« PreviousContinue »
us into most deepe perplexitie. For we cannot (alas) together pray, both for victorie, for our countrie, and for safety of thy life also: but a worlde of grievous curses, yea more than any mortall enemie can heappe uppon us, are forcibly wrapt up in our prayers. For the bitter soppe of most harde choyce is of fered thy wife and children, to foregoe the one of the two: either to lose the persone of thy selfe, or the nurse of their natiue contrie. For my selfe (my sonne) I am determined not to tarrie, till fortune in my life time doe make an ende of this warre. For if I cannot persuade thee, rather to doe good unto both parties, then to ouerthrowe and destroye the one, preferring loue and nature before the malice and calamitie of warres: thou shalt see, my sonne, and trust unto it, thou shalt no soner marche forward to assault thy countrie, but thy foote shall tread upon thy mother's wombe, that brought thee first into this world."
The length of this quotation will be excused for its curiosity; and it happily wants not the assistance of a comment. But matters may not always be so easily managed:-a plagiarism from Anacreon hath been detected:
"The sun's a thief, and with his great attraction
"This (says Dr. Dodd) is a good deal in the manner of the celebrated drinking Ode, too well known to be inserted." Yet it may be alleged by those, who imagine Shakspeare to have been generally able to think for himself, that the topicks are obvious, and their application is different.-But for argument's sake, let the parody be granted; and "our author (says some one) may be puzzled to prove, that there was a Latin translation of Anacreon at the time Shakspeare wrote his Timon of Athens." This challenge is peculiarly unhappy: for I do not at present recollect any other classick, (if indeed, with great deference to Mynheer De Pauw, Anacreon may be numbered amongst them,) that was originally published with two Latin* translations.
But this is not all. Puttenham in his Arte of English Poesie, 1589, quotes some one of a "reasonable good facilitie in translation, who finding certaine of Anacreon's Odes very well translated by Ronsard the French poet-comes our minion, and trans
* By Henry Stephens and Elias Andreas, Par. 1554, 4to. ten years before the birth of Shakspeare. The former version hath been ascribed without reason to John Dorat. Many other translators appeared before the end of the century: and particularly the Ode in question was made popular by Buchanan, whose pieces were soon to be met with in almost every modern language.
lates the same out of French into English:" and his strictures upon him evince the publication. Now this identical ode is to be met with in Ronsard! and as his works are in few hands, I will take the liberty of transcribing it:
"La terre les eaux va boivant,
"Pourquoy donc ne boirons-nous pas?" Edit. Fol. p. 507. I know not whether an observation or two relative to our author's acquaintance with Homer, be worth our investigation. The ingenious Mr. Lenox observes on a passage of Troilus and Cressida, where Achilles is roused to battle by the death of Patroclus, that Shakspeare must here have had the Iliad in view, as "the old story,* which in many places he hath faithfully cobied, is absolutely silent with respect to this circumstance.'
And Mr. Upton is positive that the sweet oblivious antidote, inquired after by Macbeth, could be nothing but the nepenthe described in the Odyssey,
σε Νηπενθές τ ̓ ἄχολόν τε, κακῶν ἐπίληθον ἁπάντων.39
I will not insist upon the translations by Chapman; as the first editions are without date, and it may be difficult to ascertain the exact time of their publication. But the former circumstance might have been learned from Alexander Barclay;† and the latter more fully from Spenser,+ than from Homer himself.
"But Shakspeare" persists Mr. Upton, "hath some Greek expressions." Indeed!--" We have one in Coriolanus:
It is held
"That valour is the chiefest virtue, and
*It was originally drawn into Englishe by Caxton under the name of The Recuyel of the Historyes of Troy, from the French of the ryght venerable Person and worshipfull man Raoul le Feure, and fynyshed in the holy citye of Colen, the 19 day of Septembre, the yere of our Lord God, a thousand foure hundred sixty and enleuen. Wynkyn de Worde printed an edit. fol. 1503, and there have been several subsequent ones.
"Who list thistory of Patroclus to reade," &c.
Faerie Queene, 1596, Book IV, c. iii, st. 43.
and another in Macbeth, where Banquo addresses the weird sis
My noble partner
"You greet with present grace, and great prediction
Gr. Εχεια.---and πρὸς τὸν Ἔχοντα, to the haver.”
This was the common language of Shakspeare's time. "Lye in a water-bearer's house!" says Master Mathew of Bobadil, "a gentleman of his havings!"
Thus likewise John Davies in his Pleasant Descant upon English Proverbs, printed with his Scourge of Folly, about 1612:
"Do well and have well!-neyther so still:
"For some are good doers, whose havings are ill."
and Daniel the historian uses it frequently. Having seems to be synonymous with behaviour in Gawin Douglas* and the elder Scotch writers.
Haver, in the sense of possessor, is every where met with: though unfortunately the πρὸς τὸν Ἔχοντα of Sophocles produced as an authority for it, is suspected by Kuster,† as good a critick in these matters, to have absolutely a different meaning.
But what shall we say to the learning of the Clown in Hamlet, "Ay, tell me that, and unyoke?" alluding to the Beauros of the Greeks: and Homer and his scholiast are quoted accordingly!
If it be not sufficient to say, with Dr. Warburton, that the phrase might have been taken from husbandry, without much depth of reading; we may produce it from a Dittie of the workmen of Dover, preserved in the additions to Holinshed, p. 1546:
"My bow is broke, I would unyoke,
An expression of my Dame Quickly is next fastened upon, which you may look for in vain in the modern text; she calls some of the pretended fairies in The Merry Wives of Windsor: 66 · Orphant heirs of fixed Destiny."
* It is very remarkable, that the bishop is called by his countryman, Sir David Lindsey, in his Complaint of our Souerane Lordis Papingo,
"In our Inglische rethorick the rose."
And Dunbar hath a similar expression in his beautiful poem of The Goldin Terge.
Aristophanis Comœdiæ undecim. Gr. & Lat. Amst. 1710. Fol.
Dr. Warburton corrects orphan to ouphen; and not without plausibility, as the word ouphes occurs both before and afterward. But I fancy, in acquiescence to the vulgar doctrine, the address in this line is to a part of the troop, as mortals by birth, but adopted by the fairies: orphans with respect to their real
"And how elegant is this," quoth Mr. Upton, supposing the word to be used, as a Grecian would have used it? op Pavòs al povos-acting in darkness and obscurity."
Mr. Heath assures us, that the bare mention of such an interpretation, is a sufficient refutation of it: and his critical word will be rather taken in Greek than in English: in the same hands therefore I will venture to leave all our author's knowledge of the old comedy, and his etymological learning in the word Desdemona.*
Surely poor Mr. Upton was very little acquainted with fairies, notwithstanding his laborious study of Spenser. The last authentick account of them is from our countryman William Lilly; and it by no means agrees with the learned interpretation: for the angelical creatures appeared in his Hurst wood in a most illustrious glory," and indeed, (says the sage) it is not given to many persons to endure their glorious aspects."
The only use of transcribing these things, is to shew what absurdities men for ever run into, when they lay down an hypothesis, and afterward seek for arguments in the support of it. What else could induce this man, by no means a bad scholar, to doubt whether Truepenny might not be derived from Tpúavov; and quote upon us with much parade an old scholiast on Aristophanes?—I will not stop to confute him: nor take any notice of two or three more expressions, in which he was pleased to suppose some learned meaning or other; all which he might have found in every writer of the time, or still more easily in the vulgar translation of the Bible, by consulting the Concor dance of Alexander Cruden.
But whence have we the plot of Timon, except from the Greek of Lucian?-The editors and criticks have never been at a greater loss than in their enquiries of this sort; and the source of a tale hath been often in vain sought abroad, which might easily have been found at home: my good friend, the very ingenious editor of the Reliques of Ancient English Poetry, hath shewn our author to have been sometimes contented with a legendary ballad.
parents, and now only dependant on Destiny herself. A few lines from Spenser, will sufficiently illustrate the passage:
"The man whom heauens have ordayn'd to bee
"Yet is no fary borne, ne sib at all
"And whilome by false faries stolen away,
* Revisal, p. 75, 323, and 561.
History of his Life and Times, p. 102, preserved by his dupe, Mr. Ashmole.
The story of the misanthrope is told in almost every collection of the time; and particularly in two books, with which Shakspeare was intimately acquainted; the Palace of Pleasure, and the English Plutarch. Indeed from a passage in an old play, called Jack Drum's Entertainment, I conjecture that he had before made his appearance on the stage.
Were this a proper place for such a disquisition, I could give you many cases of this kind. We are sent for instance to Cinthio for the plot of Measure for Measure, and Shakspeare's judgment hath been attacked for some deviations from him in the conduct of it: when probably all he knew of the matter was from madam Isabella in the Heptameron of Whetstone.* Ariosto is continually quoted for the fable of Much Ado about Nothing; but I suspect our poet to have been satisfied with the Geneura of Turberville. As you Like it was certainly borrowed, if we believe Dr. Grey, and Mr. Upton, from the Coke's Tale of Gamelyn; which by the way was not printed till a century afterward: when in truth the old bard, who was no hunter of MSS. contented himself solely with Lodge's Rosalynd, or Euphues' Golden Legacye, quarto, 1590. The story of All's Well that Ends Well, or, as I suppose it to have been sometimes called Love's Labour Wonne, is originally indeed the property of Boccace,§ but it came immediately to Shakspeare from Painter's Giletta of Narbon. Mr. Langbaine could not conceive, whence the story
* Lond. 4to. 1582. She reports in the fourth dayes exercise, the rare Historie of Promos and Cassandra. A marginal note informs us, that Whetstone was the author of the Commedie on that subject; which likewise might have fallen into the hands of Shakspeare.
"The tale is a pretie comicall matter, and hath bin written in English verse some few years past, learnedly and with good grace, by M. George Turberuil." Harrington's Ariosto, fol. 1591, p. 39.
+ See Meres's Wits Treasury, 1598, p. 282.
SOur ancient poets are under greater obligations to Boccace, than is generally imagined. Who would suspect, that Chaucer hath borrowed from an Italian the facetious tale of the Miller of Trumpington?
Mr. Dryden observes on the epick performance, Palamon and Arcite, a poem little inferior in his opinion to the Iliad or the Eneid, that the name of its author is wholly lost, and Chaucer is now become the original. But he is mistaken: this too was the work of Boccace, and printed at Ferrara in folio, con il commento di Andrea Bassi, 1475. I have seen a copy of it, and a translation into modern Greek, in the noble library of the very learned and communicative Dr. Askew.
It is likewise to be met with in old French, under the title of La Theseide de Jean Boccace, contenant les belles & chastes amours de deux jeunes Chevaliers Thebains Areite & Palemon.