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" their ignorance, who chose that circumstance to
commend their friend by, wherein he most fault
ed: and to justify my own candour, for I loved “ the man, and do honour his memory, on this side idolatry, as much as any.
He was, indeed, ho" neft, and of an open and free nature, had an “ excellent fancy, brave notions, and gentle expresis fions; wherein he flowed with that facility, that • sometimes it was necessary he should be stopped:
Sufflaminandus erat, as Augustus said of Haterius. “ His wit was in his own power; would the rule " of it had been so too. Many times he fell into "' those things which could not escape laughter; as " when he said in the person of Cæsar one speak". ing to him,
- Cæfar thou doft me wrong.
- He replied:
“ Cæsar did never wrong, but with just cause. copies. From the play of Henry V. being more perfect in the folio cdition than in the quarto, nothing follows but that the quarto impression of that piece was printed from a mutilated and imperfect copy, stolen from the theatre or taken down by ear during the representation. What have been called the quarto copies of the Second and Third Parts of King Henry vi, were in fact two old plays written before the time of Shakspeare, and entitled The First Part of: the Contention of the two houses of York and Lancaster, &c. and The true trageily of Richard Duke of York, óc. 'on which he constructed two new plays; just as on the old plays of King John, and The Taming of a Shrew, he formed two other plays with nearly the same titles. See The Dissertation in Vol XV.
The tragedy of Hamlet in the first edition, ( now extant,.) that of 1604, is said to be enlarged to almost as much again as it was, according to the true and perfect copy.” What is Vol. I.
" and such like, which were ridiculous. But he
redeemed his vices with his virtues : there was ever more in him to be praised than to be pardoned.”
As for the passage which he' mentions out of Shakspeare, there is somewhat like it in Julius Cæfar, but without the absurdity; nor did I ever meet with it in any edition that I have seen, as quoted by Mr. Jonson.*
Besides his plays in this edition, there are two or three ascribed to him by Mr. Langbaine,' which to be collected from this, but that there was a former imperfe&t edition (I believe in the year 1602): that the one we are now speaking of was enlarged to as much again as it was in the former mutilated impression, and that this is the genuine and perfect copy, the other imperfect and fpurious ?
The Merry Wives of Windsor, indeed, and Romeo and Juliet, and perhaps Love's Labour's Loft, our author appears to have altered and amplified; and to King Richard II. what is called the parliament-fcene, seems to have been added; (though this last is by no means certain :) but neither will these augmentations and new-modellings disprove what has been aflerted by Shakspeare's fellow-comedians concerning the facility of his writings and the exquisite felicity of his first expreflions.
Tke hasty fketch of The Merry Wives of Windfor, which he is said to have coin pored in a fortnight, he might have written without a blot; and three or four years afterwards, when he close to dilate his plan, he might have composed the additional scenes without a blou likewise. In a word, fuppoling even thal Nature had not endowed him with that rich vein which he unquestionably poífeffed, he who iu little more than twenty years produces thirty-four or thirty-five pieces for the stage, has certainly not much time for expunging.
MALONE. uzor did I ever meet with it in any edition that I have feen, as quoted by Mr. Jonser.] See Mr. Tyrwhitt's note, Vol. XVIll. p. 78. n. 4. MALONE.
Biftes his plays in this edition, there are two or three ascribed to him by Mr. Langbaine, ] The Birth of Merlin, 1662, written
I have never seen, and know nothing of. He writ likewise Venus and Adonis, and Tarquin and Lucrece, in stanzas, which have been printed in a late colledion of poems. As to the character given of by W. Rowley; the old play of King John in two parts, 1591, on which Shakspeare formed his King John; and The Arraignment of Paris, 1584, written by George Peele.
The editor of the folio 1664, fubjoined to the 36 dra. mas published in 1623, seven plays, four of which had appeared in Shakspeare's life-time with his name in the title-page, viz. Pericles, Prince of Tyre, 1609, Sir John Oldcastle, 1600, The London Prodigal, 1605, and The Yorkshire Tragedy, 1608; the three others which they inserted, Low trine, i595, Lord Cromwell, 1602, and The Puritan, 1607, having been printed with the initials W. S. in the title-page, the editor chose to interpret those letters to mean William Shakspeare, and afcribed them also to our poet. I published an edition of these feven pieces fome years ago, freed in fome measure from the gross errors with which they had been exhibited in ancient copies, that the public might fee what they contained; and do not hesitate to declare my firm persuasion that of Locrine, Lord Cromwell, Sir John oldcastle, the London Prodigal, and The Puritan, Shakspeare did not write a single line.
How little the booksellers of former times fcrupled to aflix the names of celebrated writers to the productions of others, even in the life-iime of such celebrated authors, may be collected from Heywood's Translations of Ovid, which in 1612, while Shakspeare was yet living, were af, cribed to him. See Vol. X. p. 321, n. 1, With the dead they would certainly make fill more free. 6. This book" (says Anthony Wood, fpeaking of a work to which the name of Sir Philip. Sydney was prefixed) coming out to late, it is to be inquired whether Sir Philip Sydney's name is not fer to it for sale-fake, being a usual thing in these days to fet a great name to a book or books, by sharking booksellers, or fnivelling writers, to get bread." Athen. Oxon. Vol. I.
in a late collection of poems. ] In the forth volume of State Poems, printed in 1707. Mr. Rowe did not go be
Mr. Malone's edit, of our auihor's works, 1790.
him by Ben Jonson, there is a good deal true in it: but I believe it may be as well expressed by what Horace says of the first Romans, who wrote tragedy upon the Greek models, (or indeed translated them,) in his epistle to Augustus:
natură sublimis & acer :
“ Sed turpem putat in chartis metuitque lituram." As I have not proposed to myself to enter into a large and complete criticism upon Shakspeare's works, so I will only take the liberty, with all due submission to the judgment of others, to observe some of those things I have been pleased with in looking him over.
His plays are properly to be diftinguished only into comedies and tragedies.
Those which are called histories, and even some of his comedies, are really tragedies, with a run or mixture of comedy amongst them.' That way of tragi-comedy was yond A late Collection of Poems, and does not feem to have known that Shakspeare also wrote 154 Sonnets, and a poem entitled A Lover's Complaint. MALONE.
are really tragedies, with a run or mixture of comedy
Heywood, our author's contemporary, has stated the best defence that can be made for his intermixing lighter with the more serious scenes of the dramas.
may likewise be objected, why amongst fad and grave histories I have here and there inserted fabulous jefis and tales favouring of lightnefs. 1 anfwer I have there in imitated our historical and comical poets, that write to the itage, who, lest the auditory should be dulled with serious courses, which are merely weighty and material, in every act present fome Zany, with his mimick action to breed in the lefs capable mirth and laughter; for they that write to all, muft Arive to please all. And as fuch fashion themselves to
multitude diversely addicted, fo I to an univerfality of readers diversely disposed." Pref, to History of Women, 1624.
the common mistake of that age, and is indeed become so agreeable to the English taste, that though
The criticks who renounce tragi-comedy as barbarous, I fear, speak more from notions which they have formed in their clofets, than any well-built theory deduced from experience of what pleases or displeases, which ought to be the foundation of all rules.
Even fuppofing there is no affectation in this refinement, and that those criticks have really tried and purified their minds till there is no drofs remaining, fill this can never be the case of a popular audience, to which a dramatick reprefentation is referred.
Dryden in one of his prefaces condemns his own conduct in The Spanish Friar; but, says he, I did not write it to please myself, it was given to the publick. Here is an involuntary confeflion that tragi-comedy is more pleasing to the audience; I would ask then, upon what ground it is condemned?
This ideal excellence of uniformity refts upon a supposition that we are either more refined, or a higher order of beings than we really are: there is no provision made for what may be called the animal part of our minds.
Though we should acknowledge this paffion for variety and contrarieties to be the vice of our nature, it is still a propensity which we all feel, and which he who undertakes to divert us' must find provision for.
We are obliged, it is true, in our pursuit after science, or excellence in any art, to keep our minds steadily fixed for a long continuance; it is a talk we impofe on ourselves : but I do not wish to task myself in my amusements.
If the great object of the theatre is amusement, a dramatick work must possess every means to produce that effect; if it gives inftruction, by the by, so much its merit is the greater ; but that is not its principal object. The ground on which it stands, and which gives it a claim to the protection and encouragement of civilised society, is not because it enforces moral precepts, or gives in fruction, of any kind; but from the general advantage that it produces, by habituating the mind to find its amufement in intellectual pleasures; weaning it from senfuality, and by degrees filing off, smoothing, and polishing, its rugged cornersa
Sir J. REYNOLDS