Page:Notes and Queries - Series 9 - Volume 9.djvu/427

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decessors in the study of Shakespeare, Judge Webb presents as two separate men the Stratford player and the author of ' Venus and Adonis,' ' The Rape of Lucrece,' and the plays contained in the first folio. In order to avoid the possibility of mistake the player is always spoken of as Shakspere, the name into which that of the Stratford family ultimately crystallized. The author meanwhile is as invariably called William Shakespeare. Starting from this point, Judge Webb has produced an ingenious, eru- dite, and closely reasoned book, the aim of which is to establish that William Shakespeare is, in fact, Francis Bacon. Of the numerous volumes pro and con. on the question which crowd our table soliciting our attention this is the most consider- able. Its arguments are not to be answered off- hand, and a complete refutation of what is ad- vanced would involve a labour from which all but 'intentional participators in what after all is a silly discussion will be disposed to shrink. We [find the writer, however, an advocate rather than a judge, and hold much that he says to be prejudiced and unfair. As regards the difference in name on f which Judge Webb elects to dwell, he will scarcely deny that in Elizabethan names spelling is a matter f of no consequence. Dekker's name was spelt a dozen \ different ways, and a century later a name so plain as Gibber could be converted into Keyber. We do not assert that Judge Webb founds what can exactly be called an argument upon the spell- ing of the names, but he obviously regards it as of importance. Like a skilled counsel, moreover, he unduly depreciates and disparages the position of the defendant, as we must hold Shakespeare to be if we assume this to be an action. To speak of Shakespeare we beg pardon, we mean " Shak- spere " as "the uneducated or half - educated young countryman from Stratford " involves what our author must see is a petitio principii. Again, we are told that "all the traditions about the young man are of a degrading charac ter," a view which we immediately reject. The fact that when a youth Shakespeare with other lads chased the king's deer, probably in sport, , no more stamps him as a poacher than the fact that some of us in boyhood robbed an appL orchard stamps us as thieves. If there is one thing which mislikes us in the treatment o: Shakespeare by his biographers in general, it is the effort to free him from every customary infirmity o adolescence in early manhood and show him as a " faultless monster which the world ne'er saw." Whatever else Shakespeare was he was not i Puritan. So strong is Judge Webb's animus agains " Shakspere " that he seems to regard it as telling against him that Stratford in the time of " Shak spere," according to the showing of Mr. [Halli well-] Phillipps, was a town of " fetid watercourses piggeries, and middens." Far too much is made o Greene's petulant utterances, probablv due to mis conception, while everything that tells in favou of "Shakspere" is deprived of significance, anc those who express a favourable opinion concernin ; him are the subjects of depreciation or attack Davies of Hereford identifies the player with th poet, and is therefore dubbed " the Hereforc Poetaster." William Camden even incurs a sneer perhaps merited, in consequence of praising th Stratford writer's "genius and great abilities. Fuller's utterances concerning the wit combat between Shakespeare and Jonson are characterize as " apocalyptic, and the attitude of the Drydens

'ates, and others who arranged Shakespeare's lays is, unintentionally no doubt, misrepresented, carcely one of these men is there who in modern - zing Shakespeare, or "tagging" his lines with imes, does not express his admiration for his riginal and assume it to be shared by the public, t was while perverting 'The Tempest that Dryden wrote :

But Shakespeare's magic could not copied be ; Within that circle none durst walk but he. We acquit Judge Webb of anything more than n over-anxious desire to establish his case, winch enders him something less than fair. His book is ruitful in suggestion, and may be studied with Measure and in some respects with profit. If we lave not dealt with its main theme it is because we do not wish to embark upon what we seriously egard as a futile controversy, and because we feel hat in getting rid of one set of difficulties we en-

ounter another set not less formidable. In his

ndeavour to prove "Shakspere" little more than a clown Judge Webb falls into that common error of making inadequate allowance for exceptional natures. It is only in degree that Shakespeare is more of a miracle than Burns or than James Fer- guson.

The Prose Works of Jonathan Swift. Edited by

Temple Scott. Vol. IX. ( Bell & Sons.) THE ninth volume of the convenient and attractive edition of Swift's ' Prose Works ' added to " Bohn's Standard Library" consists of Swift's contribu- tions to the Tatler, the Examiner, the Spectator, and the Intelligencer. These constitute some of the most characteristic, most brilliant, and most readable of Swift's writings. To judge how true this is the reader has only to turn to the account of 'La Platonne' (Tatler, No. 32), with which the volume opens. Mr. Temple Scott rightly disputes the appropriateness of the term " Prince of Journal- ists" applied to Swift, declaring it both misleading and inaccurate. His introduction is indeed excel- lent in all respects. For ourselves, after skimming afresh a portion of the contents, we sigh for an opportunity of rereading them through. The style is admirably pellucid and furnishes a lesson how to write. It is simply the best.

Butterflies and Moths of Europe. By W. F. Kirby,

F.L.S. (Cassell & Co.)

IN a brilliant cover appears the first instalment of a valuable and attractive work. Three plates, two of them superbly coloured, are given, and with them the introduction. If the work is continued as it begins it will be a delight to the naturalist.

WE are most of us very ignorant of all thines which relate to Abyssinia. The fact that the people profess a form of Christianity believed to be of a Monophysite type, and that the nobles regard themselves as descended from Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, about exhausts our knowledge; even the war which we carried on there some years ago excited little permanent interest reprdmg either the country or a people which, whatever their faults may have been, have worked out for themselves a civilization of a highly interesting character. The writer of ' The Recent History of Abyssinia,' in the Edinburgh Remew for April, is one of the few who have studied not only the race, but the land itself. As to whether he has travelled therein we are of course ignorant, but at any rat