« VorigeDoorgaan »
And had twey sones by iunge age
the kyndom of Antioche
at byddynge of hys wyf,
best sone of that empire
that he louede dure,
hys soule to God al myght
me on alle lyues space
to the makers stat
y thoughte you have wryte
Explicit APPOLONI Tyrus Rex nobilis & vituosus, &c.
This story is also related by Gower, in his Confessio Amantis, lib. vii. p. 175—185, edit. 1554. Most of the incidents of the play are found in his
narration, and a few of his expressions are occasionally borrowed. Gower,
u Or elles of Tyrius Appolonius,
A French translation from the Latin prose, evidently of the fifteenth century, is among the Royal MSS. in the British Museum, 20, c. ii. There are several more recent French translations of the story- —one under the title of “ La Chronique d'Appolin Roi de Thyr," 4to. Geneva, blk. l. no date; another by Gilles Corrozet, Paris, 1530, 8vo. It is also printed in the seventh vol. of the Histoires Tragiques de Belleforest, 12mo. 1604; and, modernized by M. Le Brun, was printed at Amsterdam in 1710, and Paris in 1711, 12mo. There is an abstract of the story in the Mélanges tirées d'une grande Bibliothèque, vol. lxiv. p. 265.
The first English prose version of the story, translated by Robert Copland, was printed by Wynkyn de Worde, 1510. It was again translated by T. Twine, and originally published by W. Howe, 1576. Of this there was a second impression in 1607, under the title of The Patterne of painful Adventures, containing the most excellent, pleasant, and variable Historie of the strange Accidents that befel unto Prince Appolonius, the Lady Lucina his Wife, and Tharsia his Daughter, &c.; translated into English by T. Twine, Gent. The Poet seems to have made use of this prose narration as well as of Gower.
“ That the greater part, if not the whole, of this drama, was the composition of Shakspeare, and that it is to be considered as his earliest dramatic effort, are positions, of which the first has been rendered highly probable by the elaborate disquisitions of Messrs. Steevers and Malone, and may possibly be placed in a clearer point of view by a more condensed and lucid arrangement of the testimony already produced, and by a further discussion of the merits and peculiarities of the play itself; while the second will, we trust, receive additional support by inferences legitimately deduced from a comprehensive survey of scattered and hitherto insulated prernises."
The evidence required for the establishment of a high degree of probability under the first of these positions, necessarily divides itself into two parts—the external and the internal evidence. The former commences with the original edition of Pericles, which was entered on the Stationers' books by Edward Blount, one of the printers of the first folio edition of Shakspeare's plays, on the 20th of May, 1608, but did not, pass the press until the subsequent year, when it was published, not, as might have been expected, by Blount, but by one Henry Gosson, who placed Shakspeare's name at full length in the title page. It is worthy of remark, also, that this edition was entered at Stationers' Hall, together with Antony and Cleopatra, and that it (and the three following editions, which were also in quarto) was styled in the title page the much admired play of Pericles. As the entry, however, was by Blount, and the edition by Gosson, it is probable that the former had been anticipated by the latter, through the procurance of a play-house copy. It may also be added, that Pericles was performed at Shakspeare's own theatre, The Globe. The next ascription of this play to our Author, is in a poem entitled The Times Displayed, in Sir Sestyads, by S. Sheppard, 4to. 1646, dedicated to Philip Herbert, earl of Pembroke, and containing in the ninth stanza of the sixth Sestiad a positive assertion of Shakspeare's property in this drama:
“ See him whose tragic sceans Euripides
Witness the Prince of Tyre, his Pericles.” This high eulogium on Pericles received a direct contradiction very shortly afterwards from the pen of an obscure poet named Tatham, who bears, however, an equally strong testimony as to Shakspeare's being the author of the piece, which he thus presumes to censure :
“But Shakespeare, the plebeian driller, was
Foundered in his Pericles, and must not pass.” To these testimonies in 1646 and 1652, full and unqualified, and made at no distant period from the death of the Bard to whom they relate, we have to add the still more forcible and striking declaration of Dryden, who tells us, in 1677, and in words as strong and decisive as he could select, that
“Shakspeare's own muse his Pericles first bore.”
“ The only drawback on this accumulation of external evidence, is the omission of Pericles in the first edition of our Author's works; a negative fact, which can have little weight, when we recollect that both the memory and judgment of Heminge and Condell, the Poet's editors, were so defec. tive, that they had forgotten Troilus and Cressida, until the entire folio, and the table of contents, had been printed; and admitted Titus Andronicus and the Historical Play of King Henry the Sixth, probably for no other reasons than that the former had been, from its unmerited popularity, brought forward by Shakspeare on his own theatre, though, there is suffi. cient internal evidence to prove, without the addition of a single line ; and because the latter, with a similar predilection of the lower orders in its favor, had obtained a similar, though not a more labored attention froin our Poct, and was therefore deemed by his editors, though very unnecessarily, a requisite introduction to the two plays on the reign of that monarch, which Shakspeare had really new-modeled.”
* It cannot, consequently, be surprising, as they had forgotten Troilus and Cressida until the folio had been printed, they should have forgotten Pericles until the same folio had been in circulation, and when it was too late to correct the omission; an error which the second folio has, without doubt or examination, blindly copied.”
“ If the external evidence in support of Shakspeare being the author of the greater part of this play be striking, the internal must be pronounced still more so, and, indeed, absolutely decisive of the question; for, whether we consider the style and phraseology, or the imagery, sentiment, and humor, 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.' Steevens says, “I admit, without reserve, that Shakspeare
whose hopeful colors
Advance a half-faced sun, striving to shine'is visible in many scenes throughout the play ;--the purpurei panni are Shakspeare's, and the rest the production of some inglorious and forgotten playwright;'>adding, in a subsequent paragraph, that Pericles is valuable, i 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.' Malone gives it as his corrected opinion, that “the congenial sentiments, the numerous expressions bearing a striking similitude to passages in Shakspeare's undisputed plays, some of the incidents, the situation of many of the persons, and in various places the color of the style,-all these combine to set his seal on the play before us, and furnish us with internal and irresistible proofs, that a considerable portion of this piece, as it now appears, was written by him.' On this ground he thinks the greater part of the three last acts may be safely ascribed to him; and that his hand may be traced occasionally in the other two. Many will be of opinion (says Mr. Douce) that it contains more that Shakspeare might have written than either Love's Labor's Lost, or All's Well that Ends Well.
“ For satisfactory proof that the style, phraseology, and imagery of the greater part of this play are truly Shakspearian, the reader has only to attend to the numerous coincidences which, in these respects, occur between Pericles and the Poet's subsequent productions; similitudes so 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 humor, sentiment, and character, not only shall we find additional evidence in favor of its being, in a great degree, the product of our Author, but fresh cause, it is expected, for awarding it a higher estimation than it has hitherto obtained."
Dr. Drake enters much more at large into the argument for establishing this as a juvenile effort of our great Poet, and for placing the date of its composition in the year 1590; but we must content ourselves with referring the reader to his work for these particulars. He continues :
“Steevens thinks that this play was originally named Pyroclés, after the hero of Sidney's Arcadia ; the character, as he justly observes, not bearing the smallest affinity to that of the Athenian statesman. It is remarkable,' says he, ó that many of our ancient writers were ambitious to exhibit Sidney's worthies on the stage ; and when his subordinate heroes were advanced to such honor, how happened it that Pyrocles, their leader, should be overlooked ? Musidorus (his companion), Argalus and Parthenia, Phalantus and Eudora, Andromana, &c., furnished titles for different tragedies; and perhaps Pyrocles, in the present instance, was defrauded of a like distinction. The names invented or employed by Sidney had once such popularity, that they were sometimes borrowed by poets who did not profess to follow the direct current of his fables, or attend to the strict preservation of his characters. I must add, that the Appolyn of the Story-book and Gower could only have been rejected to make
room for a more favorite name; yet, however conciliating the name of Pyrocles might have been, that of Pericles could challenge no advantage with regard to general predilection. All circumstances therefore considered, it is not improbable that Shakspeare designed his chief character to be called Pyrocles, not Pericles, however ignorance or accident might have shufHed the latter (a name of almost similar sound) into the place of the former.' "This conjecture will amount almost to certainty, if we diligently compare Pericles with the Pyrocles of the Arcadia ; the same romantic, versatile, and sensitive disposition is ascribed to both characters, and several of the incidents pertaining to the latter are found mingled with the adventures of the former personage; while throughout the play, the obligations of its Author to various other parts of the romance may be frequently and distinctly traced, not only in the assumption of an image or a sentiment, but in the adoption of the very words of his once popular predecessor, proving incontestibly the Poet's familiarity with and study of the Arcadia to have been very considerable.
“ However wild and extravagant the fable of Pericles may appear, if we consider its numerous choruses, its pageantry, and dumb shows, its continual succession of incidents, and the great length of time which they occupy, yet it is, we may venture to assert, the most spirited and pleasing specimen of the nature and fabric of our earliest romantic drama which we possess, and the most valuable, as it is the only one with which Shakspeare has favored us. We should therefore welcome this play as an admirable example of the neglected favorites of our ancestors, with something of the same feeling that is experienced in the reception of an old and valued friend of our fathers or grandfathers. Nay, we should like it the better for its gothic appendages of pageants and choruses, to explain the 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 fireside, 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.'
“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 drama, 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 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 many reasons, 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 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 ?
“ 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 frequently, traced in the first and second acts; after which, feeling the incompetency of his fellow-laborer, he seems to have assumed almost the entire management of the remainder, nearly the whole of the third, fourth, and fifth acts