Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

Dro. S. There is a fat friend at your master's

house, That kitchen'd me for you to-day at dinner; She now shall be my fifter, not my wife. Dro. E. Methinks, you are my glass, and not

my brother: I see by you, I am a sweet-faced youth. Will you walk in to see their gossiping?

Dro. S. Not I, sir; you are my elder. : Dro. E. That's a question: how shall we try it?

DRO. S. We will draw cuts for the senior: till then, lead thou first.

Dro. E. Nay, then thus : We came into the world, like brother and brother; And now let's go hand in hand, not one before another.

[Exeunt.

3 On a careful revision of the foregoing scenes, I do not hesitate to pronounce them the composition of two very unequal writers. Shakspeare had undoubtedly a Ihare in them; but that the entire play was no work of his, is an opinion which (as Benedick says)

fire cannot melt out of me; I will die in it at the stake.” In this comedy we find more intricacy of plot than distinction of character; and our attention is less forcibly engaged, because we can guess in great measure how the denouement will be brought about. Yet the subject appears to have been reluctantly dismised, even in this last and unnecessary scene, where the same mistakes are continued, till their power of affording entertainment is entirely loft. STEEVENS.

The long doggrel verses that Shakspeare has attributed in this play to the two Dromios, are written in that kind of metre which was usually attributed by the dramatick poets before his time, in their comick pieces, to some of their inferior characters; and this circumftance is one of many that authorize us to place the preceding comedy, as well as Love's Labour's Loft, and The Taming of the Shrew, (where the same kind of versification is likewise found,) among our author's earliest productions, composed probably at a time when he was imperceptibly infected with the prevailing mode, and before he had completely learned " to deviate boldly from the common track.” As these early pieces are now not easily met with, I shall subjoin a few extracts from some of them :

[blocks in formation]

1568. Royst. If your name to me you will declare and showe, “ You may in this matter my minde the sooner knowe.

Toj. Few wordes are best among freends, this is true, “ Wherefore I shall briefly show my name unto you. “ Tom Tofpot it is, it need not to be painted, “ Wherefore I with Raife Roifter must needs be acquainted,” &c.

COMMONS CONDITIONS.

[ About 1570.] " Shift. By gogs bloud, my maisters, wee were not best longer

here to ftaie, « I thinke was never suche a craftie knave before this daie.

[Exeunt Ambo, Cond. Are thei all gone? Ha, ha, ha, wel fare old Shift at a

neede : “ By his woundes had I not devised this, I had hanged indeede. “ Tinkers, (qd you) tinke me no tinks; Ile meddle with them no

more; " I thinke was never knave so used by a companie of tinkers before.

By your leave Ile bee so bolde as to looke about me and spie, Least any knaves for my commyng doune in ambush doe lie.

By your licence I minde not to preache longer in this tree, “ My tinkerly slaves are packed hence, as farre as I maie see.” &c. PROMOS AND CASSANDRA.

1578. - The wind is yl blows no man's gaine; for cold I neede not

care, « Here is nine and twentie sutes of apparel for my share; « And some, berlady, very good, for fo ftandeth the case, “ As neither gentleman nor other Lord Promos Theweth any grace; “ But I marvel much, poore llaves, that they are hanged so soone, “ They were wont to staye a day or two, now scarce an after. The THREE LADIES OF LONDON.

noone." &c.

* This dramatick piece, in its entire state, has not been met with. The enly fragment of it known to be existing, is in my poilellion. STEEVENS.

1584. “ You think I am going to market to buy rost meate, do ye not? “ I thought so, but you are deceived, for I wot what I wot: “ I am neither going to the butchers, to buy veale, mutton, or

beefe, • But I am going to a bloodsucker, and who is it? faith Usurie, that theefe." THE COBLER'S PROPHECY.

1594 “ Quoth Niceness to Newfangle, thou art such a Jacke, os That thou deviselt fortie fashions for my ladie's backe. “ And thou, quoth he, art so possesst with everie frantick toy, " That following of my

ladie's humour thou dost make her coy, “ For once a day for fashion-sake my lady must be ficke, " No meat but mutton, or at most the pinion of a chicke : “ To-day her owne haire beit becomes, which yellow is as gold, " A periwig is better for to-morrow, blacke to behold:

To-day in pumps and cheveril gloves to walk she will be bold, " To-morrow cuffes and countenance, for feare of catching cold : “ Now is the barefait to be seene, straig!t on her mufler goes; was Now is the hufft up to the crowne, straight nusled to the nose.” See also Gammer Gurlon's Needle, Danon and Pythias, &c.

MALONE,

мА с в Етн.*

MACBETH.] In order to make a true estimate of the abilities and merit of a writer, it is always necessary to examine the genius of his age, and the opinions of his contemporaries. A poet who should now make the whole action of his tragedy depend upon enchantment, and produce the chief events by the aslistance of supernatural agents, would be censured as transgressing the bounds of probability, be banished from the theatre to the nursery, and condemned to write fairy tales instead of tragedies; but a survey of the notions that prevailed at the time when this play was written, will prove that Shakspeare was in no danger of such censures, since he only turned the system that was then universally admitted, to his advantage, and was far from overburdening the credulity of his audience.

The reality of witchcraft or enchantment, which, though not strictly the same, are confounded in this play, has in all ages and countries been credited by the common people, and in most, by the learned themselves. The phantoms have indeed appeared more frequently, in proportion as the darkness of ignorance has been more gross; but it cannot be shown, that the brightest gleams of knowledge have at any time been sufficient to drive them out of the world. "The time in which this kind of credulity was at its height, seems to have been that of the holy war, in which the Christians imputed all their defeats to enchantments or diabolical opposition, as they ascribed their success to the assistance of their military saints ; and the learned Dr. Warburton appears to believe (Suppl. to the Introduction to Don Quixote) that the first accounts of enchantments were brought into this part of the world by those who returned from their

eastern expeditions. But there is always some distance between the birth and maturity of folly as of wickedness: this opinion had long exifted, though perhaps the application of it had in no foregoing age been so frequent, nor the reception so general. Olympiodorus, in Photius's extracts, tells us of one Libanius, who pracrised this kind of military magic, and having promised xapes de milco xata Beepoépwe ivsgleño, to perform great things against the Barbarians without foldiers, was, at the instance of the empress Placidia, put to death, when he was about to have given proofs of his abilities. The empress showed some kindness in her anger, by cutting him off at a time so convenient for his reputation.

But a more remarkable proof of the antiquity of this notion may be found in St. Chrysostom's book de Sacerdotio, which exhibits a scene of enchantments not exceeded by any romance of the middle age: he supposes a spectator overlooking a field of battle attended by one that points out all the various objects of horror, the engines of deftruction, and the arts of laughter. Δεικτύτο δε ότι παρά τους εναλίοις και πεταμένες ίππος διά τινος μαγγανείας, και οπλίτας δ'αίρος φερομένες, και πάσης γοητείας δύναμιν και ιδιαι. Let him then proceed to show him in the opposite armies horses flying by enchantment, armed men transported through the air, and strery pruer and form of magic,

« FöregåendeFortsätt »