Page images
PDF
EPUB

Some stay, to see him fasten’d in the earth.?
Aar. O, why should wrath be mute, and fury

duinb?
I am no baby, I, that, with base prayers,
I should repent the evils I have done;
Ten thousand, worse than ever yet I did,
Would I perform, if I might have my will ;
If one good deed in all my life I did,
I do repent it from my very soul.
Luc. Some loving friends convey the emperor

hence, And give him burial in his father's grave: My father, and Lavinia, shall forthwith Be closed in our household's monument. As for that heinous tiger, Tamora, No funeral rite, nor man in mournful weeds, No mournful bell shall ring her burial; But throw her forth to beasts, and birds of prey: Her life was beast-like, and devoid of pity; And, being so, shall have like want of pity. See justice done to Aaron, that damn'd Moor, By whom our heavy haps had their beginning : Then, afterwards, to order well the state; That like events may ne'er it ruinate. Exeunt. it is ascribed to Shakspeare, is by no means equal to the argument against its authenticity, arising from the total difference of conduct, language, and sentiments, by which it stands apart from all the rest. Meres had probably no other evidence than that of a titlepage, which, though in our time it be sufficient, was then of no great authority; for all the plays which were rejected by the first collectors of Shakspeare's works, and admitted in later editions, and again rejected by the critical editors, had Shakspeare's name on the title, as we must suppose, by the fraudulence of the printers, who, while there were yet no gazettes, nor advertisements, nor any means of circulating literary intelligence, could usurp at pleasure any celebrated name. Nor had Shakspeare any interest in detecting the imposture, as none of his fame or profit was pro. duced by the press.

Cills may ne er it ruinate.

: - to see him fasten'd in the earth.] That justice and cookery may go hand in hand to the conclusion of this play, in Ravenscroft's alteration of it, Aaron is at once racked and roasted on the stage,

* All the editors and criticks agree with Mr. Theobald in supposing this play spurious. I see no reason for differing from them; for the colour of the style is wholly different from that of the other plays, and there is an attempt at regular versification, and artificial closes, not always inelegant, yet seldom pleasing. The barbarity of the spectacles, and the general massacre, which are here exhibited, can scarcely be conceived tolerable to any audience; yet we we are told by Jonson, that they were not only borne but praised. That Shakspeare wrote any part, though Theobald declares it incontestible, I see no reason for believing The testimony produced at the beginning of this play, by which

The chronology of this play does not prove it not to be Shakspeare's. If it had been written twenty-five years, in 1614, it might have been written when Shakspeare was twenty-five years old. When he left Warwickshire I know not, but at the age of twenty-five it was rather too late to fly for deer-stealing.

Ravenscroft, who in the reign of James II, revised this play, and restored it to the stage, tells us, in his preface, from a theatrical tradition, I suppose, which in his time might be of sufficient authority, that this play was touched in different parts by Shakspeare, but written by some other poet. I do not find Shakspeare's touches very discernible. Johnson.

PERICLES.

VOL. IX.

* PERICLES, PRINCE of 'Tyre.] The story on which this play is formed, is of great antiquity. It is found in a book, once very popular, entitled Gesta Romanorum, which is supposed by Mr. Tyrwhitt, the learned editor of The Canterbury Tales of Chaucer, 1775, to have been written five hundred years ago. The earliest impression of that work (which I have seen) was printed in 1488 ;* in that edition the history of Appolonius King of Tyre makes the 153d chapter. It is likewise related by Gower in his Confessio Amantis, Lib. VIII. p. 175—185, edit. 1554. The Rev. Dr. Farmer - has in his possession a fragment of a MS. poem on the same subject, which appears, from the hand-writing and the metre, to be more ancient than Gower. There is also an ancient romance on this subject, called Kyng Appolyn of Thyre, translated from the French by Robert Copland, and printed by Wynkyn de Worde in 1510. In 1576 William Howe had a licence for printing The most excellent, pleasant, and variable Historie of the strange Adventures of Prince Appolonius, Lucine his wyfe, and Tharsa his daughter. The author of Pericles having introduced Gower in his piece, it is reasonable to suppose that he chiefly followed the work of that poet. It is observable, that the hero of this tale is, in Gower's poem, as in the present play, called Prince of Tyre; in the Gesta Romanorum, and Copland's prose Romance, he is entitled King. Most of the incidents of the play are found in the Conf. Amant, and a few of Gower's expressions are occasionally borrowed. However, I think it is not unlikely, that there may have been though I have not met with it) an early prose translation of this popular story, from the Gest. Roman, in which the name of Appolonius was changed to Pericles ; to which, likewise, the author of this drama may have been indebted. In 1607 was published at London, by Valentine Sims, “ The patterne of painful adventures, containing the most excellent, pleasant, and variable Historie of the strange Accidents that befell unto Prince Appolonius, the lady Lucina bis wife, and Tharsia his daughter, wherein the uncertaintie of this world and the fickle state of man's life are lively described. Translated into English by T. Twine, Gent." I have never seen the book, but it was without doubt a re-publication of that published by W. Howe in 1576.

Pericles was entered on the Stationers' books, May 2, 1608, by Edward Blount, one of the printers of the first folio edition of Shakspeare's plays; but it did not appear in print till the following year, and then it was published not by Blount, but by Henry Gosson ; who had probably anticipated the other, by getting a hasty transcript from a playhouse copy. There is, I believe, no

* There are several editions of the Gesta Romanorum before 1488.

Douce.

play of our author's, perhaps I might say, in the English language, so incorrect as this. The most corrupt of Shakspeare's other dramas, compared with Pericles, is purity itself. The metre is seldom attended to; verse is frequently printed as prose, and the grossest errors abound in almost every page. I mention these circumstances, only as an apology to the reader for having taken somewhat more licence with this drama than would have been justifiable, if the copies of it now extant had been less disfigured by the negligence and ignorance of the printer or transcriber. The numerous corruptions that are found in the original edition in 1609, which have been carefully preserved and augmented in all the subsequent impressions, probably arose from its having been frequently exhibited on the stage. In the four quarto editions it is called the much admired play of PERICLES, PRINCE OF TYRE; and it is mentioned by many ancient writers as a very popular performance.

For the division of this piece into scenes I am responsible, there being none found in the old copies. MALONE.

Chaucer refers to the story of Appolonius, King of Tyre, in The Man of Lawe's Prologue:

Or elles of Tyrius Appolonius,
“ How that the cursed king Antiochus
« Beraft his doughter of hire maidenhede,

“ That is so horrible a tale for to rede,” &c. There are three French translations of this tale, viz." La Chronique d'Appollin, Roy de Thyr;" 4to. Geneva, bl. I. no date;- and “ Plaisante et agreable Histoire d'Appollonius Prince de Thyr en Affrique, et Roi d'Antioche; traduit par Gilles Corozet," 8vo. Paris, 1530;—and (in the seventh volume of the Histoires Tragiques, &c. 12mo. 1604, par François Belle-Forest, &c.) “ Accidens diuers aduenus à Appollonie Roy des Tyriens : ses malheurs sur mer, ses pertes de femme & fille, & la fin heureuse de tous ensemble."

The popularity of this tale of Apollonius, may be inferred from the very numerous MS. in which it appears.

Both editions of Twine's translation 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 singular enough that this fable should have been republished in 1607, the play entered on the books of the Stationers Company in 1608, and printed in 1609.

It is almost needless to observe that our dramatick Pericles has not the least resemblance to his historical namesake ; though the adventures of the former are sometimes coincident with those of Pyrocles, the hero of Sidney's Arcadia; for the amorous, fugitive, shipwrecked, musical, tilting, despairing Prince of Tyre is

« PreviousContinue »