« PreviousContinue »
The earliest edition, of which any copy is at ! 2. The testimony which fixes the period present known, of "Titus Andronicus,' ap- of its original production. peared in quarto, in 1600, under the follow- The direct testimony of the first kind is ing title :—'The most lamentable Romaine unimpeachable : Francis Meres, a contempoTragedie of Titus Andronicus. As it hath rary, and probably a friend, of Shakspere—a sundry times been playde by the Right man intimately acquainted with the literary Honourable the Earle of Pembroke, the history of his day-not writing even in the Earle of Darbie, the Earle of Sussex, and later period of Shakspere's life, but as early the Lord Chamberlaine theyre Servants. At as 1598—compares, for tragedy, the excelLondon, printed by J. R. for Edward White, lence of Shakspere among the English, with 1600.
Seneca among the Latins, and says, witness, In the folio collection of 1623 it appears “for tragedy, his ^ Richard II.,' ‘Richard III.,' under the title of “The lamentable Tragedy Henry IV.,' 'King John,' Titus Androof Titus Andronicus.' It follows ‘Corio- nicus,' and his ‘Romeo and Juliet.'” lanus,' and precedes “Romeo and Juliet.' The indirect testimony is nearly as im
The external evidence that bears upon the portant. The play is printed in the first authorship of “Titus Andronicus' is of two folio edition of the poet's collected workskinds :
an edition published within seven years 1. The testimony which assigns the play after his death by his intimate friends and to Shakspere, wholly or in part.
fellows ;” and that edition contains an entire scene not found in either of the the internal evidence of its authenticity. previous quarto editions which have come The fact of its early date is indisputable. down to us. That edition does not contain Accepting that fact, we are reconciled to a single other play upon which a doubt of the inferiority of this play, compared with the authorship has been raised; for even Shakspere's undoubted performances. Its those who deny the entire authorship of revolting story, in the same way, appears 'Henry VI.' to Shakspere, have no doubt as such as a very young poet would not have to the partial authorship.
rejected. It is easy to understand how We now come to the second point—the Shakspere, at the period when he first entered testimony which fixes the date of the ori- upon those labours which were to build up a ginal production of Titus Andronicus.' glorious fabric out of materials that had
Ben Jonson, in the Induction to his been previously used for the basest purposes, 'Bartholomew Fair,' first acted in 1614, says-without models,--at first, perhaps, not
-" He that will swear ‘Jeronimo,' or 'An- voluntarily choosing his task, but taking the dronicus,' are the best plays yet, shall pass business that lay before him so as to comunexcepted at here, as a man whose judg- mand popular success,-ignorant, to a great ment shows it is constant, and hath stood degree, of the height and depth of his own still these five-and-twenty or thirty years. intellectual resources, --not seeing, or dimly Though it be an ignorance, it is a virtuous seeing, how poetry and philosophy were to and staid ignorance; and, next to truth, a elevate and purify the common staple of the confirmed error does well.” Percy offers the coarse drama about him,-it is easy to confollowing comment upon this passage, in his ceive how a story of fearful bloodshed should Reliques of Ancient Poetry :'_“There is force itself upon him as a thing that he reason to conclude that this play was rather could work into something better than the improved by Shakespeare with a few fine dumb show and fiery words of his predecestouches of his pen, than originally written sors and contemporaries. It was in after by him; for, not to mention that the style years that he had to create the tragedy of is less figurative than his others generally passion. Lamb has beautifully described are, this tragedy is mentioned with discredit Webster, as almost alone having the power in the Induction to Ben Jonson's 'Bartholo- “ to move a horror skilfully, to touch a soul mew Fair,' in 1614, as one that had been to the quick, to lay upon fear as much as it then exhibited 'five-and-twenty or thirty can bear, to wean and weary a life till it is years;' which, if we take the lowest number, ready to drop, and then step in with mortal throws it back to the year 1589, at which instruments to take its last forfeit.” Lamb time Shakespeare was but 25: an earlier date adds, “writers of inferior genius mistake than can be found for any other of his quantity for quality.” The remark is quite pieces." It is scarcely necessary to point true; when examples of the higher tragedy out, that with the views we have uniformly are accessible, and when the people have entertained as to the commencement of learnt better than to require the grosser Shakspere's career as a dramatic author, the stimulant. Before Webster had written proof against his authorship of Titus An- The Duchess of Malfi' and ' Vittoria Coromdronicus' thus brought forward by Percy is bona,' Shakspere had produced 'Lear' and to us amongst the most convincing reasons Othello.' But there were writers, not of for not hastily adopting the opinion that he inferior genius, who had committed the was not its author. The external evidence same mistake as the author of Titus Androof the authorship, and the external evidence nicus'--who use blood as they would “the of the date of the authorship, irely coin. paint of the property-man in the theatre.” cide: each supports the other. The con- Need we mention other names than Marlowe tinuation of the argument derived from the and Kyd ? early date of the play naturally runs into
SATURNINUS, son to the late Emperor of
Rome. Appears, Act I. se. 1; sc. 2. Act II. sc. 2; sc. 4.
Act IV. sc. 4. Act V. sc. 3. BASSIANUS, brother to Saturninus. Appears, Act I. sc. 1 ; sc. 2. Act II. sc. 2; sc. 3. Titus ANDRONICUS, a noble Roman. Appears, Act I. sc. 2. Act II. sc. 2; sc. 4. Act III. sc. 1; sc. 2. Act IV. sc. 1 ; sc. 3.
Act V. sc. 2; sc. 3.
Act V. sc. 2; sc. 3.
Act III. sc. I. Act V. sc. 1 ; se. 3.
Act III. sc. l.
Act III. sc. 1.
Appears, Act I, sc. 2.
Act V. sc. 3.
Appears, Act V. sc. 2.
Appears, Act I. sc. 2.
CHIRON, son to Tamora. Appears, Act I. sc. 2. Act II. sc. 1; sc. 2; sc. 3; sc. 5.
Act IV. sc. 2; sc. 4. Act V. sc. 2.
DEMETRIUS, son to Tamora. Appears, Act I. sc. 2. Act II. sc. l; sc. 2; sc. 3; sc. 5.
Act IV. sc. 2; sc. 4. Act V. sc. 2.
Aaron, a Moor.
TAMORA, Queen of the Goths.
Act IV. sc. 4. Act V. sc. 2; sc. 3.
Act V. sc. 2; se.
A Black Child.
Kinsmen of Titus, Senators, Tribunes, Offi
cers, Soldiers, and Attendants.
SCENE,-ROME, AND THE COUNTRY NEAR IT.
Flourish. Enter the Tribunes and Senators, aloft: and then enter SATURNINUS
and his Followers at one door, and BASSIANUS and his Followers at the other,
with drum and colours.
Defend the justice of my cause with arms;
Nor wrong mine age with this indignity.
If ever Bassianus, Cæsar's son,
a Am his. The folio, was the.
Wore. The quarto, ware.
And suffer not dishonour to approach
Enter MARCUS ANDRONICUS, aloft, with the crown.
Marc. Princes, that strive by factions and by friends
Ambitiously for rule and empery,
Plead your deserts in peace and humbleness.
In thy uprightness and integrity,