« VorigeDoorgaan »
ties, prefixed to Greene's Arcadia, 4to. black letter, recommends his friend, Peele," as the chiefe supporter of pleasance living, primus verborum artifex: whose first increase, whose first increase, The Arraignment of Paris, might plead to their opinions his pregnant dexteritie of wit, and manifold varietie of inuention" dey
In the next place, unfortunately, there is neither such a character as a Constable in the Midsummer-Night's Dream: nor was the three hundred pounds legacy to a sister, but a daughter.
And to close the whole, it is not possible, according to Aubrey himself, that Shakspeare could have been some years a schoolmaster in the country; on which circumstance only the supposition of his learning is professedly founded. He was not surely very young, when he was employed to kill calves, and commenced player about eighteen! The truth is, that he left his father, for a wife,
* Peele seems to have been taken into the patronage of the Earl of Northumberland about 1593, to whom he dedicates in that year, The Honour of the Garter, a poem gratulatoriethe firstling consecrated to his noble name."-" He was esteemed," says Anthony Wood, "a most noted poet, 1579; but when or where he died, I cannot tell, for so it is, and always hath been, that most POETS die poor, and consequently obscurely, and a hard matter it is to trace them to their graves. Claruit 1599." Ath. Oxon. vol. i. P. 300.
We had lately in a periodical pamphlet, called, The Theatri
Peele, to one Master Henrie Marle; relative to a dispute between Shakspeare and Alleyn, which was compromised by Ben Jonson." I never longed for thy companye more than last night; we were all verie merrie at the Globe, when Net Alleyn did not scruple to affyrme pleasauntly to thy friende Will, that he had stolen hys speeche about the excellencie of acting in Hamlet hys tragedye, from conversaytions manifold, whych had passed between them, and opinions gyven by Alleyn touching that subject. Shakspeare did not take this talk in good sorte; but Jonson did put an end to the stryfe wyth wittielie saying, thys affaire needeth no contentione: you stole it from Ned no doubte: do not marvel: haue you not seene hym acte tymes out of number?"-This is pretended to be printed from the original MS. dated 1600; which agrees well enough with Wood's Claruit: but unluckily, Peele was dead at least two years before. "As Anacreon died by the pot, says Meres, so George Peele by the "Wit's Treasury, 1598, p. 286.atd
a year sooner; and had at least two children born at Stratford before he retired from thence to London. It is therefore sufficiently clear, that poor Anthony had too much reason for his character of Aubrey. You will find it in his own account of his life, published by Hearne, which I would earnestly recommend to any hypochondriack:
"A pretender to antiquities, roving, magotie-headed, and sometimes little better than crased: and being exceedingly credulous, would stuff his many letters sent to A. W. with folliries and misinformations." P. 577.
Thus much for the learning of Shakspeare with respect to the ancient languages: indulge me with an observation or two on the supposed knowledge of the modern ones, and I will promise to release you.
"It is evident," we have been told, "that he was not unacquainted with the Italian :" but let us inquire into the evidence.
Certainly some Italian words and phrases appear in the works of Shakspeare; yet if we had nothing else to observe, their orthography might lead us to suspect them to be not of the writer's importation. But we can go further, and prove this.
When Pistol "cheers up himself with ends of verse,' he is only a copy of Hanniball Gonsaga, who ranted on yielding himself a prisoner to an English captain in the Low Countries, as you may read in an old collection of tales, called Wits, Fits, and Fancies*,
And Sir Richard Hawkins, in his voyage to the SouthSea, 1593, throws out the same jingling distich on the loss of his pinnace.
"Master Page, sit; good Master Page, sit; Proface. What you want in meat, we'll have in drink," says Justice Shallow's fac totum, Davy, in the Second Part of Henry IV.
Proface, Sir Thomas Hamner observes to be Italian,
* By one Anthony Copley, 4to. black letter, it seems to have had many editions: perhaps the last was in 1614.-The first piece of this sort, that I have met with, was printed by T. Berthelet, though not mentioned by Ames, called, "Tales, and quicke answeres very mery and pleasant to rede." 4to, no date.
from profaccia, much good may it do you.' Mr. Johnson rather thinks it a mistake for perforce. Sir Thomas however is right; yet it is no argument for his author's Italian knowledge.
Old Heywood, the epigrammatist, addressed his readers long before,
"Readers, reade this thus: for preface, proface,
And Dekker in his play, If it be not good, the Diuel is in it, (which is certainly true, for it is full of devils,) makes Shackle-soule, in the character of Friar Rush, tempt his brethren with "choice of dishes,"
"To which proface; with blythe lookes sit yee."
Nor hath it escaped the quibbling manner of the Waterpoet, in the title of a poem prefixed to his Praise of Hempseed: "A Preamble, Preatrot, Preagallop, Preapace, or Preface; and Proface, my Masters, if your Stomacks serve.'
But the editors are not contented without coining Italian. "Rivo, says the drunkard," is an expression of the madcap Prince of Wales; which Sir Thomas Hanmer corrects to Ribi, drink away or again, as it should be rather translated. Dr. Warburton accedes to this; and Mr. Johnson hath admitted it into his text; but with an observation, that Rivo might possibly be the cant of English taverns. And so indeed it was: it occurs frequently in Marston. Take a quotation from this comedy of What you will, 1607:
"Musicke, tobacco, sacke, and sleepe,
"The tide of sorrow backward keep
"Rivo, drink deep, give care the mate."
In Love's Labour's Lost, Boyet calls Don Armado,
"A phantasme, a monarcho.
Here too Sir Thomas is willing to palm Italian upon us, We should read, it seems, mammuccio, a mammet, or puppet: Ital. Mammuccia. But the allusion is to a fantastical character of the time." Popular applause," says
Meres, "dooth nourish some, neither do they gape after any other thing, but vaine praise and glorie,-as in our age Peter Shakerlye of Paules, and Monarcho that liued about the court." P. 178.
I fancy, you will be satisfied with one more instance.
Baccare, You are marvellous forward," quoth Gremio to Petruchio in the Taming of a Shrew.
"But not so forward," says Mr. Theobald, “as our editors are indolent. This is a stupid corruption of the press, that none of them have dived into. We must read Baccalare, as Mr. Warburton acutely observed to me, by which the Italians mean, Thou ignorant, presumptuous man."-" Properly, indeed," adds Mr. Heath, "a graduated scholar, but ironically and sarcastically, a pretender to scholarship."
This is admitted by the editors and criticks of every denomination. Yet the word is neither wrong, nor Italian: it was an old proverbial one, used frequently by John Heywood; who hath made, what he pleases to call, epigrams upon it.
Take two of them, such as they are:
"Backare, quoth Mortimer to his sow:
"Went that sow backe at that biddyng trowe you?"
"Backare, quoth Mortimer to his sow: se
"Mortimers sow speakth as good latin as he.”
Howel takes this from Heywood in his Old Sawes and Adages: and Philpot introduces it into the Proverbs collected by Camden.
We have but few observations concerning Shakspeare's knowledge of the Spanish tongue. Dr. Grey indeed is willing to suppose, that the plot of Romeo and Juliet may be borrowed from a comedy of Lopes de Vega. But the Spaniard, who was certainly acquainted with Bandello, hath not only changed the catastrophe, but the names of the characters. Neither Romeo nor Juliet; neither Montague nor Capulet, appears in this performance: and how came they to the knowledge of Shakspeare?-Nothing is more certain, than that he chiefly followed the translation by Painter, from the French of Boisteau, and hence arise the deviations from Bandello's original Italian*. It seems,
*It is remarked, that "Paris, though in one place called earl, is most commonly styled the countie in this play. Shakspeare
however, from a passage in Ames's Typographical Antiquities, that Painter was not the only translator of this popular story: and it is possible therefore, that Shakspeare might have other assistance.
In the Induction to The Taming of the Shrew, the Tinker attempts to talk Spanish: and consequently the author himself was acquainted with it.
"Paucas pallabris, let the world slide, sessa.”
But this is a burlesqne on Hieronymo; the piece of bombast, that I have mentioned to you before:
"What new device hath they devised, trow ?
Mr. Whalley tells us, the author of this piece hath the happiness to be at this time unknown, the remembrance of him having perished with himself: Philips and others ascribe it to one William Smith: but I take this opportunity of informing him, that it was written by Thomas Kyd; if he will accept the authority of his contemporary, Heywood.
More hath been said concerning Shakspeare's acquaint
seems to have preferred, for some reason or other, the Italian conte to our count :-perhaps he took it from the old English novel, from which he is said to have taken his plot."-He certainly did so: Paris is there first styled a young earle, and afterward, counte, countee, and countie; according to the unsettled orthography of the time.
The word, however, is frequently met with in other writers; particularly in Fairfax:
"As when a captaine doth besiege some hold,
"And trieth waies and wiles a thousand fold,
Godfrey of Bulloigne, book vii. st. 90. ર Fairfax," says Mr. Hume, "hath translated Tasso with an elegance and ease, and at the same time with an exactness, which for that age are surprising. Each line in the original is faithfully rendered by a correspondent line in the translation." The former part of this character is extremely true; but the latter not quite so. In the book above quoted Tasso and Fairfax do not even agree in the number of stanzas. 2 A