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* PERICLES, PRINCE OF TYRE. ) The Nory on which this play is formed, is of great antiquity. It is found in a book, once very popular, entitled Gellâ Romanorum, which is supposed by Mr. Tyrwhitt, the learned editor of The Canterbury Tales of Chaucer, 1775, 10 bave been written five bundred years ago. The earliest impression of that work :( which I have seen) was printed in 1488;* in that edition the history of Appolonius King of Tyre makes the 153d chapter.
It is likewise related by Gower in his Confessio Amantis, lib. viii. p. 175 - 185, edit, 1554. The Rev. Dr. Farmer has in his pofleffion a fragmeni of a M5. poem on the fawie fubje&, which appears, from the hand-writing and the metre, to be more ancient than Gower. The reader will find an extra& fiom ic at the cod of the play. There is also an ancient romance on this subjed, called Kyng Appolyn of Thyre, translated from the Fieoch by Robert Copland, and printed by Wynkyn de Worde in 1510. In 1576 William Howe had a licence for printing " The molt excellent, pleasant, and variable Hifloric of the frange Adventures of Prince Ape polonius, Luciue his wife, and Tharsa his daughter." The author of Pericles having introduced Gower in his piece, it is reasonable to suppose that he chiefly followed the work of that poet. It is observable, that the hero of this tale is, in Gower's poem, as in the present play, called prince of Tyre; in the Gesla Romanorum, · and Copland's prose romance, he is entitled king. Most of the ina cidents of the play are found in the Conf. Amant. and a few of Gower's expressions are occasionally borrowed. However, I think it is not unlikely, that there may have been ( though I have not met with it) an early prose tranlation of this popular fory, from the Geft. Roman. in which the name of Appolonius was changed to Pericles: 10 which, likewise, the author of this drama may have been indebted. In 1607 was published at London, by Valeu tine Sims, " The patterne of painful adventures, containing the moft excellent, pleasant, and variable hiftorie of the firange accidents that befell unto Prince Appolonius, the lady Lucina his wife, and Tharsia his daughter, wherein the uncertaio tie of this world and the fickle state of man's life are lively described. Translated into English by T. Twipe, Gept.' I have never seen the book, but it was without doubt a re-publication of that published by W. Howe in 1576.
Pericles was entered on the Stationers' books, May 2, 1608, by Edward Blount, one of the printers of the first folio edition of Shakspeare's plays; but it did not appear in print till the following year, and then it was published not by Blount, but by Henry Goffou; who had probably anticipated the other, by getting a hafty transcript from a playhouse copy.
There is, I believe, no
* There are several editions of the Gefia Romanorum before 1488,
play of our author's, perhaps I might say, in the English land guage, so incorred as this. The moft corrupt of Shaklpeare's other dramas, compared with Pericles, is purity itself. The mette is feldom alleuded to; verse is frequeutly printed as profe, and the grosseit errors abound in almost every page. I mention these circumstances, only as au apology to the reader for baving laken fomewhat more licence with his drama than would bave been juftifiable, if the copies of it now extant had been: less disfigured by the negligence and ignorance of the printer or tranfcriber. 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 tbe four quarto eciitions it is called the much admired play of PERICLES PRINCE OF Tyre; and it is mentioned by many ancient writers as a very popular performance; particularly, by the author of a metrical pamphlet, cutitled Pymlico or Run Redcap, in which the following lines are found :
" Amaz'd I flood, io fee a crowd
" Came to see Shore or Pericles." In a former edition of this play I faid, on the authority of ano. ther person, tbat this pamphlet had appeared in 1596 ; but I bave fance met with the picce itself, and find that l'mlico, &c. was pube lifeed in 1609. It might, however, have been a republication.
The prologue to an old comedy called The hog has lost his Pearl, 1614, likewise exhibits a proof of this play's uncommon success. The poet speaking of his piece, says:
if it prove lo happy as to please, * We'll say 'tis fortunate, like Pericles." By fortunate, I understand highly successful. The writer can hardly be supposed to have meant that Pericles was popular rather from accident than merit ; for that would have ben but a poor eulogy on his own performance.
An obscure poet, however, in 1652, infinuates that this drama was ill received, or at leaft. that it added nothing to the reputation of its author:
But Shakespeare, the plebeian driller, was
Vorfes by J. Taubam, prefixed 10 Richard Brome's
Joviai Crew, or the terry Beggars, 410. 1652. The passages above quoted shew that little credit is to be given to the afertion contaiued in ti efc lines; yet they furnith us with an additional proof that Pericles at zo very diftant period after