third edition, printed in 1612, in small octavo, and published by W. Jaggard, is connected with the following literary history.

In 1609, Thomas Heywood published a folio volume entitled “ Troia Britanica: or, Great Britaine's Troy. A Poem, devided into 17 severall Cantons, intermixed with many pleasant poeticall Tales. Concluding with an Universal Chronicle - from the Creation, untill these present Times.” This work was printed and published by William Jaggard, and includes two translations from Ovid, namely the epistles of Paris to Helen, and Helen to Paris, “which being so pertinent to our historie,” says Heywood, “ I thought necessary to translate.”

It happened, unfortunately for the honest fame of Jaggard, that when he published the third edition of the Passionate Pilgrim in 1612, he was tempted, with the view of increasing the size of his volume, to insert these versions by Heywood, dropping, however, the translator's name, and, of course, suffering them to be ascribed to Shakspeare, who appears in the title-page as the author of the entire collection.

Shortly after this imposition on the public had gone forth, Heywood produced his “ Apology for Actors. Containing three briefe Treatises. 1. Their Antiquity. 2. Their Ancient Dignity. 3. The true use of their quality. London: Printed by Nicholas Okes, 1612,” 4to. ; and at the close of this thin treatise, which consists but of sixty pages, the author addresses the following remarkable epistle to his new bookseller :

“ To my approved good friend, Mr. Nicholas Okes. “ The infinite faults escaped in my booke of Britaine's Troy, by the negligence of the printer, as the misquotations, mistaking of sillables, misplacing halfe lines, coining of strange and never heard of words : these being without number, when I would have taken a particular account of the errata, the printer answered me, hee would not publish his owne disworkemanship, but rather let his owne fault

lye upon

the nècke of the author: and being fearfull that others of his quality, had beene of the same nature, and condition, and finding you on the contrary, so carefull and industrious, so serious and laborious, to doe the author all the rights of the presse; I could not choose but gratulate your honest endeavours with this short remembrance. Here likewise, I must necessarily insert a manifest injury done me in that worke, by taking the two Epistles of Paris to Helen, and Helen to Paris, and printing them in a lesse volume, under the name of another. (Shakspeare), which may put the world in opinion I might steale them from him ; and hee, to doe himselfe right, hath since published them in his owne name: but as I must acknowlege my

lines not worthy his patronage under whom he hath publisht them, so THE AUTHOR (Shakspeare) 1 KNOW MUCH OFFENDED WITH M. JAGGARD THAT (ALTOGETHER UNKNOWNE TO HIM) PRESUMED TO MAKE SO BOLD WITH HIS NAME. These, and the like dishonesties, I know you to be cleare of; and I could wish but to bee the happy author of so worthy a worke as I could willingly commit to your care and workmanship.

Your's ever,

[ocr errors][merged small]

Here nothing can be more evident than that Jaggard introduced these translations in the “ Passionate Pilgrim,” without the permission, or even the knowledge of Shakspeare, and further, that he, Shakspeare, was much offended with Jaggard for so doing; a piece of information which completely rescues the memory of Shakspeare from any connivance in the fraud : and yet, strange as it may appear, on this very epistle of Heywood has been founded a charge of imposition against Shakspeare, and the only defence offered for the calumniated poet has been, that, contrary to the public and positive assertion of Heywood, he, and not Heywood, was the translator of the Epistles in question.

This interpretation can only be accounted for on the supposition that both the accuser and defender have alike mistaken the language of Heywood, and have conceived him to have been speaking of him

self, when, in fact, he was referring to Shakspeare; for, that the passage “-80 the author I know much offended with M. Jaggard that (altogether urknowne to him) presumed to make so bold with his name,can only be applied to our great poet, must be clear from the consideration that Jaggard, so far from making bold with the name of Heywood, dropped it altogether, 'while he daringly committed the very offence as to Shakspeare, by clandestinely affixing his name to the versions of Heywood.

It will be right, however, to bring forward the accusation and defence of these gentlemen, as they will sufficiently prove that more errors than one have been committed in their attempts, and that these have been the result of a want of intimacy with the literary history of Shakspeare's age.

In 'the twenty-sixth volume of the Monthly Magazine, a correspondent whose signature is Y. Z., after commenting on Heywood's letter, as quoted by Dr. Farmer, and after transcribing the very passage just given above in Italics, declares “ this


contains an heavy charge against Shakspeare: it accuses him, not only of an attempt to impose on the public, but on his patron, Lord Southampton, to whom he dedicated his “unpolisht lines * ;'” and, in his reply to Mr. Lofft, he again remarks, – _^ The translations in question were certainly published in Shakspeare's name, and with his permission ; they were also dedicated by him to his best and kindest friend." +

Now, that the passage in debate contains no charge against Shakspeare is, we think, perfectly demonstrable from the import of Heywood's epistle, which we have given at full length, and which, we suspect, Y. Z. has only partially seen, through the medium of Dr. Farmer's quotation.

That the poet imposed upon his patron by dedicating to him his “ unpolisht lines,” meaning these versions from Ovid, is an assertion totally contrary to the fact. Of his poems Shakspeare dedicated only

* Vol. xxvi. p. 120, 121.

+ Ibid. vol. xxvi. p. 523.

two to Lord Southampton, which were published separately, the Venus and Adonis in 1593, and the Rape of Lucrece in 1594, and the expression “ unpolisht lines” alludes exclusively to the first of these productions.

So far from any permission being given by Shakspeare for the insertion of these translations, we find him highly offended with Jaggard for presuming to introduce them under his name; and from the admission of these pieces and Marlowe's poem, we may securely infer that the three editions by Jaggard of the Passionate Pilgrim were surreptitious and void of all authority. Such, indeed, seems to have been the opinion of his contemporaries with regard to the first impression ; for the two poems in Jaggard's collection of 1599, commencing

My flocks feed not,” and “ As it fell upon a day,” are inscribed to Shakspeare, while in England's Helicon of 1600 they bear the subscription of Ignoto, a pretty plain intimation of all want of reliance on the editorial sagacity of this unprincipled bookseller.

Justice requires of us to state that Y. Z. has not brought forward this accusation from any enmity to the poet, of whom, on the contrary, he professes himself to be an ardent admirer ; but with the hope of seeing the transaction cleared up to the honour of his favourite bard, a hope which Mr. Lofft, in a subsequent number of the Magazine, generously comes forward to gratify.

In doing this, however, he has unfortunately taken for granted the data on which Y. Z. has founded his charge, and builds his defence of the poet on the ill-grounded supposition of his being the real translator of the Epistles of Ovid, treating the question as if it were the subject of a trial at law. The consequence has been a somewhat singular series of mistakes. “ It appears,” observes Mr. Lofft, 6 that among his undisputed poems, these translations were published by Jaggard, in 1609.” *

Here are two assumptions, of which one seems founded on a surmise in the first communication of Y. Z., who says,

[ocr errors][merged small]

there is every

: if my memory does not deceive me, the Poems of Shakspeare appeared in 1609.”* That an edition of the Passionate Pilgrim was printed between the years 1599 and 1612 is certain, for the copy of 1612 is expressly termed the third edition ; but that this impression took place in 1609, is a conclusion without any authority, for, as we have remarked before, no copy of this date has yet been discovered. Granting, however, that it did issue in this

year, reason, from the detail already given, to affirm, that it could not contain the translations in question, and was probably nothing more than a re-impression of the edition of 1599.

“ In the same year” (that is 1609), proceeds Mr. L., “ Heywood makes his claim.” Heywood made no claim until 1612; yet, continues Mr. L., “ this he does in a book entitled • Britain's Glory,' published by the very same Jaggard.” Now Heywood wrote no book entitled “ Britain's Glory,” an assertion which seems to be verified by Mr. Lofft himself, who commences the next paragraph but one in the following terms: -“ This Britain's Troy, in which he advances his claim to these translations, seems to have been the earliest of the many volumes which he published,” a sentence which almost compels us to consider the title “ Britain's Glory,” in the preceding paragraph, as a typographical error; but it is remarkable that neither in Britain's Troy is this claim advanced, nor was it by many instances the earliest of his publications, a reference to the Biographia Dramatica exhibiting not less than five of his productions anterior to 1609.

These inaccuracies in the charge and defence of Shakspeare, the detection of which has proved an unpleasant task, and peculiarly so when we reflect, that to one of the parties and to his family #: the

Monthly Magazine, vol. xxvi. p. 121. + Of the ill-requited Capel, whose text of Shakspeare, notwithstanding all which has been achieved since his decease, is, perhaps, one of the purest extant, we shall probably have occasion to speak hereafter. Of the talents of his nephew, and of the glowing attachment which he bears to Shakspeare, and of the taste and judgment which he has shown in appreciating his writings and character, we possess an interesting memorial in the

oduction to his late publication, entitled “ Aphorisms from Sbakspeare."

« VorigeDoorgaan »