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To thefe obfervations I may add, that though Shakspeare feems to have been well verfed in the writings of Chaucer, his plays contain no marks of his acquaintance with the works of Gower, from whofe fund of ftories not one of his plots is adopted. When I quoted the Confeffio Amantis to illuftrate "Florentius' love" in The Taming of a Shrew, it was only because I had then met with no other book in which that tale was related.—I ought not to quit the fubject of thefe chorufes without remarking that Gower interpofes no lefs than fix times in the course of our play, exclufive of his introduction and peroration. Indeed he enters as often as any chaẩm in the ftory requires to be fupplied. I do not recollect the fame practice in other tragedies, to which the chorus ufually ferves as a prologue, and then appears only be→ tween the Acts. Shakspeare's legitimate pieces in which thefe mediators are found, might still be represented without their aid; but the omiffion of Gower in Pericles would render it fo perfectly confufed, that the audience might justly exclaim with Othello: Chaos is come again.".
Very little that can tend with certainty to eftablish or oppofe our author's exclufive right in this dramatick performance, is to be collected from the dumb shows; for he has no fuch in his other plays, as will ferve to direct our judgment. These in Pericles are not introduced (in compliance with two ancient cuftoms) at ftated periods, or for the fake of adventitious fplendor: They do not appear before every Act, like thofe in Ferrex and Porrer, they are not, like thofe in Jocafta, merely oftentatious. Such deviations from common practice incline me to believe that originally there were no mute exhibitions at all throughout the piece; but that when Shakspeare undertook to reform it, finding fome parts peculiarly long and uninterefting, he now and then ftruck out the dialogue, and only left the action in its room; ads vising the author to add a few lines to his choruses, as auxiliaries on the occafion. Those whofe fate it is to be engaged in the repairs of an old manfion-house, mult submit to many aukward expedients, which they would have escaped in a fabrick conftructed on their own plan: or it might be obferved, that though Shakspeare has expreffed his contempt of fuch dumb fhows as were inexplicable, there is no reason to believe he would have pointed the fame ridicule at others which were more eafily underftood. I do not readily perceive that the aid of a dumb how is much more reprehenfible than that of a chorus:
Segnius irritant animos demiffa per aurem "Quam quæ funt oculis fubje&ta fidelibus."
If it be obferved that the latter will admit of fentiment and poetical imagery, it may be alfo urged that the former will ferve to furnish oat fuch fpectacles of magnificence as fhould by no
means appear despicable in a kingdom which has ever encouraged the pomp of lord mayors' feafts, inftallments, and coronations. I fhould extend these remarks to an unwarrantable length, or might be tempted to prove that many of Shakspeare's plays exhibit traces of thefe folemn pantomimes; though they are too adroitly managed by him to have need of verbal interpretation.
Next it may be remarked, that the valuable parts of Pericles are more diftinguished by their poetical turn, than by variety of character, or command over the paffions. Partial graces are indeed almost the only improvements that the mender of a play already written can eafily introduce; for an error in the first concoction can be redeemed by no future process of chemistry. A few flowery lines may here and there be ftrewn on the surface of a dramatick piece; but these have little power to impregnate its general mass. Character, on the contrary, must be defigned at the author's outfet, and proceed with gradual congeniality through the whole. In genuine Shakspeare, it infinuates itself every where, with an address like that of Virgil's fnake
fit tortile collo
"Aurum ingens coluber; fit longæ tænia vittæ,
Innectitque comas, et membris lubricus errat."
But the drama before us contains no difcrimination of manners,† (except in the comick dialogues,) very few traces of original thought, and is evidently deftitute of that intelligence and ufeful knowledge that pervade even the meaneft of Shakspeare's undifputed performances. To fpeak more plainly, it is neither enriched by the gems that sparkle through the rubbish of Love's Labour's Loft, nor the good fenfe which so often fertilizes the barren fable of The Two Gentlemen of Verona.-Pericles, in short, is little more than a string of adventures so numerous, so in
*The reader who is willing to pursue this hint, may confult what are now called the stage directions, throughout the folio 1623, in the following pages. I refer to this copy, because it cannot be fufpected of modern interpolation. Tempest, p. 13, 15, 16. All's well &c. 234, 238. King Henry VI. P. I. 100, 102, 105. Ditto, P. II, 125, 127, 129. Ditto, P. III. 164. King Henry VIII, 206, 207, 211, 215, 224, 226, 231. Coriolanus, 6, 7. Titus Andronicus, 31. Timon, 82. Macbeth, 135, 144. Hamlet, 267. Antony and Cleopatra, 351, 355. Cymbeline, 392, 393.
+ Thofe opticks that can detect the smallest veftige of Shakspeare in the character of the Pentapolitan monarch, cannot fail with equal felicity to difcover Helen's beauty in a brow of Egypt, and to find all that should adorn the Graces, in the perfons and conduct of the weird sisters. Compared with this Simonides, the King of Navarre, in Love's Labour's Lost, Theseus, in A Midsummer-Night's Dream, and the Rex fistulatissimus in All's well that ends well, are the rareft compounds of Machiavel and Hercules.
artificially crouded together, and fo far removed from probability, that, in my private judgment, I muft acquit even the irregular and lawless Shakspeare of having conftructed the fabrick of the drama, though he has certainly beftowed fome decoration on its parts. Yet even this decoration, like embroidery on a blanket, only ferves by contraft to expofe the meannefs of the original mate rials. That the plays of Shakspeare have their inequalities likewife, is fufficiently understood; but they are ftill the inequalities of Shakspeare. He may occafionally be abfurd, but is feldom foolifh; he may be cenfured, but can rarely be defpifed.
I do not recollect a fingle plot of Shakspeare's formation (or even adoption from preceding plays or novels) in which the majority of the characters are not fo well connected, and fo neceffary in refpect of each other, that they proceed in combination to the end of the ftory; unless that ftory (as in the cafes of Antigonus and Mercutio) requires the interpofition of death. In Pericles this continuity is wanting:
"disjectas moles, avulfaque faxis
and even with the aid of Gower the fcenes are rather loosely tacked together, than closely interwoven. We fee no more of Antiochus after his firft appearance. His anonymous daughter utters but one unintelligible couplet, and then vanishes. Simonides likewife is loft as foon as the marriage of Thaifa is over; and the punishment of Cleon and his wife, which poetick juftice demanded, makes no part of the action, but is related in a kind of epilogue by Gower. This is at least a practice which in no inftance has received the fanction of Shakspeare. From fuch deficiency of mutual intereft, and liaison among the perfonages of the drama, I am further ftrengthened in my belief that our great poet had no fhare in conftructing it.* Dr. Johnson long
*It is remarkable, that not a name appropriated by Shakspeare to any character throughout his other plays, is to be found in this. At the fame time the reader will obferve that, except in fuch pieces as are built on hiftorical subjects, or English fables, he employs the fame proper names repeatedly in his different dramas.
ago obferved that his real power is not feen in the fplendor of particular paffages, but in the progress of his fable, and the tenour
To thefe may be added fuch as only differ from each other by means of fresh terminations:
Names that in fome plays are appropriated to speaking characters, in other dramas are introduced as belonging only to abfent perfons or things. Thus we have mention of a
Rofaline, a Lucio, a Helena, a Valentine, &c. in Romeo and Juliet.
Ferdinand and Troilus, in the Taming of a Shrew, &c.
I have taken this minute trouble to gain an opportunity of obferving how unlikely it is that Shakspeare should have been content to ufe fecond-hand names in fo many of his more finished plays, and at the fame time have bestowed original ones throughout the scenes of Pericles," This affords additional fufpicion, to me, at least, that the ftory, and the perfonæ dramatis, were not of our author's felection.-Neither Gower, nor the tranflator of King Appolyn, has been followed on this occafion; for the names of Pericles, Escanes, Simonides, Cleon, Lysimachus, and Marina, are foreign to the old story, as related both by the poet and the novellift.
of his dialogue: and when it becomes neceffary for me to quote a decifion founded on comprehenfive views, I can appeal to none in which I fhould more implicitly confide.-Gower relates the ftory of Pericles in a manner not quite fo defultory; and yet fuch a tale as that of Prince Appolyn, in its moft perfect ftate, would hardly have attracted the notice of any playwright, except one who was quite a novice in the rules of his art. Mr. Malone indeed obferves that our author has pursued the legend exactly as he found it in the Confeffio Amantis, or elsewhere. I can only add, that this is by no means his practice in any other dramas, except fuch as are merely historical, or founded on facts from which he could not venture to deviate, because they were univerfally believed. Shakspeare has deferted his originals in As you like it, Hamlet, King Lear, &c. The curious reader
may easily convince himself of the truth of these affertions.
That Shakspeare has repeated in his later plays any material circumftances which he had adopted in his more early ones, I am by no means ready to allow. Some fmaller coincidences with himself may perhaps be discovered. Though it be not ufual for one architect to build two fabricks exactly alike, he may yet be found to have diftributed many ornaments in common over both, and to have fitted up more than one apartment with the fame cornice and mouldings. If Pericles fhould be fuppofed to bear any general and ftriking resemblance to The Winter's Tale, let me enquire in what part of the former we are to fearch for the flightest traces of Leontes' jealousy (the hinge on which the fable turns) the noble fortitude of Hermione, the gallantry of Florizel, the spirit of Paulina, or the humour of Autolycus? Two ftories cannot be faid to have much correspondence, when the chief features that diftinguish the one, are entirely wanting in the other.
Mr. Malone is likewife willing to fuppofe that Shakspeare contracted his dialogue in the last Act of The Winter's Tale, because he had before exhaufted himself on the fame fubject in Pericles, But it is eafy to justify this diftinction in our poet's conduct, on other principles. Neither the king or queen of Tyre feels the fmalleft degree of felf-reproach. They meet with repeated expreffions of rapture, for they were parted only by unprovoked misfortune. They speak without referve, because there is nothing in their ftory which the one or the other can wish to be suppreffed.-Leontes, on the contrary, feems content to welcome his return of happiness without expatiating on the means by which he had formerly loft it; nor does Hermione recapitalute her fufferings, through fear to revive the memory of particulars which might be conftrued into a reflection of her husband's jealousy. The difcovery of Marina would likewife admit of clamorous tranfport, for fimilar reafons; but whatever could be faid on the