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argument, though of no little strength in itself, we omitted to bring before, as having better (as we thought) and more forcible to offer; but it had behov'd those gentlemen who have question'd the plays to have got rid of it in the first instance, as it lies full in their way in the very entrance upon this dispute.
We shall close this part of the Introduction with some observations, that were reserv'd for this place, upon that paragraph of the player editors' preface which is quoted at p. 173; and then taking this further liberty with the reader,-to call back his attention to some particulars that concern the present edition, dismiss him, to be entertain'd (as we hope) by a sort of appendix, consisting of those notes that have been mention'd, in which the true and undoubted originals of almost all the poet's fables are clearly pointed out. But first of the preface. Besides the authenticity of all the several pieces that make up this collection, and their care in publishing them, both solemnly affirm'd in the paragraph refer'd to, we there find these honest editors acknowledging in terms equally solemn the author's right in his copies, and lamenting that he had not exercis'd that right by a publication of them during his life-time; and from the manner in which they express themselves, we are strongly inclin'd to think-that he had really form'd such a design, but towards his last days, and too late to put it in execution: a collection of Jonson's was at that instant in the press, and upon the point of coming forth; which might probably inspire such a thought into him and his companions, and produce conferences between them-about a similar publication from him, and the pieces that should compose it, which the poet might make a list of. It is true, this is only a supposition; but a supposition arising naturally, as we think, from the incident that has been mention'd, and the expressions of his fellow players and editors: and, if suffer'd to pass for truth, here is a good and sound reason for the exclusion of all those other plays that have been attributed to him upon some grounds or other;-he himself has proscrib'd them; and we cannot forbear hoping, that they will in no future time rise up against him, and be thrust into his works: a disavowal of weak and idle pieces, the productions of green years, wantonness, or inattention, is a right that all authors are vested with; and should be exerted by all, if their reputation is dear to them; had Jonson us❜d it, his character had stood higher than it does. But, after all, they who have pay'd attention to this truth are not always secure; the indiscreet zeal of an admirer, or avarice of a publisher, has frequently added things that dishonour them; and where realities have been wanting, forgeries supply the place; thus has Homer his Hymns, and the poor Mantuan his Ciris and his Culex. Noble and great authors demand all our veneration: where their wills can be discover'd, they ought sacredly to be comply'd with; and that editor ill discharges his duty, who presumes to load them with things they have renounc'd: it happens but too often, that we have other ways to shew our regard to them; their own great
want of care in their copies, and the still greater want of it that is commonly in their impressions, will find sufficient exercise for any one's friendship, who may wish to see their works set forth in that perfection which was intended by the author. And this friendship we have endeavour'd to shew to Shakspeare in the present edition: the plan of it has been lay'd before the reader; upon whom it rests to judge finally of its goodness, as Iwell as how it is executed: but as several matters have interven'd that may have driven it from his memory; and we are desirous above all things to leave a strong impression upon him of one merit which it may certainly pretend to, that isit's fidelity; we shall take leave to remind him, at parting, that -Throughout all this work, what is added without the authority of some ancient edition, is printed in a black letter: what alter'd, and what thrown out, constantly taken notice of; some few times in a note, where the matter was long, or of a complex nature;* but more generally, at the bottom of the page; where what is put out of the text, how minute and insignificant soever, is always to be met with; what alter'd, as constantly set down, and in the proper words of that edition upon which the alteration is form'd: and, even in authoriz'd readings, whoever is desirous of knowing further, what edition is follow'd preferably to the others, may be gratify'd too in that, by consulting the Various Readings; which are now finish'd; and will be publish'd, together with the Notes, in some other volumes, with all the speed that is convenient.
ORIGIN OF SHAKSPEARE'S FABLES.
All's Well that Ends Well.
The fable of this play is taken from a novel, of which Boccace is the original author; in whose Decameron it may be seen at p. 97.b of the Giunti edition, reprinted at London. But it is more than probable, that Shakspeare read it in a book, call'd
*The particulars that could not well be pointed out below, according to the general method, or otherwise than by a note, are of three sorts;-omissions, any thing large; transpositions; and such differences of punctuation as produce great changes in the sense of a passage: instances of the first occur in Love's Labour's Lost, p. 54, and in Troilus and Cressida, p. 109 and 117; of the second, in The Comedy of Errors, p. 62, and in Richard III, p. 92 and 102; and The Tempest, p. 69, and King Lear, p. 53, afford instances of the last; as may be seen by looking into any modern edition, where all those passages stand nearly as in the old ones.
[All these references are to Mr. Capell's own edition of our author.]
The Palace of Pleasure: which is a collection of novels trans lated from other authors, made by one William Painter, and by him first publish'd in the years 1565 and 67, in two tomes, quarto; the novel now spoken of, is the thirty-eighth of tome the first. This novel is a meagre translation, not (perhaps) immediately from Boccace, but from a French translator of him: as the original is in every body's hands, it may there be seen-that nothing is taken from it by Shakspeare, but some leading incidents of the serious part of his play.
Antony and Cleopatra.
This play together with Coriolanus, Julius Cæsar, and some part of Timon of Athens, are form'd upon Plutarch's Lives, in the articles-Coriolanus, Brutus, Julius Cæsar, and Antony: of which lives there is a French translation, of great fame, made by Amiot, Bishop of Auxerre and great almoner of France; which, some few years after it's first appearance, was put into an English dress by our countryman Sir Thomas North, and publish'd in the year 1579, in folio. As the language of this translation is pretty good, for the time; and the sentiments, which are Plutarch's, breathe the genuine spirit of the several historical personages; Shakspeare has, with much judgment, introduc'd no small number of speeches into these plays, in the very words of that translator, turning them into verse: which he has so well wrought up, and incorporated with his plays, that, what he has introduc'd cannot be discover'd by any read er, 'till it is pointed out for him.
As you Like it.
A novel, or (rather) pastoral romance, intitl'd-Euphues' Golden Legacy, written in a very fantastical style by Dr. Thomas Lodge, and by him first publish'd in the year 1590, in quarto, is the foundation of As you Like it: besides the fable, which is pretty exactly follow'd, the outlines of certain principal characters may be observ'd in the novel: and some expressions of the novelist (few, indeed, and of no great moment,) seem to have taken possession of Shakspeare's memory, and from thence crept into his play.
Comedy of Errors.
Of this play, the Menæchmi of Plautus is most certainly the original yet the poet went not to the Latin for it; but took up with an English Menæchmi, put out by one W. W. in 1595, quarto. This translation,-in which the writer professes to have us'd some liberties, which he has distinguish'd by a particular mark,-is in prose, and a very good one for the time: it furnish'd Shakspeare with nothing but his principal incident; as you may in part see by the translator's argument, which is in verse, and runs thus:
"Two twinborne sonnes, a Sicillmarchant had
"The first his father lost a little lad,
"The grandsire namde the latter like his brother:
"Father, wife, neighbours, each mistaking either,
It is probable, that the last of these verses suggested the title of Shakspeare's play.
Boccace's story of Bernabo da Ambrogivolo, (Day 2, Nov. 9,) is generally suppos'd to have furnish'd Shakspeare with the fable of Cymbeline: but the embracers of this opinion seem not to have been aware, that many of that author's novels (translated, or imitated,) are to be found in English books, prior to, or contemporary with, Shakspeare: and of this novel in particular, there is an imitation extant in a story-book of that time, intitl'd-Westward for Smelts: it is the second tale in the book: the scene, and the actors of it are different from Boccace, as Shakspeare's are from both; but the main of the story is the same in all. We may venture to pronounce it a book of those times, and that early enough to have been us'd by Shakspeare, as I am persuaded it was; though the copy that I have of it, is no older than 1620; it is a quarto pamphlet of only five sheets and a half, printed in a black letter: some reasons for my opinion are given in another place; (v. Winter's Tale) though perhaps they are not necessary, as it may one day better be made appear a true one, by the discovery of some more ancient edition.
About the middle of the sixteenth century, Francis de Belleforest, a French gentleman, entertain'd his countrymen with a collection of novels, which he intitles-Histories Tragiques; they are in part originals, part translations, and chiefly from Bandello: he began to publish them in the year 1564 and continu'd his publication successively in several tomes, how many I know not; the dedication to his fifth tome, is dated six years after, in that tome, the troisieme Histoire has this title;
“Avec quelle ruse Amleth, qui depuis fut royde Dannemarch, vengea la mort de son pere Horvuendille, occis par Fengon son frere, & autre occurrence de son histoire." Painter, who has been mention'd before, compil'd his Palace of Pleasure almost entirely from Belleforest, taking here and there a novel as pleas'd him but he did not translate the whole: other novels, it is probable, were translated by different people, and publish'd singly; this, at least, that we are speaking of, was so, and is intitl'd-The Historie of Hamblet; it is in quarto, and black letter: there can be no doubt made, by persons who are acquainted with these things, that the translation is not much
younger than the French original; though the only edition of it, that is yet come to my knowledge, is no earlier than 1608: that Shakspeare took his play from it, there can likewise be very little doubt.
1 Henry IV.
In the eleven plays that follow,-Macbeth, King John, Richard Il, Henry IV, two parts, Henry V, Henry VI, three parts, Richard III, and Henry VIII,—the historians of that time, Hall, Holinshed, Stow, and others, (and, in particular, Holinshed,) are pretty closely follow'd; and that not only for their matter, but even sometimes in their expressions: the harangue of the Archbishop of Canterbury in Henry V, that of Queen Catharine in Henry VIII, at her trial, and the king's reply to it, are taken from those chroniclers, and put into verse: other lesser matters are borrow'd from them; and so largely scatter'd up and down in these plays, that whoever would rightly judge of the poet, must acquaint himself with those authors, and his character will not suffer in the enquiry.
Richard III was preceded by other plays written upon the same subject; concerning which, see the conclusion of a note in this Introduction, at p. 174. And as to Henry V,-it may not be improper to observe in this place, that there is extant another old play, call'd-The famous Victories of Henry the Fifth, printed in 1617, quarto; perhaps by some tricking bookseller, who meant to impose it upon the world for Shakspeare's, who dy'd the year before. This play, which opens with that prince's wildness and robberies before he came to the crown, and so comprehends something of the story of both parts of Henry IV, as well as of Henry V,—is a very medley of nonsense and ribaldry; and, it is my firm belief, was prior to Shakspeare's Henries; and the identical "displeasing play" mention'd in the epilogue to 2 Henry IV; for that such a play should be written after his, or receiv'd upon any stage, has no face of probability. There is a character in it, call'd Sir John Oldcastle; who holds there the place of Sir John Falstaff, but his very antipodes in every other particular, for it is all dullness: and it is to this character that Shakspeare alludes, in those much-disputed passages; one in his Henry IV, p. 157, and the other in the epilogue to his second part; where the words "for Oldcastle dy'd a martyr" hint at this miserable performance, and it's fate, which was-damnation.
Lear's distressful story has been often told in poems, ballads, and chronicles: but to none of these are we indebted for Shak. speare's Lear; but to a silly old play which made its first appearance in 1605, the title of which is as follows:-"The True Chronicle Hi- | story of King LEIR, and his three daughters, Gonorill, Ragan, and Cordella. As it hath bene divers and sundry times lately acted. | LONDON, | Printed by Simon Stafford for John Wright, and are to bee sold at his shop at [ Christes Church dore, next Newgate- | Market, 1605.” (4° F.