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Truth may seem, but cannot be ;
To this urn let those repair
For these dead birds sigh a prayer.
A LovER’s CoMPLAINT was first printed with the Sonnets in 1609. It was reprinted in 1640, in that collection called Shakspeare's Poems, in which the original order of the Sonnets was entirely disregarded, some were omitted, and this poem was thrust in amidst translations from Ovid which had been previously claimed by another writer. Of these we shall have presently to speak. There can be no doubt of the genuineness of A Lover's Complaint. It is distinguished by that condensation of thought and outpouring of imagery which are the characteristics of Shakspeare's poems. The effect consequent upon these qualities is, that the language is sometimes obscure, and the metaphors occasionally appear strange and forced. It is very different from any production of Shakspeare's contemporaries. As in the case of the Venus and Adonis, and the Lucrece, we feel that the power of the writer is in perfect subjection to his art. He is never carried away by the force of his own conceptions. . We mention these attributes merely with
reference to the undoubted character of the poem as belonging to
the Shakspearian system : we shall have occasion to notice it again. The PAssionATE PILGRIM was originally published in 1599, by William Jaggard, with the name of Shakspeare on the title-page. A reprint, with some additions and alterations of arrangement, appeared in 1612, bearing the following title : “The Passionate Pilgrime, or certaine amorous Sonnets, betweene Venus and Adonis, newly corrected and augmented. By W. Shakspeare. The third Edition. Whereunto is newly added two Love-Epistles, the first from Paris to Hellen, and Hellen's Answere backe again to Paris. Printed by W. Jaggard, 1612.” The second edition was in all probability, a mere reprint of the first edition ; but in the third edition there are, as the title-page implies, important alterations. There is one alteration which is not expressed in the title page. A distinction is established in the character of the poems by classifying six of them under a second title-page, “Sonnets to Sundry Notes of Musick.” This distinction we have preserved. There can be no doubt, we apprehend, that the “newly added two Love-Epistles, the first from Paris to Hellen, and Hellen's Answere backe again to Paris,” were not written by Shakspeare. There is the best evidence that they were written by Thomas Heywood. In 1609 that writer published a folio volume of considerable pretension, entitled “Troia Britanica, or Great Britaine's Troy.” In this volume appear the two translations from Ovid which William Jaggard published as Shakspeare's in 1612. Heywood in that year published a treatise entitled “An Apology for Actors; ” to which is prefixed an epistle to his bookseller, Nicholas Okes. The letter is a curious morsel in literary history : —
“To my approved good friend, Mr. Nicholas Okes.
“The infinite faults escaped in my book of Britain's Troy, by the negligence of the printer, as the misquotations, mistaking of syllables, misplacing half-lines, coining of strange and never-heardof words: these being without number, when I would have taken a particular account of the errata, the printer answered me, he would not publish his own disworkmanship, but rather let his own fault lie upon the neck of the author: and being fearful that others of his quality had been of the same nature and condition, and finding you, on the contrary, so careful and industrious, so serious and laborious, to do the author all the rights of the press, I could not choose but gratulate your honest endeavors with this short remembrance. Here, likewise, I must necessarily insert a manifest injury done me in that work, by taking the two Epistles of Paris to Helen, and Helen to Paris, and printing them in a less volume, under the name of another, which may put the world in opinion I might steal them from him, and he, to do himself right, hath since published them in his own name : but as I must acknowledge my lines not worthy his patronage under whom he hath published them, so the author I know much offended with M. Jaggard that (altogether unknown to him) presumed to make so bold with his name. These, and the like dishonesties, I know you to be clear of; and I could wish but to be the happy author of so worthy a work as I could willingly commit to your care and workmanship.
Jaggard, upon the publication of this, appears to have been compelled to do some sort of justice to Heywood, however imperfect. He cancelled the title-page of the edition of The Passionate Pilgrim of 1612, removing the name of Shakspeare, and printing the collection without any author's name. Malone had a copy of the book with both title-pages. This transaction naturally throws great discredit on the honesty of the publisher; and might lead us to suspect that Heywood's was not the only case in which Shakspeare was “much offended with M. Jaggard, that (altogether unknown to him) presumed to make so bold with his name.” There are other pieces in The Passionate Pilgrim that have been attributed on reasonable grounds to other authors than Shakspeare. It may be well, therefore, that we should run through the whole collection, offering a few brief observations on the authenticity of these poems. - -
The two first Sonnets in Jaggard’s edition of The Passionate Pilgrim are those which, with some alterations, appear as the 138th and the 144th in the collection of Sonnets published in 1609. The variations of those Sonnets, as they appeared in The Passionate Pilgrim, are given in our foot-notes at pages 216 and 219. The third Sonnet in the collection (the first in our reprint) is found in Love's Labor 's Lost. The fourth is one of the four Sonnets on the subject of Venus and Adonis. In Malone's first edition of these poems (1780) he followed the order of the original, as we now do; but in his posthumous edition, by Boswell, that order is changed, and the four Sonnets on the subject of Venus and Adonis are placed together, the first in the series. Malone's opinion, which he did not subsequently alter, was, that “several of the Sonnets in this collection seem to have been essays of the author when he first conceived the notion of writing a poem on the subject of Venus and Adonis, and before the scheme of his work was completely adjusted.” Boswell justly says that some doubt is thrown upon Malone's conjecture by the circumstance that one of these four Sonnets, with some variations, is found in a volume of poems published before The Passionate Pilgrim, namely, “Fidessa more Chaste than Kinde,” by B. Griffin, 1596. In Griffin's little volume, which has been reprinted, the Sonnet stands as follows: —
“Venus, with young Adonis sitting by her,
The variations between this Sonnet and that printed in the Passionate Pilgrim are very remarkable; but there can be no doubt, we should think, that the authorship belongs to Griffin. This volume was not published anonymously; and it is dedicated “to Mr. Wm. Essex, of Lambourne, Berks, and to the Gentlemen of the Inns of Court.” It is not likely that he would have adopted a Sonnet by Shakspeare floating about in society, and made it his own by these changes.
The fifth poem in Jaggard’s collection is Biron’s Sonnet in Love's Labor 's Lost. The seventh, “Fair is my love,” stands as Shakspeare's, without any rival to impugn Jaggard’s authority. The eighth is not so fortunate. It would be pleasant to believe that the Sonnet, commencing
“If music and sweet poetry agree,”
was written by Shakspeare.” It would be satisfactory that the
* We have previously expressed an opinion that it was written by Shakspeare: it has been generally attributed to him ; and we had adopted the received opinion, looking chiefly at the character of the Sonnet. See page 319. -