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intricacies of the fable; and we can see no objection to the dramatic representation even of a series of ages in a single night, that does not apply to every description of poem which leads in perusal from the fire-side at which we are sitting, to a succession of remote periods and distant countries. In these matters, faith is all-powerful; and, without her influence, the most chastely cold and critically correct of dramas is precisely as unreal as the Midsummer-Night's Dream, or the Winter's Tale." *

Perfectly coinciding in opinion with this ingenious critic, and willing to give an indefinite influence to the illusion of the scene, we have found in Pericles much entertainment from its uncommon variety and rapidity of incident, qualities which peculiarly mark the genius of Shakspeare, and which rendered this drama so successful on its first appearance, that the poets of the time quote its reception as a remarkable instance of popularity. †

A still more powerful attraction in Pericles is, that the interest accumulates as the story proceeds; for, though many of the characters in the earlier part of the piece, such as Antiochus and his Daughter, Simonides and Thaisa, Cleon and Dionyza, disappear and drop into oblivion, their places are supplied by more pleasing and efficient agents, who are not only less fugacious, but better calculated for theatric effect. The inequalities of this production are, indeed, considerable, and only to be accounted for, with probability, on the supposition, that Shakspeare either accepted a coadjutor, or improved on the rough sketch of a previous writer; the former, for reasons which will be assigned hereafter, seems entitled to a preference, and will explain why, in compliment to his dramatic friend, he has suffered a few passages, and one entire scene, of a character totally

* Monthly Review, New Series, vol. lxxvii. p. 158.

Thus, in the prologue to a comedy entitled The Hog has lost his Pearl, 1614, the author, alluding to his own production, says,

"if it prove so happy as to please, Well say, 'tis fortunate, like Pericles."

dissimilar to his own style and mode of composition, to stand uncorrected; for who does not perceive that of the closing scene of the second act, not a sentence or a word escaped from the pen of Shakspeare, and yet, that the omission of a few lines would have rendered that blameless and consistent, which is now, with reference to the character of Simonides, a tissue of imbecillity, absurdity, and falsehood. *

* As this is the only scene in the play which disgusts from its total dereliction of nature, a result at once decisive as to Shakspeare having no property in it; and as the mere omission of a few lines, not a word being either added or altered, will be sufficient to render the whole probable and inoffensive, I cannot avoid wishing that such curtailment might be adopted in every future edition.


PENTAPOLIS. A Room in the Palace.

Enter SIMONIDES and the KNIGHTS: SIMONIDES reading a letter.

Knights. May we not get access to her, my lord?

Sim. 'Faith, by no means; it is impossible.

Knights. Though loath to bid farewell, we take our leaves.
Sim. So-


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No play, in fact, more openly discloses the hand of Shakspeare than Pericles, and fortunately his share in its composition appears to have been very considerable; he may be distinctly, though not fre

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A letter, that she loves the knight of Tyre?

'Tis the king's subtilty, to have my life. (Aside.
O, seek not to intrap, my gracious lord,

A stranger and distressed gentleman,

That never aim'd so high, to love your daughter,

But bent all offices to honour her.

Sim. Thou hast bewitch'd my daughter, and thou art
A traitor.

Per. By the gods, I have not, sir.

Never did thought of mine levy offence;

Nor never did my actions yet commence

A deed might gain her love, or your displeasure.
My actions are as noble as my thoughts,

That never relish'd of a base descent.

I came unto your court, for honour's cause,

And not to be a rebel to her state;

And he that otherwise accounts of me,

This sword shall prove he's honour's enemy.

Sim. Now, by the gods, I do applaud his courage. (Aside.

Here comes my daughter, she can witness it.


Yea, mistress, are you so peremptory? (Addressing his daughter.
Will you, not having my consent, bestow

Your love and your affections on a stranger?

Hear, therefore, mistress; frame your will to mine,

And you, sir, hear you.-Either be rul'd by me,

Or I will make you-man and wife.—

And for a further grief,—God give you joy!

What, are you both agreed?

Thais. Yes, if you love me, sir. (Addressing Pericles.

Per. Even as my life, my blood that fosters it. (Exeunt.

Thus contracted, the scene would no longer excite the "supreme contempt" which Mr. Steevens expresses for it, adding in reference to its original state, "such another gross, nonsensical dialogue, would be sought for in vain among the earliest and rudest efforts of the British theatre. It is impossible not to wish that the Knights had horse-whipped Simonides, and that Pericles had kicked him off the stage."

quently, traced, in the first and second acts; after which, feeling the incompetency of his fellow-labourer, he seems to have assumed almost the entire management of the remainder, nearly the whole of the third, fourth, and fifth acts bearing indisputable testimony to the genius and execution of the great master.

The truth of these affirmations will be evident, if we give a slight attention to the sentiment and character which are developed in the scenes before us. It has been repeatedly declared, that Pericles, though teeming with incident, is devoid of character, an assertion which a little scrutiny is alone sufficient to refute.

Shakspeare has ever delighted in drawing the broad humour of inferior life, and in this, which we hold to be, the first heir of his DRAMATIC invention, no opportunity is lost for the introduction of such sketches; accordingly, the first scene of the second act, and the third and sixth scenes of the fourth act, are occupied by delineations of this kind, coloured with the poet's usual strength and verisimilitude, and painting the shrewd but honest mirth of laborious fishermen, and the vicious badinage of the inhabitants of a brothel. Leaving these traits, however, which sufficiently speak for themselves, let us turn our view on the more serious persons of the drama.

Of the minor characters belonging to this groupe, none, except Helicanus and Cerimon, are, it must be confessed, worthy of consideration; the former is respectable for his fidelity and integrity, though not individualised by any peculiar attribution, but in Cerimon, who exhibits the rare union of the nobleman and the physician, the most unwearied benevolence, the most active philanthropy, are depicted in glowing tints, and we have only to regret that he fills not a greater space in the business of the drama. in the business of the drama. He is introduced in

the second scene of the third act, as having

"Shaken off the golden slumber of repose,'

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to assist, in a dreadfully inclement night, some shipwrecked mariners:

"Cer. Get fire and meat for these poor men ;

It has been a turbulent and stormy night.

Serv. I have been in many; but such a night as this,

Till now, I ne'er endur'd."

His prompt assistance on this occasion calls forth the eulogium of some gentlemen who had been roused from their slumbers by the violence of the tempest:

"Your honour has through Ephesus pour'd forth

Your charity, and hundreds call themselves
Your creatures, who by you have been restor❜d:

And not your knowledge, personal pain, but even
Your purse, still open, hath built lord Cerimon
Such strong renown as time shall never

They are here interrupted by two servants bringing in a chest which had been washed on shore, and which is found to contain the body of Thaisa, the wife of Pericles, on a survey of which, Cerimon pronounces, from the freshness of its appearance, that it had been too hastily committed to the sea, adding an observation which would form an excellent motto to an Essay on the means of restoring suspended animation :

"Death may usurp on nature many hours,

And yet the fire of life kindle again

The overpressed spirits."

The disinterested conduct and philosophic dignity of Cerimon cannot be placed in a more amiable and striking light, than in that which they receive from the following declaration, worthy of being inscribed in letters of gold in the library of every liberal cultivator of medical science:

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* For the sake of perspicuity, I have substituted the word "knowledge," as synonymous with "cunning," the term in the original.

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