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THE story on which this play is formed, is of great antiquity. It is
found in a book, once very popular, entitled Gefia Romanorum, which is supposed by Mr. Tyrwhitt, the learned editor of The Canterbury Tales of Chaucer, 1775, to have been written five hundred years ago. The earliest impression of that work (which I have seen) was printed in 1488; * in that edition the history of Appolonius King of Tyre makes the 153d chapter. It is likewise related by Gower in his Confilio Amantis, lib. viii. p. 175—185, edit. 1654. The Rev. Dr. Farmer has in his possession a fragment of a MS. poem on the same sudject, which appears, from the hand-writing and the metre, to be more ancient than Gower. There is also an ancient romance on this subject, called Kyng Appolyn of Thyre, translated from the French by Róbert. Copland, and printed by Wynkyn de Worde in 1510. William Howe had a licence for printing “ The most excellent, pleasant, and variable Historie of the strange Adventures of Prince Appelonius, Lucine his wyfe, and Tharsa his daughter.” The author of Pericles having introduced Gower in his piece, it is reasonable to suppose that he chiefly followed the work of that poet. It is observable, that the hero of this tale is, in Gower's poem, as in the present play, called prince of Tyre; in the Gesta Romanorum, and Copland's prose romance, he is entitled king. Most of the incidents of the play are found in the Conf. Amant, and a few of Gower's expressions are occasionally borrowcd. However, I think it is not unlikely, that there may have been (though I have not met with it) an early prose translation of this popular story, from the Geft. Roman. in which the name of Appolonius was changed to Pericles; to which, likewise, the author of this drama may have been indebted. In 1607 was published at London, by Valentine Sims, “ The patterne of painful adventures, containing the most excellent, pleasant, and variable historie of the strange accidents that befell unto Prince Appolonius; the lady Lucina his wife, and Tharlia his daughter, wherein the uncertaintie of this world and the fickle itate of man's life are lively described. Translated into English by T. Twine, Gent." I have never seen the book, but it was without doubt a republication of that published by W. Howe in 1576.
Pericles was entered on the Stationers' books, May 2, 1608, hy Edward Blount, one of the printers of the first folio edition of Shak
* Tl:ere are
several editions of the Gesta Romanorum before 1488. Douce. A 2
speare's plays; but it did not appear in print till the following year, and then it was publilhed not by Blount, but by Henry Gosson ; who bad probably anticipated the other, by getting a hafty transcript from a playhouse copy. There is, I believe, no play of our author's, perhaps I might say, in the English language, fo incorrect as this. The most corrupt of Sbakspeare's other dramas, compared with Pericles, is purity itself. The metre is seldom attended to; verse is frequently printed as prose, and the grosseit errors abound in almost every page. I mention those circuniltances, only as an apology to the reader for having taken somewhat more licence with this drama than would have been juftifiable, if the copies of it now extant had been less disfigured by the negligence and ignorance of the printer or transcriber. The numerous corruptions that are found in the original edition in 1609, which have been carefully preserved and aligmented in all the subsequent impressions, probably arose from its having been frequently exhibited on the flage. In the four quarto editions it is called the much admired play of Pericles PRINCE OF TYRE; and it is mentioned by many ancient writers as a very popular performance; particularly, by the author of a metrical pamphlet; entitled Pymlico or Run Redcap, in which the following lines are found:
" Amaz'd I stood, to see a crowd
• Caine to fee Shore or Pericles." In a former edition of this play I said, on the authority of another person, that this pamphlet had appeared in 1596; but I have since met with tie piece itself, and find that Pymlico, &c. was published in 1609. It might, however, have been a republication.
The prologue to an old comedy called The Hog has lost his Pearl, 1614, likewise exhibits a proof of this play's uncommon success. The poet speaking of his piece, says:
if it prove so happy as to please, “ We'll fay 'tis fortunate, like Pericles.” By fortunate, I understand highly successful. The writer can hardly be supposed to have meant that Pericles was popular rather from accident ihan merit; for that would have been but a poor eulogy on his: own performance.
An obscure poet, however, in 1652, infinuates that this drama was ill received, or at least that it added nothing to the reputation of its author :
“ But Shakspeare, the plebeian driller, was
Verses by J. Tatham, prefixed to Richard Brome's
Jovial Crew, or the Merry Beggars, 4to. 1652. 9
The passages above quoted shew that little credit is to be given to the aflestion contained in these lines; yet they furnith us with an additional proof that Pericles, at no very distant period after Shakspeare's death, was confidered as unquestionably his performance.
In The Times displayed in Six Setiads, 4to. 1646, dedicated by S. Shephard to Philip Earl of Pembroke, p. 22, Seftiad VI. stanza 9, the author thus speaks of our poet and the piece before us :
« See him, whose tragick scenes Euripides
“ Did understand the depth of poesie.” For the division of this piece into scenes I am responsible, there being none found in the old copies. Malone.
The History of Appolonius King of Tyre was supposed by Mark Welser, when he printed in 1595, to have been translated from the Greek a thousand years before. [Fabr. Bib. Gr. v. p. 821.] It cera tainly bears strong marks of a Greek original, though it is not that I know) now extant in that language. The rythmical poemn, under the fame title, in modern Greek, was re-trandated (if I may fo speak) from the Latin-–-απο Λατινικης εις Ρωμαϊκης γλωσσαν. Du Frefne, Index Author, ad Glof. Græc. When Welser printed it, he probably did not know that it had been published already (perhaps more than once) among the Gefta Romanorum. In an edition, which I have, printed at Rouen in 1521, it makes the 154th chapter. Towards the latter end of the XIIth century, Godfrey of Viterbo, in his Pantheon or Universal Chronicle, inserted this romance as part of the history of the shird Antiochus, about 200 years before Christ. It begins thus (MS. Reg. 14. C. xi.] :
“ Filia Selcuci regis ftat clara decore,
“ Res habet effectum, preffa puella doler” The rest is in the same metre, with one pentameter only to two hexameters.
Gower, by his own acknowledgement, took his story from the Pantheon; as the author (whoever he was) of Pericles, Prince of Tyre, professis to have followed Gower. TYRWHITT.
There are three French tranlations of this story, viz.--" La Chronique d'Appollin, Roy de Thyr;" 4to. Geneva, bl. I. no date;-and " Plaisante et agreable Histoire d'Appollonius Prince de Thyr en Afo frique, ei Roi d'Antioche; traduit par Gilles Corezet,” 8vo. Paris, 1530;--Ind in the seventh volume of the Histoires Tragiques, &c. 12021. 160+, par François Belle-forest, &c.) " Accidens diuers aduenus à Appollonie Roy des Tyriens : ses malheurs sur mer, ses pertes de femme & fille, et la fin heureuse de tous ensemble.” . In the introduction to this last novel, the tranNator says " Ayant. en main une histoire tiree du Grec, & icelle ancienne, comme aufli je l'ay recuellie d'un vieux livre écrit à la main,” &c.
· But the present story, as it appears in Belle-forest's collection, (Vol. VII. p. 113, & feq.) has yet a further claim to our notice, as it had the honour (p. 148-9) of furnishing Dryden with the outline of his Alexander's Feast. Langbaine, &c. have accused this great poet of adopting circumdances from the Histoires Tragiques, among other French novels; a charge, however, that demands neither proof nor apology
The popularity of this tale of Appollonius, may be inferred from the very numerous MSS, in which it
appears. Both editions of Twive's translation are now before me. Thomas Twinė was the continuator of Phaer's Virgil, which was left imperfect in the year 1558.
In Twine's book our hero is repeatedly called—“ Prince of Tyrus.“ It is singular enough that this fable should have been republished in 1607, the play entered on the books of the Stationers' Company in 1608, and printed in 1609.
It is almost needless to observe that our dramatick Pericles has not the least resemblance to his historical namesake; though the adventures of the former are sometimes coincident with those of Pyrocles, the hero of Sidney's Arcadia; for the amorous, fugitive, shipwrecked, musical, tilting, despairing Prince of Tyre is an accomplished knight of romance, disguised under the name of a Natesman,
10 Whose refifless cloquence
“ Shook th' arsenal, and fulmin'd over Greece." As to Sidney's Pyrocles, -Tros, Tyriufve,
“ The world was all before him, where to choose
“ His place of reft;" but Pericles was tied down to Athens, and could not be removed to a throne in Phænicia. No poetick license will permit a unique, classical, and conspicuous name to be thus unwarrantably transferred. A Prince of Madagascar muit not be called Æneas, nor a Duke of Florence Mithridates ; for such pecul ar appellations would unseasonably remind uş of their great original poffessors. The playwright who indulges him=" self 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 expose our author's grofs departure from estabļished manners and historick truth; for laborious fiction could noc designedly produce two personages more opposite than the settled dema: gogue of Athens, and the vagabond Prince of Tyre.