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printed in 1596, (and possibly there may be an earlier edition) called, The Metamorphosis of Ajax, where I suspect an allusion to the old play: “Reade the booke of Taming a Shrew, which hath made a number of us so perfect, that now every one can rule a shrew in our countrey, save he that hath hir.” -I am aware, a modern linguist may object, that the word book does not at present seem dramatick, but it was once almost technically so: Gosson, in his Schoole of Abuse, “contayning a pleasaunt inuective against Poets, Pipers, Players, Jesters, and such like Caterpillars of a common-wealth,” 1579, mentions “twoo prose bookes plaied at the Belsauage;" and Hearne tells us in a note at the end of William of Worcester, that he had seen
a MS. in the nature of a play or interlude, intitled, The Booke of Sir Tho. mas Noore."
I know indeed, there is extant a very old poem, in black letter, to which it might have been supposed Sir John Harrington alluded, bad he not spoken of the discovery as a new one, and recommended it as worthy the notice of his countrymen: I am persuaded the method in the old bard will not be thought either. At the end of the sixth volume of Leland's Itinerary, we are fa. voured by Mr. Hearne with a Macaronick poem on a battle at Oxford between the scholars and the townsmen: on a line of which,
“Invadunt aulas bycheson cum forth geminantes,” our commentator very wisely and gravely remarks: “ Bychesort, id est, son of a byche, ut è codice Rawlinsoniano edidi. Eo nempe modo quo et olim whorson dixerunt pro son of a whore. Exempla habemus cum alibi tum in libello quodam lepido & antiquo (inter codices Seldenianos in Bibl. Bodl.) qui inscribitur: The wife lapped in Morel's Skin: or the Taming of the Shrew. Ubi pag. 36, sic legimus:
“ They wrestled togyther thus they two
“So long that the clothes asunder went. " And to the ground he threwe her tho,
“ That cleane from the backe her smock he rent. “ In every hand a rod he gate,
“And layd upon her a right good pace: * Asking of her what game was that,
“ And she cried out, Horeson, alas, alas." Et pag. 42:
“Come downe now in this seller so deepe,
“ And morels skin there shall you see:
“ When the blood ranne downe fast by my knee.
“And ran out of the seller as she had been wood.
" And say'd out, horeson, I will see thy harte blood."
And in fact, there is such an old anonymous play in Mr. Pope's list. “A pleasant conceited History, called, The Taming of a Shrew-sundry times acted by the Earl of Pembroke his ser. vants.” Which seems to have been republished by the remains of that company in 1607, when Shakspeare's copy appeared at the Black-Friars or the Globe.-Nor let this seem derogatory from the character of our poet. There is no reason to believe, that he wanted to claim the play as his own; it was not even printed till some years after his death: but he merely revived it on his stage as a manager.-Ravenscroft assures us, that this was really the case with Titus Andronicus; which, it may be observed, hath not Shakspeare's name on the title-page of the only edition published in his life-time. Indeed, from every in. ternal mark, I have not the least doubt but this horrible piece was originally written by the author of the lines thrown into the mouth of the player in Humlet, and of the tragedy of Locrine: which likewise from some assistance perhaps given to his friend, hath been-unjustly and ignorantly charged upon Shakspeare.
But the sheet-anchor holds fast: Shakspeare himself hath left some translations from Ovid. “The Epistles," says one, “of Paris and Helen, give a sufficient proof of his acquaintance with that poet:” “ And it may be concluded,” says another, " that he was a competent judge of other authors, who wrote in the same language.”
This hath been the universal cry, from Mr. Pope himself to the criticks of yesterday. Possibly, however, the gentlemen will hesitate a moment, if we tell them, that Shakspeare was not the author of these translations. Let them turn to a forgotten book, by Thomas Heywood, called, Britaines Troy, printed by W. Jaggard in 1609, fol. and they will find these identical Epistles, “which being so pertinent to our historie,” says Heywood, “I thought necessarie to translate.”-How then came they ascribed to Shakspeare? We will tell them that likewise. The same vo. luminous writer published an Apology for Actors, 4to. 1612, and in an Appendix directed to his new printer, Nic. Okes, he accuses his old one, Jaggard, of “taking the two Epistles of Paris to Helen and Helen to Paris, and printing them in a less volume, and under the name of another:--but he was much of. fended with Master Jaggard, that altogether unknowne to him, he had presumed to make so bold with his name. work of Heywood are all the other translations, which have been printed in the modern editions of the poems of Shakspeare.
You now hope for land: We have seen through little matters,
"* In the same
* It may seem little matter of wonder, that the name of Shak. speare should be borrowed for the benefit of the bookseller; and by the way, as probably for a play as a poem: but modern criticks may be surprised perhaps at the complaint of John Hall, that." certayne chapters of the Proverbes, translated by him into English metre, 1550, had before been untruely entituled to be the doyngs of Mayster Thomas Sternhold.”
but what must be done with a whole book?-In 1751, was re. printed, “A compendious or briefe Examination of certayne ordinary Complaints of diuers of our Countrymen in these our Days: which although they are in some Parte unjust and friuo. lous, yet are they all by way of Dialogue, throughly debated and discussed by William Shakspeare, Gentleman.” 8vo.
This extraordinary piece was originally published in 4to. 1581, and dedicated by the author, “ To the most vertuous and learned lady, his most deare and soveraigne princesse, Elizabeth; being inforced by her Majesties late and singular clemency in pardoning certayne his unduetifull misdemeanour,” And by the modern editors, to the late King; as a treatise composed by the most extensive and fertile genius, that ever any age or nation produced.”
Here we join issue with the writers of that excellent though very unequal work, the Biographia Britannica:* “If,” say they,
* I must, however, correct a remark in the Life of Spenser, which is impotently levelled at the first criticks of the age. It is observed from the correspondence of Spenser and Gabriel Har. vey, that the plan of The Fairy Queen, was laid, and part of it executed in 1580, three years before the Gierusalemme Liberata was printed: “hence appears the impertinence of all the apologies for his choice of Ariosto’s manner in preference of Tasso's.""
But the fact is not true with respect to Tasso. Manso and Niceron inforın us, that his poem was published, though imperfectly in 1574; and I myself can assure the biographer, that I have met with at least six other editions, preceding his date for its first publication. I suspect, that Baillet is accountable for this mistake: who in the Jugemens des Scavans, Tom. III, p. 399, mentions no editions previous to the quarto, Venice, 1583.
It is a question of long standing, whether a part of The Fairy Queen hath been lost, or whether the work was left unfinished: which may effectually be answered by a single quotation. William Browne published some Poems in fol. 1616, under the name of Britannia's Pastorals, “esteemed then," says Wood, “to be written in a sublime strain, and for subject amorous and very pleasing."-In one of which, Book II, Song 1, he thus speaks of Spenser:
sung th’ heroicke knights of faiery land “In lines so elegant, of such command, “ That had the Thracian plaid but halfe so well, “He had not left Eurydice in hell. “ But e're he ended his melodious song, “ An host of angels flew the clouds among, “And rapt this swan from his attentive mates, “ To make him one of their associates “In heauens faire quire: where now he sings the praise
“Of him that is the first and last of daies.” It appears, that Browne was intimate with Drayton, Jonson,
" this piece could be written by our poet, it would be absolutely decisive in the dispute about his learning; for many quotations appear in it from the Greek and Latin classicks.”
The concurring circumstances of the name, and the misdemeanor, which is supposed to be the old story of deer-stealing', seem fairly to challenge our poet for the author: but they hesitate. His claim may appear to be confuted by the date 1581, when Shakspeare was only seventeen, and the long experience, which the writer talks of.--But I will not keep you in suspense: the book was not written by Shakspeare.
Strype, in his Annals, calls the author some learned man, and this gave me the first suspicion. I knew very well, that honest John (to use the language of Sir Thomas Bodley) did not waste his time with such baggage books as plays and poems; yet I must suppose, that he had heard of the name of Shakspeare. After a while I met with the original edition. Here in the title-page, and at the end of the dedication, appear only the initials, W. S. Gent. and presently I was informed by Anthony Wood, that the book in question was written, not by William Shakspeare, but by William Stafford, Gentleman:* which at once accounted for the misdemeunour in the dedication. For Stafford had been concerned at that time, and was indeed afterward, as Camden and the other annalists inform us, with some of the conspirators against Elizabeth; which he properly calls his unduetifull be. haviour.
I hope by this time, that any one open to conviction may be nearly satisfied; and I will promise to give you on this head very little more trouble.
The justly celebrated Mr. Warton hath favoured us, in his Life of Dr. Bathurst, with some hearsay particulars concerning Shakspeare from the papers of Aubrey, which had been in the hands of Wood; and I ought not to suppress them, as the last seems to make against my doctrine. They came originally, I find, on consulting the MS. from one Mr. Beeston: and I am sure Mr. Warton, whom I have the honour to call my friend, and an associate in the question, will be in no pain about their credit.
“ William Shakspeare's father was a butcher,--while he was a boy he exercised his father's trade, but when he killed a calf, he would do it in a high style, and make a speech, This William
and Selden, by their poems prefixed to his book: he had there. fore good opportunities of being acquainted with the fact abovementioned. Many of his poems remain in MS. We have in our library at Emmanuel, a masque of his, presented at the Inner Temple, Jan. 13, 1614. The subject is the story of Ulysses and Circe.
* Fasti, 2d edit. v. 1, 208.-It will be seen on turning to the former edition, that the latter part of the paragraph belongs to another Stafford.—I have since observed, that Wood is not the first who hath given us the true author of the pamphlet.
being inclined naturally to poetry and acting, came to London, I guess, about eighteen, and was an actor in one of the playhouses, and did act exceedingly well. He began early to make essays in dramatique poetry. The humour of the Constable in the Midsummer Night's Dream he happened to take at Crendon* in Bucks. I think, I have been told, that he left near three hundred pounds to a sister.—He understood Latin pretty well, for he had been in his younger yeares a schoolmaster in the country.”
I will be short in my animadversions; and take them in their order.
The account of the trade of the family is not only contrary to all other tradition, but, as it may seem, to the instrument from the Herald's Office, so frequently reprinted.—Shakspeare most certainly went to London, and commenced actor through necessity, not natural inclination.-Nor have we any reason to suppose, that he did act exceeding well. Rowe tells us, from the information of Betterton, who was inquisitive into this point, and had very early opportunities of inquiry from Sir W. D'Avenant, that he was no extraordinary actor; and that the top of his performance was the Ghost in his own Hamlet. Yet this chef d'oeuvre did . not please: I will give you an original stroke at it. Dr. Lodge, who was for ever pestering the town with pamphlets, published in the year 1596, Wits Miserie, and the Worlds Madnesse, discovering the Devils incarnat of this Age, 4to. One of these devils is Hate-virtue, or Sorrow for another man's good successe, who, says the Doctor, is “a foule lubber, and looks as pale as the visard of the Ghost, which cried so miserably at the theatre, like an oister-wife, Hamlet revenge.”+ Thus you see Mr. Holt's sup.
* It was observed in the former edition, that this place is not met with in Spelman's Villare, or in Adams's Index; nor, it might have been added, in the first and the last performance of this sort, Speed's Tables, and Whatley's Gazetteer: perhaps, however, it may be meant under the name of Crandon ;-but the inquiry is of no importance. It should, I think be written Credendon; though better antiquaries than Aubrey have acqui. esced in the vulgar corruption.
+ To this observation of Dr. Farmer it may be added, that the play of Hamlet was better known by this scene, than by any other. In Decker's Satiromastix, 1602, the following passage
Asinius. “Would I were hang'd if I can call you any names but captain, and Tucca."
66 Tucca. “No, fye; my name 's Hamlet Revenge: thou hast been at Paris-Garden, hast thou not ?" Again, in Westward Hoe, by Decker and Webster, 1607: “Let these Husbands play mad Hamlet, and cry, revenge!"