« AnteriorContinuar »
This is very true : Mr. Heath accedes to the correction, and Mr. Johnson admits it into the Text : but turn to the translation, from the French of Amyot, by Thomas North, in Folio, 1579; and you will at once see the origin of the mistake.
“First of all he did establish Cleopatra Queene of Ægypt, of Cyprus, of Lydia, and the lower Syria." Again in the Fourth Act,
ways to die ; mean time Laugh at his challenge. “What a reply is this?” cries Mr. Upton, “'tis acknowledging he should fall under the unequal combat. But if we read,
Let the old Ruffian know
I laugh at his challenge we have the poignancy and the very repartee of Cæsar in Plutarch.”
This correction was first made by Sir Thomas Hanmer, and Mr. Johnson hath received it. Most indisputably it is the sense of Plutarch, and given so in the modern translations : but Shakespeare was misled by the ambiguity of the old one,
“ Antonius sent again to challenge Cæsar to fight him : Cæsar answered, That he had many other ways to die than so.
In the Third Act of Julius Cæsar, Anthony in his wellknown harangue to the people, repeats a part of the Emperor's will,
To every Roman citizen he gives,
On this side Tyber.“Our Author certainly wrote,” says Mr. Theobald, “On that side Tyber
Trans Tiberim-prope Cæsaris hortos.
And Plutarch, whom Shakespeare very diligently studied, expressly declares that he left the publick his gardens and walks, répay toù IIotauoù, beyond the Tyber.”
This emendation likewise hath been adopted by the subsequent Editors; but hear again the old Translation, where Shakespeare's study lay : “He bequeathed unto every citizen of Rome seventy-five drachmas a man, and he left his gardens and arbours unto the people, which he had on this side of the river of Tyber.” I could furnish you with many more instances, but these are as good as a thousand.
Hence had our author his characteristick knowledge of Brutus and Anthony, upon which much argumentation for his learning hath been founded : and hence literatim the Epitaph on Timon, which, it was once presumed, he had corrected from the blunders of the Latin version, by his own superior knowledge of the Original.
I cannot, however, omit a passage of Mr. Pope. “The speeches copy'd from Plutarch in Coriolanus may, I think, be as well made an instance of the learning of Shakespeare, as those copy'd from Cicero in Catilinė, of Ben. Jonson's.” Let us inquire into this matter, and transcribe a speech for a specimen. Take the famous one of Volumnia :
Should we be silent and not speak, our raiment
Our comfort in the Country. We must find
I will now give you the old Translation, which shall effectually confute Mr. Pope : for our Author hath done little more than throw the very words of North into blank verse.
“ If we helde our peace (my sonne) and determined not to speake, the state of our poore bodies, and present sight of our rayment, would easely bewray to thee what life we haue led at home, since thy exile and abode abroad. But thinke now with thy selfe, howe much more unfortunately then all the women liuinge we are come hether, considering that the sight which should be most pleasaunt to all other to beholde, spitefull fortune hath made most fearfull to us : making my selfe to see my sonne, and my daughter here, her husband, besieging the walles of his natiue countrie. So as that which is the only comfort to all other in their adversitie and miserie, to pray unto the goddes, and to call to them for aide, is the onely thinge which plongeth us into most deepe perplexitie. For we cannot (alas) together pray, both for victorie, for our countrie, and for safety of thy life also : but a worlde of grievous curses, yea more than any mortall enemie can heappe uppon us, are forcibly wrapt up in our prayers.
For the bitter soppe of most harde choyce is offered thy wife and children, to foregoe the one of the two: either to lose the persone of thy selfe, or the nurse of their natiue contrie. For my selfe (my sonne) I am determined not to tarrie, till fortune in my life time doe make an ende of this warre. For if I cannot persuade thee, rather to doe good unto both parties, then to ouerthrowe and destroye the one, preferring loue and nature before the malice and calamitie of warres : thou shalt see, my sonne, and trust unto it, thou shalt no soner marche forward to assault thy countrie, but thy foote shall tread upon thy mother's wombe, that brought thee first into this world.”
The length of this quotation will be excused for it's curiosity; and it happily wants not the assistance of a Comment. But matters may not always be so easily managed:—a plagiarism from Anacreon hath been detected:
The Sun's a thief, and with his great attraction
From gen’ral excrements : each thing's a thief. “ This,” says Dr. Dodd, “is a good deal in the manner of the celebrated drinking Ode, too well known to be inserted.” Yet it may be alleged by those who imagine Shakespeare to have been generally able to think for himself, that the topicks are obvious, and their application is different.—But for argument's sake, let the Parody be granted ; and “our Author,” says some one, may be puzzled to prove that there was a Latin translation of Anacreon at the time Shakespeare wrote his Timon of Athens.” This challenge is peculiarly unhappy : for I do not at present recollect any other Classick (if indeed, with great deference to Mynheer De Pauw, Anacreon may be numbered amongst them) that was originally published with two Latin translations.
But this is not all. Puttenham in his Arte of English Poesie, 1589, quotes some one of a “reasonable good facilitie in translation, who finding certaine of Anacreon's
Odes very well translated by Ronsard the French poet
-comes our Minion, and translates the same out of French into English”: and his strictures upon him evince the publication. Now this identical Ode is to be met with in Ronsard ! and as his works are in few hands, I will take the liberty of transcribing it :
La terre les eaux va boivant,
Edit. Fol. p. 507. I know not whether an observation or two relative to our Author's acquaintance with Homer be worth our investigation. The ingenious Mrs. Lenox observes on a passage of Troilus and Cressida, where Achilles is roused to battle by the death of Patroclus, that Shakespeare must here have had the Iliad in view, as “the old Story, which in many places he hath faithfully copied, is absolutely silent with respect to this circumstance.
And Mr. Upton is positive that the sweet oblivious Antidote, inquired after by Macbeth, could be nothing but the Nepenthe described in the Odyssey,
Νηπενθές τ' αχολόν τε, κακών επίληθον απάντων. I will not insist upon the Translations by Chapman ; as the first Editions are without date, and it may be difficult to ascertain the exact time of their publication. But the former circumstance might have been learned from Alexander Barclay; and the latter more fully from Spenser than from Homer himself.
“But Shakespeare,” persists Mr. Upton,“ hath some Greek Expressions.” Indeed!-“ We have one in Coriolanus,
It is held