صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

To the former I reply, that Scotland seems to have been more particularly the region of witchcraft; I mean the belief in, and imaginary practice of it; which I could cite many proofs of, were it neceffary : and it is no unreasonable supposition that Maudlin (admitting the real existence of such a personage) was originally of that country; bayished it for her misdeeds, like Shakspeare's Sycorax from Argier ; and now settled in a more southern part of the illand.

Scathlock has something of the same mode of speech; but I am apt to think, upon a revision, the dialect of the county where the scene lies would have been more properly appropriated to him ; I have nevertheless continued it as I found it.

Jonson has been extremely irregular in his verlification in this Pastoral; blank verse and rime being huddled together, with seldom any apparent reason for the mixture or transition. These blemishes, if luch I may presume to call them, have been intens tionally copied, in the no-doubt-vain endeavour that the whole might appear of a piece. Who cannot copy faults? Dr. Johnson, in his Life of John Philips, very truly says, “ Deformity is easily copied.”

It is indeed the fate of inost imita:ors to produce unintentionally, except when done in ridicule, a tolerable likeness of nothing else that can be found in, or is attributed to their chosen archetype. The continuator of The Sad Shepherd is fenfible how necesfary it is to the wisole appearing of a piece, that the graces of the parts supplied as well as the defekts, should be similar to those of the fragment; but it would be a most egregious and unparalleled selfHattery, were he to hope that beauties, however thinly sown, could be found in the copy, comparable, to those we are gratified with in almost every line of the admirable, the delightful original. As Jonson not only made no fçruple of borrowing from whoever he thought worthy of that honour, but also recommends the practice, if not servilely done, in his Difcoveries; and as his imitations of Theocritus, Spenser, Drayton, &c. are evident in what he has left us of his Pastoral ; should similarities to these, or any other Poets be perceived in the continuation; not (to use Ben's words) taken in crude, raw, or indigested; but concocted; the sweets of various flowers worked into honey of one relish and favour ; should fuch imitations appear, it is hoped they will meet the fame allowance with those in the original fragment.

graces

One paffage I must beg particular indulgence for ; Æglamour's speech in the third act, on hearing Earine's voice when the fings in the tree, being chiefly borrowed from Jonson himself. In act v. there is a remarkable fimilitude in the lines beginning with “ My coronal composed of, &c.” to part of an Ode by the ingenious Miss Seward, which Ode I believe was not written till after this continuation was finished:

Some

Some few liberties have been taken with Jonson's text of the Sad Shepherd, as exhibited in the folio, 1640, and in Mr. Whalley's excellent edition of The Works of Ben Jonson, 1756, but the notes are copied verbacim from Mr. Whalley; which liberty, as well as some others, it is requested of that gentleman to be so good to excuse : whenever therefore, as is sometimes the case, the text and notes disagree, the reason will be found in the supplemental notes, annexed to the continuation ; in which the references are made to Mr. Whalley's edition of the Pastoral, and not to the present one.

The arguments, though in some places, I think inaccurately written, are given as in the former editions ; except the substituting Goblin for Daughter in that of the third Act : which alteration is war, ranted by Jonson's Dialogue. To the two last acts there are no arguments prefixed ; for what purpose could they answer, but the bad one of pre-informing the reader of what he should learn in the gradual progress of the poem ? and I am of opinion that Jonson, had he lived to have compleated and pubJished his Sylvan Tale, would have suppressed the three arguments handed down to us.

As the matter now stands, it is a happy circumstance that, by the completion of the third argument, we are informed of the Poet's delign throughout that act ; and it wero * a consummation deyourly to be wished,” though 5

the

[ocr errors]

the dialogue had been wanting, that we had arguments for the remainder of the Story, as intended by The Maker: the incidents he had, or would have, planned, must (past doubt muft) have been productive of much more interesting situations than can be ex. pected in this weak essay to supply his deficience."

Should the fame observations undelignedly occur here, and in the supplemental notes; the candid reader I am persuaded will think, if they are in any degree worthy his attention, that they had better be mentioned twice than not at all.

Mr. Whalley, in his elegantly-pathetic lamentation for the loss of the remainder of Jonson's Partoral, subjoined to his and the present edition, aptly compares what we have of it to the remains of an ancient piece of sculpture.

I will adopt the idea; and in extenuation of the boldness of my undertaking, observe that although part of the celebrated Venus de Medicis is said to be of (comparatively) modern workmanship, and very inferior to that of the antique Statue, to which it is adjoined; yet as, by means of such addition, it now appears without mutilation, and fills the eye and mind with a view and contemplation of a perfeet whole; fo Jonson's Sad Shepherd having come down to us in nearly the same predicament in which that precious relick of statuary stood, before some venturous hand attempted its completion ; 1 presume to say that however inferiour the modern part now added may, and

inevitably inevitably must be, to the exquisite fragment we were before poffessed of; yet, if executed at all in the manner and spirit of the original, it will give the work at least a seeming perfectness ; though ever lo short of that perfection, to which “ Rare Ben” himself, had he finished it with an untired hand, would certainly have wrought it.

THE

« السابقةمتابعة »