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Jowers of the Earl of Effex, on the 7th of February 1600-I, defired a company of actors to perform King Richard II. they alleged that the play was old, and that they should have a loss in playing it."
Our author's performance, however, might have been intended; and the players, perhaps, considered a play as old, that had been three or four years in pofseflion of the ftage. They might have only meant, that it was not of that feason. Indeed, I the rather think that this was their meaning, because thcie is no trace in the Stationers' books, nor in any ancient catalogue that I have seen, of any play on this subject, except that of Shakspeare.
In further support of his hypothesis, Dr. Farmer relies on the doctrines of indefeafable right contained in this play, which, he thinks, could not have been agreeable to the infurgents abovementioned. But they do not appear to have been so much concerned about the sentiments of the piece, (with which, perhaps, they were unacquainted) as desirous to behold the catastrophe that it exhibits. – This, I conceive, may be collected from the paragraph subjoined to that which Dr. Farmer has quoted-“ So earnest hee (Merricke) was, to satisfy his eyes with a sight of that tragedie, which he thought soone after his Lord should bring from the stage to the state."
16. RICHARD III. 1597. Entered at the Stationers' hall, Oct. 20, 1597. Printed in that year.
17. First Part of K. Henry IV. 1597. Entered Feb. 25, 1597, according to our present reckon. ing, 1598. Written therefore probably in 1597. Printed in 1598.
18. The Merchant of Venice, 1598. Entered July 22, 1598; and mentioned by Meres in that year. Published in 1600.
he thouc fatisfy his was quoted.Le paragraph tub. This, I cous
19. ALL's WELL THAT Ends Well, 1598. Air's Well that Ends Well was not registered at Stationers
NOT E. • Proceedings at the Arraignment of Sir Gilly Merricke, 4to. 1607
hall, nor printed, till 1623; but probably is the play mentioned by Meres, in 1598, under the title of Love's Labour Won, Íhis comedy was, I believe, also sometimes called
A Bad Beginning makes a Good Ending; for i find that a play with that title, together with Hotspur, Benediet and Beatrix, and several others, was acted at court, by John Heminge's company in the year 1613: and no such picce is to be found in any collection however complete or extensive, nor is fuch a title preserved in any list or catalogue whatsoever. As the titles of Hotspur, and Benedi&t and Beatrix, were substituted in the place of the first part of K. Henry IV. and Much Ado about Nothing, it is probable that the other was only a new name for All's Well that Ends 1Vell.
By an entry in the hand writing of king Charles I. in a copy of the second edition of our author's plays in folio, which formerly belonged to that monarch, and is now in the poffefsion of Mr. Steevens, it appears, that this play was also sometimes called Mr. Parolles.
· 20. Sir John Oldcafile, 1598, This play was entered at Stationers' hall, August 4, 1600, and printed in the same year. It was acted very early? in that year, by the Lord Chamberlain's servants, before Monf. Vereiken, ambassador to Queen Elizabeth from the Archduke and the Infanta. ... The prologue to this piece furnishes a strong argument to shew that it was not written by Shakspeare. The following lines particularly deserve our attention:
• The doubtfull title, (gentlemen) prefixt
Let fair truth be grac'd,
NO'T E. 1 On the 16th of March 1599, in fact 1600. See the Letters of the Sydney Family, vol. II. p. 175. .
The character here alluded to, which the author was ap: prehensive the audience might confound with his virtuous peer, appears to have been one that had been exhibited in the old play of King Henry V. (" prior to Shakspeare's) under the name of Sir John Oldcastles. This exhibition was the forg'd invention that had defaced former time. In this old play are found the outlines of some of the characters which Shake speare has introduced in the two parts of King Henry IV. and King Henry V. The Sir John Oldcastle of the old play was probably the prototype of Sir John Falstaff. It is not necessary here to enter into the question, whether Faiftarf was originally called by the name of Oldcastle. Whether he was or not, these lines could not, I apprehend, have come from the pen of Shakspeare. If Falstaff originally went by the name of Oidcastle, Shakspeare was then as guilty as the author of the old Henry V. and he never would have arraigned himself for exhibiting the pampered glutton and aged de. bauchee, under the name of Sir John Oldcastle, the good lord' Cobham. Though this were not the case, and the fat knight bore originally the name of Falstaff, Shakspeare would hardly have touched upon this string; for the representing of Sir John Fastolfe, a celebrated general, and a knight of the garter, under the character of a debauchee and a coun. fellor to youthful fin, was no less a forgery, and a departure from the truth of history, than the other.
Our author himself too seems to ridicule this very prologue, in his epilogue to the Second Part of King Henry II. 56 For Oldcastle dyed a martyr, and this is not the man.” This surely ought to decide the question.
This reference induces me to think that Sir John Oldcafle was written before the Second Part of King Henry IV.
21. Second PART OF K. HENRY IV. 1598. The Second Part of K. Henry IV. was entered on the Sta
NOI E S.
• The old K. Henry V. must have been written before 1990, for Tarleton, who acted two parts in it, (the Clown, and the Judge) died in that year.
**If the allusion should be supposed to have been, not to the Oldcastle of the old play, but to our author's Sir John Falstaff, as exhibited in The FIRST Part of King Henry IV, such a suppo. fition will not at all weaken the argument in the text. Vol. I.
tioners' tioners' books, August 23, 1600, and was printed in that year. It was probably written in the latter end of the year 1598, for from the epilogue it appears to have been composed before K. Henry V. which itself must have been written in, or before, 1599.
It is observable that the First Part of K. Henry IV. was entered at Stationers' hall, in the beginning of the year 1598, by the name of “ A Booke entirled the Historie of Henry the fourth, &c.” At that time, it is probable, the author had not conceived the idea of exhibiting Falstaff in a second drama, and therefore that play was not then distinguished by the title of The First Part. When the same piece was entered about a year afterwards, on the oth of Jan. 1598--9, it was entitled, “ A book called The First Part of the Life and Reign of K. Henry IV. extending to the end of the firf year of bis reizn." The poet having now composed two plays on this subject, distinction became neceffary. The Second Part of K. Henry 1V. we may, therefore, conclude with certainty, was written in the interval between these two entries, that is, some time in the year 1998, probably in the latter part of it; for Mere's, who in his Wit's Treasury, (which was not published before September in that year) has enumerated Henry IV, among our author's plays, does not speak of it as a first part; nor does he mention it as a play in iwo parts. His words are these: “ As Plautus and Seneca are accounted the best for comedy and tragedy, a. mong the Latines, so Shakespeare, among the English, is the most excellent in'both kinds for the stage: for comedy, witness his Gentlemen of Verona, his Errors, his Love's Labour Lili, his Love's Labour IVonne, bis Midsuminer Night's Dream, and his Merchant of Venice; for tragedy y, his Richard II. Richard III. Henry IV. K. John, Titus' Andronicus, and his Romeo and Juliet z.”
The following alļusion to one of the characters in this play, which is found in Ben Jonson's Every Man out of his Huincur, Act V. Sc. ii. first acied in 1599, is an additional
NOT E S.
The circumstance of Hotspur's death in this play, and its being an historical drama, I suppose, induced Meres to denominate t'le First Part of Henry 7. a cragedy. z Wit's Treasury, p. 282.
authority for supposing the Second Part of K. Henry IV. to have been written in 1598.
* Savi. What's he, gentle Mons. Brisk? Not that gen
tleman ? “ Faji. No, Lady; this is a kinsman to Justice Silence."
22. K. Henry V. 1599. Mr. Pope thought that this historical drama was one of our author's latest compositions; but he was cviuently mistaken. King Henry V. was entered on the Stationers' books, August 14, 1600, and printed in the same year. It was written after the Second Part of K. Henry IV. being promis. ed in the epilogue of that play; and while the Earl of Effex was in Ireland. Lord Effex went to Ireland April 15, 1599, and returned to London on the 28th of September in the same year. So that this play (unless the paffage telative to him was inserted after the piece was finished) must have been composed between April and September, 1999. Supposing that paffage a subsequent insertion, the play was probably not written long before; for it is not mentioned by Meres in 1598.
The prologue to Ben Jonson's Every Man in his Humour seems clearly to allude to this play; and, if we were sure that it was written at the same time with the piece itself, might induce us, notwithstanding the filence of Meres, to place King Henry V. a year or two earlier; for Every Man in bis Humour is said to have been acted in 1998. But I suspect that the prologue which now appears before it was not writ.
NOT E S.
“ He rather prays you will be pleased to see
Prologue to Every Man in his Humour. These lines formerly appeared to me so decisive with respect to the date of this piece, that I have quoted them, in a note on K. Henry, V. to thew that this historical drama must have been write ten before 1998; an opinion from which, for the reasons above Aared, I am now disposed to recede.