Page images



Pericles.] The story on which this play is formed, is of great antiquity. It is found in a book, once very popular, entitled Gesta Romanorum, which is supposed by Mr. Tyrwhitt, the learned editor of The Canterbury Tales of Chaucer, 1775, to have been written five hundred years ago.

Pericles was entered on the Stationers' books, May 2, 1608, by Edward Blount, one of the printers of the first folio edition of Shakespeare's plays ; but it did not appear in print till the following year, and then it was published not by Blount, but by Henry Gosson ; who had probably anticipated the other, by getting a hasty transcript from a playhouse copy

TH is, I believe, no play of our auThor's, perhaps I might say in the English language, so incorrect as this. The most corrupt of Shakespeare's other dramas, compared with Pericles, is purity itself. The metre is seldom attended to ; verse is frequently printed as prose, and the grossest errors abound in almost every page. I mention these circumstances, only as an apology to the reader for having takes somewhat more licence with this drama than would have been justifiable, if the copies of it now extant had been less disfigured by the negligence and ignorance of the printer or transcriber. The numerous corruptions that are found in the original edition in 1609, which have been carefully preserved and augmented in all the subsequent impressions, probably arose from its having been frequently exhibited on the stage. In the four quarto editions it is called the much admired play of PericleS, PRINCE OF TYRE ; and it is mentioned by many ancient writers as a very popular perform

MALONE. This play is so uncommonly corrupted by the printers, &c. that it does not so much seem to want illustration as emendation : and the errata are so numerous and gross, that one is tempted to suspect almost every line where there is the least deviation in the language from what is either usual or proper. Many of the corruptions appear to have arisen from an illiterate transcriber having written the speeches by ear from an inaccurate reciter ; who between them both have rendered the text (in the verbs particularly) very ungrammatical.

PERCY. To a former edition of this play were subjoined two dissertations ; one written by Mr. Steevens, the other by



me. In the latter I urged such arguments as then appeared to me to have weight, to prove that it was the entire work of Shakespeare, and one of his earliest compositions. Mr. Steevens on the other hand maintained, that it was originally the production of some elder playwright, and afterwards improved by our poet, whose hand was acknowledged to be visible in many scenes throughout the play. On a review of the various arguments which each of us produced in favour of his own hypothesis, I am now convinced that the theory of Mr. Steevens was right, and have no difficulty in acknowledging my own to be erroneous.

This play was entered on the Stationers' books, together with Antony and Cleopatra, in the year 1608, by Edward Blount, a bookseller of eminence, and one of the publishers of the first folio edition of Shakespeare's works. It was printed with his name in the title-page, in his lifetime ; but this circumstance proves nothing; because by the knavery of booksellers other pieces were also ascribed to him in his life-time, of wbich he indubitably wrote not a line. Nor is it necessary to 'urge in support of its genuineness, that at a subsequent period it was ascribed to him by several dramatic writers. I wish not to rely on any circumstance of that kind ; because in all questions of this nature, internal evidence is the best that can be produced, and to every person intimately acquainted with our poet's writings, must in the present case be decisive. The congenial sentiments, the numerous expressions bearing a striking similitude to passages in his undisputed plays, some of the incidents, the situation of many of the persons, and in various places the colour of the style, all these combine to set the seal of Shakespeare on the play before us, and furnish us with internal and irresistible proofs, that a considerable portion of this piece, as it now appears, was written by him. The greater part of the three last acts may, I think, on this ground be safely nscribed to him; and his hand may be traced occasionally

the other two divisions.

To alter, new-model, and improve the unsuccessful dramas of preceding writers, was, I believe, much more common in the time of Shakespeare than is generally supposed. This piece having been thus new-modelled by our poet, and enriched with many happy strokes from his pen, is unquestionably entitled to that place among his works which it has now obtained.


ANTIOCHUS, king of Antioch.
PERICLES, prince of Tyre.

two lords of Tyre.
SIMONIDES, king of Pentapolis.'
Cleon, governor of Tharsus.
LYSIMACHUS, governor of Mitylene.
Cerimon, a lord of Ephesus.
TAALIARD, a lord of Antioch.
PHILEMON, servant to Cerimon.
LEONINE, servant to Dionyza. Marshall
A Pandar, and his Wife.
Boult, their servant.
GOWER, as Chorus.
The Daughter of Antiochus,
Dionyza, wife to Cleon.
Thaisa, daughter to Simonides.
Marina, daughter to Pericles and Thaisa.
LYCHORIDA, nurse to Marina.
Lords, Ladies, Knights, Gentlemen, Sailors, Pirates, Fisher.

men, and Messengers, &c. SCENE, dispersedly in various countries.

(1) This is an imaginary city, and its name might have been borrowed from some romance. STEEVENS.



Enter GoWER. Before the Palace of Antioch.
sing a song

of old was sung,'
From ashes ancient Gower is come ;
Assuming man's infirmities,
To glad your ear, and please your eyes.
It hath been sung at festivals,
On ember-eves, and holy ales ;'
And lords and ladies of their lives
Have read it for restoratives :
'Purpose to make men glorious ;
Et quo antiquius, eo melius.
If you, born in these latter times,
When wit's more ripe, accept my rhymes,
And that to hear an old man sing,
May to your wishes pleasure bring, would wish, and that I might
Waste it for you, like taper-light.-
This city then, Antioch the great
Built up

for his chiefest seat;
The fairest in all Syria ;
(I tell you what mine authors say :)
This king unto him took a pheere,

Who died and left a female heir, (1) I do not know that old is by any author used adverbially. We might read:

To sing a song of old was sung --i. e. that of old, &c.

But the poet is so licentious in the language which he has attributed to Gower in this piece, that I have not ventured to make any change. MALONE. [2] 1. e. says Dr. Farmer, by whom this emendation was made, church-ales.

MALONE. [3] This

word, which is frequently used by our old poets, signifies à mate or com panion. The old copies have-peer. MALONE

Vol. X


« PreviousContinue »