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Prosody and Text; but, again, it doesn't matter if he never looks into them. He will already have attained the end for the sake of which grammars and commentaries pretend to be written. If this end is reached directly, it may be the worse for us commentators, but it is the better for Shakespeare, and for the spirit that learns to live by him.

Exigencies of space have constrained me to limit this book to a consideration of less than a third of Shakespeare's plays. The Histories are entirely omitted, and only representative Comedies and Tragedies are discussed. Nevertheless, the method of study exemplified in these chapters may, I trust, serve to stimulate the reader's independent judgment, and perhaps enable him to read Shakespeare for himself with greater insight and enjoyment than before. If this hope is not disappointed, my labour will be well repaid.

Throughout this volume, the references to scenes and lines follow the “Fireside Edition," in six volumes, edited by Richard Grant White and published by Houghton Mifflin Company. It should be explained that, as a great deal of Shakespeare is in prose, the enumeration of the lines is not exactly the same in any two editions.

H. J. B. CHICAGO, October, 1916.

Our Fellow Shakespeare

Our Fillow Shakespeare

CHAPTER I

SHAKESPEARE'S BACKGROUND: THE RISE OF THE

ENGLISH DRAMA

IT
T has been wittily said that the Elizabethan dram- “Shake-

atists are divided into two classes: Shakespeare speare and and the others. Those "others" are now little read, save by specialists. Shakespeare bestrides their narrow world like a Colossus, and the pettier men are overlooked, because attention is centred upon him. It is unfortunate, however, that so few of us read the dramas of his contemporaries — his friends and rivals, collaborators and enemies.

In the first place, we fail to realize that if Shakespeare had not lived at all, the dramatic development of the period of Elizabeth and of James I would still have constituted a memorable chapter in the history of our literature. An age that produced Greene, Peele and Kyd, Ford and Massinger, Beaumont and Fletcher, Ben Jonson and Marlowe, would by that achievement have earned high distinction. But it must have been very annoying to the Lilliputians when Mr. Lemuel Gulliver landed among them. It is hard to remember the relative greatness and smallness of the courtiers of the Lilliputian king when they are all alike dwarfed by one, the latchets of whose shoes they are scarcely tall

enough to unloose. Interest naturally centres in the exploits of Gulliver, and we forget that, except for the activities of the pigmies, there would have

been no story to tell. Thus it is with Shakespeare. Attempts to It must be left to scientific historians and to explain new philosophers of history to account for the seeming of the hu mystery of a development, within half a century, man spirit:

from the crudest beginnings to the greatest heights of dramatic creation that the world has ever seen. The rest of us can but listen respectfully to thinkers who can perform the feat of explaining such a sudden burst of creative power in the common mind.

Yet a word of warning is necessary against the (1) By ready and easy means of dissipating the mystery of heredity.

such phenomena which prevailed during the past generation. Explanations of genius in terms of heredity are futile; they explain nothing. If you tell me that a gifted novelist had a grandfather who was a gifted novelist, you have not thereby assigned an intelligible cause for the grandchild's gift. You have but made two problems to spring up where before there was only one. Or, if you say that the second novelist is explained by the first, and we politely agree to assume that these words mean something, you are still left with the same problem regarding the ancestor as you undertook

to solve in the case of the descendant. (2) By Equally unsatisfactory is the attempt to account economic

for such a development as that of the Elizabethan conditions.

drama in terms of economic demand and supply. Certainly there was money in dramatic authorship; but not much, even in the rarest cases. Good actors earned far more in Shakespeare's day than playwrights did, and Shakespeare himself, who was a first-rate man of business, made most of his fortune

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