Imatges de pÓgina

* CYMBELINE.] Mr. Pope supposed the story of this play to have been borrowed from a novel of Boccace; but he was mistaken, as an imitation of it is found in an old story-book entitled Westward for Smelts. This imitation differs in as many particulars from the Italian novelist, as from Shakspeare, though they concur in some material parts of the fable. It was published in a quarto pamphlet 1603. This is the only copy of it which I have hitherto


There is a late entry of it in the books of the Stationers' Company, Jan. 1619, where it is said to have been written by Kitt of Kingston. STEEVENS.

The only part of the fable which can be pronounced with certainty to be drawn from the above, is, Imogen's wandering about after Pisanio has left her in the forest; her being almost famished; and being taken at a subsequent period, into the service of the Roman General as a page. The general scheme of Cymbeline is, in my opinion, formed on Boccace's novel (Day 2, Nov. 9.) and Shakspeare has taken a circumstance from it, that is not mentioned in the other tale. See Act II. sc. ii. It appears from the preface to the old translation of the Decamerone, printed in 1620, that many of the novels had before received an English dress, and had been printed separately: "I know, most worthy lord, (says the printer in his Epistle Dedicatory,) that many of them [the novels of Boccace] have long since been published before, as stolen from the original author, and yet not beautified with his sweet style and elocution of phrase, neither savouring of his singular morall applications."

Cymbeline, I imagine, was written in the year 1605. The king from whom the play takes its title began his reign, according to Holinshed, in the 19th year of the reign of Augustus Cæsar; and the play commences in or about the twenty-fourth year of Cymbeline's reign, which was the forty-second year of the reign of Augustus, and the 16th of the Christian æra: notwithstanding which, Shakspeare has peopled Rome with modern Italians; Philario, Iachimo, &c. Cymbeline is said to have reigned thirty-five years, leaving at his death two sons, Guiderius and Arviragus. MALONE.

An ancient translation, or rather a deformed and interpolated imitation, of the ninth novel of the second day of the Dacameron of Boccacio, has recently occurred. The title and colophon of this rare piece, are as follows:

"This mater treateth of a merchaūtes wyfe that afterwarde went lyke a ma and becam a great lorde and was called Frederyke of Jennen afterwarde."

"'Thus endeth this lytell story of lorde Frederyke. Impryted i Anwarpe by me John Dusborowhge, dwellynge besyde ye Camer porte in the yere of our lorde god a. M.CCCCC. and xviij."

This novel exhibits the material features of its original; though the names of the characters are changed, their sentiments debased, and their conduct rendered still more improbable than in the scenes before us. John of Florence is the Ambrogiulo, Ambrosius of Jennens the Bernabo of the story. Of the translator's elegance of imagination, and felicity of expression, the two following instances may be sufficient. He has converted the picturesque mole under the left breast of the lady, into a black wart on her left arm; and when at last, in a male habit, she discovers her sex, instead of displaying her bosom only, he obliges her to appear before the King and his whole court completely" naked, save that she had a karcher of sylke before hyr members."-The whole work is illustrated with wooden cuts representing every scene throughout the narrative.

I know not that any advantage is gained by the discovery of this antiquated piece, unless it serves to strengthen our belief that some more faithful translation had furnished Shakspeare with incidents which, in their original Italian, to him at least were inaccessible. STEEVENS.

Cymbeline, King of Britain.
Cloten, Son to the Queen by a former Husband.
Leonatus Posthumus, a Gentleman, Husband to

Belarius, a banished Lord, disguised under the Name of Morgan.


Sons to Cymbeline, disguised under the Names of Polydore and Cadwal, supposed Sons to Belarius.


Philario, Friend to Posthumus,
Iachino, Friend to Philario,
A French Gentleman, Friend to Philario.
Caius Lucius, General of the Roman Forces.
A Roman Captain. Two British Captains.
Pisanio, Servant to Posthumus.

Cornelius, a Physician.

Two Gentlemen.
Two Gaolers.

Queen, Wife to Cymbeline.

Imogen, Daughter to Cymbeline by a former Queen. Helen, Woman to Imogen.

Lords, Ladies, Roman Senators, Tribunes, Apparitions, a Soothsayer, a Dutch Gentleman, a Spanish Gentleman, Musicians, Officers, Captains, Soldiers, Messengers, and other Attendants.

SCENE, sometimes in Britain; sometimes in Italy.



SCENE 1. Britain. The Garden behind Cymbeline's Palace.

Enter Two Gentlemen.

1 Gent. You do not meet a man, but frowns: our bloods

No more obey the heavens, than our courtiers;
Still seem, as does the king's.'

2 Gent.

But what's the matter? 1 Gent. His daughter, and the heir of his kingdom, whom

He purpos'd to his wife's sole son, (a widow,
That late he married,) hath referr'd herself
Unto a poor but worthy gentleman: She's wedded;

1 You do not meet a man, but frowns: our bloods No more obey the heavens, than our courtiers;

Still seem, as does the king's.] This passage is so difficult, that commentators may differ concerning it without animosity or shame. I am now to tell my opinion, which is, that the lines stand as they were originally written, and that a paraphrase, such as the licentious and abrupt expressions of our author too frequently require, will make emendation unnecessary. We do not meet a man but frowns; our bloods—our countenances, which, in popular speech, are said to be regulated by the temper of the blood,—no more obey the laws of heaven,-which direct us to appear what we really are,-than our courtiers:—that is, than the bloods of our courtiers; but our bloods, like theirs,-still seem, as doth the king's. JOHNSON.

Her husband banish'd; she imprison'd: all
Is outward sorrow; though, I think, the king
Be touch'd at very heart.
2 Gent.

None but the king?
Gent. He, that hath lost her, too: so is the

That most desir'd the match: But not a courtier,
Although they wear their faces to the bent
Of the king's looks, hath a heart that is not
Glad at the thing they scowl at.

2 Gent.

And why so? 1 Gent. He that hath miss'd the princess, is a thing

Too bad for bad report: and he that hath her,
(I mean, that married her,-alack, good man!-
And therefore banish'd) is a creature such
As, to seek through the regions of the earth
For one his like, there would be something failing
In him that should compare. I do not think,
So fair an outward, and such stuff within,
Endows a man but he.

2 Gent.

You speak him far.2
1 Gent. I do extend him, sir, within himself;
Crush him together, rather than unfold
His measure duly.

2 Gent.

What's his name, and birth?
1 Gent. I cannot delve him to the root: His

Was call'd Sicilius, who did join his honour,
Against the Romans, with Cassibelan;
But had his titles by Tenantius, whom


You speak him far.] i. e. you praise him extensively. 3- Tenantius,] was the father of Cymbeline, and nephew of Cassibelan, being the younger son of his elder brother Lud, king of the southern part of Britain; on whose death Cassibelan was admitted king. Cassibelan repulsed the Romans on their first attack, but being vanquished by Julius Cæsar on his second inva

« AnteriorContinua »