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to the supposition that Shakspeare's play was written and first acted in that
year. There being no edition of the genuine play in print, the bookseller hoped that the old piece with a similar title might pass on the common reader for Shakspeare's performance. This appears to have been a frequent practice of the booksellers in those days; for Rowley's play of King Henry VIII. I am persuaded, was published in 1605, and 1613, with the same view; as were King Leir and his Three Daughters in 1605, and Lord Sterline's Julius Cæfar in 1607.
In the year 1607 it is highly probable that this comedy of our author's was revived, for in that year Nicholas Ling republished The old Taming of a Shrew, with the same intent, as it should feem, with which that piece had originally been issued out by another bookseller in 1594. In the entry made by Ling in the Stationers' books, January 22, 1606-7, he joined with this old drama two of Shakspeare's genuine plays, Romeo and Juliet and Love's Labour's Loft, neither of which he ever published, nor does his name appear in the title page of any one of our author's performances: so that those two plays could only have been set down by him, along with the other, with some fraudulent intent.
In the same year also, (Nov. 17) our author's genuine play was entered at Stationers hall by J. Smethwyck ' (one of the proprietors of the second folio); which circumstance gives additional weight to the supposition that the play was revived in that year.
9 For this bookfeller Romeo and Juliet was printed in 4to. in 160g, and an edition of Hamlet without date; the latter was printed either in that year or 1607.
Smetliwyck bad probably procured a copy of it, and had then thoughts of printing it, though for some reason, now undiscoverable, it was not printed by him till 1631, eight years after it had appeared in the edition by the 'players in folio.
It should be observed that there is a slight variation between the titles of the anonymous play and Shakspeare's piece; both of which, in consequence of the inaccuracy of Mr. Pope, and his being very superficially acquainted with the phraseology and manner of our early writers, were for a long time unjuftly attributed to our poet. The old drama was called The Taming of a Shrew; Shakspeare's comedy, The Taning of the Shrew.
It must not be concealed, however, that The Taming of the Shrew is not enumerated among our author's plays by Meres in 1598; a circumstance which yet is not sufficient to prove that it was not then written : for neither is Hamlet nor The Second and Third Parts of King Henry VI. mentioned by him; though those three plays had undoubtedly appeared before that year.
I formerly imagined that a line ? in this comedy alluded to an old play written by Thomas Heywood, entitled A Woman kill'd with kindness, of which the second edition was printed in 1907, and the first probably not before the year 1600; but the other proofs which I have already stated with respect to the date of the play before us, haye convinced me that I was mistaken.
This is the way to kill a wife with kindness.” Taming of the Shrew, Act IV. fc. i. Heywood's play is mentioned in The Black Booke, 4t0. 1604. I am not possessed of the first edition of it, nor is it in any of the great collections of old plays that I have seen.
7. Love's Labour's Lost, 1594. Shakspeare's natural disposition Icading him, as Dr. Johnson has observed, to comedy, it is highly probable that his first original dramatick production was of the comick kind: and of his comedies Love's Labour's Lost appears to me to bear strong marks of having been one of his earlielt essays. The frequent rhymes with which it abounds, of which, in his early performances he seems to have been extremely fond, its imperfect versification, its artless and defultory dialogue, and the irregularity of the composition, may be all urged in support of this conjecture.
As this circumstance is more than once mentioned, in the course of these observations, it may not be improper to add a few words on the subject of our author's metre. A mixa ture of rhymes with blank versé, in the same play, and sometimes in the same scene, is found in almost all his pieces, and is not peculiar to Shakspeare, being also found in the works of Jonson, and almost all our ancient dramatick writers. It is not, therefore, merely the use of rhymes, mingled with blank verse, but their frequency, that is here urged, as a circumstance which feems to characterize and diftinguilh our poet's earliest performances. In the whole, number of pieces which were written antecedent to the year 1600, and which, for the sake of perfpicuity, have been called his early compositions, more rhyming couplets are found, than in all the plays composed subsequently to that year, which have been named his laie productions. Whether in process of lime Shakspeare grew weary of the bondage of rhyme, or whether he became convinced of its impropriety in a dramatick dialogue, his neglect of rhyming (for he never wholly difufed it) seems to have been gradual. As, there. fore, most of his carly productions are characterized by the múltitude of similar terminations which they exhibit, when-, ever of two carly pieces it is doubtful which preceded the other, I am disposed to believe, (other proofs being wanting) VOL. II,
Love's Labour's Lost was not entered at Stationers' hall till the 22d of January, 1606-7, but is men tioned by Francis Meres, * in his Wit's Treasury, being the Second Part of Wit's Commonwealth,' in 1598, and was printed in that year. In the titlepage of this edition, (the oldest hitherto discovered,) this piece is said to have been presented before her highness (Queen Elizabeth) the last Christmas
, (1597,) and to be newly corrected and augmented: from which it should feem, either that there had been a former impression, or that the play had been originally represented in a less perfect flate, than that in which it appears at present.
I think it probable that our author's first draft of this play was written in or before 1594; and that some additions were made to it between that
that play in which the greater number of rhymes is found, to have been firt composed. The plays founded on the flory of King Henry VI. do not indeed abound in rhymes; but this probably arose from their being originally constructed by preceding writers.
4 This writer, to whose list of our author's plays we are so much indebted, appears, from the following passage of the work here mentioned, to have been personally acquainted with Shakspeare:
" As the foul of Euphorbus was thought to live in Pythagoras, fo the sweet foul of Ovid lives in mellifluous and honey-tongued Shakfpeare. Witness his Venus and Adonis, his Lucrece, his sugred Sonnets among his private friends," &c. Wit's Treasury, p. 282. There is no edition of Shakspeare's Sonnets, now extant, of so early a date as 1598, when Meres's book was printed; so that we may conclude, he was one of , those friends to whom they were privately recited, before their publication.
This book was probably published in the latter end of the
year 1598 ; for it was not entered at Stationers' hall till September in that year.
year and 1597, when it was exhibited before the Queen. One of those additions may have been, the passage which seems to allude to The Metamorphosis of Ajax, by Sir John Harrington, printed in
1596: “Your lion-will be given to A-jax.” This, however, is not certain ; for the conceit of A-jax and a jakes may not have originated with Harrington, and may
hereafter be found in some more ancient tract.
In this comedy Don Armado íays,—" The first and second cause will not serve my turn: the pasado The respects not, the duello he regards not: his disgrace is to be called boy; but his glory is to subdue man.” Shakspeare seems here to have had in his thoughts Saviolo's treatise Of Honour and honourable Quarrels, published in 1595.? This passage also may have been an addition.
Bankes's horse, which is mentioned in the play before us, had been exhibited in London in or before 1589, as appears from a story recorded in Tarlton's Jeft's. 8
6 See Vol. VII. p. 354. 1. 9.
6. There was one Bankes in the time of Tarlton, who served the Earl of Essex, and had a horse of strange qualities; and being at the Cross Keyes in Gracious-freete, getting money with him, as he was mightly resorted to, Tarlton then (with his fellowes) playing at the Bell [f. Bull] by, came into the Cross keyes, amongst many people to see fashions : which Bankes perceiving, to make the people laugh, faies, Signior, to his horse, go fetch me the veries foole in the company. The jade comes immediately, and with his mouth drawes Tarlton forth. Tarlton, with merry words, faid nothing but God a-mercy, horse. In the end Tarlton seeing the people laugh fo, was angry inwardly, and said, Sir, had I power of your