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my own possession, printed for W. Ponsonbie, 1590, 4to. which hath escaped the notice of the industrious Ames, and the rest of our typographical antiquaries.
Thus likewise every word of antiquity is to be cut down to the classical standard.
In a note on the Prologue to Troilus and Cressida, (which, by the way, is not met with in the quarto,) Mr. Theobald informs us, that the very names of the gates of Troy, have been barbarously demolished by the editors: and a deal of learned dust he makes in setting them right again; much however to Mr. Heath's satisfaction. Indeed the learning is modestly withdrawn from the later editions, and we are quietly instructed to read,
"Dardan, and Thymbria, Ilia, Scæa, Troian,
But had he looked into the Troy boke of Lydgate, instead of puzzling himself with Dares Phrygius, he would have found the horrid demolition to have been neither the work of Shakspeare nor his editors :
"Thereto his cyte | compassed enuyrowne
"Of mighty byldyng | alone pereless,
"Was by the kynge called | Dardanydes ;
Tymbria | was named the seconde ;
"And the thyrde | called Helyas,
"The fourthe gate | hyghte also Cetheas;
"She fifthe Trojana | the syxth Anthonydes,
Lond. empr. by R. Pynson, 1513, fol. B. I1. ch. xi.
Our excellent friend Mr. Hurd hath borne a noble
*The Troy Boke was somewhat modernized, and reduced into regular stanzas, about the beginning of the last century, under the name of "The Life and Death of Hector-who fought a hundred mayne Battailes in open Field against the Grecians; wherein there were slaine on both Sides Fourteene Hundred and Sixe Thousand Fourscore and Sixe Men." Fol. no date. This work, Dr. Fuller and several other criticks, have erroneously quoted as the original; and observe in con
testimony on our side of the question. "Shakspeare," says this true critick, "owed the felicity of freedom from the bondage of classical superstition, to the want of what is called the advantage of a learned education. This, as well as a vast superiority of genius, hath contributed to lift this astonishing man to the glory of being esteemed the most original thinker and speaker, since the times of Homer." And hence indisputably the amazing variety of style and manner, unknown to all other writers: an argument of itself sufficient to emancipate Shakspeare from the supposition of a classical training. Yet, to be honest, one imitation is fastened on our poet; which hath been insisted upon likewise by Mr. Upton and Mr. Whal
sequence, that "if Chaucer's coin were of greater weight for deeper learning, Lydgate's were of a more refined standard for purer language: so that one might mistake him for a modern writer!"
Let me here make an observation for the benefit of the next editor of Chaucer. Mr. Urry, probably misled by his predecessor, Speght, was determined, Procrustes-like, to force every line in The Canterbury Tales to the same standard; but a precise number of syllables, was not the object of our old poets. Lydgate, after the example of his master, very fairly acknowledges,
"Well wot I moche thing is wronge,
"Falsely metryd | both of short and longe."
and Chaucer himself was persuaded, that the rime might possibly be
Though some verse faile in a syllable.”
In short, the attention was directed to the casural pause, as the grammarians call it; which is carefully marked in every line of Lydgate: and Gascoigne in his Certayne Notes of Instruction concerning the making of Verse, observes very truly of Chaucer, "Whosoever do peruse and well consider his workes, he shall find, that although his lines are not always of one selfe same number of syllables, yet beyng redde by one that hath understanding, the longest verse and that which hath most syllables in it, will fall to the eare correspondent unto that which hath fewest syllables in it and likewise that whiche hathe in it fewest syllables shall be found yet to consist of wordes that hath suche naturall sounde, as may seeme equall in length to a verse which hath many moe syllables of lighter accents.' 4to. 1575.
ley. You remember it in the famous speech of Claudio in Measure for Measure:
"Ay, but to die and go we know not where!" &c.
Most certainly the ideas of "a spirit bathing in fiery floods," of residing "in thrilling regions of thick-ribbed ice," or of being "imprisoned in the viewless winds," are not original in our author; but I am not sure, that they came from the Platonick-hell of Virgil*. The monks also had their hot and their cold hell: "The fyrste is fyre that ever brenneth, and never gyveth lighte," says an old homily:" the seconde is passing colde, that yf a grete hylle of fyre were casten therin, it sholde torn to yce." One of their legends, well remembered in the time of Shakspeare, gives us a dialogue between a bishop and a soul tormented in a piece of ice, which was brought to cure a grete brenning heate in his footet: take care you do not interpret this the gout, for I remember Mr. Menage quotes a canon upon us :
Si quis dixerit episcopum podagra laborare, anathema sit.
Another tells us of the soul of a monk fastened to a rock, which the winds were to blow about for a twelvemonth, and purge of its enormities. Indeed this doctrine was before now introduced into poetiek fiction, as you may see in a poem "where the lover declareth his pains to exceed far the pains of hell," among the many miscellaneous ones subjoined to the works of Surrey. Nay, a very learned and inquisitive Brother-Antiquary, our Greek Professor§, hath observed to me on the authority of Blefkenius, that this was the ancient opinion of the inhabitants of Iceland; who were certainly very little read either in the poet or the philosopher.
"Suspensæ ad ventos: aliis sub gurgite vasto
+ At the ende of the festyuall drawen oute of Legenda aurea, 4to. 1508. It was printed by Caxton, 1483, "in helpe of such clerkes who exeuse theym for defaute of bokes, and also by symplenes of connynge."
On all soules daye, p.
Mr. afterwards Dr. Lort.
Islandiæ Descript. Ludg. Bat. 1607, p. 46.
After all, Shakspeare's curiosity might lead him to translations. Gawin Douglas really changes the Pla tonick-hell into the "punytion of saulis in purgatory: and it is observable, that when the Ghost informs Hamlet of his doom there,
"Till the foul crimes done in his days of nature
the expression is very similar to the bishop's: I will give you his version as concisely as I can; "It is a nedeful thyng to suffer panis and torment-sum in the wyndis, sum under the watter, and in the fire uthir sum:-thus the mony vices
Contrakkit in the corpis be done away
And purgit--" Sixte Booke of Eneados, fol. p. 191.
It seems, however, "that Shakspeare himself in The Tempest hath translated some expressions of Virgil: witness the O dea certe." I presume, we are here directed to the passage, where Ferdinand says of Miranda, after hearing the songs of Ariel,
and so very small Latin is sufficient for this formidable translation, that if it be thought any honour to our poet, 1 am loath to deprive him of it; but his honour is not built on such a sandy foundation. Let us turn to a real translator, and examine whether the idea might not be fully comprehended by an English reader; supposing it necessarily borrowed from Virgil. Hexameters in our own language are almost forgotten; we will quote therefore this time from Stanyhurst:
"O to thee, fayre virgin, what terme may rightly be fitted?
"Thy tongue, thy visage no mortal frayltie resembleth. No doubt, a godesse!" Edit. 1583.
Gabriel Harvey desired only to be epitaph'd, the inventor of the English hexameter," and for a while every one would be halting on Roman feet; but the ridicule of our fellow-collegian Hall, in one of his Satires, and the
reasoning of Daniel, in his Defence of Rhyme against Campion, presently reduced us to our original Gothick.
But to come nearer the purpose, what will you sày, if I can show you, that Shakspeare, when, in the favourite phrase, he had a Latin poet in his eye, most assuredly made use of a translation?
Prospero, in The Tempest, begins the address to his attendant spirits,
"Ye elves of hills, of standing lakes, and groves."
This speech, Dr. Warburton rightly observes to be borrowed from Medea in Ovid: and "it proves," says Mr. Holt," beyond contradiction, that Shakspeare was perfectly acquainted with the sentiments of the ancients on the subject of inchantments." The original lines are these:
Auræque, et venti, montesque, amnesque, lacusque, Diique omnes nemorum, diique omnes noctis adeste. It happens, however, that the translation by Arthur Golding is by no means literal, and Shakspeare hath closely followed it:
"Ye ayres and winds; ye elves of hills, of brookes, of woods alone,
"Of standing lakes, and of the night approche ye everych
I think it is unnecessary to pursue this any further; especially as more powerful arguments await us.
In The Merchant of Venice, the Jew, as an apology for his cruelty to Antonio, rehearses many sympathies and antipathies for which no reason can be rendered:
"Some love not a gaping pig
"And others when the bagpipe sings i'th' nose,
This incident, Dr. Warburton supposes to be taken
In some remarks on The Tempest, published under the quaint title of" An Attempt to rescue that aunciente English Poet and Play-write, Maister Williaume Shakespeare, from the many Errours, faulsely charged upon him by certaine newfangled Wittes. Lond. 8vo. 1749, p. 81.
His work is dedicated to the Earl of Leicester in a long epistle in verse, from Berwick, April 20, 1567.