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Our excellent friend Mr. Hurd hath borne a noble testimony on our side of the question. “Shakspeare,” says this true cri. tick, "owed the felicity of freedom from the bondage of classical superstition, to the want of what is called the advantage of a learned education. This, as well as a vast superiority of genius, hath contributed to lift this astonishing man to the glory of being esteemed the most original thinker and speaker, since the times of Homer.” And hence indisputably the amazing variety of style and manner, unknown to all other writers: an argument of itself sufficient to emancipate Shakspeare from the supposition of a classical training. Yet, to be honest, one, imitation is fastened on our poet: which hath been insisted upon likewise by Mr. Upton and Mr. Whalley. You remember it in the famous speech of Claudio in Measure for Measure:
“Ay, but to die and go we know not where!" &c. Most certainly the ideas of “a spirit bathing in fiery floods,"
wherein there were slaine on both sides Fourteene Hundred and Sixe Thousand Fourscore and Sixe Men.” Fol, no date. This work, Dr. Fuller and several other criticks, have erroneously quoted as the origina?; and observe in consequence, that “if Chaucer's coin were of greater weight for deeper learning, Lydgate's were of a more refined standard for purer language: so that one might mistake him for a modern writer!"
Let me here make an observation for the benefit of the next editor of Chaucer. Mr. Urry, probably misled by his predeces. sor, Speght, was determinevi, Procrustes-like, to force every line in The Canterbury Tales, to the same standard: but a precise number of syllables was not the object of our old poets. Lydgate, after the example of his master, very fairly acknowledges,
“ Well wot I | moche thing is wronge,
“ Falsely metryd | both of short and longe.” and Chaucer himself was persuaded, that the rime might possi
Somewhat agreáble, “ Though some verse faile in a syllable." In short, the attention was directed to the cæsural pause, as the grammarians call it; which is carefully marked in every line of Lydgate: and Gascoigne in his Certuyne Notes of Instruction concerning the making of Verse, observes very truly of Chaucer, “ Whosoeuer do peruse and well consider his workes, he shall find, that although his lines are not always of one selfe same number of syllables, yet beyng redde by one that hath under. standing, the longest verse and that which hath most syllables in it, will fall to the eare correspondent unto that which hath fewest syllables in it: and likewise that whiche hath in it few. est syllables shall be found yet to consist of wordes that hath suche naturall sounde, as may seeme equall in length to a verse which hath many moe syllables of lighter accents.” 4to. 1575.
of residing "in thrilling regions of thick-ribbed ice," or of be. ing. “ imprisoned in the viewless winds,” are not original in our author; but I am not sure, that they came from the Platonick hell of Virgil.* The monks also had their hot and their cold hell: “ The fyrste is fyre that ever brenneth, and never gyveth lighte,” says an old homily:t-"The seconde is passyng colde, that yf a grete hylle of fyre were casten therein, it sholde torn to yce.” One of their legends, well remembered in the time of Shakspeare, gives us a dialogue between a bishop and a soul tormented in a piece of ice, which was brought to cure a grete brenning heate in his foot:ť take care you do not interpret this the gout, for I remember Mr. Menage quotes a canon upon us: “Si quis dixerit episcopum PODAGRA laborare, anathe-
ma sit.” Another tells us of the soul of a monk fastened to a rock,. whieh the winds were to blow about for a twelvemonth, and purge of its enormities. Indeed this doctrine was before now in. troduced into poetick fiction, as you may see in a poem “where the lover declareth his pains to exceed far the pains of hell,”. among the many miscellaneous ones subjoined to the works of Surrey. Nay, a very learned and inquisitive Brother-Antiquary, our Greek Professor,f hath observed to me on the authority of Blefkenius, that this was the ancient opinion of the inhabitants of Iceland ;|| who were certainly very little read either in the poet or the philosopher.
After all, Shakspeare's curiosity might lead him to translations. Gawin Douglas really changes the Platonick hell into the “punytion of saulis in purgatory:" and it is observable, that when the Ghost informs Hamlet of his doom there,
“ Till the foul crimes done in his days of nature
“ Are burnt and purg'd away. the expression is very similar to the bishop's: I will give you his version as concisely as I can; “It is a nedeful thyng to suffer pains and torment-sum in the wyndis, sum under the watter, and in the fire uthir sum :-thus the mony vices
•Contrakkit in the corpis be done away
Aliæ panduntur inanes
“Infectum eluitur scelus, aut exuritur igni." + At the ende of the festyuall, drawen oute of Legenda aurea, 4to. 1508. It was first printed by Caxton, 1483, “ in helpe of such clerkes who excuse theym for defaute of bokes, and also by: symplenes of connynge.”
On all soules daye, p. 152. § Mr. afterwards Dr. Lort. || Islandic Descript. Ludg. Bat. 1607, p. 46.
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It seems, however, "that Shakspeare himself in The T'empest hath translated some expressions of Virgil: witness the O deu certe.” I presume, we are here directed to the passage, where Ferdinand says of Miranda, after hearing the songs of Ariel,
Most sure, the goddess
No doubt, a godesse !” Edit. 1583.
But to come nearer the purpose, what will you say, if I can shew you, that Shakspeare, when, in the favourite phrase, he had a Latin poet in his eye, most assuredly mad? use of a translation?
Prospero, in T. Tempest, begins the address to his attendant spirits,
“Ye elves of hills, of standing lakes, and groves." This speech, Dr. Warburton rightly observes to be borrowed from Medea in Ovid: and “it proves," says Mr. Holt,* “be. yond contradiction, that Shakspeare was perfectly acquainted with the sentiments of the ancients on the subject of inchantments.” The original lines are these:
Auræque, & venti, montesque, amnesque, lacusque,
Diique omnes nemorum, diique omnes noctis adeste.” It happens, however, that the translation by Arthur Goldingt is by no means literal, and Shakspeare hath closely followed it:
In some remarks on The Tempest, published under the quaint title of An Attempt to rescue that aunciente English Poet and Playwrighte, Maister Williaune Shakespeare, from the many Errours, faulsely charged upon him by certaine new-fangled Wittes. Lond. 8vo. 1749, p. 81.
† His work is dedicated to the Earl of Leicester in a long epis. tle in verse, from Berwick, April 20, 1567.
“Ye ayrès and winds; ye elves of hills, of brookes, of
woods alone, “Of standing lakes, and of the night approche ye everych
one." I think it is unnecessary to pursue this any further: especially as more powerful arguments await us.
In The Merchant of Venice, the Jew, as an apology for his cruelty to Antonio, rehearses many sympathies and antipathies for which no reason can be rendered:
“ Some love not a gaping pig-
“ Cannot contain their urine for affection.” This incident, Dr. Warburton supposes to be taken from a passage in Scaliger's Exercitations against Cardan: “Narrabo tibi jocosam sympathiam Reguli Vasconis equitis: is dum viveret audito phormingis sono, urinam illico facere cogebatur.”* And," proceeds the Doctor, “to make this jocular story still more ridiculous, Shakspeare, I suppose, translated phorminx by bag pipes.”
Here we seem fairly caught;--for Scaliger's work was never, as the term goes, done into English. But luckily in an old trans. lation from the French of Peter le Loier, entitled, A Treatise of Specters, or Straunge Sights, Visione, and Apparitions appearing sensibly unto Men, we have this identical story from Scaliger: and what is still more, a marginal note gives us in all probability the very fact alluded to, as well as the word of Shakspeare: “ Another gentleman of this quality liued of late in Deuon neere Excester, who could not endure the playing on a bagpipe."*
We may just add, as some observation hath been made upon it, that affection in the sense of sympathy was formerly technical; and so used by Lord Bacon, Sir Kenelm Digby, and many other writers.
A single word in Queen Catherine's character of Wolsey, in Henry VIII, is brought by the Doctor as another argument for the learning of Shakspeare:
He was a man
* M. Bayle hath delineated the singular character of our fantastical author. His work was originally translated by one Za charie Jones. My edit. is in 4to. 1605, with an anonymous Dedi. cation to the King: the Devonshire story was therefore well known in the time of Shakspeare. -The passage from Scaliger is likewise to be met with in The Optick Glasse of Humors, written, I believe, by T. Wombwell;t and in several other places.
t" So I imagined from a note of Mr. Baker's, but I have since seen a copy in the library of Canterbury Cathedral
, printed 1607, and ascribed to T. Walkington, of St. John's, Cambridge." Dr. Farmer's MSS. Reed.
“ Himself with princes; one that by suggestion
“The clergy ill example.” “The word suggestion,” says the critick, “is here used with great propriety, and seeming knowledge of the Latin tongue:” and he proceeds to settle the sense of it from the late Roman writers and their glossers. But Shakspeare's knowledge was from Holinshed, whom he follows verbatim:
“This cardinal was of a great stomach, for he compted him. self equal with princes, and by craftie suggestion got into his hands innumerable treasure: he forced little on simonie, and was not pitifull, and stood affectionate in his own opinion: in open presence he would lie and seie untruth, and was double both in speech and meaning: he would promise much and performe little: he was vicious of his bodie, and gaue the clergie euil example.” Edit. 1587, p. 922.
Perhaps after this quotation, you may not think, that Sir Thomas Hanmer, who reads Tyth'd-instead of Ty'd all the kingdom, deserves quite so much of Dr. Warburton's severity.-Indisputably the passage, like every other in the speech, is intended to express the meaning of the parallel one in the chronicle: it cannot therefore be credited, that any man, when the original was produced, should still choose to defend a cant acceptation; and inform us, perhaps, seriously, that in gaming language, from I know not what practice, to tye is to equal! A sense of the word, as far as I have yet found, unknown to our old writers; and, if known, would not surely have been used in this place by our author.
But let us turn from conjecture to Shakspeare's authorities. Hall, from whom the above description is copied by Holinshed, is very explicit in the demands of the Cardinal: who having insolently told the Lord Mayor and Aldermen, “ For sothe I thinke, that halfe your substaunce were to litle," assures them by way of comfort at the end of his harangue, that upon an aves rage
the tythe should be sufficient; “ Sers, speake not to breake that thyng that is concluded, for some shall not paie the tenth parte, and some more.”—And again: “ Thei saied, the Cardinanall by visitacions, makyng of abbottes, probates of testamentes, graunting of faculties, licences, and other pollyngs in his courtes legantines, had made his threasore egall with the kinges.” Edit 1548, p. 138, and 143.
Skelton,* in his Why come ye not to Court, gives us, after luis rambling manner, a curious character of Wolsey: