Imatges de pàgina
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brachycatalectic, commonly called the ithyphallic measure to the witches in Macbeth! and that now and then a halting verse afforded a most beautiful instance of the pes proceleufmaticus !

But, continues Mr. Upton, it was a learned age; Roger Ascham assures us, that queen Elizabeth read more Greek every day, than fome dignitaries of the church did Latin in a whole week.” This appears very probable; and a pleasant proof it is of the general learning of the times, and of Shakefpeare in particular. I wonder, he did not corroborate it with an extract from her injunctions to her clergy, that.“ such as were but mean readers, should peruse over before once or twice the chapters and homilies, to the intent they might read to the better understanding of the people.'

• Dr. Grey declares, that Shakespeare's knowledge in the Greek and Latin tongues cannot reasonably be called in queftion. Dr. Dodd supposes it proved, that he was not such a novice in learning and antiquity as some people would pretend. And to close the whole, for I suspect you to be tired of quotation, Mr. Whalley, the ingenious editor of Jonson, hath written a piece expressly on this subject : perhaps from a very excusable partiality, he was willing to draw Shakespeare from the field of nature to classick ground, where alone he knew his author was able to cope with him..

• These criticks, and many others their coadjutors, have supposed themselves able to trace Shakespeare in the writing's of the ancients; and have sometimes persuaded us of their own learning, whatever became of their author's. Plagiarisms have been discovered in every natural defcription and every moral sentiment. Indeed by the kind alliitance of the various excerpta, Jententiæ, and flores, this business may be effected with very little expence of time or fagacity; as Addison hath demonstrated in his comment on Chevy-chace, and Wagstaff on Tom Thumb: and I myself will engage to give you quotations from the elder English writers (for to own the truth, I was once idle enough to collect such) which shall carry with thein at least an equal degree of fimilarity. But there will be no occasion to waste any more of our time in this department, whilst the world is in poffeffion of the marks of imitation.

Shakespeare however hath frequent allusions to the fats and fables of antiquity :". this is certainly true, and as Mat. Prior says, to save the effusion of more Christian ink, I will endeavour to fnew how they came to his acquaintance.'

Without pretending to defend the taite of Gildon and his coadjutor, the judgment of Pope, the learning of Theobald, the modefty of Warburton, the diffidence of Upton, or the 11terary qualifications of the three other reverend gentlemen VOL. XXIII. January, 1757,



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abovementioned, we think it would be no difficult matter to prove, from the criterions laid down by our author, that no writer of poetry in the English language understands Latin or Greek. Even the fine allusions drawn from Pindar and the lyric poets may be culled from translations; and the critic's hand may strip the bard as naked with respect to all literary merit, as he was when he first went under the ferula.

Mr. Farmer's observations upon Shakespeare's using the old translations of Plutarch, and other ancient authors, seem to be very just, though we think they amount to no more than that Shakespeare was not such a proficient in Greek and Latin, as to trust to his knowledge of the originals, when he had the convenier cy of translations. We likewise admit the merit of the discoveries this ingenious writer has made froin those old translations and other publications in, or before, the time of Shake/peare; and had he proved that the poet borrowed all his allusions, and translations of the clallics, from works then publified, he might have established his fyftem of the bard's total ignorance of ancient learning ; but we apprehend our author will have great difficulty to bring Shakespeare to the bar of criticism for every petty larceny of this kind he may be suspected of having committed. Mr. Fariner may be puzzled to prove that there was a Latin translation of Anacreon at the time Shakespeare wrote his Timon of Athens * In his Tempest he even translates the expressions of Virgil; witness the O dia certe. We think it alınost impoflible that any poet unacquainted with the Latin language (supposing his perceptive faculties to have been ever fo acute) could have caught the characteristical madness of Hamlet, described by Saxo Grammaticus, so happily as it is delineated by Shakespeare t. The fame obfervation may be applied to his Macbeth's wife, which he draws from Buchanan. Shakespeare might have pored for years upon the History of Hamblet, mentioned by our author, (if such a history exists) and upon old Hollingshed for facts, before he could have translated into his plays the very fpirit as well as words, of those elegant authors. We shall not, however, dispute this point with such an industrious antiquary as Mr. Farmer, who very possibly may produce such publications as inay convict the poetical culprit of gross pilfering, even in the instances we have mentioned.

* See vol. XXI. p. 21.

+ Falfitatis enim (Hamlethus) alienus haberi cupidus, ita aftutiam veriloquio periniscebat, ut nec dictis veracitas deefiet, nec acuminis modus verorum judicio proderetur,

We wish not to be thought strenuous advocates of Shakespeare's critical knowledge of the dead languages to such a degree as Mr. Upton (whom this writer very justly corrects) supposes. We do not even pretend to aifert, that Shakespeare had a classical education ; but we know what a rapid progress a great genius paffionate for knowledge, and fenfible of its own defects, may make in a short time. • Sometimes (fays Mr. Farmer) a very little matter detects a forgery. You may remember a play called the Double Falshood, which Mr. Theobald was desirous of palming upon the world for a posthumous one of Shakespeare :.and I see it is reckoned as such in the last edition of the Bodleian catalogue. Mr. Pope himself, in a letter to Aaron Hill, supposes it of that age ; but a mistaken accent determines it to be modern,

“ This late example Of base Henriquez, bleeding in me now,

From each good afpe&t takes away my trust." And in another place,

You have an aspect, Sir, of wond'rous wisdom." The word aspect, you perceive, is here accented on the first fyllable, which, I am confident, was never the ca'e in the tiine of Shakespeare; though it may sometimes appear to be fo, by not observing the elision of a preceding one.

Some of the professed imitators of our old poets have not attended to this and many other minutiæ : I could point out to you several performances in the respective Styles of Chaucer, Spenser, and Shakespeare, which the imitated bard could not possibly have either read or construed.

'But to return, as we say on other occafions. Perhaps the advocates for Shakespeare's knowledge of the Latin language may be more successful. Mr. Gildon takes the van.

6. It is plain, that he was acquainted with the fables of antiquity very well : that some of the arrows of Cupid are pointed with lead, and others with gold, he found in Ovid ; and what he speaks of Dido, in Virgil: nor do I know any translation of these poets fo ancient as Shakespeare's time.” The passages on which these fagacious remarks are made, occur in the Midsummer Night's Dream ; and exhibit, we see, a clear proof of acquaintance with the Latin claslicks. But we are not answerable for Mr. Gildon's ignorance; he might have been told of Caxton and Douglas, of Surrey and Stanyhurst, of Phaer and Twyne, of Fleming and Golding! but these fables were easily known without the help of either the originals or the translations. The fate of Dido had been sung very early by Chaucer,



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Gower, and Lydgate; and Cupid's arrows appear with their characteristick differences in Surrey, in Sidney, in Spenser, and every fonetteer of the time. Nay, their very names were exhibited long before in the Romaunt of the Rose : a work, you may venture to look into, notwithstanding Mr. Prynne hath so positively assured us, on the word of John Gerson, that the author is most certainly damned, if he did not care of a serious repentance.

• Mr. Whalley argues in the fame manner, and with the same success. He thinks a passage in the Tempest,

“ Great Juno comes; I know her by her gait;" a remarkable instance of Shakespeare's knowledge of the ancient poetic story'; and that the hint was furnished by the dia vúm inceao regina of Virgil.'

As to the word aspect, we b:lieve that, in the days of Shakespeare, and even at present, in some parts of the united kingdom, it was accented sometimes upon the first, and sometimes upon the second fyllable; and on the latter generally when applied to superior beings, such as the royal ajpést, the aspect of the heavens. Let an intelligent reader pronounce the lines mentioned by Mr. Farmer with aspèci accented on the second fyllable, and measure their effect by the known irregularity of Shakespeare's versification. We are far from endeavouring to vindicate Mr. Whalley in his allufion to the divúm incedo regina; but we think that Shakespeare's knowledge of Latin may be ascertained from this paffage, by the Vero inafu patuit Dea of Virgil. The ancients entertained an opinion that divine beings used a peculiar gait.

A word (says Mr. Farmer) in Q. Catherine's character of Wolsey, in Henry VIII. is brought by the Doctor as another argument for the learning of Shakespeare.

" He was a man
Of an unbounded ftomach, ever ranking
Himself with princes; one that by Juggellion
Ty'd all the kingdom. Simony was fair play.
His own opinion was liis law, i'th' presence
He would say untruths, and be ever double
Both in his words and meaning. He was never
But where he meant to ruin, pitiful.
His promises were, as he then was, mighty ;
But his performance, as he now is, nothing,
Of his own body he was ill, and gave

The clergy ill example.” · The word suggestion, fays the critic, is here used with great propriety, and seeming knowledge of the Latin tongue. And 8


proceeds to settle the sense of it from the late Roman writers and ibeir glofsers : but Shakespeare's knowledge was from HolingThed, he follows him verbatim,

“ This cardinal was of a great stomach, for he compted himself equal with princes, and by craftie suggestion got into his hands innumerable treasure: he forced little on fimonie, and was not pitifull, and itood affectionate in his own opinion: in open presence he would lie and seie untruth, and was double both in speech and meaning: he would promise much and performe little: he was vicious of his bodie, and gaue the clergie euil example.” And it is one of the articles of his impeachinent in Dr. Fiddes' collections, " That the said lord cardinal got a bull for the suppressing certain houses of religion, by his untrue suggestion to the pope.”

* Perhaps after these quotations, you may not think, that Sir Thomas Hanmer's conjecture, who reads tyth'd instead of ty's in the above passage, deserves quite so much of Dr. Warburton's severity.'

The preceeding commentary of our author, as well as of Dr. Warburton, upon the word suggestion, is a very cheap manner of displaying critical knowledge; for we do not believe that the most illiterate reader of Shakespeare in the kingdom, ever was at a loss for the author's application of it in this passage, or either questioned or admired its propriety. The whole difficulty lies in the word tye, which we have already explained *.

We shall conclude our review of this performance with acknowledging our obligations to the ingenious author, who has brought to light many curious circumstances relating to Shakespeare, of which we believe the public were ignorant before this publication.

Pr. gs.


IX. A General History of the World, from the Creation to the present

Time. By William Guthrie, Efq; John Gray, Esq; and Others eminent in this Branch of Literature. Vol. XII. 8vo. Newbery.

E think it entirely unnecessary to repeat the observations

we have already made upon this work, the last volume of which is here presented to the public. It continues the history of France from the reign of Lewis V. and ends with the death of the dauphin in 1766. We full extract the authors narrative of the domestic affairs of France since the conclusion of the peace, as a specimen of their manner, especially

* See yol, XXI. p. 20.

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