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And will be shortly King of Irelanı :
Tom Stukeley huffing it was fit accompaniment to the Ercles vein of the plays then in fashion. But, in this play, the chief producer of high astounding terms was the Moor, whom we next see with his wife Calipolis and their son, fugitives, hungry, in the wilderness. Says Muly Hamet
“Where art thou, boy? Where is Calipolis ?
O deadly wound that passeth by mine eye,
Calipolis is faint for hunger. If she cares to live, the Moor will find food : “Famine shall pine to death, and thou shalt live.” He goes out, and comes in presently " with a piece of flesh upon his sword”
“ Hold thee, Calipolis, feed and faint no more.
This food I forcéd from a lioness,
Shakespeare a few years later, when he expressed the empty bombast of the braggart Pistol by making him rant lines out of such plays as this, remembered this play side by side with “ Tamburlaine"
“ Pistol. These be good humours indeed! Shall pack horses
And hollow, pampered jades of Asia,
* When Ben Jonson, in the fourth scene of the third act of “The Poetaster,” makes his boys mouth stage rant to a player, “Where art thou, boy? Where is Calipolis? Fight earthquakes," and the rest of the passage above quoted is discharged as the last volley.
And Trojan Greeks ? nay, rather damn them with
Shall we fall foul for toys ?
Come, give's some sack."
Says the Moor in the “Battle of Alcazar”
“ Feed thou and faint not, fair Calipolis.
Too queasy to digest such bloody meat,
I doubt no whit but I shall live, my lord.
And make thy son and negroes here good cheer :
With strength and terror to revenge our wrong.” Then come the ambassadors of the Moor to King Sebastian, and tempt him to bring force in aid of the bad cause, his hope being to advance the cause of Christendom. Stukeley is induced to join, after dissuasion by the King of Portugal from his vain project against Ireland-dissuasion in words that reminded English hearers of the fate of the Spanish Armada“ Were every ship
thousand on the seas,
And even in Spain, where all the traitors dance
Their course to hell that aim at her disgrace.” Spain breaks the promise of her help to Portugal. Sebastian, with Stukeley in his army, comes in vain to help the Moor. The Presenter opens the fourth act of the play with a "bloody banquet.” The Moor urges Sebastian and his force upon his enemies, and says
“ Now have I set these Portugals a-work
To hew a way for me unto the crown,
and so forth. When the Presenter comes to the fifth act, he has lightning and thunder, falling crowns, a blazing star, and fireworks to help emphasize his forecast of
“ The bloody day wherein the battles join,
Monday the fourth of August, seventy-eight."
Abdelmelec dies and falls from his chair, but his corpse is set up in the chair again, to look, as if yet living, on the fight. The Moor enters with his boy, flying, and cries
“ Villain, a horse !
O, my lord, if you return you die !
He curses copiously, then exclaims
“ Ye elements of whom consists this clay,
This mass of flesh, this curséd, crazéd corpse,
[Alarums within, and re-enter the Boy. Boy. O, my lord,
These ruthless Moors pursue you at the heels,
And come amain to put you to the sword !
That I may take the river safe and fly.
But in crossing the river the horse throws the Moor in mid-stream. His mud-stained body is brought in by two peasants, after the death in battle of Sebastian and Tom Stukeley, who delivered to the skies a short account of his life from birth upward before ending it. The rightful victors end the play with a funeral march as they carry out the body of Sebastian.
Another of Pistol's quotations in the passage from which a few words were cited—“Have we not Hiren here ?"was from a lost play by Peele, “The Turkish Mahomet, and Hiren the Fair Greek.” This is incidentally named as a famous play of Peele's in a catchpenny pamphlet published in 1627, called “Merry conceited Iests of George Peele Gentleman.”
These early and crude plays of the “Tamburlaine " group pass, through the best of them all, in which Talbot Earl of Shrewsbury plays Tamburlaine among the French, into the fine series of English historical plays. The play of Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury, is placed among the works of Shakespeare as “The First Part of King Henry VI.” On another side, the rant of “Tamburlaine " echoed through a group of plays that sought to stir emotion with tales of blood and horror. The best known example of this kind of play is “ Titus Andronicus," included also among Shakespeare's works.
We do not hear that Shakespeare, having come to London, became very famous as an actor. It was not in him to rant, and the greater number
speare's of the playgoers had no eyes or ears for the
old Plays. subtle gradations of tone that should make the actor's voice the voice of Nature perfected in man.
Touch upon " Titus Andronicus."
There must have been shades of colour in his acting beyond range of the eyes of playgoers, as playgoers then were, happy enough in exaggerations of their own rough vigour. But it would soon be found that he had skill in touching up old plays and making them draw fresh audiences while there was want of a piece wholly new. The companies of actors, doing just as they pleased with pieces that were theirs, tried their own hands upon them without fear of authors' wrath. Work of this kind came to be done by Shakespeare, not at first as a dramatist, but as an actor for his fellowactors.
One of the crudest, and therefore, perhaps, one of the first, of the plays thus altered by him is "Titus Andronicus.”
In the year 1592 there was a piece acted in
Henslowe's Diary it is marked as a new play (ne) when he first mentions it on the eleventh of April, 1592, and there are frequent mentions of it between that date and the fisteenth of January, 1593 , which show that it was popular. There is no Vespasian in the play ascribed to Shakespeare. The old play of “Titus and Vespasian " is lost in England. But Mr. Albert Cohn, in his illustrations of “Shakespeare in Germany in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries," gives the text of a tragedy of “Titus Andronicus," acted by English players in Germany about the year 1600, which is evidently a German version of “Titus and Vespasian," for it does contain a Vespasian who is one of the sons of Titus.
The persons of the old play as acted in Germany were Vespasianus; the Roman Emperor; Titus Andronicus; Andronica ; Ætiopissa, Queen of Ethiopia, Empress; Morian; Helicates, eldest son of Ætiopissa ; Saphonus, second son of Ætiopissa; the Husband of Andronica (not otherwise named); Victoriades; a Messenger, and White Guards. The play opens with a speech by