and heavy-witted worldlings, as were never capable of the wit of a comedy, coming by report of them to his representations, have found that wit there that they never found in themselves, and have o better-witted than they came; feeling an edge of wit set upon them, more than ever they dreamed they had brain to grind it on. So much and such savoured salt of wit in his comedies, that they seem (for their height of pleasure) to be born in that sea that brought forth Venus. . Amongst all there is none more witty than this; and had I time I would comment upon it, though I know it needs not, (for so much as will make you think your testern well bestowed,) but for so much worth, as even poor I know to be stuffed in it. It deserves such a labour, as well as the best comedy in Terence or Plautus: and believe this, that when he is gone, and his comedies out of sale, you will scramble for them, and set up a new English inquisition. Take this for a warning, and at the peril of your pleasure's loss, and judgment's, refuse not, nor like this the less for not being sullied with the smoky lo of the multitude; but thank fortune for the scape it hath made amongst you, since by the grand possessors' wills, I believe, you should have prayed for them, rather than have been prayed. And so I leave all such to be prayed for (for the states of their wits' healths) that will not praise it.—Wale.”

It appears to have been performed very soon after this publication; for, in the same year, there was another issue of the same impression, by the same publishers, omitting the address to the reader, and substituting the new title—“The Historie of Troylus and Cresseida. As it was acted by the Kings Maiesties seruants at the Globe. Written by William Shakespeare.”

The play finally appeared in the folio of 1623, with some slight additions, and such verbal changes as show that it was there printed from a different manuscript, and probably one which, having been used for the theatrical copies, had received some correction from the author himself. In the folio, as Mr. Collier remarks, “the dramatic works of Shakespeare are printed in three divisions—“Comedies,’ ‘Histories,' and “Tragedies;' and a list, under those heads, is inserted at the commencement. In that, TRoilus AND CREssidA is not found; and it is inserted near the middle of the folio of 1623, without any paging, excepting that the second leaf is numbered 79 and 80: the signatures also do not correspond with any other in the series. Hence it was inferred by Farmer, that the insertion of TRoilus AND CREssidA was an afterthought by the player-editors, and that when the rest of the folio was printed, they had not intended to include it. It seems to us, that there is no adequate ground for this notion, and that the peculiar circumstances which we have stated may be accounted for by the supposition, that TRoilus AND CREssidA was executed by a different printer. The paging of the folio of 1623 is in several places irregular, and in the division of ‘Tragedies' (at the head of which TRollus AND CREssida is placed) there is a mistake of one hundred pages. The list of ‘Comedies,” “Histories,' and ‘Tragedies,’ at the beginning of the volume, was most likely printed last, and the person who formed it accidentally omitted TRoilus AND CREssipa, because it had been as accidentally omitted in the pagination. No copy of the folio of 1623 is known, which does not contain TRoilus AND CREssidA.” This is not only a satisfactory solution of the typographical irregularity, but also refutes the assumption founded upon it, by Stevens, that “perhaps this drama was not entirely of Shakespeare's construction,” as “it appears to have been unknown to his associates, Heminge & Condell, till after the first folio was almost printed off.” The play is, in all respects, a very remarkable and singular production; and it has perplexed many a critic, not, as usual, by smaller difficulties of readings and interpretation, but by doubts as to the author's design and spirit. Its beauties are of the highest order. It contains passages fraught with moral truth and political wisdom—high truths, in large and philosophical discourse, such as remind us of the loftiest disquisitions of Hooker, or Jeremy Taylor, on the foundations of social law. Thus the comments of Ulysses, (act i. scene 3,) on the universal obligation of the law of order and degree, and the confusion caused by rebellion to its rule, either in nature or in society, are in the very spirit of the grandest and most instructive eloquence of Burke. The piece abounds too in passages of the most profound and persuasive practical ethics, and grave advice for the government of life; as when, in the third act, Ulysses (the great didactic organ of the play) impresses upon Achilles the consideration of man's ingratitude “for good deeds past,” and the necessity of perseverance to “keep honour bright.” Other scenes again, servid with youthful passion or rich in beautiful imagery, are redolent with intense sweetness of poetic fancy. Such is that splendid exhortation of Patroclus to Achilles, of which Godwin has justly said, that “a more poetical passage, if poetry consists in sublime, picturesque, and beautiful imagery, neither ancient nor modern times have produced.”—(Life of Chaucer.) Sweet, rouse yourself; and the weak, wanton Cupid Shall from your neck unloose his amorous folds, And like a dew-drop from the lion's mane, Be shook to air. Nor is there any drama more rich in variety and truth of character. The Grecian camp is filled with real and living men of all sorts of temper and talent, while Thersites, a variation and improvement of the original deformed railer of the “Iliad,” is, in his way, a new study of human nature, not (as some writers view him) a mere buffoon. but a sort of vulgar and cowardly Iago, without the “Ancient’s” courage and higher intellect, but with the same sort of wit and talent, and governed by the same self-generated malignity. So, too, Ulysses' sarcastic sketch of Cressida is a gem of art, at once arch, sagacious, and poetic. With all this, there is large alloy of inferior matter, such as Shakespeare too often permitted himself to use, in filling up the chasms of the scene, between loftier and brighter thoughts. More especially is there felt, by every reader, a sense of disappointment at the unsatisfactory effect of the whole, arising mainly from the want of unity in that effect, and in the interest of the plot—at the desultory and purposeless succession of incident and dialogue, all resembling (as W. Scott well observes) “a legend, or a chronicle, rather than a dramatic composition.” That power of comprising the varied details of any great work in one view, and, while preserving the individuality and truth of the parts, blending them in the effect of one whole—the ponere totum of Horace—so essential to excellence in all of the higher works either of art or of literature, hardly appears here. Yet it is a power that Shakespeare never wanted or neglected, even in his earlier comedies; and at the date of TRollus AND CREssida he had exhibited the highest proof of it, in LEAR, Othello, and Macbeth. He had, even in HENRY IV. and other historical plays, shown how the less pliable incidents and personages of actual history, could be made to harmonize in one central and pervading interest. In this respect TRoilus AND CREssida is so singularly deficient, that Walter Scott (“Life of Dryden”) characterizes it as having been “left by its author in a singular state of imperfection;" while Dryden (in the preface to his own alteration of this play) pronounces that “the author began it with some fire,” but that he grew weary of his task, and “the latter part of the tragedy is nothing but a confusion of drums and trumpets, excursions and alarms;” the characters of Hector, Troilus, and others, having been, in his opinion, “begun and left unfinished.” The plot and incidents present other incongruities, not easy of solution. The main story is founded on the old legendary story of Troy, as the middle ages received it; Chaucer having given the leading idea of the hero and heroine, and the story and other accessories, such as Homer never dreamed of, having been incorporated from old Lydgate and Caxton. Of this we have a striking instance in the murder of Hector by Achilles and his Myrmidons, so contradictory to all the notions Homer gave us of his divine Pelides. Yet, on the other hand, the Grecian chiefs are all so depicted, and with such minuteness, as not to permit a doubt but that the author of these scenes was familiar with some contemporary translation of the “Iliad.” Moreover, the style, and the verbal and metrical peculiarities, suggest other questions. There is much in the play recalling the rhymes and the dialogue of the Poet's earlier comedies, while the higher and more contempla. tive passages resemble the diction and measure of his middle period—that of MEAsure for MEAsune, and LEAR. It also abounds in singular words, unusual accentuations, and bold experiments in language, such as he most indulged in during that period, but to a greater extent than can, I think, be found in any other play. Under these circumstances, the Shakespearian critics have found ample room for theory. I have already noticed the supposition of Dryden, and of Walter Scott, that the play was left imperfect, or hurried to a conclusion with little care, after parts had been as carefully elaborated. Another set of English commentators, from Stevens to Seymour, have satisfied themselves that Shakespeare's genius and taste had been expended in improving the work of an inferior author, whose poorer groundwork still appeared through his more precious decorations. This, Stevens supposes might be the “Troyelles and Cresseda” on which Decker and Chettle were employed, in 1599, as we learn from Henslowe's Diary. Other critics of a higher mood of speculation, have resolved all this apparent incongruity into some design of the author not evident, on its face, to the general reader. Thus Coleridge, after puzzling himself how to class


this play, and confessing that he “scarcely knew what to say about it,” and that there is “no one of his plays so hard to characterize,” proposes this theory:—

“I am half inclined to believe that solo main object (or shall I rather say his ruling impulse?) was to translate the poetic heroes of Paganism into the not less rude, but more intellectually vigorous, and more featurely, warriors of Christian chivalry, and to substantiate the distinct and graceful profiles or outlines of the Home:ic epic

S. the flesh and blood of the romantic drama—in short, to give a grand history-piece in the robust style of Albert urer.’

He had before (in 1802) transiently suggested the opinion that the drama was in part ironical, or, I suppose, mock-heroical. Schlegel, who seems, in some way, to have picked up ideas of Coleridge's, not published till after his death—whether from his unwritten lectures, or from some common source, it is not clear—carries this notion further. He asserts that Shakespeare, “without caring for theatrical effect, here pleased his own malicious wit?” and that the whole is one continued irony of the crown of all heroic tales—the “Tale of Troy.” The Poet, therefore, puts in the strongest light the contemptible nature of the origin of the war, and the discord and folly that marked its progress. In short, it is an heroic comedy, parodying every thing in the subject sacred from traditional fame, or the pomp of poetry. The critic of the Pictorial edition coincides with the same notion of “the grave irony of Troilus AND CREssida.” His philosophical theory of the play is that of the German critic, Ulrici, that “the whole tendency of the play—its incidents, its characterization—is to lower what the Germans call herodom. Ulrici maintains that “the far-sighted Shakespeare certainly did not mistake as to the beneficial effect which a nearer intimacy with the high culture of antiquity had produced, and would produce, upon the Christian European mind. But he saw the danger of an indiscriminate admiration of this classical antiquity; for he who thus accepted it must necessarily fall to the very lowest station in religion and morality;-as, indeed, if we closely observe the character of the eighteenth century, we see has happened. Out of this prophetic spirit, which penetrated with equal clearness through the darkness of coming centuries and the clouds of a far-distant past, Shakespeare wrote this deeply significant satire upon the Homeric herodom. He had no desire to debase the elevated, to deteriorate or make little the great, and still less to attack the poetical worth of Homer, or of heroic poetry in general. But he wished to warn thoroughly against the over-valuation and idolatry of them, to which man so willingly abandons himself. He endeavoured, at the same time, to bring strikingly to view the universal truth that every thing that is merely human, even when it is glorified with the nimbus of a poetic ideality and a mythical past, yet, seen in the bird's-eye perspective of a pure moral ideality, appears very small.’” I suppose that there are very few readers, in the practical and utilitarian world of England and America, who will give the very practical Shakespeare credit for so remote an object as a satire in which so few of his readers or audience could possibly sympathize, and which, in after ages, could escape the observation of Dryden, Johnson, Walter Scott, and even of the sagacious and over-refining Warburton. There is, besides, a truth and spirit and reality in the character of the Grecian chiefs, of Troilus, and Thersites, and especially of Cressida, in the first, second, and third acts, making them as substantial and as life-like as any personages in the great Roman tragedies; all which seems quite irreconcileable with their being mock-heroic or burlesque personages, in any sense. The high philosophy and the practical ethics of a large portion of the dialogue are quite as incompatible with any such design. Still, all these guesses and theories, however over-refined and remote from common perceptions, and however dogmatic and conjectural, alike show the difficulty felt by the reader of taste and discrimination—the difficulty how a drama, which in so many of its parts displays all the riches and energy of the Poet's mind, when at its very zenith, should, as a whole, leave an effect so impotent and incongruous. This result, in spite of the attempts of the critics of the German school to explain it away into disguised envy or otherwise, is palpable—the cause we can but conjecture; and I need not, therefore, apologize for stating my own theory. It is this: In Romeo AND Juliet, the MERRY Wives of WINDsor, and more especially in HAMLET, we have the direct evidence of the manner in which Shakespeare, after having sketched out a play on the fashion of his youthful taste and skill, returned in after years to enlarge and remodel it, and enrich it with the matured fruits of years of observation and reflection. The same habit, as we have repeatedly had occasion to observe, in the Introductory Remarks to several of the plays, may be traced in the numerous corrections and enlargements of other earlier plays, beginning with Love's Labour's Lost, which first appeared in print with the annunciation that it was “newly corrected and augmented,” to CYMBELINE, which there is so good reason to believe, with Coleridge, was “an entire refaciemento” of an early dramatic attempt, remodelled years after, when the author's “celebrity as a poet, and his interest as a manager, enabled him to bring forward the lordly labours of his youth.” Now, we learn from Mr. Collier, (Preface,) that in the Stationers' Register is found an entry of “7 Feb. 1602–8, Mr. Roberts. The Booke of Troilus and Cressidee, as yt is acted by my Lo. Chamberlens men.” The company, with which Shakespeare was connected, was known as “the Lord Chamberlain's Servants,” until 1603; and this Mr. Roberts is the same publisher who, two years before, had published the Midsu MMER-Night's DREAM, and

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