« ZurückWeiter »
Adapted for Scholastic or Private Study, and for those qualifying for University
Instructor of Candidates for the Civil Service and other Public Examinations; and
Formerly Vice-Principal of the National Society's Training College, Battersea.
LONGMANS, GREEN, AND CO.
SHAKSPEARE'S AS YOU LIKE IT.'
In the folio of 1623 is the earliest known copy of this pastoral comedy. It appears to have been composed in 1599 or 1600 ; for 1598 is the date of the publication of Marlowe's Hero and Leander, from which this play has a quotation; and we find As you Like it, Henry the Fifth, Every Man in his Humour, and Much Ado about Nothing, mentioned together in the Stationers' Registers, in an entry belonging to the year 1600. Against this entry, however, is the memorandum—"To be stayed ;' but, whatever was the reason of the stay, the last three of the plays were soon afterwards published in the usual quarto form; and we may suppose, therefore, that As you Like it was issued in the same form about the same time.
It is founded on a novel by Thomas Lodge, the title of which is Rosalynd: Euphues Golden Legacie, Found after his death in his Cell at Silexedra. Fetcht from the Canaries by T. L. Gent. This book appeared in 1590, became very popular, and passed through several editions, that of 1598 being probably the one that prompted Shakspeare to dramatise the novel. The poet has followed very closely the outline of the story, changing in a few instances the names of the characters, as John of Burdeaux for Sir Roland, his three sons, Saladine, Ferdinand, and Rosader, for Oliver, Jaques, and Orlando, respectively, and Alinda for Celia. The melancholy Jaques, Touchstone, and Audrey are the poet's own creations.
The novel possesses little merit as regards either sentiment or diction ; it is affected in style, and often tedious in narration. The student may compare the following extract from it with the first part of Shakspeare's opening scene :
Saladine's Meditation with Himself.—Thy brother is young; keep him now in awe; make him not check-mate with thyself. . . . Let him know little ; so shall he not be able to execute much. Suppress his wits with a base estate ; and though he be a gentleman by nature, yet form him anew, and make him a peasant by nurture : so shalt thou keep him a slave, and reign thyself sole lord over all thy father's possessions. As for Ferdinand, thy middle brother, he is a scholar, and hath no mind but on Aristotle; let him read on Galen, while thou revellest with gold, and pore on his book, whiles thou purchasest lands : wit is great wealth ; if he have learning, it is enough; and so let all rest.'
'In this humour was Saladine making his brother Rosader his foot-boy, for the space of two or three years, keeping him in such servile subjection, as it had been the son of any country vassal. The young gentleman bare all with patience; till on a day walking in the garden by himself, he began to consider, how he was the son of John of Burdeaux, a knight renowned in many victories, and a gentleman famous for his virtues,—how, contrary to the testament of his father, he was not only kept from his land and entreated as a servant, but smothered in such secret slavery, as he might not attain to any honourable actions. Alas! said he to himself (nature working these effectual passions), why should I, that am a gentleman born, pass my time in such unnatural drudgery? ... Those good parts that God hath bestowed upon me, the
my brother doth smother up in obscurity.—As thus he was ruminating, in came Saladine with his men, and seeing his brother in a brown study,"and to forget his wonted reverence, thought to shake him out of his dumps.' &c.
It should be observed that Lodge founded his novel on The Cook's Tale of Gamelyn, inserted in some editions of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, though probably not Chaucer's composition. (Wright, in his edition of Chaucer, says: “The tale of Gamelyn belongs to the Robin Hood cycle, and is curious as a picture of the times. It will be at once recognised as the foundation of Shakspeare's As you Like it, though the dramatist