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In Shake-speare the number of allusions to these myths, in plays written in the decade 1580-90, average seventeen to a play; in the second decade, 1590–1600, the average is twelve; in the third (1600–1610), excluding 'Troilus and Cressida,' which deals wholly with legendary characters, it is six only. In the dramas that were produced on the stage in London in 1585-87, coincidently with Shakspere's arrival there from Stratford, an “uneducated peasant," the average is highest of all, viz., twenty. In 'Titus Andronicus, a still earlier play, the number is forty-two.
This state of things alone justifies Gervinus' assertion that [the early] plays exhibit the poet not far removed from school and its pursuits; in none of his later dramas does he plunge so deeply into the remembrances of antiquity, his head overflowing with the images, legends, and characters of ancient history.” 1
We close this chapter on the classical knowledge of the dramatist with the following quotation from the Second Part of King Henry VI.:'
“ Pene gelidus timor occupat artus.” iv. 1. Lines somewhat similar to the above have been discovered in Ovid and Virgil, but none that can be claimed as its original. “And yet somewhere in the wide range of Latin poetry, ancient and modern,” says Editor Steevens, “the very words in question may hereafter be detected.” This will remind our readers of the dilemma in which scholars found themselves, previously to 1878, over the myth given in the last two of the Shakespearean Sonnets. More than two hundred years, or eight generations, elapsed, after their search began, before a German Dry-as-dust succeeded in tracing it to its Greek cradle.?
We distinctly and emphatically claim that the author of the Shake-speare Plays was the best, most profound, most critical classical scholar ever born and bred in England.
1 Shakespeare Commentaries, London, 1892, p. 145.
* See supra, p. 193.
JONSON'S MASQUE, TIME VINDICATED
N the nineteenth of January, 1623–24, a few weeks
after the publication of the first Shake-speare folio, Jonson's masque, 'Time Vindicated,' was
produced at court. This is a bold comedy on Fame. Its chief character is Fame herself, surrounded by three minor personages, called Eyes, Nose, and Ears, or collectively THE CURIOUS. The office of the latter, as stated by them, was to "spy,” to “hearken,” and to "smell out,” that is, to gather information on which Fame could issue her decrees.
The masque seems to have had another purpose, viz., to ridicule or hold up to scorn (whenever it should be understood) some person possessing a reputation for authorship which was not his due. The impostor is named Chronomastix, and he is said to have “triumphed in print at his admirers' charge."
The Shake-speare folio had recently been printed, so the Colophon informs us, “ at the charges of W. Jaggard, Ed. Blount, L. Smithweeke and W. Aspley."
At first Chronomastix attempts to conciliate Fame, thus :
“ It is for you I revel so in rhyme;
Dear mistress, not for hope I have, the Time
“ Away, I know thee not, wretched impostor,
To such vain empty fools; 't is Infamy
But Chronomastix will not yield. He protests that he is already the “friend of Rumor,” and that he is recognized by the common people as a great author. He says:
“When have I walk'd the streets, but happy he
It appears, however, that THE CURIOUS have discovered two other persons, holding some sort of mysterious relation to Chronomastix. These are described as follows:
“ Ears. A quondam justice, that of late
Hath been discarded out o' the pack of the peace,
In January, 1623, Francis Bacon was a " quondam justice," having been degraded from the bench in 1621 on charges of bribery. “Nose. Strange arguments of love! There is a schoolmaster
Is turning all his works too, into Latin,
Jonson was one of the “good pens," then in the employ of Bacon, turning the 'Advancement of Learning' and other works into Latin. Amongst Jonson's posthumous papers
. was found in manuscript an English Grammar. This gave him the title of “schoolmaster." Considering the virulent enmity shown by Jonson for twenty years preceding toward the reputed author of the Plays, the sudden “arguments of love," to which reference is made, may well indeed have seemed "strange."
Some secrecy in the printing is hinted at in the following lines :
“One is his printer in disguise, and keeps
The great German scholar, Ludwig von Tieck, was of opinion that Shakspere is caricatured in this masque.?
1 This is shown by some manuscript annotations on a copy of Gifford's edi. tion of Jonson's Works (1616), formerly owned by Tieck and now in the library of the British Museum. The earliest discovery of the true significance of the masque was made and pointed out to us by an esteemed friend in Boston, Mass., in the summer of 1897. Since then, the anonymous author of •Shakespeare – Bacon, An Essay' (London : Swan, Sonnershein & Co., 1899) has given it an elaborate exposition to the same effect.