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On the fubject of Pericles, Lillo formed a play of three Acts, which was firft reprefented in the year 1738.
To a former edition of this play were fubjoined two Differtations; one written by Mr. Steevens, the other by me. In the latter I urged fuch arguments as then appeared to me to have weight, to prove that it was the entire work of Shakspeare, and one of his earliest compofitions. Mr. Steevens on the other hand maintained, that it was originally the production of fome elder playwright, and afterwards improved by our poet, whofe hand was acknowledged to be vifible in many fcenes throughout the play. On a review of the various arguments which each of us produced in favour of his own hypothefis, I am now convinced that the theory of Mr. Steevens was right, and have no difficulty. in acknowledging my own to be erroneous.
This play was entered on the Stationers' books, together with Antony and Cleopatra, in the year 1608, by Edward Blount, a bookfeller of eminence, and one of the publishers of the firft. folio edition of Shakspeare's works. It was printed with his, name in the title-page, in his life-time; but this circumftance proves nothing; becaufe by the knavery of bookfellers other. pieces were alfo afcribed to him in his life-time, of which he indubitably wrote not a line. Nor is it neceffary to urge in fupport of its genuineness, that at a fubfequent period it was afcribed to him by feveral dramatick writers. I with not to rely on any circumftance of that kind; because in all questions of this nature, internal evidence is the beft that can be produced, and to every perfon intimately acquainted with our poet's writings, muft in the prefent cafe be decifive. The congenial fentiments, the numerous expreffions bearing a striking fimilitude to paffages in his undifputed plays, fome of the incidents, the fituation of many of the perfons, and in various places the colour of the flyle, all thefe combine to fet the feal of Shakspeare on the play before us, and furnith us with internal and irresistible proofs, that a confiderable portion of this piece, as it now appears, was written by him. The greater part of the three laft Acts may, I think, on this ground be fafely ascribed to him; and his hand may be traced occafionally in the other two divifions.
To alter, new-model, and improve the unfuccefsful dramas of preceding writers, was, I believe, much more common in the time of Shakspeare than is generally fuppofed. This piece having
been thus new-modelled by our poet, and enriched with many happy ftrokes from his pen, is unquestionably entitled to that place among his works which it has now obtained. MALONE.
After Mr. Malone's retraction, (which is no lefs honourable to himfelf than the prefent editor of Pericles,) it may be asked why the differtations mentioned in the foregoing note appear a second time in print. To fuch a queftion I am not unwilling to reply. My fole motive for republishing them is to manifeft that the ikill difplayed by my late opponent in defence of what he conceived to have been right, can only be exceeded by the liberality of his conceffion fince he has fuppofed himself in the wrong.
In a former difquifition concerning this play, I mentioned, that the dumb fhows, which are found in it, induced me to doubt whether it came from the pen of Shakspeare. The fentiments that I then expreffed, were fuggefted by a very hafty and tranfient furvey of the piece. I am ftill, however of opinion, that this confideration (our author having exprefsly ridiculed fuch exhibitions) might in a very doubtful queftion have fome weight. But weaker proofs muft yield to ftranger. It is idle to lay any great ftrefs upon fuch a flight circumftance, when the piece itself furnishes internal and irrefiftible evidence of its authenticity. The congenial fentiments, the numerous expreffions bearing a ftriking fimilitude to paffages in his undifputed plays, the incidents, the fituations of the perfons, the colour of the ftyle, at least through the greater part of the play, all, in my apprehenfion, confpire to fet the feal of Shakspeare on this performance. What then shall we fay to thefe dumb fhows? Either, that the poet's practice was not always conformable to his opinions, (of which there are abundant proofs) or, (what I rather believe to be the cafe) that this was one of his earliest dramas, written at a time when thefe exhibitions were much admired, and before he had feen the abfurdity of fuch ridiculous pageants; probably, in the year 1590, or 1591.*
Mr. Rowe, in his first edition of Shakspeare, fays, "It is owned that fome part of Pericles certainly was written by him, particularly the laft A&t." Dr. Farmer, whofe opinion in every thing that relates to our author has defervedly the greatest weight, thinks the hand of Shakspeare may be fometimes feen in the latter part of the play, and there only. The fcene, in the laft Act, in which Pericles difcovers his daughter, is indeed emi
*If this play was written in the year 1590 or 1591, with what colour of truth could it be ftyled (as it is in the title-page to the first edition of it, 4to. 1609,) "the late and much admired" &c.? STEEVENS.
nently beautiful; but the whole piece appears to me to furnish abundant proofs of the hand of Shakspeare. The inequalities in different parts of it are not greater than may be found in fome of his other dramas. It should be remembered also, that Dryden, who lived near enough the time to be well informed, has pronounced this play to be our author's firft performance :
"Shakspeare's own Muse his Pericles first bore;
"The Prince of Tyre was elder than the Moor."
Let me add, that the contemptuous manner in which Ben Jonfon has mentioned it, is, in my apprehenfion, another proof of its authenticity. In his memorable Ode, written foon after his New Inn had been damned, when he was comparing his own unfuccefsful pieces with the applauded dramas of his contemporaries, he naturally chose to point at what he esteemed a weak performance of a rival, whom he appears to have envied and hated merely because the fplendor of his genius had eclipfed his own, and had rendered the reception of those tame and disgusting imitations of antiquity, which he boaftingly called the only legitimate English dramas, as cold as the performances themselves.
As the subject is of fome curiofity, I fhall make no apology for laying before the reader a more minute investigation of it. It is proper, however, to inform him, that one of the following differtations on the genuineness of this play precedes the other only for a reafon affigned by Dogberry, that where two men ride on a horfe, one must ride behind. That we might catch hints from the ftrictures of each other, and collect what we could mutually advance into a point, Mr. Steevens and I fet forward with an agreement to maintain the propriety of our respective fuppofitions relative to this piece, as far as we were able; to fubmit our remarks, as they gradually increased, alternately to each other, and to dispute the oppofite hypothefis, till one of us fhould acquiefce in the opinion of his opponent, or each remain confirmed in his own. The reader is therefore requested to bear in mind, that if the last series of arguments be confidered as an answer to the first, the firft was equally written in reply to the last :
-unus fefe armat utroque,
"Unaque mens animat non diffociabilis ambos."
THAT this tragedy has fome merit, it were vain to deny ; but that it is the entire compofition of Shakspeare, is more than can be haftily granted. I fhall not venture, with Dr. Farmer, to determine that the hand of our great poet is only visible in the laft Act, for I think it appears in feveral paffages difperfed over each of thefe divifions. I find it difficult, however, to perfuade
myfelf that he was the original fabricator of the plot, or the author of every dialogue, chorus, &c. and this opinion is founded on a concurrence of circumstances which I fhall attempt to enumerate, that the reader may have the benefit of all the lights I am able to throw on so obscure a subject.
Be it first obferved, that most of the chorufes in Pericles are written in a measure which Shakspeare has not employed on the fame occafion, either in The Winter's Tale, Romeo and Juliet, or King Henry the Fifth. If it be urged, that throughout these recitations Gower was his model, I can fafely affirm that their language, and fometimes their verfification, by no means refembles that of Chaucer's contemporary. One of these monologues is compofed in hexameters, and another in alternate rhymes; neither of which are ever found in his printed works, or those which yet remain in manufcript; nor does he, like the author of Pericles, introduce four and five-feet metre in the fame feries. of lines. If Shakspeare therefore be allowed to have copied not only the general outline, but even the peculiarities of nature with eafe and accuracy, we may furely fuppofe that, at the expence of fome unprofitable labour, he would not have failed fo egregieufly in his imitation of antiquated style or numbers. That he could affume with nicety the terms of affectation and pedantry, he has shown in the characters of Ofrick and Armado, Holofernes and Nathaniel. That he could fuccefsfully counterfeit provincial dialects, we may learn from Edgar and Sir Hugh Evans; and that he was no ftranger to the peculiarities of foreign pronunciation, is likewife evident from several seenes of English tinctured with French, in The Merry Wives of Windfor and King Henry the Fifth.*
Notwithstanding what I have advanced in favour of Shakspeare's uncommon powers of imitation, I am by no means fure he would have proved fuccefsful in a cold attempt to copy the peculiarities of language more ancient than his own. His exalted genius would have taught him to despise so servile an undertaking; and his good fenfe would have restrained him from engaging in a task which he had neither leifure nor patience to perform. His talents are difplayed in copies from originals of a higher rank. Neither am I convinced that inferior writers have been over-lucky in poetical mimickries of their early predeceffors. It is lefs difficult to deform language, than to beftow on it the true caft of antiquity; and though the licentiousness of Chaucer, and the obfolete words employed by Gower, are within the reach of moderate abilities, the humour of the one, and the general idiom of the other, are not quite fo eafy of attainment. The best of our modern poets have fucceeded but tolerably in fhort compofitions of this kind, and have therefore shown their prudence in attempting none of equal length with the affembled choruses in Pericles, which confift at least of three hundred lines. Mr. Pope profeffes to give us a ftory in the manner of Chaucer; but uses a metre on the occafion in which not a fingle tale of that author is written.
But it is here urged by Mr. Malone, that an exact imitation of Gower would have proved unintelligible to any audience during the reign of Elizabeth. If it were (which I am flow to admit) our author's judgment would fearce have permitted him to choose an agent fo inadequate to the purpofe of an interpreter ; one whofe years and phrafeology must be fet at variance before he could be understood, one who was to affume the form, office, and habit of an ancient, and was yet to speak the language of a modern.
I am ready to allow my opponent that the authors who introduced Machiavel, Guicciardine, and the Monk of Chester, on the ftage, have never yet been blamed because they avoided to make the two former speak in their native tongue, and the latter in the English dialect of his age. The proper language of the Italian ftatesman and hiftorian, could not have been underfood by our common audiences; and as to Rainulph, he is known to have compofed his Chronicle in Latin. Befides, these three perfonages were writers in profe. They are alike called up to fuperintend the relations which were originally found in their respective books; and the magick that converted them into poets, might claim an equal power over their modes of declamation. The cafe is otherwife," when ancient bards, whofe compofitions were in English, are fummoned from the grave to inftract their countrymen; for these apparitions may be expected to speak in the fyle and language that diftinguithes their real age, and their known productions, when there is no fufficient reason why they fhould depart from them.
If the inequalities of meafure which I have pointed out, be alfo vifible in the lyrick parts of Macbeth, &c. 1 muft obferve that throughout thefe plays our author has not professed to imi tate the ftyle or manner of any acknowledged character or age; and therefore was tied down to the obfervation of no particular rules. Moft of the irregular lines, however, in A MidfummerNight's Dream, &c. I fufpect of having been prolonged by eafual monofyllables, which stole into them through the inattention of the copyift, or the impertinence of the speaker.—If indeed the chorufes in Pericles contain many fuch marked expreffions as are discoverable in Shakspeare's other dramas, I muft confefs that they have hitherto escaped my notice; unless they may be faid to occur in particulars which of neceflity must be common to all foliloquies of a fimilar kind. Such interlocutions cannot fail occafionally to contain the fame modes of addrefs, and the fame perfuafive arguments to folicit indulgence and fe cure applaufe. As for the ardentia verba celebrated by Mr. Malone, (to borrow Milton's phrafe,) in my apprehenfion they burn but cold and frore.