Page images

an accomplished knight of tomante, disguised under the name of a statesman;

“ Whose resistless eloquente
“ Wielded at will a fierce democratie,

“ Shook th' arsenal, and fulmin'd over As to Sidney's Pyrocles, -Tros, Tyriusve,

“ The world was all before him; where to choose

“ His place of rest.but Pericles was tied down to Athens, and could not be removed to a throne in Phoenicia. No poetick licence will permit a unique, classical, and conspicuous name to be thus unwarrantably transferred. A Prince of Madagascar must not be called Æneas, nor a Duke of Florence Mithridates; for such peculiar appellations would unseasonably remind us of their great original possessors. The playwright who indulges himself in these wanton and injudicious vagaries will always counteract his own purpose. Thus, as often as the appropriated name of Pericles occurs, it serves but to oppose our author's gross departure from established manners and historick truth ; for laborious fiction could not design: edly produce two personages more opposite than the settled des magogue of Athens, and the vagabond Prince of Tyre.

It is remarkable, that many of our ancient writers were ambis tious to exhibit Sidney's worthies on the stage ; and when his sub. ordinate agents were advanced to such honour, how happened it that Pyrocles, their leader, should be overlooked ? Musidorus, (his companion,) Argalus and Parthenia, Phalantus and Eudora Andromana, &c. furnished titles for different tragedies; and perhaps Pyrocles, in the present instance, was defrauded of a like distinction. The names invented or employed by Sidney, had once such popularity, that they were sometimes borrowed

by poets who did not profess to follow the direct current of his fables, or attend to the strict preservation of his characters. Nay, so high was the credit of this romance, that many a fashionable word and glowing phrase selected from it, was applied, like a Promethean torch, to contemporary sonnets, and gave a transient life even to those dwarfish and enervate bantlings of the reluctant Muse.

I must add, that the Appolyn of the Story-book and Gower, could have been rejected only to make room for a more favourite name; yet, however conciliating the name of Pyrocles might have been, that of Pericles could challenge no advantage with regard to general predilection.

I am aware, that a conclusive argument cannot be drawn from the false quantity in the second syllable of Pericles; and yet if the Athenian was in our author's mind, he might have been taught by repeated translations from fragments of satiric poets in Sir Thomas North’s Plutarch, to call his hero Pericles; as for instance, in the following couplet :

" O Chiron, tell me, first, art thou indeede the man
• Which did instruct Perīcles thus ? make aunswer if

thou can," &c. &c.
Again, in George's Gascoigne's Steele Glas :

Pericles stands în rancķe amongst the rest." Again, ibidem :

« Perīcles was a famous man of warre.” Such therefore was the poetical pronunciation of this proper name, in the age of Shakspeare. The address of Persius to a youthful orator-Magni pupille Perīcli, is familiar to the ear of every classical reader: By some of the observations scattered


the following pages, it will be proved that the

illegitimate Pericles occasionally adopts not merely the ideas of Sir Philip's heroes, but their very words and phraseology: All circumstances therefore considered, it is not improbable that our author designed his chief character to be called Pyrocles, not Pericles, however ignorance or accident might have shuffled the latter (a name of almost similar sound) into the place of the former. The true name, when once corrupted or changed in the theatre, was effectually withheld from the publick; and every commentator on this play agrees in a bea lief that it must have been printed by means of a copy “ far as Deucalion off” from the manuscript which had received Shak, speare's revisal and improvement. 'STEEVENS.

Antiochus, King of Antioch.
Pericles, Prince of Tyre.

two Lords of Tyre.
Simonides, King of Pentapolis.'
Cleon, Governor of Tharsus.
Lysimachus, Governor of Mitylene.
Cerimon, a Lord of Ephesus.
Thaliard, a Lord of Antioch.
Philemon, Servant to Cerimon.
Leonine, Servant to Dionyza. Marshal.
A Pandar, and his Wife. Boult, their Servant.
Gower, as Chorus.
The Daughter of Antiochus. Dionyza, Wifeto Cleon.
Thaisa, Daughter to Simonides.
Marina, Daughter to Pericles and Thaisa.
Lychorida, Nurse to Marina. Diana.

Lords, Ladies, Knights, Gentlemen, Sailors, Pirates,

Fishermen, and Messengers, &c.
SCENE, dispersedly in various Countries.

· Pentapolis.] This is an imaginary city, and its name might have been borrowed from some romance. We meet indeed in history with Pentapolitana regio, a country in Africa, consisting of five cities ; and from thence perhaps some novelist furnished the sounding title of Pentapolis, which occurs likewise in the 37th chapter of Kyng Appolyn of Tyre, 1510, as well as in Gower, the Gesta Romanorum, and Twine's translation from it.

It should not, however, be concealed, that Pentapolis is also found in an ancient map of the world, MS. in the Cotton Library, British Museum, Tiberius, B. V.

That the reader may know through how many regions the scene of this drama is dispersed, it is necessary to observe that Antioch was the metropolis of Syria; Tyre, a city of Phænicia in Asia ; Tharsus, the metropolis of Cilicia, a country of Asia Minor; Mitylene, the capital of Lesbos, an island in the Ægean Sea; and Ephesus, the capital of Ionia, a country of the Lesser Asia. STEEVENS.




Enter GOWER.

Before the Palace of Antioch.
To sing a song of old was sung,
From ashes ancient Gower is come;
Assuming man's infirmities,
To glad your ear, and please your eyes
It hath been sung at festivals,
On ember-eves, and holy-ales ;?
And lords and ladies of their lives
Have read it for restoratives :
'Purpose to make men glorious ;
Et 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.-4 It hath been sung at festivals,

On ember-eves, and holy-ales ;] i. e. says Dr. Farmer, churche ales.



This city then, Antioch the great


for his chiefest seat;
The fairest in all Syria;
(I tell you what mine authors say ;)
This king unto him took a pheere,
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 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."
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 yon grim looks do testify.
What now ensues, to the judgment of your eye
I give, my cause who best can justify. [Exit.

[ocr errors]

3 unto him took a pheere,] This word, which is frequently used by our old poets, signifies a mate or companion.

full of face,) i. e. completely, exuberantly beautiful. account no sin,] Account for accounted.

thither frame,] i. e. shape or direct their course thither. ? As yon grim looks do testify.] Gower must be supposed here to point to the heads of those unfortunate wights, which, he tells us, in his poem, were fixed on the gate of the palace at Antioch.


« PreviousContinue »