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If the Council of the Shakespeare Society think these new particulars worth printing, they are quite at their service. To me, for
many reasons, they appear exceedingly curious : my notes, I should observe, were made at the Chapter House in the time of the late Mr. Cayley.
Should these particulars meet with insertion, I shall be tempted on a future occasion to furnish others, which, I apprehend, are equally remarkable: none of them are included by Mr. Cunningham in his valuable work, printed for the Shakespeare Society in 1842, entitled “Extracts from the Accounts of Revels at Court," because he does not go back to so early a date. Neither are they noticed by Mr. Collier in his “History of Dramatic Poetry and the Stage.” I only mention this, in order to establish that the information is quite new as well as valuable,
A MEMBER FROM THE FIRST.
London, 23rd December, 1846.
Art. XIII.-"Salmacis and Hermaphroditus," not by Francis
Beaumont: the edition of 1602.
Had the original edition of “Salmacis and Hermaphroditus,” 1602, 4to, been a work of sufficient length, I should have recommended it to the Shakespeare Society for separate publication: as it is short, as it is of peculiar interest in reference to Francis Beaumont, (whose works, with those of Fletcher, have so recently been republished) and as it has never been reprinted from the only authentic impression, it may be worth while to include it in the literary and dramatic miscellany, issued under the title of “The Shakespeare Society's Papers."
For this purpose I have made an accurate transcript of tho poem from the only known copy, preserved in the Bodleian Library at Oxford, and I append it to this introduction. I presume that the Rev. Mr. Dyce was not aware of its existence in so accessible a depository, or he would not have adopted and inserted in his edition of Beaumont and Fletcher" the very faulty and corrupt text of Lawrence Blaiklock in 1648 and 1653.
It will be observed, from the title-page of the edition of 1602, that the name of Francis Beaumont no where appears in connexion with it; and, without going the length of asserting positively that he had no hand whatever in it, it may be strongly doubted whether Blaiklock did not impute it to him fraudulently, in order to avail himself of the popularity of Beaumont's
From the period of the death of Shakespeare to the breaking out of the Civil Wars, it is admitted that the dramas of Beaumont and Fletcher were better relished by the multitude than those of Shakespeare. Blaiklock seems to have obtained a copy of the anonymous poem, “ Salmacis and Hermaphroditus," as it had been printed for the first time in 1602; and many years after the death of Beaumont, when his plays and those of Fletcher were daily acted at the Blackfriars and Globe Theatres, he thought it would answer his purpose to reprint it boldly, as the undoubted work of Beaumont.
I do not say that such was actually, but that such was most probably, the case ; and when the Rev. Mr. Dyce urges (" Beaumont and Fletcher,” xi., 445) that Blaiklock may have printed from an independent manuscript, he had not seen the original impression of 1602, or he would have found to demonstration, that Blaiklock merely used that impression, and that the changes he made in the preliminary matter were introduced dishonestly, to make the reader believe that he was perusing a poem the authentic work of no less a man than Francis Beaumont.
Now, as to these fraudulent changes. I have already remarked that in the edition of 1602 the name of Beaumont is no where met with ; nor are even his initials appended to any of the introductory poems; but when Blaiklock, as a trick of trade, wished it to be supposed that “Salmacis and Hermaphroditus” was by Beaumont, he not only appended his initials, F. B., to the address “To the true patroness of all poetry, Calliope,” but he altered those of A. F. (subscribed in 1602 to three stanzas “to the Author,") to I. F., with the intention that these commendatory verses should be imputed to Beaumont's dramatic partner, John Fletcher. The falsehood was carried still farther in 1660, for Blaiklock's volume of 1640 and 1653 was again put forth, with greater impudence, as “The Golden Remains of those so much admired Dramatic Poets, Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher.” They were given to Beaumont only in 1640 and 1653; but in 1660 it was the bookseller's interest to assign a share in them to Fletcher, although it is now notorious that he did not contribute a single line, and that poems by Ben Jonson, Shirley, Donne, Randolph, Cleveland, and even Waller, were foisted in to swell the bulk of the volume.
I feel confident that the eyes of the Rev. Mr. Dyce would have been opened to the fraud of imputing “Salmacis and Hermaphroditus” to Beaumont, had he seen the first edition of it; and I learn from Mr. Dyce's notes that Mr. Payne Collier, in his “Shakespeare,” because he had seen the original edition, arrived at the conclusion that Beaumont had nothing whatever to do with “Salmacis and Hermaphroditus.” I met with the poem in the Bodleian at least ten years ago, and then made up my
mind that Blaiklock had been guilty of an imposition, especially when I recollected the extreme youth of Beaumont in 1602. It is but fair, however, to the Rev. Mr. Dyce, to admit that his notion seems to be that Beaumont was not quite so young as he has been represented by other biographers."
Having herewith sent a faithful transcript of the edition of 1602, from the first word of the title to the last line of the poem, it is not worth while to extend my remarks in order to show how much better is the old text than that which was used by the Rev. Mr. Dyce, and by others who have reprinted “Salmacis and Hermaphroditus.” It will be observed by those who compare the two, that lines have been omitted, and that various passages, hitherto unintelligible or obscure, are to be explained and understood without difficulty. The blunders of Blaiklock commence at the very beginning, and are carried on to the end: I will only illustrate this position by two instances. The last couplet of a copy of verses headed “ The Author to the Reader," in Blaiklock's edition, runs thus
“I hope my poem is so lively writ,
1 He is a little at variance with himself on this point: in his biographical account of Beaumont, (p. xxii.) he argues that Beaumont was born before 1586; and yet, in his note on p. 445 of Vol. xi, when the line of his argument led him to represent Beaumont as a mere boy, he tells us, without qualification, that he “was then only sixteen."
Why was the reader to turn 6 half-mad ?" The true compound in the original is half-maid, in reference to the fate of Hermaphroditus;
“ I hope my poem is so lively writ,
Again, in the body of the poem, as reprinted by the Rev. Mr. Dyce from Blaiklock, this couplet is put into the mouth of Salmacis, and addressed to Hermaphroditus
“If any's wish with thy sweet bed be blest,
“If this be not sheer nonsense, it is next door to it,” as was said by a celebrated commentator; but what is the ancient and authentic reading of 1602? This
any wife with thy sweet bed be blest, Oh! she is far more happy than the rest."
Many other proofs of corruptions, quite as gross and glaring, might be pointed out, if I were to lengthen this introduction but I feel that it would only be a waste of space, when I enable any member of the Shakespeare Society, who is as deeply interested as I am in our early literature, to make a minute comparison between the text of 1602 and that of 1640, 1653, and 1660.
Supposing “Salmacis and Hermaphroditus” to be a genuine work by Francis Beaumont, a point in which I cannot agree with the Rev. Mr. Dyce, he had no choice but to reprint Blaiklock’s text, not being of course acquainted with the existence of a better text in the Bodleian Library. As it is understood to be a unique tract, it has the stronger claim to perpetuation by the Shakespeare Society.
Oxford, 18 January, 1847.