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would, if there be any weight in this instance, procure a similar assignment, as to time, for the Comedy of Errors, where we find a like prohibition of intercourse:"If any Syracusan born

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yet no one, in consequence of such a passage, has entertained an idea of ascribing this comedy to the year 1598.

The outline of the induction to this drama may be traced, as Mr. Douce observes, through many intermediate copies, to the "Sleeper Awakened" of the Arabian Nights; but it is most probable, that the immediate source of this prelude, both to the anonymous author of the old Taming of a Shrew, and to Shakspeare himself, was the story-book said by Warton to have been once in the possession of Collins the poet, a collection of short comic tales, "set forth by mayster Richard Edwards, mayster of her Majesties revels," in the year 1570.

From whatever source, however, this apologue may have been directly taken, we cannot but feel highly indebted to Shakspeare for its conversion into a lesson of exquisite moral irony, while, at the same time, it unfolds his wonted richness of humor, and minute delineation of character. The whole, indeed, is conducted with such lightness and frolic spirit, with so many happy touches of risible simplicity, yet chastised by so constant an adherence to nature and verisimilitude, as to form one of the most delightful and instructive sketches.

So admirably drawn is the character of Sly, that we regret to find the interlocution of the group before whom the piece is supposed to be performed, has been dropped by our author after the close of the first scene of the play. Here we behold the jolly tinker nodding, and, at length, honestly exclaiming, "Would't were done!" and, though the integrity of the representation require that he should finally return to his former state, the transformation, as before, being effected during his sleep, yet we hear no more of this truly comic pr sonage; whereas in the spurious play, he is frequently introduced commenting on the scene, is carried off the stage fast asleep, and, on the termination of the drama, undergoes the necessary metamorphosis.

It would appear, therefore, either that our bard's continuation of the induction has been unaccountably lost, or that he trusted the remainder of Sly's part to the improvisatory ingenuity of the performers; or, what is more likely, that they were instructed to copy a certain portion of what had been written, for this subordinate division of the tinker's character, by the author of the elder play. Some of the observations, indeed, of Sly, as given by the writer of this previous comedy, are incompatible with the fable and dramatis personæ of Shakspeare's production; and have, consequently, been very injudiciously introduced by Mr. Pope; but there are two passages which, with the exception of but two names, are not only accordant with our poet's prelude, but absolutely necessary to its completion. Shakspeare, as we have seen, represents Sly as nodding at the end of the first scene; and the parts of the anonymous play to which we allude, are those where the nobleman orders the sleeping tinker to be put into his own apparel again, and where he awakens in this garb, and believes the whole to have been a dream; the only alterations required in this finale, being the omission of the Christian appellative Sim, and the conversion of Tapster into Hostess. These few lines were, most probably, those which Shakspeare selected as a necessary accompani ment to his piece, from the old drama supposed to have been written in 1590;'" and these lines should be withdrawn from the notes in all the modern editions, and, though distinguished as borrowed property, should be immediately connected with the text. †

"I suspect," says Mr. Malone, "that the anonymous Taming of a Shrew was written about the year 1590, either by George Peele or Robert Greene."

"A very droll print of village society," observes Mr. Felton, "might be taken" from this interlude. "It might represent this worthy tinker, at Marian Hackel's of Wincot, with Stephen Sly, Old John Neja oth Green, Peter Turf, and Henry Pimpernell, not as smoking their pipes, (as scarce at that day


As to the play itself, the rapidity and variety of its action, the skilful connection of its double plot, and the strength and vivacity of its principal characters, must for ever ensure its popularity. There is, indeed, a depth and breadth of colouring in its execution, a boldness and prominency of relief, which may be thought to border upon coarseness; but the result has been an effect equally powerful and interesting, though occasionally, as the subject demanded, somewhat glaring and grotesque.

Petruchio, Katharina, and Grumio, the most important personages of the play, are consistently supported throughout, and their peculiar features touched and brought forward with singular sharpness and spirit; the wild, fantastic humour of the first, the wayward and insolent demeanour of the second, contrasted with the meek, modest, and retired disposition of her sister, together with the inextinguishable wit and drollery of the third, form a picture, at once rich, varied, and pre-eminently diverting.

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9. THE TWO GENTLEMEN OF VERONA: 1595. There can be little doubt that the episode of Felismena, in the "Diana of George of Montemayor, was the Source whence the principal part of the plot of this play has been taken; for, though the Translation of Bartholomew Yong was not published until 1598, it appears from the translator's "Preface to divers learned Gentlemen," that it had been completed in the year 1582; "it hath lyen by me finished," he says, "Horace's ten and six yeeres more," a declaration which renders it very probable, that the manuscript may have been circulated among his friends, and the more striking parts impressed upon their memory. But we are further informed, in this very preface, that a partial but excellent version of the Diana had preceded bis labours:

"Well might 1," says Yong, "have excused these paines, if onely Edward Paston, Esquier, who heere and there for his own pleasure, as I understand, hath aptly turned out of Spanish into Euglish some leaves that liked him best, had also made an absolute and complete Translation of all the Parts of Diana: the which, for his travell in that countrey, and great knowledge in that language, accompanied with other learned and good parts in him, had of all others, that ever I heard translate these Bookes, prooved the rarest and worthiest to be embraced." We also learn from Dr. Farmer, that the Diana was translated two or three years before 1598, by one Thomas Wilson; but, he adds, "this work, I am persuaded, was never published entirely; perhaps some parts of it were, or the tale might have been translated by others."

These intimations sufficiently warrant the conclusion, that Shakspeare may have become familiar with this portion of the Spanish romance, anterior to the publication of Yong's version in 1598; indeed so closely does the story of Proteus and Julia correspond with the episode of Montemayor, that Shakspeare's obligations cannot be mistaken.

"He bas copied the original," as Mr. Dunlop observes, in some minute particulars, which clearly evince the source from which the drama has been derived. As for example, in the letter which Proteus addresses to Julia, her rejection of it when offered by her waiting-maid, and the device by which she afterwards attempts to procure a persual. (Act. i. sc. 2.) In several passages, indeed, the dramatist has copied the language of the pastoral.'

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This play, though betraying marks of negligence and haste, especially towards its termination, is yet a most pleasing and instructive composition. There is scarcely a page of it, indeed, that is not pregnant with some just and useful. maxim, and we stand amazed at the blind and tasteless decisions of Hanmer, Theobald, and Upton, who not only disputed the authenticity of this drama, but condemned it as a very inferior production.

So far are these opinions, however, from having any just foundation, that we may safely assert the peculiar style of Shakspeare to be vividly impressed on all

troduced), but drinking their ale in stone-jugs."-Imperfect Hints towards a New Edition of Shakspeare, part i p. 21.

History of Fiction, Ist. edit. vol. iii. p. 131.

the parts of this drama, whether serious or comic; and as to its aphoristic wealth, it may be truly said, with Dr. Johnson, that "it abounds with grou beyond most of his plays, and few have more lines or passages, which, singly considered, are eminently beautiful.”

But besides this, justice requires of us to remark, that there is a romantic and pathetic cast, both of sentiment and character, throughout the more elevated parts of this production, which has given to them a peculiar charm. The delineation of Julia in particular, from the gentleness and modesty of her disposition, the ill requital of her attachment, and the hazardous disguise which she assumes, must be confessed to excite the tenderest emotions of sympathy. This is a character, indeed, which Shakspeare has delighted to embody, and which he has further developed in the lovely and fascinating portraits of Viola and Imogen, who, like Julia, forsaken or despised, are driven to the same expedients, and, deserting their native roof, perform their adventurous pilgrimages under similar modes of concealment." A portion also of this romantic enthusiasm has thrown an interest over the characters of Sir Eglamour and Silvia, and evanescent as the part of the former is, we see enough of him to regret that he has not been brought more forward on the canvas. He is represented as a gentleman

"Valiant, wise, remorseful, well accomplished,"

and when Silvia, on the eve of her elopement, solicits his assistance, she thus addresses him:

"Thyself hast loved; and I have heard thee say,
No grief did ever come so near thy heart,
As when thy lady and thy true love died,
Upon whose grave thou vow'dst pure chastity."

Act iv. sc. 3.

Nor are the ludicrous scenes less indicative of the hand of Shakspeare, the part of Launce, which forms the chief source of mirth in this play, being supported throughout with undeviating wit and humour, and with an effect greatly superior to that of the comic dialogue of Love's Labour's Lost and The Comedy of Errors.

Nor must we forget to remark, that the versification of the Two Gentlemen of Verona is peculiarly sweet and harmonious, and very happily corresponds with the delicacy, simplicity, and tenderness of feeling which have so powerfully shed their never-failing fascination over many of its serious scenes. How exquisitely, for instance, does the rhythm of the following lines coalesce with and expand their sentiment and imagery :·

"Julia. Counsel, Lucetta; gentle girl, assist me!
Tell me some good mean,

How, with my honour, I may undertake

A journey to my loving Proteus," &c.

Act ii. sc. 7.

10. KING RICHARD THE THIRD: 1595. It is the conjecture of Mr. Malone, and by which he has been guided in his chronological arrangement, that this play. and King Richard the Second, were written, acted, registered and printed in the year 1597. That they were registered and published during this year, we have indisputable authority; † but that they were written and acted within the same period, is a supposition without any proof, and, to say the least of it, highly improbable.


Mr. Chalmers, struck by this incautious assertion, of two such plays being

*It is remarkable, that a great poet of the present day has exhibited, in his poetical romances, an equal attachment to this mode of disguise. I will here also add, that the compass of English poetry does not, in point of interest, afford any thing more stimulating and attractive than the Dramas of Shakspeare, the Romauces of Scott, and the Tales of Byron.

Richard the Second was entered on the Stationers' books, on August 29, 1597; and Richard the Third pn October 20, 1597; and both printed the same year.

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written, acted, and published in a few months; reflecting that Shakspeare, impressed by the character of Glouester, in his play of Henry the Sixth, might be induced to resume his national dramas by continuing the "Historie" of Richard, to which he might be more immediately stimulated by his knowledge that an enterlude, entitled the "Tragedie of Richard the Third," had been exhibited in 1593, or 1594; and ingeniously surmising that Richard the Second was a subsequent production, because it ushered in a distinct and concatenated series of history, has, under this view of the subject, given precedence to Richard the Third in the order of composition, and assigned its origin to the year 1595.

The description of a small volume of Epigrams by John Weever, in Mr. Beloe's Anecdotes of Literature, has since confirmed the chronology of Mr. Chalmers, so far as it proves that one of Shakspeare's Richards had certainly been acted in 1595.

The book in question, in the collection of Mr. Comb, of Henley, and supposed to be a unique, was published in 1599, at which period, according to the date of the print of him prefixed by Cecill, the author was twenty-three years old, but Weever tells us, in some introductory stanzas, that when he wrote the poems which compose this volume, he was not twenty years old; that he was one

"That twenty twelve months yet did never know,"

consequently, these Epigrams must have been written in 1595, though not printed before 1599. They exhibit the following title: "Epigrammes in the oldest Cut and newest Fashion. A twise seven Houres (in so many Weekes) Studie. No longer (like the Fashion) not unlike to continue. The first seven, John Weever. At London: printed by V. S. for Thomas Bushell, and are to be sold at his shop, at the great North doore of Paules. 1599. 12mo."

Of this collection the twenty-second Epigram of the fourth Weeke, which we have formerly had occasion to notice, and which we shall now give at length, is addressed


"Honie-Tongd Shakspeare, when I saw thine issue,
I swore Apollo got them, and none other,
Their rosie-tainted features clothed in tissue,

Some heaven-born goddesse said to be their mother.
Rose cheeckt Adonis with his amber tresses,
Faire fire-hot Venus charming him to love her,
Chaste Lucretia, virgine-like her dresses,
Proud lust-stung Tarquine seeking still to prove her,
Romeo, RICHARD, more whose names I know not,
Their sugred tongues and power attractive beauty,
Say they are saints, althogh that Sts they shew not,
For thousand vowes to them subjective dutie,
They burn in love thy children Shakspeare let them

Go wo thy muse more nymphish brood beget them." +

We have no doubt that by the "Richard" of this epigram the author meant to imply the play of Richard the Third, which, according to our arrangement, was the immediately succeeding tragedy to Romeo, and may be said to have been almost promised by the poet in the two concluding scenes of the Last Part of King Henry the Sixth, a promise which, as we believe, was carried into execution after an interval of three years. ‡

• It must be recollected that Mr. Malone's "Chronological Order of Shakspeare's Plays," is founded, not on the period of their publication, but on that of their composition; it is "an attempt to ascertain the order in which the Plays of Shakspeare were written,"

Anecdotes of Literature and Scarce books, vol. vi. p. 156, 158, 159.

The lines which seem to imply the future intentions of the poet, are these:

"Glo. Clarence, beware: thou keep'st me from the light;

But I will sort a pitchy day for thee:

For I will buz abroad such prophecies,

That Edward shall be fearful of his life;

The character of Richard the Third, which had been opened in so masterly a manner in the Concluding Part of Henry the Sixth, is, in this play, developed in all its horrible grandeur.

It is, in fact, the picture of a demoniacal incarnation, moulding the passions and foibles of mankind, with super-human precision, to its own iniquitous purposes. Of this isolated and peculiar state of being Richard himself seems sensible, when he declares

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From a delineation like this Milton must have caught many of the most striking features of his Satanic portrait. The same union of unmitigated depravity, and consummate intellectual energy, characterises both, and renders what would otherwise be loathsome and disgusting, an object of sublimity and shuddering admiration,

Richard, stript as he is of all the softer feelings, and all the common charities, of humanity, possessed of "neither pity, love, nor fear," and loaded with every dangerous and dreadful vice, would, were it not for his unconquerable powers of mind, be insufferably revolting. But, though insatiate in his ambition, envious, and hypocritical in his disposition, cruel, bloody, and remorseless in all his deeds, he displays such an extraordinary share of cool and determined courage, such alacrity and buoyancy of spirit, such constant self-possession, such an intuitive intimacy with the workings of the human heart, and such matchless skill in rendering them subservient to his views, as so far to subdue our detestation and abhorrence of his villany, that we, at length, contemplate this fiend in human shape with a mingled sensation of intense curiosity and grateful terror.

The task, however, which Shakspeare undertook was, in one instance, more arduous than that which Milton subsequently attempted; for, in addition to the hateful constitution of Richard's moral character, he had to contend also against the prejudices arising from personal deformity, from a figure

"curtail'd of it's fair proportion,

Cheated of feature by dissembling nature,
Deform'd, unfinish'd, sent before it's time
Into this breathing world, scarce half made up;"

Act i. sc. I.

and yet, in spite of these striking personal defects, which were considered, also, as indicative of the depravity and wickedness of his nature, the poet has contrived, through the medium of the high mental endowments just enumerated, not only to obviate disgust, but to excite extraordinary admiration.

One of the most prominent and detestable vices indeed, in Richard's character, his hypocrisy, connected, as it always is, in his person, with the most profound skill and dissimulation, has, owing to the various parts which it induces him to assume, most materially contributed to the popularity of this play, both on the stage and in the closet. He is one who can "frame his face to all occasions,” and accordingly appears, during the course of his career, under the contrasted forms of a subject and a monarch, a politician and a wit, a soldier and a suitor, a sinner and a saint; and in all with such apparent ease and fidelity to nature, that

And then to purge his fear. I'll be thy death.

King Henry, and the prince his son, are gone:

Clarence, thy turn is next, and then the rest."-Henry VI. Part III. act v. sc. 6.

Glo. I'll blast his harvest, if your head were laid;

For yet I am not look'd on in the world.

This shoulder was ordain'd so thick, to heave;

And heave it shall some weight, or break my back :

Work thou the way,-and thou shalt execute.”—Ibid. act v. sc. 7.

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