« AnteriorContinuar »
of Pericles—a play which is commonly printed under
The blind mole casts the name of Shakespeare, and which, in sweetness of
Copp'd hills towards heaven, to tell, the earth is throng'd manner, delicacy of sentiment, truth of feeling, and
By man's oppression; and the poor worm doth die for't. natural ease of manner, would do honour to the greatest And yet this passage comes naturally enough in a author who ever existed.”
speech of no very high excellence. The purpurei panni
must be fitted to a body, as well for use as for adorn1! “This piece was acknowledged by Dryden, but as a ment. We think that Shakespeare would not have 1 youthful work of Shakespeare. It is most undoubtedly taken the trouble to produce these costly robes for the
his. The supposed imperfections originate in the cir- improvement of an early production of his own, if the cumstance, that the dramatist has handled a childish taste of his audiences had from time to time demanded and extravagant romance of the old English poet Gower, its continuance upon the stage. It is for this reason that and could not or would not drag the subject out of its we think that the Pericles of the beginning of the seven original sphere. Hence he even introduces Gower him- teenth century was the revival of a play written by self, and makes him deliver prologues in his own anti- Shakspeare some twenty years earlier." — Knight. quated language and versification. The power of assuming a manner so foreign to his own, is at least no proof of want of ability."-Schlegel.
“ However wild and extravagant the fable of Per
ICLES may appear, if we consider its numerous choCOLERIDGE, (Literary Remains,) in his first attempt
ruses, its pageantry, and dumb shows, its continual suc
cession of incidents, and the great length of time which at the classification of the order of Shakespeare's plays, places Pericles with the old King John, the three
they occupy, yet it is, we may venture to assert, the Parts of HENRY VI., the old Taming Of THE Sørew,
most spirited and pleasing specimen of the nature and
fabric of our earliest romantic drama which we possess, etc., and thus characterizes it and them :-“ All these are
and the most valuable, as it is the only one with which transition works, (Uebergangswerke ;) not his, yet of Shakespeare has favoured us. We should, therefore, him." In 1819, he thought Pericles was produced welcome this play as an admirable example of the neg. shortly after Shakespeare's earliest dramatic attempt, lected favourite of our ancestors, with something of the Love's LABOUR's Lost.
same feeling that is experienced in the reception of an
old and valued friend of our fathers or grandfathers. Mr. Collier pronounces, with equal confidence, that
Nay, we should like it the better for its Gothic appenPericles bears the unquestionable stamp of Shake- dages of pageants and choruses, to explain the intricaspeare's genius :There is so marked a character about every thing dramatic representation even of a series of ages in a
cies of the fable ; and we can see no objection to the that proceeded from the pen of our great dramatist,
single night, that does not apply to every description of his mode of thought, and his style of expression, are so
poem, which leads in perusal from the fireside at which unlike those of any of his contemporaries, that they can
we are sitting, to a succession of remote periods and never be mistaken. They are clearly visible in all the
distant countries. In these matters faith is all powerlater portion of the play; and so indisputable does this
ful; and without her influence, the most chastely cold and fact appear to us, that, we confidently assert, however
critically correct of dramas is precisely as unreal as the strong may be the external evidence to the same point,
MIDSUMMER-Night's Dream, or the Winter's Tale.' the internal evidence is infinitely stronger: to those
" A still more powerful attraction in Pericles is that who have studied his works it will seem incontrovert
the interest accumulates as the story proceeds; for, ible.”
though many of the characters in the earlier part of the
drama, such as Antiochus and his daughter, Simonides Several other later critics, as Horn, among the Ger- and Thaisa, Cleon and Dionyza, disappear and drop into mans, Knight, and Dr. Drake, (Shakespeare and his | oblivion, their places are supplied by more pleasing and Times,) have expressed opinions on the poetic merits efficient agents, who are not less fugacious, but better of Pericles, approaching to those of Godwin and Bar- calculated for theatric effect. The inequalities of this ry Cornwall, and quite at variance with the sweeping | production are, indeed, considerable, and only to be accensures of Pope and Gifford :
counted for, with probability, on the supposition that “Let us accept Dryden's opinion that
Shakespeare either accepted a coadjutor, or improved Shakespeare's own muse his Pericles first bore,
on the rough sketch of a previous writer: the former. with reference to the original structure of the play, and
for many reasons, seems entitled to a preference, and the difficulty vanishes. It was impossible that the
will explain why, in compliment to his dramatic friend, character of the early drama should not have been im
he has suffered a few passages, and one entire scene.
of a character totally dissimilar to his own style and pressed upon Shakespeare's earliest efforts. Sidney has
mode of composition, to stand uncorrected; for who given us a most distinct description of that drama; and
does not perceive that of the closing scene of the second we can thus understand how the author of Pericles im
act not a sentence or a word escaped from the pen of proved upon what he found. Do we therefore think that the drama, as it has come down to us, is presented
Shakespeare.”—DR. DRAKE. in the form in which it was first written? By no means. We agree with Mr. Hallam, that in parts the language We select, from among other criticisms of the same seems rather that of Shakespeare's second or third || tendency, that of Charles Armitage Brown, contained in manner than of his first.' But this belief is not incon- his ingenious essay on “Shakespeare's Autobiographical sistent with the opinion that the original structure was Poems:"Shakespeare's. No other poet that existed at the begin
It hath been sung at festivals, ning of the seventeenth century-perhaps no poet that
On ember-eves and holy ales, came after that period, whether Massinger, or Fletcher,
And lords and ladies of their lives or Webster-could have written the greater part of the
Have read it for restoratives. -- Prologue. fifth act. Coarse as the comic scenes are, there are
Transferred from the balls of lords and ladies to the touches in them unlike any other writer but Shake- || theatre, it was a favourite with the people ; but, owing speare. Horn, with the eye of a real critic, has pointed
to the improvement of dramatic poetry and art, it at out the deep poetical profundity of one apparently slight length required higher claims than it possessed to sup; passage in these unpleasant scenes :
port its popularity. To entirely remodel this wild and Mar. Are you a woman?
strangely improbable romance might have benumbed Bawd. What would you have me be, an I be not a woman? its attraction ; for it is rare to find that the multitude Mar. An honest woman, or not a woman.
is pleased with direct changes in a traditionary tale. “ Tuuches such as these are not put into the work of Shakespeare therefore employed himself in restoring the other men who but Shakespeare could have written- romance to its former importance on the stage, by
numerous retouchings in the dialogue, and by writing comic dialogue, with the very trick of his eye ; but we whole scenes of great dramatic power.
meet with no scene of his invention, or complete recon“Unless we suppose it had been ineffectually retouched struction, till we enter Cerimon's house at Ephesus previously to his adaptation, we cannot well account for in the third act. Every line there is his undoubted the appearance of three distinct styles : one bald and property. Trivial as the sketch may be called of this utterly unpoetical, though bearing an antique air, urging good physician, it is a portrait; we see him, and we on the commencement with a dogged will; the second know hím, though observed only under one phase. only passable, and too frequently throughout the four Here, in the recovery of the queen from her trance, we first acts; and the third, truly worthy of Shakespeare. have a most natural description of the physician's skill It may be that the lines which I term only passable had being suddenly called into action, his swift orders minbeen all partially changed by him. Yet, wanting the gled with his reasoning on cases, his haste to apply the effect of his shadow merely passing over them, I must remedies, the broken sentences, his reproof to a loiterconjecture that some one had been before him in the ing servant, the keeping the gentlemen back to give task, and that he had retained many of the former altera- her air;' the whole, as if by magic, making the reader tions entire. However that may have been, the ques- an absolute spectator of the scene. tion now is as to his unmixed property.
“From the moment Marina appears, Shakespeare “ In the first place, we have to overcome that great himself takes her by the hand, and leads her gently drawback, a want of varied colour in the characters, the onward; but I cannot perceive he had any connexion essential stamp of his genius. Far from having colour, with the vile crew who surround her. they are unshaded outlines, filled up with black and “Compared to all that precedes it, or to any thing white, to represent the bad or the good, and thus shoved else, the first scene of the fifth act is wonderfully grand, on and off the stage. Nothing can be discovered of his beautiful, and refined in art. Every one ought to know profound knowledge of human nature, or of his philoso- it; but it is too long for me to quote. The recall from phy, nothing beyond the work of a poet and an artist, a state of stupefaction caused by grief, and the prolongedi and they appear but faintly in the two first acts. The yet natural recognition of Marina, interwoven with a language of Pericles himself' rises from poverty gradually thousand delicate hues of poetry, lead us on in admirainto strength and dignity, until it attains its utmost height; tion till we think nothing can be added to the effect. as if Shakespeare had learned, during his task, to throw Still the crown of all is to come, in the poetical couclamore and more aside of the original; to feel, as he pro- sion, true to nature while it rests on our imagination. ceeded, a high confidence in his own powers; and at Pericles, instantly after his sudden rush of joy, his over last to have discovered there was a soul in the romance, wrought excitement, fancies he listens to the music of in spite of its deformities, which inspired him to attempt the spheres!—he wonders that others do not hear these his hitherto untried excellence, to spread his wings, and * rarest sounds ;'—then he sinks on his couch to rest, and to set, as it were, an example to himself for the future. still insisting that there is ‘most heavenly music,'falls into “ The fishermen in the second act glance at us, in their | a sleep, while Marina, like an angel, watches at his side."