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“ The world was all before him, where to choose
“ His place of rest." but Pericles was tied down to Athens, and could not be removed to a throne in Phoenicia. No poetick licence will permit a unique, classical, and conspicuous name to be thus unwarrantably transferred. A Prince of Madagascar must not be called Æneas, nor a Duke of Florence Mithridates; for such peculiar appellations would unseasonably remind us of their great original possessors. The playright who indulges himself in these wanton and injudicious vagaries, will always counteract his own purpose. Thus, as often as the appropriated name of Pericles occurs, it serves but to expose our author's gross departure from established manners and historick truth; for laborious fiction could not designedly produce two personages more opposite than the settled 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 stage ; and when his subordinate agents were advanced to such honour, how happened it that Pyrocles, their leader, should be overlooked ? Musidorus, (his companion,) Argalus and Parthenia, Phalantus and Eudora, Andromana, &c. furnished titles for different tragedies ; and perhaps Pyrocles, in the present instance, was defrauded of a like distinction. The names invented or employed by Sidney, had once such popularity, that they were sometimes borrowed by poets who did not profess to follow the direct current of his fables, or attend to the strict preservation of his characters. Nay, so high was the credit of this romance, that many a fashionable wordand glowing phrase selected from it, was applied, like a Promethean torch, to contemporary sonnets, and gave a transient life even to those dwarfish and enervate bantlings of the reluctant Muse.
I must add, that the Appolyn of the Story-book and Gower, could have been rejected 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 conclusive argument cannot be drawn from the false quantity in the second syllable of Pericles ; and yet if the Athenian was in our author's mind, he might have been taught by repeated translations from fragments of satiric poets in Sir Thomas North's Plutarch, to call his hero Pericles; as for instance, in the following couplet:
“O Chiron, tell me, first, art thou indeede the man “ Which did instruct Pericles thus? make aunswer if thou can,"
&c. &c. Again, in George Gascoigne's Steele Glas :
· Pericles stands in rancke amongst the rest.”
Again, ibidem :
" Pericles was a famous man of warre." Such therefore was the poetical pronunciation of this proper, name, in the age of Shakspe.re. The address of Perseus to a youthful orator— Magni pupille Pericli, is familiar to the ear of every classical reader.
By some of the observations scattered over the following pages, it will be proved that the illegitimate Pericles occasionally adopts not merely the ideas of Sir Philip's heroes, but their very words and phraseology. All circumstances therefore considered, it is not improbable that our author designed his chief character to be called Pyrocles, not Pericles *, however ignorance or accident might have shuffled the latter (a name of almost similar sound) 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 must have been printed by means of a copy Deucalion off" from the manuscript which had received Shakspeare's revisal and improvement. STEEVENS.
Mr. Steevens's opinion that Shakspeare designed his hero to be called Pyrocles not Pericles, is strongly confirmed by an epigram of Richard Flecknoe, 1670:
“ On the play of the Life of Pyrocles : “ Ars longa, vita brevis; as they say, “ But who inverts that saying, made this play.” Malone.
* Such a theatrical mistake will not appear improbable to the reader who recollects that in the fourth scene of the first Act of The Third Part of King Henry VI. instead of " tigers of Hircania, "- the players have given us -" tigers of Arcadia." Instead of “an nie,” in King John-“ an ace." Instead of “ Panthino," in The Two Gentlemen of Verona, - “ Panthion." In. stead of “ Polydore,” in Cymbeline,—“Paladour," was continued through all the editions till that of 1773. The corrupt state of this play, as it was originally printed, is certainly such as Mr. Steevens has described ; yet even here it may perhaps have been shown that, in some instances, that gentleman's dashing style of emendation was unnecessary; and, i am afraid, this edirion of Shakspeare will afford too many proofs of his not having been so scrupulous as he has described himself in making no alterations in other plays without notice to the reader. Boswell.
ANTIOCHUS, King of Antioch.
two Lords of Tyre.
Fishermen, and Messengers, &c.
* Pentapolis.] This is an imaginary city, and its name might have been borrowed from some romance. We meet indeed in history with Pentapolitana regio, a country in Africa, consisting of five cities; and from thence perhaps some novelist furnished the sounding title of Pentapolis, which occurs likewise in the 37th chapter of Kyng Appolyn of Tyre, 1510, as well as in Gower, the Gesta Romanorum, and Twine's translation from it.
It should not, however, be concealed, that Pentapolis is also found in an ancient map of the world, MS. in the Cotion Library, British Museum, Tiberius, b. v.
That the reader may know through how many regions the scene of this drama is dispersed, it is necess
essary to observe that Antioch was the metropolis of Syria : Tyre, a city of Phoenicia in Asia; Tarsus, the metropolis of Cicilia, a country of Asia Minor; Mitylene, the capital of Lesbos, an island in the Ægean Sea ; and Ephesus, the capital of lonia, a country of the lesser Asia.
PRINCE OF TYRE.
Before the Palace of Antioch.
To sing a song that old was sung”,
? — THAT OLD was sung,] I do not know that old is by any author used adverbially. We might read :
“ To sing a song of old was sung-." i. e. that of old, &c.
But the poet is so licentious in the language which he has attributed to Gower in this piece, that I have not ventured to make any change. MALONE.
I have adopted Mr. Malone's emendation, which was evidently wanted. STEEVENS.
3 – Gower is come;] The defect of metre (sung and come being no rhymes) points out, in my opinion, that we should read:
“ From ashes ancient Gower sprung ; alluding to the restoration of the Phænix. Steevens. * It hath been sung at festivals,
On ember-eves, and holy-ales ;] i. e. says Dr. Farmer, by whom this emendation was made, church-ales. The old copy has --holy days. Gower's speeches were certainly intended to rhyme throughout. MALONE.
And lords and ladies of their lives -
Et bonum quo antiquius, eo melius. s- of their lives--] The old copies read-in their lives. The emendation was suggested by Dr. Farmer. Malone,
I cannot think it necessary. • Lords and ladies, who lived long ago, whilst they lived, read it with delight. Boswell. 6' 'Purpose to make glorious ; &c.] Old copy :
“ The purchase is to make men glorious ; ” &c. Steevens. There is an irregularity of metre in this couplet. The same variation is observable in Macbeth :
“ I am for the air ; this night I'll spend
“ Unto a dismal and a fatal end." The old copies read— The purchase, &c. Mr. Steevens suggested this emendation of purpose for purchase. Malone.
Being now convinced that all the irregular lines detected in The Midsummer-Night's Dream, Macbeth, and Pericles have been prolonged by interpolations which afford no additional beauties, I am become more confident in my attempt to mend the passage before us. Throughout this play it should seem to be a very frequent practice of the reciter, or transcriber, to supply words which, for some foolish reason or other, were supposed to be wanting. Unskilled in the language of poetry, and more especially in that which was clouded by an affectation of antiquity, these ignorant people regarded many contractions and ellipses, as indications of somewhat accidentally omitted ; and while they inserted only monosyllables or unimportant words in imaginary vacancies, they conceived themselves to be doing litile mischief. Liberties of this kind must have been taken with the piece under consideration. The measure of it is too regular and harmonious in many places, for us to think it was utterly neglected in the rest. As this play will never be received as the entire composition of Shakspeare, and as violent disorders require medicines of proportionable violence, I have been by no means scrupulous in striving to reduce the metre to that exactness which I suppose it originally to have possessed. Of the same license I should not have availed myself, had I been employed on any of the undisputed dramas of our author. Those experiments which we are forbidden to perform on living subjects, may properly be attempted on dead ones, among which our Pericles may be reckoned; being dead, in its present form, to all purposes of the stage, and of no very promising life in the closet. “ The
purpose is to make men glorious, “ Et bonuin quo antiquius eo melius." The original saying is bonum quo comnunius, eo melius.