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censure of the English poets was this.” | absurd opinion so long propagated that Censure is here, of course, put for opinion ; Shakspere worked without labour and withalthough Jonson's opinions are by no means out method. Jonson's own testimony, defavourable to any one of whom he speaks. livered five years after the conversation with Spenser's stanzas pleased him not, or his Drummond, offers the most direct evidence matter; Sir John Harrington's 'Ariosto,' against such a construction of his expresó under all translations, was the worst ; sion :Abraham France was a fool ; Sidney did not “ Yet must I not give Nature all: thy art, keep a decorum in making every one speak My gentle Shakespeare, must enjoy a part. as well as himself; Shakspere wanted art. For though the poet's matter Nature be, And so, during two centuries, a mob of His art doth give the fashion: and that he critics have caught up the word, and with Who casts to write a living line must sweat the most knowing winks, and the most (Such as thine are), and strike the second profound courtesies to each other's sagacity, heat have they echoed—“Shakspere wanted art.” Upon the Muses' anvil: turn the same But a cunning interpolator, who knew the
(And himself with it) that he thinks to frame; temper of the critics, the anonymous editor
Or, for the laurel, he may gain a scorn,of Cibber's 'Lives of the Poets,' took the
For a good poet's made as well as born:
And such wert thou." “ heads of a conversation” between Jonson and Drummond, prefixed to Drummond's There can be no difficulty in understanding works in 1711, and bestowed a few finishing Jonson's dispraise of Shakspere, small as it touches upon them, after his own fashion. was, when we look at the different characters And thus, to the great joy of the denouncers 1 of the two men. Jonson, in all likelihood, of anachronisms, and other Shaksperean did not intend to impute an ignorant blunder absurdities, as they are pleased to call them, to Shakspere, but a wilful inconsistency, we have read as follows for a hundred Mr. Collier has quoted a passage from Taylor, years :—“He said, Shakspere' wanted Art, the water-poet, who published his 'Journey and sometimes Sense ; for, in one of his plays, to Prague,' in which the honest waterman he brought in a number of men, saying they laughs at an alderman who “catches me by had suffered shipwrack in Bohemia, where is the goll, demanding if Bohemia be a great no sea near by 100 miles.” Jonson, indeed, town, whether there be any meat in it, and makes the observation upon the shipwreck whether the last fleet of ships be arrived in Bohemia, but without any comment upon there.” Mr. Collier infers that Taylor “ridiit. It is found in another part of Drum- cules a vulgar error of the kind” committed mond's record, quite separate from "Shak- by Shakspere. We rather think that he spere wanted art ;” a casual remark, side by meant to ridicule very gross ignorance side with Jonson's gossip about Sidney's generally ; and we leave our readers to take pimpled face and Raleigh's plagiaries. It their choice of placing Green and Shakspere was probably mentioned by Jonson as an in the same class with Taylor's “Gregory illustration of some principle upon which Gạndergoose, an Alderman of Gotham," or Shakspere worked and in the same way of believing that a confusion of time and “Shakspere wanted art” was in all likelihood place was considered (whether justly is not explained by him, in producing instances of here the question) a proper characteristic of the mode in which Shakspere's art differed the legendary drama-such as 'A Winter's from his (Jonson's) art. It is impossible to Tale.' receive Jonson's words as any support of the
• THE Tragedie of Cymbeline' was first , apparel, and fled to meet her love at Milford printed in the folio collection of 1623. The Haven; and chanced to fall on the cave in the play is very carefully divided into acts and woods where her two brothers were: and how scenes—an arrangement which is sometimes by eating a sleeping dram they thought she had wanting in other plays of the folio edition.
been dead, and laid her in the woods, and the We have in previous chapters given ex
body of Cloten by her, in her love's apparel that tracts from “ a book of plays and notes
he left behind him, and how she was found by thereof, for common policy,” kept by Dr.
Lucius,” &c. Symon Forman, in 1610 and 1611. These “This," Mr. Collier adds, “is curious ; notes, which were discovered and first printed principally because it gives the impression by Mr. Collier, contain not only an account of the plot upon the mind of the spectator, of some play of Richard II., at which the at about the time when the play was first writer was present, but distinctly give the produced.” We can scarcely yield our plots of Shakspere’s ‘Winter's Tale,' 'Mac- implicit assent to this. Forman's note-book beth,' and 'Cymbeline.' We shall take the is evidence that the play existed in 1610 liberty of reprinting from Mr. Collier’s ‘New or 1611; but it is not evidence that it was Particulars' Forman’s account of the plot of first produced in 1610 or 1611. Mr. Collier, "Cymbeline :'
in his “Annals of the Stage,' gives us the " Remember, also, the story of Cymbeline, following entry from the books of Sir Henry King of England, in Lucius' time: how Lucius Herbert, Master of the Revels :-“On Wed came from Octavius Cæsar for tribute, and, nesday night the first of January, 1633, being denied, after sent Lucius with a great Cymbeline’ was acted at Court by the King's army of soldiers, who landed at Milford Haven, players. Well liked by the King." Here is and after were vanquished by Cymbeline, and a proof that for more than twenty years Lucius taken prisoner, and all by means of three after Forman saw it Cymbeline' was still outlaws, of the which two of them were the acted, and still popular. By parity of reasons of Cymbeline, stolen from him when they soning it might have been acted, and might were but two years old, by an old man whom have been popular, before Forman saw it. Cymbeline had banished; and he kept them as Coleridge, in his classification of 1819, his own sons twenty years with him in a cave. places 'Cymbeline,' as he supposes it to have And how one of them slew Cloten, that was the been originally produced, in the first epoch, Queen's son, going to Milford Haven to seek the to which he assigns ‘Pericles:' “In the same love of Imogen the King's daughter, whom he epoch I place “The Winter's Tale' and 'Cymhad banished also for loving his daughter. “And how the Italian that came from her entire rifaccimento of it, when Shakspere's
beline,' differing from the Pericles by the love conveyed himself in a chest, and said it was
celebrity as poet, and his interest no less a chest of plate sent from her love and others to be presented to the King. And in the deepest
than his influence as manager, enabled him of the night, she being asleep, he opened the
to bring forward the laid-by labours of his chest and came forth of it, and viewed her in youth.” Tieck, whilst he considers it “ the her bed, and the marks of her body, and took last work of the great poet, which may have away her bracelet, and after accused her of been written about 1614 or 1615,” adds, “it adultery to her love, &c. And, in the end, is also not impossible that this varied-woven how he came with the Romans into England, romantic history had inspired the poet in his and was taken prisoner, and after revealed to youth to attempt it for the stage.” Tieck Imogen, who had turned herself into man's l assigns no reason for believing that the play
as we have received it is of so late a date | thrusting forward such a quantity of incias 1614 or 1615. Malone has observed, and dents into the fifth act as to have rendered we think very justly (for in matters in which it absolutely necessary to resort to pantohe was not tainted by the influences of his mimic action or dumb show, an example of age his opinions are to be respected), that its which occurs in no other of Shakspere's versification resembles that of The Winter's works. This might have been remedied by Tale' and 'The Tempest.' To whatever age omitting the “apparition” in the fifth act, these romantic dramas shall be ultimately which either belongs not to Shakspere at assigned we have no doubt that on every all, or belongs to the period when he had account-from the nature of the fable, as not clearly seen his way to shake off the well as the cast of thought, and the con- trammels of the old stage. But would an struction of the language_Cymbeline' will audience familiar with that scene have parted go with them. But, however this may be, with it? We believe not. The fifth act, as we heartily join in the belief, so distinctly we think, presents to us very strikingly the expressed by two such master-minds as differences between the young and the mature Coleridge and Tieck, that the sketch of 'Cym- Shakspere, always bearing in mind that the beline' belongs to the youthful Shakspere. skill of such a master of his art has rendered We have fancied that it is almost possible it very difficult to conjecture what were the to trace in some instances the dove-tailing differences between his sketch and his finished of the original with the improved drama. picture. The soliloquy of Posthumus in The principal incidents of the story of Imogen that Act, in its fulness of thought, belongs are in Boccaccio. Of course, with reference to the finished performance,—the minute to the knowledge of Sbakspere, we do not stage directions which follow to the unhold with Steevens that they, “in their finished. Nothing can be more certain than original Italian, to him at least, were in that the dialogue between Posthumus and accessible.” Such a fable was exactly one the gaoler is of the period of deep philowhich would have been seized upon by him sophical speculation; while the tablet left by who, from the very earliest period of his Jupiter has a wondrous resemblance to the career, saw, in those reflections of life which odd things of the early stage. The greater the Italian novelists present, the materials part of the play is certainly such as no one of bringing out the manifold aspects of but Shakspere could have written, and not human nature in the most striking forms of only so, but Shakspere in the full possession truth and beauty. As far as the main action and habitual exercise of his powers. The of the drama was concerned, therefore, we mountain scenes with Imogen and her hold that it was as accessible to the Shak- brothers are perhaps unequalled, even in the spere of five-and-twenty as it was to the whole compass of the Shaksperean drama. Shakspere of five-and-forty; and that he had They are of the very highest order of poetical not to wait for the publication in 1603 of a beauty,—not such an outpouring of beauty story-book in which the tales which were as in the 'Romeo and Juliet' and 'The Midthe common property of Europe were re- summer's Night's Dream,' where the master modelled with English scenes and characters, of harmonious verse revels in all the graces to have produced Cymbeline.' All the of his art—but of beauty entirely subservient historical accessories too of the story were to the peculiarities of the characters, the familiar to him in his early career. Assum- progress of the action, the scenery, ay, and ing, then, that 'Cymbeline' might have been the very period of the drama, whatever Dr. sketched at an early period, and comparing Johnson may say of “incongruity.” There it more especially with “Pericles,' which as- is nothing to us more striking than the suredly has not been re-written, we venture contrast which is presented between the free to express a belief that the scenes have, in natural lyrics sung by the brothers over the some parts, been greatly elaborated; and grave of Fidele, and the elegant poem which that this elaboration has had the effect of some have thought so much more beautiful.
The one is perfectly in keeping with all that ! manners of a tradesman's wife, and two precedes and all that follows; the other is | intoxicated Italian merchants, have been entirely out of harmony with its associations. bestowed on a great princess, a British hero, “To fair Fidele's grassy tomb” is the dirge and a noble Roman.” Mr. Dunlop, however, of Collins over Fidele ; “Fear no more the has given a neat abridgment of the tale; heat o' the sun” is Fidele's proper funeral and in this matter it will be sufficient to song by her bold brothers. It is this mar- refer the general reader to his work, and the vellous power of going out of himself that Italian student to Boccaccio. renders it so difficult to say that Shakspere Shakspere found his historical materials is at any time inferior to himself. If it in Holinshed; and he has adhered to them were not for this exercise of power, even in as far as is consistent with the progress of a the smallest characters, we might think that romantic story. Cloten was of the immature Shakspere. But
Criticism, even of that school to which we then he has made Cloten his own, by one or
now yield our obedience—the school which two magical touches, so as to leave no doubt has cast off the shackles of the unities, and that, if he was at first a somewhat hasty judges of the romantic drama by its own sketch, he is now a finished portrait. “The laws-bas not looked very enthusiastically snatches in his voice and burst of speaking” | upon 'Cymbeline’ as a dramatic whole. To identify him as the “very Cloten” that none
the exquisite character of Imogen, taken other but Shakspere could have painted.
apart, full justice has been done. Richardson, “Mr. Pope,” says Steevens, “supposed the
not often a very profound critic, has seized story of this play to have been borrowed
upon the leading points with great correctfrom a novel of Boccace; but he was mis
ness, and has carried them out with elegance, taken, as an imitation of it is found in
if not with force. Nothing can be more just, an old story-book entitled Westward for for example, than this observation : “The Smelts. This is unquestionably one of
sense of misfortune, rather than the sense of Steevens' random a sertions. Malone has
injury, rules the disposition of Imogen.” printed the tale, and has expressed his Mrs. Jameson, again, has analysed the chaopinion, in opposition to that of Steevens, racter with her usual acuteness and delicacy that the general scheme of Cymbeline is
of perception : "Others of Shakspere's chafounded on Boccaccio's novel (9th story of racters are, as dramatic and poetic conthe second day of the Decameron). Mrs. ceptions, more striking, more brilliant, more Lennox bas given, in her 'Shakspear Illus
powerful ; but of all his women, considered trated,' a paraphrase of Boccaccio's story ; | as individuals rather than as heroines, Imogen which she has mixed up with more irreverent is the most perfect.” + But the relation of impertinence towards Shakspere than can be
Imogen, as centre of a dramatic circle, perhaps found elsewhere in the English has scarcely, we think, been adequately language, except in Dr. Johnson's judgment pointed out. We pass over what Dr. Johnson upon this play, which sounds
says, in a tone of criticism which belongs as “ prisoner at the bar.” It might have been much to the age as to the man, about “ the supposed that the odour of Mrs. Lennox's folly of the fiction, the absurdity of the criticisms upon Shakspere had been dissipated conduct, the confusion of the names and long before the close of the last century ;
manners of different times, and the imposbut, nevertheless, Mr. Dunlop, in his ‘History sibility of the events in any system of life.” of Fiction, published in 1816, makes the When Johnson wrote this, he reposed upon an opinions of Mrs. Lennox his own : “ The implicit belief in his own canons of criticismincidents of the novel have been very closely the opinions upon which Thomas Warton has adhered to by Shakspere, but, as has been remarked by an acute and elegant critic explained his own depreciation of Ariosto
and Spenser : “We, who live in the days of (Mrs. Lennox), the scenes and characters have
* Essays on Shakspeare's Dramatic Characters.' been most injudiciously altered, and the + Characteristics of Women,' vol. ii. p. 50.
writing by rule, are apt to try every com- He goes on to say,~“Even that (the name position by those laws which we have been of Cymbeline') has its advantages in pretaught to think the sole criterion of ex- paring the audience for the chaos of time, cellence. Critical taste is universally diffused, place, and costume, by throwing the date and we require the same order and design back into a fabulous king's reign.” We do which every modern performance is expected not understand that Coleridge meant to say to have, in poems where they never were that the play of 'Cymbeline' had neither regarded or intended.” Warton was a man co-ordination of characters nor a prominent of too high taste not in some degree to object; but we do apprehend that the name despise this “criterion of excellence;” but was symbolical, in his belief, of the main he did not dare to avow the heresy in his features of the play-the chaos of time, own day. We have outlived all this. The place, and costume. For he proceeds, im"critical taste” to which Warton alludes mediately, to remark, in reference to the belongs only to the history of criticism. judgment displayed by our truly dramatic But, even amongst those upon whom we have poet in the management of his first scenes, been accustomed to rely as infallible guides,“ With the single exception of 'Cymbeline,' it does appear to us that 'Cymbeline' has they place before us at one glance both the been, in some degree, considered a departure past and the future in some effect, which from the great law of unity-not of time, implies the continuance and full agency of nor of place, but of feeling—which Shakspere its cause.”* We venture to believe that has unquestionably prescribed to himself. Cymbeline' does not form an exception to Neither Tieck nor Schlegel, according to the usual course pursued by Shakspere in their usual custom, attempt to show that any the management of his first scenes; and predominant idea runs through 'Cymbeline.' that the first scenes of 'Cymbeline' do place They each speak of it as a succession of before us the past and the future in a way splendid scenes, and high poetry; and, in which we think very strikingly discloses what deed, it cannot be denied that these attri- he intended to be the leading idea of his butes of this drama most forcibly seize upon
drama. the mind, somewhat, perhaps, to the ex- The dialogue of the “two Gentlemen” in clusion of its real action. We venture to the opening scene makes us perfectly acexpress our opinion that one predominant quainted with the relations in which Posthuidea does exist; although Coleridge, even mus and Imogen stand to each other, and to more distinctly than the German critics, if those around them. “She's wedded, her we apprehend him rightly, inferred the con- husband banish'd." We have next the chatrary:-—“In the Twelfth Night,' Mid-racter of the banished husband, and of the summer Night's Dream,' 'As You Like It," unworthy suitor who is the cause of his and Winter's Tale,' the total effect is pro- banishment; as well as the story of the duced by a co-ordination of the characters king's two lost sons. This is essentially the as in a wreath of flowers. But in ‘Coriolanus,' foundation of the past and future of the * Lear,' Romeo and Juliet,' ' Hamlet,' action. Brief indeed is this scene, but it • Othello,' &c., the effect arises from the well prepares us for the parting of Posthumus subordination of all to one, either as the and Imogen. The course of their affections prominent person, or the principal object.” is turned awry by the wills of others. The Coleridge is speaking of the great significancy angry king at once proclaims himself to us of the names of Shakspere's plays. The as one not cruel, but weak; he has before consonancy of the names with the leading been described as “touch'd at very heart.” ideas of each drama is exemplified in this It is only in the intensity of her affection passage. He then adds—“Cymbeline’is the for Posthumus that Imogen opposes her own only exception ;" that is, the name of "Cym- will to the impatient violence of her father, beline' neither expresses the co-ordination and the more crafty decision of her stepof the characters, nor the principal object.
* Literary Remains,' vol. ii. p. 207.