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jointed to the old stock, and freshly grow; then shall Posthumus end his miseries, Britain be fortunate, and flourish in peace and plenty.

Thou, Leonatus, art the lion's whelp;

The fit and apt construction of thy name,
Being Leo-natus, doth import so much :
The piece of tender air, thy virtuous daughter,


Which we call mollis aer: and mollis aer
We term it mulier: which mulier I divine,
Is this most constant wife; who, even now,
Answering the letter of the oracle,

Unknown to you, unsought, were clipp'd about
With this most tender air.

This hath some seeming.

Sooth. The lofty cedar, royal Cymbeline,
Personates thee: and thy lopp'd branches point'
Thy two sons forth: who, by Belarius stolen,
For many years thought dead, are now reviv'd,
To the majestick cedar join'd; whose issue
Promises Britain peace and plenty.

My peace we will begin :-And, Caius Lucius,
Although the victor, we submit to Cæsar,
And to the Roman empire; promising
To pay our wonted tribute, from the which
We were dissuaded by our wicked queen :
Whom heavens, in justice, (both on her, and hers,)
Have laid most heavy hand.

Sooth. The fingers of the powers above do tune
The harmony of this peace. The vision
Which I made known to Lucius, ere the stroke
Of this yet scarce-cold battle, at this instant
Is full accomplish'd: For the Roman eagle,
From south to west on wing soaring aloft,
Lessen'd herself, and in the beams o'the sun
So vanish'd: which fore-show'd our princely eagle,
The imperial Cæsar, should again unite

His favour with the radiant Cymbeline,
Which shines here in the west.


Laud we the gods;

And let our crooked smokes climb to their nostrils
From our bless'd altars! Publish we this peace
To all our subjects. Set we forward: Let
A Roman and a British ensign wave

Friendly together: so through Lud's town march:
And in the temple of great Jupiter

Our peace we'll ratify: seal it with feasts.-
Set on there :-Never was a war did cease,

Ere bloody hands were wash'd, with such a peace.


'This play has many just sentiments, some natural dialogues, and some pleasing scenes, but they are obtained at the expense of much incongruity. To remark the folly of the fiction, the absurdity of the conduct, the confusion of the names, and manners of different times, and the impossibility of the events in any system of life, were to waste criticism upon unresisting imbecility, upon faults too evident for detection, and too gross for aggravation.-JOHNSON. Of the enormous injustice of the above sentence, nearly every page of Cymbeline will, to a reader of any taste or discrimination, bring the most decisive evidence. That it possesses many of the too common inattentions of Shakspeare, that it exhibits a frequent violation to costume, and a singular confusion of nomenclature, cannot be denied; but these are trifles light as air, when contrasted with its merits, which are of the very essence of dramatic worth, rich and full in all that breathes of vigour, animation, and intellect; in all that elevates the faney, and improves the heart. In possession of excellencies, vital as those must be deemed, cold and fastidious is the criticism, that, on account of irregularities in mere technical detail, would shut its eyes upon their splendour. Nor are there wanting critics of equal learning with, and superior taste to, Johnson, who have considered what he has branded with the unqualified charge of "confusion of manners," as forming in a certain point of view, one of the most pleasing recommendations of the piece. Thus Schlegel, after characterising Cymbeline, as one of Shakspeare's most wonderful compositions, adds, "He has here connected a novel of Boccacio with traditionary tales of the ancient Britons, reaching back to the times of the first Roman emperors; and he has contrived by the most gentle transitions, to blend together into a harmonious whole, the social manners of the latest times, with the heroic deeds, and even with the appearances, of the gods." (Essay on Dram. Lit. vol. ii. p. 183.) It may also be remarked, that if the unities of time and place be as little observed in this play, as in many others of the same poet, unity of character and feeling, the test of genius, and without which the utmost efforts of art will be unavailing, is uniformly and happily supported.

In this drama, poetical justice has been strictly observed, the vicious characters meet the punishment due to their crimes, while virtue in all its various degrees is proportionably rewarded. The scene of retribution, which is the closing one of the play, is a masterpiece of skill; the development of the plot, for its fulness, completeness, and ingenuity, surpassing any effort of the kind among our author's contemporaries, and atoning for any partial incongruity which the structure or conduct of the story may have displayed.-Dr. DRAKE




To fair Fidele's grassy tomb,

Soft maids and village hinds shall bring
Each opening sweet, of earliest bloom,
And rifle all the breathing spring.

No wailing ghost shall dare appear
To vex with shrieks this quiet grove;
But shepherd lads assemble here,

And melting virgins own their love.

No wither'd witch shall here be seen,
No goblins lead their nightly crew;
The female fays shall haunt the green,
And dress thy grave with pearly dew.

The red-breast oft at evening hours
Shall kindly lend his little aid,
With hoary moss, and gather'd flowers,
To deck the ground where thou art laid.

When howling winds, and beating rain,
In tempests shake the sylvan cell;
Or midst the chace on every plain,

The tender thought on thee shall dwell.

Each lonely scene shall thee restore ;
For thee the tear be duly shed;
Belov'd, till life could charm no more;
And mourn'd till pity's self be dead.
See Page 280, note u.


THIS play was entered at Stationers' Hall, Feb. 6, 1593-4; in which year (according to Langbaine, who alone appears to have seen the first edition) it was also printed. There were two editions in quarto, one in 1600, and another in 1611; but neither of these have the author's name on the title page. The tragedy however was written several years before; as it is mentioned in the induction to Ben Jonson's Bartholomew Fair in 1614, as one that had been exhibited five-and-twenty or thirty years :" which, if we take the lowest number, throws it back to the year 1589, at which time Shakspeare was but twentyfive. It was most probably written two or three years earlier, and was the first production of our author.

That it is his, there is not only the testimony of its having been printed in the players' edition; but the authority of Meres, a contemporary author, who in a little book called Palladis Tamia, printed in 1598, enumerates this tragedy' among the works of Shakspeare.

The commentators have shown themselves very desirous of discrediting the authenticity of this play; but they have nothing to oppose to the above strong evidence in its favour; but such inconclusive arguments as may be derived from the dissimilarity of its style, and the inferiority of its merit to the other works of our author. To which may be answered, that it was a boyish production; that it is, perhaps, superior to any of the plays which were most popular at the period of its composition, and which a young writer would naturally be led to imitate in the first timid experiment of his powers; and that however displeasing its horrors and its turgid declamation may be to us, they were particularly admired by our author's contemporaries.

Much stress has been laid by Malone on the tradition mentioned by Ravenscroft; in his preface to the alteration of this play, published in 1687, he says, "I have been told by some anciently conversant with the stage, that it was not originally Shakspeare's; but brought by a private author to be acted, and he only gave some master touches to one or two of the principal parts or characters." This tradition, from whomsoever Ravenscroft received it, is overthrown by the slightest reference to dates. The play was produced, as we have already seen, certainly in 1589, probably as early as 1584; at this time Shakspeare was as yet unknown; a young man little more than twenty, without either literary reputation or theatrical influence, and the very last person to whom a play would be entrusted for the benefit of revision and correction. The plot, names, and characters of the play are from an old ballad, which the reader will find in the first volume of Percy's Reliques of Ancient English Poetry.

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