« PreviousContinue »
Shakspeare's death, was confidered as unquestionably his perform
In The Times difplayed in Six Sefliads, 4to. 1646, dedicated by S. Shephard to Philip Earl of Pembroke, p. 22, Seftiad VI. fianza 9, The author thus peaks of our poet and the piece before us: See him, whofe tragick fceues Euripides "Doth equal, and with Sophocles we may "Compare great Shakspeare; Ariftophanes "Never like him his fancy could difplay: "Wilnels The Prince of Tyre, his Pericles: His fweet and his to be admired lay
He wrote of lufiful Tarquin's rape, fhows he
For the divifion of this piece into fcenes I am refponfible, there being none found in the old copies. See the notes at the end of the play. MALONE.
The History of Apollonius King of Tyre was fuppofed by Mark Welfer, when he printed it in 1595, to have been tranflated from the Greek a thousand years before. [Fabr. Bib. Gr. v. p. 821.] It certainly bears firong marks of a Greek original, though it is not (that know) now extant in that language. The rythmical poem, under the fame title, in modern Greek, was re-translated (if I may fo fpeak) from the Latin απο Λαλονίκης εἰς Ρωμαϊκην yowocav. Du Frefne, Index Author. ad Gloff. Græc. When Weller printed it, he probably did not know that it had been published already (perhaps more thau once) among the Gefta Romanorum. In an edition, which I have, printed at Rouen in 1521, it makes the 154th chapter. Towards the latter end of the XIIth century, Godfrey of Viterbo, in his Pantheon or Univerfal Chronicle, inferted this romance as part of the hiftory of the third Antiochus, about 200 years before Chrift. It begins thus [MS. Reg. 14. C. xi. ]: Filia Seleuci regis Rat clara decore,
"Matreque defun&â pater arfit in ejus amore.
"Res habet effedum, preffa puella dolet.
The reft is in the fame metre, with one peutameter only to two
Gower, by his own acknowledgement, took his ftory from the Pantheon; as the author whoever he was) of Pericles, Prince of Tyre, profeffes to have followed Gower. TYRWHITT. There are three French tranflations of this flory, viz. "La Chronique d'Appollin, Roy de Thyr;" 4to. Geneva, bl. 1. no date; and Plaifante & agréable Hiftoire d'Appolonius Priuce de Thyr en Affrique, & Roi d'Antioche; traduit par Gilles Corozet," Svo. Paris, 1530;. and (in the feventh volume of the Hiftoires Tragiques &c. 12mo. 1604, par François Belle foreft, &c.) "Accidens diuers aduenus à Appollonie Roy des 1yriens: fes malheure
fur mer, fes pertes de femme & fille, & la fin heureufe de tous enfemble."
In the introdu&ion to this laft novel, the tranflator fays → "Ayant en main une hiftoire tirée du Grec, & icelle ancienne, comme auffi je l'ay recuellie d'un vieux livre écrit à la main" &c.
But the prefent ftory, as it appears in Belle-foreft's colle&ion, (Vol. VII. p. 113, & feq.) has yet a further claim to our notice, as it had the honour (p. 148.9) of furnishing Dryden with the outline of his Alexander's Feaft. Langbaine, &c. have accufed this great poet of adopting circumftances from the Hiftoires Tragiques, among other French novels; a charge, however, that demands neither proof nor apology.
The popularity of this tale of Apollonius, may be inferred from the very numerous MSS. in which it appears.
Both editions of wine's tranflation are now before me. Thomas Twine was the continuator of Phaer's Virgil, which was left imperfect in the year 1558.
In Twine's book our hero is repeatedly called "Prince of Tyrus." It is fingular enough that this fable fhould have been republished in 1607, the play entered on the books of the Stationers' Company in 1608, and printed in 1609.
I must fill add a few words concerning the piece in queftion. Numerous are our unavoidable anuotations on it, Yet it has been fo inveterately corrupted by transcription, interpolation, &c. that were it published, like the other dramas of Shakspeare, with fcrupulous warning of every little change which neceffity compels an editor to make in it, his comment would more than treble the quantity of his author's text. If therefore the filent infertion or tranfpofition of a few harmlefs fyllables which do not affect the value of one fentiment throughout the whole, can obviate those defeds in conftruction and harmony which have hitherto molefted the reader, why fhould not his progrefs be facilitated by fuch means, rather than by a wearifome appeal to remarks that disturb attention, and contribute to diminish whatever intereft might otherwise have been awakened by the scenes before him? If any of the trivial fupplements, &c. introduced by the prefent editor are found to be needlefs or improper, let him be freely cenfured by his fucceffors, on the score of rafhnefs or want of judgement. Let the Nimrods of ifs and ands purfue him; let the champions of nonfenfe that bears the flamp of antiquity, couch their rufty lances at the defperate innovator. To the fevereft hazard, on this account, he would more cheerfully expofe himself, than leave it to be obferved that be had printed many paffages in Pericles without an effort to exhibit them (as they mul have originally appeared), with fome obvious caning, and a tolerable flow of verification. The pebble which alpires to rank with diamonds, fhould at leaft have a decent polish beflowed on it. Perhaps the piece here exhibited has merit infufficient
to engage the extremeft vigilance of criticifm. Let it on the whole, however, be rendered legible, before its value is eftimated, and then its minutiæ (if they deserve it) may become objects of contention. The old perplexed and vitiated copy of the play is by no means rare, and if the reader, like Pericles, fhould think himself qualified to evolve the intricacies of a riddle, be it remembered, that the editor is not an Antiochus, who would willingly fubje& him to fuch a labour.
That I might efcape the charge of having attempted to conceal the liberties taken with this corrupted play,, have I been thus ample in my confeffion. I am not confcious that in any other drama I have changed a word, or the pofition of a fyllable, without coo ftant and formal notice of fuch deviations from our author's text. To these tedious prolegomena may I fubjoin that, in confequence of researches fuccefsfully urged by poetical antiquaries, I should exprefs no furprize if the very title of the piece before us were hereafter, on good authority, to be difcarded? Some lucky rummages among papers long hoarded up, have difcovered as unexpected things as an author's own manuscript of an ancient play. That indeed, of Tancred and Gifmund, a much older piece, (and differing in many parts from the copy printed in 1592) is now before me.
It is almoft needless to obferve that our dramatick Pericles has not the leaft refemblance to his hiftorical name fake; though the adventures of the former are fometimes coincident with those of Procles, the hero of Sidney's Arcadia; for the amorous, fugitive, fhipwrecked, mufical, tilting, defpairing Prince of Tyre is an accom plished knight of romance, difguised under the name of a statesman, "Whofe refiftlefs eloquence
"Wielded at will a fierce democratie,
"Shook th'arfenal, and fulmin'd over Greece."
As to Sidney's Pyrocles, Tros, Tyriufve, —
"The world was all before him, where to choose
"His place of reft;
but Pericles was tied down to Athens, and could not be removed to a throne in Phoenicia. No poetick licenfe will permit a unique, claffical, and confpicuous name to be thus unwarrantably trans. ferred. A prince of Madagascar muft not be called Eneas, nor a Duke of Florence Mithridates; for fuch peculiar appellations would unfeasonably remind us of their great original poffeffors. The playwright who indulges himself in thefe wanton and inju dicious vagaries, will always counteract his own purpose. Thus, as often as the appropriated name of Pericles occurs, it ferves but to expose our author's grofs departure from established manners and hiftorick truth; for laborious fiction could not defiguedly produse
two perfonages more oppofite than the fettled demagogue of Athens, and the vagabond Prince of Tyre.
It is remarkable, that many of our ancient writers were ambitious to exhibit Sidney's worthies on the flage; and when his fubordinate agents were advanced to such honour, how bappened it that Pyrocles, their leader, should be overlooked? Mufidorus, (his companion,) Argalus and Parthenia, Phalantus and Eudora, Andromana, &c. furnifhed titles for different tragedies; and perhaps Pyrocles, in the prefent inftance, was defrauded of a like diftindion. The names invented or employed by Sidney, had once fuch popularity, that they were fometimes borrowed by poets who did not profefs to follow the dired current of his fables, or attend to the Aria prefervation of his charaders. Nay, fo high was the credit of this romance, that many a fashionable word and glowing phrase feledted from it, was applied, like a Promethean torch, to contemporary fonnets, and gave a tranfient life even to thofe dwarfish and enervate bantlings of the reludant Mufe.
I must add, that the Appolyn of the Story-book and Gower, could have been rejeded only to make room for a more favourite name; yet, however conciliating the name of Pyrocles might have been, that of Pericles could challenge no advantage with regard to general predilection.
I am aware, that a conclufive argument cannot be drawn from the falfe quantity in the fecond fyllable of Pericles and yet if the Athenian was in our author's mind, he might have been taught by repeated tranflations from fragments of fatiric poets in Sir Thomas North's Plutarch, to call his hero Per cles; as for inftance, in the following couplet:
"O Chiron, tell me, firft, art thou indeede the man
Such therefore was the pronunciation of this proper name, in the age of Shakspeare. The addrefs of Perfius to a youthful orator Magni pupille Pertcli, is familiar to the ear of every claffical reader. By fome of the obfervations fcattered over the following pages, it will be proved that the illegitimate Pericles occafionally adopts not merely the ideas of Sir Philip's heroes, but their very words and phrafeology. All circumfta: ces therefore confidered, it is not improbable that our author defigned his chief character to be called Pyrocles, not Pericles, however ignorance or accident might
Such a theatrical miftake will not appear improbable to the reader who recollects that in the fourth fcene of the first act of the Third Part of King Henry VI. inftead of "tigers of Hircania, the players have given us ---- "tigers of Arcadia. 'Infiead of " an Até," in King Jakn,
bave shuffled the latter (a name of almoft fimilar found) into the place of the former. The true name, when once corrupted or changed in the theatre, was effectually withheld from the publick; and every commentator on this play agrees in a belief that it muft have been printed by means of a copy "far as Deucalion .off" from the manufcript which had received Shakspeare's revifal and improvement. STEEVENS.
an ace." Inftead of "Panthino," in The Two Gentlemen of Verona,--"Panthion." Inftead of Polydore," in Cymbeline, "Paladeur" was continued through all the editions till that of 1773.