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PLOT, THE FABLE, AND CONSTRUCTION
TAMING OF THE SHREW.
Of this play the two plots are so well united, that they can hardly be called two without injury to the art with which they are interwoven. The attention is entertained with all the variety of a double plot, yet is not distracted by unconnected incidents.
The part between Catherine and Petruchio is eminently spritely and diverting. At the marriage of Bianca, the arrival of the real father, perhaps, produces more perplexity than pleasure. The whole play is very popular and diverting.
We have hitherto supposed Shakspeare the author of the Taming of the Shrew, but his property in it is extremely disputable. I will give you my opinion, and the reasons on which it is founded. I suppose then the present play not originally the work of Shakspeare, but restored by him to the stage, with the whole Induction of the Tinker; and some other occasional improvements; especially in the character of Petruchio. It is very obvious that the Induction
and the Play were either the works of different hands, or written at a great interval of time. The former is in our author's best manner, and a great part of the latter in his worst, or even below it. Dr. Warburton declares it to be certainly spurious; and without doubt, supposing it to have been written by Shakspeare, it must have been one of his earliest productions. Yet it is not mentioned in the list of his works by Meres in 1598.
I have met with a facetious piece of sir John Harrington, printed in 1596, (and possibly there may be an earlier edition) called The Metamorphoses of Ajax, where I suspect an allusion to the old play; "Read 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 technically so: Gosson in his Schoole of Abuse, containing a pleasaunt Inuective against Poets, Pipers, Players, Jesters, and such like Caterpillars of a Commonwealth, 1579, mentions "twoo prose lookes played at the Bell-sauage:" 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 Thomas Moore."
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 servants." 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; for it was not even printed till some years after his death; but he merely revived it on his stage as a manager. FARMER.
In spite of the great deference which is due from every commentator to Dr. Farmer's judgment, I own I cannot entirely concur with him on the present occasion. I know not to whom I could impute this comedy, if Shakspeare was not the author of it. I think his hand is visible in almost every scene, though perhaps not so evidently as in those which pass between Catherine and Petruchio.
The title of this play was probably taken from an old story, entitled, The Wyf lapped in Morells skin, or The Taming of a Shrew.
CHRISTOPHER SLY, a drunken Tinker.) Persons in
BAPTISTA, a rich Gentleman of Padua.
LUCENTIO, Son to Vincentio, in love with Bianca. PETRUCHIO, a Gentleman of Verona, a suitor to Catharina.
PEDANT, an old fellow set up to personate Vincentio.
KATHARINA, the Shrew;
BIANCA, her Sister,
}Daughters to Baptista.
Taylor, Haberdasher, and Servants attending on BAPTISTA and PETRUCHIO.
SCENE, sometimes in Padua; and sometimes in Petruchio's House in the Country.
TAMING OF THE SHREW.
Before an Alehouse on a Heath.
Enter Hostess and SLY.
Sly. I'LL pheese you, in faith'.
Host. A pair of stocks, you rogue!
Sly. Y'are a baggage; the Slies are no rogues: Look in the chronicles, we came in with Richard Conqueror. Therefore paucas pallabris 2; let the world slide: Sessa!
Host. You will not pay for the glasses you have burst 3?
Sly. No, not a denier: Go by, says Jeronimy 4;Go to thy cold bed, and warm thee.
Host. I know my remedy, I must go fetch the thirdborough. [Exit. Sly. Third, or fourth, or fifth borough, I'll an