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"The late, And much admired Play, called Pericles, Prince of Tyre. With the true Relation of the whole Historie, aduentures, and fortunes of the said Prince: As also, The no lesse strange, and worthy accidents, in the Birth and Life, of his Daughter Mariana. As it hath been diuers and sundry times acted by his Maiesties Seruants, at the Globe on the Banck-side. By William Shakespeare. Imprinted at London for Henry Gosson, and are to be sold at the signe of the Sunne in Pater-noster row, &c. 1609." 4to. 35 leaves. "The late, And much admired Play, called Pericles, Prince of Tyre. With the true Relation of the whole History, aduentures, and fortunes of the saide Prince. Written by W. Shakespeare.
for T. P. 1619." 4to. 34 leaves.
"The late, And much admired Play, called Pericles, Prince of Tyre. With the true Relation of the whole History, aduentures, and fortunes of the sayd Prince: Written by Will. Shakespeare: London, Printed by I. N. for R. B. and are to be sould at his shop in Cheapside, at the signe of the Bible. 1630." 4to. 34 leaves.
In the folio of 1664, the following is the heading of the page on which the play begins: "The much admired Play, called, Pericles, Prince of Tyre. With the true Relation of the whole History, Adventures, and Fortunes of the said Prince. Written by W. Shakespeare, and published in his life time." It occupies twenty-pages; viz. from p. 1 to p. 20, inclusive, a new pagination of the volume commencing with "Pericles." It is there divided into Acts, but irregularly, and the Scenes are not marked.
THE first question to be settled in relation to "Pericles," is its title to a place among the collected works of Shakespeare.
There is so marked a character about every thing that proceeded from the pen of our great dramatist,—his mode of thought, and his style of expression, are so unlike those of any of his contemporaries, that they can never be mistaken. They are clearly visible in all the later portion of the play; and so indisputable does this fact appear to us, that, we confidently assert, however strong may be the external evidence to the same point, the internal evidence is infinitely stronger to those who have studied his works it will seem incontrovertible. As we do not rely merely upon particular expressions, nor upon separate passages, but upon the general complexion of whole scenes and acts, it is obvious, that we cannot here enter into proofs, which would require the re-impression of many of the succeeding pages.
An opinion has long prevailed, and we have no doubt it is well founded, that two hands are to be traced in the composition of "Pericles." The larger part of the first three Acts were in all probability the work of an inferior dramatist: to these Shakespeare added comparatively little; but he found it necessary, as the story advanced and as the interest increased, to insert more of his own composition. His hand begins to be distinctly seen in the third Act, and afterwards we feel persuaded that we could extract nearly every line that was not dictated by his great intellect. We apprehend that Shakespeare found a drama on the story in the possession of one of the companies performing in London, and that, in accordance with the ordinary practice of the time, he made additions to and improvements in it, and procured it to be represented at the Globe theatre'. Who might be the author of the original piece, it would be vain to conjecture. Although we have no decisive proof that Shakespeare ever worked in immediate concert with any of his contemporaries, it was the custom with nearly all the dramatists of his day, and it is not impossible that such was the case with "Pericles."
The circumstance that it was a joint production, may partly account for the non-appearance of "Pericles" in the folio of 1623.
By a list of theatrical apparel, formerly belonging to Alleyn, and preserved at Dulwich College, it appears that he had probably acted in a play called "Pericles." See "Memoirs of Edward Alleyn," printed for the Shakespeare Society, p. 21. This might be the play which Shakespeare altered and improved.
Ben Jonson, when printing the volume of his Works, in 1616, excluded for this reason "The Case is Altered," and "Eastward Ho!" in the composition of which he had been engaged with others; and when the player-editors of the folio of 1623 were collecting their materials, they perhaps omitted "Pericles" because some living author might have an interest in it. Of course we only advance this point as a mere speculation; and the fact that the publishers of the folio of 1623 could not purchase the right of the bookseller, who had then the property in Pericles," may have been the real cause of its non-insertion.
The Registers of the Stationers' Company show that on the 20th May, 1608, Edward Blount (one of the proprietors of the folio of 1623) entered "The booke of Pericles, Prynce of Tyre," with one of the undoubted works of Shakespeare, "Antony and Cleopatra." Nevertheless," Pericles" was not published by Blount, but by Gosson in the following year; and we may infer, either that Blount sold his interest to Gosson, or that Gosson anticipated Blount in procuring a manuscript of the play. Gosson may have subsequently parted with "Pericles" to Thomas Pavier, and hence the reimpression by the latter in 1619.
Having thus spoken of the internal evidence of authorship, and of the possible reason why "Pericles" was not included in the folio of 1623, we will now advert briefly to the external evidence, that it was the work of our great dramatist. In the first place it was printed in 1609, with his name at full length, and rendered unusually obvious, on the title-page. The answer, of course, may be that this was a fraud, and that it had been previously committed in the cases of the first part of "Sir John Oldcastle," 1600, and of "The Yorkshire Tragedy," 1608. It is undoubtedly true, that Shakespeare's name is upon those title-pages; but we know, with regard to "Sir John Oldcastle," that the original title-page, stating it to have been "Written by William Shakespeare" was cancelled, no doubt at the instance of the author to whom it was falsely imputed; and as to "The Yorkshire Tragedy," many persons have entertained the belief, in which we join, that Shakespeare had a share in its composition. We are not to forget that, in the year preceding, Nathaniel Butter had made very prominent use of Shakespeare's name, for the sale of three impressions of "King Lear;" and that in the very year when "Pericles" came out, Thorpe had
2 It seems that "Pericles" was reprinted under the same circumstances in 1611. I have never been able to meet with a copy of this edition, and doubted its existence, until Mr. Halliwell pointed it out to me, in a sale catalogue in 1804: it purported to have been "printed for S. S." This fact would show, that Shakespeare did not then contradict the reiterated assertion, that he was the author of the play.
printed a collection of scattered poems, recommending them to notice in very large capitals, by stating emphatically that they were "Shakespeare's Sonnets."
Confirmatory of what precedes, it may be mentioned, that previously to the insertion of "Pericles" in the folio of 1664, it had been imputed to Shakespeare by S. Shepherd, in his "Times displayed in Six Sestiads," 1646; and in lines by J. Tatham, prefixed to R. Brome's "Jovial Crew," 1652. Dryden gave it to Shakespeare in 1675, in the Prologue to C. Davenant's "Circe." Thus, as far as stage tradition is of value, it is uniformly in favour of our position; and it is moreover to be observed, that until comparatively modern times it has never been contradicted.
The incidents of "Pericles" are found in Lawrence Twine's translation from the Gesta Romanorum, first published in 1576, under the title of "The Patterne of Painfull Adventures," in which the three chief characters are not named as in Shakespeare, but are called Apollonius, Lucina, and Tharsia'. This novel was several times reprinted, and an edition of it came out in 1607, which perhaps was the year in which "Pericles" was first represented" at the Globe on the Bank-side," as is stated on the title-page of the earliest edition in 1609. The drama seems to have been extremely popular, but the usual difficulty being experienced by booksellers in obtaining a copy of it, Nathaniel Butter probably employed some person to attend the performance at the theatre, and with the aid of notes there taken, and of Twine's version of the story, (which, as we remarked, had just before been reprinted) to compose a novel out of the incidents of the play under the following title: "The Painfull Adventures of Pericles Prince of Tyre. Being the true History of the Play of Pericles, as it was lately presented by the worthy and ancient Poet Iohn Gower. At London. Printed by T. P. for Nat. Butter. 1608." It has also a wood-cut of Gower, no doubt, in the costume he wore at the Globe.
This publication is valuable, not merely because it is the only known specimen of the kind of that date in our language, but because though in prose, (with the exception of a song) it gives some of the speeches more at length, than in the play as it has come down to us, and explains several obscure and disputed passages. For
The novel is contained in a work called "Shakespeare's Library," as well as Gower's poetical version of the same incidents, extracted from his Confessio Amantis. Hence the propriety of making Gower the speaker of the various interlocutions in "Pericles." The origin of the story, as we find it in the Gesta Romanorum, is a matter of dispute: Belleforest asserts that the version in his Histoires Tragiques was from a manuscript tiré du Grec. Not long since, Mr. Thorpe printed an Anglo-Saxon narrative of the same incidents; and it is stated to exist in Latin manuscripts of as early a date as the tenth century.—“ Shakespeare's Library,” part v. p. ii.