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King's fervants. This circumftance alone, in my opinion, might almost decide the question.
This much appears on the firft fuperficial view of these pieces; but the paffage quoted by Mr. Tyrwhitt from an old pamphlet, entitled Greene's Groatsworth of Witte, &c. affords a still more decifive fupport to the hypothefis that I am endeavouring to maintain; which, indeed, that pamphlet first suggested to me. As this paffage is the chief hinge of my argument, though it has already been printed in a preceding page, it is neceffary to lay it again before the reader.—"Yes," fays the writer, Robert Greene, (addreffing himself, as Mr. Tyrwhitt conjectures with great probability, to his poetical friend, George Peele,) “trust them [the players] not; for there is an upstart crowe BEAUTIfied with our FEATHERS, that with his tygres heart wrapt in a player's hide fupposes hee is as well able to bombaste out a blank verfe as the best of you; and being an abfolute Johannes fac totum, is, in his own conceit, the only Shake-fcene in a country.' -"O tyger's heart, wrapt in a woman's hide!" is a line of the old quarto play, entitled The firft Part of the Contention of the two Houfes, &c.
That Shakspeare was here alluded to, cannot, I think, be doubted. But what does the writer mean by calling him " a crow beautified with our feathers ?" My folution is, that GREENE and PEELE were the joint authors of the two quarto plays, entitled The first Part of the Contention of the Two famous Houfes of Yorke and Lancaster, &c. and The true Tragedie of Richarde Duke of Yorke, &c. or that Greene was the author of one, and Peele of the other. Greene's pamphlet, from whence the foregoing paffage is extracted, was written recently before his death, which happened in September, 1592. How long he and Peele had been dramatick writers, is not precisely ascertained. Peele took the degree of Master of Arts at Oxford, in 1579: Greene took the fame degree in Cambridge, in 1583. Each of them has left four or five plays, and they wrote feveral others, which have not been published. The earliest of Peele's printed pieces, The Arraignment of Paris, appeared in 1584; and one of Greene's pamphlets was printed in 1583. Between that year and 1591 it is highly probable that the two plays in queftion were written. I fufpect they were produced in 1588 or 1589. We have undoubted proofs that Shakspeare was not above working on the materials of other His Taming of the Shrew, his King John, and other
* The first edition of Romeo and Juliet, 1597, is faid in its title-page to have been acted "By the right honourable the L. of Hunsdon his fervants." STEEVENS.
plays, render any arguments on that point unneceffary. Having therefore, probably not long before the year 1592, when Greene wrote his Dying Exhortation to a Friend, new-modelled and amplified these two pieces, and produced on the stage what, in the folio edition of his works, are called The Second and Third Parts of King Henry VI. and having acquired confiderable reputation by them, Greene could not conceal the mortification that he felt at his own fame and that of his affociate, both of them old and admired play-wrights, being eclipsed by a new upftart writer, (for fo he calls our great poet,) who had then first, perhaps, attracted the notice of the publick by exhibiting two plays, formed upon old dramas written by them, confiderably enlarged and improved. He therefore, in direct terms, charges him with having acted like the crow in the fable, beautified himself with their feathers; in other words, with having acquired fame furtivis coloribus, by new-modelling a work originally produced by them and wifhing to depreciate our author, he very naturally quotes a line from one of the pieces which Shakspeare had thus re-written; a proceeding which the authors of the original plays confidered as an invafion both of their literary property and character. This line, with many others, Shakspeare adopted without any alteration. The very term that Greene uses" to bombaft out a blank verse," exactly correfponds with what has been now fuggefted. This new poet, fays he, knows as well as any man how to amplify and swell out a blank verfe. Bumbaft was a soft stuff of a loose texture, by which garments were rendered more swelling and protuberant.
Several years after the death of Boiardo, Francesco Berni undertook to new-verfify Boiardo's poem, entitled ORLANDO IN NAMORATO. "Berni (as Baretti obferves) was not satisfied with merely making the verfification of that poem better; he interfperfed it with many ftanzas of his own, and changed almost all the beginnings of the cantos, introducing each of them with fome moral reflection arifing from the canto foregoing." What Berni did to Boiardo's poem after the death of its author, and more, I fuppofe Shakspeare to have done to The First Part of the Contention of the Two Houfes of Yorke and Lancaster, &c. and The true Tragedie of Richarde Duke of Yorke, &c. in the life time of Greene and Peele, their literary parents; and this Rifacimento (as the Italians call it) of thefe two plays I suppose to have been executed by Shakspeare, and exhibited at the Globe or Blackfriars theatre, in the year 1591.
I have faid Shakspeare did what Berni did, and more. He did not content himself with writing new beginnings to the acts;
he new-verfified, he new-modelled, he tranfpofed many of the parts, and greatly amplified and improved the whole. Several lines, however, and even whole speeches which he thought fufficiently polished, he accepted, and introduced into his own work, without any, or with very flight, alterations.
In the prefent edition, all thofe lines which he adopted without any alteration, are printed in the usual manner; those speeches which he altered or expanded, are diftinguithed by inverted commas; and to all the lines entirely compofed by himself, afterisks are prefixed. The total number of lines in our author's Second and Third Part of King Henry VI. is SIX THOUSAND AND FORTY-THREE: of these, as I conceive, 1771 lines were written by fome author who preceded Shakspeare; 2373 were formed by him on the foundation laid by his predecessors; and 1899 lines were entirely his own compofition.
That the reader may have the whole of the fubject before him, I fhall here transcribe the fourth fcene of the fourth A&t of The Third Part of King Henry VI. (which happens to be a fhort one,) together with the corresponding scene in the original play; and also a speech of Queen Margaret, in the fifth Act, with the original speech on which it is formed. The first specimen will ferve to fhow the method taken by Shakspeare, where he only new-polished the language of the old play, rejecting fome part of the dialogue, and making fome flight additions to the part which he retained; the second is a striking proof of his facility and vigour of compofition, which has happily expanded a thought comprized originally in a very short speech, into thirtyseven lines, none of which appear feeble or fuperfluous.
THE TRUE TRAGEDIE OF RICHARDE DUKE OF YORKE, &c. Sign. F. 4. edit. 1600.
Enter the Queene, and the Lord Rivers.
Riv. Tell me, good madam,
Why is your grace fo paffionate of late.
Queene. Why, brother Rivers, heare you not the news
Of that fuccefs king Edward had of late?
Riv. What? loffe of fome pitcht battaile against Warwick? Tush; fear not, fair queen, but cast these cares aside. King Edwards noble minde his honours doth display; And Warwicke may lofe, though then he got the day. Queene. If that were all, my griefes were at an end;
But greater troubles will, I feare, befall.
Riv. What? is he taken prifoner by the foe, To the danger of his royal person then?
Queene. I, there's my griefe; king Edward is furprifde, And led away as prifoner unto Yorke.
Riv. The newes is paffing ftrange, I must confeffe ; Yet comfort yourfelfe, for Edward hath more friends Than Lancaster at this time must perceive,
That some will fet him in his throne againe.
Queene. God grant they may! but gentle brother, come, And let me leane upon thine arın a while,
Until I come unto the fanctuarie;
There to preserve the fruit within my womb,
King Edwards feed, true heir to Englands crowne.
KING HENRY VI. PART III. ACT IV. SCENE IV.
Enter the QUEEN and RIVERS.
Riv. Madam, what makes you in this fudden change?
Riv. What, lofs of fome pitch'd battle against Warwick?
Queen. Ay, almoft flain, for he is taken prisoner;
Or by his foe furpriz'd at unawares :
And, as I further have to understand,
Is new committed to the bishop of York,
Fell Warwick's brother, and by that our foe.
Riv. These news, I muft confefs, are full of grief:
For love of Edward's offspring in my womb :
And bear with mildness my misfortune's cross
Ay, ay, for this I draw in many a tear,
King Edward's fruit, true heir to the English crown.
To fet the crown once more on Henry's head:
(For truft not him that once hath broken faith,)
I'll hence forthwith unto the fanctuary,
To fave at least the heir of Edward's right;
THE TRUE TRAGEDIE OF RICHARDE DUKE OF YORKE, &c. Sign. G. 4. edit. 1600.
Enter the Queene, Prince Edward, Oxford, Somerset, with drumme and fouldiers.
Queen. Welcome to England, my loving friends of France; And welcome Somerset and Oxford too. Once more have we fpread our failes abroad; And though our tackling be almost confumde, And Warwicke as our main-maft overthrowne, Yet, warlike lordes, raise you that sturdie poft, That bears the failes to bring us unto reft; And Ned and I, as willing pilots fhould, For once with careful mindes guide on the sterne, To bear us thorough that dangerous gulfe,
That heretofore hath swallowed up our friendes.
KING HENRY VI. PART III. ACT V. SCENE IV.
March. Enter Queen MARGARET, Prince EDWARD,
Q. Mar. Great lords, wife men ne'er fit and wall their loss, But cheerly feek how to redress their harms.
What though the mast be now blown over-board,
The cable broke, the holding anchor loft,
And half our failors fwallow'd in the flood?
And give more ftrength to that which hath too much;