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Henry Gosson; who had probably anticipated the other, by getting a hasty transcript from a playhouse copy. There is, I believe, no play of our author's, perhaps I might say, in the English language, so incorrect as this. The most corrupt of Shakspeare's other dramas, compared with Pericles, is purity itself. The metre is seldom attended to; verse is frequently printed as prose, and the groffest errors abound in almost every page. I mention these circumstances, only as an apology to the reader for having taken somewhat more licence with this drama than would have been justifiable, if the copies of it now extant bad been lefs disfigured by the negligence and ignorance of the printer or transcriber. The numerous corruptions that are found in the original edition in 1609, which have been carefully preserved and augmented in all the subsequent impressions, probably arose from its having been frequently exhibited on the itage. In the four quarto editions it is called the much admired play of Pericles, Prince of Tyre; and it is mentioned by many ancient writers as a very popular performance ; particularly, by the author of a metrical pamphlet, entitled Pymlico, or Run Redcap, in which the following lines are found :
- Amaz'd I stood, to see a crowd
66 Came to see Shore or Pericles." In a former edition of this play I said, on the authority of another person, that this pamphlet had appeared in 1596; but I have since met with the piece itself, and find that Pymlico, &c. was published in 1609. It might, however, have been a republication.
The prologue to an old comedy called The Hog has lost his Pearl, 1614, likewise exhibits a proof of this play's uncommon success. The poet, speaking of his piece, says:
if it prove so happy as
so happy as to please, “ We'll say, 'tis fortunate, like Pericles.". By fortunate, I understand highly successful. The writer can hardly be supposed to have meant that Pericles was popular rather from accident than merit; for that would have been but a poor eulogy on his own performance.
An obscure poet, however, in 1652, insinuates that this drama was ill received, or at least that it added nothing to the reputation of its author :
“ But Shakespeare, the plebeian driller, was
Verses by J. Tatham, prefixed to Richard Brome's
Jovial Crew, or the Merry Beggars, 4to. 1652
fore us :
The passages above quoted now that little credit is to be given to the assertion contained in these lines; yet they furnish us with an additional proof that Pericles, at no very diftant period after Shakspeare's death, was considered as unquestionably his performance.
In The Times displayed in Six Seftiads, 4to. 1646, dedicated by S. Shephard to Philip Earl of Pembroke, p. 22, Seftiad VI. stanza 9, the author thus speaks of our poet and the piece be
“ See him, whose tragick scenes Euripides
Compare great Shakspeare ; Ariftophanes
“ Did understand the depth of poesie." For the division of this piece into scenes I am responsible, there being none found in the old copies. See the notes at the end of the play. MALONE.
The History of Apollonius King of Tyre was supposed by Mark Welser, when he printed it in 1595, to have been translated from the Greek a thousand years before. [Fabr. Bib. Gr. v. p. 821.] It certainly bears strong marks of a Greek original,
] though it is not (that I know) now extant in that language. The rythmical poem, under the fame title, in modern Greek, was retranslated (if I may so speak) from the Latin-ATO Aal1v1495 ELS Pwpainny yaworay. Du Fresne, Index Author. ad Glof. Græc. When Welser printed it, he probably did not know that it had been published already (perhaps more than once) among the Gesta Romanorum. In an edition, which I have, printed at Rouen in 1521, it makes the 154th chapter. Towards the latter end of the XIIth century, Godfrey of Viterbo, in his Pantheon or Universal Chronicle, inserted this romance as part of the history of the
bird Antiochus, about 200 years before Christ. It begins thus [MS. Reg. 14, C. xi.] :
“ Filia Seleuci regis ftat clara decore,
“ Res habet effectum, pressa puella dolet.” The rest is in the same metre, with one pentameter only to two hexameters.
Gower, by his own acknowledgement, took his story from the Pantheon ; as the author, (whoever he was) of Pericles, Prince of Tyre, profeffes to have followed Gower.
Chaucer also refers to this story in The Man of Lawe's ProLogue :
- Or elles of Tyrius Appolonius,
" That is so horrible a tale for to rede" &c. There are three French translations of this tale, viz.-" La Chronique d'Appollin, Roy de Thyr;" 4to. Geneva, bl. I. no date ;---and “ Plaisante et agreable Histoire d'Appollonius Prince de Thyr en Affrique, et Roi d'Antioche; traduit par Gilles Corozet,” 8vo, Paris, 1530 ;-and in the seventh yolume of the Histoires Tragiques &c. 12mo. 1604, par François Belle-Forest, &c.) “ Accidens diaers aduenus à Appollonie Roy des Tyriens : ses malheurs sur mer, ses pertes de femme & fille, & la fin heureuse de tous ensemble.”
In the introduction to this last novel, the translator says:
Ayant en main une histoire tiree du Grec, & icelle ancienne, comme aufli je l'ay recuellie d'un vieux livre écrit à la main" &c.
But the present story, as it appears in Belle-foreft's collection, (Vol. VII. p. 113, Greq.) has yet a further claim to our notice, as it had the honour (p. 148-9) of furnishing Dryden with the outline of his Alexander's Feast. Langbaine, &c. have accused this great poet of adopting circumstances from the Histoires Tragiques, among other French novels ; a charge, however, that demands neither proof nor apology.
The popularity of this tale of Apollonius, may be inferred from the very numerous MS, in which it appears.
Both editions of Twine's translation are now before me. Tho. mas Twine was the continuator of Phaer's Virgil, which was left imperfect in the year 1558.
In Twine's book our hero is repeatedly called Prince of Tyrus." It is fingular enough that this fable should have been re-published in 1607, the play entered on the books of the Stationers' Company in 1608, and printed in 1609.
I must ftill add a few words concerning the piece in question.
Numerous are our unavoidable annotations on it. Yet it has been so inveterately corrupted by transcription, interpolation, &c. that were it publithed, like the other dramas of Shakspeare, with scrupulous warning of every little change which necessity compels an editor to'make in it, his comment would more than treble the quantity of his author's text. · If, therefore, the filent insertion or transposition of a few harmless syllables which do not affect the value of 'one sentiment throughout the whole, can obviate thofe defects in construction and harmony which have hitherto molested the reader, why should not his progress be facilitated by such means, rather than by a wearisome appeal to remarks that
disturb attention, and contribute to diminish whatever interest might otherwise have been awakened by the scenes before him? If any of the trivial supplements, &c. introduced by the present editor are found to be needless or improper, let him be freely censured by his successors, on the score of rashness or want of judgment. Let the Nimrods of ifs and ands pursue him ; let the champions of nonsense that bears the stamp of antiquity, couch their rusty lances at the desperate innovator. To the severeft hazard, on this account, he would more cheerfully expose himself, than leave it to be observed that he had printed many passages in Pericles without an effort to exhibit them (as they must have originally appeared) with some obvious meaning, and a tolerable flow of versification. The pebble which aspires to rank with diamonds, should at least have a decent polish bestowed on it. Perhaps the piece here exhibited has merit insufficient to engage the extremeft vigilance of criticism. Let it on the whole, however, be rendered legible, before its value is estimated, and then its minutiæ (if they deserve it) may become objects of contention. The old perplexed and vitiated copy of the play is by no means rare ; and if the reader, like Pericles, should think himself qualified to evolve the intricacies of a riddle, be it remembered, that the editor is not an Antiochus, who would willingly subject him to such a labour.
That I might escape the charge of having attempted to conceal the liberties taken with this corrupted play, have I been thus ample in my confession. I am not conscious that in any other drama I have changed a word, or the position of a syllable, without constant and formal notice of such deviations from our author's text.
To these tedious prolegomena may I subjoin that, in consequence of researches successfully urged by poetical antiquaries, I should express no surprize if the very title of the piece before us were hereafter, on good authority, to be discarded? Some lucky rummages among papers long hoarded up, have discovered as unexpected things as an author's own manuscript of an ancient play. That indeed of Tancred and Gifmund, a much older piece, (and differing in many parts from the copy printed in 1592) is now before me.
It is almost needless to observe that our dramatick Pericles has not the least resemblance to his historical namesake; though the adventures of the former are sometimes coincident with those of Pyrocles, the hero of Sidney's Arcadia ; for the amorous, fugitive, shipwrecked, musical, tilting, despairing Prince of Tyre is an accomplished knight of romance, disguised under the name of a statesman,
<< Whofe refiftless eloquence
“ Shook th' arsenal, and fulmin'd over Greece." As to Sidney's Pyrocles --Tros, Tyriufve,
“ The world was all before him, where to choose
“ His place of rest.” but Pericles was tied down to Athens, and could not be removed to a throne in Phoenicia. No poetick licence will permit a unique, classical, and conspicuous name to be thus unwarrantably transferred. A Prince of Madagascar must not be called Æneas, nor a Duke of Florence Mithridates ; for such peculiar appellations would unseasonably remind us of their great original poffersors. The playwright who indulges himself in these wanton and injudicious vagaries, will always counteract his own purpose. Thus, as often as the appropriated name of Pericles occurs, it ferves but to expose our author's gross departure from established manners and historick truth; for laborious fiction could not designedly produce two personages more opposite than the settled demagogue of Athens, and the vagabond Prince of Tyre.
It is remarkable, that many of our ancient writers were ambitious to exhibit Sidney's worthies on the stage ; and when his subordinate agents were advanced to fuch honour, how happened it that Pyrocles, their leader, fhould be overlooked? Mufidorus, (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. Nay, so high was the credit of this romance, that many a fashionable word and glowing phrase selected from it, was applied, like a Promethean torch, to contemporary sonnets, and gave a transient life even to those dwarfilh and enervate bantlings of the reluctant Muse.
I must add, that the Appolyn of the Story-book and Gower, could have been rejected only to make room for a more favourite name; yet, however conciliating the name of Pyrocles might have been, that of Pericles could challenge no advantage with regard to general predilection.
I am aware, that a conclusive argument cannot be drawn from the false quantity in the second syllable of Pericles; and yet if the Athenian was in our author's mind, he might have been taught by repeated translations from fragments of satiric poets in Sir Thomas North’s Plutarch, to call his hero Pericles; as for instance, in the following couplet :