Abbildungen der Seite

of them, beyond controversy, as we think: and though we have selected these passages only, and recommended them to observation, it had been easy to name abundance of others which bear his mark as strongly: and one circumstance there is that runs through all the three plays, by which he is as surely to be known as by any other that can be thought of; and that is the preservation of character: all the personages in them are distinctly and truly delineated, and the character given them sustained uniformly throughout : the enormous Richard's particularly, which in the third of these plays is seed rising towards its zenith : and who sees not the future monster, and acknowledges at the same time the pen that drew it, in these two lines only, spoken over a king who lies ftab'd before him,

What, will the aspiring blood of Lancaster

Sink in the ground ? I thought it would have mounted. let him never pretend discernment hereafter in any case of this nature.

It is hard to persuade one's self, that the objectors to the play which comes next are indeed serious in their opinion ; for if he is not visible in “ Love's Labour's lost," we know not in which of his comedies he can be said to be so: the ease and sprightliness of the dialogue in very many parts of

Ν Ο Τ Ε. of the two that have gone before; yet, unless we except their novelists, he does not appear to have rad much acquaintance with any of their writers; what he has given us of it is merely colloquial, flows with great ease from him, and is rea onably pure: should be said he had travelled for it, we know not who can confute us: in his days indeed, and with people of his station, the custom of doing 10 was rather rarer than in outs; yet we have met with an example, and in his own band of players, in the person of the very famous Mr. Kempe; of whole travels there is mention in a filly old play, called—“' The Return from Parnaffus," printed in 1606, but written much earlier, in the time of queen Elizabeth; add to this the exa

it; and (chiefly) in those truly comick characters, the pedant and his companion, the pige, the constable, Costard, and Armado,-seem more than sufficient to prove Shakespeare the author of it: and for the blemishes of this play, we must seek their true cause in its antiquity; which we may venture to carry higher than 1598, the date of its first impression : rime, when his play appeared, was thought a beauty of the drama, and heard with singular pleasure by an audience who but a few years before had been accustomed to all rime; and the measure we call dogrel, and are so much offended with, had no such effect upon the ears of that time : but whether blemishes or no, or however this matter be which we have brought to exculpate him, neither of these articles can with any face of justice be alledged against « Love's Labour's lost," seeing they are both to be met with in several other plays, the genuineness of which has not been questioned by any one. And one thing more shall be observed in the behalf of this play ;-that the author himself was so little displeased at least with some parts of it, that he has brought them a second time upon the stage ; for who may not perceive that his famous Benedick and Beatrice are but little more than the counter parts of Biron and Rosaline? All which circumstances considered, and that especially of the writer's childhood (as it may be termed)

NOT E. ceeding great liveliness and juitness that is seen in many descriptions of the Tea and promontories, which, if examined, shew another loit of knowledge of them than is to be gotten in books or relations; and if these be laid together, this conjecture of his travelling may Aot be thought void of probability.

One opinion, we are sure, which is advanced somewhere or other, is utterly fo ;-that this Latin, and this Italian, and the language that was last mentioned, are intértions, and the work of some other hand: there has been itarted now and then in philological matters a proposition so itrange as to carry its own condemnation in it, and this is of the number; it has been honoured already with more nor

when this comedy was produced, we may confidently pronounce it his true off-spring, and replace it amongst its brethren.

That the « Taming of the Shrew” should ever have been put into this class of plays, and adjudged a spurious one, may juftly be reckoned wonderful, when we consider its merit, and the reception it has generally met with in the world: its success at first, and the esteem it was then held in, induced Fletcher to enter the lists with it in another play, in which Petruchio is humbled, and Catharine triumphant ; and we have it in his works, under the title of “ The Woman's Prize, or, the Tamer tamed:” but, by an unhappy mistake of buffoonry for humour and obscenity for wit, which was not uncommon in that author, his production came lamely off, and was soon consigned to the oblivion in which it is now buried; whereas this of his antagonist flourishes still, and has maintained its place upon the stage (in some shape or other) from its very first appearance down to the present hour : and this success it has merited, by true wit and true humour; a fable of very artful construction, much business, and highly interesting; and by natural and well-sustained characters, which no pen but Shakespeare's was capable of drawing. What defects it has, are chiefly in the diction; the same (indeed) with those of the play that

I NO T'E. tice than it is any ways entitled to, where the poet's Latin is spoke of a little while before; to which answer it must be left, and we mall pass onto profeís our entire belief of the genuineness of every leveral part of this work, and that he only was the author of it: he might write beneath hirnseif at particular times, and certainly does in fome places; but is not always without excuse; and it frequently happens that a weak scene happens to very good purpoie, as will be made appear at one time or other. It may be thought that there is one argument ftill unanswered, which has been brought againft his acquaintance with the Latin and other languages; and that is that had he been so acquainted, it could not have happened but that some

was last-mentioned, and to be accounted, for the same way • for we are strongly inclined to believe it a neighbour in time to “ Love's Labour's lost,” though we want the proofs of it which we have luckily for that. (14)

But the plays which we have already spoke of are but Nightly attacked, and by few writers, in comparison of this which we are now come to, of “ Titus Andronicus :" commentators, editors, every one (in short) who has had to do with Shakespeare, unite all in condemning it,-as a very bundle of horrors, totally unfit for the stage, and unlike the poet's manner, and even the style of his other pieces; all which allegations are extremely true, and we readily admit of them, but cannot admit the conclusion—that, therefore, it is not his; and shall now proceed to give the reasons of our diffent, but (first) the play's age must be enquired into. In the Induction to Jonson's “ Bartholomew Fair,” which was written in the year 1614; the audience is thus accofted : Hee that will sweare, Jeronimo or Andronicus are “ the best playes, yet shall passe unexcepted at, heere, as a “ man whose judgement shewes it is constant, and hath ftood “ fill, these five and twentie or thirtie yeares. Though it « be an ignorance, it is a vertuous and stay'd ignorance; and 6 next to truth, a confirmed errour does well; such a one « the autkor knowes where to finde him." We have here

Ν ο Τ Ε. imitations would have crept into his writings, of which certainly there are none: but this argument has been answer'd in effect; when it was said that his knowledge in these languages was but sender, and his conversation with the writers in them lender too of courte: but, had it been otherwise, and he as deeply road in them as some people have thought him, his works (it is probable) had been as little deformed with imitations as we now see them: 'Shakespeare was far above such a practice; he had the stores in himself and wanted not the assistance of a foreign hand to dress him up in things of their lending.

the great Ben himself joining this play with “ Jeronimo, or, the Spanish Tragedy,” and bearing express testimony to the credit they were both in with the publick at the time they were written ; but this is by the by ; to ascertain that time, was the chief reason for inserting the quotation, and there we see it fixed to twenty-five or thirty years prior to this Induction. Now it is necessary to suppose, that Jonson speaks in this place with exact precision; but allowing that he does, the first of these periods carries us back to 1589, a date not very repugnant to what is afterwards advanced : Langbaine, in his “ Account of the English dramatick poets,” under the article, Shakespeare, dues expressly tell us-that “ Andronicus was first printed in 1594, quarto, « and acted by the earls of Derby, Pembroke, and Effex, “ their servants ;” and though the edition is not now to be met with, and he who mentions it be no exact writer, nor greatly to be relied on in many of his articles, yet in this we have quoted he is so very particular, that one can hardly withhold aflent to it; especially as this account of its printing coincides well enough with Jonion's æra of writing this play ; to which therefore we subscribe, and go on upon that ground. The books of that time afford strange examples of the barbarism of the publick taste both upon the stage and elsewhere : a conceited one of John Lilly's set a nation a madding; and, for a while, every pretender to politeness “parld

Ν Ο Τ Ε. (14) The authenticity of this piay stands further confirmed by the teftimony of Sir Aston Cockayn; a writer who came near to shakespeare's time, and does expressly ascribe it to him, in an "pigram addreired to Mr. Clement Fither of Wincot; but it is (perha; 3) superRuous, and of but little weight neither, as it will be said thai sir Afton proceeds only upon the evidence of its being in print in his name: we do therefore lay no great stress upon it, no Dial inírit the epigram here; it will he found in “ The School of Shakespeare, which is the proper place for things of that fort.

« ZurückWeiter »