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Ros. It is not the fashion to see the lady the epilogue; but it is no more unhandsome, than to see the lord the prologue. If it be true, that good wine needs no bush”, 'tis true that a good play needs no epilogue; yet to good wine they do use good bushes, and good plays prove the better by the help of good epilogues. What a case am I in, then, that am neither a good epilogue, nor cannot insinuate with you in the behalf of a good play? I am not furnished like a beggar, therefore to beg will not become me: my way is, to conjure you ; and I'll begin with the women. I charge you, O women! for the love you bear to men, to like as much of this play as please you : and I charge you, O men! for the love you bear to women, (as I perceive by your simpering none of you hates them,) that between you and the women, the play may please. If I were a woman', I would kiss as many of you as had beards that pleased me, complexions that liked me, and breaths that I defied not; and, I am sure, as many as have good beards, or good faces, or sweet breaths, will, for my kind offer, when I make curtsey, bid me farewell.
direction here is “a dance,” which probably followed the duke's speech : the ancient direction, however, is exit ; but there seems no sufficient reason why the duke should go out before the conclusion of the Epilogue-nevertheless, according to the custom of our old stage, he may have done so. Malone, Steevens, and all the modern editors, Capell excepted, read And instead of “ As” in this line, without any reason for change, and without attempting to assign any.
- no bush,) It was formerly the custom, says Steevens, to hang a tuft of ity at the door of a vintner. It is alluded to by many old writers.
7 If I were a woman,] The female characters in plays, it is hardly necessary to observe, were at this time, and until after the Restoration, performed by boys, or young men.
* The Taming of the Shrew” was first printed in the folio of 1623, where it occupies twenty-two pages, viz. from p. 208 to p. 229 inclusive, in the division of “Comedies." It was reprinted in the three later folios.
SHAKESPEARE was indebted for nearly the whole plot of his "Taming of the Shrew” to an older play, published in 1594, under the title of “The Taming of a Shrew." The mere circumstance of the adoption of the title, substituting only the definite for the indefinite article, proves that he had not the slightest intention of concealing his obligation.
When Steevens published the “ Six Old Plays,” more or less employed by Shakespeare in six of his own dramas, no earlier edition of the “
Taming of a Shrew” than that of 1607 was known. It was conjectured, however, that it had come from the press at an earlier date, and Pope appeared to have been once in possession of a copy of it, published as early as 1594. This copy has since been recovered, and is now in the collection of the Duke of Devonshire : the exact title of it is as follows :
“A Pleasant Conceited Historie, called The taming of a Shrew. As it was sundry times acted by the Right honorable the Earle of Pembrook his seruants. Printed at London by Peter Short and are to be sold by Cutbert Burbie, at his shop at the Royall Exchange. 1594.” 4to.
It was reprinted in 1596, and a copy of that edition is in the posa session of Lord Francis Egerton. The impression of 1607, the copy used by Steevens, is in the collection of the Duke of Devonshire.
There are three entries in the Registers of the Stationers' Company relating to “The Taming of a Shrew” but not one referring to Shakespeare's “Taming of the Shrew'.” When Blounte and Jaggard, on the 8th Nov. 1623, entered “ Mr. William Shakspeere's Comedyes, Histories, and Tragedyes, soe many of the said copies as are not formerly entered to other men,” they did not include “ The Taming of the Shrew :" hence an inference might be drawn, that at some previous time it had been “entered to other men;" but no such entry has been found, and Shakespeare's comedy, probably, was never printed until it was inserted in the folio of 1623.
1 Malone was mistaken when he said (Shakespeare, by Boswell, vol. ii. p. 342.) that “our author's genuine play was entered at Stationers' Hall” on the 17th Nov. The entry is of the 19th Nov. and not of Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew,” but of the old “ Taming of a Shrew.”
On the question, when it was originally composed, opinions, including my own, have varied considerably; but I now think we can arrive at a tolerably satisfactory decision. Malone first believed that “ The Taming of the Shrew” was written in 1606, and subsequently gave 1596 as its probable date. It appears to me, that nobody has sufficiently attended to the apparently unimportant fact that in “Hamlet” Shakespeare mistakenly introduces the name of Baptista as that of a woman, while in “ The Taming of the Shrew” Baptista is the father of Katharine and Bianca. Had he been aware when he wrote “Hamlet” that Baptista was the name of a man, he would hardly have used it for that of a woman; but before he produced " The Taming of the Shrew” he had detected his own error. The great probability is, that “Hamlet” was written at the earliest in 1601, and “The Taming of the Shrew” perhaps came from the pen of its author not very long afterwards.
The recent reprint of “The pleasant Comedy of Patient Grissill,” by Dekker, Chettle, and Haughton, from the edition of 1603, tends to throw light on this point. Henslowe's Diary establishes, that the three dramatists above named were writing it in the winter of 1599. It contains various allusions to the taming of shrews; and it is to be recollected that the old “ Taming of a Shrew” was acted by Henslowe's company, and is mentioned by him under the date of 11th June, 1594. One of the passages in “Patient Grissill,” which seems to connect the two, occurs in Act v. sc. 2, where Sir Owen, producing his wands, says to the marquess, “I will learn your medicines to tame shrews." This expression is remarkable, because we find by Henslowe's Diary that, in July, 1602, Dekker received a payment from the old manager, on account of a comedy he was writing under the title of “A Medicine for a curst Wife.” My conjecture is, that Shakespeare (in coalition, possibly, with some other dramatist, who wrote the portions which are admitted not to be in Shakespeare's manner) produced his “ Taming of the Shrew” soon after “ Patient Grissill” had been brought upon the stage, and as a sort of counterpart to it; and that Dekker followed up the subject in the summer of 1602 by his " Medicine for a curst Wife,” having been incited by the success of Shakespeare's "Taming of the Shrew" at a rival theatre. At this time the old “Taming of a Shrew" had been laid by as a public performance, and Shakespeare having very nearly adopted its title, Dekker took a different one, in accordance with the expression he had used two or three years before in “ Patient Grissill ?."
The silence of Meres in 1598 regarding any such play by Shakespeare is also important: had it then been written, he could scarcely
? If we suppose Shakespeare, in Act iv. sc. 1, to allude to T. Heywood's play, “A Woman Killed with Kindness," it would show that “The Taming of the