Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

P. 85, ll 26. When that I was and a little tiny boy, etc.] Here again we have an old song, scarcely worth correction. Gainst knąves and thieves must evidently be, against knave and thief. When I was a boy, my folly and mis. chievous actions were little regarded; but when I came to manhood, men shut their gates against me, as a kirave' and a thief.

Sir Thomas Haumer rightly reduces the subse. quent vords, beds and heads, to the singular number; and a little alteration is still wanting at the beginning of some of the stanzas.

Mr. Stecveus observes in a note at the end of Much ado about Nothing, that the play had formerly 'passed under the name of Benedict and Beairix. It seems to have been the court.fashion to alter the titles. A very ingenious lady, with whom I have the honour.io be acquainted, Mrs. Askew of Queen's - Square, has a fine copy of the second folio edition of Shakspeare, which formerly belonged to King Charles I. and was a present from him to his Master of the Revels, Sir Thomas Herbert. Sir Thomas has aliorrd five titles in the list of the plays, to Benedict anii Beatrice, to Pyramus and Thisby, Rosalinde, Mr. Paroles, and Mæivolio.· It is lamentable to see how far party and pre Judice will carry the wisest men, eyert agamist their own practice and opinions, Milton, in his Eixovozaúsnis, çensures King Charles for reading „one whom (says' he) we weil kuew was the closet companion of his solitudes, William Shakspeare.FINMER.

I have followed the regulation proposed by Sir T. Hairmer and Dr. Farmer; and consequently, in

stead of knaves, thieves, beds, and heads, have printed „krave, thief,“ etc.

Fr. Farmer might have observed, that the alte rations of the titles are in his Majesty's own hand." writing, materially differing from Sir Thomas Her. bert's, of which the same volume aifords more than one specimen.

I learn from another inanille script note in it, that Jolu Lowine acıed King Henry VIII. and Johı, Taylor the part of Hamlet. The book is now in my possession.

To the concluding remark of Dr. Farmer, máy be added the following passage from An Appeal io all rational men concerning King Charles's Trial, by John Cooke, 1619: „Had' he but studied scripture half so much as Ben Jonsoir or Shak. speare, he might have learnt that when Amaziah was sattled in the kingdom, he suddenly did justice upon those servants which killed his father Joash,“ etc. With this quotation I was furnished by Mr. Maloire.

A quarto volume of plays attributed to 'Shak. speare, with the cypher of King Charles II. on the back of it, 'is preserved in Mr. Garrick's col. lection.

Though we are well' convinced that Shakspeare has written slight ballads for the sake of discriminating characters more strongly, or for 'other ncoessary purposes, in the course of his mixet dramas, it is scarce credible, that afier he had cleared his stage, he should exhibit his Clown afreshi,

and with so poor a recommendation is his song, which is uiterly unconnected witfî the subject of the preceding comedy. I do not thered fure hesitate so call the 110nsensical ditty hefore uus, some buffoon actor's composition, whicle ivas" accidentally tackel to the Prompter's copy of

[ocr errors]

Twelfth - Night, having been casually subjoined to it for the diversion, or at the call, of the lowest order of spectators. In the year 1766, I saw the late Mr. Weston summoned out and obliged to sing Johnny Pringle and his Pig,' after the performance of Voltaire's Mahomet, at the Theatre Royal in Drury-Lane. STEEVENS.

This play is in the graver part elegant and easy, and in some of the ligbier sćenes exquisitely hu

Ague-cheek is drawn with great propriety, but his character is, in a great measure, ihat of natural fatuity, and is therefore not the proper prey of a satirist. The soliloquy of, Mal. volio is truly comic; he is beirayed io ridicule merely by his pride. The inarriage of Olivia, and the succeeding perplexity, though well crough contrived to divert the stage, wants credibility, and fails to produce the proper instruction requi. red in the drama, as it exhibits no just picture of life. JOHNDON.

[ocr errors]

NOTES TO

MEASURE FOR MEASURE.

**MEASURE FOR MEASURE.] The story is taken from Cinthio's Novels, Decad. 8, Novel. 5. POPE.

We are sent 10 Cinthio for the plot of Measure for Measure, and Shakspeare's judgment hath been attacked for some deviations from him in the conduct of it, when probably all he knew of the

1

1

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

matter was from Madam Isabella, in The Heptameron of Whetstone, Lond. 4to, 1582. She reports, in the fourth dayes Exercise,

the rare Historie of Promos and Cassandra. A marginal note informs us, that Whetstone was the author of the Comedie on that subject; which likewise had probably fallen into the hands of Shakspeare.

FARMER. There is perhaps not one of Shakspeare's plays more darkened than this by the peculiarities of its author, and the unskilfulness of its editors, by distortions of phrase, or negligence of transcription..

JOIINSON. Dr. Johnson's remark is so just respecting the corruptions of this play, 'that I shall not attempt much reformation in its métre, which is too ofien rough, redundant, and irregular. Additions, and omissions (however trilling) cannot be made without constant notice of them; and such' 110 iices, in the present instance, would so frequently occur, as to become equally tiresome to the commentator and the reader.

Shakspeare took the fable of this play from the Promos and Cassandra of George Wherstone, published in 1573. See Theobald's note at the end,

A hint, like a seed, is more or less prolific, according to the qualities of the soil on which it. is thrown. This story, which in the hands of Whetstone produced little more than barren iasipidity, under the culture of Shakspeare became fertile of entertainment. The curious reader will find that the old play of Promos and Cassandra exhibits an almost complete embryo of Measure for Mensure; yet the hints on which it is formed arc sa slight, that it is nearly as impossible

[ocr errors]

one

to deteet them, as it is to point out in the acorn the future ramifications of the oak. Whetstone opens his play thus :

Act I. Scene i. „Promos, Mayor, Shirife, Sworde bearer: with a bunché of keyes :

Phållax, Promos Man. „You officers which now 'in Julio staye, „Know you your leadge, The King of

Hungarie, „Sent me to Pronos, to joyne with you

in sway:
„That siyll we inay to Justice have an eye.
„And now to show my rule and power at

lardge,
„Attentivelie his leiters patents hcare:

Phallax, reade out my Sovcraines chardge. Phal. As you commaunde I wyil: give hcedeful

care.

Phallax readerh the Kinges · Letters

Pattents, which must be fayre written in parchment , with some great

counterfeat zuzie. Pro. „Loc, here you see what is our Souveraign.

es wyl. „Loe, keare his wish, that right; nidt might,

beare awaye: „Loe, heare his care, to weede from good

the yii, „To scoorge. the wights, good lawes that

disobay. »Such zeale he beares , unto the common

weale, „(How so he loyds, the ignoraunt to save)

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »