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It now remains to point out the prime differences of the Senecan copies from their pattern. First of all comes the loose structure of the plot, already referred to. It bears witness to the health and assertive life of the national growth, which was rich in fable and knew no unities except in a merely superficial sense. The ghost links together the five acts of "The Misfortunes of Arthur" by opening and closing the drama. His connection with the play is highly artificial. He takes no part in what little action there is.

The dumb-show is a stage device foreign to Seneca. It is a heritage of the miracle and morality plays. It brings a breath of the fresh and healthy air of “merrie England" into the atmosphere vitiated by sulphurous spectres and nauseating crimes. It relieves the tedium of much grave moralizing with a little of the spectacular. A combination of tableau and pantomime 1), it presents an allegorical picture of the forthcoming act. It arouses interest by stimulating the Englishman's in-born love for action, which, to this day, finds characteristic expression in the vulgar term "show" applied to all sorts of stage performances from "Hamlet" down to the tricks of the juggler or the acrobat.

Amusing is the necessity of a commentary to the dumb-show. Important is the use which Shakspere made of this sort of device in, e. g. "Hamlet" III. ii.; "Macbeth" IV. i.; “King Henry the Eighth" IV. ii.

The outward form of a work of literature, even when considered entirely apart from the subject-matter, is such a vital characteristic as to serve well in classifying the various species of literary production. We think, perhaps first of all and mainly, of the tripping rhythm and jingling

1) J. A. Symonds: "Shakspere's Predecessors in the English Drama." pp. 230, 231.


rhyme in speaking of lyric poetry apart from the airy fancy and sweet sentiment. So, in speaking of tragedy, it is quite natural to hold forth the stately stride of blank verse as a prominent feature - apart from the brave and heroic tone of the language. We need but advert to Marlowe and Shakspere to make this plain. The text now under consideration assumes further importance in that it may have served to hand down to these masters their mighty instrument of tragic expression. It, in turn, may have received the heritage from "Gorboduc". "Gorboduc" adopted the measure from the Earl of Surrey's translation of the second and fourth books of Virgil's Aeneid whilst Surrey himself may have copied it from the Versi sciolti of the Italians. 1)

The foregoing analysis is intended to lay bare not only Hughes' indebtedness to Seneca, but (using Klein's 2) figure) to show how the Senecan leaven working in the dramatic dough of all European countries, and England as well, was transmitted by Hughes and his class to the full loaf of Shakspere.

It is undeniable that the yeast might have operated, or even did operate, upon Shakspere through other channels than that which we have just examined. If it be true, as some critics would teach, that Seneca was a favorite school-author in Elizabeth's time and that Shakspere read the tragedies in the original Latin at the Stratford grammar-school 3), we may ascribe the Senecan elements in his plays to just as simple a source, and a more direct one. But this assumption is rendered somewhat doubtful by Ben Jonson's famous criticism of his contemporary that he knew "small Latin and less Greek".

1) J. A. Symonds' "Shakspere's Predecessors in the English Drama". p. 336.

2) Geschichte des Dramas", V. 236.

3) E. g., T. S. Baynes: "What Shakespeare Learnt at School". Fraser's Magazine, Nov. 1879.

Another point of contact with the Senecan leaven is possible: Shakspere may have seen the translations of Seneca begun in 1560 by Jasper Heywood with the "Troas", and collected and edited in 1581 by Thomas Newton, who contributed a translation of the "Thebais". The book, or rather the supposed use of it, had a bilious effect on Thos. Nash, who wrote of it: "Yet English Seneca read by candle-light yeeldes many good sentences, as Blood is a beggar, and so foorth; and if you intreate him faire in a frostie morning, he will affoord you whole Hamlets, I should say, handfulls, of tragicall speaches".

Or, the foreign imitators of Seneca operating on Gascoigne, who, in 1566, recast Ludovico Dolce's "Giocasta"; operating on Lady Pembroke (Mary Sidney), who, in 1592, published a translation of Garnier's "Antonie"; operating on Thomas Kyd, who, in 1594, rendered the same Frenchman's "Cornelie" into English, all, or severally, might have sufficed to invest the Shaksperean cake with Senecan yeast.

"Howe'er it be"

it is superfluous here to discuss this question any further. We can only point to the final result, saying "There is the full measure


Shakspere; the exact proportions of the ingredients are, perhaps, beyond the ken of mortal chemist; eat and be filled."

II. The Sources of the Play.

It may be a rash act to controvert the opinions of such eminent historians of the Drama as Collier, Ward, Klein and Prölss, all of whom, excepting Ward, point somewhat vaguely to the Arthurian legends as the source of "The Misfortunes of Arthur". Whether they wish to refer to either of the poems "Le Morte Arthur") and "Morte Arthure",2) or to the compilation of romances by Syr Thomas Malory, it is somewhat difficult to gather from their language.

Collier says3): "The substance of the story is to be found in the 'Morte Arthur"". Klein is a little more explicit when he states: "Der Fabelstoff ist aus dem ** Poem 'Morte Arthure' geschöpft".4) Prölss virtually joins hands with Klein when he writes: "Der Stoff ist dem alten Gedichte 'Morte d'Arthur' entnommen". 5)

There can be no doubt, however, about Ward's meaning. His language is): "Its [our drama's] subject is taken,

1) Ed. by F. J. Furnivall, 1864.

2) Ed. by Edmund Brock, 1871, E. E. T. S. No. 8.

3) Collier's Preface to "The Misfortunes of Arthur" in Vol. IV

of Dodsley-Hazlitt's "Old English Plays", p. 253.

*) Geschichte des englischen Dramas, Band II. p. 261.

5) Geschichte des neueren Dramas. Band 2,2, p. 28.

6) English Dramatic Literature, 1899.

Grumbine, The Misfortunes of Arthur.

Vol. I. p. 219.


apparently without the intervention of any later literary treatment, from that Morte d'Arthur which, according to a well-known statement by Roger Ascham, had, in his 'forefathers' time' formed the staple literary entertainment of the English Court." Of course, no other than Malory

is meant.

Oskar H. Sommer, the skilled editor of Malory's romances, arrays himself alongside of Ward with the sweeping assertion, that1) "From the day of its appearance ‘Le Morte Darthur' has been the source of every production having for its theme King Arthur and his knights".

With regard to the poems, "Morte Arthure" and “Le Morte Arthur", be it said: that in Thomas Hughes' time (ab. 1588) they existed only in manuscript form, and could hardly have fallen into his hands; furthermore, the stories, in the rough, agree, in neither case, with that of "The Misfortunes of Arthur" let alone details of narrative.2)

With regard to Malory, the extreme popularity of the book, both prior to and during the time when Hughes, Fulbecke and Trotte put quill to paper together with the vast compass of the contents make imperative a more minute investigation.

Notwithstanding the the authoritative statements of Sommer and Ward, it shall, nevertheless, be the purpose of this chapter to show that the evidence rests not with Malory's work, but with the "Historia Britonum" of Geoffrey of Monmouth.

1) "Le Morte Darthur by Syr Thomas Malory", ed. by Oskar H. Sommer. Vol. III. Intr. p. 2.

2) That the chronicles of Holinshed or Higden could have served as the source of Hughes' information and inspiration, is very unlikely. The accounts of both touching Arthur are little else than a brief and garbled résumé of Geoffrey's History, with an elaborate criticism of Geoffrey's trustworthiness. The effort to establish a close connection between Hughes and the chroniclers has been vain.

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