Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

But when I came, alas ! to wive,

With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,
By swaggering could I never thrive,

For the rain it raincth every day.

A quarto volume of plays attributed to Shakspeare, with the cypher of King Charles II. on the back of it, is preserved in Mr. Garrick's collection.

Though we are well convinced that Shakspeare has written slight ballads for the sake of discriminating characters more strongly, or for other necessary purposes, in the course of his mixed dramas, it is scarce credible, that after he had cleared his stage, he should exhibit his Clown afresh, and with so poor a recommendation as this song, which is utterly unconnected with the subject of the preceding comedy. I do not therefore hesitate to call the nonsensical ditty before us, some buffoon actor's composition, which was accidentally tacked to the prompter's copy of Twelfth-Night, having been casually subjoined to it for the diversion, or at the call, of the lowest order of spectators. In the year 1766, I saw the late Mr. Weston summoned out and obliged to sing Johnny Pringle and his Pig, after the performance of Voltaire's Mahomet, at the Theatre Royal in Drury-Lane. Steevens.

I have retained the old reading knaves and thieves ; it seems to me to be much more in the style of the Clown, who is much of a philosopher, and is fond of dealing in general observations. Mr. Steevens's fastidious reflection of this song is in the same spirit which has led him to object to the concluding scene of Pandarus in Troilus and Cressida ; and might equally have led him, had he been consistent, to have regarded the songs at the end of Love's Labour's Lost as spurious. The charge brought against Milton by Dr. Farmer has been, in my opinion, most satisfactorily shown to be erroneous in the following modest and sensible remarks by the late Mr. Waldron in a note to his edition of Roscius Anglicamus, 1-89.

“ If Milton merit the above eulogy, the slightest endeavour to clear him from any unfavourable imputation is surely commendable; the attempt is the more necessary when objections fall from such pens as cannot be influenced by any motives, excepting a love of truth, and a desire to do justice : But it is more particularly requisite, when probity and candour are guided in their decisions by learning and penetration. An attempt to controvert an opinion so founded is certainly an arduous one; but, as it is made with every possible deference to the judgments it presumes, in this instance, to dissent from, any further apology would be but mock humility.

“ The following passages are adverted to. “ • It is lamentable to see how far party and prejudice will carry But when I came unto my bed *,

With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,
With toss-pots still had drunken head ,

For the rain it raineth every day.

* First folio, beds.

† First folio, heades.

the wisest men, even against their own practice and opinions. Milton in his Eixovox nástns censures King Charles for reading, • one whom,' says he, 'we well knew was the closet companion of his solitudes, William Shakspeare. Farmer.

" To read and amuse himself with the writings of Shakspeare, the great Milton most shamefully charged upon Charles as a crime: thoughi Milton himself was a professed admirer of our great bard. Such is the malignant spirit of party! and so little able are the noblest minds to resist its influence !'

Davies's Dramatick Miscellanies, 1784, vol. i. p. 323. "Milton's writings afford a striking example of the strength and weakness of the same mind. His finest feelings, his warmest poetical predilections, were at last totally obliterated by civil and religious enthusiasm. Seduced by the gentle eloquence of fanaticism, he listened no longer to the 'wild and native woodnotes of fancy's sweetest child.' In his Iconoclastes, he censures King Charles for studying, 'one whom we well know was the closetcompanion of his solitudes, William Shakspeare.' .

Prose-works, vol. i. p. 368. “This remonstrance, which not only resulted from his abhorrence of a King, but from his disapprobation of plays, would have come with propriety from Prynne or Hugh Peters. Nor did he now perceive, that what was here spoken in contempt, conferred the highest compliment on the elegance of Charles's private character.'

Warton's Milton, 1785, p. 437, N. 41. “Without entering into the argument, pro or cou Royalists or Republicans, it is doing Milton but justice to say he is entirely innocent of the charge brought against him by Dr. Farmer, repeated by Mr. Davies, and enforced by Mr. Warton ; he does not censure Charles for reading and amusing himself with the writings of Shakspeare, but for imitating the hypocrisy of Richard, as drawn by our dramatic historian, so closely, that in the passage animadverted on he utters the very sentiment put into Richard's mouth by the poet.

“:— the deepest policy of a Tyrant hath bin ever to counterfet Religious. And Aristotle in his Politics, hath mentioned that special craft among twelve other tyrannical Sophisms. Neither want wee examples. Andronicus Comnenus the Byzantine Emperor, though a most cruel Tyrant, is reported by Nicetas to have bin a constant reader of Saint Pauls Epistles : and by continual study

A great while ago the world begun,

With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,
But that's all one, our play is done,
And we'll strive to please you every day.

[Erit. had so incorporated the phrase and stile of that transcendent Apostle into all his familiar Letters, that the imitation seemed to vie with the original.

"Yet this availed not to deceave the people of that empire; who notwithstanding his Saints vizard, tore him to peeces for his Tyranny. From Stories of this nature both Ancient and Modern which abound, the Poets also, and some English, have bin in this point so mindfull of Decorum, as to put never more pious words in the mouth of any person, then of a Tyrant. I shall not instance an abstruse Author, wherein the King might be less conversant, but one whom wee well know was the closet Companion of these his solitudes, William Shakespeare ; who introduced the Person of Richard the third, speaking in as high a strain of pietie, and mortification, as is utterd in any passage of this Book (ΕΙΚΩΝ ΒΑΣΙΛΙΚΗ]; and sometimes to the same sense and purpose with some words in this place, I intended, saith he, not onely to oblige my Friends but mine enemies. The like saith Richard, Act 2, Scene 1,

“I doe not know that Englishman alive
«« «With whom my soule is any jott at odds,
“ More than the Infant that is borne to night;

“ • I thank my God for my humilitie.' “« Other stuff of this sort may be read throughout the whole Tragedie, wherein the Poet us'd not much licence in departing from the truth of History, which delivers him a deep dissembler, not of his affections onely, but of religion.'

" EIKONOKÁASTHS. 4to. 2d Edit. 1650, page 10. The following reply to Milton, however virulent, does not suggest the least idea of what Dr. Farmer, Mr. Warton, &c. object to him.

“• Theinstances of Tyrants counterfeiting Religion are frequent, and that bipocrisie is inseparable from Tyrants by usurpation, such as this libellers Masters, whose want of right, seekes protection from dissembled vertue, but this seldome happens to Kings by just Title, whose power wants not that support. His comparing his late Majest: to knowne usurpers, that confirmed their Crownes, gained by robbery, and kept with falshood and blood, [by counterfeiting religion,] shewes his odious shamelessnes in the dissimilitude, & whoever observes the prophane assumption of the Titles of pietie, by these Monsters, & their hipocriticall professions, to maske their wicked ends, shall finde, that Andronicus Comnenus, and our English Rich. 3. came short of them, not only in counterfeiting Religion, and conscience, but in falshood and crueltie. Insteede of Shakespeares scene of Rich. 3. the libeller may take the Parliaments declaration of the 29th May, where their words are. “ The providing for the publique peace and prosperitee of his Majest : and all his Realmes, we protest in the presence of the all-seeing Deitie to have been, and still to be, the only end of our Councells, & endeavours, wherein wee have resolved to continue freed, and enlarged from all private aimes, personall respects, or passions whatsoever," and againe in their petition of the second of June, they tell him, “ that they have nothing in their thoughts, and desires more pretious, and of higher esteeme next to the honour, and immediate service of God, then the just, and faithfull performance of their dutie to his Majest :” and the libeller will not finde in historie or poet, wordes of a deeper hipocrisie in the mouth of a villaine, nor more contradicted by their Actions. That which he adds from his Testimony out of Shakspeare of the imagined vehemence of Rich. the 3. in his dissembled professions, holds noe proportion with theis hipocrisies, really acted, not fancyed by a poet, and this libeller hath learnt to act a part out of Shakspeare, and with Rich. 3. accusing loyaltie, and innocency for high Crymes, and crying out against their wickednes, that sought to restore the dispossessed heires of the Crowne to their right, and amplifying their offence, as the highest against God, and man, and wherein comes the libeller short of his patterne in this scene?'

“EIKIN AKAAETO2. 4to. 1651, page 81. “ This last quotation might perhaps have been spared, but that it was thought necessary to bring the whole into one point of view; so, as it is conceived, the entire exoneration of Milton, so far as relates to his supposed censure of Charles, for merely the reading of Shakspeare : should the argument be thought undeserving of so much notice, it may be said, with Mr. Richardson, “ These indeed are trifles ; but even such contract a sort of greatness, when related to what is great. W." BOSWELL.

The copy of the second folio of Shakspeare, which formerly belonged to King Charles, and mentioned in the preceding notes, is now in the library of his present Majesty, (Geo. III.] who has corrected a mistake of Dr. Farmer's, relative to Sir Thomas Herbert, inadvertently admitted by Mr. Steevens, but here omitted. Reed.

This play is in the graver part elegant and easy, and in some of the lighter scenes exquisitely humorous. Ague-cheek is drawn with great propriety, but his character is, in a great measure, that of natural fatuity, and is therefore not the proper prey of a satirist. The soliloquy of Malvolio is truly comic; he is betrayed to ridicule merely by his pride. The marriage of Olivia, and the succeeding perplexity, though well enough contrived to divert on the stage, wants credibility, and fails to produce the proper instruction required in the drama, as it exhibits no just picture of life.

JOHNSON,

She sat like patience on a monument,

Smiling at grief.] Mr. Theobald supposes this might possibly be borrowed from Chaucer :

“ And her besidis wonder discreetlie
“ Dame pacience ysitting there I fonde

“ With facé pale, upon a hill of sonde.” And adds : “ If he was indebted, however, for the first rude draught, how amply has he repaid that debt, in heightening the picture! How much does the green and yellow melancholy transcend the old bard's pale face ; the monument his hill of sand."I hope this critic does not imagine Shakspeare meant to give us a picture of the face of patience, by his green and yellow melancholy; because, he says, it transcends the pale face of patience given us by Chaucer. To throw patience into a fit of melancholy, would be indeed very extraordinary. The green and yellow then belonged not to patience, but to her who sat like patience. To give patience a pale face was proper : and had Shakspeare described her, he had done it as Chaucer did. But Shakspeare is speaking of a marble statue of patience ; Chaucer of patience herself. And the two representations of her, are in quite different views. Our poet, speaking of a despairing lover, judiciously compares her to patience exercised on the death of friends and relations; which affords him the beautiful picture of “ patience on a monument.” The old bard, speaking of patience herself directly, and not by comparison, as judiciously draws her in that circumstance where she is most exercised, and has occasion for all her virtue ; that is to say, under the losses of shipwreck. And now we see why she is represented as “ sitting on a hill of sand," to design the scene to be the sea-shore. It is finely imagined ; and one of the noble simplicities of that admirable poet. But the critic thought, in good earnest, that Chaucer's invention was so barren, and his imagination so beggarly, that he was not able to be at the charge of a monument for his goddess, but left her, like a stroller, sunning herself upon a heap of sand.

WARBURTON. This celebrated image was not improbably first sketched out in the old play of Pericles. I think, Shakspeare's hand may be sometimes seen in the latter part of it, and there only :

“ thou (Marina) dost look
“ Like Patience, gazing on kings' graves, and smiling

“ Extremity out of act." Farmer. So, in our author's Rape of Lucrece:

“ So mild, that Patience seem'd to scorn his woes.In the passage in the text, our author perhaps meant to personify grief as well as patience ; for we can scarcely understand al grief” to mean “ in grief,” as no statuary could, I imagine, form a countenance in which smiles and grief should be at once expressed. Shakspeare might have borrowed his imagery from

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »