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imagery, sentiment, and humour, the approximation to our author's uncontested dramas appears so close, frequent, and peculiar, as to stamp irresistible conviction on the mind.
The result has accordingly been such as might have been predicted under the assumption of the play being genuine; for the more it has been examined, the more clearly has Shakspeare's large property in it been established. It is curious, indeed, to note the increased tone of confidence which each successive commentator has assumed in proportion as he has weighed the testimony arising from the piece itself. Rowe, in his first edition, says, “ it is owned that some part of Pericles certainly was written by him, particularly the last act ;" Dr. Farmer observes that the hand of Shakspeare may be seen in the latter part of the play; Dr. Percy remarks, that “ more of the phraseology used in the genuine dramas of Shakspeare prevails in Pericles, than in any of the other six doubted plays *,” and, of the two rival restorers of this drama, Steevens and Malone, the former declares ; -“ I admit without reserve that Shakspeare,
“ whose hopeful colours
is visible in many scenes throughout the play ;-—the purpurei panni are Shakspeare's, and the rest the productions of some inglorious and forgotten play-wright;" — adding, in a subsequent paragraph, that Pericles is valuable, “ as the engravings of Mark Antonio are valuable not only on account of their beauty, but because they are supposed to have been executed under the eye of Raffaelle †;" while the latter gives it as his corrected opinion, that “ the congenial sentiments, the numerous expressions bearing a striking similitude to passages
in his undisputed plays, some of the incidents, the situation of many of the persons, and in various places the colour of the style, all these combine to set the seal of Shakspeare on the play before us, and
+ Ibid. p. 403. 404. 411.
* Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xxi. p.389. VOL. II.
furnish up with internal and irresistible proofs, that a considerable portion of this piece, as it now appears, was written by him. The greater part of the three last acts may, I think, on this ground be sately issribed to him; and his hand may be traced occasionally in the other two divisions." * Lastly, Mr. Douce asserts, that “ many will be of opinion that it contains more that he might have written than either Lone's Labour's Lost, or All's Well that Ends Well.” +
For satisfactory proot' that the style, phraseology, and imagery of the greater part of this play are truly Shakspearean, the reader is mitmed to the commentators, who have noticed, with unwearied We curacy, all the numerons coincidences which, in these respects, urrur boween Pericles and the poet's subsequent productions ; simihowdes no striking, as to leave no doubt that they originated from one and the same source.
If we attend, however, a little further to the dramatic construction of Pericles, to its humour, sentiment, and character, not only shall we lind additional evidence in favour of its being, in a great degree, the product of our author, but fresh cause, it is expected, for awarding il a higher estimation than it has hitherto obtained.
However wild and extravagant the fable of Pericles may appear, if was consider its numerous chorusses, its pageantry, and dumb shows, bo op comtimual succession of incidents, and the great length of time weto Ebay occupy, yet is it, we may venture to assert, the most provand nud pleasing specimen of the nature and fabric of our earliest Pinh doama which we possess, and the more valuable, as it is the
mk with which Shakspeare has favoured us. We should therepropia watsome this play, an admirable example of “ the neglected pareceriles of our ancestors, with something of the same feeling that is te behet me board in the reception of an old and valued friend of our borbe pot of grandfathers. Nay, we should like “ it” the better for
H.," Hrabic appendages of pageants and chorusses, to explain the
. Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xxi. p. 390.
intricacies of the fable; and we can see no objection to the dramatic representation even of a series of ages in a single night, that does not apply to every description of poem which leads in perusal from the fire-side at which we are sitting, to a succession of remote periods and distant countries. In these matters, faith is all-powerful ; and, without her influence, the most chastely cold and critically correct of dramas is precisely as unreal as the Midsummer-Night's Dream, or the Winter's Tale." *
Perfectly coinciding in opinion with this ingenious critic, and willing to give an indefinite influence to the illusion of the scene, we have found in Pericles much entertainment from its uncommon variety and rapidity of incident, qualities which peculiarly mark the genius of Shakspeare, and which rendered this drama so successful on its first appearance, that the poets of the time quote its reception as a remarkable instance of popularity. +
A still more powerful attraction in Pericles is, that the interest accumulates as the story proceeds ; for, though many of the characters in the earlier part of the piece, such as Antiochus and his Daughter, Simonides and Thaisa, Cleon and Dionyza, disappear and drop into. oblivion, their places are supplied by more pleasing and efficient agents, who are not only less fugacious, but better calculated for theatric effect. The inequalities of this production are, indeed, considerable, and only to be accounted for, with probability, on the supposition, that Shakspeare either accepted a coadjutor, or improved on the rough sketch of a previous writer; the former, for reasons which will be assigned hereafter, seems entitled to a preference, and will explain why, in compliment to his dramatic friend, he has suffered a few passages, and one entire scene, of a character totally
* Monthly Review, New Series, vol. lxxvii. p. 158.
+ Thus, in the prologue to a comedy entitled The Hog has lost his Pearl, 1614, the author, alluding to his own production, says,
“ if it prove so happy as to please,
dissimilar to his own style and mode of composition, to stand uncorrected; for who does not perceive that of the closing scene of the second act, not a sentence or a word escaped from the pen of Shakspeare, and yet, that the omission of a few lines would have rendered that blameless and consistent, which is now, with reference to the character of Simonides, a tissue of imbecillity, absurdity, and falsehood. *
As this is the only scene in the play which disgusts from its total dereliction of nature, a result at once decisive as to Shakspeare having no property in it; and as the mere omission of a few lines, not a word being either added or altered, will be sufficient to render the whole probable and inoffensive, I cannot avoid wishing that such curtailment might be adopted in every future edition.
PENTAPOLIS. A Room in the Palace.
Sim. So ---
Sim. To you as much, sir ! I am beholden to you,
Per. It is your grace's pleasure to commend;
Sim. Sir, you are musick's master.
Sim. Let me ask one thing. What do you think, sir, of
Per. As of a most virtuous princess.
No play, in fact, more openly discloses the hand of Shakspeare than Pericles, and fortunately his share in its composition appears to have been very considerable ; he may be distinctly, though not fre
Sim. My daughter, sir, thinks very well of you;
peruse this writing, sir.
Sim. Thou hast bewitch'd my daughter, and thou art
Per. By the gods, I have not, sir.
Sim. Now, by the gods, I do applaud his courage. (Aside.
Thais. Yes, if you love me, sir. (Addressing Pericles.
Even as my life, my blood that fosters it. (Exeunt. Thus contracted, the scene would no longer excite the “supreme contempt” which Mr. Steevens expresses for it, adding in reference to its original state, “ such another gross, nonsensical dialogue, would be sought for in vain among the earliest and rudest efforts of the British theatre. It is impossible not to wish that the Knights had horse-whipped Simonides, and that Pericles had kicked him off the stage."