Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

is visible in many scenes throughout the play. But it follows not from thence that he is answerable for its worst part, though the

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

2 Or, like the Parthian, I shall flying fight.

p. 30. Romeo and Juliet.

P. 31.

Cymbeline:

Mr. Seward observes that this comparison occurs no where in Shakspeare.

[blocks in formation]

best it contains may be, not dishonourably, imputed to him. Both weeds and flowers appear in the same parterre, yet we do

[blocks in formation]

2 Lo

1 Look where she comes! you shall perceive her behaviour. you where she comes! This is her very guise.

[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors]

the burden on't was down-a down-a.

P. 90.

You must sing down-a doum-a: oh how the wheel becomes it!"

Hamlet.

How her brain coins!

P. 90.

2 This is the very coinage of your brain.

Hamlet.

1 Doctor.] — not an engrafted madness, but a most thick and profound me

lancholy-.

2 Doctor.] —not so sick, my lord,

As she is troubled with thick-coming fancies-.

P. 91.

Macbeth.

1 Doctor. I think she has a perturbed mind, which I cannot minister to. p. 91.

2 perturbed spirit!

Cans't thou not minister to a mind diseas'd?

Hamlet.

Doctor. therein the patient

Must minister to himself.

[blocks in formation]

Macbeth.

King Henry IV. P. I.

P. 94.

Macbeth.

P. 98.

Coriolanus.

not infer from their being found together, that they were planted

by the same hand.

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

N. B. I have met with no other instances of the use of this word.

[blocks in formation]

It will happen, on familiar occasions, that diversity of expression is neither worth seeking, or easy to be found; as in the following instances:

Cer. Look to the Lady.

Pericles. Macbeth.

Macd. Look to the Lady.

Cap. Look to the bak'd meats.

Pal. Look to thy life well, Arcite!

Dion. How chance my daughter is not with you ?

Romeo and Juliet. Two Noble Kinsmen,

K. Hen. How chance thou art not with the prince thy brother?

Dian. How now, Marina? why do you keep alone?

Pericles.

King Henry IV. Part II.

{Lady Macb. How now, my lord? why do you keep alone?

Coun. have with you, boys!

[ocr errors]

Bel. Have with you boys!

Daugh. Yours to command, ' th' way of honesty.
Faulc. For I was got i' th' way of honesty.

Thal.

{Phang.

if I can get him within my pistol's length.
an if he come but within my vice.

Pericles. Macbeth.

Two Noble Kinsmen.
Cymbeline.

Two Noble Kinsmen.
King John.

Pericles.

K. Henry IV. P. II.

All such examples I have abstained from producing; but the peculiar coincidence of many among those already given, suffers much by their not being

viewed in their natural situations.

Let the criticks who can fix on any particular scenes which they conceive to have been written by Shakspeare, or let those who suppose him to have

Were I disposed, with controversial wantonness, to reason against conviction, I might add, that as Shakspeare is known to

been so poor in language as well as ideas, that he was constrained to borrow in the compass of half the Noble Kinsmen from above a dozen entire plays of his own composition, advance some hypothesis more plausible than the following; and yet I flatter myself that readers may be found who will concur with me in believing this tragedy to have been written by Fletcher in silent imitation of our author's manner. No other circumstance could well have occasioned such a frequent occurrence of corresponding phrases, &c.; nor, in my opinion, could any particular, but this, have induced the players to propagate the report, that our author was Fletcher's coadjutor in the piece. There is nothing unusual in these attempts at imitation. Dryden, in his preface to All for Love, professes to copy the style of Shakspeare. Rowe, in his Jane Shore, arrogates to himself the merit of having pursued the same plan. How far these poets have succeeded, it is not my present business to examine; but Fletcher's imitation, like that of many others, is chiefly verbal; and yet (when joined with other circumstances) was perfect enough to have misled the judg ment of the players. Those people, who in the course of their profession must have had much of Shakspeare's language recent in their memories, could easily discover traces of it in this performance. They could likewise observe that the drama opens with the same characters as first enter in A MidsummerNight's Dream; that Clowns exert themselves for the entertainment of Theseus in both; that a pedagogue likewise directs the sports in Love's Labour's Lost; that a character of female frenzy, copied from Ophelia, is notorious in the Jailor's Daughter; and that this girl, like Lady Macbeth, is attended by a physician who describes the difficulties of her case, and comments on it, in almost similar terms. They might therefore conclude that the play before us was in part a production of the same writer. Over this line, the criticks behind the scenes were unable to proceed. Their sagacity was insufficient to observe that the general current of the style was even throughout the whole, and bore no marks of a divided hand. Hence perhaps the sol geminus and duplices Theba of these very incompetent judges, who, like staunch match-makers, were desirous that the widowed muse of Fletcher should not long remain without a bed-fellow.

Lest it should be urged that one of my arguments against Shakspeare's cooperation in The Two Noble Kinsmen would equally militate against his share in Pericles, it becomes necessary for me to ward off any objection to that purpose, by remarking that the circumstances attendant on these two dramas are by no means exactly parallel. Shakspeare probably furnished his share in the latter at an early period of his authorship, and afterwards (having never owned it, or supposing it to be forgotten) was willing to profit by the most valuable lines and ideas it contained. But he would scarce have been considered himself as an object of imitation, before he had reached his meridian fame; and in my opinion, The Noble Kinsmen could not have been com posed till after 1611, nor perhaps antecedent to the deaths of Beaumont and our author, when assistance and competition ceased, and the poet who resem bled the latter most, had the fairest prospect of success. During the life of Beaumont, which concluded in 1615, it cannot well be supposed that Fletcher would have deserted him, to write in concert with any other dramatist. Shakspeare survived Beaumont only by one year, and, during that year, is known to have lived in Warwickshire, beyond the reach of Fletcher, who continued to reside in London till he fell a sacrifice to the plague in 1625; so that there was no opportunity for them to have joined in personal conference relative to

have borrowed whole speeches from the authors of Darius, King John, the Taming of a Shrew, &c. as well as from novellists and historians without number, so he might be suspected of having taken lines, and hints for future situations, from the play of Pericles, supposing it were the work of a writer somewhat more early than himself. Such splendid passages occur in the scenes of his contemporaries, as have not disgraced his own: and be it remembered, that many things which we at present are content to reckon only among the adoptions of our great poet, had been long regarded as his own proper effusions, and were as constantly enumerated among his distinguished beauties. No verses have been more frequently quoted, or more loudly applauded than those beginning with The cloud-capt towers in The Tempest; but if our positions relative to the date of that play are well founded, Shakspeare's share in this celebrated account of nature's dissolution, is very inconsiderable.

To conclude, the play of Pericles was in all probability the

The Two Noble Kinsmen; and without frequent interviews between confederate writers, a consistent tragedy can hardly be produced. Yet such precautions will be sometimes inefficient in producing conformity of plan, even when confederate writers are within reach of each other. Thus, Dryden, in the third Act of Oedipus has made Tiresias say to the Theban monarch:

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

But, alas! for want of adverting to this speech, Lee has counteracted it in the 4th Act, where Tiresias has another interview with Oedipus before the extinction of his eyes, a circumstance that does not take place till the 5th Act.

But, at whatever time of Shakspeare's life Pericles was brought forth, it will not be found on examination to comprize a fifth part of the coincidences which may be detected in its successor; neither will a tenth division of the same relations be discovered in any one of his thirty-five dramas which have hitherto been published together.

To conclude, it is peculiarly apparent that this tragedy of The Two Noble Kinsmen was printed from a prompter's copy, as it exhibits such stage-directions as I do not remember to have seen in any other drama of the same period. We may likewise take notice that there are fewer hemistichs in it than in any of Shakspeare's acknowledged productions. If one speech concludes with an imperfect verse, the next in general completes it. This is some indication of a writer more studious of neatness in composition than the pretended associate of Fletcher.

In the course of my investigation I am pleased to find I differ but on one occasion from Mr. Colman; and that is, in my disbelief that Beaumont had any share in this tragedy. The utmost beauties it contains, were within the reach of Fletcher, who has a right to wear,

"Without corrival, all his dignities:

"But out upon this half-fac'd fellowship!"

because there is no just reason for supposing any poet but Chaucer has a right to dispute with him the reputation which the tale of Palamon and Arcite has so long and so indisputably maintained,

« ZurückWeiter »