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dundancy, &e. observed by this critick, Mr. Steevens thinks (a remark, which, having omitted to introduce in its proper place, he desires me to insert here) “ was rather the effect of chance, than of design in the author; and might have arisen either from the negligence of Shakspeare, who in this play has borrowed whole scenes and fpeeches from Holinshed, whose words he was probably in too much hafte to compress into versification strictly regular and harmonious; or from the interpolations of Ben Jonson, whofe hand Dr. Farmer thinks he occasionally perceives in the dialogue.”
Whether Mr. Roderick's position be well founded, is hardly worth a contest; but the peculiarities which he has animadverted on, (if such there be) add probability to the conjecture that this piece underwent some alterations, after it had paffed out of the hands of Shakspeare.
Our author had produced so many plays in the preceding years, that it is not likely that K. Henry VIII. was written before 1601. It might perhaps with equal propriety be afe cribed to 1602, and it is not easy to determine in which of those years it was composed; but it is extremely probable that it was written in one of them. K. Henry VIII. was not printed till 1623.
" A book or poem, called the Life and Death of Thomas Woolsey Cardinall,” which was entered on the books of the Stationers' company, in the year 1599, perhaps suggested this subject to Shakspeare.
28. The Life and Death of Lord Cromwell, 1602. Entered at Stationers' hall, Auguft 11, 1602. Printed in 1613, with the letters W. S. only, in the title page.
29. TROILUS AND CRESSIDA, 1602. Troilus and Cressida was entered at Stationers' hall Feb 7. 1602—3, by J. Roberts, the printer of Hamlet, the Mer. chant of Venice, and A Midsummer Night's Dream. It was, therefore, probably, written in 1602. It was printed in 1609, with a preface by the editor, who speaks of it as if it had not been then acted. But it is entered in 1602-3, “ as afled by my Lord Chamberlen's men.” The players at the Globe theatre, to which Shakspeare belonged, were called the Lord Chamberlain's servants, till the year 1603. In that
year they obtained a licence for their exhibitions from king James; and from that time they bore the more honourable appellation of his majesty's servants. There can, therefore, be little doubt, that the Troilus and Cressida which is here entered, as acted at Shakspeare's theatre, was his play, and was, if not represented, intended to have been represented there s.
Perhaps the two discordant accounts, relative to this piece, may be thus reconciled. It might have been performed in 1602 at court, by the lord chamberlain's servants, (as many plays at that time were) and yet not have been exhibited on the publick stage till some years afterwards. The editor in 1609 only says, “ it had never been staled with the fage, never clapperclaw'd with the palms of the vulgar.”
As a further proof of the early appearance of Troilus and Cressida, it may be observed, that an incident in it seems to be burlesqued' in a comedy entitled Histriomastix, which, though not printed till 1610, must have been written before the death of queen Elizabeth, who, in the last act of the piece, is shadowed under the character of Aftræa, and is spoken of as then living.
In our author's play, when Troilus and Cressida part, he gives her his sleeve, and she, in return, presents, him with her glove.
To this circumstance these lines in Histriomaflix seem to refer. They are fpoken by Troilus and Creffida, who are introduced in an interlude: Troi. “ Come Cressida, my creffet light,
Thy face doth shine both day and night.
May lay him down in death to snort.
Here take my skreene, weare it for grace;
NOT E. • No other play with this title has come down to us. We have therefore a right to conclude that the play entered in the books of the Stationers' company, was Shakspeare's.
Dryden supposed Troilus and Cresida to have been one of Shakspeare's earliest performances'; but has not mentioned on what principles he founded his judgment. Pope, on the other hand, thought it one of his last; grounding his opinion not only on the preface by the editor in 1609, but on “ the great number of observations both moral and political with which this piece is crowded, more than any other of our author's.” For my own part, were it not for the entry in the Stationers' books, I should have been led, both by the colour of the writing and by the abovementioned preface, to class it (though not one of our author's happiest effufions) in 1608, rather than in that year in which it is here placed.
eft een to clars the writing I hould
30. Measure FOR MEASURE, 1603. This play was not registered at Stationers' hall, nor printed, till 1623. . But from two passages in it, which seem intended as a courtly apology for the stately and ungracious demeanour of K. James I. on his entry into England, it appears probable that it was written foon after his accession to the throne:
“ I'll privily away. I love the people,
Meas. for Meas. Act I. sc. i. Again, Act II. sc. iv.
NO TE S. " The tragedy which I have undertaken to correct, was in all probability, one of his first endeavours on the siage. Shakespeare (as I hinted) in the apprenticeship of his writing modelled it (the story of Lollius) into that play which is now called by the name of Troilus and Crellida,”-Dryden's pref, to Troilus and Crellida. + See Mr. Tyrwhitt's note.
King James was so much offended by the untaught, and, we may add, undeserved, gratulations of his subjects, on his entry into England, that he issued a proclamation, forbidding the people to resort to him.-“ Afterwards," says the historian of his reign,“ in his publick appearances, especially in his sports, the acceses of the people made him fo impatient, that he often dispersed them with frowns, that we may not say with curses w.”
That Measure for Measure was written before 1607, may be fairly concluded from the following passage in a poem published in that year, which we have good ground to beLieve was copied from a similar thought in this play, as the author, at the end of his piece, profeffes a personal regard for Shakspeare, and highly praises his Venus and Adonis:
“ So play the foolish throngs with one that fwoons;
Meal for Meas. A& II. Sc. it.
Seizeth the nature of a sicklie man;
Folke to his helpe confusedly have ran,
So many throng that he the ayre doth lacke.”
Barksted, a poem, 1607,
w Wilson's Hift. of K. James, ad ann. 1603.
dramas, we may presume that he was not idle during any one year of that time.
This play was perhaps alluded to, in an old comedy call. ed The Return from Parnassus:
“ Frame as well we might, with easy strain,
« Found, when the weary a£t is almost done." If the author of this piece had Cymbeline in contempla«, tion, it must have been more ancient than it is here fupposed; for from several passages in the Return from Parnassus, that comedy appears to have been written before the death of queen Elizabeth, which happened on the 24th of March 1603.
Mr. Steevens has observed, that there is a passage in B. and Fletcher's Philaster, which bears a strong resemblance to a speech of Jachimo in Cymbeline:
“ I hear the tread of people: I am hurt;
Philafler, Act IV. Sc. i.
" I have bely'd a lady
Cymbeline, Act V. Sc. ii. Philafler is supposed to have appeared on the stage about 1609; being mentioned by John Davies of Hereford, in his Epigrams, which have no date, but were printed, accord, ing to Oldys, in or about that year 2.
One edition of the tract called IV efward for Smelts, from which part of the fable of Cymbeline is borrowed, was puba lished in 1603.
1 In the last act of Cymbeline two sons are found. But the au. thor might have written fon on account of the rhyme.
2 Additions to Langbaine's Account of the Dramatick Poets, M. Vol. I. [X]