« EdellinenJatka »
they admitted him into the confidence of their state affairs. Mr. Malone, whose opinions are entitled to a higher degree of credit, thinks that his prose compositions, if they should be discovered, would exhibit the same perspicuity, the same cadence, the same elegance and vigour, which we fiod in his plays. It is unfortunate, however, for all wishes and all conjectures, that not a line of Shakspeare's manuscript is known to exist, and his prose writings are no where hinted at. We have only printed copies of his plays and poems, and those so depraved by carelessness, or ignorance, that all the labour of all his commentators has not yet been able to restore them to a probable purity; many of the greatest difficulties attending the perusal of them yet remain, and will require wbat it is scarcely possible to expect, greater sagacity, and more happy conjecture, than have bitherto been employed.
Of his Poems, it is, perhaps, necessary that some notice should be taken, although they have never been favourites with the public, and have seldom been reprinted with bis plays. Shortly after his death, Mr. Malone informs us, a very incorrect impression of them was issued out, which in every subsequent edition was implicitly followed, until be published a correct edition, in 1780, with illustrations, &c. But the peremptory decision of Mr. Steevens, on the merits of these poems, must not be omitted. “We have not reprinted the Sonnets, &c. of Shakspeare, because the strongest act of parliament that could be framed would fail to compel readers into their service. Had Shakspeare produced no other works than these, his name would have reached us with as little celebrity as tiine has conferred on that of Thomas Watson, an older and much more elegant sopnetteer.” Severe as this may appear, it only amounts to the general conclusion which modern critics have formed. Still it cannot be denied that there are many scattered beauties amoug his Sonnets, and in The Rape of Lucrece; enough, it is hoped, to justify their admission into the present collection, especially as the Songs, &c. from his plays have been added, and a few smaller pieces selected by Mr. Ellis. Although they are now lost in the blaze of his dramatic genius, Mr. Malone remarks, “ that they seem to have gained him more reputation than bis plays: at least, they are oftener mentioned, or alluded to."
The elegant Preface of Dr. Johnson gives an account of the attempts made, in the early part of the last century, to revive the memory and reputation of our poet, by
ve, Pope, Theobald, Hanmer, and Warburton; whose respective marits he has characterised with candour, and with singular felicity of expression. Shakspeare's works may be overloaded with criticism; for what writer has excited so much curiosity, and so many opinions ! But Johnson's Preface is an accompaniment worthy of the genius it celebrates. His own edition followed in 1765; and a second, in conjunction with Mr. Steevens, in 1773. The third edition of the joint editors appeared in 1785, the fourth in 1793, and the last, and most complete, in 1803, in twenty-one volumes, octavo. Mr. Malone's edition was published in 1790, in ten volumes, crown octavo, and is now become exceedingly scarce. His original notes and improvements, however, are incorporated in the editions of 1793 and 1803, by Mr. Steevens. Mr. Malone says, that from the year 1716 to the date of his edition in 1790, that is, in seventy-four years, " above thirty thousand copies of Shakspeare have been dispersed through England.” To this we may add, with confidence, that since 1790 that number has been doubled, During the year 1803, no fewer than nine editions were in the press, belonging to the proprietors of this work; and if we add the editions printed by others, and those published in Scotland, Ireland, and America, we may surely fix the present as the highest era of Shakspeare's popularity. Nor, among the honours paid to his genius, ought we to forget the very magnificent edition undertaken by Messrs. Boydeli. Still less ought it to be forgotten how much the reputation of Shakspeare was revived by the unrivalled excellence of Garrick's performance. His share in directing the public taste towards the study of Shakspeare was, perhaps, greater than that of any individual in his time; and such was his zeal, and such his success, in this laudable attempt, that he may readily be forgiven the foolish mummery of the Stratford Jubilee.
When public opinion had begun to assign to Shakspeare the very high rank he was destined to hold, he became the promising object of fraud and imposture. This, we have already observed, he did not wholly escape in his own time, and he had the spirit, or policy, to despise it"?. It was reserved for modern impostors, however, to avail themselves of the obscurity in which his history is involved. In 1751, a book was published, entitled “A compendious or brief Examination of certayne ordinary Complaints of divers of our Countrymen in those our Days: which, although they are in some parte unjust and frivolous, yet are they all by way of Dialogue, throughly debated and discussed by William Shakspeare, gentleman.” This had been originally published in 1581; but Dr. Farmer has clearly proved, that W. S. gent. the only authority for attributing it to Shakspeare in the reprinted edition, meant William Stafford, gent. Theobald, the same accurate critic informs us, was desirous of palming upon the world a play called Double Falsehood, for a posthumous one of Shakspeare. In 1770 was reprinted at Feversham, an old play called The Tragedy of Arden of Feversham and Black Will, with a preface attributing it to Shakspeare, without the smallest foundation. But these were trifles, compared to the atrocious attempt made in 1795-6, when, besides a vast mass of prose and verse, letters, &c. pretendedly in the hand-writing of Shakspeare and his correspondents, an entire play, entitled Vortigern, was not only brought forward for the astonishment of the admirers of Shakspeare, but actually performed on Drury Lane stage. It would be unnecessary to expatiate on the merits of this play, which Mr. Steevens has very happily characterised as “the performance of a madman, without a lucid interval,” or to enter more at large into the nature of a fraud so recent, and so soon acknowledged by the authors of it. It produced, however, an interesting controversy between Mr. Malone and Mr. George Chalmers, which, although mixed with some unpleasant asperities, was extended to inquiries into the history and antiquities of the stage, from which future critics and historians may derive considerable information us.
13 Mr. Malone has given a list of fourteen plays ascribed to Shakspeare, either by the editors of the two later folios, or by the compilers of ancient catalogues. Of these, Pericles has found advocates for its admission into his works. C.
13 This sketch of Shakspeare's Life was drawn up by the present writer for a variorum edition of his works published in 1804; and no additional light having since been thrown on Shakspeare's history, it is here reprinted with very few alterations. C.
“ Thrice fairer than myself,” thus she began, VENUS AND ADONIS.
“ The field's chief flower, sweet above compare,
Stain to all nymphs, more lovely than a man, Vilia miretur vulgus, mihi flavus Apollo
More white and red than doves or roses are; Pocula Castalia plena ministrat aqua. Ovid. Nature that made thee, with herself at strife,
Saith, that the world hath ending with thy life. “ Vouchsafe, thou wonder, to alight thy steed,
And rein bis proud head to the saddle bow;
If thou wilt deigu this favour, for thy meed,
A thousand honey secrets shalt thou know :
Here come and sit, where serpent never hisses, EARL OF SOUTHAMPTON, AND BARON OP TITCHFIELD.
And, being set, I 'll smother thee with kisses.
“ And yet not cloy thy lips with loath'd satiety, I Exow Dot how I shall offend in dedicating my
But rather famish them amid their plenty, unpolished lines to your lordship, nor how the Making them red and pale with fresh sariety;
Ten kisses short as one, one long as twenty: world will censore me for choosing so strong a A suminer's day will seem an hour but short, prop to support so weak a burtben : only if your Being wasted in such tiine-beguiling sport.” honoar seem bat pleased, I account myself with this, she seizeth on his sweating palm, highly praised, and vow to take advantage of all The precedent of pith and livelihood, idle hours, till I have honoured you with some And, trembling in her passion, calls it balm,
Earth's sovereign salve to do a goddess good: graver labour. But if the first heir of my in Being so enrag'd, desire doth lend her force, vention prove deformed, I shall be sorry it had courageously to pluck him from his horse. so doble a godfather, and never after ear so bar. Over one arm the lusty courser's rein, ren a land, for fear it yield me still so bad a Uoder the other was the tender boy, harvest. I leave it to your honourable survey, Who blush'd and pouted in a dull disdain,
With leaden appetite, unapt to toy ; and your honour to your heart's content; which
She, red and bot, as coals of glowing fire, I wish may always answer your own wish, and the He red for shame, but frosty in desire. world's hopeful expectation.
The studded bridle on a ragged bough
Nimbly she fastens, (O how quick is love!)
The steed is stalled up, and even now
To tie the rider she begins to prove:
And govern'd him in strength, though not in lust. FVN as the Sun with purple colour'd face So soon was she along, as he was down,
Had ta'n his last leave of the weeping morn, Each leaning on their elbows and their hips : Rose-cheek'd Adonis hied him to the chase;
Now duth she stroke his cheek, now doth he frown, Hunting he lov'd, bat love he laugh'd to scoru : And 'gins to chide, but soon she stops his lips; Sick-thoughted Venus makes amain unto him, And kissing speaks, with lustful language broken, And like a bold-fac'd suitor 'gins to woo him. “ If thou wilt chide, thy lips shall never open." VOL. V.
He burns with bashful shame; she with her tears “ Thus him that over-ruld, I oversway'd,
Doth quench the maiden burning of his cheeks; Leading bim prisoner in a red-rose chain: Theu with her windy sighs, and golden hairs, Strong-temper'd steel his stronger strength obey,
To fan and blow them dry again she seeks: Yet was he servile to my coy disdain. He says, she is immodest, blames her 'miss; O be not proud, nor brag not of thy might, What follows more, she smothers with a kiss. For mast'ring her that foild the god of fight.
Even as an empty eagle, sharp by fast,
Tires with her beak on feathers, flesh, and bone, Shaking her wings, devouring all in baste,
Till either gorge be stuff'd, or prey be gone; Even so she kiss'd his brow, the cheek, his chin, And where she evds, she doth anew begin.
" Touch but my lips with those fair lips of thine
(Though mine be not so fair, yet are they red) The kiss shall be thine own as well as mine:
What see'st thou in the ground? bold up thy head; Look in mine eye-balls where thy beanty lies: Then why not lips on lips, since eyes on eyes? « Art thou ashain'd to kiss ? then wink again,
And I will wink, so shall the day seem night; Love keeps his revels where there be but twain,
Be bold to play, our sport is not in sight: These blue-vein'd violets whereon we lean, Never can blab, nor know they what we mean.
Forc'd to content, but never to obey,
Panting he lies, and breathing in her face; She feedeth on the steam, as on a prey,
And calls it heavenly moisture, air of grace, Wishing her cheeks were gardeus full of flowers, So they were dew'd with such distilling showers.
Look how a bird lies tangled in a net,
So fasten'd in her arms Adonis lies; Pure shame and aw'd resistance made him fret,
Which bred more beauty in his angry eyes : Rain added to a river that is rank, Perforce will force it overflow the bank.
“ The tender spring upon thy tempting lip
Shows thee unripe; yet may'st thou well be tasted ; Make use of time, let not advantage slip;
Beauty within itself should not be wasted : Fair flowers that are not gather'd in their prime, Rot and consume themselves in little time.
Still she entreats, and prettily entreats,
For to a pretty ear she tunes her tale ; Still is he sullen, still he low'rs and frets,
'Twixt crinison shame and anger, ashy-pale; Being red, she loves him best; and, being white, Her best is better'd with a more delight.
Look how he can, she cannot choose but love;
And by her fair immortal hand she swears From his soft bosom never to remove,
Till he take truce with her contending tears, Which long have rain'd, making her cheeks all wet; And one sweet kiss shall pay this countless debt. Upon this promise did he raise his chin,
Like a di-dapper peering through a wave, Who being look'd on, ducks as quickly in;
So suffers be to give what she did crave; But when her lips were ready for his pay, He winks, and turns his lips another way.
“ Were I hard favour'd, foal, or wrinkled old,
Ill natur'd, crooked, churlish, harsh in voice, O’erworn, despised, rheumatic, and cold,
Thick-sighted, barren, lean, and lacking juice, Then migh'st thou pause, for then I were not for
thee; But having no defects, why dost abhor me? “ Thou canst not see one wrinkle in my brow;
Mine eyes are grey, and bright, and quick in turnMy beauty as the spring doth yearly grow, [ing;
My flesh is soft and plump, my marrow burning ; My smooth moist hand, were it with thy band felt, Would in thy palm dissolve, or seem to melt.
Never did passenger in summer's heat
More thirst for drink, than she for this good turn. Her help she sees, but help she cannot get;
She bathes in water, yet in fire must burn: “ Oh pity," 'gan she cry, “ Alint-hearted boy; 'T is but a kiss I beg ; why art thou coy?
“ Bid me discourse, I will enchant thine ear,
Or, like a fairy, trip upon the green,
Dance on the sands, and yet no footing seen :
These forceless flowers like sturdy trees support Two strengthless doves will draw me through the sky,
From morn till night, even where I list to sport me: Is love so light, sweet boy, and may it be That thou shouldst think it heavy unto thee?
“ I have been won'd, as I entreat thee now,
Even by the stern and direful god of war, Whose sinewy neck in battle ne'er did bow,
Who conquers where he comes, in every jar; Yet hath he been my captive and my slave, And begg'd for that which thou unask'd shall bave.
“ Is thine own heart to tbine own face affected ?
Can thy right hand seize lore upon thy left ? Then woo thyself, be of thyself rejected,
Steal thine own freedom, and complain of theft. Narcissus so, himself himself forsook, And dy'd to kiss his shadow in the brook.
“ Over my altars hath he hung his lance,
His batter'd shield, his uncontrolled crest, And for my sake hath learn'd to sport and dance,
To coy, to wanton, dally, smile, and jest; Scorning his churlish drum, and ensigo red, Making my arms his field, his tent my bed.
“ Torches are made to light, jewels to wear,
Dainties to taste, fresh beauty for the use, Herbs for their smell, and sappy plants to bear;
Things growing to themselves are growth's abuse : Seeds spring from seeds, and beauty breadeth beauThou wert begot-to get it is thy duty. [ty.
Upon the Earth's increase why should'st thou feed,]“ Fondling,” she saith, "since I have hemm'd thee
here, By law of Nature thou art born to breed,
Within the circuit of this ivory pale, That thine may live, when thou thyself art dead; I'll be the park, and thou shalt be my deer ; And so in spite of death thou do'st survive,
Feed where thou wilt, on mountain or in dale: In that thy likeness still is left alive.”
Graze on my lips; and if those hilis be dry,
Stray lower, where the pleasant fountains lie. By this, the love-sick queen began to sweat,
For, where they lay, the shadow had forsook them, « Within this limit is relief enough, dod Titan, tired in the mid-day heat,
Sweet bottom-grass, and high delightful plain, With burning eye did hotly overlook them; Round rising billocks, brakes obscure and rough, Wishing Adonis had his team to guide,
To shelter thee from tempest and from rain; So he were like him, and by Venus' side.
Then be my deer, since I am such a park;
No dog shall rouse thee, though a thousand bark." And por Adonis, with a lazy spright, And with a heavy, dark, disliking eye,
At this Adonis smiles, as in disdain,
Like misty vapours, when they blot the sky, Love made those hollows, if himself were slain,
Why there love liv'd, and there he could not die. " Ah me," quoth Venus, "young, and so unkind!
What bare excuses mak'st thou to be gone! These lovely caves, these round-enchanting pits, I'll sigh celestial breath, whose gentle wind
Opeu'd their months to swallow Venus' liking: Shall cool the beat of this descending Sun; Being mad before, how doth she now for wits? I'll make a shadow for thee of my hairs;
Struck dead at first, what needs a second striking ? If they burn too, I 'll quench them with my tears. Poor queen of love, in thine own law forlorn,
To love a cheek that smiles at thee in scorn! * The Sun that shines from Heaven, shines but warm,
And lo, I lie between that Sun and thee; Now which way shall she turn? what shall she say?
Thine eye darts forth the fire that burneth me: The time is spent, ber object will away,
And from her twining arms doth urge releasing: Between this heavenly and earthly Sun.
“Pity,” she cries; “some favour-some remorse--"
Away be springs, and hasteth to his horse. * Art thou obdurate, finty, hard as steel,
Nay more than flint, for stone at rain relenteth; But lo, from forth a copse that neighbours by, Art thou a woman's son, and canst not feel
A breeding jennet, lusty, young, and proud, What 't is to love? how want of love tormenteth? | Adonis' trampling courser doth espy, O had thy mother borne so bad a mind,
And forth she rushes, snorts, and neighs aloud : She had not brought forth thee, but died unkind. The strong-neck'd steed, being tied unto a tree,
Breaketh his rein, and to her straight goes be. * What am I, that thou should'st contemn me thus ? Or what great danger dwells upon my suit ? Imperiously he leaps, he neighs, he bounds, What were thy lips the worse for one poor kiss ? And now his woven girts he breaks asunder, Speak fair; but speak fair words, or else be mute: The bearing Earth with his hard hoof he wounds, Give ine one kiss, I'll give it thee again,
Whose hollow womb resounds like Heaven's thunAnd one for interest, if thou wilt have twain. The iron bit he crushes 'tween his teeth, (der;
Controlling what he was controlled with.
His ears up prick'd; his braided lianging main Satue , contenting but the eye alone,
Upon his compass'd crest now stands on end; Thing like a man, but of no woman bred ;
His nostrils drink the air, and forth again, Thou art no man, though of a man's complexion,
As from a furnace, vapours doth be send : For men will kiss even by their own direction.”
His eye, which glisters scornfully like fire,
Shows his hot courage and bis high desire.
With gentle majesty, and modest pride;
Anon he rears upright, curvets and leaps,
As who would say, “Lo! thus my strength is And now she keeps, and now she fain would speak, And thus I do to captivate the eye Sed now her sobs do her intendments break.
Of the fair breeder that is standing by." Smetimes she shakes her head, and then his hand, What recketh he his rider's angry stir, Now gazeth she on him, now on the ground; His flattering holla, or his Stand, I say? Smetimes her arms enfold him like a band ;
What cares he now for curb, or pricking spur! She would, he will not in her arms be bound;
For rich caparisons, or trappings gay? And when from thence he struggles to be gone,
He sees his love, and nothing else he sees, Se locks her lily fingers, one in one.
For nothing else with his proud sigbt agrees.