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STATE OF THE TEXT, AND CHRONOLOGY, OF CYMBELINE.

"THE Tragedie of Cymbeline" was first printed in the folio collection of 1623. The play is very carefully divided into acts and scenes-an arrangement which is sometimes wanting in other plays of this edition. Printed as Cymbeline must have been from a manuscript, the text, although sometimes difficult, presents few examples of absolute error. Of course some palpable errors do occur, and these have been properly corrected by the modern editors; but they have in this, as in every other instance, carried their vocation too far." We, upon the principle which we have invariably followed, have implicitly adhered to the text, except in those instances of manifest corruption which can be distinctly referred to the class of typographical errors. The Cymbeline of the first edition is, in one respect, printed with very remarkable care; it is full of such contractions as the following:

"His daughter, and the heire of's kingdome, whom."
"It cannot be i'th'eye: for apes and monkeys."
"Contemne with mowes the other. Nor 'th'judgement."
"To' th' truncke againe, and shut the spring of it."

We find this principle occasionally followed in some other of the plays; but in this it is invariably rogarded. We do not, however, follow these elisions, which we may believe are not from the hand of the author, and which impair the freedom of his versification, without any real advantage to the reader.

• When the original edition of the Pictorial Shakspere was published, about twenty-five years ago, we designated by the term "modern editors" tnose generaily known by the name of "variorum," including principally Johnson, Steevens, and Malone. Boswell's edition of Malone's Shakspere bears the date of 1821. When, therefore, we now use the term "modern editors," we do not mean to indicate those who have been the recent labourers in the same field as ourselves-such u Mr. Dyce, Mr. Collier, Mr. Staunton, Mr. Grant White, and the Cambridge editors. We have often, in this new elition, substituted some other word for "modern," but in other cases we leave the term "modern" with the signification which we originally attached to it.

In placing this drama (it can scarcely be called tragedy, although we must adhere to the original classification) immediately after Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet, we are called upon to state the grounds upon which we classify it amongst the comparatively early plays. Malone has assigned it to 1609, Chalmers to 1606, and Drake to 1605. The external evidence adduced by Malone for this opinion appears to us not only extremely weak, but to be conceived in the very lowest spirit of the comprehension of Shakspere. He assumes that it was written after Lear and Macbeth, for the following reasons:-The character of Edgar in Lear is formed on that of Leonatus in Sidney's 'Arcadia.' 66 'Shakspeare having occasion to turn to that book while he was writing King Lear, the name of Leonatus adhered to his memory, and he has made it the name of one of the characters in Cymbeline." Having occasion to turn to that book!--a mode of expression which might equally apply to a tailor having occasion for a piece of buckram. Sidney's 'Arcadia' was essentially the book of Shakspere's age-more popular, perhaps, than the Fairy Queen,' as profoundly admired by the highest order of spirits, as often quoted, as often present to their thoughts. And yet the very highest spirit of that age, thoroughly imbued as he must have been with all the poetical literature of his own day and his own country (we pass by the question of his further knowledge), is represented only to know the great work of his great contemporary as a little boy in a grammar-school knows what is called a crib-book. But this is not all.

The story of Lear, according to Malone, lies near to that of Cymbeline in Holinshed's Chronicle, and some account of Duncan and Macbeth is given incidentally in a subsequent page; and so this very humble reader, who never looked into a book but when he wanted to get something out of it, composes Lear, Macbeth, and Cymbeline (two of them unquestionably the greatest monuments of human genius) at one and the same time, because, forsooth, he happened about the same time to turn to Sidney's Arcadia and Holinshed's Chronicle. But this sort of reasoning does not even stop here. Cymbeline is not only produced after Lear and Macbeth for these causes, but about the same period as the Roman playa In this play mention is made of Caesar's ambition and Cleopatra sailing on the Cydnus; ergo, says Malone, “I think it probable that about this time Shakspere perused the lives of Caesar, Brutus, and Mark Antony." Perused the lives! But we really have not patience to waste another word upon this insolence, so degrading (for it is nothing less) to the country and the age which produced it. George Chaliners fixes the date in 1606, because he conceives that Cloten's speech, in the second act,--“ a Jack-a-napes must take me up for swearing,"--alludes to the statute of 1606, for restraining the use of profane expressions on the stage. There is nothing to which we object in this ingenious suggestion, but it is not conclusive as to the date of Cymbeline: nor indeed can any such isolated passage be conclusive; for we know from the quartos that passing allusions were constantly inserted after the first production of Shakspere's plays. Drake assigns no reason for the date which he gives of 1605.

In the Introductory Notice to Richard II. we have given an extract from "a book of plays and notes thereof, for common policy," kept by Dr. Symon Forman, in 1610 and 1611. These notes, which were discovered and first printed by Mr Collier, contain not only an account of some play of Richard II., at which the writer was present, but distinctly give the plots of Shakspere's Winter's Tale, Macbeth, and Cymbeline. We shall take the liberty of reprinting from Mr. Collier's 'New Particulars' Forman's account of the plot of Cymbeline :

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"Remember, also, the story of Cymbeline, King of England, in Lucius' time: how Lucius came from Octavius Cæsar for tribute, and, being denied, after sent Lucius with a great army of soldiers, who landed at Milford Haven, and after were vanquished by Cymbeline, and Lucius taken prisoner, and all by means of three outlaws, of the which two of them were the sons of Cymbeline, stolen from him when they were but two years old, by an old man whom Cymbeline had benished; and he kept them as his own sons twenty years with him in a cave. And how one of them slew Cloten, that was the Queen's son, going to Milford Haven to seek the love of Imogen the King's daughter, whom he had banished also for loving his daughter.

"And how the Italian that came from her love conveyed himself into a chest, and said it was a chest of plate sent from her love and others to be presented to the King. And in the deepest of the night, she being asleep, he opened the chest and came forth of it, and viewed her in her bed, and the marks of her body, and took away her bracelet, and after accused ber of adultery to her love, &c. And, in the end, how be came with the Romans into Eng.and, and was taken prisoner, and after revealed to Imogen, who had turned herself into man's apparel, and filed to meet her love at Milford Haven; and chanced to fall on the cave in the woods where her two brothers were: and how by eating a sleeping dram they thought she had been dead, and laid her in the woods, and the body of Cloten by her, in her love's apparel that he left behind him, and how she was found by Lucius, &c."

"This," Mr. Collier adds, "is curious; principally because it gives the impression of the plot upon the mind of the spectator, at about the time when the play was first produced." We can scarcely yield

our implicit assent to this. Forman's note-book is evidence that the play existed in 1610 or 1611; but it is not evidence that it was first produced in 1610 or 1611. Mr. Collier, in his 'Annals of the Stage,' gives us the following entry from the books of Sir Henry Herbert, Master of the Revels :-"On Wednesday night the first of January, 1633, Cymbeline was acted at Court by the King's players. Well liked by the King." Here is a proof that for more than twenty years after Forman saw it Cymbeline was still acted, and still popular. By parity of reasoning it might have been acted, und might have been popular, before Forman saw it.

In the absence, then, of all specific information as to the chronology of Cymbeline, we must be guided by what is after all the safest guide in such cases-internal evidence.

Coleridge, in the classification of 1819, places Cymbeline, as he supposes it to have been originally produced, in the first epoch, to which he assigns Pericles: "In the same epoch I place The Winter's Tale and Cymbeline, differing from the Pericles by the entire rifaccimento of it, when Shakspere's celebrity as poet, and his interest no iess than his influence as manager, enabled him to bring forward the laid-by labours of his youth." Tieck, whilst he considers it "the last work of the great poet, which may have been written about 1614 or 1615," adds, "it is also not impossible that this varied-woven romantic history had inspired the poet in his youth to attempt it for the stage." Tieck assigns no reason for believing that the play as we have received it is of so late a date as 1614 or 1615. We presume to think that he is wrong. But, on the other hand, there can be no doubt that, as it stands, it is fuller of elliptical construction, proceeding from the over-teeming thought, than any of the early plays. Malone has observed, and we think very justly (for in matters in which he was not tainted by the influences of his age his opinions are to be respected), that its versification resembles that of The Winter's Tale and The Tempost. To whatever age these romantic dramas shall be ultimately assigned we have no doubt that on every account-from the nature of the fable, as well as the cast of thought, and the construction of the language-Cymbeline will go with them. But, however this may be, we heartily join in the belief, so distinctly expressed by two such master-minds as Coleridge and Tieck, that the sketch of Cymbeline belongs to the youthful Shakspere. We have fancied that it is almost possible to trace in some instances the dove-tailing of the original with the improved drama. The principal incidents of the story of Imogen are in Boccaccio. Of course, with reference to the knowledge of Shakspere, we do not hold with Steevens that they, "in their original Italian, to him at least, were inaccessible." Such a fable was exactly one which would have been seized upon by him who, from the very earliest period of his career, saw, in those reflections of life which the Italian novelists present, the materials of bringing out the manifold aspects of human nature in the most striking forms of truth and beauty. As far as the main action of the drama was concerned, therefore, we hold that it was as accessible to the Shakspere of five-and-twenty as it was to the Shakspere of five-and-forty; and that he had not to wait for the publication in 1603 of a story-book in which the tales which were the common property of Europe were remodelled with English scenes and characters, to have produced Cymbeline. All the historical accesssories too of the story were familiar to him in his early career. He threw the scene with marvellous judgment into the dim period of British history, when there was enough of fact to give precision to his painting, and enough of fable to cast over it that twilight hue which all young poets love, because it is of the very truth of poetry. Assuming, then, that Cymbeline might have been sketched at an early period, and comparing it more especially with Pericles, which assuredly has not been re-written, we venture to express a belief that the scenes have, in some parts, been greatly elaborated; and that this elaboration has had the effect of thrusting forward such a quantity of incidents into the fifth act as to have rendered it absolutely necessary to resort to pantomimic action or dumb show, an example of which occurs in no other of Shakspere's works. This might have been remedied by omitting the "apparition" in the fifth act, which either belongs not to Shakspere at all, or belongs to the period when he had not clearly seen his way to shake off the trammels of the old stage. But would an audience familiar with that scene have parted from it? We believe not. The fifth act, as we think, presents to us very strikingly the differences between the young and the mature Shakspere, always bearing in mind that the skill of such a master of his art has rendered it very difficult to conjecture what were the differences between his sketch and his finished picture. The soliloquy of Posthumus in that act, in its fullness of thought, belongs to the finished performance,-the minute stage directions which follow to the unfinished. Nothing can be more certain than that the dialogue between Posthumus and the gaoler is of the period of deep philosophical speculation; while the tablet left

by Jupiter has a wondrous resemblance to the odd things of the early stage. We throw out tree observations rather as hints for the student of Shakspere, than as opinions in which we expect our readers will agree. The greater part of the play is certainly such as no one but Shakspere could have written, and not only so, but Shakspere in the full possession and habitual exercise of his powers. The mountain scenes with Imogen and her brothers are perhaps unequalled, even in the whole compass of the Shaksperian drama. They are of the very highest order of poetical beauty,not such an outpouring of beauty as in the Romeo and Juliet and The Midsummer Night's Dream, where the master of harmonious verse revels in all the graces of his art-but of beauty entirely subservient to the peculiarities of the characters, the progress of the action, the scenery, ay, and the very period of the draina, whatever Dr. Johnson may say of "incongruity." There is nothing to us more striking than the contrast which is presented between the free natural lyrics sung by the brothers over the grave of Fidele, and the elegant poem which some have thought so much more beautiful. The one is perfectly in keeping with all that precedes and all that follows; the other if entirely out of harmony with its associations. "To fair Fidele's grassy tomb" is the dirge of Collins over Fidele; "Fear no more the heat o' the sun" is Fidele's proper funeral song by her bold brothers It is this marvellous power of going out of himself that renders it so difficult to say that Shakspere i at any time inferior to himself. If it were not for this exercise of power, even in the smallest characters, we might think that Cloten was of the immature Shakspere. But then he has made Cloter his own, by one or two magic touches, so as to leave no doubt that, if he was at first a somewha hasty sketch, he is now a finished portrait. "The snatches in his voice and burst of speaking Identify him as the “ very Cloten" that none other but Shakspere could have painted.

SUPPOSED SOURCE OF THE PLOT.

"MR. POPE," says Steevens, "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 is unquestionably one of Steevens's random assertions. Malone has printed the tale, and has expressed his opinion, in opposition to that of Steevens, that the general scheme of Cymbeline is founded on Boccaccio's novel (9th story of the second day of the Decameron). Mrs. Lennox has given, in her 'Shakspeare Illustrated,' a paraphrase of Boccaccio's story; which she has mixed up with more irreverent impertinence towards Shakspere than can be perhaps found elsewhere in the English language, except in Dr. Johnson's judgment upon this play, which sounds very like "prisoner at the bar." It might have been supposed that the odour of Mrs. Lennox's criticisms upon Shakspere had been dissipated long before the close of the last century; but, nevertheless, Mr. Dunlop, in his History of Fiction,' published in 1816, makes the opinions of Mrs. Lennox his own: "The Lucidents of the novel have been very closely adhered to by Shakespeare, but, as has been remarked by an acute and elegant critic (Mrs. Lennox), the scenes and characters have been most injudiciously

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Schlegel has a remarkable theory with reference to the apparition-scene, which we present to our readers. It is not objected that "the aged parents and brothers of Posthumus speak the language of a more simple olden time," but that they do not speak the language of poetry, such as Shakspere would have chosen to express a feeble sound of wailing." What Schlegel says of the speech of Jupiter has great truth. Nothing, for example, can be in a higher strain than

"Poor shadows of Elysium, hence; and rest

Upon your never-withering banks of flowers."

"Pope, as is well known, was strongly disposed to declare whole scenes for interpolations of the players; but his opinions were not much listened to. However, Steevens still accedes to the opinion of Pope, respecting the apparition of the ghosts and of Jupiter in Cymbeline, while Posthumus is sleeping in the dungeon. But Posthumus finds, on waking, a tablet on his breast, with a prophecy on which the dénouement of the piece depends. Is it to be imagined that Shakspere would require of his spectators the belief in a wonder without a visible cause? Is Posthumus to dream this tablet with the prophecy? But these gentlemen do not descend to this objection. The verses which the apparitions deliver do not appear to them good enough to be Shakspere's. I imagine I can discover why the poet has not given them more of the splendour of diction. They are the aged parents and brothers of Posthumus, who, from concern for his fate, return from the world below: they ought, consequently, to speak the language of a more simple olden time, and their voices ought also to appear as a feeble sound of wailing, when contrasted with the thundering oracular language of Jupiter. For this reason Shakspere chose a syllabic measure, which was very common before his time, but which was then getting out of fashion, though it still continued to be frequently used, especially in translations of classical poets. In some such manner might the shades express themselves in the then existing translations of Homer and Virgil. The speech of Jupiter is or the other hand majestic, and in form and style bears a complete resemblance to the sonnets of Shakspere."-Lectures on Dramatic Literature, vol. ii.

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