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they admitted him into the confidence of their state affairs. Mr. Malone, whose opinions are entitled to a higher degree of credit, thinks that his prose compositions, if they should be discovered, would exhibit the same perspicuity, the same cadence, the same elegance and vigour, which we fiod in his plays. It is unfortunate, however, for all wishes and all conjectures, that not a line of Shakspeare's manuscript is known to exist, and bis prose writings are no where hinted at. We have only printed copies of his plays and poems, and those so depraved by carelessness, or ignorance, that all the labour of all bis commentators has not yet been able to restore them to a probable purity; many of the greatest difficulties attending the perusal of them yet remain, and will require what it is scarcely possible to expect, greater sagacity, and more happy conjecture, than have bitherto been employed.
Of his Poems, it is, perhaps, necessary that some potice should be taken, although they have never been favourites with the public, and have seldom been reprinted with his plays. Shortly after his death, Mr. Malone informs us, a very incorrect impression of them was issued out, which in every subsequent edition was implicitly followed, until be published a correct edition, in 1780, with illustrations, &c. But the perenptory dea cision of Mr. Steevens, on the merits of these poems, must not be omitted. “We have not reprinted the Sonnets, &c. of Shakspeare, because the strongest act of parliament that could be framed would fail to compel readers into their service. Had Shakspeare produced no other works than these, his name would have reached us with as little celebrity as time has conferred on that of Thomas Watson, an older and much more elegant soanetteer.” Severe as this may appear, it only amounts to the general conclusion which modern critics have formed. Still it cannot be denied that there are many scattered beauties amoug his Sonnets, and in The Rape of Lucrece ; enough, it is hoped, to justify their admission into the present collection, especially as the Songs, &c. from his plays have been added, and a few smaller pieces selected by Mr. Ellis. Although they are now lost in the blaze of his dramatic genius, Mr. Malone remarks, " that they seem to have gained him more reputation than his plays: at least, they are oftener mentioned, or alluded to."
The elegayt Preface of Dr. Johnson gives an account of the attempts made, in the early part of the last century, to revive the memory and reputation of our poet, by Rowe, Pope, Theobald, Hanner, and Warburton; whose respective merits he has characterised with candour, and with singular felicity of expression. Shakspeare's works may be overloaded with criticism; for what writer has excited so much curiosity, and so mny opinions! But Jolmson's Preface is an accompaniment worthy of the genius it celebrates. His own edition followed in 1765; and a second, in conjunction with Mr. Steerens, in 1773. The third edition of the joint editors appeared in 1785, the fourth in 1793, and the last, and most complete, in 1803, in twenty-one volumes, octavo. Mr. Malone's edition was published in 1790, in ten volumes, crown octavo, and is now become exceedingly scarce. His original notes and improvements, however, are incorporated in the editions of 1793 and 1803, by Mr. Steevens. Mr. Malone says, that
* above thirty thousand copies of Shakspeare have been dispersed through England.” To this we may add, with confidence, that since 1790 that number has been doubled. During the year 1803, no fewer than nine editions were in the press, belonging to the proprietors of this work; and if we add the editions printed by others, and those published in Scotland, Ireland, and America, we may surely fix the present as the bigliest era of Shakspeare's popularity. Nor, among the honours paid to his genius, ought we to forget the very magnificent edition undertaken by Messrs. Boydeli. Still less ought it to be forgotten how much the reputation of Shakspeare was revived by the unrivalled excellence of Garrick's performance. His share in directing the public taste towards the study of Shakspeare was, perhaps, greater than that of any individual in his time; and such was his zeal, and such his success, in this laudable attempt, that he may readily be forgiven the foolish mummery of the Stratford Jubilee.
When public opinion had begun to assign to Sbakspeare the very high rank he was destined to hold, he became the promising object of fraud and imposture. This, we have already observed, he did not wholly escape in his own time, and he had the spirit, or policy, to despise it"? It was reserved for modern impostors, however, to avail themselves of the obscurity in which his history is involved. In 1751, a book was published, entitled “A compendious or brief Examination of certayne ordinary Complaints of divers of our Countrymen in those our Days : which, although they are in some parte unjust and frivolous, yet are they all by way of Dialogue, throughly debated and discussed by William Shakspeare, gentleman." This had been originally published in 1581 ; but Dr. Farmer has clearly proved, that W. S. gent. the only authority for attributing it to Shakspeare in the reprinted edition, meant William Stafford, gent. Theo.' bald, the same accurate critic informs us, was desirous of palming upon the world a play called Double Falsehood, for a posthumous one of Shakspeare. In 1770 was reprinted at Feversham, an old play called The Tragedy of Arden of Feversham and Black Will, with a preface attributing it to Shakspeare, without the smallest foundation. But these were trifles, compared to the atrocious attempt made in 1795-6, when, besides a vast mass of prose and verse, letters, &c. pretendedly in the hand-writing of Shakspeare and his correspondents, an entire play, entitled Vortigern, was not only brought forward for the astonishment of the admirers of Shakspeare, but actually performed on Drury Lane stage. It would be unnecessary to expatiate on the merits of this play, which Mr. Steevens has very happily characterised as “the performance of a madman, without a lucid interval,” or to enter more at large into the nature of a fraud so recent, and so soon acknowledged by the authors of it. It produced, however, an interesting controversy between Mr. Malone and Mr. George Chalmers, which, although mixed with sowe unpleasant asperities, was extended to inquiries into the history and antiquities of the stage, from which future critics and historians may derive considerable information ".
13 Mr. Malone has given a list of fourteen plays ascribed to Shakspeare, either by the editors of the two later folios, or by the compilers of ancient catalogues. Of these, Pericles has found advocates for its admission into his works. C.
13 This sketch of Shakspeare's Life was drawn up by the present writer for a variorum edition of his works published in 1804; and no additional light having since been thrown on Shakspeare's history, it is here reprinted with very few alterations. C.
« Thrice fairer than myself,” thus she began, VENUS AND ADONIS.
“ The field's chief flower, sweet above compare,
Stain to all nymphs, more lovely than a man, Vilia miretur vulgus, mihi flavus Apollo
More white and red than doves or roses are; Pocula Castalia plena ministrat aqua. Ovid. Nature that made thee, with berself at strife,
Saith, that the world hath ending with thy life. “ Vouchsafe, thou wonder, to alight thy steed,
And rein his proud head to the saddle bow;
If thou wilt deign this favour, for thy meed,
A thousand honey secrets shalt thou know :
Here come and sit, where serpent never hisses, LALL OF SOUTHAMPTON, AND BAROX OP TITCHFIELD.
And, being set, I'll smother thee with kisses. RICHT HONOURABLE,
“ And yet not cloy thy lips with loath'd satiety, I now not how I shall offend in dedicating my But rather famish them amid their plenty,
Making them red and pale with fresh variety; unpolished lines to your lordship, nor how the
Ten kisses short as one, one long as twenty: world will censure me for choosing so strong a
A suminer's day will seem an hour but short, prop to support so weak a burthen: only if your Being wasted in such tiine-beguiling sport.” bonour seem but pleased, I account myself With this, she seizeth on his sweating palm, highly praised, and vow to take advantage of all the precedent of pith and livelihood. idle hours, till I have honoured you with some And, trembling in her passion, calls it balm.
Earth's sovereign salve to do a goddess good: graver labour. But if the first heir of my in
Being so enrag'd, desire doth lend her force, vention prove deformed, I shall be sorry it had
Courageously to pluck him from his horse. so doble a godfather, and never after ear so bar
Over one arm the lusty courser's rein, ren a land, for fear it yield me still so bad a Under the other was the tender boy, harvest. I leave it to your honourable survey, Who blush'd and pouted in a dull discain.
With leaden appetite, unapt to toy ; and your honour to your heart's content; which
She, red and bot, as coals of glowing fire,
The studded bridle on a ragged bough
Nimbly she fastens, (O how quick is love!)
The steed is stalled up, and even now
To tie the rider she begins to prove :
And govern'd him in strength, though not in lust.
Hunting he lov'd, bat love he laugh'd to scorn : And 'gins to chide, but soon she stops his lips;
He burns with bashful shame; she with her tears “ Thus him that over-rul'd, I oversway'd,
Doth quench the maiden burning of his cheeks; Leading bim prisoner in a red-rose chain:
Yet was he servile to my coy disdain.
Still she entreats, and prettily entreats,
“ Werel hard favour'd, foal, or wrinkled old, For to a pretty ear she tunes her tale ;
Ill natur'd, crooked, churlish, harsh in voice, Still is he sullen, still he low'rs and frets,
O'erworn, despised, rheumatic, and cold, 'Twixt crinison shame and anger, ashy-pale; Thick-sighted, barren, lean, and lacking juice, Being red, she loves him best; and, being white, Then mighost thou pause, for then I were not for Her best is better'd with a more delight.
But having no defects, why dost abhor me? Look how he can, she cannot choose but love;
And by her fair immortal hand she swears X“ Thou canst not see one wrinkle in my brow; From his soft bosom never to remove,
Mine eyes are grey, and bright, and quick in turnTill he take truce with her contending tears, ' My beauty as the spring doth yearly grow, [ing ; Which long have rain'd, making her cheeks all wet; My flesh is soft and plump, my marrow burning ; And one sweet kiss shall pay this countless debt. My smooth moist hand, were it with thy band felt,
Would in thy palm dissolve, or seem to melt. Upon this promise did he raise his chin,
Like a di-dapper peering through a wave, “ Bid me discourse, I will enchant thine ear, . Who being look'd on, ducks as quickly in;
Or, like a fairy, trip upon the green, So suffers be to give what she did crave;
Or, like a nymph, with long dishevell'd hair, But when her lips were ready for his pay,
Dance on the sands, and yet no footing seen : He winks, and turns his lips another way.
Love is a spirit all compact of fire,
Not gross to sink, but light, and will aspire.
“ Witness this primrose bank whereon I lie; (me; Her help she sees, but help she cannot get;
These forceless flowers like sturdy trees support She bathes in water, yet in fire must burn:
Two strengthless doves willdraw me through the sky, “ Oh pity," 'gan she cry, “ Alint-hearted boy;
From morn till night, even where I list to sport me: 'Tis but a kiss I beg ; why art thou coy?
Ts love so light, sweet boy, and may it be
That thou shouldst think it heavy unto thee? « I have been won'd, as I entreat thee now,
“ Is thine own heart to thine own face affected ? Even by the stern and direful god of war,
Can thy right hand seize love upon thy left? Whose sinewy neck in battle ne'er did bow,
Then woo thyself, be of thyself rejected, Who conquers where he comes, in every jar;
Steal thine own freedom, and complain of theft. Yet hath he been my captive and my slave,
Narcissus so. himself himself forsook. And begg'd for that which thou unask'd shall bave.
And dy'd to kiss his shadow in the brook.
“ Over my altars hath he hung his lance,
His batter'd shield, his uncontrolled crest,
To coy, to wanton, dally, smile, and jest ;
• Torches are made to light, jewels to wear,
Dainties to taste, fresh beauty for the use, Herbs for their smell, and sappy plants to bear;
Things growing to themselves are growth's abuse : Seeds spring from seeds, and beauty breadeth beauThou wert begot-to get it is thy duty. (tyUpon the Earth's increase why should'st thou feed,]] “ Fondling," she saith, "since I have hemm'd thee Unless the Earth with thy increase be fed ?
here, By law of Nature thou art born to breed,
Within the circuit of this ivory pale,
Feed where thou wilt, on mountain or in dale: In that thy likeness still is left alive.”
Graze on my lips; and if those hills be dry,
Stray lower, where the pleasant fountains lie.
- Within this limit is relief enough, And Titan, tired in the mid-day heat,
Sweet bottom-grass, and high delightful plain, With burning eye did hotly overlook them; Round rising hillocks, brakes obscure and rough, Wishing Adopis had his team to guide,
To shelter thee from tempest and from rain; So be vere like him, and by Venus' side.
Then be my deer, since I am such a park;
No dog shall rouse thee, though a thousand bark." } And now Adonis, with a lazy spright, And with a heavy, dark, disliking eye,
At this Adonis smiles, as in disdain, His lov'ring brows o'erwhelming his fair sight, That in each cheek appears a pretty dimple :
Like nisty vapours, when they blot the sky, Love made those hollows, if himself were slain, Souring bis cheeks, cries, “ Fie! no more of love; He might be bury'd in a tomb so simple; The Sun doth burn my face; I must remove." Foreknowing well, if there he came to lie,
Why there love liv'd, and there he could not die. 1 * Ah me," quoth Venus, "young, and so unkind !
What bare excuses mak'st thou to be gone! These lovely cares, these round-enchanting pits, I'll sigh celestial breath, whose gentle wind
Open'd their mouths to swallow Venus' liking : Shall cool the beat of this descending Sun;
Being mad before, how doth she now for wits? I'll make a shadow for thee of my hairs;
Struck dead at first, what needs a second striking ? I they barn too, I 'll quench then with my tears. Poor queen of love, in thine own law forlorn,
To love a cheek that smiles at thee in scorn! * The Sun that shines from Heaven, shines but warm,
And lo, I lie between that Sun and thee; Now which way shall she turn? what shall she say? The best I have from thence doth little harm, Her words are done, her woes the more increasing,
Tbige eye darts forth the fire that burneth me: The time is spent, ber object will away, And were I not immortal, life were done,
And from her twining arms doth urge releasing: Between this heavenly and earthly Sun.
“Pity,” she cries; “some favour-some remorse"
Away he springs, and hasteth to his horse, * Art thou obdurate, flinty, bard as steel,
Nay more than flint, for stone at rain relenteth; But lo, from forth a copse that neighbours by,
A breeding jennet, lusty, young, and proud,
And forth she rushes, snorts, and neighs aloud : še had not brought forth thee, but died unkind. The strong-neck'd steed, being tied unto a tree,
Breaketh his rein, and to her straight goes he. * What am I, that thou should'st contemn me thus ?
Or #bat great danger dwells upon my suit ? Imperiously he leaps, he neighs, he bounds, What were thy lips the worse for one poor kiss ? And now his woven girts he breaks asunder,
Speak fair; but speak fair words, or else bemute: The bearing Earth with his hard hoof he wounds, Gre me one kiss, I'll give it thee again,
Whose hollow womb resounds like Heaven's thunAnd one for interest, if thou wilt have twain. The iron bit he crushes 'tween his teeth, [der;
Controlling what he was controlled with. " Fe, lifeless picture, cold and senseless stone, Well-painted idol, image, dull and dead,
His ears up prick'd; his braided hanging main Statee, contenting but the eye alone,
Upon his compass'd crest now stands on end; Thing like a man, but of no woman bred;
His nostrils drink the air, and forth again, Thou art no man, though of a man's complexion,
As from a furnace, vapours doth be send : la me will kiss even by their own direction.”
His eye, which glisters scornfully like fire,
Shows his hot courage and bis high desire.
Sometimes he trots as if he told the steps,
With gentle majesty, and modest pride;
As who would say, “ Lo! thus my strength is Bad sow she weeps, and now she fain would speak,
And thus I do to captivate the eye And now her sobs do her intendments break.
(try'd; Of the fair breeder that is standing by.”
Startimes she shakes her head, and then his band, | What recketh be his rider's angry stir,
Sex gazeth she on him, now on the ground; His flattering holla, or his Stand, I say?
Por rich caparisons, or trappings gay?
He sees his love, and nothing else he sees, Stke locks her lily fingers, one in one.
For nothing else with his proud sight agrees.