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Read Libya, says the critick authoratively, as is plain from Plutarch,
This is very true: Mr. Heath * accedes to the correction, and Mr. Johnson admits it into the text: but turn to the translation, from the French of Amyot, by Thomas North, in folio, 1579 †, and you will at once see the origin of the mistake.
"First of all he did establish Cleopatra queene of Ægypt, of Cyprus, of Lydia; and the lower Syria." Again, in the fourth Act:
"He hath whipt with rods, dares me to personal combat,
“What a reply is this?" cries Mr. Upton, “ 'tis acknowledging he should fall under the unequal combat. But if we read,
Let the old ruffian know
"He hath many other ways to die; mean time
we have the poignancy and the very repartee of Cæsar in Plutarch."
This correction was first made by Sir Thomas Hanmer, and Mr. Johnson hath received it. Most indisputably it is the sense of Plutarch, and given so in the modern translation: but Shakspeare was misled by the ambiguity of the old one: "Antonius sent again to challenge Cæsar to fight him: Cæsar answered, That he had many other ways to die, than so."
In the third Act of Julius Cæsar, Antony, in his wellknown harangue to the people, repeats a part of the emperor's will:
*It is extraordinary, that this gentleman should attempt so voluminous a work, as the Revisal of Shakspeare's Text, when, he tells us in his Preface," he was not so fortunate as to be furnished with either of the folio editions, much less any of the ancient quartos:" and even Sir Thomas Hanmer's performance was known to him only by Mr. Warburton's representation. † I find the character of this work pretty early delineated: “'Twas Greek at first, that Greek was Latin made, "That Latin, French; that French to English straid: "Thus 'twixt one Plutarch there's more difference, "Than i'th' same Englishman return'd from France."
To every Roman citizen he gives,
"Our author certainly wrote," says Mr. Theobald,— "On that side Tiber
"Trans Tiberim-prope Cæsaris hortos."
And Plutarch, whom Shakspeare very diligently studied, expressly declares, that he left the publick his gardens and walks, wépav To Пoтaus, beyond the Tyber."
This emendation likewise hath been adopted by the subsequent editors; but here again the old translation, where Shakspeare's study lay: "He bequeathed unto every citizen of Rome seventy-five drachmas a man, and he left his gardens and arbours unto the people, which he had on this side of the river of Tyber." I could furnish you with many more instances, but these are as good as a thousand.
Hence had our author his characteristick knowledge of Brutus and Antony, upon which much argumentation for his learning had been founded: and hence literatim the epitaph on Timon, which it was once presumed, he had corrected from the blunders of the Latin version, by his own superior knowledge of the original*.
I cannot, however, omit a passage from Mr. Pope: "The speeches copied from Plutarch in Coriolanus may, I think, be as well made an instance of the learning of Shakspeare, as those copy'd from Cicero in Catiline, of Ben Jonson's." Let us inquire into this matter, and transcribe a speech for a specimen. Take the famous one of Volumnia:
"Should we be silent and not speak, our raiment
See Theobald's Preface to King Richard II. 8vo. 1720.
"The son, the husband, and the father tearing
“Our wish, which side shou'd win. For either thou
"With manacles thorough our streets; or else
I will now give you the old translation, which shall effectually confute Mr. Pope: for our author hath done little more, than thrown the very words of North into blank
"If we helde our peace (my sonne) and determined not to speake, the state of our poore bodies, and present sight of our rayment, would easely bewray to thee what life we haue led at home, since thy exile and abode abroad. But thinke now with thy selfe, howe much more unfortunately, then all the women liuinge we are come hether, considering that the sight which should be most pleasaunt to all other to beholde, spitefull fortune hath made most fearfull to us: making my selfe to see my sonne, and my daughter here, her husband, besieging the walles of his natiue countrie. So as that which is the only comfort to all other in their adversitie and miserie, to pray unto the goddes, and to call to them for aide; is the onely thinge which plongeth us into most deepe perplexitie. For we cannot (alas) together pray, both for victorie, for our countrie, and for safety of thy life also: but a worlde of grievous curses, yea more than any mortall enemie can heappe
uppon us, are forcibly wrapt up in our prayers. For the bitter soppe of most harde choyce is offered thy wife and children, to foregoe the one of the two: either to lose the persone of thy selfe, or the nurse of their natiue contrie. For my selfe (my sonne) I am determined not to tarrie, till fortune in my life time doe make an ende of this warre. For if I cannot persuade thee, rather to doe good unto both parties, then to ouerthrowe and destroye the one, preferring loue and nature before the malice and calamitie of warres: thou shalt see, my sonne, and trust unto it, thou shalt no soner marche forward to assault thy countrie, but thy foote shall tread upon thy mother's wombe, that brought thee first into this world."
The length of this quotation will be excused for its curiosity; and it happily wants not the assistance of a comment. But matters may not always be so easily managed: a plagiarism from Anacreon hath been detected:
"The sun's a thief, and with his great attraction "Robs the vast sea. The moon's an arrant thief, "And her pale fire she snatches from the sun. "The sea's a thief, whose liquid surge resolves "The moon into salt tears. The earth's a thief, "That feeds and breeds by a composture stol'n "From gen'ral excrement: each thing's a thief.” "This (says Dr. Dodd) is a good deal in the manner of the celebrated drinking Ode, too well known to be inserted." Yet it may be alledged by those, who imagine Shakspeare to have been generally able to think for himself, that the topicks are obvious, and their application is different. But for argument's sake, let the parody be granted; and "our author (says some one) may be puzzled to prove, that there was a Latin translation of Anacreon at the time Shakspeare wrote his Timon of Athens." This challenge is peculiarly unhappy: for I do not at present recollect any other classick, (if indeed, with great deference to Mynheer De Pauw, Anacreon may be numbered amongst them,) that was originally published with two Latin translations.
* By Henry Stephens and Alias Andreas, Par. 1554, 4to. ten years before the birth of Shakspeare. The former version hath been ascribed without reason to John Dorat. Many other translators appeared before the end of the century: and particularly the Ode in question was made popular by Buchanan, whose pieces were soon to be met with in almost every modern language.
But this is not all. Puttenham in his Arte of English Poesie, 1589, quotes some one of a "reasonable good facilitie in translation, who finding certaine of Anacreon's Odes very well translated by Ronsard the French poetcomes our minion, and translates the same out of French into English:" and his strictures upon him evince the publication. Now this identical ode is to be met with in Ronsard! and as his works are in few hands, I will take the liberty of transcribing it.
"La terre les eaux va boivant,
I know not whether an observation or two relative to our author's acquaintance with Homer, be worth our investigation. The ingenious Mrs, Lenox observes on a passage of Troilus and Cressida, where Achilles is roused to battle by the death of Patroclus, that Shakspeare must here have had the Iliad in view, as "the old story*, which in many places he hath faithfully copied, is absolutely silent with respect to this circumstance."
And Mr. Upton is positive that the sweet oblivious antidote, enquired after by Macbeth, could be nothing but the nepenthe described in the Odyssey,
Νηπενθές τ ̓ ἄχολόν τε, κακῶν ἐπίληθον ἁπάντων.
I will not insist upon the translations by Chapman; as the first editions are without date, and it may be difficult to ascertain the exact time of their publication. But the former circumstance might have been learned from Alex
* It was originally drawn into Englishe by Caxton under the name of The Recuyel of the Historyes of Troy, from the French of the ryght venerable Person and worshipfull man Raoul le Feure, and fynyshed in the holy citye of Colen, the 19 day of Septembre, the yere of our Lord God, a thousand foure hundred sixty and enleuen. Wynkyn de Worde printed an edit. fol. 1503, and there have been several subsequent ones.