As You Like It (1919) Yale/Appendix A
Sources of the Play
The source of As You Like It is, without doubt, a novel, or pastoral romance, by Thomas Lodge, the title-page of the first edition of which runs as follows:
'Rosalynde. / Euphues Golden Le- / gacie: found after his death / in his Cell at Si- / lexedra. / Bequeathed to Philautus sonnes / noursed vp with their / father in Eng- / land. / Fetcht from the Canaries. / By T. L. Gent. / LONDON, / Imprinted by Thomas Orwin for T. G. / and John Busbie. / 1590.'
The possibility that Shakespeare may have made use of an earlier play by some other author from the same source has been advanced by Furness to account for certain minor inconsistencies in Shakespeare's comedy. There is, however, no actual evidence of the existence of an earlier play.
Modern scholars have confirmed the discovery, made by Dr. Zachary Grey in 1754, that the source of Lodge's romance was in turn The Tale of Gamelyn, a narrative poem of unknown authorship which had been interpolated into many manuscripts of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. The Tale of Gamelyn is not to be found in any printed copy of the Canterbury Tales before Urry's edition of Chaucer in 1721, where it appeared as The Coke's (Cook's) Tale. Of course, it is possible that Shakespeare, as well as Lodge, had read this story in one of the manuscript versions. The chief resemblances between As You Like It and The Tale of Gamelyn occur in the first two hundred and fifty lines of the latter. Gamelyn is abused by his brother, emerges victorious from the wrestling match; and then, later in the poem, flees into a forest to join some outlaws, accompanied by an old retainer named Adam.
In his introduction 'To the Gentlemen Readers,' Lodge states that he wrote his romance on the ocean, a fact further implied by the phrase 'Fetcht from the Canaries' on the title-page. The connection of Rosalynde with the manuscript Tale of Gamelyn would therefore seem to be the result of memory or of a few notes earlier jotted down. Rosalynde is written in the elaborate Euphuistic prose which John Lyly had made famous. Euphuism is perhaps forbidding to modern ears, but there is much charm and delightful pastoral atmosphere in Rosalynde, and excellent material on which to found a pastoral comedy.
In adapting Lodge's novel for the stage, Shakespeare, as usual, so transformed his material as to leave recognizable hardly more than the outlines of certain incidents. His touch lightened and simplified the whole, substituting for the labored Euphuistic phraseology the lively wit of the forest of Arden. Shakespeare made some important additions to the list of characters, additions which are the very life of his comedy. The melancholy Jaques, the inimitable Touchstone, Audrey and William, are, as far as we know to-day, characters of his invention. They are not to be found in Rosalynde. Rosalind herself is the most noteworthy illustration of Shakespeare's character creation. In Lodge's romance she is a typical example of the artificial court ladies of Elizabethan stories, who spin far-fetched verbal fancies and quote often from Ovid and other Latin authors. Shakespeare has humanized her and made her one of his most charming heroines.
The following summary of the beginning of Lodge's Rosalynde, together with the text of Lodge's description of the wrestling match, will give some idea of Shakespeare's material and of the changes he made in it.
In the romance, the knight, Sir John of Bourdeaux, divides his estate among his three sons, Saladyne, Fernandine, and Rosader. The latter is the Orlando of Shakespeare's comedy. Saladyne, the eldest brother, is resentful that more property has been bequeathed to the younger sons than to himself. Fernandine may be ignored, for he is a scholar intent only upon Aristotle. His portion, therefore, may be easily rifled. Upon Rosader, Saladyne's chief anger falls, and he makes of him a footboy for the space of two or three years. After Rosader has borne his treatment in patience for a time, one day he encounters his brother in the garden and charges him with ill-treatment. Saladyne, fearing Rosader's wrath, promises to make amends. Soon after this episode, Torismond, King of France, appoints for his pleasure a day of wrestling, lest the common people, being idle, should let their thoughts run upon the remembrance of their old banished king, Gerismond. A Norman champion is found to stand against all comers. Saladyne, hearing of this, secretly plots with the Norman that if Rosader come within his claws he may never more return to quarrel with Saladyne over the inheritance. Saladyne then urges Rosader to enter the wrestling match for the honor of his famous father. Rosader is easily persuaded and sets forth for the court of Torismond.
'At last . . . the wrastling began, and the Norman presented himselfe as a chalenger against all commers; but he looked like Hercules when he aduaunst himselfe against Acheloüs; so that the furie of his countenance amased all that durst attempt to incounter with him in any déede of actiuitie: till at last a lustie Francklin of the Countrie came with two tall men, that were his Sonnes of good lyniaments and comely personage: the eldest of these dooing his obeysance to the King entered the lyst, and presented himselfe to the Norman, who straight coapt with him, and as a man that would triumph in the glorie of his strength, roused himselfe with such furie, that not onely hee gave him the fall, but killed him with the weight of his corpulent personage: which the younger brother seeing, lept presently into the place, and thirstie after the reuenge, assayled the Norman with such valour, that at the first incounter hee brought him to his knées: which repulst so the Norman, that recouering himselfe, feare of disgrace doubling his strength, hee stept so stearnely to the young Francklin, that taking him vp in his armes he threw him against the ground so violently, that he broake his neck, and so ended his dayes with his brother . . .
'With that Rosader vailed bonnet to the King, and lightlie lept within the lists, where noting more the companie than the combatant, hee cast his eye vpon the troupe of Ladies that glistered there like the starres of heauen, but at last Loue willing to make him as amourous as he was valiant, presented him with the sight of Rosalynd whose admirable beautie so inueagled the eye of Rosader, that forgetting himselfe, hee stoode and fed his lookes on the fauour of Rosalynds face, which she perceiuing, blusht: which was such a doubling of her beauteous excellence, that the bashfull red of Aurora at the sight of vnacquainted Phaeton was not halfe so glorious: The Norman, séeing this young Gentleman fettered in the lookes of the Ladies, draue him out of his memento with a shake by the shoulder; Rosader looking back with an angrie froune, as if he had been wakened from some pleasant dreame, discouered to all by the furie of his countenance that he was a man of some high thoughts: but when they all noted his youth, and the swéetnesse of his visage, with a general applause of fauours, they grieued that so goodly a young man should venture in so base an action: but séeing it were to his dishonour to hinder him from his enterprise, they wisht him to be graced with the palme of victorie. After Rosader was thus called out of his memento by the Norman, hee roughlie clapt to him with so fierce an incounter, that they both fell to the ground, and with the violence of the fall were forced to breathe: in which space the Norman called to minde by all tokens, that this was hee whom Saladyne had appoynted him to kil; which coniecture, made him stretch euerie limb, & try euerie sinew, that working his death he might recouer the golde, which so bountifully was promised him. On the contrarie part, Rosader while he breathed was not idle, but still cast his eye vppon Rosalynd, who to incourage him with a fauour, lent him such an amorous looke, as might haue made the most coward desperate: which glance of Rosalynd so fiered the passionate desires of Rosader, that turning to the Norman, hee ranne vpon him and braued him with a strong encounter; the Norman receiued him as valiantly, that there was a sore combat, hard to iudge on whose side fortune would be prodigall. At last Rosader calling to minde the beautie of his new Mistresse, the fame of his Fathers honours, and the disgrace that should fall to his house by his missfortune, roused himselfe and threw the Norman against the ground, falling vpon his Chest with so willing a waight, that the Norman yeelded nature her due, and Rosader the victorie.'
Rosalynde is next banished by Torismond and Alinda (Celia) pleads vainly in her defence. As in the comedy, the two girls agree to disguise themselves, Rosalynde in male attire, and they set forth to seek the forest and Rosalynde's banished father. Rosalynde takes the name of Ganymede, and Alinda, of Aliena. After wandering for a time, they meet two shepherds, who offer them a cottage. Meanwhile Rosader, driven from home by his brother, takes with him an old servant, Adam Spencer, and journeys to the forest of Arden.
From this point on the comedy follows the main incidents of the romance with equal closeness, even to the lions and other strange fauna. Enough has been given, however, to indicate the nature of the material Shakespeare made use of, and to give some indication of the method he followed in turning it into a stage play.
- Text from pp. 22–24 of vol. 1 of The Complete Works of Thomas Lodge, printed for the Hunterian Club, Glasgow, 1883.