Imatges de pàgina
PDF
EPUB

in its full splendour and magnitude, and takes for granted what all experience teaches, that the first trials of his strength had the awkwardness and feebleness of boyish youth. This hypothesis corresponds with the legendary and inartificial structure of the main story, and the feebleness of characterization-points which would be least of all susceptible of improvement, without an entire recasting of the drama. It agrees too with the large stage-direction and ample allowance of dumb show, such as he afterwards introduced into his mimic play in Hamlet, and a remain in CYMBELINE, as remnants of the old groundwork of that drama, and which were strongly characteristic of the fashion of the stage in Shakespeare's youth. The additions and improvements are very perceptible, and stand out boldly from the weakly executed framework of the drama, which remains untouched-differing from similar enlargements and corrections of others of his own dramas, (as ROMEO AND JULIET, etc.,) by the Poet himself

, in the greater contrast here afforded by the effusions of his matured mind, with the timid outline of his unprktised hand; and differing again from CYMBELINE (as Coleridge remarks) by the “ entire rifacimento of the latter, when Shakespeare's celebrity as a poet, no less than his influence as manager, enabled him to bring forward the lordly labours of his youth." Pericles having, from its first appearance, by means of its story, its dumb-show, and by its comparative merit relatively to its rivals for popular favour, succeeded, and kept possession of the stage, the author would not feel himself called upon to re-write a play which answered its main end, and the subject of which presented no peculiar attractions to him, while the reëxamination of his own boyish, half-formed thougbts would naturally expand and elevate them into nobler forms, and re-clothe them in that glowing language be bad since created for himself.

This theory commends itself as every way probable to my judgment, as it has done to that of others, whose opinions are entitled to great deference.

Nevertheless, the other solution of the difficulty—that proposed by Mr. Hallam—may still be the true one; that the original “ Pericles” was by some inferior hand, perhaps by a personal friend of Shakespeare's, and that be, without remodelling the plot, undertook to correct and improve it, beginning with slight additions, and his mind warming as he proceeded, breaking out towards the close of the drama with its accustomed vigour and abundance.

This opinion has been the more generally received one among the English critics, and it has the advantage of solving one difficulty which the other theory leaves unexplained—why Pericles was omitted by the editors of the first folio.

Mr. Collier has well summed up the argument on this side of the question, and as his statement contains some other facts of interest in relation to this piece, it is here inserted.

“ An opinion has long prevailed, and we have no doubt it is well founded, that two hands are to be traced in the composition of Pericles. The larger part of the first three Acts were in all probability the work of an inferior dramatist: to these Shakespeare added comparatively little; but he found it necessary, as the story advanced and as the interest increased, to insert more of his own composition. His hand begins to be distinctly seen in the third Act, and afterwards we feel persuaded that we could extract nearly every line that was not dio tated by his great intellect. We apprehend that Shakespeare found a drama on the story in the possession of one of the companies performing in London, and that, in accordance with the ordinary practice of the time, he made additions to and improvements in it, and procured it to be represented at the Globe theatre.* Who might be the author of the the original piece, it would be vain to conjecture. Although we have no decisive proof that Shakespeare ever worked in immediate concert with any of his contemporaries, it was the custom with nearly all the dramatists of his day, and it is not impossible that such was the case with Pericles.

“ The circumstance that it was a joint production, may account for the non-appearance of Pericles in the fol of 1623. Ben Jonson, when printing the volume of his Works, in 1616, excluded for this reason • The Case is Altered,' and `Eastward Ho!' in the composition of which he had been engaged with others; and when the player-editors of the folio of 1623 were collecting their materials, they perhaps omitted Pericles because some living author might have an interest in it. Of course we advance this point as a mere speculation; and the fact that the publishers of the folio of 1623 could not purchase the right of the bookseller, who had then the property in · Pericles,' may have been the real cause of its non-insertion.

" The Registers of the Stationers' Company show that on the 20th May, 1608, Edward Blount (one of the proprietors of the folio of 1623) entered . The booke of Pericles, Prynce of Tyre,' with one of the undoubted works of Shakespeare, ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA. Nevertheless, Pericles was not published by Blount, but by Gosson in the following year; and we may infer, either that Blount sold his interest to Gosson, or that Gosson anticipated Blount in procuring a manuscript of the play. Gosson may have subsequently parted with Pericles to Thomas Pavier, and hence the re-impression by the latter in 1619.

“ Having thus spoken of the internal evidence of authorship, we will now advert briefly to the external evidence, that it was the work of our great dramatist. In the first place it was printed in 1609, with his name at full length. and rendered unusually obvious, on the title-page. The answer, of course, may be that this was a fraud, and thai it had been previously committed in the cases of the first part of · Sir Jolin Oldcastle, 1600, and of • The Yorkshire Tragedy,' 1608. It is undoubtedly true, that Shakespeare's name is upon those title-pages; but we know, with regard to · Sir John Oldcastle,' that the original title-page, stating it to have been · Written by William Shakespeare' was cancelled, no doubt at the instance of the author to whom it was falsely imputed; and as to. The Yorkshire Tragedy,' many persons have entertained the belief, in which we join, that Shakespeare had a share in its composition. We are not to forget that, in the year preceding, Nathaniel Butter had made very prominent use of Shakespeare's name, for the sale of three impressions of King LEAR; and that in the very year when PERICLE: came out, Thorpe had printed a collection of scattered poems, recommending them to notice in very large capitals, by stating emphatically that they were “Shakespeare's Sonnets.'

* "A list of theatrical apparel, formerly belonging to Alleyn the player, mentions 'spangled hose in Pericles,' from which it appears that he had probably acted in a play callod • Pericles.' See - Memoirs of Edward Alleyn.' This might be the play which Shakespeare altered and improved."

† " It seems that PERICLES was reprinted under the same circumstances in 1611. I have never been able to ineet with a copy of this edition, and doubted its existence, until Mr. Halliwell pointed it out to me, in a sale catalogue in 1€ 94; it purported to have been

printed for 8. S.' This fact would show. that Shakespeare did not then contradict the reiterated assertion, tlint he was the author of the play."

:

6

Confirmatory of what precedes, it may be mentioned, that previously to the insertion of Pericles in the folo of 1664, it had been imputed to Shakespeare by S. Shepherd, in his “ Times displayed in Six Sestiads,' 1656; and in lines by J. Tatham, prefixed to R. Brome's · Jovial Crew,' 1652. Dryden gave it to Shakespeare in 1675, in the Prologue to C. Davenant's Circe.' Thus, as far as stage tradition is of value, it is uniformly in favour of our position; and it is moreover to be observed, that until comparatively modern times it has never been contradicted.”

STATE OF THE TEXT AND SOURCE OF THE PLOT.

a

“ PERICLES was five times printed before it was inserted in the folio of 1664, viz. in 1609, 1611, 1619, 1630, and 1635. The folio seems to have been copied from the last of these, with a multiplication of errors, but with some corrections. The first edition of 1609 was obviously brought out in haste, and there are many corruptions in it. The commentators dwelt upon the blunders of the old copies, in order to warrant their own extraordinary innovations, but wherever we could do so, with due regard to the sense of the author, we have restored the text to that of the earliest impression.”—COLLIER.

The variations of the text, its corruptions and metrical irregularities are so frequent, and often of so little importance to the sense and poetry, that the present editor has been often content to adopt what seemed the preferable reading, without caring to swell the notes with various readings and verbal discussions. In two or three places conjectural emendations of evidently misprinted passages are adopted, for which the reasons are assigned.

Pericles is a version of the old romance of “ Apollonius Tyrus,” or “King Appolyn of Tyre,” according to the old English name, which had been a favourite of all Europe during the middle ages, and has been traced by Mr. Douce, Collier, and others, back to the twelfth century, and through the Latin, Italian, Anglo-Saxon, Norman and Provençal French, old English, and modern Greek. The author of our PERICLES professed to have drawn his materials from the poet Gower, whom he has made the presiding genius of his plot; and it is evident that he is mainly indebted to him, though it seems also certain that he used the prose version of the romance, “ gathered into English" by Laurence Twine, and first published in 1576. Both Gower's poem, “ Appolinus, the Prince of Tyre,” and Twine's romance, have lately been reprinted in Collier's “Shakespeare Library,” (vol. i.) The latter bears the amusing title of “The Patterne of painefull Adventures; containing the most excellent, pleasant and variable history of the strange accidents that befell unto Prince Apollonius, the lady Lucina his wife, and Thaisa his daughter, wherein the uncertainty of this world and the feeble state of man's life are lively described.” Gower, one of the fathers of English literature, and indeed of the English language, is little known, except by name, to the modern reader. The friend and fellow-student of Chaucer, perhaps his precursor, certainly his friendly rival in English poetry, he received from him the title of “the moral Gower,” by which epithet he was long celebrated by succeeding English and Scottish poets. Chaucer, Lydgate and Gower, formed the triumvirate of poets who, from the reign of Edward III. to that of Queen Mary, were held in equal honour, and were the objects of admiration and imitation, for two centuries. Gower wrote much in Latin and French as well as in English ; and his quaint old French sonnets, or Balades," as he styles them, were his most poetical works. But his great merit is that of the assiduous cultivation of his native language, and the share he had in bringing its rich but rude materials into the form of a cultivated style. • In these respects, (justly observes Warton, History of English Poetry, sect. xix.,) he resembled bis friend and contemporary, Chaucer; but he participated no considerable portion of Chaucer's spirit, imagination, and elegance. His language is perspicuous, and his versification often harmonious; but his poetry is of a grave and sententious turn. He has much good sense, solid reflection, and useful observation. But he is serious and didactic on all occasions; he preserves the tone of the scholar and moralist on all occasions." Thus, while the spirit, wit, and invention of Chaucer have kept his ancient laurels fresh and green, so that his works are not only reprinted in the original form, and familiar to all students of our older language and its literature, but his tales have been clad in modern garb by Dryden and Pope, as well as by inferior versifiers ; worthy old Gower's learning and good sense have barely saved him from oblivion. His “ Confessio Amantis," his principal English poem, was originally printed by Caxton, the well-known father of English typography, in 1483, and was reprinted in 1532 and 1554; the last time in a form quite splendid for those days. Since that period Gower has been completely overshadowed by his great contemporary, and is mainly indebted to this play, and to Warton, and Godwin, or Southey, who have quoted and criticised him, for being remembered at all. There is, I believe, no separate edition of any of his works, since 1554; and none of them are to be found at large, in any modern form, except in Chalmers's collection of “British Poets," which contains the “ Confessio," upon which Gower's reputation as an English poet is mainly founded.

poem

is a dialogue between a lover and his confessor, who is a priest of Venus. Here the ritual of religion is applied to the tender passion, and Ovid's · Art of Love' is blended with the breviary. In the course of the confession, every evil affection, which may impede the progress and counteract the success of love, is scientifically subdivided ; and its fatal effects exemplified by apposite stories, extracted from classic authors."—(T. Warton's History of Poetry.)

Gower makes no claim of invention of the incidents of the tale on which PERICLES is founded, but acknowledges his obligation to a Latin compilation entitled “ Pantheon,” by Godfrey of Viterbo, who died in 1190:

Of a cronique in daies gone,
The wich is cleped Panteon,
In love's cause I ride thus, etc.

[ocr errors]

" This

а

[graphic][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][graphic][subsumed][subsumed]
[graphic][merged small]

The beauty of this sinful dame
Made many princes thither frame,
To seek her as a bed-fellow,
In marriage pleasures play-fellow :
Which to prevent he made a law,
To keep her still and men in awe,
That whoso ask'd her for his wife,
His riddle told not, lost his life :
So, for her many a wight did die,
As yond' grim looks do testify.
What now ensues, to the judgment of your eye
I give, my cause who best can justify. [Erit.

Enter GoWER. Before the Palace of Antioch. To sing a song that old was sung, From ashes ancient Gower is come; Assuming man's infirmities, To giad your ear, and please your eyes. It hath been sung at festivals, On ember-eves, and holy ales, And lords and ladies in their lives Have read it for restoratives : The purpose is to make men glorious ; Et bonum quo antiquius, eo melius. If you, born in these latter times, When wit's more ripe, accept my rhymes, And that to hear an old man sing, May to your wishes pleasure bring, I life would wish, and that I might Waste it for you, like taper-light.This Antioch, then: Antiochus the great Built up this city for his chiefest seat, The fairest in all Syria ; I tell you what my authors.say: This king unto him took a feere, Who died and left a female heir, So buxom, blithe, and full of face, As heaven had lent her all his grace; With whom the father liking took, And her to incest did provoke. Bad child, worse father, to entice his own To evil, should be done by none. By custom what they did begin Was with long use account no sin.

SCENE I.—Antioch. A Room in the Palace. Enter Antiochus, PERICLES, and Attendants. Ant. Young prince of Tyre, you have at large

receiv'd The danger of the task you undertake.

Per. I have, Antiochus, and with a soul Embolden'd with the glory of her praise, Think death no hazard, in this enterprise. [Music.

Ant. Bring in our daughter, clothed like a bride, For the embracernents even of Jove himself; At whose conception, (till Lucina reign’d,) Nature this dowry gave, to glad her presence, The senate-house of planets all did sit, To knit in her their best perfections.

Enter the Daughter of Antiochus. Per. See, where she comes, apparell'd like the

spring, Graces her subjects, and her thoughts the king

casts

Of every virtue gives renown to men!

For he's no man on whom perfections wait, Her face, the book of praises, where is read That, knowing sin within, will touch the gate. Nothing but curious pleasures, as from thence You're a fair viol, and your sense the strings, Sorrow were ever ras'd, and testy wrath

Who, finger'd to make man his lawful music, Could never be her mild companion.

Would draw heaven down and all the gods ti Ye gods, that made me man, and sway in love,

hearken; That have intlam'd desire in my breast,

But being play'd upon before your time, To taste the fruit of yon celestial tree,

Hell only danceth at so harsh a chime. Or die in the adventure, be my helps,

Good sooth, I care not for you. As I am son and servant to your will,

Ant. Prince Pericles, touch not, upon thy life, To compass such a boundless happiness!

For that's an article within our law, Ant. Prince Pericles,

As dangerous as the rest. Your time's expir'd: Per. That would be son to great Antiochus. Either expound now, or receive your sentence.

Ant. Before thee stands this fair Hesperides, Per. Great king, With golden fruit, but dangerous to be touch'd; Few love to hear the sins they love to act; For death-like dragons here affright thee hard : "Twould 'braid yourself too near for me to tell it Her face, like heaven, enticeth thee to view

Who has a book of all that monarchs do, Her countless glory, which desert must gain ; He's more secure to keep it shut, than shown; And which, without desert, because thine eye For vice repeated is like the wandering wind, Presumes to reach, all thy whole heap must die. Blows dust in others' eyes, to spread itself; Yond' sometime famous princes, like thyself, And yet the end of all is bought thus dear, Drawn by report, adventurous by desire,

The breath is gone, and the sore eyes see clear: Tell thee with speechless tongues, and semblance To stop the air would hurt them. The blind mole

pale, That, without covering, save yond' field of stars, Copp'd hills towards heaven, to tell the earth They here stand martyrs, slain in Cupid's wars;

throng'd And with dead cheeks advise thee to desist,

By man's oppression; and the poor worm doth dir For going on death's net, whom none resist.

for't. Per. Antiochus, I thank thee, who hath taught King's are earth's gods; in vice their law's theu My frail mortality to know itself,

will, And by those fearful objects to prepare

And if Jove stray, who dares say Jove doth ill? This body, like to them, to what I must :

It is enough you know; and it is fit, For death remember'd should be like a mirror, What being more known grows worse, to smother it Who tells us, life's but breath; to trust it, error. All love the womb that their first beings bred, I'll make my will, then ; and as sick men do, Then, give my tongue like leave to love my head. Who know the world, see heaven, but feeling woe, Ant. (Aside.] Heaven, that I had thy head! be Gripe not at earthly joys, as erst they did :

has found the meaning ; So, I bequeath a happy peace to you,

But I will gloze with him.-[ To him.] Young And all good men, as every prince should do :

prince of Tyre, My riches to the earth from whence they came, Though by the tenour of our strict edict, But my unspotted fire of love to you.

Your exposition misinterpreting, [ To the Daughter of Antiochus. We might proceed to cancel of your days ; Thus, ready for the way of life or death,

Yet hope, succeeding from so fair a tree
I wait the sharpest blow.

As your fair self, doth tune us otherwise.
Ant. Scorning advice, read the conclusion, then; Forty days longer we do respite you;
Which read and not expounded, 'tis decreed, If by which time our secret be undone,
As these before thee, thou thyself shalt bleed. This mercy shows, we'll joy in such a son:
Daugh. Of all, 'say'd yet, may'st thou prove And until then your entertain shall be,
prosperous !

As doth befit our honour, and your worth.
Of all, 'say'd yet, I wish thee happiness.

[Exeunt Antiochus, his Daughter, ak1 Per. Like a bold champion, I assume the lists,

Attendants. Nor ask advice of any other thought

Per. How courtesy would seem to cover sin, But faithfulness, and courage.

When what is done is like an hypocrite,
The which is good in nothing but in sight!

If it be true that I interpret false,
I am no viper, yet I feed

Then were it certain, you were not so bad,
On mother's flesh, which did me breed ;

As with foul incest to abuse your soul;
I sought a husband, in which labour,

Where now you're both a father and a son,
I found that kindness in a father :

By your untimely claspings with your child,
He's father, son, and husband mild,

(Which pleasure fits a husband, not a father,)
I mother, wife, and yet his child.

And she an eater of her mother's flesh,
How they may be, and yet in two,

By the defiling of her parent's bed;
As you will live, resolve it

you.

And both like serpents are, who though they feeu Sharp physic is the last : but, O you powers ! On sweetest flowers, yet they poison breed. That give heaven countless eyes to view men's acts, Antioch, farewell! for wisdom sees, those men Why cloud they not their sights perpetually, Blush not in actions blacker than the night, If this be true, which makes me pale to read it ? Will shun no course to keep them from the light: Fair glass of light, I lov'd you, and could still, One sin, I know, another doth provoke;

[ Takes the Princess by the hand. Murder's as near to lust, as flame to smoke. Were not this glorious casket stor'd with ill; Poison and treason are the hands of sin, But I must tell you,—now, my thoughts revolt, Ay, and the targets, to put off the share:

THE RIDDLE.

« AnteriorContinua »