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about to die, calls in his wise friends to advise him touching the distribution of his property among his three sons. They advise him to settle all his lands on the eldest, and leave the youngest without any thing. Gamelyn, the youngest, being his favourite son, he rejects their advice, and bestows the largest portion upon him. The Poet goes much more according to their advice; Orlando, who answers to Gamelyn, having no share in the bulk of his father's estate. A few other resemblances, also, may be traced, wherein the play differs from Lodge's novel; though none of them are so strong as to force the inference that Shakespeare must have consulted the Tale.
Lodge's Rosalynd was first printed in 1590; and its popularity appears in that it was reprinted in 1592, and again in 1598. Steevens pronounced it a "worthless original"; but this sweeping sentence is so unjust as to breed some doubt whether he had read it. Compared with the general run of popular literature then in vogue, the novel has no little merit; and is very well entitled to the honour of having contributed to one of the most delightful poems ever written. A rather ambitious attempt indeed at fine writing; pedantic in style, not a little blemished with the elaborate euphemism of the time, and occasionally running into absurdity and indecorum; nevertheless, upon the whole, it is a varied and pleasing narrative, with passages of great force and beauty, and many touches of noble sentiment, and sometimes informed with a pastoral sweetness and simplicity quite charming.
To make a full sketch of the novel, in so far as the Poet borrowed from it, would occupy too much space. Still it seems desirable to indicate, somewhat, the extent of the Poet's obligations in this case; which can be best done, I apprehend, by stating, as compactly as may be, a portion of the story.
Sir John of Bordeaux, being at the point of death, called in his three sons, Saladyne, Fernandine, and Rosader, and divided his wealth among them, giving nearly a third to Rosader the youngest. After a short period of hypocritical mourning for his father, Saladyne went to studying how he might defraud his brothers, and ravish their legacies. He put Fernandine to school at Paris, and kept Rosader as his foot-boy. Rosader bore this patiently
for three years, and then his spirit rose against it. While he was deep in meditation on the point, Saladyne came along and began to jerk him with rough speeches. After some interchange of angry and insulting words, Rosader "seized a great rake, and let drive at him," and soon brought him to terms. Saladyne, feigning sorrow for what he had done, then drew the youth, who was of a free and generous nature, into a reconciliation, till he might devise how to finish him out of the way.
Now, Gerismond, the rightful King of France, had been driven into exile, and his crown usurped, by Torismond, his younger brother. To amuse the people, and keep them from thinking of the banished King, the usurper appointed a day of wrestling and tournament; when a Norman, of great strength and stature, who had wrestled down as many as undertook with him, was to stand against all comers. Saladyne went to the Norman secretly, and engaged him with rich rewards to dispatch Rosader, in case Rosader should come within his grasp. He then pricked his brother on to the wrestling, telling him how much honour it would bring him, and that he was the only one to uphold the renown of the family. The youth, full of heroic thoughts, was glad of such an opportunity. When the time came, Torismond went to preside over the games, taking with him the Twelve Peers of France, his daughter Alinda, his niece Rosalynd, and all the most famous beauties of the Court. Rosalynd, upon whose cheeks there seemed a battle between the graces," was the centre of attraction, "and made the cavaliers crack their lances with more courage." The tournament being over, the Norman offered himself as general challenger at wrestling. While he is in the full career of success, Rosader alights from his horse, and presents himself for a trial. He quickly puts an end to the Norman's wrestling; though not till his eyes and thoughts have got badly entangled with the graces of Rosalynd. On the other side, she is equally smitten with his handsome person and heroic bearing, insomuch that, the spectacle being over, she takes from her neck a jewel, and sends it to him by a page, as an assurance of her favour.
This outline, as far as it goes, almost describes, word for word, the course and order of events in the play. And so it is, in a
great measure, through the other parts and incidents of the plot; such as the usurper's banishment of his niece, and the escape of his daughter along with her; their arrival in the Forest of Arden, where Rosalynd's father has taken refuge; their encounter with the shepherds, their purchase of the cottage, and their adventures in the pastoral life. So, too, in the flight of Rosader to the same Forest, taking along with him the old servant, who is called Adam Spencer, his carving of love-verses in the bark of trees, his meeting with the disguised Rosalynd, and the wooing and marrying that enrich the forest scenes.
Thus much may suffice to show that the Poet has here borrowed a good deal of excellent matter. With what judgment and art the borrowed matter was used by him can only be understood on a careful study of his workmanship. In no one of his comedies indeed has he drawn more freely from others; nor, I may add, is there any one wherein he has enriched his drawings more liberally from the glory of his own genius. To appreciate his wisdom as shown in what he left unused, one must read the whole of Lodge's novel. In that work we find no traces of Jaques, or Touchstone, or Audrey; nothing, indeed, that could yield the slightest hint towards either of those characters. It scarce need be said that these superaddings are enough of themselves to transform the whole into another nature; pouring through all its veins a free and lively circulation of the most original wit and humour and poetry.
SCENE, at first, near Oliver's House; afterwards, in the Usurper's Court,
Orl. As I remember, Adam, it was upon this fashion, he bequeathed me by will but poor a1 thousand crowns; and, as thou say'st, charged my brother, on his blessing, to breed
1 Such was the usage of the time. We have like forms of speech in good my lord, sweet my coz, gentle my brother, dear my sister, and many others."On his blessing," in the next line, means as the condition of his blessing.
me well and there begins my sadness. My brother Jaques 2 he keeps at school, and report speaks goldenly of his profit: for my part, he keeps me rustically at home, or, to speak more properly, stays me here at home unkept; for call you that keeping for a gentleman of my birth, that differs not from the stalling of an ox? His horses are bred better; for, besides that they are fair with their feeding, they are taught their manage,3 and to that end riders dearly hired: but I, his brother, gain nothing under him but growth; for the which his animals on his dunghills are as much bound to him as I. Besides this nothing that he so plentifully gives me, the something that Nature gave me his countenance seems to take from me: he lets me feed with his hinds, bars me the place of a brother, and, as much as in him lies, mines my gentility 5 with my education. This is it, Adam, that grieves me; and the spirit of my father, which I think is within me, begins to mutiny against this servitude: I will no longer endure it, though yet I know no wise remedy how to avoid it.
Adam. Yonder comes my master, your brother.
Orl. Go apart, Adam, and thou shalt hear how he will shake me up.
2 Shakespeare and other dramatists of his time use Jaques as a dissyllable, and, wherever the name occurs in their verse, the metre requires it to be pronounced so.
3 Manage was used for the training, breaking, or educating of a horse to obey the hand and voice.
4 Countenance, here, is treatment or entertainment. Well explained in Selden's Table Talk: "The old law was, that when a man was fined, he was to be fined salvo contenemento, so as his countenance might be safe; taking countenance in the same sense as your countryman does when he says, if you will come to my house, I will show you the best countenance I can; that is, not the best face, but the best entertainment."
5 Mines for undermines, and gentility for noble birth. So that the meaning is, "What an honourable parentage has done for me, he strives to undo by base breeding."