Abbildungen der Seite

with which it could be thought he was acquainted, or that feemed likely to contribute any thing towards his illustration. To what degree they illustrate him, and in how new a light they set the character of this great poet himself, can never be conceived as it should be, till these extracts come forth to publick view, in their just magnitude, and properly digested: for besides the various passages that he has either made use of or alluded to, many other matters have been selected and will be found in this work, tending all to the fame end,-our better knowlege of him and his writings; and one class of them there is, for which we shall perhaps be censured as being too profuse in them, namely—the al. almost innumerable examples, drawn from these ancient writers, of words and modes of expression which many have thought peculiar to Shakespeare, and have been too apt to impute to him as a blemish : but the quotations of this class do effectually purge him from such a charge, which is one reason of their profufion ; though another main inducement to it has been, a desire of Thewing the true force and meaning of the aforesaid unusual words and expresions; which can no way be better ascertained, than by a proper variety of well-chosen examples. Now,—to bring this matter home to the subject for which it has been alledged, and upon whose account this affair is now laid before the publick somewhat

Ν Ο Τ Ε. then, that Shakefpeare was very well grounded, at least in Latin, at school: it appears from the clearest evidence poffible, that his father was a man of no little fubstance, and very well able to give him

education; whi perhaps, he might be inclined to carry further, by sending him to a university; but was prevented in this defign (if he had it) by his fon's early marriage, which, from monuments and other like evidence, it appears with no leís certainty, must have happened before he was feventeen, or very soon after: the displeasure of his father, which was the consequence of this marriage, or else fome excefses which he is said to have been guilty of, it is probable, drove him up to town; where he engaged early in some

before its time,—who is so short-fighted as not to perceive upon first reflection, that, without manifest injustice, the notes upon this author could not precede the publication of the work we have been describing; whose choiceft materials would unavoidably and certainly have found a place in those notes, and so been twice retailed upon the world; a practice which the editor has often condemned in others, and could therefore not resolve to be guilty of in himself? By postponing these notes a while, things will be as they ought : they will then be confined to that which is their


subject, explanation alone, intermixed with some little criticism; and instead of long quotations, which would otherwise have appeared in them, the “ School of Shakespeare” will be referred to occasionally; and one of the many indexes with which this same “ School” will be provided, will afford an ampler and truer Glossary than can be made out of any other matter. In the mean while, and till such time as the whole can be got ready, and their way cleared for them by publication of the book above-mentioned, the rader will please to take in good part some few of these notes with which he will be presented by and by: they were written at least four years ago, with intention of placing them at the head of the several notes that are defigned for each play ; but are now detached from their fel.

Ν Ο Τ Ε. of the theatres, and was honour'd with the patronage of the earl of Southampton: His" Venus andAdonis” is addressed to that earl in a very pretty and modeft dedication, in which he calls it-" the first heire of his invention;" and uthers it to the world with this fingular motto,

Vilia miretur vulgus, mibi flavus Apollo

Pocula Castalia plena ministret aqui; and the whole poem, as well as his “ Lucrece,” which follow'd it soon after, together with his choice of those subjects, are plain marks of his acquaintance with some of the Latin clafficks, at least at that time: the diffipation of youth, and, when that was over, the busy scene in which he instantly plunged himself, may very well be sup

lows, and made parcel of the Introduction *, in compliance with some friends' opinion ; who having given them a perusal, will needs have it, that 'tis expedient the world should be made acquainted forthwith-in what sort of reading the poor poet himself, and his editor after him, have been unfortunately immersed.

This discourse is run out, we know not how, into greater heap of leaves than was any ways thought of, and has perhaps fatigued the reader equally with the penner of it: yet can we not dismiss him, nor lay down our pen, till one article more has been enquired into, which seems no less proper for the discussion of this place, than one which we have inderted before, beginning at p. 137; as we there ventured to stand up in the behalf of some quartos and maintain their authenticity, so mean we to have the hardiness here to defend some certain plays in this collection from the attacks of a number of writers who have thought fit to call in question their genuineness: the plays contested are-" The three Parts of Henry VI; Love's Labour's lost; The Taming of the Shrew; and Titus Andronicus ;” and the sum of what is brought against them, so far at least as is hitherto come to knowledge, may be all ultimately resolved into the sole opinion of their unworthiness, exclusive of some weak

* In this edition tbeje notes are place l among the notes to each play at the end of the volume, and marked E. CAPELL.

Ν Ο Τ Ε. posed to have hinder'd his making any great progress in them; but that such a mind as his should quite lose the tin&ture of any knowledge it had once been embud with, cannot be imagined: accordingly we see, that this school-learning (for it was no more) Auck with him to the last; and it was the recordations, as we may call it, of that learning which produced the Latin that is in many of his plays, and most plentifully in those that are most early: every feveral piece of it is aptly introduced, given to a proper character, and utter'd upon some proper occasion, and so well cemented, as it were, and join'd to the passage it stands in, as to deal convi&tion to the ju

surmises which do not deserve a notice : it is therefore fair and allowable, by all laws of duelling, to oppose opinion to opinion; which if we can strengthen with reasons, and something like proofs, which are totally wanting on the other fide, the last opinion may chance to carry the day.

To begin then with the first of them, “ the Henry VI, in three Parts." We are quite in the dark as to when the first part was written; but should be apt to conjecture, that it was some considerable time after the other two; and, perhaps, when those two were re-touched, and made a little fitter than they are in their first draught to rank with the author's other plays which he has fetched from our English history : and those two parts, even with all their re-touchings, being ftill much inferior to the other plays of that class, he may reasonably be supposed to have underwrit himself on purpose in the first, that it might the better match with those it belonged to: now that these two plays (the first draught of them, at least) are among his early performances, we know certainly from their date; which is further confirmed by the two concluding lines of his “Henry V,” spoken by the Chorus; and (possibly) it were not going too far, to imagine-that they are his second attempt in history, and near in time to his original « King John” which is also in two parts : and, if this be so, we may safely pro

Ν Ο Τ Ε. dicious that the whole was wrought up together, and fetched from his own little ftore, upon the sudden and without Rady.

The other languages which he has fometimes made use of, that is-the Italian and French, are not of luch a cuit conquest that we thould think them beyond his reach: an acquaintance with the first of them was a fort of fashion in his time; Surrey and the fondet writers set it on foot, and it was continued by sidney and Spencer: all our poetry ifľued from that school, and it would be wonderful indeed, if he, whom we saw a little before rutting him!elf viti to much zeal under the banner of the Muses, thould got have beca VOL. L.


nounce them his, and even highly worthy of him; it being certain, that there was no English play upon the stage, at that time, which can come at all in competition with them ; and this probably it was, which procured them the good reception that is mentioned too in the chorus. The plays we are now speaking of have been inconceivably mangled either in the copy or the press, or perhaps both : yet this may be discovered in them, that the alterations made afterwards by the author, are nothing near so considerable as those in some other plays; the incidents, the characters, every principal out-line, in short, being the same in both draughts ; so that what we shall have occasion to say of the second, may, in fome degree, and without much violence, be applied also to the first: and this we presume to say of it ;-that, low as it must be set in comparison of his other plays, it has beauties in it, and grandeurs, of which no author was capable but Shakespeare only; that extremely affecting scene of the death of young Rutland, that of his father which comes next it, and of Clifford the murderer of them both; Beaufort's dreadful exit, the exit of king Henry, and a scene of wondrous fimplicity and wondrous tenderness united, in which that Henry is made a speaker while his last decisive battle is fighting,—are so many stamps upon these plays, by which his property is marked, and himself declared the owner

Ν Ο Τ Ε. tempted to taste at least of that fountain to which of all his other brethren there was such continual refort: let us conclude then, that he did taste of it; but, happily for himself, and more happily for the world that enjoys him now, he did not find it to his relish, and threw away the cup: metaphor apart, it is evident—that he had some lit. tle knowledge of the Italian: perhaps, just as much as enabled him to read a novel or a poem; and to put some few fragments of it, with which his memory furnished hím, into the mouth of a pedant, or fine gentleman.

How or when he acquired it, we muft be content to be ignorant, but of the French language he was fomewhat a greater marter than

« ZurückWeiter »