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between the tragedies and the histories. publisher of the First Quartos, on the other hand, had heralded his pirated treasure to the public as one of the wittiest of Shakespeare's Comedies,— 'passing full of the palm comical, for it is a birth of your brains that never undertook anything comical vainly.' The Preface is not a document of much insight; but its glib eulogy of the salt of comic wit' in the play is as near a recognition as we can expect in the average Elizabethan of the bitter smile with which Shakespeare exhibits the fatuous young love of Troilus, and pricks the magnificent bubble of Greek and Trojan fame. The 'tragedy of Cymbeline,' too, can hardly have been designed for one by Shakespeare. It was never published in his lifetime, and the authenticity of one scene at least is liable to grave suspicion. The drama, as a whole, is a close counterpart to The Winter's Tale, which figures as the last of the Comedies. In both a threatened tragedy dissolves in idyll. Both distantly resemble Othello in motive; but Imogen as well as Hermione live to forgive their husbands, and neither Posthumus nor Leontes has the stuff in him of the tragic hero. Leontes's jealousy is an obstinate caprice, and Posthumus's a more natural yet hardly pardonable blindness; both rage and both suffer, but the rage of neither is terrible, and the suffering of neither rends us like Othello's. Both are, in fact, little more than ancillary figures, unconscious con

1 The same publisher described it on the title-page as the Famous History of Troylus and Cresseid. But by 1609 the

terms Comedy and Tragedy had come to include all historical plays which did not deal with English history.

trivers of the idylls in which Perdita and Imogen gloriously move.

Mere accident has associated Pericles with the tragedies. It was first included in the Third Folio among several other plays, wholly or in part spurious, which modern editors of Shakespeare have universally excluded. As these plays were added at the end of the volume, Pericles, which alone remained, immediately followed the tragedies, and hence appears to be one of them.

No doubt both Pericles and Cymbeline share with the tragedies a gravity of tone and mood which distinguishes them from the earlier comedies. The same gravity underlies The Tempest and The Winter's Tale, which the Folio editors nevertheless classed as comedies. It has become usual to detach these four plays from the comedies at large under the name of 'Romances.' Much is to be said, however, for keeping the loose and elastic term which interprets the Elizabethan mind; and for avoiding a name which, besides being unhistorical, does not mark with perfect precision the real distinctiveness of this final group of plays. For romance enters in some sort into almost all the comedies; even The Comedy of Errors and The Merry Wives are touched with it. When Shakespeare, about 1608-9, turned from Coriolanus and Timon to Pericles and Cymbeline and their successors, he contemplated no technical innovation. He fell back upon the familiar motives of his earlier time, chiefly of his comedy. Almost all the characteristic situations of the final group had been in some sort

anticipated. There had been separations and reunions of kindred in The Comedy of Errors and Twelfth Night; ready forgiveness of wrongs in As You Like It; scenery and locale more or less fantastical, unreal, märchen-like, almost wherever we look. The elves of the Midsummer-Night's Dream have their counterparts, more touched with conscious art, in the spirits of The Tempest; the pastoral world of As You Like It reappears, invested with a more delicate naïveté, in The Winter's Tale. Hero, long before Hermione and Imogen, had been 'done to death by slanderous tongues,' and vanished mysteriously till her innocence was established. The Duke in Measure for Measure plays Prospero's part of human providence; and in the Theseus of the Midsummer-Night's Dream we already divine Prospero-a Prospero of still unclouded fortunes, sitting, not raptly contemplative at his daughter's wedding-revels, but urbanely jocund at his own.

The most salient differences among the several groups of comedies lie less in the presence or absence of romance than in the moods which dominate its treatment. Here the latest group diverges widely from the earlier; but not more widely than these diverge among themselves. The grave strenuousness of All's Well, the oppressive sense of evil and lightning scorn of Measure for Measure, are further from the blithe gaiety of the Errors or the Dream than is the contemplative serenity of The Tempest. The terrible comedy of the tragic period, 'at which angels weep, who with our spleens, would all themselves laugh mortal,' a comedy tense with ethical nerve and sinew,

intervenes between the two larger groups which precede and follow the tragic period, -the mundane comedy of 1590-1601, sanguine, joyous even when it is concerned with tragic matter, abounding in humorous incongruities and in jesting brains, whose function it is to throw them into brilliant relief; and the Olympian comedy of 1609-12, benign, gravely beautiful, poor in the salient angularities from which humour flashes, poor also in humorists, but implying, in its fantastic play with the conditions of reality, that serene, yet not unsympathetic, detachment from life which makes life's gravest issues at moments resemble the politics of Europe as seen from the altitude of Brobdingnag.

The arrangement of the works will, then, be as follows:

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It is unnecessary for any new editor of Shakespeare to confess obligations to his predecessors. The greater part of his work must inevitably consist in

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