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had more learning than those who got cre- | himself of it to illustrate and embellish his dit for learning, merely because they could subject. write themselves, on the title-page of any 2. The affluence of Latin derivatives with book, comedy, tragedy, tale, or poem, "In which, whether first introduced by himself artibus magister unius, vel utriusque Aca- or adopted from the current stock then in demiæ," why should we not admit our poet, use, he has enriched the poetical language through the opening made for him by his of his country. contemporary, the author of "The Pole- 3. His quotations from the Latin classics, manteia," into the groves of Academus, and numerous, and always appropriate. believe that he as well as they had received 4. His frequent translations, in the ordia university education to qualify him as a nary current of his text, of passages from poet; that he, as well as others of his time, the ancient poets, rendered in a style which, had prefaced the eating through of his terms for fidelity and elegance, may challenge the at Grey's Inns or the Temple by sizing for best of Ben Jonson's. some terms at either Oxford or Cambridge, 5. His having dramatized many Latin and to qualify himself for a lawyer !
Greek subjects, and executed his task with His works are, in fact, a spacious garden, such general historic truth, such propriety every where abounding in such flowers and of national manners, such freedom and yet fruits as are cultivated in universities, and such accuracy, such boldness, together with nowhere else brought to such maturity. He consistency of character, (consistent, we mean, appears, indeed, to have been a universal with the original models of Greek and Roscholar, versed in all the knowledge and man story,) as appear of necessity to imply philosophy of his times; and, more than any an extensive and familiar acquaintance with other man on record, perhaps, realizes his the ancient literature in which those stories, own portrait of the madcap Prince of scenes and characters are to be found. Wales :
6. And lastly, (listen to this, ye critics
and commentators!) he knew and practised “ Hear him but reason in divinity,
the law of the dramatic unities as well and And, all-admiring, with an inwará wish, You would desire the king were made a prelate;
as exactly as the most rigid Greek or RoHere him debate of commonwealth affairs,
man of them all; and his apparent deparAnd you would say, It hath been all in all his ture from them was the result of deliberate study.
judgment and choice. List his discourse of war, and you shall hear
His competency, however, in all those A fearful battle rendered you in music. Turn him to any cause of policy,
respects has been more or less questioned by The Gordian knot of it he will unloose
the commentators in occasional notes, by Familiar as his garter," &c.
the biographers in their memoirs, and by
Dr. Farmer in a formal essay. Believing Let him be tried, we would add, by his them all to have been carried away by their skill in the art of reasoning, in metaphysics, prepossessions, we shall endeavor to set them ethics, morals and criticism, by his purified right by a more candid enumeration of facts. taste and cultivated judgment, and he will For the sake of greater distinctness, we disbe found—if to those arts we can add a pose of the several objections, in the order, knowledge of the ancient languages—to and under the heads of the foregoing classihave been deficient in none of those branches fication. of learning in which an academic course 1. His mythology. makes men proficient.
In this respect, very few_if any--errors, But that to his undisputed attainments and those of a trifling amount, are to be as a scholar his more disputed elaims as a found in his works ; and if he sometimes master of the learned languages may be con- appear to vary from an ancient authority, it fidently added, will, we think, be admitted is only where the ancients varied among without reserve on a candid and unprepos- themselves, or the established practice of sessed consideration of the following circum- more modern scholars led him astray. Even stances :
Farmer has not caught him tripping under 1. His thorough acquaintance with the this head, and the only serious instance that whole of the ancient mythology, and the I can recall to remembrance of his departure ease and propriety with which he avails from the ancient mythe is probably rather
the copyist's or the printer's mistake than may be the more certain of this, inasmuch as his. It is where Falstaff's page, rallying the author of this Tale of Troy was a fellowBardolph on the rubicundity of his face, calls dramatist, and a fellow-sharer in the Blackhim a "rascally Althæa's dream,” and ex- friars theatre, together with our poet, in 1589, plains bis meaning by saying that "Althæa the very year in which the poem was pubdreamed she was delivered of a firebrand," lished. But that he was fully aware of the &c.* Now, it was Hecuba who dreamed she story of Althæa's brand, that it was no dream, was delivered of a firebrand, of which, we but a reality, we have under his own hand, in bave reason to think, Shakspeare could not 2 Henry VI., i. 1, where he alludes to the have been ignorant; and Althæa's firebrand story as it really ran in the ancient legend : was a real one, of which we know he was perfectly cognizant. The page's jest is an “York.—Methinks the realms of England, France,
and Ireland obvious allusion to a passage in a very popu- Bear that proportion to my flesh and blood lar poem of George Peele's, entitled, “The
As did the fatal brand Althea burned Beginning, Accidents, and End of the War Unto the prince's heart of Calydon," &c. of Troy," and published in 1589. Speaking of the birth of Paris, and his mother's alarm- Seeing, therefore, that our poet was aware ing prognostications, the poet observes :
that Hecuba, and not Althæa, was the per
son who dreamed of the firebrand, we do
“Behold, at length She (Hecuba] dreams, and gives her lord to un
not hesitate to ascribe the error to the ignoderstand
rance of the copyist or printer, and would, That she should soon bring forth a firebrand, without scruple, recommend the correction Whose hot and climbing flame should be so great, to be inserted in the text of any future edi That Neptune's Troy it would consume with heat."
tion. Coupling the thought conveyed in those lines 2. The Latinities of his diction. with the sarcasm of the page, and with the In no instance whatsoever, under this head, droll imagery of a similar character, in which has he been found wanting ; and although, his master elsewhere plays on the counte- in numberless cases, he has employed Latin nance of the aforesaid Bardolph, there can derivatives in senses not familiar to our be scarcely a doubt but that the allusion modern use of them, still he will be found to refers to the passage, and that Shakspeare have employed them in the exact vernacular was thus (if no otherwise) aware of who the sense which they bore in the Roman idiom. person was that dreamed the dream; and we would a man uncertain of his knowledge
have ventured to commit himself on such a * 2 Henry IV., ii. 2. + 1 Henry IV, iii. 3. Bardolph's face was the rant of the various and delicate shades of
vein of language? Or could a man ignosubject of much merriment to master and man. That which the page ridicules as the firebrand thought conveyed by peculiar words have which Hecuba dreamed of, is by Falstaff carica- carried on the practice through works so tured into the “lanthorn on the poop” of an admi- voluminous as his, and not have left behind raľ's ship; its owner is “ the Knight of the Burning him some slips to betray his presumption ? that lived in purple, for there he is in his robes, Impossible, we should think. But, as he burning-burning;" to swear by it would amount stands unimpeached on this subject, we may to swearing, by this fire;" it is “an ignis fatuus ; dismiss it, and proceed to the consideration a ball of wild-fire ;" it is as good against darkness of others, on which his competency has as " links and torches ;" it is a “salamander maintained with fire;" and when Sir John declines com
been more questioned. plying with Bardolph's wish that "it were in his
3. His quotation of the Latin poets. belly," on the ground that “ so he should be sure to 4. His tacit translations from the same. be heart-burned," is not the allusion to a similar fate We have carefully looked through Farmimpending over Troy, from the indwelling
of Hecu- er's essay as the general repertory for objeeba's metaphorical firebrand, pointed and com- tions upon these heads, but have found his plete ?-that firebrand, Paris, to wit, * Wbose hot and climbing flame should grow so great,
charges so shadowy and fugitive as to leave That Neptune's Troy it would consume with heat: us nothing to grapple with. Theobald may And, counsel taken of this troublous dream, The soothsayers said that not swift Simois' stream
have been pedantic and Warburton fanciful Might serve to quench that fierce devouring fire in spying out recondite beauties and alluThat did this brand 'gainst town of Troy conspire."
sions; Upton may have seen in Shakspeare -See works of George Peele, by the Rev. A. Dyce, London: 1628; 11. 92.
more than Shakspeare knew;" and Whalley
given the credit of design to mere coinci- as it appears in the poet, but as it is given dences of thought and expression ; and in by the grammarian; it is also quoted, as he the detection of such false criticisms lies the adds, in the same form by Udall, in his scene of Farmer's triumphs. And in such Floures for Latin Speaking, gathered out of he has rendered yeoman's service to both Terence, (1560;) upon which the learned learning and Shakspeare. But is Shakspeare Doctor triumphantly observes :* " The quotato be answerable for the absurdities of his tion from Lilly in The Taming of the commentators ? Deducting such triumphs, Shrew,' if indeed it be his, strongly proves however, there is exceedingly little in the the extent of his reading. Had he known celebrated essay to affect the character of Terence, he would not have quoted erroneour poet as a scholar competent to the mod-ously from his grammar." This is surely a est display of learning which his works non sequitur : he might have done so for a exhibit. His quotations, as we have observed, purpose ; and if we consider that the line is are correct and applicable. What though thus put into the mouth of a servant who is some of them may have been cited by others attending his young master to the university, where he may have found them? May he we see abundant reason and propriety in not as well have found them in their origi- selecting the book of accidence for the authonal places ? Nay, must he not have under-rity, rather than the original work of the stood their meaning and applicability wher- poet. But we deny the inference of its ever he found them? If it be an impeach- showing the extent or the probable extent ment of any man's learning to prove that of our poet's acquaintance with Terence. passages which he cites from the ancients The passage is quoted in the same form by have been cited before, then is not the repu- Thomas Deckar, a contemporary dramatist, tation of almost every modern scholar in in his “Bellman's Night Walk," &c.; and danger ? then, would even Dr. Farmer him- although we cannot say for a certainty that self come through the critical ordeal unblem- Deckar was a university man, yet we may ished? We trow not. Passages cited by rest assured that he was a Latin scholar, two or more persons may have been, in every capable of having read Terence in the original instance, drawn from the fountain-head; and and of quoting him thence, by the number if so, it makes no difference which of them of very creditable Latin poems with which carried away the pitcher first.
he has interspersed his pageant on the pubBut Farmer maintains the utter incompe- lic entry of King James and his Queen tency of our poet to taste of those waters. into London, in March, 1603.7 For any ** He remembered," quoth the critic, “per- proof, therefore, which the passage affords of haps enough of his schoolboy learning to Shakspeare's incompetency in Latin, it is put the hig, hæg, hog’into the mouth of just as pregnant with reference to Deckar. Sir Hugh Evans, and might pick up, in the But against Deckar it does not hold good; writers of the time, or the course of his conver- how, then, can it be held valid against Shaksation, a familiar phrase or two of French or speare ? Italian; but his studies were most demonstra " It is scarcely worth while mentioning," tively confined to nature and his own tongue." says the learned Doctor, “ that two or three To account, however, for some longer and more Latin passages, which are met with in stronger excerpta from the Latin poets, the our author, are immediately transcribed from Doctoris fain to insinuate the facilities afforded the chronicle before him."| Then why menby the various excerpta, sententiæ and Flores ; tion them at all, or why bring forward the and yet is fain to content himself with the second especially as an instance of our poet's adduction of a single instance in which, as double barbarity—his ignorance, to wit, "of well as in others, it is contended that the two very common words in the French and poet was indebted to his Lilly's Syntax. The Latin languages ?" Suffice it to say, that case is this : In “The Taming of the Shrew," Act i. sc. 1, Tranio, advising his master Lu * Preface to 2d edition of the Essay, &c. centio how to deal with the sudden love + " In terram salicam mulieres ne succedant."with which he has been inspired, quotes
HENRY V., i. 2. from the “ Eunuch" of Terence a line,* not héritier de France ; and thus in Latin: Præclarissi
Notre très cher fils Henry, roy d'Angleterre,
mus filius noster Henricus, rex Anglia et bæres te captum quam quæas minimo. Franciæ.-HENRY V., V. 2.
both passages are honestly and openly copied and the idiom of both languages, than the from Holinshed, in his own words; and rendering of the following passage from there is no need in the latter instance to pro- Horace: tect either the historian or the poet from the
“ut piget annus imputation of ignorance, by supposing proe- Pupillis, quos dura premit custodia matrum, clarissimus a typographical error for præca
Sic mibi tarda fluunt ingrataque tempora" rissimus, the translation of “très cher." Ma- In the English of Shakspeare : lone admits that in all the old historians he had seen, as well as Holinshed, he found the
"She lingers my desires,
Like to a step-dame, or a dowager, same version of the title. It is, therefore,
Long wintering out a young man's revenue." + probable that the two titles may have been considered distinct and different, one to be Many illustrations, equally good, of our used when the French king wrote to his poet's competency to translate or paraphrase son-in-law in French, and the other in diplo- the ancients successfully might be adduced ; matic papers written to the English king in but we must refer for them to the selectionz Latin. It is true that this must have been already mentioned. What we would oba misconception, for in the original treaty of serve upon in Dr. Farmer's treatment of marriage, the Latin word is rightly præcaris- them is
, that he unfairly seizes on the missimus, but the distinction between a French conceptions or hyper-refinements of the critstyle for private use, as it were, and a Latin ics, and, having easily exposed their fallacy, style for public, receives in that document leaves the genuine flowers transplanted by sufficient countedance to justify those who, the poet's hand quite untouched, but stiil without having seen the original, may have under the suspicion that their beauties would thought the variation between très cher and in like manner vanish if scrutinized with the præclarissimus intentional. And this we same jealousy. conceive sufficient to explain why Shakspeare
Had the Doctor confined his criticism to must not “indisputably have thought it Shakspeare's positive failures, rather than proper to correct the blunder, had he been gathered triumphs from the mistakes of his acquainted with both the languages."
critics, he would have displayed more critical Let us now briefly advert to his tacit candor. “But,” quoth hê, “ the sheet-anchor translations from the Greek and Latin poets. holds fast ; Shakspeare himself has left us They are numerously but not ostentatiously scattered throughout his works, and many
* Midsummer Night's Dream, i. 1. of them are of extreme fidelity and elegance. speare appears to have paraphrased, happily
+ We must make room for one exception. ShakThis practice has been thought a merit in enough, a passage in Anacreon. The lines in Timon Ben Jonson, and a considerable collection of of Athens, beginning, such beauties has been made from his works
“The sun's a thief, and with his great attraction by Mr. Upton.* Similar collections--but
Robs the vast sea," &c., still very far from complete—have been has all the air of a free translation of the famous made from Shakspeare, by Upton and Dr. chanson à boire of the Teian bard, commencing Whalley; and though neither may have with succeeded in every instance to establish his
Η γη μέλαινα πινει-α. τ. λ. point, enough still remains to show that our But no; Farmer now adheres to the version of poet too was a felicitous and skilful transla-Ben Jonson's invidious assertion, which represents tor; sometimes more elegant than Jonson, Greek;" and rather than acknowledge bim learned
our poet as having (not less Greek, but) “no and never so verbal and unidiomatic. We enough to read Anacreon in the original, is fain to meet in Shakspeare no such uncouth and neutralize a former illustration of bis own. We have upintelligible Latinisms, “ give them words,” just seen how, from the words très cher and proby way of a translation of or equivalent for clarissimus, in Henry, V., he pronounced him igno Horace's expression of " dare nobis; verba ;"+ sistency, we now find him reversing the argument, but in all Jonson we find nothing more strik- and assuming bis ignorance of Greek, because ing and true to the sense of the original, there were two pre-existing translations in Latin
and one in French, of the ode in question. But if
Shakspeare knew, according to the former argu* Remarks on Three Plays of Benjamin Jonson, ment, neither French nor Latin, how is his knowdc.: London, 1749.
ledge of Greek impeached by the pre-existence of 7 Volpone, i. 4.
some translations from Ovid. ... This ! And this brings us naturally to the fifth hath been the universal cry, from Mr. Pope consideration on which we are bold to assert himself to the critics of yesterday. Possibly, his sufficiency as a Latin and Greek scholar, however, the gentlemen will hesitate a mo- namely, the truthfulness and skill with ment if we tell them that Shakspeare was which he has dramatized the classical stonot the author of these translations.” Norries above referred to. Our own opinion we did be ever pretend to be so. They werə have already delivered; we now come to ascribed to him by a fraudulent publisher; deal with the objections. by him disclaimed with indignation at the "It is notorious," says Dr. Farmer, "that publisher's presumption, and were finally much of his matter-of-fact knowledge is reclaimed by Thomas Heywood, the real deduced from Plutarch; but in what lantranslator of them.* If Dr. Farmer, however, guage he read him, hath yet been the queshad rightly considered the circumstances of tion.” Many things had been most absurdly this fraud, he would have found in them written upon this subject by the preceding something rather unfavorable to his own critics; and we are free to acknowledge the hypothesis of Shakspeare's character for acuteness, the wit, and the success with want of learning amongst his contemporaries. which the Doctor exposes the fallacies and The attempt to pass off a set of (what must pedantic inferences of Pope, Theobald, and be called, for the time) very creditable trans- Upton. But, cutting short the extravagances lations of a Latin classic, under the name of into which they ran, he runs himself as much a man notoriously ignorant of any language into the contrary extreme. They quote pasbut English, must have been a very hopeless sages from those plays, and, presuming them speculation for even the most daring of the to be direct translations from the Greek, not curls of the day. The very publication of only infer from thence our poet's learning, but the book with his name upon the title-page, proceed to correct the supposititious errors is proof that the poet enjoyed in his lifetime of his text by a reference to the original. the popular reputation of being scholar Dr. Farmer proves, with a certainty beyond enough for such a performance. He had dispute, that in writing those plays, or so been sufficiently long before the public to much of them as are derived from Plutarch, have his pretensions thoroughly canvassed our poet drew his materials directly from and well known; the practicability, there- North’s translation; and that consequently fore, of such a fraud, is an argument in our the text, in accordance with that translation, favor, drawn from contemporary evidence. should be held to be the genuine text, though Farmer has both overplied and misapplied a deviation from historical fact. So far, he his vast and various erudition on this occa- is evidently right; but when he produces sion. It did not surely require the acumen those facts as a demonstration of our author's of a critic so learned and so witty as he, to inability to read the Lives of Plutarch in the convince the world that Hamlet's “Old original, we conceive he overdraws upon his True-penny" comes not-according to Up- premises. “The Wounds of Civil War," ton's conceit—"either by way of irony a tragedy by Thomas Lodge, would involve or literally, from the Greek guravov;" its author in a similar charge of ignorance. but it would take more than his learning In this play, as the editor of Dodsley's Old and pleasantry to efface the impression of Plays (vol. viii. 11) observes, Lodge has our poet's large and habitual converse with very much followed the lives of Marius and the ancients, left upon our minds by a suc- Sylla, as given by Plutarch : he was a schocession of such works as his “Coriolanus,” | lar, and it was not necessary, therefore, for "Julius Cæsar," "Antony and Cleopatra," him to resort to Sir Thomas North's trans“Timon of Athens," "Troilus and Cressida," lation from the French, of which Shakspeare and (if it be not spurious) his “Titus Andro- availed himself. It is pretty evident, hownicus,"
ever, from a comparison of a few passages
quoted in the notes in the progress of the * Heywood's account of the matter is highly play, that Lodge did employ this popular creditable to our poet. “He [Shakspeare) was work, although he has varied some of the much offended with Master Juggard, (the printer, events
, and especially the death of Sylla. to make so bold with his name.” -- Apology for Lodge, then, had recourse, in the composiActors; Appendix.
tion of his play, to North's translation: he