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sition to Dryden and Pope. Coleridge very to Hamlet.' In a book, called “Tarleton's justly says, that the diction of these lines Jeast's,' published in 1611, we have some was authorized by the actual style of the specimens of the licence which this prince of tragedies before Shakspere's time. Ritson, we clowns was wont to take. The author, howthink, has hit the truth :- “ It appears to me ever, adds—“But would I see our clowns in not only that Shakspere had the favourable these days do the like? No, I warrant ye.” opinion of these lines which he makes Hamlet in the original copy of 'Hamlet,' the reproof express, but that they were extracted from of the clowns is more diffuse than in the some play which he, at a more early period, augmented copy; and the following passage had either produced or projected upon the distinctly shows one of the evils which Shakstory of 'Dido and Æneas.' The verses re- spere had to contend with, and which he cited are far superior to those of any coeval probably hadôvercome before the end of the writer; the parallel passage in Marlowe and sixteenth century:—“And then you have Nash's “Dido' will not bear the comparison. some again that keeps one suit of jests, as a Possibly, indeed, it might have been his first man is known by one suit of apparel; and attempt, before the divinity that lodged gentlemen quote his jests down in their tables within him had instructed him to despise the before they come to the play, as thus: Cantumid and unnatural style so much and so not you stay till I eat my porridge? and, you unjustly admired in his predecessors or con- owe me a quarter's wages; and, my coat temporaries.” The introduction of these wants a cullison; and, your beer is sour; and lines, we think, cannot be accounted for upon blabbering with his lips, and thus keeping 'any other supposition but that they were in his cinkapase of jests, when, God knows, written by Shakspere himself; and he is so the warm clown cannot make a jest unless thoroughly in earnest in his criticism upon by chance, as the blind man catcheth a hare: the play, and his complaint of its want of Masters, tell him of it.” The additions to success is so apparently sincere, that it is these directions to the players, in the augimpossible to imagine that the passage had mented copy, are, on the other hand, such reference to something non-existent. But as bespeak a consciousness of the elevation would Shakspere, then, have produced such which the stage had attained in its “high a play, except in his very early career, before and palmy state,” a little before the death of he understood his own peculiar powers ?- Elizabeth, when its purpose, as realised by and would he have written so sensitively Shakspere and Jonson especially, was about it, except under the immediate in- | hold, as 'twere, the mirror up to nature: to fluence of the disappointment occasioned by show virtue her own feature, scorn her own its failure ? The dates of the first copy of image, and the very age and body of the “Hamlet,' and of the play which contained time, his form and pressure.” the description of “Priam's slaughter,” are certainly not far removed.
The history of Hamlet, or Hamleth, is found Lastly, we are of opinion that the direc- in the Danish historian, Saxo Grammaticus, tions to the players, especially as given in the who died about 1204. The works of Saxo first copy, point to a state of the stage an- Grammaticus are in Latin, and in Shakspere's terior to the period when Shakspere had him-time had not been translated into any
modern self reformed it. The mention of “Terma- language. It was inferred, therefore, by Dr. gant” and “Herod” has reference to the Grey and Mr. Whalley that Shakspere must time when these characters possessed the have read the original. The story, however, stage in pageants and mysteries. Again, the is to be found in Belleforest's collection of reproof of the extemporal clowns--the in- novels, begun in 1564; and an English transjunction that they should speak no more lation of this particular story was published than is set down for them-applied to the as a quarto tract, entitled “The Hystorie of infancy of the stage. Shakspere had reformed Hamblet, Prince of Denmarke. Capell, in his the clowns before the date usually assigned / 'School of Shakspere,' has given some extracts
from an edition of this very rare book, dated | is sent to England by Fengon, “with secret 1608; but he conjectures that it first appeared letters to have him put to death;" and, while about 1570. He has also printed the heads of his companions slept, Hamlet counterfeits the chapters as they are given in this ‘History. letters “willing the King of England to put Mr. Collier has since reprinted this tract from the two messengers to death.” Here ends the the only copy known, which is preserved resemblance between the history and the play. amongst Capell’s collection at Cambridge. The Hamlet of the history returns to Denmark, Horvendile, in the novel, is the name of slays his uncle, burns his palace, makes an Hamlet's father, Fengon that of his uncle, oration to the Danes, and is elected king. and Geruth that of his mother. Fengon His subsequent adventures are rather extratraitorously slays Horvendile, and marries vagant. He goes back to England, kills the his brother's wife. In the second chapter king of that country, returns to Denmark we are informed, “how Hamlet counterfeited with two English wives, and, finally, falls the madman, to escape the tyrrany of his himself through the treachery of one of these uncle, and how he was tempted by a wo- ladies. man (through his uncle's procurement), who It is scarcely necessary to point out how thereby thought to undermine the Prince, little these rude materials have assisted and by that means to find out whether he Shakspere in the composition of the great counterfeited madness or not.” In the third tragedy of 'Hamlet.' He found, in the rechapter we learn “how Fengon, uncle to cords of a barbarous period, a tale of adultery, Hamlet, a second time to entrap him in his and murder, and revenge. Here, too, was a politic madness, caused one of his counsellors rude indication of the character of Hamlet. to be secretly hidden in the Queen's chamber, But what he has given us is so essentially a behind the arras, to hear what speeches past creation from first to last, that it would be between Hamlet and the Queen; and how only tedious to point out the lesser resemHamlet killed him, and escaped that danger, blances between the drama and the history. and what followed.” It is in this part of the That Shakspere adopted the period of the action that Shakspere's use of this book may action as related by Saxo Grammaticus, there be distinctly traced. Capell says,—“Amidst can be no doubt. The following passage is this resemblance of persons and circumstances, decisive:it is rather strange that none of the relater's “ And, England, if my love thou hold’st at expressions have got into the play: and yet aught not one of them is to be found, except the (As my great power thereof may give thee following, in Chapter III., where Hamlet kills
sense; the counsellor (who is described as of a greater Since yet thy cicatrice looks raw and red reach than the rest, and is the Poet's Polonius)
After the Danish sword, and thy free awe behind the arras: here, beating the hangings,
Pays homage to us), thou mayst not coldly set and perceiving something to stir under them,
Our sovereign process." he is made to cry out—'a rat, a rat,' and pre- We have here a distinct indication of the sently drawing his sword, thrust it into the period before the Norman Conquest, when hangings, which done, pulled the counsellor England was either under the sovereignty (half dead) out by the heels, made an end of of the Northmen, as in the time of Canute, killing him.” In the fourth chapter Hamlet or paid tribute to the Danish power.
TIMON OF ATHENS. * The Life of Tymon of Athens' was first | I have, therefore, made no attempt at 'republished in the folio collection of 1623 ; gulation.'” Boswell upon this very sensibly and immediately previous to that publica- asks,“Why should not the same doubt exist tion it was entered in the books of the with regard to other scenes, in which Mr. Stationers' Company, as one of the plays Steevens has not acted with the same mo“not formerly entered to other men.” The deration ?” It will be necessary that we text, in this first edition, has no division into should here call the attention of the reader acts and scenes. We have reason to believe to a few specimens of the difference between that, with a few exceptions, it is accurately the ancient and the modern text. printed from the copy which was in the The original presents to us in particular possession of Heminge and Condell; and we scenes a very considerable number of short judged it important to follow that copy lines, occurring in the most rapid succession. with very slight variations in the text We have no parallel example in Shakspere of The Pictorial' and other editions. of the frequency of their use. The hemistich
The text which is ordinarily printed, that is introduced with great effect in some of of Steevens, has undergone, in an almost the finest passages in ‘Lear. But, in “Timon unequalled extent, what the editors call of Athens, its perpetual recurrence in some “regulation.” Steevens was a great master scenes is certainly not always a beauty. in this art of “regulation ”—a process by The “regulation,” however, has not only which what was originally printed as prose concealed this peculiar feature, but has is sometimes transformed into verse, with necessarily altered the structure of the the aid of transposition, omission, and sub- verses preceding or following the hemistich. stitution; and what, on the contrary, stood We print a few such passages in in the original as verse is changed into secutive order :prose, because the ingenuity of the editor has been unable to render it strictly metrical.
ANCIENT COPIES. There are various other modes of“regulation,” which have been most extensively employed
ACT I. SCENE I. in “Timon of Athens;' and the consequence is that some very important characteristics
“ Tim. What trumpet's that?
Mess. 'T is Alcibiades, and some twenty horse, have been utterly destroyed in the modern copies—the record has been obliterated. All of companionship. The task, however, which Steevens under
SCENE II. took was in some cases too difficult,a one
Ven. Most honoured Timon, to be carried through consistently; and he
It hath pleas'd the gods to remember my father's has been compelled, therefore, to leave se
age, veral passages, that invited his ambition to and call him to long peace. regulate,” even as he found them. For example, in that part of the first scene where
ACT III. SCENE IV. Apemantus appears, we have a dialogue,
Stew. Ay, if money were as certain as your of which Steevens thus speaks :-“The very
waiting, imperfect state in which the ancient copy 'T were sure enough. of this play has reached us leaves a doubt Why then preferr'd you not your sums and bills, whether several short speeches in the pre- | When your false masters eat of my lord's meat? sent scene were designed for verse or prose; 1 Then they could smile, and fawn upon his debts,
ACT I. SCENE I.
ACT II. SCENE II. “ Tim. What trumpet's that ?
Tim. I will dispatch you severally. Serv.
’T is Alcibiades, and You to Lord Lucius, to Lord Lucullus you. Some twenty horse, all of companionship. I hunted with his honour to-day; you to Sem
pronius; commend me to their loves; and I am SCENE II.
proud, say, that my occasions have found time Ven. Most honour'd Timon, 't hath pleas'd to use 'em toward a supply of money: let the the gods remember
request be fifty talents. My father's age, and call him to long peace.
ACT IV. SCENE III.
Alc. Noble Timon, what friendship may I do Flav.
thee? If money were as certain as your waiting,
Tim. None, but to maintain my opinion. ’T were sure enough. Why then preferr'd you
Alc. What is it, Timon? not
Tim. Promise me friendship, but perform Your sums and bills, when your false masters eat
none. If thou wilt not promise, the gods plague Of my lord's meat? Then they could smile and
thee, for thou art a man: if thou dost perform, fawn
confound thee, for thou art a man.” Upon his debts, and take down th' interest Into their gluttonous maws. You do yourselves
ACT I. SCENE II.
“ Tim. Now, Apemantus, if thou wert not Tim. Had I a steward so true, so just, and now sullen, So comfortable? It almost turns
I'd be good to thee. My dangerous nature wild. Let me behold
No, I 'll nothing; for, Thy face.-Surely this man was born of woman.” If I should be brib'd too, there would be none
left No one, we believe, having the passages To rail upon thee;, and thou wouldst sin the thus exhibited, will consider that Steevens faster. has improved the poet by his “regulation.” Thou giv'st so long, Timon, I fear me, thou But, even if there should be differences of taste Wilt give away thyself in paper shortly. in this particular with reference to the passages before us, we maintain that in those
ACT II. SCENE II. passages, and in the examples we are about
Tim. I will despatch you severally.—You to to give, the integrity of the text ought to lord Lucius, have been preserved, upon a principle. To lord Lucullus you; I hunted with his
The next examples which we shall take Honour to day ;-you, to Sempronius;
Commend me to their loves; and, I am proud, kind of people, the deed of saying is quite out say,
To promise is most courtly and fashThat my occasions have found time to use them ionable: performance is a kind of will, or testaToward a supply of money: let the request ment, which argues a great sickness in his Be fifty talents:
judgment that makes it.
ACT IV. SCENE III.
Poet. I am thinking what I shall say I have What friendship may I do thee?
provided for him: It must be a personating of
himself: a satire against the softness of prosTim.
None, but to Maintain my opinion.
perity; with a discovery of the infinite flatteries Alc. What is it, Timon?
that follow youth and opulency.” T'im. Promise me friendship, but perform
We have thus prepared the reader, who is none: If
familiar with the ordinary text, not to rely Thou wilt not promise, the gods plague thee, for Thou art a man ! if thou dost perform, confound
upon it as a transcript of the ancient copies; thee,
and we shall now endeavour to show that, For thou ’rt a man!”.
by a careful examination of the original, we
may arrive at some conclusions with regard The third and last series of examples to this drama which have been hitherto enwhich we shall furnish exhibits the meta- tirely overlooked. morphosis of the verse of the original into The disguises of the ancient text, which prose:
have been so long accepted without hesita
tion, have given to the Timon of Athens' ANCIENT COPIES.
something of the semblance of uniformity in
the structure of the verse; although in reality Act v. SCENE I.
the successive scenes, even in the modern “ Painter. Good as the best.
text, present the most startling contrarieties Promising is the very air o'th' time;
to the ear which is accustomed to the versiIt opens the eyes of expectation.
fication of Shakspere. The ordinary explaPerformance is ever the duller for his act,
nation of this very striking characteristic is, And, but in the plainer and simpler kind of that the ancient text is corrupt. This is the people,
belief of the English editors. Another theory, The deed of saying is quite out of use.
which has been received in Germany, is, that To promise is most courtly and fashionable; Performance is a kind of will and testament
the 'Timon, being one of the latest of ShakWhich argues a great sickness in his judgment
spere's performances, has come down to us That makes it.
unfinished. The conviction to which we
have ourselves arrived neither rests upon Poet. I am thinking
the probable corruption of the text, nor the What I shall say I have provided for him:
possibility that the poet has left us only It must be a personating of himself:
an unfinished draft of his performance; but A satire against the softness of prosperity, upon the belief that the differences of style, With a discovery of the infinite flatteries as well as the more important differences That follow youth and opulency.”
in the cast of thought, which prevail in
the successive scenes of this drama, are so MODERN COPIES.
remarkable as to justify the conclusion that
it is not wholly the work of Shakspere. We Act v. SCENE I.
think it will not be very difficult so to exhi“Painter. Good as the best. Promising is bit these differences in detail as to warrant the very air o'the time; it opens the eyes of
us in requesting the reader's acquiescence expectation: performance is ever the duller for in the principle which we seek to establish, his act; and, but in the plainer and simpler / namely, that the 'Timon of Athens' was a