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MR. DOUCE observes that “ the very great popularity of this play in former times may be supposed to have originated from the interest which the story must have excited. To trace the fable beyond the period in which the favorite romance of Apollonius Tyrius was composed, would be a vain attempt: that was the probable original; but of its author nothing decisive has been discovered. Some have maintained that it was originally written in Greek, and translated into Latin by a Christian about the time of the decline of the Roman empire; others have given it to Symposius, a writer whom they place in the eighth century, because the riddles which occur in the story are to be found in a work entitled Symposii Ænigmata. It occurs in that storehouse of popular fiction, the Gesta Romanorum, and its antiquity is sufficiently evinced by the existence of an Anglo-Saxon version, mentioned in Wanley's list, and now in Bene't College, Cambridge. One Constantine is said to have translated it into modern Greek verse, about the year 1500, (this is probably the MS. mentioned by Dufresne in the index
of authors appended
to his Greek Glossary,) and afterwards printed at Venice in 1563. It had been printed in Latin prose, at Augsburg, in 1471, which is probably as early as the first dateless impression of the Gesta Romanorum.* ...A very curious fragment of an old metrical romance on the subject, was in the collection of the late Dr. Farmer, and is now in my possession. This we have the authority of Mr. Tyrwhitt for placing at an earlier period than the time of Gower. The fragment consists of two leaves of parchment, which had been converted into the cover of a book, for which purpose its edges were cut off, some words entirely lost, and the whole has suffered so much by time as to be scarcely legible. Yet I have considered it so curious a relic of our early poetry and language, that I have bestowed some pains in deciphering what remains, and have given a specimen or two in the notes toward the close of the play. I will here exhibit a further portion, comprising the name of the writer, who appears to have been Thomas Vicary, of Winborn Minster, in Dorsetshire. The portion I have given will continue the story of Apollonius (the Pericles of the play)
Wit hys wyf in gret solas
** Towards the latter end of the twelfth century, Godfrey of Viterbo, in his Pantheon, or Universal Chronicle, inserted this romance as part of the
history of the third Antiochus, about two hundred years before Christ. It begins thus (MS. Reg. 14. c. xi.] ;
filia Seleuci stat clara decore
Res habet effectum, pressa puella dolet.
And had twey sones by iunge age
the kyndom of Antioche
at byddynge of hys wyf,
best sone of that empire
that he louede dure,
hys soule to God al myght
me on alle lyues space
to the makers stat
y thoughte you have wryte
Amen pr Charite.
Explicit APPOLONI Tyrus Rex nobilis & vituosus, &c.
This story is also related by Gower, in his Confessio Amantis, lib. vii. p. 175—185, edit. 1554. Most of the incidents of the play are found in his narration, and a few of his expressions are occasionally borrowed. Gower by his own acknowledgment, took his story from the Pantheon of Godfrey of Viterbo; and, the author of Pericles professes to have followed Gower.
Chaucer also refers to the story in The Man of Lawe's Prologue:
A French translation from the Latin prose, evidently of the fifteenth century, is among the Royal MSS. in the British Museum, 20, c. ii. There are several more recent French translations of the story-one under the title of “La Chronique d'Appolin Roi de Thyr,” 4to. Geneva, blk. l. no date; another by Gilles Corrozet, Paris, 1530, 8vo. It is also printed in the seventh vol
. of the Histoires Tragiques de Belleforest, 12mo. 1604; and, modernized by M. Le Brun, was printed at Amsterdam in 1710, and Paris in 1711, 12mo. There is an abstract of the story in the Mélanges tirées d'une grande Bibliothèque, vol. lxiv. p. 265.
The first English prose version of the story, translated by Robert Copland, was printed by Wynkyn de Wordé, 1510. It was again translated by T. Twine, and originally published by W. Howe, 1576. Of this there was a second impression in 1607, under the title of The Patterne of painful Adventures, containing the most excellent, pleasant, and variable Historie of the strange Accidents that befel unto Prince Appoloniụs, the Lady Lucina his Wife, and Tharsia his Daughter, &c.; translated into English by T. Twine, Gent. The Poet seems to have made use of this prose narration as well as of Gower.
“That the greater part, if not the whole, of this drama, was the composition of Shakspeare, and that it is to be considered as his earliest dramatic effort, are positions, of which the first has been rendered highly probable by the elaborate disquisitions of Messrs. Steevens and Malone, and may possibly be placed in a clearer point of view by a more condensed and lucid arrangement of the testimony already produced, and by a further discussion of the merits and peculiarities of the play itself; while the second will, we trust, receive additional support by inferences legitimately deduced from a comprehensive survey of scattered and hitherto insulated premises."
The evidence required for the establishment of a high degree of probability under the first of these positions, necessarily divides itself into two parts--the external and the internal evidence. The former commences with the original edition of Pericles, which was entered on the Stationers' books by Edward Blount, one of the printers of the first folio edition of Shakspeare's plays, on the 20th of May, 1608, but did not, pass the press until the subsequent year, when it was published, not, as might have been expected, by Blount, but by one Henry Gosson, who placed Shakspeare's name at full length in the title page. It is worthy of remark, also, that this edition was entered at Stationers' Hall, together with Antony and Cleopatra, and that it (and the three following editions, which were also in quarto) was styled in the title page the much admired play of Pericles. As the entry, however, was by Blount, and the edition by Gosson, it is probable that the former had been anticipated by the latter, through the procurance of a play-house copy. It may also be added, that Pericles was performed at Shakspeare's own theatre, The Globe. The next ascription of this play to our Author, is in a poem entitled The Times Displayed, in Sir Sestyads, by S. Sheppard, 4to. 1646, dedicated to Philip Herbert, earl of Pembroke, and containing in the ninth stanza of the sixth Sestiad a positive assertion of Shakspeare's property in this drama:
“ See him whose tragic sceans Euripides
This high eulogium on Pericles received a direct contradiction very shortly afterwards from the pen of an obscure poet named Tatham, who bears, however, an equally strong testimony as to Shakspeare's being the author of the piece, which he thus presumes to censure :
“ But Shakespeare, the plebeian driller, was
To these testimonies in 1646 and 1652, full and unqualified, and made at no distant period from the death of the Bard to whom they relate, we have to add the still more forcible and striking declaration of Dryden, who tells us, in 1677, and in words as strong and decisive as he could select, that
Shakspeare's own muse his Pericles first bore."
6 The only drawback on this accumulation of external evidence, is the omission of Pericles in the first edition of our Author's works ; a negative fact, which can have little weight, when we recollect that both the memory and judgment of Heminge and Condell, the Poet's editors, were so defective, that they had forgotten Troilus and Cressida, until the entire folio, and the table of contents, had been printed; and admitted Titus Andronicus and the Historical Play of King Henry the Sixth, probably for no other reasons than that the former had been, from its unmerited popularity, brought forward by Shakspeare on his own theatre, though, there is sufficient internal evidence to prove, without the addition of a single line; and because the latter, with a similar predilection of the lower orders in its favor, had obtained a similar, though not a more labored attention froin our Poet, and was therefore deemed by his editors, though very unnecessarily, a requisite introduction to the two plays on the reign of that monarch, which Shakspeare had really new-modeled.”
“ It cannot, consequently, be surprising, as they had forgotten Troilus and Cressida until the folio had been printed, they should have forgotten Pericles until the same folio had been in circulation, and when it was too late to correct the omission; an error which the second folio has, without doubt or examination, blindly copied."
“If the external evidence in support of Shakspeare being the author of the greater part of this play be striking, the internal must be pronounced still more so, and, indeed, absolutely decisive of the question; for, whether we consider the style and phraseology, or the imagery, sentiment, and humor, the approximation to our Author's uncontested dramas appears so close, frequent, and peculiar, as to stamp irresistible conviction on the mind.
“ The result has, accordingly, been such as might have been predicted, under the assumption of the play being genuine; for the more it has been examined, the more clearly has Shakspeare's large property in it been established. It is curious, indeed, to note the increased tone of confidence which each successive commentator has assumed, in proportion as he has weighed the testimony arising from the piece itself. Rowe, in his first edition, says, “It is owned that some part of Pericles certainly was written by him, particularly the last act.' Dr. Farmer observes, that the hand of Shakspeare may be seen in the latter part of the play. Dr. Percy remarks that more of the phraseology used in the genuine dramas of Shakspeare prevails in Pericles than in any of the other six doubted plays.' Steevens says, “ I admit, without reserve, that Shakspeare
whose hopeful colors
Advance a half-faced sun, striving to shineis visible in many scenes throughout the play ;-the purpurei panni are Shakspeare's, and
the rest the production of some inglorious and forgotten playwright;'-adding, in a subsequent paragraph, that Pericles is valuable, (as the engravings of Mark Antonio are valuable, not only on account of their beauty, but because they are supposed to have been executed under the eye of Raffaelle.' Malone gives it as his corrected opinion, that the congenial sentiments, the numerous expressions bearing a striking similitude to passages in Shakspeare's undisputed plays, some of the incidents, the situation of many of the persons, and in various places the color of the style,--all these combine to set his seal on the play before us, and furnish us with internal and irresistible proofs, that a considerable portion of this piece, as it now appears, was written by him.' On this ground he thinks the greater part of the three last acts may be safely ascribed to him; and that his hand may be traced occasionally in the other two. Many will be of opinion (says Mr. Douce) that it contains more that Shakspeare might have written than either Love's Labor's Lost, or All's Well that Ends Well.
“For satisfactory proof that the style, phraseology, and imagery of the greater part of this play are truly Shakspearian, the reader has only to attend to the numerous coincidences which, in these respects, occur between Pericles and the Poet's subsequent productions; similitudes so ötriking, as to leave no doubt that they originated from one and the same
“ If we attend, however, a little further to the dramatic construction of Pericles, to its humor, sentiment, and character, not only shall we find additional evidence in favor of its being, in a great degree, the product of our Author, but fresh cause, it is expected, for awarding it a higher estimation than it has hitherto obtained."
Dr. Drake enters much more at large into the argument for establishing this as a juvenile effort of our great Poet, and for placing the date of its composition in the year 1590; but we must content ourselves with referring the reader to his work for these particulars. He continues :
“ Steevens thinks that this play was originally named Pyroclés, after the hero of Sidney's Arcadia ; the character, as he justly observes, not bearing the smallest affinity to that of the Athenian statesman. It is remarkable,' says he, that many of our ancient writers were ambitious to exhibit Sidney's worthies on the stage; and when his subordinate heroes were advanced to such honor, how happened it that Pyrocles, their leader, should be overlooked ? Musidorus (his companion), Argalus and Parthenia, Phalantus and Eudora, Andromana, &c., furnished titles for different tragedies; and perhaps Pyrocles, in the present instance, was defrauded of a like distinction. The names invented or employed by Sidney had once such popularity, that they were sometimes borrowed by poets who did not profess to follow the direct current of his fables, or attend to the strict preservation of his characters. I must add, that the Appolyn of the Story-book and Gower could only have been rejected to make