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Fit to write passions for the souls below,
The poem itself follows, in which Peele represents himself as seeing a vision in his sleep of Edward III., founder of the Order of the Garter, followed to Windsor by its famous knights of old, in honour of the installation of their new comrade on the morrow. And Peele's dream came to him, he says, after
“I laid me down, laden with many cares,
Here, as the old saga men used to say of one whose part in a tale was ended, George Peele goes out of the story.
Let us turn next to the last records of Robert Greene. We have traced the sequence of Gree Greene's novels to the publication of “Menaphon” in 1589.* We have taken note also of the play of “ Alphonsus,” † in which he may have first turned to the stage, influenced by the success of Marlowe's “Tamburlaine,” and of “A Looking Glass for London and England,” written by Greene and Lodge. Greene's other plays that have come down to us are “Orlando Furioso," " James the Fourth,” “Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay,” “George a Greene, the Pinner of Wakefield,” and, very likely, “The First Part of Selimus, Emperor of the Turks.”
“ Selimus" was first printed in 1594, without suggestion of an author's name, “as it was played by the Queen's Majesty's Players.” Its whole title is “The First part of the Tragicall raigne of Selimus, sometime Emperour of the Turkes, and grandfather to him that now raigneth. Wherein is shown how hee most vnnaturally raised warres against his owne father Baiazet, and preuailing therein, in the end caused him to be poysoned. Also with the murthering of his two brethren, Corcut, and Acomat."
* "E. W." ix, 276-279.
Dr. Grosart has included “ Selimus” in his edition of Greene's works chiefly because he has found that it contains two passages (numbered 4 and 11), one on Delay (“' He that will stop the brook," etc.), the other on Damocles, which are quoted as from Robert Greene in “Eng. land's Parnassus," published in the year 1600. It is true that quotations in this work are now and then assigned to a wrong author ; but the inference from these two quotations is that Robert Allott, or whoever elie made these two quotations, looked upon “Selimus” as one of the plays of Robert Greene, and probably it was. The piece is of the Tamburlaine school. Selim's father Bajazet refers in his distress to
" That wolul emperor first of my name
Whom the Tartarians locked in a cage,
and counts himself much more unfortunate,
“ For Tamburlaine the scourge of nations
Was he that pulled him from his kingdom so ;
Selim, the youngest son, who rises by the killing of his father and his brothers, speaks of himself as “ none of those who make a conscience for to kill a man,” and when he is emperor, at his command his fol. lower, “Stern Sinam Basha,” reduces the number of the dramatis persona sensibly by incidental stranglings on the stage. There is more rhyme in “Selimus " than is usual in such plays, but the author knew very well how to bombast out a blank verse. Bajazet's eldest son, Acomat, says of his father that he means to
“Fill all the confines with fire, sword, and blood,
Burn up the fields, and overthrow whole towns,
Then tear the old man piece meal with my teeth
There is no lack in the play of good sentences and happy turns of fancy. Bullithrumble, a shepherd, plays clown, and eats on the stage, like the clown in “ A Looking Glass for London and England," the act of feeding being, as of old in the Shepherds' plays, thought favourable to comic business. Bullithrumble cites as the model of a stately man, “ Master Pigwiggen, our constable," when the author of “ Nymphidia" had not yet entered a Pigwiggen's name in the books of the Muses.
There can be no doubt that Elizabethan actors sustained with the full vigour of their lungs the boisterous declamation for which poets furnished lines of sound and sury. The tremendous heroes must have stamped abundantly, gnashed their teeth, rolled their eyes, flourished their arms, and pulled at their hair. In “ Selimus," for example, thus roared Bajazet :
“Leave weeping, Aga, we have wept enough ;
Now Bajazet will ban another while,
Firsi made by Jove for rest and quiet sleep
Henceforth thy mantle in black Lethe steep,
Suffer not once the joysul daylight peep,
Acomat in a former scene had pulled out Aga's eyes upon the stage. Then, when he said that his hands were left for vengeance, Acomat caused his hands to be cut off and thrust into the bosom of his robe, asking as
he did so, “Which hand is this ? right? or left? canst thou tell ? " Bajazet, having cursed himself dry, is refreshed with a cup of poison by a Jew who has been hired to kill him. The Jew holds the cup also to the lips of the handless Aga, after first drinking from it himself because he is old, and has not long to live, and will be pleased to go down to Proserpina with such companions.
“ Titus Andronicus” was one of a large family that made much noise in the world when Elizabeth was queen.
But the rant of the actors, like that of the poets, must have been with a power that again and again sent lightning
flashes through the rumble of the storm. There Stage
must have been in the one, as in the other, an
untamed vigour of health-robust, audacious, frolicsome, and little careful to consider the restraints of art. The roar is of the cataract below the source of a great river, with wild swirl and dash and shattering into rainbows of the flood that soon will sweep with a calm, fruitful strength across the land. It is no fruitless roaring of the wind among stones of the desert.
High relish was added to a play when one of the characters ran mad. All restraints on the display of passion were removed, and the tragic actor then fairly divided honours with the clown. Greene's play of “Orlando Furioso,” first printed in 1594, and again in 1599, was designed to please the public with a picture of Orlando mad.
" Orlando Furioso."
By success in his suit for the hand of Angelica, daughter of Mar. sillus, Emperor of Africa, Orlando wins the enmity of all the other suitors. Sacrapant, with a burlesque boastfulness, opposes the true hero, beguiles him with false shows of evidence that Angelica has given herself to Medor, who carves her name on barks of trees and writes roundelays in her honour. Orlando then becomes extravagantly mad. He does not know the true Angelica, but is provided with a scene that brings the clown, Tom, in woman's clothes to personate Angelica, to be mistaken for her, and to be treated to a beating that he had not bargained for. The rest of the Twelve Peers come on the scene.
Orlando shows his strength by fighting three of them with a handkerchief over his face. By his strength he is recognised, and he removes the handkerchief. He has learnt how Sacrapant deceived him, has fought and killed Sacrapant, that "devil in shape of man;" is clear of his lunacy; and takes Angelica to wife, her father giving him the crown of Africa for dowry.
ames the Fourth."
Greene's “ James the Fourth” is not a historical play like Marlowe's “Edward II.” or one of the historical plays of Shakespeare, but fanciful and legendary, like Peele's “Edward I.” It was not published fd until 1598, six years after its author's death, and was then entitled “The Scottish Historie of lames the fourth, slaine at Flodden. Entermixed with a pleasant Comedie, presented by Oboram, King of the Fayeries : As it hath been sundrie times publikely plaide. Written by Robert Greene, Maister of Arts Omne tulit punctum. London, Printed by Thomas Creede." There is nothing about Flodden in
" James the fourth.”
Oberon and some grotesque sollowers, Antics, dance about the tomb into which Bohan, a Scot, has retired alive out of a world from which he has lost his wise, and where he finds the Court ill, the Country worse, and the City worst of all. Bohan has lest in the world his two sons --Slipper, the clown of the piece, and Nano, a quick-witted dwarf. Oberon tempts Bohan out of his tomb, Slipper and Nano dance in rivalry with Oberon's Antics, and then Oberon shows Bohan a play, of life at the Court of James IV. Between the acts Oberon, Bohan, and the rest dance, sing, and moralise by the retired stoic's country box, the Tomb.
In the play, King Henry VII. of England has given his daughter Dorothea to be wife to James IV. of Scotland. Now Dorothea was a gift of God by reason of great faithfulness. King James was unfaithful to her and sought to possess Ida, daughter of a widowed countess. He took to him an evil counsellor, Ateukin, adventurer and fatterer, who led him on to the attempted murder of his wife. But Ateukin had hired Slipper and Nano as his servants. When he had obtained the king's order for the inurder of Dorothea, Slipper happened to be paid by a loyal knight, Sir Bartram, for stealing from his master a lease