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quotation from a contemporary—is probably, though not necessarily, later than the publication, in 1598, of his splendid version of Hero and Leander, where the dead shepherd's mighty saw is to be found. Closely akin in style to Much Ado and Twelfth Night, and not less blithe, it contains hints more distinct than either of the approach of a graver mood. Certainly, its laughter is less ringing, its humour more subtle and meditative; it is less rich in comic situations, but abounds in the more searching comedy of contrasted characters and views of life, the comedy of Orlando's courtly flyting with Jaques, and Jaques's with Rosalind. The extremely uneventful stage-history of As You Like It shows that neither these qualities nor its exquisite romantic charm were, in general, found to compensate for its inferiority in downright comic power. Rosalind was not reckoned, with Beatrice and Malvolio and Falstaff, among the great comic creations of Shakespeare, which London of the next generation crowded to see. Of early performances no record whatever remains, save the shadowy tradition, reported towards the end of the century by Oldys, that a younger brother of Shakespeare remembered once seeing him play 'a decrepit old man supported and carried by another person to a table, at which he was seated among some company who were eating, and one of them sung a song’; evidently a reminiscence of Adam and Orlando in ii. 4. Apart from this, its history through the entire seventeenth century is a blank, and it probably passed altogether from the stage. When, in 1723, Charles Johnson undertook to revive its faded charms, he took care to reinforce them with stimulating matter from other plays,political speeches from Richard II., misogyny from 1 L. Digges, lines prefixed to Shakespeare's Poems, 1640.

2 Love in a Forest.


Much Ado, unconfessed love from Twelfth Night,and to relieve them of all the pastoral scenes and of Touchstone. The original play was at length approximately restored in 1740; a series of great actresses -Mrs. Pritchard, Peg Woffington, Mrs. Jordan, Mrs. Siddons—found their opportunity in Rosalind, while Jaques and Touchstone were equally congenial rôles to Quin. But it remained, on the whole, an actor's play. A finer appreciation of As You Like It, as of other romantic comedies, was reserved for the Romantic criticism of our century. It is interesting to note that, after holding, on the whole, an inconspicuous place among the romantic comedies of Shakespeare, it was singled out by the author of La petite Fadette as a means of introducing the French public to this the least popular, though often pillaged '-class of Shakespeare's work. 1

Lodge's Rosalynde, or Euphues' Golden Legacy, the immediate source of the story of As You Like It, was one of the better specimens of the Romances called forth by the vogue of the Euphues and the Arcadia, - a highly artificial and composite

-a genre which already, in 1600, was visibly touched with decay. The ornate Euphuistic conversation which Lodge and Greene put in the mouths of their Arcadians, had yielded in real life to later affectations. The courtly and bookish pastoralism of Sidney and Spenser was passing into a sentiment more akin to the modern delight in nature, and fostering a like watchfulness of natural life,—the pastoralism of Drayton and Browne and Wither. Unreal as it was, however, the earlier Elizabethan pastoralism had seldom been strictly Arcadian. Sidney, like his predecessor Montemayor,


i George Sand, Comme Il with a freedom not unwarranted vous Plaira (1856). Cf. her

in her case. instructive preface. She adapts

had loved to disturb the shepherd's piping with the alarms of war, and rarely, allowed his readers to forget that Arcadia marched with Sparta. And Lodge, a soldier and a sailor, who wrote his romance ' in ocean, when everie line was wet with a surge,' was not the man to let the tradition die. He drew his secluded Arden with one eye upon the Arcady of literature, and the other upon the Sherwood of Robin Hood. Sidney transports us on the first page into the shepherdworld : Lodge lingers, with evident gusto, over the preliminary exploits and perils of his hero. These he took from the rude fourteenth-century romance of Gamelyn, handed down in several MSS. of the Canterbury Tales as the Tale of the Cook, and possibly intended by Chaucer as material for the Tale of the Yeoman. It is a lay of family feud, artless in form, but full of hearty English vigour and the relish of hard blows. Gamelyn's elder brother, bent on getting rid of him, persuades him to challenge a famous wrestler. Gamelyn is victorious, and proceeds, by way of vengeance, to lay siege to his brother's house with an armed band. At first successful, he is taken prisoner, but released by an old servant, Adam Spenser, with whom he flies to the forest. This opening adventure Lodge takes over with little change, and sets in a romantic framework of his own. Rosader (Gamelyn) and his brother Saladyn have a counterpart in the banished king Gerismond and the usurper Torismond. Rosader wrestles before Torismond, slays the king's wrestler, and wins the love of Rosalind. Torismond presently, on a trifling pretext, banishes Rosalind from court, and when Alinda, his daughter, takes her part, she is banished too. Both fly, like Rosader, to the paradise of exiles in Arden. But Arden has its own inhabitants also; some of them of the pure Arcadian breed,—Montanus who laments, and Phoebe who will not listen; others, like the old shepherd Corydon, akin rather to the Spenserian breed of quasi-rustic Hobbinols, whose speech is larded with uncouth terms without becoming thereby more like life. In this artificial world Rosalind (Ganimede) appropriately unfolds the gay diplomacy which leads, as in the play, to the marriage of three pairs of true lovers. Pastoral peace is not entirely preserved : a robber-band threatens Alinda, and Rosader rescues her; a lion threatens Saladyn, and Rosader slays it. But country simplicity, subtle humour, and meditative refinement are absent; there is no hint of William and Audrey, none of Jaques, none of Touchstone.

Lodge had essayed to correct the monotony of Pastoral romance by bold infusions of alien matter, controlled by a taste decidedly immature. The result was a medley in which the mediæval and the Elizabethan, the yeoman and the courtly, elements are intermingled but not interfused. In Shakespeare's hands the story, far from being simplified, acquired a richer and more varied relation to life, and reflected the hues of contemporary humour and affectation from a thousand brilliant facets of which there is no hint in Lodge; yet in none of the comedies do we find a more finished and gracious harmony of tone, or, with so much that is recognisable in detail, a total effect

Here, if anywhere, we have Shakespearean Romance, -men and women vital and human to the core, moving in a world fantastical, evanescent, dreamlike. 'If you like it, so !' Lodge had written to the gentlemen readers of his Rosalind; and Shakespeare modelled on the phrase a title which archly deprecates any claim to grave significance in his work. Without any laborious moulding or studious trimming of excrescences, the whole has fallen into scale and proportion, and the discrepant materials,

So new.



without any loss of individual piquancy, are touched into delicate accord. The story itself he took over with a few changes, which make the forest life in Arden more obviously its central theme. Spenser had already flung a glamour of romance Arden,

So wide a forest and so waste as this

Nor famous Ardeyn nor fowle Arlo is ; he had sung in Astrophel; and Lodge had introduced romantic details, -e.g. the lion; characteristically, however, impairing the romantic effect by giving his Arden a definite locality, between Lyon and Bordeaux (p. 86). Shakespeare's Arden is at once more fantastic and more real. Its geography is as vague as the date of the usurping and banished 'duke.' Its inmates live an idyllic life, 'fleeting the time carelessly as they did in the golden world,' exempt from privation or alarm. Its security is threatened by no robbers such as Lodge permitted to seize Alinda ; and the duke, unlike Lodge's Gerismond, is precluded from all anxiety about the fate of Rosalind. until he sees her, for he is unaware of her banishment But the picture is full of the detailed touches and the atmosphere caught from the greenwood and the chase,-familiar memories of the Warwickshire Arden happily mingling with the fables of Ardennes. The inmates of Arden are still more composite than the landscape. They form three groups, distinguished not so much by the characters that compose them as by the different quality of the atmosphere through which they are viewed. Phæbe, Audrey, and Rosalind do not merely represent different phases of the real world, they stand in different relations to reality. Phoebe and Silvius move, like their prototypes, in the artificial glamour of literary pastoral, in an atmosphere charged with sentiment and almost devoid of observation.


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