« AnteriorContinuar »
(1) SCENE III.
Then, afterwards, to order well the state,
That like events may ne'er it ruinate.] The following is the ballad registered by Danton when he entered the “Historye of Tytus Andronicus” on the Stationers' Rolls. It is extracted from Percy's “Reliques of Antient Poetry," Vol. I. :
“ Titus ANDRONicus's COMPLAINT.
That in defence of native country fights,
Yet reapt disgrace at my returning home.
My name beloved was of all my peeres;
Before we did returne to Rome againe :
Which did such murders, like was nere before.
Which bred in Rome debate and deadlie strife;
That none like them in Rome might be allowd.
That she consented to him secretlye
In cruell sort to bring them to their endes.
Both care and griefe began then to increase:
To Cæsars sonne, a young and noble man:
And her two sonnes, bereaved was of life.
Into a darksome den from light of skies :
With my three sonnes, who fell into the den.
For to accuse them of that murderous deed;
In wrongfull prison they were cast and bound.
The empresses two sonnes of savage kind
And took away her honour, quite perforce.
Fearing this sweete should shortly turne to soure,
“ Then both her hands they basely cutt off quite,
Whereby their wickednesse she could not write;
The bloudye workers of her direfull woe. “My brother Marcus found her in the wood, Staining the grassie ground with purple bloud, That trickled from her stumpes, and bloudlesse armes; Noe tongue at all she had to tell her harmes. “ But when I sawe her in that woefull case,
With teares of bloud I wet mine aged face;
Than for my two and twenty sonnes before.
With griefe mine aged heart began to breake;
Whereby those bloudy tyrants out we found.
The lustfull sonnes of the proud em perèsse
I curst the houre, wherein I first was bred,
In cradle rockt, had first been stroken lame. “ The Moore delighting still in villainy,
Did say, to sett my sonnes from prison free
And then my three imprisoned sonnes should live. “ The Moore I caused to strike it off with speede,
Whereat I grieved not to see it bleed,
And for their ransome send my bleeding heart. “ But as my life did linger thus in paine,
They seni to me my bootlesse hand againe,
Which filld my dying heart with fresher moanes. “ Then past reliefe I upp and downe did goe,
And with my teares writ in the dust my woe:
And for revenge to hell did often crie.
Like furies she and both her sonnes were clad,
To undermine and heare what I would say. “ I fed their foolish veines a certaine space,
Untill my friendes did find a secret place,
And just revenge in cruell sort was found.
Betwixt her stumpes, wherein the bloud it ran :
And made a paste for pyes streight therewithall. " Then with their fleshe I made two mighty pyes,
And at a banquet servde in stately wise :
So of her sonnes own flesh she well did eat. “Myself bereav'd my daughter then of life,
The empresse then I slewe with bloudy knife,
And then myself : even soe did Titus die.
Alive they sett him halfe into the ground,
CRITICAL OPINIONS ON TITUS ANDRONICUS.
" ALL the editors and critics agree with Mr. Theobald in supposing this play spurious. I see no reason for differing from them; for the colour of the style is wholly different from that of the other plays, and there is an attempt at regular versification, and artificial closes, not always inelegant, yet seldom pleasing. The barbarity of the spectacles, and the general massacre, which are here exhibited, can scarcely be conceived tolerable to any audience ; yet we are told by Jonson, that they were not only borne, but praised. That Shakespeare wrote any part, though Theobald declares it incontestable, I see no reason for believing
“ The testimony produced at the beginning of this play, by which it is ascribed to Shakespeare, is by no means equal to the argument against its authenticity, arising from the total difference of conduct, language, and sentiments, by which it stands apart from all the rest. Meres had probably no other evidence than that of a title-page, which, though in our time it be sufficient, was then of no great authority ; for all the plays which were rejected by the first collectors of Shakespeare's works, and admitted in later editions, and again rejected by the critical editors, had Shakespeare's name on the title, as we must suppose, by the fraudulence of the printers, who, while there were yet no gazettes, nor advertisements, nor any means of circulating literary intelligence, could usurp at pleasure any celebrated name. Nor had Shakespeare any interest in detecting the imposture, as none of his fame or profit was produced by the press.
“ The chronology of this play does not prove it not to be Shakespeare's. If it had been written twentyfive years in 1614, it might have been written when Shakespeare was twenty-five years old. When he left Warwickshire, I know not; but at the age of twenty-five it was rather too late to fly for deerstealing.
“ Ravenscroft, who in the reign of Charles II. revised this play, and restored it to the stage, tells us in his preface, from a theatrical tradition, I suppose, which in his time might be of sufficient authority, that this play as touched in different parts by Shakespeare, but written by some other poet. I do not find Shakespeare's touches very discernible.”—JOHNSON.
“In the course of the notes on this performance, I have pointed out a passage or two which, in my opinion, sufficiently prove it to have been the work of one who was acquainted both with Greek and Roman literature. It is likewise deficient in such internal marks as distinguish the tragedies of Shakspeare from those of other writers ; I mean, that it presents no struggles to introduce the vein of humour so constautly interwoven with the business of his serious dramas. It can neither boast of his striking excellencies, nor his acknowledged defects ; for it offers not a single interesting situation, a natural character, or a string of quibbles from first to last. That Shakspeare should have written without commanding our attention, moving our passions, or sporting with words, appears to me as improbable, as that he should have studiously avoided dissyllable and trisyllable terminations in this play, and in no other.
“Let it likewise be remembered that this piece was not published with the name of Shakspeare till after his death. The quarto in 1611 is anonymous.
“Could the use of particular terms employed in no other of his pieces be admitted as an argument that he was not its author, more than one of these might be found ; among which is palliament for robe, a Latinism which I have not met with elsewhere in any English writer, whether ancient or modern ; though it must have originated from the mint of a scholar. I may add, that “Titus Andronicus' will be found on examination to contain a greater number of classical allusions, &c. than are scattered over all the rest of the performances on which the seal of Shakspeare is indubitably fixed.— Not to write any more about and about this suspected thing, let me observe that the glitter of a few passages in it has perhaps misled the judgment of those who ought to have known, that both sentiment and description are more easily produced than the interesting fabrick of a tragedy. Without these advantages many plays have succeeded ; and many have failed, in which they have been dealt about with the most lavish profusion. It does not follow, that he who can carve a frieze with minuteness, elegance, and ease, has a conception equal to the extent, propriety, and grandeur of a temple.”—STEEVENS.