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amine what has been his practice in those dramas concerning the authenticity of which there is no doubt. Is it true that ShakIpeare has rigidly abftained from introducing incidents or characters fimilar to those which he had before brought upon the stage? Or rather, is not the contrary notorious? In Much Ado about Nothing the two principal perfons of the drama frequently remind us of two other characters that had been exhibited in an early production,-Love's Labour's Loft. In All's well that ends well and Measure for Measure we find the fame artifice twice employed; and in many other of his plays the action is embarraffed, and the denouement affected, by contrivances that bear a striking fimilitude to each other.
The conduct of Pericles and The Winter's Tale, which have feveral events common to both, gives additional weight to the fuppofition that the two pieces proceeded from the fame hand. In the latter our author has thrown the discovery of Perdita into narration, as if through confciousness of having already exhausted, in the bufinefs of Marina, all that could render fuch an incident affecting on the stage. Leontes too fays but little to Hermione, when he finds her; their mutual fituations having been likewise anticipated by the Prince of Tyre and Thaifa, who had before amply expreffed the transports natural to unexpected meeting after long and painful feparation.
All the objections which are founded on the want of liaison between the different parts of this piece, on the numerous characters introduced in it, not fufficiently connected with each other, on the various and distant countries in which the scene is laid,-may, I think, be answered, by faying that the author purfued the ftory exactly as he found it either in the Confeffio Amantis or fome profe tranflation of the Gefta Romanorum; a practice which Shakspeare is known to have followed in many plays, and to which most of the faults that have been urged against his dramas may be imputed.†-If while we travel in
* Here also were found the names of the greater part of the characters introduced in this play; for of the feventeen perfons reprefented, fix of the names only were the invention of the poet.
The fame quantity not being uniformly obferved in some of these names, is mentioned by Mr. Steevens as a proof that this piece was the production of two hands. We find however Thaifa and Thaïfa in the fifth Act, in two fucceeding lines. Is it to be imagined, that this play was written like French Bouts rimées, and that as foon as one verfe was compofed by one of this fuppofed duumvirate, the next was written by his affociate?
+ In the conduct of Measure for Measure his judgment has been arraigned for certain deviations from the Italian of Cinthio, in one of whofe novels the story on which the play is built, may be read. But, on examination, it has been found, that the faults of the piece are to be attributed not to Shakspeare's departing from, but too closely pursuing his original, which, as Dr. Farmer
Antony and Cleopatra* from one country to another with no lefs rapidity than in the prefent piece, the objects presented to us are more beautiful, and the profpect more diversified, let it be remembered at the fame time, that between the compofition of these plays there was probably an interval of at least fifteen years; that even Shakspeare himself must have gradually acquired information like other mortals, and in that period muft have gained a knowledge of many characters, and various modes of life, with which in his earlier years he was unacquainted.
If this play had come down to us in the ftate in which the poet left it, its numerous ellipfes might fairly be urged to invalidate Shakspeare's claim to the whole or to any part of it. But the argument that is founded in these irregularities of the style lofes much of its weight, when it is confidered, that the earliest printed copy appears in fo imperfect a form, that there is fcarcely a fingle page of it undisfigured by the groffeft corruptions. As many words have been inferted, inconfiftent not only with the author's meaning, but with any meaning whatfoever, as many verfes appear to have been tranfpofed, and fome paffages are appropriated to characters to whom manifeftly they do not belong, fo there is great reason to believe that many words and even lines were omitted at the prefs; and it is highly probable that the printer is answerable for more of thefe ellipfes than the poet. The fame obfervation may be extended to the metre, which might have been originally fufficiently smooth and harmonious, though now, notwithstanding the editor's best care, it is feared it will be found in many places rugged and defective.
On the appearance of Shakspeare's name in the title-page of the original edition of Pericles, it is acknowledged no great ftrefs can be laid; for by the knavery of printers or bookfellers it has been likewife affixed to two pieces, of which it may be doubted whether a fingle line was written by our author. However, though
has obferved, was not Cinthio's novel, but the Heptameron of Whetstone. In like manner the catastrophe of Romeo and Juliet is rendered lefs affecting than it might have been made, by the author's having implicitly followed the poem of Romeus and Juliet, on which his play appears to have been formed. In The Winter's Tale, Bohemia, fituated nearly in the center of Europe, is defcribed as a maritime country, because it had been already described as fuch by Robert Greene in his Dorastus and Faunia; and in The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Protheus goes from one inland town to another by fea; a voyage that in fome novel he had probably taken before. Many fimilar inftances might be added.
*It is obfervable that the two plays of Pericles and Antony and Cleopatra were entered together at Stationers' Hall in the year 1608, by Edward Blount, a bookfeller of eminence, and one of the printers of the firft folio edition of our author's works.
the name of Shakspeare may not alone authenticate this play, it is not in the scale of evidence entirely infignificant; nor is it a fair conclufion, that, because we are not to confide in the titlepages of two dramas which are proved by the whole colour of the style and many other confiderations not to have been the compofition of Shakspeare, we are therefore to give no credit to the title of a piece, which we are led by very ftrong internal proof, and by many corroborating circumftances, to attribute to him. Though the title-pages of The London Prodigal and Sir John Oldcastle thould clearly appear to be forgeries, those of Henry IV. and Othello will still remain unimpeached.
The non-enumeration of Pericles in Meres's Catalogue of our author's plays, printed in 1598, is undecifive with respect to the authenticity of this piece; for neither are the three parts of King Henry VI. nor Hamlet mentioned in that lift; though it is certain they were written, and had been publickly performed, before his book was published.
Why this drama was omitted in the first edition of Shak fpeare's works, it is impoffible now to ascertain. But if we fhall allow the omiffion to be a decifive proof that it was not the compofition of our author, we must likewise exclude Troilus and Crefida from the lift of his performances for it is certain, this I was likewife omitted by the editors of the first folio, nor did they I fee their error till the whole work and even the table of contents was printed; as appears from its not being paged, or enumerated in that table with his other plays. I do not, however, fuppofe that the editors, Heminge and Condell, did not know who was the writer of Troilus and Creffida, but that the piece, though printed fome years before, for a time efcaped their me mory. The fame may be faid of Pericles. Why this alfo was not recovered, as well as the other, we can now only conjecture. Perhaps they thought their volume had already fwelled to a fufficient fize, and they did not choose to run the risk of retarding the fale of it by encreafing its bulk and price; perhaps they did not recollect The Prince of Tyre till their book had been iffued out; or perhaps they confidered it more for their friend's credit to omit this juvenile performance. Ben Jonfon, when he collected his pieces into a volume, in the year 1616, in like manner omitted a comedy called The Cafe is Altered, which had been printed with his name fome years before, and appears to have been one of his earliest productions; having been exhibited before the year 1599.
After all, perhaps, the internal evidence which this drama itfelf affords of the hand of Shakspeare is of more weight than VOL. XXI.
any other argument that can be adduced. If we are to form our judgment by thofe unerring criterions which have been established by the learned author of The Difcourfe on Poetical Imitation, the queftion will be quickly decided; for who can point out two writers, that without any communication or knowledge of each other ever produced fo many paffages, coinciding both in fenti ment and expreffion, as are found in this piece and the undifputed plays of Shakspeare? * Should it be faid, that he did not fcruple to borrow both fables and fentiments from other writers, and that therefore this circumftance will not prove this tragedy to be his, it may be answered, that had Pericles been an anony mous production, this coincidence might not perhaps ascertain Shakspeare's title to the play; and he might with fufficient probability be supposed to have only borrowed from another; but when, in addition to all the circumftances already stated, we recollect the constant tradition that has accompanied this piece, and that it was printed with his name, in his life-time, as acted at his own theatre, the parallel paffages which are fo abundantly fcattered throughout every part of Pericles and his undisputed performances, afford no flight proof, that in the feveral inftances enumerated in the courfe of the preceding obfervations, he borrowed, as was his frequent practice from himself; and that this contefted play was his own compofition.
The teftimony of Dryden to this point does not appear to me fo inconfiderable as it has been reprefented. If he had only meant to say, that Pericles was produced before Othello, the fecond line of the couplet which has been already quoted, would have fufficiently expreffed his meaning; nor, in order to convey this idea was it ncceffary to call the former the first dramatick performance of Shakspeare; a particular which he lived near enough the time to have learned from stage-tradition, or the more certain information of his friend Sir William D'Avenant. If
"Confidering the vast variety of words which any language, and especially the more copious ones furnish, and the infinite poffible combinations of them into all the forms of phrafeology, it would be very ftrange, if two perfons fhould hit on the fame identical terms, and much more, should they agree in the fame precife arrangement of them in whole fentences." Discourse on Poetical Imitation, Hurd's Horace, Vol. III. p. 109, edit. 1766.
Sir William D'Avenant produced his first play at the theatre in Blackfryers, in 1629, when he was twenty-four years old, at which time his paffion for apple-hunting, we may prefume, had fubfided, and given way to more manly pursuits. That a young poet thus early acquainted with the ftage, who appears to have had a great veneration for our author, who was poffeffed of the only original picture of Shakspeare ever painted, who carefully preferved
he had only taken the folio edition of our author's works for his guide, without any other authority, he would have named The Tempeft as his earliest production; because it happens to stand firft in the volume. But however this may be, and whether, when Dryden entitled Pericles our author's firft compofition, he meant to be understood literally or not, let it be remembered, that he calls it his PERICLES; that he speaks of it as the legiti mate, not the fpurious or adopted, offspring of our poet's muse ; as the fole, not the partial, property of Shakspeare.
I am yet, therefore, unconvinced, that this drama was not written by our author. The wildness and irregularity of the fable, the artlefs conduct of the piece, and the inequalities of the poetry, may, I think, be all accounted for, by fuppofing it either his firft or one of his earliest effays in dramatick compo fition. MALONE.
On looking into Rofcius Anglicanus, better known by the name of Downes the Prompter's Book, originally printed in 1708, and lately republished by the ingenious Mr. Waldron of Drury Lane Theatre, I was not a little furprized to find, that Pericles, Prince of Tyre was one of the characters in which the famous Betterton had been moft applauded. Could the copy from which this play was acted by him and his affociates, be recovered, it would prove a fingular curiofity; at least, to those who have fince been drudging through every fcene of the original quarto, 1609, in the hope of restoring it to fuch a degree of sense and measure as might give it currency with the reader.
As for the prefent editor, he expects to be
"Stopp'd in phials, and transfix'd with pins," on account of the readiness with which he has obeyed the fecond clause of the Ovidian precept:
"Cuneta prius tentanda; fed immedicabile vulnus
a letter written to him by King James, who himself altered four of his plays and introduced them in a new form on the ftage, fhould have been altogether incurious about the early hiftory and juvenile productions of the great luminary of the dramatick world, (then only thirteen years dead) who happened also to be his god-father, and was by many reputed his father, is not very credible. That he should have never made an enquiry concerning a play, printed with Shakspeare's name, and which appears to have been a popular piece at the very time when D'Avenant produced his first dramatick effay, (a third edition of Pericles having been printed in 1630) is equally improbable. And it is ftill more incredible, that our author's friend, old Mr. Heminge, who was alive in 1629, and principal proprietor and manager of the Globe and Blackfryars play houses, fhould not have been able to give him any information concerning a play, which had been produced at the former theatre, probably while it was under his direction, and had been acted by his company with great applaufe for more than thirty years.