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reftoration of Perdita to her mother, would only tend to prolong the remorfe of her father. Throughout the notes which I have contributed to Pericles, I have not been backward to point out many of the particulars on which the opinion of Mr. Malone is built; for as truth, not victory, is the object of us both, I am fure we cannot wish to keep any part of the evidence that may feem to affect our reciprocal opinions, out of fight.
Mr. Malone is likewife folicitous to prove, from the wildness and irregularity of the fable, &c. that this was either our author's firft, or one of his earliest dramas. It might have been so; and yet I am forry to observe that the fame qualities predominate in his more mature performances; but there thefe defects are inftrumental in producing beauties. If we travel in Antony and Cleopatra from Alexandria to Rome-to Meffina-into Syriato Athens-to Actium, we are still relieved in the course of our peregrinations by variety of objects, and importance of events. But are we rewarded in the fame manner for our journeys from Antioch to Tyre, from Tyre to Pentapolis, from Pentapolis to Tharfus, from Tharfus to Tyre, from Tyre to Mitylene, and from Mitylene to Ephefus ?-In one light, indeed, I am ready to allow Pericles was our poet's firft attempt. Before he was fatisfied with his own ftrength, and trusted himself to the publick, he might have tried his hand with a partner, and entered the theatre in disguise. Before he ventured to face an audience on the stage, it was natural that he should peep at them through the curtain.
What Mr. Malone has called the inequalities of the poetry, I fhould rather term the patchwork of the style, in which the general flow of Shakspeare is not often vifible. An unwearied blaze of words, like that which burns throughout Phædra and Hippolitus, and Mariamne, is never attempted by our author; for fuch uniformity could be maintained but by keeping nature at a distance. Inequality and wildnefs, therefore, cannot be received as criterions by which we are to distinguish the early pieces of Shakspeare from those which were written at a later period.
But one peculiarity relative to the complete genuineness of this play, has hitherto been difregarded, though in my opinion it is abfolutely decifive. I fhall not hesitate to affirm, that through different parts of Pericles, there are more frequent and more aukward ellipfes than occur in all the other dramas attributed to the fame author; and that these figures of fpeech appear only in fuch worthless portions of the dialogue as cannot with justice be imputed to him. Were the play the work of any fingle hand, or had it been corrupted only by a printer, it is natural to suppose that this clipped jargon would have been scattered over it with equality. Had it been the composition of our great poet, he
would be found to have availed himself of the fame licence in his other tragedies; nor perhaps, would an individual writer have called the fame characters and places alternately Pericles and Pericles, Thaifa and Thaifa, Pentapõlis and Pentapolis. Shakspeare never varies the quantity of his proper names in the compafs of one play. In Cymbeline we always meet with Pofthūmus, not Pofthumus, Arvirāgus, and not Arvirăgus.
It may appear fingular that I have hitherto laid no ftrefs on fuch parallels between the acknowledged plays of Shakspeare and Pericles, as are produced in the courfe of our preceding illuftrations. But perhaps any argument that could be derived from fo few of these, ought not to be decifive; for the fame reasoning might tend to prove that every little piece of coincidence of thought and expreffion, is in reality one of the petty larcenies of literature; and thus we might in the end impeach the original merit of those whom we ought not to fufpect of having need to borrow from their predeceffors.* I can only add on this fubject, (like Dr. Farmer) that the world is already poffeffed of the Marks of Imitation; and that there is scarce one English tragedy but bears fome flight internal resemblance to another. I therefore attempt no deduction from premises occafionally fallacious, nor pretend to discover in the piece before us the draughts of scenes which were afterwards more happily wrought, or the flender and crude principles of ideas which on other occafions were dilated into confequence, or polished into luftre.
* Dr. Johnson once affured me, that when he wrote his Irene he had never read Othello; but meeting with it foon afterwards, was furprized to find he had given one of his characters a speech very ftrongly resembling that in which Caffio defcribes the effects produced by Defdemona's beauty on fuch inanimate objects as the gutter'd rocks and congregated sands. The Doctor added, that on making the difcovery, for fear of imputed plagiarism, he ftruck out this accidental coincidence from his own tragedy.
+ Though I admit that a small portion of general and occafional relations may pass unfufpected from the works of one author into those of another, yet when multitudes of minute coincidences occur, they must have owed their introduction to contrivance and defign. The fifreft and leaft equivocal marks of imitation (fays Dr. Hurd) are to be found in peculiarities of phrase and diction; an identity in both, is the most certain note of plagiarism.
This obfervation inclines me to offer a few words in regard to Shakspeare's imputed share in The Two Noble Kinsmen.
On Mr. Pope's opinion relative to this fubject, no great reliance can be placed; for he who reprobated The Winter's Tale as a performance alien to Shakspeare, could boast of little acquaintance with the spirit or manner of the author whom he undertook to correct and explain.
Dr. Warburton (Vol. I. after the table of editions) expreffes a belief that our great poet wrote " the firft A&t, but in his worft manner.' The Doctor indeed only feems to have been ambitious of adding fomewhat (though at random) to the decifion of his predeceffor.
that fuch a kind of evidence, however ftrong, or however skil
Mr. Seward's enquiry into the authenticity of this piece, has been fully examined by Mr. Colman, who adduces several arguments to prove that our author had no concern in it. [See Beaumont and Fletcher, laft edit. Vol. I. p. 118.] Mr. Colman might have added more to the fame purpose; but, luckily for the publick, his pen is always better engaged than in critical and antiquarian difquifitions.
As Dr. Farmer has advanced but little on the prefent occafion, I confess my inability to determine the point on which his conclufion is founded.
This play, however, was not printed till eighteen years after the death of Shakspeare; and its title-page carries all the air of a canting bookseller's impofition. Would any one else have thought it neceffary to tell the world, that Fletcher and his pretended coadjutor, were "memorable worthies The piece too was printed for one John Waterson, a man who had no copy. right in any of our author's other dramas. It was equally unknown to the editors in 1623, and 1632; and was rejected by those in 1664, and 1685.— In 1661, Kirkman, another knight of the rubrick post, iffued out The Birth of Merlin, by Rowley and Shakspeare. Are we to receive a part of this alfo as a genuine work of the latter? for the authority of Kirkman is as respectable as that of Waterson.-I may add, as a fimilar inftance of the craft or ignorance of these ancient Curls, that in 1640, the Coronation, claimed by Shirley, was printed in Fletcher's name, and (I know not why) is ftill permitted to hold a place among his other dramas.
That Shakspeare had the flighteft connection with B. and Fletcher, has not been proved by evidence of any kind. There are no verfes written by either in his commendation; but they both stand convicted of having aimed their ridicule at paffages in several of his plays. His imputed intimacy with one of them, is therefore unaccountable. Neither are the names of our great confederates enrolled with those of other wits who frequented the literary symposia held at the Devil Tavern in Fleet Street. As they were gentlemen of family and fortune, it is probable that they afpired to company of a higher rank than that of needy poets, or mercenary players. Their dialogue bears abundant teftimony to this fuppofition; while Shakspeare's attempts to exhibit fuch fprightly converfations as pass between young men of elegance and fashion, are very rare, and almoft confined (as Dr. Johnson remarks) to the characters of Mercutio and his affociates. Our author could not eafily copy what he had few opportunities of observing.-So much for the unlikelinefs of Fletcher's having united with Shakspeare in the fame compofition.
But here it may be asked-why was the name of our poet joined with that of Beaumont's coadjutor in The Two Noble Kinsmen, rather than in any other play of the fame author that so long remained in manufcript? I answer,—that this event might have taken its rife from the playhouse tradition mentioned by Pope, and founded, as I conceive, on a fingular occurrence, which it is my prefent office to point out and illuftrate to my readers.
The language and images of this piece coincide perpetually with those in the dramas of Shakspeare. The fame frequency of coincidence occurs in no other individual of Fletcher's works; and how is fo material a diftinction to be accounted for? Did Shakspeare affift the furvivor of Beaumont in his tragedy? Surely no; for if he had, he would not (to borrow a conceit from Moth in Love's Labour's Lost) have written as if he had been at a great feast of tragedies, and stolen the scraps. It was natural that he should more ftudiously have abftained from the use of marked expreffions in this than in any other of his pieces written without affiftance. He cannot be fufpected of fo pitiful an ambition as that of setting his feal on the portions he wrote, to dif
fully applied, would diveft my former arguments of their weight; for I admit without referve that Shakspeare,
66 whofe hopeful colours
"Advance a half-fac'd fun ftriving to shine."
tinguifh them from thofe of his colleague. It was his bufinefs to coalefce with Fletcher, and not to withdraw from him. But, were our author convicted of this jealous artifice, let me afk where we are to look for any fingle dialogue in which thefe lines of feparation are not drawn. If they are to be regarded as landmarks to ascertain our author's property, they ftand fo conftantly in our way, that we muft adjudge the whole literary eftate to him. I hope no one will be found who fuppofes our duumvirate fat down to correct what each other wrote. To fuch an indignity Fletcher could not well have fubmitted; and fuch a drudgery Shakspeare would as hardly have endured. In Pericles it is no difficult task to difcriminate the scenes in which the hand of the latter is evident. I fay again, let the critick try if the fame undertaking is as eafy in The Two Noble Kinsmen. The ftyle of Fletcher on other occafions is fufficiently diftinct from Shakspeare's, though it may mix more intimately with that of Beaumont :
Ος τ' ἀποκιδνάμενος ποταμε κελάδοντος Αράξεω
From loud Araxes Lycus' ftreams divide,
But roll with Phasis in a blended tide.
But, that my affertions relative to coincidence may not appear without fome fupport, I proceed to infert a few of many instances that might be brought in aid of an opinion which I am ready to fubjoin.-The firft paffage hereafter quoted is always from The Two Noble Kinsmen, edit. 1750.
Dear glass of ladies.
he was indeed the glass
P. 9, Vol. X.
Wherein the noble youths did drefs themfelves. King Henry IV. P. II,
is vifible in many scenes throughout the play. But it follows not from thence that he is answerable for its worst part, though the
2 Or, like the Parthian, I fhall flying fight.
p. 30. Romeo and Juliet.
p. 31. Cymbeline.
Mr. Seward obferves that this comparison occurs no where in Shakspeare.
1 Banish'd the kingdom, &c.--
2 See the speech of Romeo on the fame occafion.
1 He has a tongue will tame
2- The would fing the favageness out of a bear.
1 Theseus.] To-morrow, by the fun, to do observance
To flowery May.
they rose up early to observe
Let all the dukes and all the devils roar,
King Henry IV. P. I.
Gentle Harry Percy, and kind cousin,--
2 Let's purge this choler without letting blood.
fwim with your body,
And carry it fweetly---.
2 Bear your body more feemly, Audrey.
1 And dainty duke whose doughty dismal fame.
2 Whereat with blade, with bloody blameful blade.
And then the fung
Nothing but willow, willow,--
-fing willow, willow,---.
King Henry IV. P. I.
p. 54. King Richard II,
p. 61. As you like it.
1 O who can find the bent of woman's fancy! 2 O undiftinguifh'd space of woman's will!