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The first question to be settled in relation to “ Pericles," is its title to a place among the collected works of Shakespeare.
There is so marked a character about every thing that proceeded from the pen of our great dramatist,-his mode of thought, and his style of expression, are so unlike those of any of his contemporaries, that they can never be mistaken. They are clearly visible in all the later portion of the play; and so indisputable does this fact appear to us, that, we confidently assert, however strong may be the external evidence to the same point, the internal evidence is infinitely stronger : to those who have studied his works it will seem incontrovertible. As we do not rely merely upon particular expressions, nor upon separate passages, but upon the general complexion of whole scenes and acts, it is obvious, that we cannot here enter into proofs, which would require the re-impression of many of the succeeding pages.
An opinion has long prevailed, and we have no doubt it is well founded, that two hands are to be traced in the composition of .“ Pericles.” The larger part of the first three Acts were in all pro. bability the work of an inferior dramatist : to these Shakespeare added comparatively little ; but he found it necessary, as the story advanced and as the interest increased, to insert more of his own composition. His hand begins to be distinctly seen in the third Act, and afterwards we feel persuaded that we could extract nearly every line that was not dictated by his great intellect. We apprehend that Shakespeare found a drama on the story in the possession of one of the companies performing in London, and that, in accordance with the ordinary practice of the time, he made additions to and improvements in it, and procured it to be represented at the Globe theatre'. Who might be the author of the original piece, it would be vain to conjecture. Although we have no decisive proof that Shakespeare ever worked in immediate concert with any of his contemporaries, it was the custom with nearly all the dramatists of his day, and it is not impossible that such was the case with “ Pericles."
The circumstance that it was a joint production, may partly account for the non-appearance of “Pericles" in the folio of 1623. Ben Jonson, when printing the volume of his Works, in 1616, excluded for this reason “ The Case is Altered,” and “Eastward Ho!” in the composition of which he had been engaged with others; and when the player-editors of the folio of 1623 were collecting their materials, they perhaps omitted “Pericles" because some living author might have an interest in it. Of course we only advance this point as a mere speculation; and the fact that the publishers of the folio of 1623 could not purchase the right of the bookseller, who had then the property in “ Pericles," may have been the real cause of its non-insertion.
| By a list of theatrical apparel, formerly belonging to Alleyn, and preserved at Dulwich College, it appears that he had probably acted in a play called “Pericles." See “ Memoirs of Edward Alleyn," printed for the Shakespeare Society, p. 21. This might be the play which Shakespeare altered and improved. 2 It seems that “ Pericles” was reprinted under the same circumstances in 1611. I have never been able to meet with a copy of this edition, and doubted its existence, until Mr. Halliwell pointed it out to me, in a sale catalogue in 1804: it purported to have been “printed for S. S.” This fact would show, that Shakespeare did not then contradict the reiterated assertion, that he was the author of the play.
The Registers of the Stationers' Company show that on the 20th May, 1608, Edward Blount (one of the proprietors of the folio of 1623) entered “The booke of Pericles, Prynce of Tyre," with one of the undoubted works of Shakespeare, “ Antony and Cleopatra." Nevertheless, “ Pericles” was not published by Blount, but by Gosson in the following year; and we may infer, either that Blount sold his interest to Gosson, or that Gosson anticipated Blount in procuring a manuscript of the play. Gosson may have subsequently parted with “ Pericles" to Thomas Pavier, and hence the reimpression by the latter in 1619.
Having thus spoken of the internal evidence of authorship, and of the possible reason why “Pericles” was not included in the folio of 1623, we will now advert briefly to the external evidence, that it was the work of our great dramatist. In the first place it was printed in 1609, with his name at full length, and rendered unusually obvious, on the title-page. The answer, of course, may be that this was a fraud, and that it had been previously committed in the cases of the first part of “Sir John Oldcastle," 1600, and of “ The Yorkshire Tragedy," 1608. It is undoubtedly true, that Shakespeare's name is upon those title-pages; but we know, with regard to “Sir John Oldcastle,” that the original title-page, stating it to have been “Written by William Shakespeare” was cancelled, no doubt at the instance of the author to whom it was falsely imputed ; and as to “The Yorkshire Tragedy," many persons have entertained the belief, in which we join, that Shakespeare had a share in its composition. We are not to forget that, in the year preceding, Nathaniel Butter had made very prominent use of Shakespeare's name, for the sale of three impressions of “ King Lear;" and that in the very year when “ Pericles " came out, Thorpe had
printed a collection of scattered poems, recommending them to notice in very large capitals, by stating emphatically that they were “ Shakespeare's Sonnets."
Confirmatory of what precedes, it may be mentioned, that previously to the insertion of “Pericles " in the folio of 1664, it had been imputed to Shakespeare by S. Shepherd, in his “ Times displayed in Six Sestiads,” 1646; and in lines by J. Tatham, prefixed to R. Brome's “ Jovial Crew,” 1652. Dryden gave it to Shakespeare in 1675, in the Prologue to C. Davenant's “ Circe." Thus, as far as stage tradition is of value, it is uniformly in favour of our position; and it is moreover to be observed, that until comparatively modern times it has never been contradicted.
The incidents of “ Pericles” are found in Lawrence Twine's translation from the Gesta Romanorum, first published in 1576, under the title of “The Patterne of Painfull Adventures,” in which the three chief characters are not named as in Shakespeare, but are called Apollonius, Lucina, and Tharsia. This novel was several times reprinted, and an edition of it came out in 1607, which perhaps was the year in which “ Pericles " was first represented " at the Globe on the Bank-side," as is stated on the title-page of the earliest edition in 1609. The drama seems to have been extremely popular, but the usual difficulty being experienced by booksellers in obtaining a copy of it, Nathaniel Butter probably employed some person to attend the performance at the theatre, and with the aid of notes there taken, and of Twine's version of the story, (which, as we remarked, had just before been reprinted) to compose a novel out of the incidents of the play under the following title : “ The Painfull Adventures of Pericles Prince of Tyre. Being the true History of the Play of Pericles, as it was lately presented by the worthy and ancient Poet Iohn Gower. At London. Printed by T. P. for Nat. Butter. 1608.” It has also a wood-cut of Gower, no doubt, in the costume he wore at the Globe.
This publication is valuable, not merely because it is the only known specimen of the kind of that date in our language, but because though in prose, (with the exception of a song) it gives some of the speeches more at length, than in the play as it has come down to us, and explains several obscure and disputed passages. For
3 The novel is contained in a work called " Shakespeare's Library," as well as Gower's poetical version of the same incidents, extracted from his Confessio Amantis. Hence the propriety of making Gower the speaker of the various interlocutions in “ Pericles." The origin of the story, as we find it in the Gesta Romanorum, is a matter of dispute : Belleforest asserts that the version in his Histoires Tragiques was from a manuscript tiré du Grec. Not long since, Mr. Thorpe printed an Anglo-Saxon narrative of the same incidents; and it is stated to exist in Latin manuscripts of as early a date as the tenth century.-“ Shakespeare's Library," part v. p. ii.
this latter purpose it will be seen that we have availed ourselves of it in our notes; but it will not be out of place here to speak of the strong presumptive evidence it affords, that the drama has not reached us by any means in the shape in which it was originally represented. The subsequent is given, in the novel of 1608, as the speech of Marina, when she is visited in the brothel by Lysimachus, the governor of Mitylene, whom, by her virtue, beauty, and eloquence, she diverts from the purpose for which he came.
“If as you say, my lord, you are the governor, let not your authority, which should teach you to rule others, be the means to make you misgovern yourself. If the eminence of your place came unto you by descent, and the royalty of your blood, let not your life prove your birth bastard : if it were thrown upon you by opinion, make good that opinion was the cause to make you great. What reason is there in your justice, who hath power over all, to undo any! If you take from me mine honour, you are like him that makes a gap into forbidden ground, after whom many enter, and you are guilty of all their evils. My life is yet unspotted, my chastity unstained in thought : then, if your violence deface this building, the workmanship of heaven, made up for good, and not to be the exercise of sin's intemperance, you do kill your own honour, abuse your own justice, and impoverish me.”
Of this speech in the printed play we only meet with the following emphatic germ :
“ If you were born to honour, show it now :
If put upon you, make the judgment good,
That thought you worthy of it.”—(A. iv. sc. 6.) It will hardly be required of us to argue, that the powerful address, copied from the novel founded upon “Pericles," could not be the mere enlargement of a short-hand writer, who had taken notes at the theatre, who from the very difficulty of the operation, and from the haste with which he must afterwards have compounded the history, would be much more likely to abridge than to expand. In some parts of the novel it is evident that the prose, there used, was made up from the blank.verse composition of the drama, as acted at the Globe. In the latter we meet with no passage similar to what succeeds, but still the ease with which it may be reconverted into blank. verse renders it almost certain that it was so originally Pericles tells Simonides, in the novel, that
“ His blood was yet untainted, but with the heat got by the wrong the king had offered him, and that he boldly durst and did defy himself, his subjects, and the proudest danger that either tyranny or treason could inflict upon him."
To leave out only two or three expletives renders the sentence perfect dramatic blank-verse:
“ His blood was yet untainted, but with heat
Many other passages to the same end might be produced from the novel of which there is no trace in the play. We shall not, however, dwell farther upon the point, than to mention a peculiarly Shakespearean expression, which occurs in the novel, and is omitted in the drama. Lychorida brings the new-born infant to Pericles, who in the printed play (Act iii, sc. 1) says to it,
- “ thou’rt the rudeliest welcome to this world
As fire, air, water, earth, and heaven can make.” In the novel founded upon the play the speech is thus given, and we have printed the expression, which, we think, must have come from the pen of Shakespeare, in italic type :
“ Poor inch of nature! (quoth he) thou art as rudely welcome to the world, as ever princess' babe was, and hast as chiding a nativity as fire, air, earth and water can afford thee."
The existence of such a singular production was not known to any of the commentators ; but several copies of it have been preserved, and one of them was sold in the library of the late Mr. Heber.
It will have been remarked, that the novel printed in 1608 states that “Pericles” had been “lately presented,” and on the title-page of the edition of the play in 1609 it is termed “the late, and muchadmired Play called Pericles :" it is, besides, spoken of as “a new play,” in a poetical tract called “ Pimlico or Run Red-cap," printed in 1609. Another piece, called “Shore,” is mentioned in “Pimlico," under exactly similar circumstances : there was an older drama upon the story of Jane Shore, and this, like “ Pericles,” had, in all probability, about the same date been revived at one of the theatres with additions.
“Pericles" was five times printed before it was inserted in the folio of 1664, viz. in 1609, 1611, 1619, 1630, and 1635. The folio seems to have been copied from the last of these, with a multiplication of errors, but with some corrections. The first edition of 1609 was obviously brought out in haste, and there are many corruptions in it; but more pains were taken with it than Malone, Steevens, and others imagined: they never compared different copies of the same edition, or they would have seen that the impressions vary importantly, and that several mistakes, discovered as the play went through the press, were carefully set right: these will be found pointed out in our notes. The commentators dwelt upon the blunders of the old copies, in order to warrant their own extraordinary innovations, but wherever we could do so, with due regard to the sense of the author, we have restored the text to that of the earliest impression.