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play is essentially one of movement, which is a great requisite for dramatic success; but that movement is not held in subjection to an unity of idea. But with this essential disadvantage we cannot doubt that, even with very imperfect dialogue, the action presented a succession of scenes of very absorbing interest. The introduction of Gower, however inartificial it may seem, was the result of very profound skill. The presence of Gower supplied the unity of idea which the desultory nature of the story wanted. Nevertheless, such a story we believe could not have been chosen by Shakspere in the seventeenth century, when his art was fully deve loped in all its wondrous powers and combinations. With his perfect mastery of the faculty of representing, instead of recording, the treatment of a story which would have required perpetual explanation and connection would have been painful to him, if not impossible.
Dr. Drake has bestowed very considerable attention upon the endeavour to prove that ‘Pericles' ought to be received as the indisputable work of Shakspere. Yet his arguments, after all, amount only to the establishment of the following theory: “No play, in fact, more openly discloses the hand of Shakspeare than ‘Pericles,' and fortunately his share in its composition appears to have been very considerable; he may be distinctly, though not frequently, traced, in the first and second acts ; after which, feeling the incompetency of his fellowo-labourer, he seems to have assumed almost the entire management of the remainder, nearly the whole of the third, fourth, and fifth acts bearing indisputable
testimony to the genius and execution of the great master."* We have no faith whatever in this very easy mode of disposing of the authorship of a doubtful play-of leaving entirely out of view the most important part of every drama, its action, its characterization, looking at the whole merely as a collection of passages, of which the worst are to be assigned to some Ame damnée, and the best triumphantly claimed for Shakspere. There are some, however, who judge of such matters upon broader principles. Mr. Hallam says, " Pericles is generally reckoned to be in part, and only in part, the work of Shakspeare. From the poverty and bad management of the fable, the want of any effective or distinguishable character, for Marina is no more than the common form of female virtue, such as all the dramatists of that age could draw, and a general feebleness of the tragedy as a whole, I should not believe the structure to have been Shakspeare's. But many passages are far more in his manner than in that of any contemporary writer with whom I am acquainted.”+ Here “ the poverty and bad management of the fable"-"the want of any effective or distinguishable character,” are assigned for the belief that the structure could not have been Shakspere's. But let us accept Dryden's opinion that
“Shakspeare's own muse his Pericles first bore,” with reference to the original structure of the play, and the difficulty vanishes. It was impossible that the character of the early drama should not have been im
* Shakspeare and his Times,' vol. ii. p. 268.
+ History of Literature,' vol. iii. p. 569.
pressed upon Shakspere's earliest efforts. Do we therefore think that the drama, as it has come down to us, is presented in the form in which it was first written? By no means. We agree with Mr. Hallam that in parts the language seems rather that of Shakspere's " second or third manner than of his first.” But this belief is not inconsistent with the opinion that the original structure was Shakspere's. No other poet that existed at the beginning of the seventeenth century, perhaps no poet that came after that period, whether Massinger, or Fletcher, or Webster—could have written the greater part of the fifth act. Coarse as the comic scenes are, there are touches in them unlike any other writer but Shakspere. We are willing to believe that, even in the very height of his fame, Shakspere would have bestowed any amount of labour for the improvement of an early production of his own, if the taste of his audiences had from time to time demanded its continuance upon the stage. It is for this reason that we think that the 'Pericles' which appears to have been in some respects & new piay at the beginning of the seventeenth century was the revival of a play written by Shakspere some twenty years earlier.
Boult, servant to the Pander.
Gower, as Chorus.
The Daughter of Antiochus.
Appears, Act I. sc. 1.
DIONYZA, wife to Cleon.
THAIsa, daughter to Simonides.
Act V. sc. 3.
sc. 1; sc. 2; sc. 3.
Appeurs, Act V. sc. 2.