Page images
PDF
EPUB

best it contains may be, not dishonourably, imputed to him. Both weeds and flowers appear in the fame parterre, yet we do

[blocks in formation]

{

Fighting about the titles of two kingdoms.

p. 89.

2

- fuch a fight as this

Becomes the field, but here shows much amiss.

Hamlet.

1 Look where she comes! you shall perceive her behaviour.

p. 89.

2 Lo you where the comes! This is her very guise.

the burden on't was down-a down-a. You must fing down-a down-a: oh how the wheel becomes it! Hamlet.

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

Macbeth.

p. 90.

Doctor.] not an engrafted madness, but a moft thick and profound melancholy

2 Doctor.] - not fo fick, my lord,

As she is troubled with thick-coming fancies-.

p. 91.

Macbeth

1 Doctor. I think she has a perturbed mind, which I cannot minister to.

[blocks in formation]

·lover, never yet

Made truer sigh-.

- never man

Sigh'd truer breath.

[ocr errors]

p. 91. Hamlet.

Macbeth.

p. 94,

King Henry IV. P. I.

p. 94.

Macbeth.

p. 98.

Coriolanus.

not infer from their being found together, that they were planted

by the fame hand.

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

N. B. I have met with no other inftances of the ufe of this word.

1 Difroot his rider whence he grew.

2 This gallant grew unto his seat.

1 And bear us like the time.

P. 110.

Macbeth.

p. 114.

Macbeth,

[blocks in formation]

2 -to beguile the time, Look like the time.

It will happen, on familiar occafions, that diverfity of expreffion is neither worth seeking, or easy to be found; as in the following inftances:

Cer. Look to the lady.

Macd. Look to the lady.

Cap. Look to the bak'd meats.

Pal. Look to thy life well, Arcite!

Dion. How chance my daughter is not with you ?--

Pericles. Macbeth.

Romeo and Juliet. Two Noble Kinsmen,

K. Hen. How chance thou art not with the prince thy brother?

Pericles.

King Henry IV. Part II.

Dion. How now, Marina? why do you keep alone?

{Lady Macb. How now, my lord? why do you keep alone?

{

Coun.

have with you, boys!

Bel. Have with you, boys!

Daugh. Yours to command, i' th' way of honesty. {Paulo. For I was got i' th' way of honesty.

Thal.

{Phang

Pericles. Macbeth.

Two Noble Kinsmen.
Cymbeline.

Two Noble Kinsmen.
King John.
Pericles.

if I can get him within my pistol's length.
-an if he come but within my vice.

K. Henry IV. P. II.

All fuch examples I have abftained from producing; but the peculiar coincidence of many among thofe already given, fuffers much by their not being viewed in their natural fituations.

Let the criticks who can fix on any particular scenes which they conceive to have been written by Shakspeare, or let those who fuppofe him to haye

Were I difpofed, with controverfial wantonnefs, to reafon against conviction, I might add, that as Shakspeare is known to

been fo poor in language as well as ideas, that he was conftrained to borrow in the compass of half the Noble Kinsmen from above a dozen entire plays of his own compofition, advance fome hypothefis more plaufible than the following; and yet I flatter myself that readers may be found who will concur with me in believing this tragedy to have been written by Fletcher in filent imitation of our author's manner. No other circumftance could well have occafioned fuch a frequent occurrence of correfponding phrases, &c.; nor, in my opinion, could any particular, but this, have induced the players to propagate the report, that our author was Fletcher's coadjutor in the piece. --There is nothing unufual in these attempts at imitation. Dryden, in his preface to All for Love, profeffes to copy the ftyle of Shakspeare. Rowe, in his Jane Shore, arrogates to himself the merit of having pursued the fame plan. How far thefe poets have fucceeded, it is not my prefent business to examine; but Fletcher's imitation, like that of many others, is chiefly verbal; and yet (when joined with other circumftances) was perfect enough to have misled the judgment of the players. Those people, who in the course of their profeffion must have had much of Shakspeare's language recent in their memories, could easily discover traces of it in this performance. They could likewise observe that the drama opens with the fame characters as first enter in A Midsummer-Night's Dream; that Clowns exert themselves for the entertainment of Theseus in both; that a pedagogue likewife directs the sports in Love's Labour's Lost; that a character of female frenzy, copied from Ophelia, is notorious in the Jailor's Daughter; and that this girl, like Lady Macbeth, is attended by a physician who defcribes the difficulties of her cafe, and comments on it, in almoft fimilar terms. They might therefore conclude that the play before us was in part a production of the fame writer. Over this line, the criticks behind the scenes were unable to proceed. Their fagacity was infufficient to obferve that the general current of the ftyle was even throughout the whole, and bore no marks of a divided hand. Hence perhaps the sol geminus and duplices Theba of these very incompetent judges, who, like ftaunch match-makers, were defirous that the widow'd mufe of Fletcher should not long remain without a bed-fellow.

Left it should be urged that one of my arguments againft Shakspeare's cooperation in The Two Noble Kinsmen would equally militate against his share in Pericles, it becomes neceffary for me to ward off any objection to that purpose, by remarking that the circumftances attendant on these two dramas are by no means exactly parallel. Shakspeare probably furnished his share in the latter at an early period of his authorship, and afterwards (having never owned it, or fuppofing it to be forgotten) was willing to profit by the moft valuable lines and ideas it contained. But he would fcarce have been confidered himself as an object of imitation, before he had reached his meridian fame; and in my opinion, The Noble Kinsmen could not have been compofed till after 1611, nor perhaps antecedent to the deaths of Beaumont and our author, when affiftance and competition ceased, and the poet who refembled the latter moft, had the fairest profpect of fuccefs. During the life of Beaumont, which concluded in 1615, it cannot well be fuppofed that Fletcher would have deferted him, to write in concert with any other dramatist. Shakfpeare furvived Beaumont only by one year, and, during that time, is known to have lived in Warwickshire, beyond the reach of Fletcher, who continued to refide in London till he fell a facrifice to the plague in 1625; so that there was no opportunity for them to have joined in perfonal conference relative to

have borrowed whole fpeeches from the authors of Darius, King John, the Taming of a Shrew, &c. as well as from novellifts and hiftorians without number, fo he might be suspected of having taken lines, and hints for future fituations, from the play of Pericles, fuppofing it were the work of a writer fomewhat more early than himfelf. Such fplendid paffages occur in the scenes of his contemporaries, as have not difgraced his own: and be it remembered, that many things which we at prefent are content to reckon only among the adoptions of our great poet, had been long regarded as his own proper effufions, and were as conftantly enumerated among his diftinguished beauties. No verses have been more frequently quoted, or more loudly applauded than those beginning with The cloud-capt towers in The Tempeft; but if our pofitions relative to the date of that play are well founded, Shakspeare's fhare in this celebrated account of nature's diffolution, is very inconfiderable.

To conclude, the play of Pericles was in all probability the

The Two Noble Kinsmen; and without frequent interviews between confederate writers, a confiftent tragedy can hardly be produced. Yet fuch precautions will be fometimes inefficient in producing conformity of plan, even when confederate writers are within reach of each other. Thus, Dryden, in the third Act of Oedipus has made Tirefias fay to the Theban monarch:

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

But, alas! for want of adverting to this fpeech, Lee has counteracted it in the 4th Aft, where Tirefias has another interview with Oedipus before the extinction of his eyes, a circumftance that does not take place till the 5th Act.

But, at whatever time of Shakspeare's life Pericles was brought forth, it will not be found on examination to comprize a fifth part of the coincidences which may be detected in its fucceffor; neither will a tenth divifion of the fame relations be discovered in any one of his thirty-five dramas which have. hitherto been published together.

To conclude, it is peculiarly apparent that this tragedy of The Two Noble Kinsmen was printed from a prompter's copy, as it exhibits fuch stage-directions as I do not remember to have seen in any other drama of the fame period. We may likewife take notice that there are fewer hemiftichs in it than in any of Shakspeare's acknowledged productions. If one speech concludes with an imperfect verfe, the next in general completes it. This is fome indication of a writer more ftudious of neatness in compofition than the pretended afsociate of Fletcher.

In the course of my inveftigation I am pleased to find I differ but on one occafion from Mr. Colman; and that is, in my difbelief that Beaumont had any share in this tragedy. The utmoft beauties it contains, were within the reach of Fletcher, who has a right to wear,

"Without corrival, all his dignities:

"But out upon this half-fac'd fellowship!"

because there is no juft reafon for fuppofing any poet but Chaucer has a right to difpute with him the reputation which the tale of Palamon and Arcite has fo long and fo indifputably maintained.

compofition of fome friend whofe intereft the gentle Shakfpeare" was induftrious to promote. He therefore improved his dialogue in many places; and knowing by experience that the strength of a dramatick piece fhould be augmented towards its catastrophe, was moft liberal of his aid in the laft A&t. We cannot be surprised to find that what he has supplied is of a different colour from the rest:

"Scinditur in partes, geminoque cacumine furgit,
"Thebanos imitata rogos;"

for, like Beaumont, he was not writing in conjunction with a Fletcher.

Mr. Malone has afked how it happens that no memorial of an earlier drama on the subject of Pericles remains. I fhall only anfwer by another queftion-Why is it the fate of ftill-born infants to be foon forgotten? In the rummage of fome mass of ancient pamphlets and papers, the first of these two productions may hereafter make its appearance. The chance that preferved The Witch of Middleton, may at some distant period establish my general opinion concerning the authenticity of Pericles, which is already strengthened by thofe of Rowe and Dr. Farmer, and countenanced in fome degree by the omiffion of Heminge and Condell. I was once difpofed to entertain very different fentiments concerning the authority of title-pages; but on my mended judgment (if I offend not to fay it is mended) I have found fufficient reafon to change my creed, and confefs the folly of advancing much on a queftion which I had not more than curforily confidered.-To this I muft fubjoin, that perhaps our author produced The Winter's Tale at the diftance of feveral years from the time at which he corrected Pericles; and, for reafons hinted at in a preceding page, or through a forgetfulness common to all writers, repeated a few of the identical phrases and ideas which he had already used in that and other dramas. I have formerly observed in a note on King Lear, (See Vol. XVII. p. 603, n. 8,) that Shakspeare has appropriated the fame sentiment, in nearly the fame words, to Juftice Shallow, King Lear, and Othello; and may now add, that I find another allufion as nearly expreffed in five different places :

"I'd ftrip myself to death, as for a bed
"That longing I'd been fick for."

Meafure for Measure.

"I will encounter darkness like a bride,
"And bug it in my arms." Ibidem.

[ocr errors][merged small]

"A bridegroom in my death, and run unto't
"As to a lover's bed." Antony and Cleopatra.

« PreviousContinue »