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few of them have been extracted by Mr. Ellis, in his Specimens. They are, perhaps, on the whole, more creditable to his poetical powers than his dramatic performances. He is also the author of several short works in prose, sometimes interspersed with verse. One of his prose tales, first printed in 1590, under the title of ‘Rosalynde : Euphues' Golden Legacie, found in his cell at Silextra' (for Lodge was one of Lyly's imitators), is famous as the source from which Shakspeare appears to have taken the story of his As You Like It. “Of this production it may be said,” observes Mr. Collier, “that our admiration of many portions of it will not be diminished by a comparison with the work of our great dramatist.” " It is worthy of remark, that all these founders and first builders-up of the regular drama in England were, nearly if not absolutely without an exception, classical scholars and men who had received a university education. Nicholas Udall was of Corpus Christi College, Oxford; John Still (if he is to be considered the author of Gammer Gurton's Weedle) was of Christ's College, Cambridge; Sackville was educated at both universities; so was Gascoigne; Richard Edwards was of Corpus Christi, Oxford; Marlow was of Benet College, Cambridge; Greene, of St. John's, Cambridge; Peele, of Christ's Church, Oxford; Lyly, of Magdalen College, and Lodge of Trinity College, in the same university. Kyd was also probably a university man, though we know nothing of his private history. To the training received * Hist. of Dram. Poet. iii. 213.−See upon this subject the
Introductory Notice to As You Like It in Knight's Shakspere, vol. iii. 247–265.
by these writers the drama that arose among us after the middle of the sixteenth century may be considered to owe not only its form, but in part also its spirit, which had a learned and classical tinge from the first, that never entirely wore out. The diction of the works of all these dramatists betrays their scholarship; and they have left upon the language of our higher drama, and indeed of our blank verse in general, of which they were the main creators, an impress of Latinity, which, it can scarcely be doubted, our vigorous but still homely and unsonorous Saxon speech needed to fit it for the requirements of that species of composition. Fortunately, however, the greatest and most influential of them were not mere men of books and readers of Greek and Latin. Greene, and Peele, and Marlow all spent the noon of their days (none of them saw any afternoon) in the busiest haunts of social life, sounding in their reckless course all the depths of human experience, and drinking the cup of passion and suffering to the dregs. And of their great successors, those who carried the drama to its height among us in the next age, while some were also accomplished scholars, all were men of the world—men who knew their brother men by an actual and intimate intercourse with them in their most natural and open-hearted moods, and over a remarkably extended range of conditions. We know, from even the scanty fragments of their history that have come down to us, that Shakspeare, and Jonson, and Beaumont, and Fletcher all lived much in the open air of society, and mingled with all ranks from the highest to the lowest; some of them, indeed, having known what it was actually to belong to classes very far removed from each other at different periods of their lives. But we should have gathered, though no other record or tradition had told us, that they must have been men of this genuine and manifold experience from their drama alone,—various, and rich, and glowing as that is, even as life itself.
Before leaving the earlier part of the reign of Elizabeth, a few of the more remarkable writers in prose who had risen into notice before the year 1590 may be mentioned. The singular affectation known by the name of Euphuism was, like some other celebrated absurdities, the invention of a man of true genius—John Lyly, noticed above as a dramatist and poet—the first part of whose prose romance of “Euphues” appeared in 1578 or 1579. “Our nation,” says Sir Henry Blount, in the preface to a collection of some of Lyly's dramatic pieces which he published in 1632, “are in his debt for a new English which he taught them. “Euphues and his England’” began first that language; all our ladies were then his scholars; and that beauty in court which could not parley Euphuism—that is to say, who was unable to converse in that pure and reformed English, which he had formed his work to be the standard of—was as little regarded as she which now there speaks not French.” Some notion of this “pure and reformed English" has been made familiar to the reader of our day by the great modern pen that has called back to life
* This is the title of the second part of the Euphues, pub
lished in 1581. The first part is entitled “Euphues, the Anatomy of Wit.’
so much of the long-vanished past, though the discourse of Sir Piercie Shafton, in the Monastery, is rather a caricature than a fair sample of Euphuism. Doubtless, it often became a purely silly and pitiable affair in the mouths of the courtiers, male and female; but in Lyly's own writings, and in those of his lettered imitators, of whom he had several, and some of no common talent, it was only fantastic and extravagant, and opposed to truth, nature, good sense, and manliness. Pedantic and farfetched allusion, elaborate indirectness, a cloying smoothness and drowsy monotony of diction, alliteration, punning, and other such puerilities,—these are the main ingredients of Euphuism ; which do not, however, exclude a good deal of wit, fancy, and prettiness, occasionally, both in the expression and the thought. Although Lyly, in his verse as well as in his prose, is always artificial to excess, his ingenuity and finished elegance are frequently very captivating. Perhaps, indeed, our language is, after all, indebted to this writer and his Euphuism for not a little of its present euphony. From the strictures Shakspeare, in Love's Labour's Lost, makes Holofernes pass on the mode of speaking of his Euphuist, Don Adriano de Armado—“a man of fire-new words, fashion's own knight—that hath a mint of phrases in his brain— one whom the music of his own vain tongue doth ravish like enchanting harmony”—it should almost seem that the now universally adopted pronunciation of many of our words was first introduced by such persons as this refining “child of fancy:”—“I abhor such fanatical fantasms, such insociable and point-device companions; such rackers of orthography as to speak dout, fine, when he should say doubt; det, when he should pronounce debt, d, e, b, t: not d, e, t, he clepeth a calf, caus; half, half; neighbour vocatur nebour; neigh, abbreviated ne: this is abhominable (which he would call abominable): it insinuateth me of insanie.” Here, however, the allseeing poet laughs rather at the pedantic schoolmaster than at the fantastic knight; and the euphuistic pronunciation which he makes Holofernes so indignantly criticise was most probably his own and that of the generality of his educated contemporaries. A renowned English prose classic of this age, who made Lyly's affectations the subject of his ridicule some years before Shakspeare, but who also perhaps was not blind to his better qualities, and did not disdain to adopt some of his reforms in the language, if not to imitate even some of the peculiarities of his style, was Sir Philip Sidney, the illustrious author of the Arcadia. Sidney, who was born in 1554, does not appear to have sent anything to the press during his short and brilliant life, which was terminated by the wound he received at the battle of Zutphen, in 1586; but he was probably well known, nevertheless, at least as a writer of poetry, some years before his lamented death. Puttenham, whose “Art of English Poesy,’ at whatever time it may have been written, was published before any work of Sidney's had been printed, as far as can now be discovered, mentions him as one of the best and most famous writers of the age “for eclogue and pastoral poesy.” “The Countess of Pembroke's Arcadia,” as Sidney's principal work had been affectionately designated by himself, in compliment to his sister, to whom it was inscribed— the “fair, and good, and learned” lady, afterwards celebrated by Ben Jonson as “the subject of all verse”WQL. III. ID