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intense type. But Brutus cannot "unpack his heart" in this unrestrained fashion. "The noblest Roman of them all" lives a reserved, self-controlled, high-minded life; and his dying thought is,

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"My heart doth joy that yet in all my life

I found no man but he was true to me."


We note in reading Julius Caesar that the common people are described in the first scene as if they were English mechanics. Indeed, Shakespeare seems to have the handicraftsmen of London constantly in mind in depicting the Roman populace. We are made to wonder whether the contempt expressed in this play for the vile-smelling and fickle-minded Roman mob does not represent, at least in some degree, Shakespeare's attitude toward the common people of his own land. Indeed, a larger question suggests itself. We re.nember that in 1649 Charles I was beheaded, and England proclaimed itself a commonwealth. Did William Shakespeare, who died in 1616, appreciate at all the strength and the promise of the movement which sought to limit the power of the crown and to increase the power of the people? What was his attitude toward this movement?

This whole topic is of such vital interest to American pupils, accustomed to our own system of popular rule, that it seems well to discuss at some length Shakespeare's attitude toward the common people, and toward the democratic movement of his own day.

The men who bore the new name of Puritans were interested primarily in religious reforms. But they could not demand for parliament the right to discuss and regulate matters of religion without making the same demand in other fields; indeed, to their minds religion imposed rules upon the whole of life. It was among the Puritans espe

cially that there appeared a steadily increasing independence of mind and a spirit of resistance to the extreme claims of the crown.

Opposed to this growing assertiveness of the parliament and the people, stood the sovereign and the 'nobles, the representatives of privilege and inherited authority. There were several facts which almost forced Shakespeare to dislike and antagonize the Puritans, and to admire and favor the crown and the nobility.

The Puritans were intensely opposed to the stage, wishing to suppress all theatrical performances whatever. During Shakespeare's life the Puritan authorities of London allowed no playhouse to exist within their jurisdiction. In 1600 the privy council issued an order forbidding that more than two playhouses be maintained in the counties of Middlesex and Surrey, but fortunately this order was never enforced. What wonder that the references to the Puritans in Shakespeare are always either hostile or contemptuous? Let a single example suffice:

"Maria. Marry, sir, sometimes he is a kind of puritan. Sir Andrew. O, if I thought that I'ld beat him like a dog! Sir Toby. What, for being a puritan? thy exquisite reason,

dear knight?

Sir Andrew. I have no exquisite reason for 't, but I have reason good enough."

Twelfth Night, II, iii, 151-158.

Stratford, the home of Shakespeare's youth and of his last years, surrendered to Puritanism. In 1568, when the poet's father was bailiff of the city (mayor we should call him), the corporation entertained actors at Stratford; but in 1602 the council decreed that any alderman or citizen giving his consent to the representation of plays in the Guildhall should be fined ten shillings. In 1612 the fine was increased to £10, one-sixth of the price that the poet paid for the largest house in the town and the accompanying land. The

dramatist's own wife and daughters seem to have become Puritans, and probably felt ashamed of the career of the world's greatest poet.

The nobles and the queen were as friendly to the stage as the Puritans were hostile. The law compelled a company of players to obtain a license from some member of the higher nobility, permitting them to pursue their calling as his servants; otherwise they were to be considered rogues and vagabonds. And Shakespeare himself received the patronage of the great. He dedicated his poems to the Earl of Southampton in terms of warm affection. The Folio edition of his plays, appearing after his death, was dedicated to the Earl of Pembroke and the Earl of Montgomery, because they had shown to the author "so much favour." The court opposed the Puritans and encouraged the theater. In 1593 three prominent separatist Puritans were hanged for sedition. At Christmas, 1594, as we have noted, a record tells us that William Shakespeare and others played two comedies before Queen Elizabeth.

Whether the poet was influenced mainly by the considerations that have been indicated or by the natural bias of his mind, there can be little question that Shakespeare favored the monarchy and aristocracy, and disliked any attempt to extend the power of the people. When old Menenius. Agrippa in Coriolanus speaks contemptuously of those who "sit by the fire and presume to know what's done in the capitol," we probably have an expression of Shakespeare's own attitude toward the upstart commonalty who pretend to have an opinion about affairs of government. The First Part of Henry VI brutally misrepresents the character of Joan of Arc, and Mr. C. W. Thomas declares that The Second Part of Henry VI presents Cade's rebellion "with a mendacity, so far as I know, unsurpassed in literature." Both plays have been given the same moral — that one of humble birth should confine his attention to humble matters.

Although many ideas coursed through the great mind of Shakespeare, yet so far as his works indicate he seems to have been blind to the significance of the great political movement of his time. He probably never even dreamed that such a government as that of our American republic could exist, much less that it could show a reasonable degree of permanence and stability.

In the plays of Julius Cæsar and Coriolanus Shakespeare is not following Plutarch when he represents the common people of Rome as too fickle, too ignorant, too subject to demagogues, to deserve the slightest respect. Coriolanus tells the populace:

"He that depends

Upon your favours swims with fins of lead,

And hews down oaks with rushes. Hang ye! Trust ye ?
With every minute you do change a mind."

-I, i, 183–186.

It seems clear that the evil smell of the very crowds which thronged his theater and helped to make him rich was most distasteful to the sensitive player-poet. Casca's contemptuous description of the rabble who "threw up their sweaty night-caps and uttered such a deal of stinking breath" recurs many times in different forms in those plays in which the common herd plays a part. Hazlitt, the good democrat, dislikes the play of Coriolanus; he is even led to attack the poetic imagination itself as a "monopolizing, aristocratical faculty" of the mind. He says:

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"This is the logic of the imagination and the passions; which seek to aggrandize what excites admiration and to heap contempt on misery, to raise power into tyranny, and to make tyranny absolute: to thrust down that which is low still lower, and to make wretches desperate; to exalt magistrates into kings, kings into gods; to degrade subjects to the rank of slaves, and slaves to the condition of brutes. The history of mankind is a romance, a mask, a tragedy,

constructed upon the principles of poetical justice [the phrase is used sneeringly]; it is a noble or royal hunt, in which what is sport to the few is death to the many, and in which the spectators halloo and encourage the strong to set upon the weak, and cry havoc in the chase though they do not share in the spoil."

Shakespeare deals out his sharpest satire, however, to an English mob. Though The Second Part of Henry VI is thought by some not to be wholly the work of Shakespeare, there can be no doubt that he and no other wrote the scenes in which Jack Cade and his horde of rebels are put before us. Cade claims to be the grandson of Edmund Mortimer, and so rightful heir to the throne of England:

"Enter George Bevis and John Holland.

Bevis. I tell thee, Jack Cade, the clothier, means to dress the commo monwealth, and turn it, and set a new nap upon it.

Holland. So he had need, for 'tis threadbare. Well, I say it was never merry world in England since gentlemen came up.

Bevis. O miserable age! virtue is not regarded in handicraftsmen.

Holland. The nobility think scorn to go in leather aprons. Bevis. Nay, more, the king's council are no good work


Holland. True; and yet it is said, labour in thy vocation; which is as much to say as, let the magistrates be labouring men; and therefore should we be magistrates.

Bevis. Thou hast hit it; for there's no better sign of a brave mind than a hard hand.


A drum is heard. Enter Cade, Dick Butcher, and Smith the Weaver, with infinite numbers.

Cade. We John Cade, so termed of our supposed father,

Dick (aside). Or rather, of stealing a cade of herrings. Cade. For our enemies shall fall before us, inspired with

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