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to follow its own humours. There Hans Sachs rose from the state of shoemaker to be the founder of the modern German drama. He died in 1576, at the age of eighty-one. Nine years before his death he reckoned that he had written two hundred and eight dramas, and in all six thousand and forty-eight songs, stories, fables, visions, and other pieces, large and small. But Hans Sachs drew none of his inspiration from England. The visits of English players to Germany were only beginning at the time when Shakespeare came to London, and the next famous German dramatist—also of Nuremberg — Jacob Ayrer, who was busiest between 1595 and 1605, made large use of our English plays. Actors and musicians had been commended, in 1585, by the Earl of Leicester to the service of Frederick II., King of Denmark, and five of these were, in October, 1586, at the court of the Elector of Saxony, Christian I.* This is the earliest known record of those
* “Shakespeare in Germany in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries : An Account of English Actors in Germany and the Netherlands and of the Plays performed by them during the same Period. By Albert Cohn." London, 1865, pp. xxiii.-xxvi. This most valuable aid to Shakespeare study is a quarto containing cxxxviii. pages of a historical account of the relations of English actors with Germany ; also in the old German, with translations into English, six texts of early German plays derived from English originals, which illustrate six of the plays of Shakespeare. These are “ The Tempest,” “Much Ado About Nothing,” “ The Two Gentlemen of Verona," “ Titus Andronicus,” “ Hamlet," "Romeo and Juliet."
There was also published at Vienna, in 1884, a good study by Johannes Meissner, “ Die Englischen Comödianten zur Zeit Shaktspeare's in Oesterreich.” This essay takes its starting-point from a pasage upon play-going as an aid to health in “ Die Grewel der Verwüstung Menschlichen Geschlechts," published in 1610, and written by Hippolyt Guarinoni, who at that time had settled at Hall, near Innsbruck, as body physician to two archduchesses who had gone into a convent there. Guarinoni speaks of the travelling companies of English actors, and of the pleasure given by these players and
travellings of English actors to foreign courts which served after 1590, and more especially after the beginning of the seventeenth century, to add strength to the German dramatists, and to preserve to us a knowledge of some of our own early plays that throws light, here and there, upon the work of Shakespeare.
There is nothing known of Shakespeare, by direct evidence of any kind, from the time of his first coming to London until the year of Robert Greene's death, 1592. We know something of what he must
Shakespeare have found in London, and what we learn in 1592 guides us to some safely inferred knowledge of what he must have done. Only, let all who seek for knowledge shut their ears to the babble of words without knowledge that spring only from unsubstantial gossip and tradition. Tit-bits of tattle are not truths even when they refer to things of yesterday. Every man every day is taught to know their worthlessness, yet we are slow to learn.* Some of us like them. by the Italians whom he had seen at Padua and Venice, with their “living pictures addressed to the eye and ear.” Here also the illustrations belong mainly to the earlier part of the seventeenth century."
* There is a story of Shakespeare having begun life in London by holding horses outside the theatre-doors for playgoers till they came out again. Rowe heard the tale, but did not include it in his Life of Shakespeare. He told it to Pope, who passed it on, and it was put into its final shape by Dr. Johnson. Rowe may have had it from Betterton, who may have had it from Davenant, who supported his own reputation for wit by encouraging the miserable fiction that he was himself an illegitimate son of Shakespeare. The horse holding story is confuted by its mere stupidity. Why should Shakespeare hold horses outside the theatre, when the poorest place of servitor within gave him the opportunity he must have wished for? Young Shakespeare, being Shakespeare, must have known in what direction his best powers lay, and would have at least shown wit enough to justify the players in taking him into their service, if only, for a time, as a sweeper of the stage, until he showed that he could act small parts and go from less to more.
The first event of mark among the players that made part of Shakespeare's training as a dramatist, was the produco monta tion of Marlowe's “Tamburlaine," a play that has
been already described.* Its success caused
imitation. We left Robert Greene-known only as a successful novelist †-married in 1586, parting from his wife after about a year of marriage, and returned to London in 1587, where for the five years of life that remained to him he was both dramatist and novelist. His first impulse to play-writing came, perhaps, from the success of “Tamburlaine." Was the “Comicall Historie of Alphonsus, King of Aragon ” his first play, not printed until seven years after his death? $ Perhaps it was. Like “Tamburlaine,” it is in blank verse, although its verse is not handled with Marlowe's power, and there is often a rhymed couplet to close a speech. Like “ Tamburlaine,” it is a tale of drum and sword, setting forth the career of one who rose to be the conqueror of many kings. Like “Tamburlaine,” its female interest concerns only the marriage of its hero to the daughter of a conquered Eastern Sovereign. And Tamburlaine is mentioned in the play.
Before each act, Venus appears in the part of Chorus. At her first entrance the stage direction is, “ After you have sounded thrice"- that is to say, aster the three trumpetings that preceded the drawing of the curtain--“ let Venus be let down from the top of the Stage, and when she is down say—---" At her last exit the direction is, “ Exit Venus ; or, if you can conveniently, let a chair come down from the top of the Stage, and draw her up." What she says, when she first comes down, is that poets are scarce when goddesses come down to look for them.
The heroic Muse is silent. The Nine Muses enter, all playing their instruments except Calliope. Venus will turn Mars rather than let the heroism of Alphonsus go unsung. The other Muses all assist at this revival of the powers of Calliope, and the play begins, Venus having some superfluous words to say from time to time in setting forth the argument of each succeeding act.
In the modern sense of the word, there is nothing comical in “The History of Alphonsus " except the weakness of some of its heroic lines; the word is used only to describe the history as one that has a happy ending. Alphonsus, when first shown, is an exile in a grove in the kingdom of Naples, with his father Carinus. He has heard that the father of Carinus should have been King of Aragon, but was slain by a younger brother, who usurped the crown. Carinus lives contented in the grove, and says, “A quiet life doth pass an emperie." But says Alphonsus,
“ Ere Carinus' brood
And so his life and sorrows briefly end.”
“ Meantime Carinus in this silly grove
Will spend his days with prayers and orisons
Farewell, dear son ; Alphonsus, fare you well." The old man goes out, Albinius enters, and the stage direction, which is always an instruction addressed straight to the actor by his stage name, says, “ Alphonsus make as though thou goest out. Albinius say “What loit'ring fellow have we spied here?" He says other rude things, stoutly resented, till he recognises in the loit'ring fellow the right heir to the throne of Aragon. Loyal Albinius, exiled from Aragon, had been received into the service of Belinus, King of Naples. The land of Belinus is now invaded by Flaminius, the wrongful King of Aragon. Albinius has been sent to gather men into the army raised for the resistance to invasion. Is that so? Yes. How could Albinius deceive his sovereign lord ?
“ But if Alphonsus think that I do feign,
Stay here awhile and you shall plainly see
Make haste, then, but tell no one who I am. Belinus enters with his army, plans to save his other towns by defence of his capital, and Albinius explains this policy by the first of several euphuistic similes that are to be found in the play
“The sillie serpent found by country swain,
But if the head be hurt, there is no hope for her. So it is with the saving of Naples, which is the head of his grace's land. His grace then sees Alphonsus. He inquires about him, talks with him, enlists him as a soldier on his own condition that he shall have all that he wins with his own hand. Fighting follows. Alphonsus kills with his own hand Flaminius, the King of Aragon, and claims his crown. It is granted. Then he claims, with the crown of Aragon, as part of it, the homage of the King of Naples. This leads to high talk and threatenings. Fol. lowers of the false King of Aragon are recalled by Albinius from flight to serve the true king. Many alarums are struck up. Belinus, King of Naples, flies to seek help from Amurack, the Turk. Alphonsus, like Tamburlaine, gives crowns to his foes—to one the crown of Naples, to one the dukedom of Milan, to one the crown of Aragon. When he is told that he keeps nothing for himself, he says that he means to have for himself the crown of Amurack
Amurack then receives Belinus, and will set forth to his aid, if Mahomet be willing. He sends Bajazet to gather all the forces of his tributary kings throughout the East. They are to meet him at Constantinople.
Amurack's Empress Fausta, and his daughter Iphigina, have sought help of the sorceress Medea (ready name for any sorceress) to show what shall be the issue of the expedition.--" Medea do ceremonies belonging to conjuring.” Medea raises Calchas. "Rise Calchas up in a white surplice and Cardinals mitre." Calchas grumbles at being perpetually fetched up, but Medea will leave him to rest when he has fulfilled her mind this once. He is to go and ask the Destinies how Amurack will speed. He goes, forced by the charm. “Calchas sink down where you came up." We see no more of him. The poor ghost need not have been vexed. Medea proceeds next to cause Fausta and Iphigina to hear what will happen, from the mouth of Amurack himself, who is put by hidden music into a charmed sleep. Amurack describes his