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Shakspeare. I am forry to trouble you with trifles, yet what must be done, when grave men infift upon them?

It should seem to be the opinion of fome modern criticks, that the perfonages of claffick land began only to be known in England in the time of Shakfpeare; or rather, that he particularly had the honour of introducing them to the notice of his countrymen.

For inftance,-Rumour painted full of tongues, gives us a prologue to one of the parts of Henry the Fourth; and, fays Dr. Dodd, Shakspeare had doubtlefs a view to either Virgil or Ovid in their defcription of Fame.

But why fo? Stephen Hawes, in his Paflime of Pleafure had long before exhibited her in the fame


"A goodly lady envyroned about

"With tongues of fyre.——” 8

and fo had Sir Thomas More in one of his Pageants:" "Fame I am called, mervayle you nothing

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Though with tonges I am compailed all rounde."

not to mention her elaborate portrait by Chaucer, in The Boke of Fame; and by John Higgins, one of the affiftants in The Mirrour for Magiftrates, in his Legend of King Albanacte.

A very liberal writer on the Beauties of Poetry, who had been more converfant in the ancient literature of other countries, than his own, "cannot but wonder, that a poet, whofe claffical images are composed of the finest parts, and breath the very

8 Cap. 1. 4to. 1555.

9 Amongst the things, which Mayfter More wrote in his youth for his paftime," prefixed to his Workes, 1557, Fol.

fpirit of ancient mythology, fhould pass for being illiterate :

"See, what a grace was feated on this brow!
"Hyperion's curls: the front of Jove himself:
"An eye like Mars to threaten and command:
"A ftation like the herald Mercury,

"New lighted on a heaven-kiffing hill." Hamlet.

Illiterate is an ambiguous term: the queftion is, whether poetick history could be only known by an adept in languages. It is no reflection on this ingenious gentleman, when I fay, that I use on this occafion the words of a better critick, who yet was not willing to carry the illiteracy of our poet too far:-" They who are in fuch aftonishment at the learning of Shakspeare, forget that the pagan imagery was familiar to all the poets of his time; and that abundance of this fort of learning was to be picked up from almost every English book, that he could take into his hands." For not to infift upon Stephen Bateman's Golden Booke of the Leaden Goddes, 1577, and several other laborious compilations on the fubject, all this and much more mythology might as perfectly have been learned from the Teftament of Crefeide, and the Fairy Queen, as from a regular Pantheon or Polymetis himself.

Mr. Upton, not contented with heathen learning, when he finds it in the text, muft neceffarily fuperadd it, when it appears to be wanting; because Shakspeare most certainly hath loft it by accident!

* Printed amongst the works of Chaucer, but really written by Robert Henderfon, or Henryfon, according to other authorities.

It is obfervable that Hyperion is ufed by Spenfer with the fame error in quantity.

In Much ado about Nothing, Don Pedro fays of the infenfible Benedict, " He hath twice or thrice cut Cupid's bow-ftring, and the little hangman dare not fhoot at him."

This mythology is not recollected in the ancients, and therefore the critick hath no doubt but his author wrote " Henchman,—a page, pufio: and this word seeming too hard for the printer, he tranflated the little urchin into a hangman, a character no way belonging to him."

But this character was not borrowed from the ancients; it came from the Arcadia of Sir Philip Sidney:

"Millions of yeares this old drivell Cupid lives;

"While ftill more wretch, more wicked he doth prove: "Till now at length that Jove an office gives,

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(At Juno's fuite who much did Argus love)

"In this our world a hangman for to be

"Of all thofe fooles that will have all they fee."

B. II. c. 14.

I know it may be objected on the authority of fuch biographers as Theophilus Cibber, and the writer of the Life of Sir Philip, prefixed to the modern editions; that the Arcadia was not publifhed before 1613, and confequently too late for this imitation: but I have a copy in my own poffeffion, printed for W. Ponfonbie, 1590, 4to. which hath escaped the notice of the induftrious Ames, and the reft of our typographical antiquaries.

Thus likewife every word of antiquity is to be cut down to the claffical standard.

In a note on the Prologue to Troilus and Creffida, (which, by the way, is not met with in the quarto,) Mr. Theobald informs us, that the very names of the gates of Troy, have been barbarously demolished by the editors: and a deal of learned duft he makes in fetting them right again; much however to Mr.

Heath's fatisfaction. Indeed the learning is modeftly withdrawn from the later editions, and we are quietly inftructed to read,

"Dardan, and Thymbria, Ilia, Sera, Troian,

"And Antenorides."

But had he looked into the Troy boke of Lydgate, inftead of puzzling himself with Dares Phrygius, he would have found the horrid demolition to have been neither the work of Shakspeare nor his edi


"Therto his cyte | compaffed enuyrowne
"Hadde gates VI to entre into the towne:
"The first of all | and ftrengeft eke with all,
"Largeft alfo and mofte pryncypall,
"Of myghty byldyng | alone pereless,
"Was by the kynge called | Dardanydes;
"And in ftorye | lyke as it is founde,
"Tymbria | was named the feconde;
"And the thyrde | called Helyas,

"The fourthe gate | hyghte alfo Cetheas;

"The fyfthe Trojana, | the fyxth Anthonydes,

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Stronge and myghty | both in werre and pes.'

Lond. empr. by R. Pynfon, 1513, fol. B. II. ch. xi.

The Troye Boke was fomewhat modernized, and reduced into regular stanzas, about the beginning of the laft century, under the name of "The Life and Death of Hector-who fought a hundred mayne Battailes in open Field against the Grecians; wherein there were flaine on both Sides Fourteene Hundred and Sixe Thousand Fourfcare and Sixe Men." Fol. no date. This work, Dr. Fuller and feveral other criticks have erroneously quoted as the original; and obferve in confequence, that " if Chaucer's coin were of greater weight for deeper learning, Lydgate's were of a more refined standard for purer language: fo 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 predeceffor, Speght, was determined, Procruftes-like, to force every line in the Canterbury Tales to the fame ftandard: but a precife number of

Our excellent friend Mr. Hurd hath borne a noble teftimony on our fide of the question. "Shakspeare," fays this true critick, "owed the felicity of freedom from the bondage of claffical fuperftition, to the want of what is called the advantage of a learned education. This, as well as a vaft fuperiority of genius, hath contributed to lift this aftonishing man to the glory of being efteemed the most original thinker and Speaker, fince the times of Homer." And hence indifputably the amazing variety of ftyle and manner, unknown to all other writers: an argument of itself fufficient to emancipate Shakspeare from the fuppofition of a claffical training. Yet, to be honeft, one imitation is faftened on our poet: which hath been infifted upon likewife by Mr. Upton and Mr. Whalley. You remember it in the famous fpeech of Claudio in Meafure for Meafure:

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Ay, but to die and go we know not where!" &c.

Most certainly the ideas of "a spirit bathing

fyllables was not the object of our old poets. Lydgate, after the example of his mafter, very fairly acknowledges,

"Well wot I moche thing is wronge,

"Falfely metryd | both of fhort and longe."

and Chaucer himfelf was perfuaded, that the rime might poffibly be Somewhat agreable,

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Though fome verse faile in a fylláble."

In fhort, the attention was directed to the cafural paufe, as the grammarians call it; which is carefully marked in every line of Lydgate and Gafcoigne in his Certayne Notes of Inftruction concerning the making of Verje, obferves very truly of Chaucer, "Whofoeuer do perufe and well confider his workes, he thall find, that although his lines are not always of one felfe fame number of fyllables, yet beyng redde by one that hath understanding, the longest verfe and that which hath moft fyllables in it, will fall to the eare correfpondent unto that which hath feweft fyllables in it: and likewife that whiche hath in it feweft fyllables fhall be found yet to confift of wordes that hath fuche naturall founde, as may feeme equal in length to a verfe which hath many moe fyllables of lighter accents." 4to. 1575.

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