« ElőzőTovább »
the Earl of Leicester ; that Dido under which, for more than two cenmeans an illegitimate daughter of the turies, the characters and producEarl's, by Douglas Howard, the wi- tions of so many ingenious men have dow of the Earl of Sheffield. Dido been concealed; and will feel no less was born “perhaps ” in 1571, died, satisfaction than I have done, on dis“it may be presumed,” in 1578, covering, that, though Shakspeare and, as in Virgil she is called also was not the comick writer eulogized Elisa, was christened, “ I appre- by the author of the Tears of the hend,” Elizabeth, “ probably after Muses, at a time when his name was the Queen.” A former conjecturer scarcely known in the world, he yet, had guessed that the far-famed Ro- afterwards, was duly appreciated by salinde, was Rose Linde, because a his illustrious and amiable contemfamily of the name of Linde resided porary; who in talents and virtues in Kent, in the time of Henry VI. more nearly resembled Shakspeare, Mr. Malone finds that another fa- than did any writer of that age ; and mily, named Horden, lived in the who, we find, at a very early period same county, in the same king's of our great poet's dramatic life, had reign; and with greater ability of a just and high sense of his transscent, he detects Rosalinde in the cendent merits.” Vol. II. p. 279. anagram of Elisa Ordn. This is all We are sorry that we cannot feel we know of either of them, and all the satisfaction which our warmthat our ingenious commentators hearted commentator must have excondescend to tell us of a woman so perienced, when he penned this conrenowned for her beauty and accom- cluding paragraph. He sits down plishments. It is dangerous to ob- happy, with having accomplished a ject to these discoveries ; for the title great undertaking, and invites his of “ shallow buffoons, and half-wit- poetical readers to repose with him ; ted scoffers,” is prepared beforehand but facts, substantial facts, rise up for the punishment of all unbelievers. and push us from our stools. We
After enumerating many poets and have very little confidence generally eminent persons of both sexes, who in the explications which have been are supposed to be alluded to by heretofore given of Spenser's meanSpenser, in his Tears of the Muses, ing; but in Mr. Malone's opinion, and Colin Clout's Come Home A- that the name of Ætion is a mask gain, in several of which he coin- for Shakspeare, we cannot for a mocides with Mr. Todd,- Mr. Malone ment agree. Our reasons are neither brings in another improvement of his few, nor soon stated ; but perhaps the own, conceiving Ætion, in the latter reader will grant us his patience poem, to shadow forth obscurely, but while we produce them. « unquestionably," the name of Shak- The poem of Colin Clout's Come speare. He has, certainly, more ap- Home Again, in which the above parent reason with him than Mr. lines appear, was dedicated to Sir Todd, who imagines Drayton to be Walter Raleigh, on the 27th of Deintended by the lines:
cember, 1591. Now we have not the
least evidence adduced by any of his And then, though last, not least, is Ætion, biographers, to show that Shakspeare A gentler shepheard may no where be was known as a writer at that time.
found; Whose muse, full of high thoughts' in- is in Greene's Groatsworthe of Witte,
The earliest supposed allusion to him vention, Doth, like himself, heroically sound.
published between September and
December, 1592, and written when Having made these discoveries, Greene was on his death-bed: adwhich fill no less than 112 pages of vising some of his “ fellow scollers the Life of Shakspeare, Mr. Malone about this city” to “ let these apes,” adds: “ For this long, but, I trust the players, imitate only their “ past not wholly uninteresting, disquisition, excellence," and never more acquaint no apology is necessary. Every poe- them with their “ admired inventical reader, I am confident, will be tions,” he says, “ Yes, trust them gratified by an endeavour to 'pluck not, for there is an upstart crow out the heart of this mystery,' to beautified with our feathers, that, penetrate the thick · veil of words,' with his tiger's heart wrapt in a play
er's hide, supposes he is as well able been betrayed by his zeal for Shakto bombast out a blank verse as the speare, he would have pronounced best of you; and being an absolute him to be the man. Of Thomas Johannes factotum, is in his own con- Sackville, Lord Buckhurst, it might ceit the only Shake-scene in a coun- be said with truth,“ a gentler sheptry." If this means Shakspeare, as heard may no where be found.” His it probably may, it shows great dis- tragedy of Gorboduc, or Porrex and cernment in Greene thus to warn his Ferrex, had gained him the highest friends beforehand of his rising great- reputation as a poet, and is, indeed, ness; but it also proves that Shak- “ full of high thoughts' invention." speare was only just then venturing The play upon his name is also in to bombast out a few lines of blank proof: “ there's that will sack a city," verse,—that he was a player by pro- says Falstaff of his favorite wine; fession, and not a writer,-a factotum, like his muse, it doth heroically sound. because he united both offices, and Sackville was at this time 50, or as had doubtless the temerity to try some say, 60 years of age, and not his hand at mending one of Greene's likely to write again; but in enuown plays. We may take another merating the poets of Elizabeth's occasion to show that this was ac- court, it would have been a marked tually done by Shakspeare. Thus his affront not to notice him. In 1590, talent was felt and estimated, we he was made K. G.; and in the year allow, as early as the autumn of 1692 when these lines were written, he —but then only by those who had so was appointed Chancellor of the intimate a connexion with the ma- University of Oxford. Spenser's opinagement of the theatre, as to know nion of his genius might be inferred, what improvements were made by if that were necessary, from his friend him in the plays which they pro- Sir Philip Sydney's character of Gorduced. In the following year, 1593, boduc, in the Defence of Poesy: “Our Shakspeare publicly announced his tragedies and comedies, not without pretensions to the title of a poet, by cause, are cried out against, observprinting his poem of Venus and Ac ing rules neither of honest civility, donis, which he says, in his dedica- nor skilful poetry. Excepting Gortion of it to the Earl of Southamp- boduc (again I say, of those that I ton, is the first heir of his invention; have seen), which, notwithstanding, meaning, of course, his first original as it is full of stately speeches, and performance; and he vows to take ad- well sounding phrases, climbing to the vantage of all idle hours, till he have height of Seneca his style, and as full honoured him with some graver la- of notable morality, which it doth bour. This poem was entered on most delightfully teach, and so obtain the books of the Stationers' Company, the very end of poesy; yet, in in April, 1593; and as it was then truth, it is very defectuous in the declared by the author to be his circumstances, which grieves me, befirst and gravest labour, Spenser, cause it might not remain as an exact we may be certain, could not mean model of all tragedies." So that, to commend the same writer for his except for the plot or management of “ muse full of high thoughts' inven- the story, it would be, in the opinion tion," so early as December, 1591. of Sir Philip Sydney, a perfect traMr. Malone and Mr. Todd are so gedy. He proceeds to state his reawell aware of this, that they attempt sons, which in no degree detract to find an error in the date of Spen- from the character of the poetry : ser's dedication ; but the arguments “ For it is faulty, both in place and they adduce for it are all incompetent time, the two necessary companions to shake the fact, as will be shown, of all corporal actions. For where when we come to speak of the poem the stage should always represent of Colin Clout.
but one place, and the uttermost time There was another poet living at pre-supposed in it should be, both by that time, famous and noble, and Aristotle's precept, and common reaevery way proper to be designated son, but one day, there is both many by the verse in question, to whom days and many places inartificially Spenser, in our opinion, alluded; and imagined. But if it be so in Gorboif Mr. Malone's judgment had not duc, how much more in all the rest ?”
This was the opinion Sir Philip is too curious to be omitted ; and the Sydney entertained of the genius of insertion of it here is also due to the Sackville ; but the words of Spenser fair understanding of the subject. himself vouch for our application of the character of Ætion to that noble- poem was written, Shakspeare had produced
It may be conjectured that before this Prefixed to the Fairy Queen, on the stage one or more of his historical and written fortunately at the time plays, probably King Richard the Second (1590) when we may most fairly and Third. Spenser, therefore, while he compare the description it gives of distinguished him by that characteristick Sackville, with that under the name epithet which several of his contemporaries of Ætion, is the following sonnet.
have applied to him,—“A gentler shep
herd may no where be found,” and alluded To the Right Honourable the Lord of to the brandished spear from which his
Buckhurst, one of Her Majestie's Privic name, so congenial with heroick song, was Counsell.
originally derived, may be supposed to In vain I think, Right Honourable Lord,
have had in contemplation these imperial By this rude rhyme to 'memorize thy tragedies, then perhaps performing with name,
applause at the Curtain Theatre, as well as Whose learned muse hath writ her own re
his Venus and Adonis, and the newly pubcord
lished poem of the Rape of Lucrece, In golden verse, worthy immortal fame. which had appeared in the middle of the
year 1594, and may, with perfect proHow much more fit (were leisure to the priety, be referred to under the denominasame)
tion of heroick verse. In Richard the Se. Thy gracious Sovereign's praises to come cond, the challenge of Bolingbroke and the pile,
Duke of Norfolk in the first act, and the Aud her imperial Majestie to frame contention in the fourth act between the In lofty numbers, and heroic style. various noble disputants assembled in the
lists at Coventry, being conducted with all But sith thou mayst not so, give leave the forms and pomp of chivalry, furnished, awhile
doubtless, a very splendid spectacle ; and To baser wit his power therein to spend, indeed the whole drama, as well as that of Whose gross defaults thy dainty pen may Richard the Third, doth, like its author, file,
“ heroically sound.” Vol. II. p. 274 And unadvised oversights amend. 276. But evermore vouchsafe it to maintain Against vile Zoilus' backbitings vain.
Our un poetical readers will wonder
to see by what a slender thread this To suppose that Spenser would, in whole episode concerning Spenser is theyear after this was written, oinit to connected with the proper subject of name this nobleman among the poets Mr. Malone's investigation; but we of the time, is too much at variance must do him the justice to say, that with probability not to require some he certainly would not have produced excuse; and, accordingly, Mr. Malone this argument, had he not fancied imputes to Spenser, a regard for his that, by some mistake, the poem of immediate friends which blinded his Colin Clout's Come Home Again judgment, under the influence of was dated 1591, instead of 1594. which partiality he overlooked “ Ri- His reasons for supposing this are, as chard [Thomas] Sackville, Lord we have observed, wholly unsatisfacBuckhurst, and Edward Earl of Ox- tory to us, and easy to be combated; ford.”
but the opening of the question of We fear Mr. Malone's “ friendly dates would lead us into too long a partiality” is more in fault than disquisition at the present time. We Spenser's on this occasion. Mr. Ma. shall endeavour to introduce this sublone had game in view; he thought ject in another number, when we he could connect his author with may probably show that the above is Spenser; and the wish which was not the only instance, apparently unfather to that thought, robbed him of known to the commentators, in which his accustomed discretion : he could Sackville, as a poet, has been alluded not otherwise have mentioned Back- to by Spenser in terms of high comville as he has, without perceiving mendation; and that Lyly has no the true drift of the verse in ques- better title than Shakspeare to the tion. The argument by which he compliment paid “our pleasaunt attempts to support his own opinion Willy" in the Tears of the Muses.
ON HOMER'S BATTLE OF THE FROGS AND MICE.
I would give something to meet the Rape of the Lock, and what (ut with an intelligent disquisition on opinor, as Ernesti says) is fairly this admirable old poem: the first worth them both, Hudibras. We instance that I know of, in the serio- are, Mr. Word-catcher, most exceedcomic manner. Blair is as silent as ingly desirous to know what blockhis namesake’s grave; and the mere heads they are, who ascribe a burcommon-place of that much over- lesque of epic poesy in general, and rated writer's lectures (a quality, of the Iliad in particular, to the auwhich, by the way, is the secret of thor of the Iliad himself.
If they their popularity) might have deterred had fastened it on Zoilus, it would us from cherishing any violent ex- have been a plausible hit; and if he pectation that he would throw light had written it, there would have on the matter. I have got no Homer been an additional preponderating but Clarke's, with Ernesti's additions, argument against the sentence of the and on turning to the “ præfatio," holy critical inquisition of Alexanwith an eagerness which some ex- dria, which sentenced this luckless perience of the “ sterile abundance' Perrault of antiquity to’ be burnt, of the classic commentators makes instead of his papers ; seemingly with rather ridiculous, I read as follows: the full matter-of-course approbation “ To speak either of the author or of all English schoolmasters. Every the genius of this poem, after so stray waif in poetry was sure to find many disputes on each side of the its way to Homer; but he would no question, is, in my opinion, nothing more have burlesqued his own divine to the purpose.” Grant me patience! song, than Milton would have written But, sir, it does “appertain” to me, a Cottonian travestie of his. Mr. and to many others of your readers, Monk Lewis, indeed, turned his Atake my word for it, that we should lonzo and Imogene into a comical balknow something of the reasons pro lad, almost as nonsensical, and ten and con; though as to the “genius times as stupid ; and so he might; of the poem, we shall scarcely come but imagine Milton, proud as he was to a note-maker for his assistance. of his “ ancient liberty recovered to You have palmed upon us three heroic poem,” being charged with whole pages of information concerne inditing Philips's “ Splendid Shiling the different copies ; from which ling!” The lofty legends of Troy we learn, that one copy is short by , would not admit of being debased by eighty-six lines, and another by six- 'a light association in the mind of teen; but you can afford to tell us such a bard as Homer ; they must nothing of the possible inventor of have been laid up in the inner rethe grave burlesque ; though its ex- cesses of his soul, with all sacred istence, at a period of unquestionable and inviolable things. But the quesantiquity, is, of itself, a curious and tion is laid at once to rest by a stubinteresting phenomenon. Mr. God- born prose-fact. The idea of this win, I believe, treating on the suc- old minstrel that floats about among cessive imperceptible links of cause the mob of readers, is something like and effect, starts a notion, in his pro- the frontispiece to Scarronides ; a found hypothetical manner, that if blind ballad-singer, with a fist-full of Alexander had never crossed the printed songs. We will not insist as Granicus, the fire of London could to the printing ; but we may give a never have happened. But we need shrewd guess that Homer could not not be supposed to have taken a de- write. The craft was not in existgree in the university of Laputa, if ence. It is no use to talk of the we come to the conclusion, that but onnecela duyza, the mournful symbols for the Battle of the Frogs and Mice sent to Bellerophon : the Merican barwe should not have had the Lutrin, barians corresponded with each other Vol. IV.
by means of pictorial signs; but we seated; makes you sick with some do not, therefore, think them good common-place about the Muses ; (I penmen. The parts of the Iliad wish I had never written a verse ;) were not books, but rhapsodies ; the or intercepts you on your way to the bard did not unroll a written papy- book-ladder, and (like that rus, but recited his verses, like an serjeant Death, strict in his arrest,”) Italian improvisatore, marking the claps a forked hand on your breast, cadence with a rude harp, or waving and detains you some twenty mia bough of laurel. Those ingenious nutes with the fall of stocks, the imgentlemen called reporters were not pending ruin of cash payments, the yet in existence; the songs, which, revolution of 1688, and the propriety like a snow-ball, gathered by suc- of excluding placemen and pensioncessive recitations into a poem, were ers from the House of Commons. not written down, but gotten by My friend Aquillius helped me on the heart. It was an oral age. Now in other day, while sitting after a tétethe very outset of the “ Battle of à-tête dinner, (I have been all my the Frogs and Mice," the poet says, life what Johnson calls a tête-à-tête in Cowper's version of him,
man) by advising me to trace the My song, which I have newly progress of burlesque, or serio-comic traced
poetry, downwards in a series of In tables opend on my knees.
essays. He talked very glibly of the
facility of this; and for a moment (I And thus there is an end of the dis- had not the remotest idea of doing pute.
all this myself) I was casting in my “ Pray, sir, why do not you make mind the request that he would set some search after the labours of these about it himself. But I thought of several illustrissimi? Mr. Boswell his painting-room and his port-folio, would run to the opposite extremities and I did not ask it. My friend (not of London, not reckoning bye-alleys, to speak it profanely) reminds me garrets, and trunk-makers' shops, in of Mrs. Malaprop's address to the Capquest of a solitary fact, which he ac- tain: “ I hope, Sir, you are not like knowledges nobody would care about Cerberus; three gentlemen at once.” but himself.”—Gentlemen, I have not At times he is like Wordsworth in his the indagatorial organ. (If there be retrospective poem : “ the tall rock none of the kind or name, Dr. Spurz- haunts him like a passion.” The heim may thank me for helping him gross remembrance of dinner does not on towards the number forty, by this molest him (and in this, I confess, he little addition to his very simple and has the advantage of me) when lollintelligible nomenclature. I never ing on a stone in some valley, with can believe, by the bye, that I have his drawing-board before him, and his only just thirty-three organs. There box of colours, ten to one, slipped is something questionable and unsa- into a neighbouring brook, without tisfactory in a broken number. It is leave asked. He deposits this unlike being asked to dinner at a quar- finished piece (like a tabula votira to ter past six. I would have stopped the Dryads) under some tuft of lyroom at thirty, or subdivided a few more or fern; and imagines we live in faculties, till I eked out the next those times of Arcadian simplicity, round number.) I hate trouble. I that it will be respected. A wag of am not certain whether I should lift his acquaintance, a brother of the down a book from a high shelf, parti- brush, found it, and wrote “very bad” cularly if dusty, as mine always are, in the margin of a towering sketch though I should be sure to ascertain of rock, jutting out amidst ivy and what I wanted. I had rather call in underwood, and capped with a verge the figure of periphrasis or of meta- of heath, and a sprinkling of unex, thesis, or any other that saves exer- pectedly defined trees, at scattered tion; and talk of somewhere, or some distances, with azure glimmerings of writer has said. As to library hunt- horizon. He took the criticism someing, I have forsworn it. You are what to heart, till he detected the sure to meet the very man whom you commentator; and retaliated, in a most wish to avoid ; who looks over lucky moment, by a few random your shoulder, if you are doggedly touches, surreptitiously introduced