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no vestige; since, without agreeing to this, the said cerificate would not have been granted to me by the said Mr. Charpentier; and for surety of the above, which I acknowledge to be true, and which I promise punctually to execute, I have signed the present writing. Paris, 28th September, 1686.
John PAUL MARANA."
This paper serves as a curious instance in what manner the censors of books clipped the wings of genius when it was found too daring or excursive.
These rescindings of the Censor appear to be marked by Marana in the printed work. We find more than once chasms with these words: “ the beginning of this letter is wanting in the Italian translation; the original paper being torn.”
No one has yet taken the pains to observe the date of the first editions of the French and the English Turkish Spies, which would settle the disputed origin. It appears by the document before us, to have been originally written in Italian, but probably was first published in French. Does the English Turkish Spy differ from the French one ?
SPENSER, JONSON, AND SHAKSPEARE.
THE characters of these three great masters of English” poetry are sketched by Fuller, in his “ Worthies of England.” It is a literary morsel that must not be passed by. The criticisms of those who lived in or near the times when authors flourished merit our observation. They sometimes elicit a ray of intelligence, which later opinions do not always give.
He observes on SPENSER—“ The many Chaucerisms used (for I will not say affected by him) are thought by the ignorant to be blemishes, known by the learned to be beauties, to his book; which, notwithstanding, had been more SALEABLE, if more conformed to our modern language.”
On Jonson.—“His parts were not so ready to run of themselves, as able to answer the spur; so that it may be truly said of him, that he had an elaborate wit, wrought out by his own industry.He would sit silent in learned company, and suck in (besides wine) their several humours into his observation. What was ore in others, he was able to refine himself.
“ He was paramount in the dramatic part of poetry, and taught the stage an exact conformity to the laws of comedians. His comedies were
above the Volge (which are only tickled with downright obscenity), and took not so well at the first stroke as at the rebound, when beheld the second time; yea, they will endure reading so long as either ingenuity or learning are fashionable in our nation. If his latter be not so spriteful and vigorous as his first pieces, all that are old will, and all who desire to be old should, excuse him therein."
On SHAKSPEARE.-“ He was an eminent instance of the truth of that rule, poeta non fit, sed nascitur; one is not made, but born a poet. Indeed his learning was but very little; so that as Cornish diamonds are not polished by any lapidary, but are pointed and smoothed, even as they are taken out of the earth, so Nature itself was all the art which was used upon him.
“Many were the wit-combats betwixt him and Ben Jonson, which two I behold like a Spanish great galleon, and an English man of war. Master Jonson (like the former) was built far higher in learning ; solid, but slow in his performances. Shakspeare, with an English man of war, lesser in bulk, but lighter in sailing, could turn with all tides, and take advantage of all winds, by the quickness of his wit and invention.
Had these “Wit-combats," between Shakspeare and Jonson, which Fuller notices, been chronicled by some faithful Bosteell of the age, our literary history would have received an interesting accession. A letter has been published by Dr. Berkenhout relating to an evening's conversation between our great rival bards, and Alleyn the actor. Peele, a dramatic poet, writes to his friend Marlow, another poet. The Doctor unfortunately in giving this copy did not recollect his authority.
FRIEND MARLOW, “ I never longed for thy companye more than last night: we were all very merrye at the Globe, where Ned Alleyn did not scruple to affirme pleasantly to thy friend Will, that he had stolen his speeche about the qualityes of an actor's excellencye in Hamlet his Tragedye, from conversations manyfold which had passed between them, and opinyons given by Alleyn touchinge this subject. SHAKSPEARE did not take this talk in good sorte; but Jonson put an end to the strife, by wittylie remarking,—this affaire needeth no contention: you stole it froin Ned, no doubt, do not marvel; have you not seen him act times out of number?"
This letter is not genuine, but one of those ingenious forgeries which the late George Steevens practised on the literary antiquary; they were not always of this innocent cast. It has been frequently quoted as an original document. I have preserved it as an example of Literary Forgerirs, and the danger which literary historians incur by such nefarious practices.
BEN JONSON, FELTHAM, AND RAN
Ben Jonson, like most celebrated wits, was very unfortunate in conciliating the affections of his brother writers. He certainly possessed a great share of arrogance, and was desirous of ruling the realms of Parnassus with a despotic sceptre. That he was not always successful in his theatrical compositions is evident' from his abusing, in their title-page, the actors and the public. In this he has been imitated by Fielding. I have collected the following three satiric odes, written when the reception of his “ New-Inn, or The Light Heart," warmly exasperated the irritable disposition of our poet. He printed the title in the following manner:
New-Inn, or The Light Heart; a Comedy never acted, but most negligently played by some, the King's servants; and more squeamishly beheld and censured by others, the King's subjects, 1629. Now at last set at liberty to the readers, his Majesty's servants and subjects, to be judged, 1631."
At the end of this play he published the following Ode, in which he threatens to quit the stage for ever ; and turn at once a Horace, an Anacreon, and a Pindar.