« PreviousContinue »
Art. XVI.-Shakespeare's “ Venus and Adonis," and Lodge's
“ Scilla's Metamorphosis.”
In Mr. Collier's. “ Life of Shakespeare,” prefixed to his edition, 8 vols., 8vo., 1844, I find this passage in reference to “ Venus and Adonis.”—“The poem was quite new in its class, being founded upon no model, either ancient or modern : nothing like it had been attempted before, and nothing comparable to it was produced afterwards. Thus in 1593 he (Shakespeare) might call it, in the dedication to Lord Southampton, the first heir of his invention' in a double sense, not merely because it was the first printed, but because it was the first written of his productions."
In this view I entirely concur, as well as in the observations and facts contained in the note appended to the passage. If “ Venus and Adonis” were composed, as we may well imagine, before Shakespeare quitted Stratford-upon-Avon in 1586 or 1587, it preceded the various works of the same class, written by contemporaries. I take it, that, like his “sugred sonnets mentioned by Meres in 1598, “ Venus and Adonis" had been handed about in manuscript among his friends; and the great probability is that Thomas Lodge had seen it before he wrote his “ Scillae’s Metamorphosis, interlaced with the unfortunate love of Glaucus,” which was published in 1589. Lodge's poem is written in the same stanza, and in various other points seems to adopt 6 Venus and Adonis” as a model : nay, near the commencement of it, the author actually adverts to the same incidents, and in terms which read exactly as if he had endeavoured to adopt the same style: e. g.
“ Hee that hath seene the sweete Arcadian boy
His pretie teares betokening his annoy,
The ecchoes ringing from the rockes his fall,
“ And Venus, starting at her love-mates crie,
Whose beautie quaild, as wont the lillies droop,
“ Her daintie hand addrest to dawe her deere,
How on his senseles corpes she lay a crying,
It is not to be disputed that the poem, from which this quotation is taken, was printed four years before “ Venus and Adonis " made its appearance; but there seems as little doubt that the last was composed, perhaps, as long before the first was written : Lodge having had an opportunity, like many others, of seeing “ Venus and Adonis" in manuscript, followed the example in “Scillae’s Metamorphosis," and made the preceding allusion to it.
Bibliographers inform us that “Scillae's Metamorphosis," having originally come out in 1589, was reprinted in 1610. This is a mistake, owing to the writers not having been able to see both editions: the only novelty in the copies of 1610 is the title-page, which runs thus :
“A most pleasant Historie of Glaucus and Scilla. With many excellent Poems, and delectable Sonnets.--Imprinted at London. 1610."
It was only a repetition of the ordinary bookseller's contrivance to sell off copies remaining on hand, under the pretext that the work was an entirely new impression : all, excepting the title, is precisely like the edition of 1589, even to the most minute particular of defective typography. This fact establishes that Lodge's “Scillae's Metamorphosis " was anything but successful: all the copies of the impression of 1589 were not sold even as late as 1610, while of Shakespeare's “Venus and Adonis” four distinct reprints, two in 4to. and two in 8vo., had been made between 1593, when it first appeared, and the year 1600.
Before I quit Lodge's poem, I may notice a curious point in it, which has hitherto escaped observation. It is ascertained that, although he strenuously defended dramatic poetry and the stage from Stephen Gosson's attack in his “ School of Abuse,” 1579, Lodge early abandoned the profession both as an author and as an actor: two dramas, one by him alone, and the other by him and Robert Greene, were published in 1994, but at what date they were written has not been ascertained. “Scillae's Metamorphosis” affords curious proof that Lodge had relinquished theatrical composition as early as 1589, for at the close of that poem we meet with the subsequent stanza : the writer is speaking of Glaucus.
“ At last he left me where at first he found me,
At that date, and as Gosson and Northbrookea had con
Reprinted by the Shakespeare Society in 1841. 2 In his " Treatise against Plays, Interludes," &c., reprinted by the Shakespeare Society in 1843. VOL. III.
grew from dramatic composition, and Glaucus enjoined Lodge to write no more of it. " Pennyknaves” is a contemptuous term for penny auditors, admitted into some parts of our old theatres at that price. Though Lodge wrote many works after 1589, he seems to have kept his word, and never again touched matters in any way connected with the stage.
The drama written by Greene and Lodge, probably in concert, is called “A Looking Glass for London and England ;" and although it was first printed in 1594, we may be now sure that it was composed at least five years earlier; which will afford a useful note to the Rev. Mr. Dyce's reprint of it in his edition of “ The Dramatic Works of Robert Greene,”: 2 vols., 8vo., 1831 : he has not touched upon the period of the composition of the play.
JAMES P. REARDON. London, January 7th, 1846.
Art. XVII.-An unknown edition of the Interlude of " Every
Man,” printed by Pynson.
Not very long before his death, the late Mr. Douce, author of the - Illustrations of Shakespeare," &c., gave me an opportunity of transcribing a very curious dramatic fragment in his possession, which, I presume, with his other books and MSS., is now at Oxford. It consists of large portions of the last eight pages of the interlude of “Every Man,” from the press of Pynson ; and it is the more valuable, because no more complete copy by Pynson appears to be known. Herbert was aware of the fragment, but, notwithstanding his authority, Dr. Dibdin, in his “Typographical Antiquities,” ii., 565, says, “The existence of any play printed by Wynkyn de Worde, or Pynson, may be doubtful.” As to Wynkyn de Worde, an entire drama, with his colophon, is contained in vol. 12 of the last edition of · Dodsley's Old Plays ;” and as to Pynson, it is equally indisputable that he printed a “play,” because his colophon is fortunately preserved, in the following words, at the end of Mr. Douce's fragment
Imprynted at London in Fletestrete at the Sygne of the George by Rycharde Pynson prynter vnto the Kynges noble
The “ moral play” of “Every Man,” from one of Skot's editions, is contained in vol. i. of Hawkins's “Origin of the English Drama,” but the editor says nothing of any impression by Pynson : it is evident that he was unacquainted with the fact; and, indeed, did not know that “Every Man” had been twice printed by Skot, once with his colophon, and once without it. This circumstance is recorded in the hand