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had no need, indeed, for he was a Master of it would leave the result quite inconclusive. Arts in the University of Cambridge, * and Much," says he, "of Shakspeare's matterconsequently able to consult the original. of-fact knowledge is deduced from Plutarch.” But still he worked-perhaps for the greater True; but whence is the remainder derived ! facility-on the popular English version. It That remainder is very abundant, and inis not of necessity, therefore, that Shakspeare volves a copious and exact acquaintance must needs have been unlearned, because, in with the respective national (as well as indithe composition of his classical dramas, he vidual) character of the ancients, their myconsulted the translated rather than the thology, their religion, their morals, their original version of bis authority. The argu- habits of life, and their modes of thought ment, if good against him, is good against and expression. Whence had Shakspeare Lodge; but applied to Lodge, it will not his familiar mastery over this field of learnhold water; and applied to Shakspeare, iting and knowledge ! is equally irretentive.
Doctor Farmer does not attempt to throw But even were Farmer's argument more any light on the subject; neither does he staunch than it is with reference to Plutarch, choose to grapple with the evidence fur
nished by those remarkable poems on which
alone (or in conjunction with his sonnets) * See Introduction to the play, in Dodsley's col- Shakspeare himself appears to have relied lection.
+ Dr. Farmer might be allowed to triumph over for permanent fame, and his contemporaries Upton, if he did not turn his victories over the critic seem to have acknowledged his claims as a into discredits on the poet. He certainly proves poet. We refer, of course, to his Venus and (against Upton) that in rendering the answer of Adonis, and his Rape of Lucrece. These consulted North's translation of Plutarch, and not poems—the one a myth of ancient Greece, the original
. Shakspeare gives it thus (as from the other a legend of ancient Rome—evince Octavius):
a very considerable and, we are bold to say, - "let the old ruffian know I have many other ways to die."
a very minute and correct acquaintance with
Antony and Cleop., A. 8. the literature, the manners, and the modes “What a reply is this !” cries Mr. Upton. « 'Tis of thinking of the respective nations from acknowledged' be (Octavius) shd fall under the whose literary remains they are derived. unequal combat. But if we read
Criticism the most captious has been unable let the old ruffian know
to detect in them a mistake; and Malone He hath many other ways to die,'
admits,* that to him "they appear superior we have the poignancy and the very repartee of to any pieces of the same kind produced by Cæsar in Plutark.”
Daniel or Drayton, the most celebrated Upon this Dr. Farmer remarks: “Most indis- writers of this species of narrative poetry putably this is the sense of Plutarch, and given so that were then known,” both of them uniin the modern translation; but Shakspeare was misled by the ambiguity of the old one."
And so versity scholars, and men of acknowledged far the Doctor is right. Shakspeare consulted learning. Is it to be thought, then, that a North ; but when the critic thence infers his ina- young poet, wishing to establish for the first bility to read the original, he transgresses the time a poetical character, and dedicating his bounds of fair inference, and involves writers whose learning he would be the last to dispute; productions to one of the most eminent of for it is remarkable that Dryden has fallen into the the nolles in the learned court of Elizabeth, very same mistake, and obviously from the same himself a graduate of both the universities, cause---not consulting the original Greek, but de and a distinguished patron of learning and pending on the popular authority, whether North its professors—is it to be imagined, we say, or Shakspeare. “ Thus:
that on such an occasion our poet, or any Vontidius. I heard you challenged him (Octavias). aspirant for poetical renown, except a mere What think'st thou was his answer? 'Twas so tame! dunce, would have risked his character on He said he had more ways than one to die; I had not.
Au for Love, ii. 1. subjects upon which his want of competent
knowledge would have betrayed him into Was not Dryden a scholar! Nay, did he not frequent blunders, and risked, if not totally translate Virgil, and parts at least of Ovid, Juve marred, the object he had in view ? Or, on pal, Persius, and other Latin classics ? Could he not read Greek! Nay, did he not translate Plu- the other hand, is it to be imagined that a tarch into the very modern version which Dr. Farmer alludes to ?
* Notes at the conclusion of the Rape of Lucrece.
Antony. I did, Ventidius.
man who has executed his task so admira-1 of Nature needed no stilts to add to his elebly was ignorant of the materials—the most vation; no wadding, to bombast his pretenelementary of the literary materials-upon sions. He was rich enough in himself to which he was working? We would entreat depend on his own resources; and we bethe candid reader to peruse the quiet sum- lieve that one of the most marked characmary, or argument, in which the incidents teristics of the highest intellectual power is of the Rape of Lucrece are prefixed to the the scorn of all affectation, the abstinence poem, and then to say whether or not, in from all false glitter and borrowed plumage. his opinion, it was drawn up by a man of When Robert Greene, in 1592,* railed at competent knowledge, or whether the most our poet as “ an upstart crow, beautified with exact scholar of his acquaintance could have the feathers" of his truly worthless contemdone it with more easy skill and more clas- | poraries, we are told by the editor of the sical mastery of the subject ?
sibel that he [Shakspeare] resented the indigBut even those productions furnish Farmer nity:t and we really are at a loss to know with no proof of the author's learning; on with what reason or propriety he could have the contrary, he finds in them nothing but done so, if in the following year (1593, when the evidence of two things, so contradictory the Venus and Adonis was published) be that one of them must needs be false : namely, was prepared to exhibit himself to his patron an unfounded pretension to learning which and the world as a pretender to learning, he had not, and a modest confession of the “ beautified with the feathers” of a literature ignorance under which he labored. Let us which he did not understand. We there examine each.
fore believe that the claim to learning ostenShakspeare has prefixed to his Venus and sibly put forth, not merely in his motto, but Adonis a couplet from Ovid :
in the subject of his poem, was not an idle “ Vilia miretur vulgus; mihi flavus Apollo
pretension, because as such it would have Pocula Castalia plena ministrat aqua."
been an imposition on the noble friend
whose patronage he was courting, and would Upon which the Doctor observes : “But on detection bring him to shame; and also, Shakspeare hath somewhere a Latin motto; because the editor of the very first libel puband so hath John Taylor, and a whole poem lished on his literary fame apologizes for the upon it into the bargain;" and his inference wrong, and withdraws the charge, expressly is, that Shakspeare knew as little of the lan- on the grounds of our poet's integrity of guages as this “honest John Taylor, the character and admitted literary resources. I water-poet, who declares he never learned Doctor Farmer could have given the subject his accidence, and that Latin and French but very slight consideration wben he cast were to him heathen Greek;" and yet whose this sneer on the character of an ingenuous works have more scraps
of Latin and allu. man. An opponent of his own, upon the sions to antiquity, than are any where to be subject in question, prefixed to his essay a found in the writings of Shakspeare." If Latin motto. Would he have felt justified this representation be strictly true, John in disabling his rival's character for learning Taylor was a very singular man. Of his by such a phrase as this : “Mr. Whalley has allusions to antiquity we shall make no somewhere a Latin motto; but so has Taycount, because he, as well as Shakspeare, or lor, the water-poet!" As well might an any body else, might have picked up much knowledge on the subject from English books then current; but for his scraps of Latin, Chettle, 1592.
* Greene's Groat'sworth of Wit, edited by H. which are, indeed, both numerous and aptly † Kindheart's Dream, by H. Chettle, 1592. applied, he must either have understood their # “Divers of worship,” says the penitent editor, meaning, or used them by inspiration or have reported his uprightness of dealing, which his books were not written by himself. But argues his honestie and his facetious grace in writ
ing, that approves his art.” Whoever is acquainted who except Farmer, and for what purpose with the use of the word art, with reference to letbut a derogatory one, ever thought of ters, at the period in question, will perceive in the naming such men as Shakspeare and Tay- passage an admission of our poet's competence in lor in the same category? However, the such branches of learning as are taught at univer
sities. Thus Greene, Nash, Chettle, &c., (Gabriel water-poet may have needed and sought a Harvey,) use the term art-master in the sense of meretricious fame. Surely, the great Poet one who had studied the art in a university
enemy infer, from the absence of a Latin sense, and to the same degree, was his second motto from his own essay on the learning of offering at the shrine of his patron “untuShakspeare, the Doctor's inability to furnish tored." We may rest assured that he one. Would the objection in either case be would not have ventured to affront the valid? Is it in any case an unprejudiced, a good taste of his accomplished friend and generous, or a candid one? Let
of our patron by sheltering under the protection readers suppose himself about to appear of his name a composition which he conbefore the public in print; would he, if he ceived likely to betray his deficiency in were so unlearned as Doctor Farmer repre- those attainments which were, at that time, sents Shakspeare to have been, prelude his the chief, if not the only passport to poetical labors with a motto from any of the learned reputation, and the possession of which are languages ? No; for that would be an implied in the subject and title of his work. affectation of being what he was not—a The passage in question, therefore, is not scholar in the language assumed. Doctor a confession on the part of the poet of his Farmer himself would not, under the cir- ignorance of the learned languages; and it cumstances, do so. Why then should he gives so little countenance to Doctor Farmimpute to the greatest intellect, perhaps, that er's argument, that, taken in its content, it the world ever wondered at, an affectation affords the presumption that he was not and a fraud which he would himself scorn unwilling to be thought a scholar competo practise ; and why should we believe an tent to the task he had undertaken. Such inference at once so discreditable to an hon- an assumption on the part of such a man, est man, and so improbable in the case of (if fairly deducible from all the premises,) outany man of genius?
weighs any possible amount of inferential But Farmer has another “irrefragable criticism. argument," founded on those very poems, of Readers of the Farmer school, however, the poet's want of learning. “Did not will not be so easily reclaimed. They will Shakspeare himself," quoth he, “confess it, even be surprised at the fatuity of our underwhen he apologized to his noble friend, the taking, and question the sincerity of our Earl of Southampton, for his untutored reverence. “Strange, indeed," they will lines ?" True, the phrase , occurs in his say, in the words of their coripheus, “strange dedication of the Rape of Lucrece; and he that any real friends of our immortal POET offers another apology to the same noble should be still” (that is, after reading Doctor friend, in his dedication of the Venus and Farmer's Essays “ willing to force him into Adonis, for his “ unpolished lines.” Now, a situation which is not tenable: treat him what is the purport of either phrase, but the as a learned man, and what shall excuse the modest deprecation of superior merit
, in most gross violations of history, chronology which poets generally love to veil their own and geography ?" And to this they will inward sense of the beauties which they feel | add false quantities in Latin names, together it more becoming to have praised by others with sundry proofs of his ignorance of the than to praise themselves? The passages modern languages. are parallel and equivalent. The lines of For our own part, we do not seek to the one poem are just as “ untutored” as place him in any but the humble position to those of the other are “unpolished;" the which his ambition was confined. We do amount of learning and polish in both are not arrogate for him a rank amongst the pretty fairly balanced, and the epithets so profoundly learned of his day. Our sole interchangeable, that either of them which object is to show that he might have been a first occurred to the poet's mind might have student in either of the universities, and been used to convey the thought which he thence carried away as much of the learning intended. It is only in the humble esti- there taught as the average run of iis gradumate of the author, that the lines of the ates appear to have done; and if we can Venus and Adonis are “unpolished;" in the show that his works exhibit at least as much judgment of his contemporaries, they were learning, and only the same kind of errors, exquisitely polished and harmonious; and as the works—whether poetical or drahe whose ear was so sensible to all the matic—of the graduates of one or both of melody of versification, could not have been the universities, who were his contemporaries. unconscious of their charms. In the same we shall have achieved all that we aspire to.
To begin, then, with the impeachment of quence, the ending of one and the beginning his historical knowledge. In this depart- of another are so closely connected together, ment he has written dramatic histories; ten that they seem to constitute less a number English, three Roman, and one Grecian, of independent dramas than a succession of besides two English, one Scottish, one Ro- scenes, arranged into parts convenient for man, and three Greek legendary stories.* dramatic representation.
In this respect It will not be required, we suppose, that they bear a strong analogy to the Grecian the legendary tales shall be justified in every system of Trilogies; and may thus perhaps point; and yet they are as true to the origi- be considered as a great epic drama, or a nal authorities from whence they are drawn, dramatic epopee, divided, like Spenser's so far as we know them, as it is possible to Fairy Queen, into parts, books, and cantos. conceive them. We shall
, therefore, pass This great epic drama, then, (if we may be them over, and apply ourselves to the histo- allowed to consider it so,) constitutes a scenic ries. And first of the English histories. history of the changes of dynasty and con
It must never be forgotten that these plays stitution which took place in the interval do not profess to be exact chronicles of the between the accession of Richard II. and reigns from which they are respectively en- the ath of Richard III., from the extinctitled. The historical play of Shakspeare tion of the Plantagenet line, to the succesdoes not profess to represent the entire sion of the line of Tudor; and embraces in transactions of a reign, but only such of its scope precisely the same time and the them as, bearing upon one point, represent saine revolutions which Daniel meant to a revolution of dynasty, or some great have comprised in his heroic poem of the change in the constitution. Let us glance“ Civil Wars between the Houses of York at them for a moment in this light. The and Lancaster," but from the completion main interest of King John is the first great of which he was prevented, either by want shock which the Papal supremacy received of encouragement or by death. In Richard in England, preparatory to its final extinc- II. we have the foundation and commencetion in the reign of Henry VIII., with which ment of that long and bloody struggle betwo plays the historical series of our dramatic tween the rival houses which did not cease historian begins and ends. The intermedi- to ravage the land until the union of both ate series runs in such an uninterrupted se- in the persons of Henry VII. and his queen,
and the establishment of the line of Tudor.
In the two parts of Henry IV., we find the * Viz., English histories : King John; II.; Henry IV., two parts ; Henry v.; Henry VI, history (in each respectively) of the two three parts ; Richard III. Henry VIII. English rebellions which disturbed the reign of the legends : Lear, Cymbeline. Scottish legend : usurper. Henry V. records the glories Macbeth. Roman "histories: Coriolanus, Julius of the British conquest of France, and the Cæsar, Antony and Cleopatra. Roman legend : union of the French and British crowns. the Rape of Lucrece. Greek history: Timon of The three parts of Henry VI. are a history Athens. Greek legends: Midsummer Night's Dream, Troilus and Cressida, and Venus and of the loss of our French conquests, and the Adonis.
civil wars between the rival Roses, their ori+ The Midsummer Night's Dream, which we gin and progress ; and Richard III. brings have numbered amongst the Greek legends, is them to a close; so that this part of the founded throughout on Chaucer’s Palamon and Arcite. So is the Two Noble Kingmen of Flet- series might be called THE QUARREL OF THE cher; and this simple fact gave rise, we believe, to Roses. the supposition which the printer of the latter has Henry VI. exhibitsembodied on its title-page, namely, that the play was “ written by the ever-memorable worthies of Part 1st. The adoption of the Roses as badges of the then time, Mr. John Fletcher, and Mr. William
party. Shakspeare, Gent.” That they both worked on the same story appears to us (after careful comparison)
The vicissitudes (or the White Rose to to be the sole foundation of the thought of its being a joint production. Fletcher, however, has
Richard III.' The quarrel closed at the battle of Boskept close to the original; his rival lovers are
worth field, and the UNION OF THE Roses knights; Shakspeare's are civilians; and whilst the
by the interın arriage of the rival houses lady-loves of the latter are both citizen's daughters, those of Fletcher are, the one a princess, the other the daughter of a jailor.
And here ends, as we conceive, the great
of the Red Rose to the
battle of St. Albans.
the battle of Tew
of York aud Lancaster.
epic drama of those civil wars which pre- | Richard II. to the end of Richard III., interpared the national mind, character, and in- woven and dovetailed, both in point of time stitutions of England for the great reforma- and matter, with the part foregoing, that not tion of religion which was even then im- one of the intermediate pieces could be fully pending. For we may observe that, as be understood on perusal, unless the preceding tween the plays of King John and Richard performance had been previously mastered. II. there is a long interval of time, so, be- Of this any reader may convince himself by tween those of Richard III. and Henry beginning his study of the series with RichVIII. there is the unoccupied interval of a ard III., and so trying backwards up to long reign; a reign pregnant indeed with Richard II. The experiment will convince civil changes, which, however important in him how exact the succession and dependthe internal policy of the kingdom, bore no ence of one part upon another is, and how direct relation to the revolution in religion skilfully the poet has secured to each its which was then in peace maturing itself for necessary place; a circumstance which, we a sturdy contest with the Papal supremacy. need hardly say, could not have happened, Before the Reformed faith could be by law were the several pieces independent performestablished in England, it was necessary that ances, and not regular parts of an orderly the intrusive supremacy of Rome should be whole. broken down; and this was effected by the That the design was executed with a comcauses and through the agencies which form petent knowledge and consummate ability the sum and substance of our author's Henry must be admitted, when we consider that VIII. In King John we find the beginning the series has become the great national of this great end ; in Henry VIII., its con- book of instruction on the subject, and that summation. We therefore regard those the people of England have learned from it plays as, respectively, the prologue and more of the history of that period than from epilogue to the great dramatic epopee the most authentic, exact and popular works which lies between them; and believe the of their professed historians.' Shakspeare, whole to be one complete poem, in which indeed, “was no hunter of MSS.” 'Tis not the author designed to give to his country- the dramatist's business. “Aut famam semen a popular and instructive view of the quere, aut sibi convenientia finge," is the historic events by which the nation was pu- precept of Horace to the dramatic poet. rified and exalted, and prepared for the But as our poet, writing history, was not reception of that Reformation which, com- free to invent a fiction, we do not see what menced by Edward VI., was completed better he could have done than adopt the under the auspices of the then reigning "famam"—the most popular account of the sovereign, Elizabeth.
matters in hand which he could find. Daniel This was indeed a design of infinite gran- did the same in his “ Civil Warres ;" he copdeur, and worthy of the noblest intellect. ied from Hall's "Chronicle;" Shakspeare That it was the design of our poet, may be from Holinshed's; and whatever historical inferred, without doubt, from the state in mistakes are to be found, either in the hiswhich he has bequeathed the performance torical epic of the one or the epic drama of to posterity. For whether the several parts the other, are the mistakes, not of the reof the performance were written and pro- spective poets, but of the chroniclers whom duced upon the stage in the exact order of they followed. This much is certain, that time which the sequence of history requires, Shakspeare's history of this period is just as or otherwise, it is certain that we have them correct as Daniel's. Now, Daniel was a man in the order and in the condition which he of admitted learning, proceeded to a masfinally adopted for their proper order and ter's degree at Oxford, and was a professed condition, and in which he left thein in the historiographer in prose as well as verse. If hands of his posthumous editors. If indeed his errors, few and trifling, do not impeach they had been printed in the first edition of his character for learning, may we not exhis collected works in any other order than tend to his rival's case the generous sentithat in which we find them, we should our- ment of the Roman poet: selves have been obliged to restore them to Verum ubi plura nitent in carmine, non ego paucis their natural sequence ; for so closely is each
Offendere maculis, quas aut incuria fudit, succeeding part of the great drama, from. Aut humana parum cavit natura;"