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The noteworthy interest aroused in the rather long neglected works of Ben Jonson within the last dozen years would in itself be sufficient justification for a separate edition of Catiline, even were the play not intrinsically worthy. However, Catiline is by no means a despicable drama. Flat as its declamation may seem beside the rapid action of the romantic drama, it yet contains patent evidences of greatness. The touch of a master—hand (although it seems at times misguided) is everywhere present-in the firm grasp of character, in the orderly progression of plot, and in the marvelous skill with which so many classical sources are fused into one organic whole.
Further, Catiline has a very definite historical interest. It was the weight of Ben Jonson's authority and example in Sejanus and Catiline that firmly established the Senecan tragic traditions and methods, which had previously had but a precarious foothold, upon our stage.1 Then, too, critics generally have been too hasty in ascribing the so-called 'classical age' entirely to French influence. Without unduly belittling this foreign agency, I yet think it may be safely maintained that under the impetus of Ben Jonson's authority, a 'classical' drama of some sort was bound to evolve.
In editing Catiline, I have devoted a great deal of attention to sources, because Jonson is peculiarly faithful to his authorities, priding himself on his erudite and accurate classicism. In this consideration of sources, I owe a great debt to an unpublished thesis in the library of Yale University, by Miss Alice P. Wright, A Study of Ben
1 See Briggs, Influence of Ben Jonson, etc., in Anglia 35. 277 ff.
Jonson's Catiline with Special Reference to its Sources. The scope and sureness of Miss Wright's classical knowledge have spared me many plodding hours. I have not always agreed with her results, at times I have omitted citations I thought irrelevant, at times I have made substitutions that seemed to me more nearly parallel to the text, and I have added much new material; but even with these deductions, a heavy share of the credit belongs to her. I need hardly state that I have verified every citation. Another debt which I owe, and take equal pleasure in acknowledging, is to Mr. W. A. White of New York City, for his kindness in lending me the Quartos of 1611 and 1635 for collation. I also desire to convey my thanks, for help in various matters of detail, to Professors Hanns Oertel, Frederick W. Williams, Clarence W. Mendell, and Henry B. Wright of Yale University; and to the Yale Elizabethan Club for the use of their copy of the 1616 Folio. I wish also to acknowledge the uniform consideration and courtesy of the officials of the Yale University Library, the Northwestern University Library, the Newberry Library of Chicago, the University of Minnesota Library, and the St. Paul Public Library. Most especially do I wish to express my gratitude to Professor Albert S. Cook, without whose inspiring counsel and aid this work would never have been completed.
A portion of the expense of printing this book has been borne by the English Club of Yale University from funds placed at its disposal by the generosity of Mr. George E. Dimock of Elizabeth, New Jersey, a graduate of Yale in the Class of 1874.
UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS,
January 3, 1916
L. H. H.