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because he was too lordly, was disliked." Shakspeare has superadded graces and attractions of his own, without diminishing the essential points.
Plutarch makes his hero barangue at great length against the people's claims; we quote a part of his argument in order to shew the dramatist's dextrous adaptation of his materials: "But Martius, standing upon his feet, did sharply take up those who went about to please the people therein, and called them people-pleasers and traitors to the Bobility. Moreover, he said, they nourished against themselves the naughtie seede and cockle of insolence and sedition, which had bene sowed and scattered abroad amongst the people, which they should have cut off, if they had bene wise, in their growth; and not (to their own destruction) have suffered the people to establish a magistrate for themselves of so great power and authority, as that man had, to whom they had granted it. ... * Therefore, said he, they gave counsell, and persuaded that the corne should be given eat to the common people gratis, as they used to do in the cities of Greece, where the people had more absolute power, did but only nourish their disobedience, which would break out in the end, to the utter raine and overthrow of the whole state. **** Therefore, it were great folly for us, me thinkes, to do it; yea, shall I say more? we should, if we were wise, take from them their tribuneship, which most manifestly is the embasing of the consulship, and the cause of the division of their city." All this is put into the mouth of the dramatic Coriolanus; but he utters it, not in a concerted speech, but in disjointed sentences, under the influence of highly excited feelings. Plutarch tells us, that Coriolanus "shewed many wounds and cuts upon his body, which he had received in seventeen years' service at the wars.' But Shakspeare's hero disdainfully refuses to afford the commonalty that gratification. Notwithstanding this deviation from his authority, and which is in perfect consistency with the disposition of the hero, the poet often follows it with great exactness. We select a few instances:
“He refused the tenth part of the spoil wonne at Corioli, as rather a mercenarie reward, than an honourable recompense; he would have none of it, but was contented to have his equal part with the other souldiers." PLUTARCH.
"I thank you, general, But cannot make my heart consent to take A bribe to pay my sword: I do refuse it; And stand upon my common part with those That have beheld the doing."-SHAKSPEARE.
The imitation of the following passage, by the dramatist, is too obvious to call for a quotation :"Onely, this grace (said he), I crave and beseech you to grant to me: Among the Volces there is an old friend and hoast of mine, an honest wealthy man, and now a prisoner, who living before in great wealth in his owne country, liveth now a poore prisoner in the hands of his enemies: and yet, notwithstanding all this his misery and misfortune, it would do me great pleasure if I could save him from this one danger, to keepe him from being sold as a slave." It is curious to trace what follows to the authority of a grave historian.
"I say unto you, what he hath done famously, he did it to that end, though soft-conscienc'd men can be content to say, it was for his country,-he did it to please his mother, and to be partly proud." -SHAKSPEARE.
"The onely thing that made him to love honour, was the joy he saw his mother did take of him. For he thought nothing made him so happy and honourable, as that his mother might heare everybody praise and commend him, that she might al waies see him return with a crowne upon his head,
and that she might still embrace him with teares running downe her cheekes for joy."-PLUTARCH.
The conduct of Coriolanus, on receiving his sentence of banishment, as described by the historian, is a fine picture of suppressed passion. Shakspeare has given him vehemence, and in the lines beginning" You common cry of curs!" makes him pour out his fiery soul in a torrent of maledictions, admirable for stage effect, but not so impressive as the silent disdain of Plutarch's hero.
The fine scene, wherein he yields to the petition of his mother, is an exact transcript from the history:"Now was Martius set then in his chaire of state, with all the honours of a generall, and when he had spied the women coming afar off, he marvelled what the matter meant: but afterwards, knowing his wife, which came foremost, he determined at the first to persist in his obstinate and inflexible rancour; but overcome in the end with natural affection, and being altogether altered to see them, his heart would not serve him to tarrie their coming to his chair, but coming down in hast, he went to meet them, and first he kissed his mother, and embraced her a pretty while, then his wife and little children. And nature so wrought with him, that the tears fell from his eyes, and he could not keepe himself from making much of them, but yielded to the affection of his blood, as if he had been violently carried with the fury of a most swift running streame. After he had thus lovingly received them, and perceiving that his mother, Volumnia, would begin to speake to him, he called the chiefest of the counsel of the Volces to heare what she would say." Volumnia's appeal concluded,-"herself, his wife, and children, fell down upon their knees before him. Martius seeing that, could refraine no longer, but went straight and lift her up, crying out, Oh, mother! what have you done to me? And holding her hard by the right hand, Oh, mother, said he, you have won a happy victory for your country, but mortall and unhappy for your son, for I see myself vanquished by you alone. These words being spoken openly, he spake a little apart with his mother and wife, and then let them return again to Rome, for so they did request him; and so remaining in camp that night, the next morning he dislodged, and marched homeward into the Volces' country againe." Volumnia's address, and the mention of the delight she took in her son's martial renown, is all that Shakspeare derived from Plutarch, towards his noble portrait of the lion-hearted Roman matron. The retiring sweetness of Virgilia contrasts beautifully with the almost masculine boldness of Volumnia. The jests of Menenius have been censured as inconsistent with the dignity of a senator; but Shakspeare, besides the authority of human nature, is justified in his outline of this character by history. "The senate being afeard of their (the people's,) departure, did send unto them certaine of the pleasantest old men, and the most acceptable to the people among them. Of those, Menenius Agrippa was he, who was sent for chiefe man of the message from the senate."
The fable of the belly and the members is related by the Menenius of Plutarch; but the dramatist has also made use of the same apologue as told by Camden in his Remains. Aufidius
the history, is but a secondary character; nor is he more important in the play: in both cases, bis envy of his rival's glory is made to account for the murder of Coriolanus. Plutarch's narrative runs thus: "Now when Martius was returned againe into the city of Antium from his voyage, Tullus, that hated and could no longer abide him, for the feare he had of his authority, sought divers meanes to take him away, thinking if he let slipt that present time, he should never recover the like and fit occasion againe.'
"For these causes, Tullus thought he might no longer delay his pretence and enterprise, neither to tarry for the mutining and rising of the common people against him; wherefore, those that were of the conspiracy began to cry out that he was not to be heard, and that they would not suffer a traitor to usurpe tyrannical power over the Volces, who would not yield up his state and authority. And in saying these words, they all fell upon him, and killed him in the market-place."
against him; he answered, that these fat longhaired men made him not afraid, but the lean and whitely-faced fellows, meaning by that Brutus and Cassius." Shakspeare omits to couple Brutas with Cassius in his version. The agitation of Brutus previous to the assassination, is described in the history and preserved in Shakspeare; his fortitude too, and self-possession, are drawn in very striking colours, and infinitely transcend his prototype in Plutarch. In fact, the Brutus of the poet is a perfect character; for while he submits to the decrees of fate with the firmness of a philosopher, we are furnished with abundant proof that he is not deficient in kindliness and humanity.
Plutarch's Cassius is every way unamiable: " He was marvellous cholericke, and cruell; it was certainly thought that he made warre and put himselfe into sundrie dangers, more to have absolute power and authoritie than to defend the libertie of his countrie. He hated Cæsar privately, more than he did the tyrannie openly: so whereas Brutus hated the tyrannie, Cassius hated the tyrant." It was necessary to make the companion of Brutus, in some respects at least, his equal; hence, the poet has suppressed the cruelty and vindictiveness of Cassius, while he has given the greatest possible effect to the fire and energy of mind which he really possessed.
SHAKSPEARE was not the rst who dramatised the death of Cæsar. According to Gosson, a play, entitled "The History of Cæsar and Pompey," existed in 1579, and in 1582, a Latin play, by Dr. Richard Eedes, on the subject of Cæsar's murder, was acted in the university of Oxford. At the very period when Shakspeare's tragedy appeared, 1607, Alexander, earl of Sterline, published his Julius Cæsar; and about the same time, Chapman's Cæsar and Pompey was made public. To none of these sources was our author indebted; but almost every scene of his play shews his obligations to sir Thomas North, whose translation of Plutarch was highly popular in that age. We shall extract a few passages, and leave them to the reader's judgment. Cassius was a cholericke man, and hating Cæsar privately, he incensed Brutus against him. *The friends and countrimen of Brutus, both by divers procurements and sundrie rumours of the citie, and by many bils also, did openly call and procure him to do that he did. Now when Cassius felt his friends, and did stir them up against Cæsar, they all agreed, and promised to take part with him, so Brutus were the chiefe of their conspiracie. They told him, that so high an enterprise and attempt as that did not so much require men of manhood and courage to draw their swords, as it stood them upon to have a man of such estimation as Brutus, to make every man boldly thinke, that by his onely presence the fact were holy and just. If he tooke not this course, then that they should go to it with fainter hearts; and when they had done it, they should be more fearfull, because every man would thinke that Brutus would not have refused to have made one with them, if the cause had been good and honest. Therefore Cassius, considering this matter with himselfe, did first of all speake to Brutus." Compare this with what Shakspeare says of Brutus, and the agreement is obvious.
Brutus's humane interference to save Antony, and the permission granted to him of directing Cæsar's funeral, which Cassius opposed as impolitic, are historical facts. "When this was done, they came to talke of Cæsar's will__and testament, and of his funerals and tombe. Then Antonius thinking good his testament should be read openly, and also that his bodie should be honourably buried, and not in hugger-mugger, lest the people might thereby take occasion to be worse offended if they did otherwise, Cassius stoutly spake against it; but Brutus went with the motion, and agreed unto it, wherein it seemeth be committed a second fault. For the first fault he did, was when he would not consent to his fellow-conspirators that Antonius should be slaine; and therefore he was justly accused, that thereby he had saved and strengthened a strong and grievous enemie of their conspiracie. The second fault was, when he agreed that Cæsar's funerals should be as Antonius would have them, the which indeed marred all."
The quarrel of Brutus and Cassius, which Shakspeare has wrought into a most beautiful and eminently interesting dialogue, appears thus in the simple translation of sir Thomas North :— "Now, as it commonly happeneth in great affaires
Shakspeare doubtless intended to make Brutus his hero; he has therefore exalted his character and suppressed his defects. Public duty is assign-between two persons, both of them having many ed, both by the poet and historian as his motive for friends, and so many captaines under them, there joining in the conspiracy; but particulars are add- ranne tales and complaints betwixt them. Thereed, which give an amiableness to his character, fore, before they fell in hand with any other matter, which we should vainly look for in Plutarch. The they went into a little chamber together, and bade obligations of Brutus to Cæsar are but slightly every man avoid, and did shut the dores to them. noticed; it would have defeated the dramatist's Then they began to poure out their complaints one purpose of raising him in our esteem. "The great to the other, and grew hot and loud, earnestly achonours and favour Cæsar shewed unto Brutus, cusing one another, and at length fell both a kept him backe, that of himself alone he did not con- weeping." spire nor consent to depose him of his kingdome. For Cæsar did not only save his life after the battle of Pharsalia when Pompey fled, and did, at his request also, save many moe of his friends besides; but, furthermore, he put a marvellous confidence in him." The next quotation is certainly the original of a celebrated passage, too well known to be given here." Cæsar, on the other side, did not trust Marcus Brutus overmuch, nor was without tales brought unto him; howbeit, he feared his great mind, authoritie, and friends. Yet on the other side, also, he trusted his good-nature and faire conditions; for intelligence being brought one day, that Antonius and Dolabella did conspire
The fine eulogium uttered by Brutus over the corse of Cassius, though inconsistent with his account of the man, is nevertheless to be found in Plutarch, whose language is almost literally copied in the play." So when he was come thither, after he had lamented the death of Cassius, calling him the last of the Romans, being impossible that Rome should ever breed againe so noble and valiant a man as he, he caused his body to be buried. Though Plutarch may have supplied the outline of Marc Antony, the filling up was entirely the work of our poet. What Shakspeare says of Cicero': cowardice, stands thus in Plutarch: They were afraid that, he being a coward by nature, and age
also having increased his feare, he would quite
if opportunity were given. Bernabo proposed a
ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA.
SHAKSPEARE derived the incidents of this play from three sources:-A meagre account in Holinshed, of a Kymbeline who flourished in the time of Augustus Cæsar; from a book published in 1603, entitled Westward for Smelts; and from a novel in the Decameron, an imperfect translation of which was printed in 1518. We subjoin an abstract of Boccacio's story:-At an accidental meeting of some Italian merchants, the conversation turned on their wives. They all, with one exception, concurred in saying, that as they availed themselves of opportunities of intrigue when they were absent from their wives, they had no doubt that they did the same. Bernabo Lomellin, of Genoa, however, declared that he had a lovely wife, who was so chaste that he would trust her fidelity if he was away for ten years. Ambrogiulo, of Piacenza, ridiculed this idea, and coneluded, by offering to seduce this modern Lucretia,
of producing the character may be wholly attributed to the poet, since the Zinevra of the novelist is without any distinctive qualities. Posthamus is a spirited delineation of a noble mind. Even Hachimo, however detestable his baseness, is no common-place villain.
THIS disgusting drama, though included among our author's plays in the first edition of his works, bears no mark of being his production; and it is strange, and certainly not creditable to the various learned and talented editors of Shakspeare, that this vile farrago of extravagance and bombast should be suffered to retain its place with the glorious efforts of the most exalted genius our country has produced.
SHAKSPEARE most likely revised this wild drama, and in the progress of the work, made a few additions from his own stores; more than this can scarcely be allowed, for as a whole, it is decidedly unworthy of his great name. Dryden, in one of his prologues, says
Shakspeare's own Muse his Pericles first bore, The Prince of Tyre was elder than the Moor;" and Dr. Drake, in his inquiry concerning our author's works, treats Pericles as a genuine work, and in his chronology of Shakspeare's plays, states that he thinks it was the earliest of the writer's performances. If, however, we decide by the internal evidence, which, perhaps, is the least deceptive on such a subject, our opinion of Pericles will hardly be so favourable, though we may fairly conclude that a few passages were from the hand of Shakspeare.
The story of this drama seems once to have been extremely popular, and is no doubt very ancient; but the romance of Apollonius Tyrius, in which most of the incidents of the play are to be found, is the oldest original which at present exists. The author of that strange work is unknown; but it seems likely that it was composed in the Greek language, from which it was translated by a monk of the sixth century; aud from him it has passed into most of the European tongues. It was translated from the French in 1510, by Robert Copland, and in 1576, W. Howe published "The Patterne of Painful Adventures that befell unto Prince Appolonius. By T.Twine." And to these, or similar works, the dramatist was probably indebted.
The subjoined extract, which our poet has thrown drama was his authority in his representation of into heart-stirring action, will shew that the ancient Goneril's ingratitude.
"Cease, good my lords, and sue not to reverse
“The king hath dispossest himself of all, Those to advance, which scarce will give him thanks:
His youngest daughter he hath turn'd away,
"I am as kind as is the pelican,
That kills itself to save her young ones' lives:
OLD PLAY. But all that is sublime and terrible in Shakspeare's Lear is original; his fearful astonishment, when in doubt of his own identity; his maledictions, when he pours out the anguish of a wounded spirit, with the awful impressiveness of despair; his dignified demeanour even in the ravings of insanity. All this our poet derived from no fount of inspiration but his own soul. The idea of his madness, however, is taken from the ballad :
"And calling to remembrance then
Was all that love affords :
Which made him rend his milk-white locks
We find the history of Lear and his daughters, in various national collections of romance; but an old drama, entitled "The true Chronicle History of King Leir and his Three Daughters, Gonorill, Ragan, and Cordella," must be considered as the chief source from which our author derived materials for his matchless work. There is an ancient ballad on the subject from which a few hints were taken; and the Arcadia of sir Philip Sydney was also of use. Holinshed's account of Lear's divid-years, ing his kingdom, runs thus :-" When Leir, therefore, was come to great years, and began to wax unwieldy through age, he thought to understand the affection of his daughters towards him, and prefer her whom he best loved, to the succession over the kingdom." We find the king's inflexibility as to the doom pronounced on Cordelia, in the old play.
And tresses from his head:
ANCIENT BALLAD. The old play concludes with the peaceful re-establishment of Leir in his kingdom; and Holinshed adds, He ruled after this, by the space of two and then died, forty years after he first began to reign. His body was buried at Leicester, in a vault under the channel of the river Sore, beneath the town." The ballad, however, terminates tragically.
"But when he heard Cordelia's death,
Of her dear father, in whose cause
He swooning fell upon her breast,
That was so truly hearted."
And this, no doubt, suggested the catastrophe
I give | 23 [ her.
th posses give, live.
of Shakspeare's drama; but to him, without a
Perillas, in the old play, seems to have been
Shakspeare took his materials, we give its title at length:-The Tragicall Hystory of Romeus and Juliet; containing a rare Example of true Constancie: with the subtill Counsels and Practises of an old Fryer, and their ill Event. William Painter also made a translation from the French, in his Palace of Pleasure, 1567. It was in prose, and was called Rhomeo and Julietta. A play on the same subject, according to Brooke's preface, had been acted before the publication of his poem. The narrative of that strange production runs thus:--The noblest families at Verona were those of Capulet and Montague; they were rivals; blood was often shed in their quarrels, and even the mediation of their prince was vainly exerted to suppress their dangerous feuds. Romeo, Montague's son, was highly accomplished; and Juliet, Capulet's daughter, was unequalled among the beauties of Verona. Romeo was in love with a lady, whose disdain at length determined him to devote himself to another. Meeting Juliet at a masquerade, they became mutually enamoured; love taught them cunning, and a clandestine marriage seemed to complete their felicity. But happiness is shortlived. In a fray between the Montagues and Capulets, Tybalt, Juliet's cousin, was slain by Romeo; and Romeo, as a punishment, was banished. The relatives of Juliet attribute her grief to Tybalt's death; and, in the hope of alleviating it, determine to marry her to the County Paris. Juliet implores for delay, but her inexorable father fixes the day for her espousals. Juliet hastens to the friar who married her to Romeo, and receives a drug which gradually suspended the powers of life, and she is found on her couch, to all appearance, a corpse. When the morning appointed for her nuptials came, she was carried to the tomb of her ancestors, as was the custom of the country, on an open bier. Friar Lawrence had sent a messenger to Romeo with the sad news,-arranging his return to Verona, before the time when Juliet should awake. Seeking for a companion in his journey, the friar's man entered a house infected with the plague, from whence he was not allowed to depart, so that the account of Juliet's death reached Mantua previous to the arrival of the friar's letter. In a state of distraction, Romeo hastened to Verona. He broke open the tomb of the Capulets at midnight, embraced his corse-like mistress, swallowed poison, and died. Meantime, Lawrence repaired to the vault in order to release Juliet from her perilous situation. Romeo lay dead before him, and the unhappy lady awoke to a knowledge of her hopeless misery. Scorning consolation, she embraced her lifeless husband, plunged his poniard in her bosom, and expired. How closely Shakspeare's drama agrees with this story, is evident.
A part, at least, of the farewell interview between the lovers in the tragedy, was certainly sugAgested by the poem :
ROMEO AND JULIET.
The story of this play was originated by the Neapolitan Massuccio, about 1470. It was copied by Luigi da Porto, of Vicenza, under the title of La Gailietta, in 1535. Bandello wrote on the same theme, and the tale took the air of truth when placed in the History of Venice, by Girolamo de la Carte. The lovers next figured in a French romance by Pierre Boisteau; and in 1562, they became the subject of an English poem, in four thousand prosing lines, by Mr. Arthur Brooke. As this work was the principal source from which
"The fresh Aurora with her pale and silver glade,
What cooller than the heavens do shew unto thine
The same, (or like) saw Romeus in farthest esterne
As yet he sawe no day, ne could he call it night,
look, love, what envious streaks Do lace the severing clouds in yonder east