Thomas Heywood
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[ 327 Thomas Heywood1 There are a few of the Elizabethan dramatists, notably Marlowe and Ben Jonson, who always return to our minds with the reality of personal acquaintances. We know them unmistakably through their own writings – Jonson partly though his conversations with Drummond2 – and by a few anecdotes of the kind which, even when apocryphal, remain as evidence of the personal impression that such men must have made upon their contemporaries. There are others whom we can remember only by the association of their names with a play, or a group of plays. Of all these men Thomas Heywood is one of the dimmest figures; and it is interesting to remark how very dim he still remains even after Dr. Clark’s exhaustive industry.3 Dr. Clark appears to have discovered and assembled all the information that we can ever expect to have; and it is certainly not his fault that Heywood makes still but a faint impression; in fact, Dr. Clark’s book can help us considerably to understand why this is so. The book is solidly documentary ;itisnot,likesomebiographicalessayswithscantymaterial, stuffed out with appreciation and conjecture. It is, in fact, an admirable account of the life of a typical literary Jack of all trades of the epoch; the summary of Heywood’s activities as a pamphleteer, with his works of what may be termed popular theology in the Puritan cause, is full of interest for anyone who cares about this lively and, in some respects, very remote age. And the book confirms the impression that Heywood – whom Dr. Clark shows convincingly to have been a Heywood of Mottram, in Cheshire, and not of the family of Heywood of Lincolnshire, the county of his birth – was a facile and sometimes felicitous purveyor of goods to the popular taste.4 Heywood’s reputation, which we owe primarily to Lamb and Hazlitt, is founded on A Woman Killed with Kindness; but The English Traveller and TheWiseWomanofHogsdonarenotfarbelowit;andthefirstpartofthe The Fair MaidoftheWest, whenithas beenperformed–twice,webelieve,in recent years – was revealed as a rollicking piece of popular patriotic sentiment .5 Before considering whether this output has enough coherence to be treated with the dignity of an œuvre, there are several interesting attributions of Dr. Clark’s which demand attention. The first and most important is Appius and Virginia. Essays, Reviews, and Commentaries: 1931 328 ] The date of this play, which has long been a difficulty to the students of Webster – a play far below Webster’s best work, and in some respects dissimilar to it – forms one of Dr. Clark’s reasons for attributing the play primarily to Heywood.6 This was, of course, the guess of Rupert Brooke; but, given the initial doubt which strikes any admirer of Webster, the opinion, when it comes from a close student of Heywood, has much stronger authority.7 Dr. Clark, however, is not content to take issue only with Mr. Sykes (who gives the whole play to Webster),8 though that is a serious task in itself. He dismisses, with hardly more attention than a few footnotes, the moderate and so far, we believe, impregnable view of Mr. F. L. Lucas. He refers, certainly, to Mr. Lucas’s “attempt to depreciate Heywood” as “uncritical” [254]; because Mr. Lucas, in his introduction to the play in his complete edition of Webster, doubts whether Heywood could have produced unaided so well-planned and reasonable a play. For there is a peculiar oafish simplicity about him which made him unable ever to create a single piece, except perhaps Edward IV, which is not deformed by pages of utter drivel.9 Mr. Lucas has perhaps written with a heat uncommon among Elizabethan scholars, though refreshing; yet his doubt whether Heywood could have planned the play is one likely to strike anyone who reads both Webster and Heywood without prejudices. To such a reader, the fact that Heywood is the author of The Rape of Lucrece strains credulity to the breaking point.10 But this, indeed, is the whole issue between Dr. Clark and Mr. Lucas. Neither doubts that both Heywood and Webster had a hand in the play; neithermakesaclaimforanythirdauthor.Dr.ClarkconcludesthatHeywood wrote the play and that “at an unknown date Webster revised the play somewhatcarelessly ”[274].Mr.LucascanmoreeasilybelievethatWebster wrote, or designed and partly wrote, the play, and that Heywood either revised or completed it. We are left with a narrow choice and a fine distinction; in fact, we are left to our personal impressions. The feeling of the present reviewer...