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« This is a sleepe, That from this Golden Rigoll hath divorc'd So many English Kings.”
Henry IV., 2nd Part, iv. 4.
6. “ Owe” used in the sense of "
Sonnet lxx. “Of all perfections that a man may owe.”
Love's Labour's Lost, ii. 1.
7. Use of “quote,” or cote,” in the sense of “ to note.”
“Yea, the illiterate that know not how
Romeo and Juliet, i. 4.
8. “Suggested” used for “tempted.”
“Perchance his bost of Lucrece Sou'raigntie,
Rich. II. iii. 4.
9. The word “ vast” used to signify "a wide waste.”
“Who like a late sack’t Island vastlie stood
Lucrece. “Shooke hands, as over a Vast; and embrac'd as it were from the ends of opposed winds.”—Winter's Tale, i. 1.
10. Peculiar use of the verb "to fall.”
“For everie teare he fals a Trojan bleeds.”—Lucrece.
Othello, iv, 1.
11. Employment of the word “foyzon.”
“Speake of the spring, and foyzon of the yeare,
Tempest, ii. 1. 12. A quaint expression.
“Why should my heart thinke that a severall plot,
Sonnet cxxxvii. “My lips are no Common, though severall they be.”
Love's Labour 's Lost, ii. 13. “Wood ” used in the sense of " mad.” "Life-poysoning pestilence, and frendzies wood.”
Venus and Adonis. “ And heere am I, and wood within this wood."
A Midsummer Night's Dream, ii. 2.
This list might be extended almost indefinitely, and illustrations of particular passages might be adduced ; for every student of Shakespeare is aware that the germ of some of the finest portions in many of the dramas may be traced to the poems. Any theory based upon parallel passages must, however, be, in a great measure, delusive. In the case of Bacon and Shakespeare, it cannot do much more than illustrate the influence wielded by one commanding mind over another of almost equal powers, though differently displayed and developed. Did we place any
reliance upon such a system, we might, in addition to the foregoing instances, produce a startling array of kindred sentiments and expressions, selected from the poems
and the dramas of Shakespeare, which would be sufficient to
convince the most sceptical that they were the productions of one man.
Mr. William Henry Smith has not yet carried his advocacy of his theory so far as to deny that Shakespeare wrote the “Venus and Adonis,” the “Lucrece,” and the Sonnets; and he is probably aware that he must first destroy Shakespeare's reputation as the author of these masterpieces, before he can hope to deprive him of his glowing honours, as the greatest of dramatic authors. It is impossible for the latest, and we hope the last, traducer of Shakespeare to escape from this dilemma. In the poems we find not only ideas, peculiar turns of thought, strange uses of particular words, and quaint expressions, but adumbrations of character that are more fully deve-loped in the plays. If Mr. William Henry Smith still clings to his theory, let him at once set to work, and not only endeavour to demonstrate, but actually establish beyond risk or possibility of refutation, that Francis Bacon wrote the “Venus and Adonis,” the “Lucrece,” and the Sonnets, or the ground beneath his feet will be demolished by the aid of his own dearly-prized weapons. These delightful poems-glowing proofs of the mighty powers and evident superiority of their author-rise up in judgment against him ; and the literary Don Quixote of the nineteenth century may as well attack windmills with bulrushes, as assail our mighty Shakespeare with his idle reveries.
The theory of parallel passages never can, never did, and never will, admit of the construction Mr. William Henry Smith wishes to put upon it ; and if that worthy successor of the narrow-minded critics of the last century, none of whom ventured to question Shakespeare's right to be regarded as the author of these exquisite productions, though they sought to prejudice mankind against him, and to give the world an erroneous idea of his works,-persists in his endeavours to lead young students astray, we shall use it as a cudgel to beat the conceit out of him. Gladly indeed shall we
“Let it work,
And blow them at the moon.” Even had the plays—universally, we were going to say, but we had forgotten that important item of critical humanity, Mr. William Henry Smith, and therefore qualify it by saying, -almost universally allowed to be Shakespeare's, been published anonymously, there is no evidence upon which they could be assigned to Francis Bacon ; and, according to the parallel-passage theory, the admirers of Mr. Alexander Smith, the bard of the painful metaphors, and one of the heroes of the new and popular style of elastic verse, might claim for him the authorship of nearly every poem, above the average scale of merit, published during the last half-century.*
If a readiness to make use of the ideas and sentiments of other writers is to give the latest adapter a claim to the proprietorship, we shall speedily have confusion in the court of Parnassus. Let these canons of criticism be once admitted as valid, and good-bye to our old authors: they will speedily be devoured and poured forth in another form ; and men will only have to steal skilfully in order to establish a first-rate literary reputation. At any rate, the parallel-passage theory has got Mr. William
* See “ Athenæum,” Jan. 3, 1857. The process is very simple. Most of our readers will remember Wordsworth's line i his sonnet on Milton :
“His soul was like a star, and dwelt apart." Mr. Alexander Smith turns it out gallantly :
“ Alone he dwelt, solitary as a star.” He does not give himself much trouble about the transformation, and scarcely deigns to follow Sheridan's bint, about treating the idea “as gipsies do stolen children, - disfigure them to make 'em pass for their own." This new method may be called poetry with variations.