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AS YOU LIKE IT.
In our Introduction to Much Ado about Nothing we have scen that As You LIKE IT, along with two other of Shakespeare s plays and one of Ben Jonson's, was entered in the Stationers' Register August 4, 1600, and that opposite the entry was an order "to be stayed" In regard to the other two the stay appears to have been so removed, as both were entered again, one on the fourteenth, the other on the twenty-third, of the same month, and were published in the course of that year. Touching As You Like It, the stay seems to have been kept up, perhaps because its continued success on the stage made the company unwilling to part with their interest in it. The play was never printed, so far as we know, till in the folio of 1623, where it stands the tenth in the division of Comedies, with the acts and scenes regularly marked.
This is the only contemporary notice of As You Like It that nas been discovered. The play is not mentioned by Meres, which perhaps warrants the inference that had not been heard of at the date of his list. And in Act v. scene 3, is a line quoted from Marlowe's version of Hero and Leander, which was first printed in 1598. So that we may perhaps safely conclude that the play was written in the latter part of 1598, or in the course of the next year.
One thing more there is. that ought not to be passed by in this connection. Gilbert Shakespeare, a brother of the Poet, lived till after the Restoration; and Oldys tells of "the faint, general and almost lost ideas" the old man had of having once seen the Poet act a part in one of his own comedies, "wherein, being to personate a decrepit old man, he wore a long beard, and appeared so weak and drooping, and unable to walk, that he was forced to be supported and carried by another person to a table, at which he was seated among some company, who were eating, and one
of them sung a song." This of course could have been none other than the good old man" Adam, in and about whom we have sc much of noble thought; and we thus learn that his character, beautiful enough in itself, yet more beautiful for this circumstance, was sustained by the Poet himself.
In regard to the or, 11's of this play, two sources have been pointed out, namely, The Coke's Tale of Gamelyn, sometime attributed to Chaucer, but upon better advice excluded from his works, and a novel by Thomas Lodge entitled Rosalynd: Euphues' Golden Legacie. As the Tale of Gamelyn was not printed till more than a century later, it has been questioned whether Shakespeare ever saw it. Nor, indeed, can much be alleged as indieating that he did: one point there is, however, that may have some weight that way. An old knight, Sir Johan of Boundis, being about to die, calls in his wise friends to arrange the distribution of his property among his three sons. Their plan is, to settle all his lands on the eldest, and leave the youngest without any thing. Gamelyn being his favourite son, he rejects their advice, and bestows the largest portion upon him. Shakespeare goes much more according to their plan, Orlando. who answers to Gamelyn, having no share in the bulk of his father's estate. Bot this suits so well with the Poet's general purpose, and especially with the unfolding of Orlando's character, that we need not suppose him to have had any hint for it but the fitness of the thing itself. A few other resemblances may be traced, wherein the play differs from Lodge's novel, but none so strong but that they may well enough have been incidental. Nor, in truth, is the matter of much consequence, save as bearing upon the question whether Shakespeare was of a mind to be unsatisfied with such printed books as lay in his way. We would not exactly aflirm him to have been "a hunter of manuscripts;" but we have already seen indications that he sometimes had access to them: nor is it at all unlikely that one so greedy of intellectual food, so eager and apt to make the most of all the means within his reach, should have gone beyond the printed resources of his time. Besides, there can be no question that Lodge was very familiar with the Tale of Gamelyn he follows it so closely in a large part of his novel, as to leave scarce any doubt that he wrote with the manuscript by him; and if he, who was also sometime a player, availed himself of such sources, why may not Shakespeare have done the same?
Lodge's Rosalynd was first printed in 1590, and its popularity appears in that it was republished in 1592, and again in 1598. Steevens pronounces it a "worthless original;" but this sweeping sentence is so very unjust as to breed a doubt whether he bad read it. A graduate of Oxford, Lodge was evidently something of a scholar, as well as a man of wit, faney, and invention. Compared with the general run of popular literature then in vogue, his novel has much merit, and is very well entitled to the honour of
contributing to one of the most delightful poems ever written. rather ambitious attempt, indeed, at fine writing, pedantic in style, not a little overloaded with the euphuism of the time, and occasionally running into absurdity and indecorum, nevertheless, apon he whole, it is a varied and pleasing narrative, with passages of great force and beauty, and many touches of noble sentiment, and sometimes informed with a pastoral sweetness and simplicity quite charming. The work is inscribed to Lord Hunsdon, and in his Dedication the author says, Having with Captain Clarke made a voyage to the islands of Terceras and the Canaries, to beguile the time with labour I writ this book; rough, as hatch'd in the storms of the ocean, and feathered in the surges of many perilous seas." It has been lately republished in Mr. Collier's Shakespeare Library. In accordance with the plan we have hitherto followed, we will endeavour such an abstract from which the nature and extent of the Poet's obligations in this quarter may be pretty fairly gathered.
Sir John of Bordeaux, being at the point of death, called in his three sons, Saladyne, Fernandine, and Rosader, and divided his wealth among them, giving to the eldest fourteen ploughlands, with all his manor houses, and richest plate; to the next, twelve ploughlands; to the youngest, his horse, armour, and lance, with sixteen ploughlands; accompanying the testament with divers precepts and motives to a well-ordered life. The father being dead, Saladyne, after a short season of hypocritical mourning, went to studying how he might defraud his brothers and ravish their legacies. Acting as their guardian, he put Fernandine to school at Paris. and kept Rosader as his foot-boy. Having borne this patiently for three years, Rosader's spirit at length began to rise against it: he said to himself," Nature hath lent me wit to conceive, but my brother denied me art to contemplate: I have strength to perform any honourable exploit, but no liberty to accomplish my virtuous endeavours: those good parts that God hath bestowed upon me, the envy of my brother doth smother in obscurity. With that, casting up his hand, he felt hair on his face, and, perceiving his beard to bud, for choler he began to blush, and swore to himself he would be no more subject to such slavery." While he was thus ruminating Saladyne came along, and began to jerk him with rough speeches, asking him,What, sirrah! is my dinner ready?" He answered,- -"Dost thou ask me for thy cates? ask some of thy churls who are fit for such an office. question thee, why thou hast felled my woods, spoiled my manor houses, and made havoc of what my father bequeathed me? Answer me as a brother, or I will trouble thee as an enemy." Saladyne meeting this question with insulting threats, Rosader at last seized a great rake, and let drive at him, and soon brought him to terms. Feigning sorrow for what he had done, he drew the youth, who was of a free and generous nature, into a reconciliation, til
he might gain time to finish him out of the way; and in this state they continued for a season.
Meanwhile, Torismond, who had driven his brother Gerismond the rightful king of France, into exile, and usurped his crown appointed a day of wrestling and tournament, to busy the peop.e's thoughts, and keep them from running upon the banished king. At that time, a Norman of tall stature and great strength, who had wrestled down as many as undertook with him, and often killed them outright, was to stand against all comers. Saladyne, thinking this an apt occasion to put his treachery in play, went to the Norman secretly, and engaged him with rich rewards to despatch Rosader, in case he came within his grasp. He then went to Rosader, to prick him on to the wrestling, telling him how much honour it would bring him, and how he was the only one to keep up the renown of the family. The youth, full of heroic thoughts, was glad enough of such an opportunity, and forthwith set out for the place. At the time appointed Torismond went forth to preside over the exercises, attended by the twelve peers of France, his daughter Alinda, Rosalynd, the daughter of the banished king. and all the most famous beauties of the kingdom. Rosalynd, 'upon whose cheeks there seemed a battle between the graces," was the centre of attraction, the banquet of all eyes, and made the cavaliers crack their lances with more courage." The tournament over, the Norman presented himself as a general challenger at wrestling. For some time none durst adventure with him, till at last there came in a lusty franklin of the country, with two tall young men, his sons. The champion soon smashed up these antagonists, killing them both; at which all were in a deep passion of pity but the father himself, who was more pleased at their bravery than grieved at their death. This done, Rosader alights from his horse, and presents himself, cheering the stouthearted yeoman with the promise that he will either make a third in their tragedy, or else revenge their fall with an honourable triumph." He quickly puts an end to the Norman, though not till his eyes and thoughts have got thoroughly entangled with the beauty of Rosalynd. On the other side she is equally touched by his handsome person and heroic bearing. After the king and lords had learned who he was, and graced him with their embracings, she took from her neck a jewel and sent it to him by a page, as an assurance of her favour."
Upon his brother's return, Saladyne, greatly chagrined at the unlooked-for issue, began forthwith to persecute him worse than ever, and the war was waged in any thing but a becoming manner on both sides. Of their long strife suffice it to say, that the Poet has shown good judgment in omitting it altogether. By this time Torismoud grew jealous of his niece, and thought to banish her, saying to himself,- Her face is so full of favour, that it p.eads pity in the eye of every mau;" for he feared lest some
one of the peers should aim at her love, and then in his wife's right atteinpt the kingdom. Coming upon her in this mood, he charged her with treason, and ordered her into immediate exile; whereupon Alinda fell to entreating for her, telling him how "custom had wrought such an union of their nature, that they had two bodies and one soul;" and that if he banished her she would herself share the same sentence. He then turned his wrath upon her, telling her she did but "hatch up a bird to peck out her own eyes:" but she, nothing amazed, stood firm in defence of her cousin, assuring him that if he refused her prayer "she wonld either steal out and follow her, or end her days with some desperate kind of death." Seeing her so resolute, he then decreed the banishment of them both. After conforting each other as well as they could, they went to arranging for their flight. Alinda griev ing that they were to have no male attendant, Rosalynd says to her,- Thou seest I am of a tall stature, and would very well become the person and apparel of a page: I will buy me a suit, and have my rapier very handsomely at my side; and if any knave offer wrong, your page will show him the point of his weapon." Thus they set forth, Alinda being called Aliena, and Rosalynd Ganimede, and at last came to the forest of Arden, where, after wandering about some time, and suffering many perils and privations, they found some verses pinned upon a tree, and soon came where they might overhear a conversation between two shepherds, Coridon and Montanus, the latter of whom had got so smitten with a shepherdess named Phoebe, that he could talk of nothing else. Coridon having grown somewhat old and wise in pastoral science, his rhetoric soon put Alinda in love with a shepherd's life; and when he told her his landlord was going to sell both the farm he tilled and the flock he kept, she resolved to buy them, and have him for overseer. This done, they lived in quiet, heeding their flock, and hearing Montanus warble the praises of his cruel mistress: "though they had but country fare and coarse lodging, yet their welcome was so great and their cares so little, that they counted their diet delicate, and slept as soundly as if they had been in the court of Torismond."
At length Rosader, driven off by his brother's cruelty, betook himself to the same forest, accompanied by Adam Spencer, an Erglishman, who had been an old and trusty servant to Sir John of Bordeaux. Arriving there, Adam was so forespent with hunger and travel, that he sunk down in despair, and begged Rosader to look out for himself, and leave him alone to die. After bidding him be of good cheer, Rosader started off in quest of food Now "it chanced that Gerismond, who with a lusty crew of outlaws lived in the forest, that day in honour of his birth made a feast to all his bold yeomen, and frolicked it with store of wine and venison, sitting all at a long table under the shadow of lemontrees." To this place fortune brought Rosader, who, seeing the