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June 29, 1624.
D 126 Dec. 14, 1624. Mr. Pavyer.] Titus Andronicus. Widow of Watling-Street.
93 Feb. 25, 1625. Mr. Stansby. ] Edward the Third, the play. 115
April 3, 1526. Mr. Parker. ] Life and Death of Lord Cromwell. 120
Aug. 4, 1626,
- 127 March 1, 1627. Rich. Hawhins.] Othello the More of Venice. 160
Jan. 29, 1629.
Nov. 8, 1630.
Sir John Oldcąstle.
Yorkshire Tragedy. .. ;
Tho. Blount to Edward Allot, June 26,
It is worth remark, that on the books of the Stationers-Company, Titus Andronicus, Venus and Adonis, two parts of King Henry VI. Locrine, Widow of WatlingStreet, King Richard II. King Richard III. King Henry IV. &c. are the first perforinances attributed to Shakspere. Thus might the progress of his dramatick art be ascertained, were we absolutely sure that his productions were set down in chronological arrangement on these records of ancient publication. It may be added, that although the private interests of play. houses had power to suspend the printing of his theatrical pieces, they could not have retarded the appearance of his poems; and we may, therefore, justly date the commencement of his authorship from the time when the first of them came out, viz. his Venus and Adonis, when he was in the twenty-ninth year of his age. In the dedication of this poem to the
ear! earl of Southampton, Shakspere calls it “ The first heir of his invention."
Of all his undisputed plays, the only one omitted on the books of the Stationers-Company, is King John. The same attention to secure a lasting property in the works of Ben Jonson and Beaumont and Fletcher, does not appear to have been exerted; as of the form mer I have inet with no more than seven or eight entries, and of the latter a still less considerable number. Beaumont died in 1615, Fletcher in - 1625, and Jonson in 1637. My researches, however, were not continued below the year 1632, the date of the second folio edition of Shakspere. · Let it, likewise, be added to the praises of our author, that, if he did not begin to write till 1593, nor ceased till within three years of his death, which happened in 1616, in the course of twenty years he had produced no less than thirty-five plays, admitting that eight others (among which is to be reckoned Titus Andronicus *) were spurious. I seize this oppor. tunity, however, to express my doubts concerning all but the last mentioned piece, and Locrine. Locrine has only the letters W. S. prefixed to it, and exhibits internal proofs that it was not only the composition of a scholar, but of a pedant. See a note to the List of Plays ascribed to Shakspere by the Editors of the two later folios, or the Compilers of Ancient Catalogues, where the same assertion is more fully supported. See also
* See the notes on this play,
another note at the beginning of Troilus and Cressidao Neither has it ever yet been sufficiently proved, that it was once customary to set the names of celebrated living authors at full length in the title-pages to the works of others, or to enter them, under these false colours, in the books at Stationers-Hall. Such frauds, indeed, have been attempted at a later period, but with little success. The most inconsiderable of all the pieces rejected by the editors of Shakspere, is the Yorkshire Tragedy; and yet, in 1608, it was both registered and published with his name. At this
time too, he was probably in London, presiding at the , Globe theatre, in consequence of the licence granted
by K. James I. to him and his fellow-comedians in 16035 The Yorkshire Tragedy is only one out of four short drainas which were exhibited for the entertainment of a single evening, as the title-page informs us; and, perhaps, would have been forgotten with the other three, but that it was known to have been the work of our celebrated author. Such miscellaneous representations were not uncommon, and the reader will find a specimen of them in the tenth volume of Mr. Sevard's edition of Beaumont and Fletcher. Shakspere, who has expressed such a solicitude, that his clowns should speak no more than was šet down for them, would naturally have taken some opportunity to shew his impatience at being rendered answerable, in, a still more decisive manner, for entire compositions which were not his own. It is possible, likewise, that the copies of the plays omitted in the first folio,