صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

ten till 1601, when the play was printed . It appears to have been Jonson's first performance d; and we may presume that it was the very play, which, we are told, was brought on the stage by the good offices of Shakspeare, who himself acted in it. Malignant and envious as Jonson appears to have been, he hardly would have ridiculed his benefactor at the very time he was so essentially obliged to him. In two or three years afterwards, his jealousy probably broke out, and vented itself in this prologue. It is certain that, not long after the year 1600, a coolness' arose between

Shakspeare NOTES. • That this attack on King Henry V. was made in 1601, ap. pears the more probable from this circumstance:-in Ben Jonfon's Poetaster, which was first acted in that year, several passages of this play are ridiculed.

d Jonson himself tells us in his Induction to the Magnetick Lady, that this was his first dramatick performance." The author beginning his studies of this kind with Every Man in his Humour."

e If the names of the actors, prefixed to this play, were arrange ed in the same order as the persons represented, which is very probable, Shakspeare played the part of Old Knowell. It is said, that he also played the part of Adam in As you Like It; and we are informed by Betterton that he performed the Ghost in his own Hamlet. We may presume, therefore, that he usually represented old men.

* See an old comedy called The Return from Parnalus: [This piece was not published till 1606; but appears to have been written in 1602–certainly was produced before the death of Queen Elizabeth, which happened on the 24th of March 1603. ] “Why here's our fellow Shakespeare puts them all down; ay and Ben

Fonfon too. O that Ben Jonson is a pestilent fellow; he brought up Horace giving the poets a pill, but our fellow Shakespeare hath given him'a purge that made him bewray his credit."

The play of Jonson's in which he gave the poets a pill, and endeavoured to ridicule some words used by Shakspeare, is the Poet. after, acted in 1601. In what manner Shakspeare put him down, or made him beruray his credit, does not appear. His retali. ation, we may be well assured, contained no gross or illiberal abuse; and, perhaps, did not go beyond a ballad or an epigram, which may have perished with things of greater consequence. He has, however, marked his disregard for the calumniator of his fame, by not leaving hiin any memorial by his Will.-In an apologetical dialogue that Jonson annexed to the Poetasier, he says, he had been provoked for three years (i e. from 1998 to 1601) on every stage by ilanderers ; as for the players, he says,

Shakspeare and him, which, however, he may talk of his almoft idolatrous affection, produced on his part, from that time to the death of our author, and for many years afterwards, much clumsy sarcasm and many malevolent reflections ,

On NOT E S.

66 It is true, I tax'd them,
And yet but some, and those fo fparingly,
As all the rest might have fat still unquestion'd-

What they have done against me
I am not mov'd with. If it gave them meat,
Or got them cloaths, 'tis well; that was their end.
Only, amongst them, I am sorry for
Some better nature's, by the rest drawn in

To run in that vile line.” . · By the words “ Some better natures" there can, I think, be little doubt that Shakspeare was alluded to.

& In his Silent Woman, Act V. Sc. ii. 1609. Jonson seems to point at Shakspeare, as one whom he viewed with scornful, yet with jealous, eyes:

“So, they may censure poets and authors, and compare them; Daniel with Spenser, Jonson with t'other youth, and so forth."

In the Induction to Bartholomew Fair, which was acted in 1614, two years before the death of our author, three of his plays, and in the piece itself two others, are attempted to be ridiculed. .

The Induction to The Staple of News, which appeared in 1625, not very long after the publication of our author's plays in folio,

contains a sneer at a passage in Julius Cæfar-
. " Know Cæsar doth not wrong; nor without cause .

Will he be satisfied " which for the purpose of ridicule is quoted unfaithfully; and in the same play may be found an effort, as impotent as that of Vol. taire', to raise a laugh at Hamlet's exclamation when he kills Polonius.

Some other passages which are found in Jonson's works, might be inentioned in support of this observation, but being quoted hereafter for other purposes, they are here omitted.

Notwithstanding these proofs, Jonson's malevolence to Shak. speare, and jealouly of his superior reputation, have been doubt. ed by Mr. Pope and others; and much stress has been laid on a passage in his Discoveries, and on the commendatory verses prefixed to the first edition of our author's plays in folio.-The rea

• « Ab! ma mere, s'écrie-t-il, il y a un gros rat derriere la rapisfiriemileire font épée, court au rat, et tue le bon bomme Polonius, "'-0cuvres de Voltaire. Tome XV. P: 473. 4to.

dera

On this play Mr. Pope has the following note, AA 1. Bc. i.

« This first fcene was added since the edition of 1608, which is much short of the present editions, wherein the speeches are generally enlarged, and raised; several whole scenes besides, and the chorufes also, were since added by Shakespeare."

Dř: Warburton also positively afferts that this first scene was written after the accession of K. James I. and the subsequent editors agree, that feveral additions were made by the author to King Henry V. after it was originally composed. But there is, I believe, no good ground for these affertions. It is true that no perfect edition of this play was published

NOI E S. der, after having perused the following character of Jonson, drawn by Mr. Drummond of Hawthornden, a COŘtemporary, and an intimate acquaintance of his, will not, perhaps, ieadily be. lieve these pofthumous encomiums to have been fincere. " Jonfon, (says that writer) was a great lover and praiser of himself; a contesner and scorner of others, rather chuling to lose a friend than a jest; jealous of every word and action of those about him, especially after drink, which was one of the elements he lived in; a dissembler of the parts which reigned in him ; a bragger of some good that he wanted : he thought nothing right, but what either himself or some of his friends had done. He was paffionately kind and angry ; careless either to gain or to keep; vindi&tive, but, if he was well answered, greatly chagrined; interpreting the best say. ings often to the worst *. He was for any religion, being verled in all. His inventions were smooth and easy, but above all, he excelled in tranflation. In short, he was, in his personal character, the very reverse of Shakespeare; as surly, ill-natured, proud and disagreeable, as Shakespeare, with ten times his merit, was gentle, good-natured, eafy, and amiable.” Drummond's Works, fol. 1711.

In the year 1619 Jonson went to Scotland, to visit Mr. Drum. mond, who has left a curious account of a conversation that pass. ed between them, relative to the principal poets of those times.

From a natural partiality to his author, the foregoing well-authenticated character was suppressed by the last learned editor of Jonson's works.

• His misquoting a line of Julius Cæfar, so as to render it nonsense, at a time when the play was in print, is a strong illustration of this part of his character. The plea of an unfaithful memory cannot be urged in his defence, for bc tells u in bis Discovering that cill be was part forty, he could repeat cery thing that bo had wriusa.

before

to publish the whand that the edit in hort handles were für

before that in folio, in 1623; but it does not follow from thence, that the scenes which then first appeared in print, and all the choruses, were added by Shakspeare, as Mr. Pope supposes, after 1608. We know indeed the contrary to be true; for the chorus to the fifth act must have been written in 1599. The fair inference to be drawn from the impera fect and mutilated copies of this play, published in 1600, 1602, and 1608, is, not that the whole play, as we now have it, did not then exist, but that those copies were surreptitious, (probably taken down in short hand, during the representation;) and that the editor in 1600, not being able to publish the whole, published what he could.

I have not indeed met with any evidence (except in three plays) that the several scenes which are found in the fo. lio of 1623, and are not in the preceding quartos, were added by the second labour of the author.-The last chorus of K. Henry V. already mentioned, affords a striking proof that this was not always the case. The two copies of the Second Part of K. Henry IV. printed in the fame year (1600) furnish another. In one of these, the whole first scene of Act III. is wanting; not because it was then unwritten, (for it is found in the other copy published in that year) but because the editor was not possessed of it. That what have been called additions by the author, were not really such, may be also collected from another circumstance; that in some of the quartos where these supposed additions are wanting, references and replies are found to the passages omitted.

I do not however mean to say, that Shakspeare never made any alterations in his plays. We have reason to believe that Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, and the Merry Wives of Windfor, were entirely new written; and a second revifal or temporary topicks might have suggested, in a course of years, Tome additions and alterations in all his pieces. But with respect to the entire scenes that are wanting in some of the

NOTE.

h Of this fee a remarkable instance in K. Henry IV. P. II. Act I. fc. i. where Morton in a long speeeh having informed Northumberland that the archbishop of York had joined the rebel party, the Earl replies, " I knew of this before"- The quarto contains the reply, but not a single line of the narrative to which it relates. Vol. I. [U)

early

early editions, (particularly those of K. Henry V. the Second and I hird Part of King Henry VI. and the Second Part of King Henry IV.) I suppose the omissions to have arisen from the imperfection of the copies; and instead of saying that “ the first scene of K. Henry V. was added by the author after the publication of the quarto in 1600,” all that we can pronounce with certainty is, that this scene is not found in the quarto of 1600.

23. The Puritan, 1600. ·

Printed in 1600, without the name of Shakspeare. In the title page are the letters W. S.

24. Much ADO ABOUT NOTHING, 1600.

Much Ado about Nothing, was written, we may presume, early in the year 1600; for it was entered at Stationers' hall, August 23, 1600, and printed in that year.

It is not mentioned by Meres in his list of our author's plays, published in the latter end of the year 1598.

25. As You Like IT, 1600.

This comedy was not printed till 1623, and the caveat or meinorandumi in the second volume of the books of the Stationers' company, relative to the three plays of As You Like it, Henry V. and Much Ado about Nothing, has no date except Aug. 4. But immediately above that caveat there is an entry, dated May 27, 1600,- and the entry, immediately following it, is dated Jan. 23, 1603. We may therefore presume that this caveat was entered between those two periods: more especially, as the dates scattered over the pages where this entry is found, are, except in one instance, in a regular series from 1596 to 1615. This will appear more clearly by exhibiting the entry exactly as stands in the book :

NOT E. i See Mr. Steevens's extracts from the books of the Stationers' company, ante p. 256.

« السابقةمتابعة »