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into the Folio of 1623; the editors, whether Heming and Condell, or some other, either knew them to be spurious, or rejected them as youthful and inferior productions, and as unworthy to take a place among the greater works of the author before the tribunal of posterity ; and all critics seem to concur in that opinion of their relative merit. It may have been for the same reason that the “ Pericles " was not included in the Folio, though undoubtedly a work of this author. It is quite possible, however, that the copyright had been sold, and could not be regained. The play appears to have been founded upon a very ancient and popular tale, and it is highly probable that it was an early work, though by no means a weak or an immature production. The best critics seem to agree that it had been retouched by the hand of the master in his better style before it was brought out anew in 1607–8, and printed in 1609, as "the late and much admired play called • Pericles, Prince of Tyre,'” and “ as it hath been divers and sundry times acted by his Majesty's Servants at the Globe on the Banckside," with the name of William Shakespeare on the title-page. The text (say Harness and White) is very corrupt and full of errors; and the reason of this may lay precisely in the fact that it was not revised by the real editor of the Folio, nor printed under his supervision. The story is more ancient than the time and countries in which the scene is laid. It is a deeply interesting and touching dramatic romance, as addressed not to modern rose-water criticism merely, but to the human heart of the world's theatre, and rather as it was in the ancient than in the modern times; and the spirit of the Greek drama, and even much of the touching simplicity of the tales of the Odyssey, is preserved in it. The first scene of the fifth act, in particular, bears a close resemblance to the style and manner of the dramatic dialogue of Euripides. So, likewise, the " Titus Andronicus" is, in some points of substance rather than in the form, a near imitation of the more serious Greek tragedy; and it
furnishes indubitable evidence that the author was familiar with the ancient drama. The main topics of this history of the Prince of Tyre afford occasion, also, for those profound exhibitions of human nature in the opposite extremes of vice and virtue which came within the range of this author's studies. And after a manner which is at least not improbable for the younger hand of Francis Bacon, who, throughout his life, held knowledge and virtue to be superior to riches; who, in his youth, had taken all knowledge to be his province, and, as he said himself, “ rather referred and aspired to virtue than to gain ;” who pursued that immortality which makes a man a god, confessing he was by nature “ fitter to hold a book than play a part”; and who made a study of all arts, and was particularly curious in his investigations into the medicinal virtues of plants and minerals, as well as into all the hidden mysteries of Nature, being also much in the habit of turning over authorities; Lord Cerimon speaks thus in the “ Pericles” :
“I held it ever,
1 Letter to Egerton.
§ 8. THE AUTHOR'S ATTAINMENTS. It will be unnecessary to undertake to demonstrate at large herein, from the internal evidence contained in the plays themselves, that their author was a classical scholar, was acquainted with several foreign languages, was an adept in natural science, was a lawyer by profession, was a profound metaphysical philosopher, and was in general a man of high and polished culture and extensive learning for his time in all branches of human knowledge, in addition to the largest amount of natural genius and intellectual power which
may reasonably be allowed to any mortal. The most competent judges in these matters have so pronounced. The inference has been, not that any other man was in fact the author of these works (at least, until Miss Delia Bacon ventured so to declare 1 ), but that the received biography of William Shakespeare was a myth and a mistake ; and so the chief critics have proceeded to imagine for him some unwritten and unknown biography. But we shall have to accept the known personal history as at last the true account (in the main) of the man William Shakespeare. The later inquiries of modern scholars, the Shakespeare Society included, have ended only in rendering the supposition still more extravagant and absurd than it was before ; for the results, which have been carefully summed up by Mr. Halliwell and later biographers, furnish no data on which the previous account of his life can be in any material degree modified in respect of this matter. On the contrary, the new facts (such as are not forgeries) only concur with what was known before in representing him to us as a man whose heart and soul were more intent upon business, social affairs, and (what Lord Coke took to be the chief end of man) industrious money-getting, than upon anything that pertained to the literary part of his profession. The essential problem still remains.
1 Phil. of Shakes. Plays Unfolded. Boston, 1857.
A few brief words only will be added under this topic. The writer was a classical scholar. Rowe found traces in him of the “ Electra” of Sophocles ; Colman, of Ovid; Pope, of Dares Phrygius and other Greek authors; Farmer, of Horace and Virgil ; Malone, of Lucretius, Statius, Catullus, Seneca, Sophocles, and Euripides ; Steevens, of Plautus; Knight, of the “Antigone" of Sophocles; White, of the “Alcestis” of Euripides ; and doubtless many resemblances and imitations of the ancient authors have been noticed by other critics and scholars. For resemblances with Euripides, certainly too striking to be altogether accidental, the curious reader may compare these passages : “ Orestes," 1204-6, and “Electra,” 693, with “Macbeth,” I. 7 ; " Orestes,” 1271, with “ Hamlet,” III. 4; “Orestes," 1291 and 1375, with "Macbeth," II. 2; and generally the “ Orestes” and “ Electra” with “ Hamlet” and “ Macbeth ” ; “ Medea,” 1284–9, with “ Hamlet,” IV. 7; “Hellene," 270, with Sonnet CXXI; “ Hellene," 512-14, with “ Richard II.," II. 1; “ Rhesus” with “3 Henry VI.,” IV. 2; and also the “Antigone ” of Sophocles, 1344–5, with the “ Timon of Athens,” IV. 3, and the Timon of Lucian with the play of " Timon."
Some have sought, with Dr. Farmer, to find the source of all this classical learning in sundry English translations, but it has been an idle undertaking; for it appears that he drew, in fact, from the untranslated authors. The greater part of the story of Timon was taken from the untranslated Greek of Lucian, an author that is several times quoted in the writings of Bacon. Ovid and Tacitus were favorite authors with Bacon, and frequent traces of both are to be found in the plays. The “ Comedy of Errors” was little more than a reproduction (in a different dress) of the Menoechmi of Plautus, also an author that is frequently quoted by Bacon. The first mention that we have of this play is, that it was performed during the twelve days of the Christmas Revels at Gray's Inn, in 1594, on which occasion it is
now historically known that Francis Bacon furnished at least a masque,' and (as I will attempt to prove) this very play also ; and there was no translation of the Menoechmi before 1595. Beginning the career of an actor with “ small Latin and less Greek," William Shakespeare cannot be presumed to have made himself acquainted with much of the Greek and Latin literature, and especially not with Sophocles, Euripides, and Plato, as this writer undoubtedly was; for these had not been translated. The author was able to drink deep of the very spirit of the Greek tragedy, without danger of drowning in the bowl; according to some great critics, he surpassed it altogether; and a thorough student may discover in the plays not only traces of Plato, but a wonderful approximation to the depth and breadth of the Platonic philosophy. Moreover, he was well versed in the ancient mythology, and in the history, manners, and customs of antiquity : in short, he knew all the wisdom of the ancients.
It is equally clear that he knew French and Italian. The story of Othello was taken from the Italian of Cinthio's “ Il Capitano Moro,” of which no translation is known to have existed; the tale of “ Cymbeline” was drawn from an Italian novel of Boccaccio, not known to have been translated into English ; and the like is true of some other plays. Several of the plays were founded upon stories taken from Belleforests “ Histoires Tragiques,” of which some few were to be found in Painter's translation, of which one volume had been published in the time of Shakespeare, but others of them had not been translated. Francis Bacon had lived four years in Paris, and was master of the French, Italian, and Spanish languages; and it is highly probable that, in 1580, he would be in possession of the “ Histoires Tragiques” as well as of the Essays of Montaigne in the original French. Florio's translation of Montaigne was published in 1603, and it has been said
i Spedding's Letters and Life of Bacon (London, 1861), I. 325–342.