Page:Observations on an autograph of Shakespeare, and the orthography of his name.djvu/16

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Observations on an Autograph of Shakspere,

Seb. And yet he would be king on't!
Ant. The latter end of his commonwealth forgets the beginning!"

The corresponding passage of Montaigne occurs in Book i. chap. 30, p. 102, where he is speaking of a newly discovered country, which he calls Antartick France, and thus proceeds:—

"It is a nation, would I answer Plato, that hath no kind of traffike, no knowledge of letters, no intelligence of numbers, no name of magistrate, nor of politike superioritie; no use of service, of riches, or of poverty; no contracts, no successions, no dividences;[1] no occupation, but idle; no respect of kindred, but common; no apparel! but naturall; no manuring of lands; no use of wine, come, or mettle. The very words that impart lying, falsehood, treason, dissimulations, covetousness, envie, detraction, and pardon, were never heard of amongst them."

The words marked in italics will sufficiently point out the close imitation; for, in truth, Shakspere has scarcely done more than copy Florio's translation, with just sufficient alteration to cause the sentences to fall into rhythm. Warburton has noted, that throughout the dialogue Shakspere's aim is to convey a satire on the various Utopian treatises of government; but in the original, Montaigne is speaking seriously of the newly discovered country of Brasil, where Villegaignon first landed in 1555.[2] Malone infers, with great probability, that it was from the perusal of this chapter that Shakspere was

  1. The edition of 1632 reads partitions, and it is rather singular that Malone, in quoting this passage in his notes, should have referred to that, and not to the first edition. The coincidence of the passage had been previously pointed out by Capell; but he quotes the French text, which he very absurdly supposes was made use of by Shakspere.
  2. See "Histoire des Choses Memorables advenues en la terre du Bresil, partre del'Amerique Australe, sous le gouvernement de N. de Villeg. depuis l'an 1555, jusques à l'an 1558." 8vo. 1561.