« PreviousContinue »
—Julina's love for Silvio, and her mistake of the brother for
THE POETICAL DECAMERON.
THE EIGHTH CONVERSATION.
Morton. Now, then, to claim the execution of your promise: do not let it be like those of princes, which, as Beaumont and Fletcher say in " Philaster," find "both birth and burial in one breath."
Bourne. And very properly, according to Chapman in his " Alphonsus," 1654;
"A prince above all things must seem devout; But nothing is so dangerous to his state As to regard his promise or his oath."
Elliot. That sentiment, I suppose, proceeds from the mouth of some parasite: however it cannot be applicable to yourself until you become a prince: therefore, without further postponement, produce the much talked of treasure—the novel from which Shakespeare took the plot of his " Twelfth Night." Quanto la speranza diventa minore, tanto I'amore maggiorfarsi, is a sentiment from Boccacio (G. III. N. 2.) in which you seem fully to concur; for as book-hunters have often been compared to lovers, you think that delay will increase desire.
Bourne. To which delay you are yourself contributing; the book containing what you so much wish to see, was in my hand even before you began your speech.
Morton. And you might, by reading the title, at least have saved yourself the trouble of a reply.
Bourne. Having endured the speech, justice required the reply; but as she is now satisfied, I will read the title:
"Rich his Farewell to Militarie Profession: Contenting very pleasant discourses fit for a peaceable time. Gathered together for the onely delight of the courteous Gentlewomen both of England and Ireland, for whose onely pleasure they were collected together, and vnto whom they are directed and dedicated. Newly augmented. By Barnabe Riche, Gentleman.—Malui me diuitem esse quam vocari.— Imprinted at London by G. E. for Thomas Adams. 1606."
Elliot. There, the date is enough: what do we want to know about G. E. or Thomas Adams? You are as particular about printers as if you were the editor of the new edition of Ames.
Morton. Was not Twelfth Night written before 1606, the date of Rich's book, where you say the original novel is inserted 2
Bourne. No; but if it were, I could still satisfy you that the novel in this volume was employed by Shakespeare. However, it seems agreed by the commentators, who have taken some pains upon the subject, that Twelfth Night was not written until after 1612. Mr. Chalmers says in 1613, and Mr. Tyrwhit, and after him Malone, in 1614. Dr. Drake, with every desire to strike out something new if there be the least pretence for it, fixes it between the two, in 1613; so that 6, 7, or 8 years most likely elapsed between the publication of Rich's work, in 1606, and the writing of Twelfth Night.
Elliot. I do not understand the first part of your observation. If Twelfth Night had been written, we will say, in 1605, how can you prove that Shakespeare availed himself of Rich's novel, unless he saw it in MS.? It was not printed until 1606.
Morton. I suppose that the words on the titlepage "newly augmented" have something to do with answering that question.
Bourne. They have. 1 have never seen any other edition of Rich's Fareivel but this of 1606, but independently of those words "newly augmented," I can decisively establish from the prefatory matter, that it must have been originally written and printed between 1578 and 1581: if, therefore, Twelfth Night had been our great dramatic poet's first, instead of being his last play, he might still have been indebted to this source.
Elliot. What does the prefatory matter consist of? *
Bourne. The point I refer to is established by the epistle " To the noble Souldiours both of England and Ireland;" for the author says in it, " I remember that in my last work, intituled the Alarum to England, I promised to take in hand some other thing." Therefore the "Alarum to England" immediately preceded what is before us, and that Alarum bears date in 1578.
Morton. But there might be an interval of many years between the two, notwithstanding: the "Alarum to England" might be printed in 1578, and be the author's last work, though the Farewel might not appear for 20 or 30 years afterwards.
Bourne. That is possible, though not probable; and it is, besides, contradicted by positive fact. In 1581 Rich published the first volume of his "Straunge and wonderfull aduentures of Do Simonides," so that the "Farewel" must have appeared between 1578 and 1581, or Rich could not have mentioned his "Alarum to England" as his last work.
Elliot. A very clear argument, and a very safe conclusion: the words "newly augmented," indeed, prove that it had been printed before, though in a shorter form. It might be curious to ascertain of what the augmentations consisted.
Bourne. I much doubt if, in fact, there were any: perhaps " newly augmented" at that day meant no