图书图片
PDF
[ocr errors][ocr errors]
[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

and so had Sir Thomas More in one of his Pagcants :'

[ocr errors]

not to mention her elaborate portrait by Chaucer, in The Boke 0fFame; and byjohn Higgins, one of the afliflants in The Mirrourjbr Magistrates, in his Legend of King Albanafle.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

A very liberal writer on the Beauties of Poetry, who had been more conversant inythe ancient literature of other countries, than his own, " cannot but wonder, tha-t a poet, whose classical images are composed of the finesl parts, and breathe the very spirit of ancient mythology, should pass for being illiterate : A H i 4' See, what a grace was seated on this brow!

"' Hyperion's eurls: the front of-love himself:

" An eye like Mars to threaten and command:

" A slation like the herald Mercury, ,

" New lighted on a heaven-killing-hill." Hamlet. Illiterate is an ambiguous term: the quefiion is, whether poetick hislory could be only known by an adeptin languages. It is no refleflion on this ingenious gentleman, when I say,x thatl use on this occasion the words ofa better critick, who yet was not willing to carry the illitcracy of our poet too far: - " They who are in such asionishment at the learning of Shakfpeare, forget that the pagan imagery was familiar to all the poets of his time ; and that abundance of this sort of learning was to be picked up from almost every English book, that he could take into his hands." For not to insisl upon Stcphen Bateman's Golden Booke ofthe Leaden Goddes, 1577, and several other laborious compilations on the subjecfl, all this and much more mythology might as perfefilly have been learned from the Tzfiament of Crcseidef and the Fairy 'Q'ueen,3 as from a regular Pantheon or Polymetis himself.

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

1

292 AN ESSAY ON THE .

Mr. Upton, not contented with heathen learning, when he sinds it in the text, mu[l: necessarily superadd it, when it appears to be wanting; because Shakfpeare most certainly hath lost it by accident I

In Much ado ab0ut]V0thing, Don Pedro says ofthe insensible Benediafi; " He hath twice or thrice cut Cupid's bow-firing, and the little harzgman dare not slioot at him." ' .

This mythology is not recollefted in the ancients, and therefore the critick hath no doubtbut his author wrote -"Hanch-rnan,--ajmgc, jiufio : and this word seeming too hard for the printer, he translated the little urchin into a hangman, a charafier no way belonging to him." A

But this charafter was not borrowed from the ancients; - it came from the Arcadia of Sir Philip Sidney :

" Millions of yeares this old drivell Cupid lives; " While still more wretch, more wicked he dotli prove: " Till now at' length that jove an office gives, " (At-]uno's suite who much did Argus love) " In this our world a hangman for to be ' " Of all those fooles that will have all they see." B. II. c. 14. I know it may be objcfied on the authority of such biographers as Theophilus Cibbcr, and the writer of the Life of Sir Philip, prefixed to the modern editions ; that the Arcadia was not published before 1613, and consequently too late for this imitation : but I have a copy- in my own posseslion,printeds0rXV.Ponsonbie, 1590. 4to. which hath escaped the notice of the industrious Ames, and the rest of our typographical antiquaries.

LEARNING OF SHAKSPEARE. 2g3

Thus likewise every word of antiquity is to 'be cut down to the clasiical siandard. A

In a note on the Prologue to Troilus and Crgflida, (which, by the way, is not met with in the quarto,) Mr. Theobald informs us, that the very nam-'es of the gates 0fTroy, have been barbarously demolished by the editors: and a deal oflearned dust he makes insetting them right again ; much however to Mr. Heath's satisfaftion. Indeed the learning is modesily withdrawnv from the later editions, and we are quietly inftruiied to read, Q

at Dardan, and Thymbria, Ilia, Sczea, Troian,
at And Antenorides." '

But had he looked into the Troy bake of Lydgate, insiead of puzzling himself with Dares Phrygius, he would have found the horrid demolition to have been neither the work of Shakspeare nor his eclitors: ' '

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

t

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]
« 上一页继续 »