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they admitted him into the confidence of their state affairs. Mr. Malone, whose opinions are entitled to a higher degree of credit, thinks that his prose compositions, if they should be discovered, would exhibit the same perspicuity, the same cadence, the same elegance and vigour, which we find in his plays. It is unfortunate, however, for all wishes and all conjectures, that not a line of Shakspeare's manuscript is known to exist, and his prose writings are no where hinted at. We have only printed copies of his plays and poems, and those so depraved by carelessness, or ignorance, that all the labour of all his commentators has not yet been able to restore them to a probable purity; many
of the greatest difficulties attending the perusal of them yet remain, and will require what it is scarcely possible to expect, greater sagacity, and more happy conjecture, than have hitherto been employed.
Of his Poems, it is, perhaps, necessary that some notice should be taken, although they have never been favourites with the public, and have seldom been reprinted with his plays. Shortly after his death, Mr. Malone informs us, a very incorrect impression of them was issued out, which in every subsequent edition was implicitly followed, until he published a correct edition, in 1780, with illustrations, &c. But the peremptory decision of Mr. Steevens, on the merits of these poems, must not be omitted. “ We have not reprinted the Sonnets, &c. of Shakspeare, because the strongest act of parliament that could be framed would fail to compel readers into their service. Had Shakspeare produced no other works than these, his name would have reached us with as little celebrity as time has conferred on that of Thomas Watson, an older and much more elegant sonnetteer.” Severe as this may appear, it only amounts to the general conclusion which modern critics have formed. Still it cannot be denied that there are many scattered beauties among his Sonnets, and in The Rape of Lucrece ; enough, it is hoped, to justify their admission into the present collection, especially as the Songs, &c. from his plays have been added, and a few smaller pieces selected by Mr. Ellis. Although they are now lost in the blaze of his dramatic genius, Mr. Malone remarks, “ that they seem to bave gained him more reputation than his plays : at least, they are oftener mentioned, or alluded to."
The elegant Preface of Dr. Johnson gives an account of the attempts made, in the early part of the last century, to revive the memory and reputation of our poet, by Rowe, Pope, Theobald, Hanmer, and Warburton ; whose respective merits he has charaeterised with candour, and with singular felicity of expression. Shakspeare's works may be overloaded with criticism ; for what writer has excited so much curiosity, and so many opinions ! But Johnson's Preface is an accompaniment worthy of the genius it celebrates. His own edition followed in 1765; and a second, in conjunction with Mr. Steevens, in 1773. The third edition of the joint editors appeared in 1785, the fourth in 1793, and the last, and most complete, in 1803, in twenty-one volumes, octavo. Mr. Malone's edition was published in 1790, in ten volumes, crown octavo, and is now become exceedingly scarce. His original notes and improvements, however, are incor porated in the editions of 1793 and 1803, by Mr. Steevens. Mr. Malone says, that from the year 1716 to the date of his edition in 1790, that is, in seventy-four years, " above thirty thousand copies of Sbakspeare have been dispersed through England." To this we may add, with confidence, that since 1790 that number has been doubled. During the year 1803, no fewer than nine editions were in the press, belonging to the proprietors of this work; and if we add the editions printed by others, and those published in Scotland, Ireland, and America, we may surely fix the present as the bigliest
era of Shakspeare's popularity. Nor, among the honours paid to his genius, ought we to forget the very magnificent edition undertaken by Messrs. Boydell. Still legs ought it to be forgotten how much the reputation of Shakspeare was revived by the unrivalled excellence of Garrick's performance. His share in directing the public taste towards the study of Shakspeare was, perhaps, greater than that of any individual in his time; and such was his zeal, and such his success, in this laudable attempt, that he may readily be forgiven the foolish mummery of the Stratford Jubilee.
When public opinion had begun to assign to Shakspeare the very high rank he was destined to hold, he became the promising object of fraud and imposture. This, we have already observed, he did not wholly escape in his own time, and he had the spirit, or policy, to despise it". It was reserved for modern impostors, however, to avail themselves of the obscurity in which his history is involved. In 1751, a book was published, entitled “A compendious or brief Examination of certayne ordinary Complaints of divers of onr Countrymen in those our Days: which, although they are in some parte unjust and frivolous, yet are they all by way of Dialogue, throughly debated and discussed by William Shakspeare, gentleman.” This had been originally published in 1581; but Dr. Farmer has clearly proved, that W. S. gent. the only authority for attributing it to Shakspeare in the reprinted edition, meant William Stafford, gent. Theobald, the same accurate critic informs us, was desirous of palming upon the world a play called Double Falsehood, for a posthumous one of Shakspeare. "Iu 1770 was reprinted at Feversham, an old play called The Tragedy of Arden of Feversham and Black Will, with a preface attributing it to Shakspeare, without the smallest foundation. But these were trifles, compared to the atrocious attempt made in 1795-6, when, besides a vast mass of prose and verse, letters, &c. pretendedly in the hand-writing of Shakspeare and his correspondents, an entire play, entitled Vortigern, was not only brought forward for the astonishment of the admirers of Shakspeare, but actually performed on Drury Lane stage. It would be unnecessary to expatiate on the merits of this play, which Mr. Steevens has very happily characterised as “the performance of a madman, without a lucid interval,” or to enter more at large into the nature of a fraud so recent, and so soon acknowledged by the authors of it. It produced, however, an interesting controversy between Mr. Malone and Mr. George Chalmers, which, although mixed with soine unpleasant asperities, was extended to inquiries into the history and antiquities of the stage, from which future critics and historians may derive considerable information's,
12 Mr. Malone has given a list of fourteen plays ascribed to Shakspeare, either by the editors of the two later folios, or by the compilers of ancient catalogues. Of these, Pericles has found advocates for its admission into his works. C.
18 This sketch of Shakspeare's Life was drawn up by the present writer for a variorum edition of his works published in 1804 ; and no additional light having since been thrown on Shakspeare's history, it is here reprinted with very few alterations. C.
TO THE RIGHT HONOURABLE
“ Thrice fairer than myself," thus she begart, VENUS AND ADONIS.
“ The field's chief flower, sweet above compare, Stain to all nymphs, more lovely than a man,
More white and red than doves or roses are; Vilia miretur vulgus, mihi flavus Apollo
Ovid. Nature that made thee, with herself at strife, Pocula Castalia plena ministrat aqua.
Saith, that the world hath ending with thy life. “ Vouchsafe, thou wonder, to alight thy steed,
And rein his proud head to the saddle bow;
If thou wilt deigu this favour, for thy meed,
A thousand boney secrets shalt thou know :
Here come and sit, where serpent never hisses, EARL OF SOUTHAMPTON, AND BARON OF TITCHFIELD.
And, being set, I 'll smother thee with kisses. RIGHT HONOURABLE,
"" And yet not cloy thy lips with loath'd satiety, I KNOW not how I shall offend in dedicating my But rather famish them amid their plenty, unpolished lines to your lordship, nor how the Making them red and pale with fresh variety;
Ten kisses short as one, one long as twenty: world will censure me for choosing so strong a A summer's day will seem an hour but short, prop to support so weak a burthen: only if your Being wasted in such time-beguiling sport.” honour seem but pleased, I account myself | With this, she seizeth on his sweating palm, highly praised, and vow to take advantage of all The precedent of pith and livelihood, idle hours, till I have honoured you with some And, trembling in her passion, calls it balm,
Earth's sovereign salve to do a goddess good: graver labour. But if the first heir of my in. Being so enrag'd,
desire doth lend her force, vention prove deformed, I shall be sorry it had courageously to pluck him from his horse. so noble a godfather, and never after ear so bar-Over one arm the lusty courser's rein, ren a land, for fear it yield me still so bad a Under the other was the tender boy, barvest. I leave it to your honourable survey, Who blush'd and pouted in a dull disdain, and your honour to your heart's content; which
With leaden appetite, unapt to toy ;
She, red and hot, as coals of glowing fire, I wish may always answer your own wish, and the He red for shame, but frosty in desire. world's hopeful expectation.
The studded bridle on a ragged bough
Nimbly she fastens, (O how quick is love!)
To tie the rider she begins to prove:
And govern'd him in strength, though not in lust. EVN as the Sun with purple colour'd face So soon was she along, as he was down,
Had ta'n his last leave of the weeping mom, Each leaning on their elbows and their hips: Rose-cheek'd Adonis hied him to the chase;
Now duth she stroke his cheek, now doth he frown, Hunting he lord, but love he laugh'd to scorn : And gins to chide, but soon she stops his lips; Sick-thoughted Venus makes amain unto him, And kissing speaks, with lustful language broken, And like a bold-fac'd suitor 'gins to woo him. “ If thou wilt chide, thy lips shall never open."
He burns with bashful shame; she with her tears “ Thus him that over-rul'd, i oversway'd,
Doth quench the maiden burning of his cheeks; Leading him prisoner in a red-rose chain :
To fan and blow them dry again she seeks : Yet was he servile to my coy disdain.
“ Touch but my lips with those fair lips of thine Tires with her beak on feathers, flesh, aud bone, (Though mine be not so fair, yet are they red) Shaking her wings, devouring all in haste,
The kiss shall be thine own as well as mine: Till either gorge be stuffd, or prey be gone; What see'st thou in the ground ? hold up thy head; Even so she kiss'd his brow, the cheek, his chin, Look in mine eye-balls where thy beauty lies: And where she ends, she doth anew begin. Then why not lips on lips, since eyes on eyes ? Forc'd to content, but never to obey,
“ Art thou ashain'd to kiss ? then wink again, Panting he lies, and breathing in her face; And I will wink, so shall the day seem night; She feedeth on the steam, as on a prey,
Love keeps his revels where there be but twain, And calls it heavenly moisture, air of grace, Be bold to play, our sport is not in sight: Wishing her cheeks were gardeus full of flowers, These blue-vein'd violets whereon we lean, So they were dew'd with such distilling showers. Never can blab, nor know they what we mean. Look how a bird lies tangled in a net,
« The tender spring upon thy tempting lip So fasten'd in her arms Adonis lies;
Shows thee unripe, yet may'st thou well be tasted; Pure shame and aw'd resistance made him fret, Make use of time, let not advantage slip;
Which bred more beauty in his angry eyes : Beauty within itself should not be wasted : Rain added to a river that is rank,
Fair Powers that are pot gather'd in their prime, Perforce will force it overflow the bank.
Rot and consume themselves in little time. Still she entreats, and prettily entreats,
“ Were I hard favour'd, foul, or wrinkled old, For to a pretty ear she tunes her tale ;
Ill natur'd, crooked, churlish, harsh in voice, Still is he sullen, still he low'rs and frets,
O’erworn, despised, rheumatic, and cold, 'Twixt crimson shame and anger, ashy-pale ; Thick-sighted, barren, lean, and lacking juice, Being red, she loves him best; and, being white, Then migh’st thou pause, for then I were not for Her best is better'd with a more delight.
But having no defects, why dost abhor me? Look how he can, she cannot choose but love;
And by her fair immortal hand she swears “ Thou canst not see one wrinkle in my brow; From his soft bosom never to remove,
Mine eyes are grey, and bright, and quick in turnTill he take truce with her contending tears, My beauty as the spring doth yearly grow, [ing; Which long have rain'd, making her cheeks all wet; My flesh is soft and plump, my marrow burning; And one sweet kiss shall pay this countless debt. My smooth moist hand, were it with thy hand felt,
Would in thy palm dissolve, or seem to melt. Upon this promise did he raise his chin,
Like a di-dapper peering through a wave, “ Bid me discourse, I will enchant thine ear, Who being look'd on, ducks as quickly in ;
Or, like a fairy, trip upon the green, So suffers he to give what she did crave; Or, like a nymph, with long dishevell d hair, But when her lips were ready for his pay,
Dance on the sands, and yet no footing seen : He winks, and turns his lips another way.
Love is a spirit all compact of fire,
Not gross to sink, but light, and will aspire.
“ Witness this primrose bank whereon I lie; (me; Her help she sees, but help she cannot get ;
These forceless flowers like sturdy trees support She bathes in water, yet in fire must burn:
Two strengthless doves will draw me through the sky, “ Oh pity,” 'gan she cry, “ Aint-hearted boy;
From morn till night, even where I list to sport me: 'T is but a kiss I beg ; why art thou coy?
Is love so light, sweet boy, and may it be
That thou shouldst think it heavy unto thee? “ I have been woo'd, as I entreat thee now,
“ Is thine own heart to thine own face affected ? Even by the stern and direful god of war, Whose sinewy neck in battle ne'er did bow,
Can thy right hand seize love upon thy left? Who conquers where he comes, in every jar;
Then woo thyself, be of thyself rejected, Yet hath he been my captive and my slave,
Steal thine own freedom, and complain of theft. And begg'd for that which thou unask'd shall have. And dy'd to kiss his shadow in the brook.
Narcissus so, himself himself forsook, “ Over my altars hath he bung his lance, “ Torches are made to light, jewels to wear, His batter'd shield, his uncontrolled crest,
Dainties to taste, fresh beauty for the use, And for my sake hath learn'd to sport and dance, Herbs for their smell, and sappy plants to bear; To coy, to wanton, dally, smile, and jest ;
Things growing to themselves are growth's abuse: Scorning his churlish drum, and ensign red, Seeds spring from seeds, and beauty breadeth beauMaking my arms his field, his tent my bed. Thou wert begot-to get it is thy duty.
Upon the Earth's increase why should'st thou feed, “ Fondling,” she saith, " since I have hemm'd thee Unless the Earth with thy increase be fed ?
here, By law of Nature thou art born to breed,
Within the circuit of this ivory pale, That thine may live, when thou thyself art dead; I'll be the park, and thou shalt be my deer; And so in spite of death thou do'st survive,
Feed where thou wilt, on mountain or in dale: In that thy likeness still is left alive."
Graze on my lips; and if those bills be dry,
Stray lower, where the pleasant fountains lie. By this, the love-sick queen began to sweat,
For, where they lay, the shadow had forsook them, Within this limit is relief enough, And Titan, tired in the mid-day heat,
Sweet bottom-grass, and high delightful plajo, With burning eye did hotly overlook them; Round rising hillocks, brakes obscure and rough, Wishing Adonis had his team to guide,
To shelter thee from tempest and from rain; So he were like him, and by Venus' side.
Then be my deer, since I am such a park;
No dog shall rouse thee, though a thousand bark.” And now Adonis, with a lazy spright, And with a heavy, dark, disliking eye,
At this Adonis smiles, as in disdain, His low'ring brows o'erwhelming his fair sight, That in each cheek appears a pretty dimple :
Like misty vapours, when they blot the sky, Love made those hollows, if himself were slain, Souring his cheeks, cries, “ Fiel no more of love; He might be bury'd in a tomb so simple; The Sun doth burn my face; I must remove." Foreknowing well, if there he came to lije,
Why there love liv'd, and there he could not die. "Ah me," quoth Venus, "young, and so unkind !
What bare excuses mak'st thou to be gone! These lovely caves, these round-enchanting pits, I'll sigh celestial breath, whose gentle wind
Open'd their mouths to swallow Venus' liking: Shall cool the heat of this descending Sun; Being mad before, how doth she now for wits? I'll make a shadow for thee of my hairs;
Struck dead at first, what needs a second striking ? If they burn too, I 'll quench them with my tears. Poor queen of love, in thine own law forlorn,
To love a cheek that smiles at thee in scorn! "The Sun that shines from Heaven, shines but warm,
And lo, I lie between that Son and thee; Now which way shall she turn? what shall'she say? The heat I have from thence doth little harm, Her words are done, her woes the more increasing,
Thine eye darts forth the fire that burneth me: The time is spent, her object will away, And were I not immortal, life were done,
And from her twining arms doth urge releasing: Between this heavenly and earthly Sun.
"Pity,” she cries; “some favour-some remorse"
Away he springs, and hasteth to his horse. * Art thou obdurate, flinty, hard as steel,
Nag more than flint, for stone at rain relenteth; But lo, from forth a copse that neighbours by, Art thou a woman's son, and canst not feel
A breeding jennet, lusty, young, and proud, What 't is to love? how want of love tormenteth ? Adonis' trampling courser doth espy, O had thy mother borne so bad a mind,
And forth she rushes, snorts, and neighs aloud : She had not brought forth thee, but died unkind. The strong-neck'd steed, being tied unto a tree,
Breaketh his rein, and to her straight goes he. " What am I, that thou should'st contemn me thus?
Or what great danger dwells upon my suit ? Imperiously he leaps, he neighs, he bounds, What were thy lips the worse for one poor kiss ? And now his woven girts he breaks asunder,
Speak fair; but speak fair words, or else bemute: The bearing Earth with his hard hoof he wounds, Give me one kiss, I'll give it thee again,
Whose hollow womb resounds like Heaven'stbunAnd one for interest, if thou wilt have twain. The iron bit he crushes 'tween his teeth, [der;
Controlling what he was controlled with. “ Fie, lifeless picture, cold and senseless stone, Well-painted idol, image, dull and dead,
His ears up prick’d; his braided hanging main Statoe, contenting but the eye alone,
Upon his compass'd crest now stands on end; Thing like a man, but of no woman bred;
His nostrils drink the air, and forth again, Thou art no man, though of a man's complexion,
As from a furnace, vapours doth he send : For men will kiss even by their own direction."
His eye, which glisters scornfully like fire,
Shows his hot courage and bis high desire.
And swelling passion doth provoke a pause;
With gentle majesty, and modest pride;
Anon he rears upright, curvets and leaps,
As who would say, “ Lo! thus my strength is And now her sobs do her intendments break.
Of the fair breeder that is standing by." Sometimes she shakes her head, and then his hand, What recketh he his rider's angry stir,
Now gazeth she on him, now on the ground; His flattering holla, or his Stand, I say?
She would, he will not in her arms be bound ; For rich caparisons, or trappings gay?
He sees his love, and nothing else he sees, be locks her lily fingers, one in one.
For nothing else with his proud sigbt agrees.