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irony ruris through it. Decker's Gallant was a kind of gentle+ man-bully, whose ambition it was to be signalized by some nota able exploits--commonly called by our Oxford heroes of the present day--kicking up a d-d duft. Such gallants, as the old satirist calls them, make up by noise what they want in wit: and he therefore humorously affures them; that it will crowne them with rich commendation to laugh aloud in the midst of the most serious and faddest scene of the terribleft tragedy : and to let that clapper, their tongue, be toffed so high, that all the house may ring of it.'

Decker's Gallant bears a strong resemblance of our modern choice spirits, who find it an easier talk to raise a riot at a playa house, than to decide with judgment on the respective merits of authors or actors. Their absurdities, however, were manifefted in different modes. Among other fooleries, Decker rallies them for card-playing, to amuse the time before the play began.

To the present edition is added a curious extract from Mr. Grainger's Biographical History of England, relating to the portraits of Shakspeare. They are distinctly enumerated, and their respective merits are judiciously discussed. This edition is embellithed also with two prints of Shakspeare. The first is copied from an engraving of Martin Droeshont, and was originally impressed on the title-page of the folio edition of Shakspeare, by Heminge and Condell. The fecond is a copy of the portrait prefixed to his poems, published in 12mo, in 1640. These two prints are indeed much unlike one another in point of expreffion. The first is most esteemed, as it carries stronger marks of dignity and elevation of mind than the latter, and feems best to suit the genius of the man:--but chiefly is it valued for the testimony which Ben Jonson bore to it on account of its resemblance to his friend Shakspeare; and

• Wherein (says he) the graver had a strife

• With nature to ourdo che life.' This was the testimony of a man who had known Shakspeare too well to have been deceived ; and for the sake of complimenting thę engraver's art, would scarcely have ventured on an affertion that, if not true, could have been so easily, and by such numbers falsified. Mr. Grainger informs us, as a corroborating proof of the exactness of Droeshant's engraving, that the author of a letter from Stratford upon Avon, printed in the Gentleman's Magazine, about twenty years since, informs us, that this head is as much like his monumental effigy, as a print can be.'

Mr. Steevens, in the edition of 1773, had (as he frankly acknowledges) given inadvertently a wrong account of the folio edition of 1632. He had given it a fimilar character with the 3d and 4th impressions which were all printed in the course of the latt century, from 1623 to 1685. The two last editions he

Atill considers as ' little better than walte paper; for they differ only from the preceding ones by a larger accumulation of errors But on macurer examination he retracts his former charge againft the second edition of 1632, and informs us that it is not without its value; for though it be in some cales more incorrectly printed than the preceding one, it has likewise the advantage of various readings, which are not merely such as a reiteration of copies will naturally produce. The curious examiner of Shakspeare's text, who poflefles the first of these, ought not to be unfurnished with the fecond.' We though it not amiss ro transcribe this note as a proof of Mr. Steevens's candour, and that the possessors of the old edition of 1632 may know what value to let on it.

The other additions to the present work consist of a list of plays, altered froin Shakspeare, by Sir William Davenant, Lord Landsdowne, Tate, Betterton, Dennis, Sheffield D. of Bucks, Dryden, Olway, Garrick, Cibber, Sheridan, Colman, and others; with a list of detached pieces of criticism on Shakipcare and his editors,'—beginning with Rymer's · Short Vicw of Tragedy,' printed in 1693, and ending with Voltaire's • Letter to the French Academy,' in 1777. 'Next follow fuch extracis of entries on the books of the Stationers Company,' as bear any reference to Shakspeare's plays, or the plays of other authors, that were published with the same titles that he himself had adopted.

"It is worth remark, says Mr. Steevens, that on these books of the Stationers Company, Titus Andronicus, Venus and Adonis, two parts of King Henry VI., Locrine, Widow of IVatling-Street, King Richard II., King Richard the Illd., King Henry II., &c. are the first performances attributed to Shakspeare. Thus might the progress of his dramatic art be ascertained, were we abfolutely sure that his productions were set down in chronological arrangement on these records of ancient publication. It may be added, that although the interests of playhouses had power to fuípend privately the printing of his theatrical pieces, they could foc have retarded the appearance of his poems; and we may therefore juftly date the commencement of his authorthip from the time when the first of them came out, viz. bis Venus and Adonis, when he was in the 20th year of his age. In the dedication of this poem to the earl of Southampton, Shakspeare calls it, “ The firft Heir of his Invention.”.

« Of all his undisputed plays, the only one omitted in the books of the Stationers Company, is King John. The fame attention to fecure a lasting property in the works of Ben Jonson, and Beaumont and Fletcher, doch not appear to have been exa erted; as of the former I have met with no more than seven or cight entries, and of the latter a ftill lets confiderable number.

I

Beaumons

Beaumont dicd in 1615, Fletcher in 1625, and Jonson in 1637 My researches, however, were not continued below the year 1632, the date of the second edition of Shakspeare,

Let it 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 the eight others (amongst which is to be reckoned Titus Andronicus) were fpurious. I seize this opportunity, however, to express my doubts concerning all but the last mentioned piece and Locrine. Locrine hath 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. Neither has it ever yet been fufficiently 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 of 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 Shakspeare, 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 king James I. to him and his fellow-comedians in 1603. The Yorkshire Tragedy is only one out of four thort drainas which were exhibited for the entertainment of a fingle 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. Seyward's edition of Beaumont and Fletcher, Shakspeare, who hath expressed such a solicitude that his Clowns should speak no more than what was set down for them, would naturally have taken some opportunity to Thew 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, had been already disposed of to proprietors, out of whose hands they could not be redeemed : or if Heminge and Condell were * dilcerning friends to the reputation of their associate, conscious, as they might have been, that such pieces were his, they would have omitted them by design, as inferior to his other productions. From this inferiority, and from a cast of style occasion

• If the original editors of Shakspeare were discerning friends to the reputation of their associate, how came Titus Andronicus to find a place amongit his works in their owa edition: Rev.

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ally different, nothing relative to their authenticity can, with exactness, be inferred; for, as Dr. Johnson very juftly observes on a similar occasion, “ There is little resemblance between the first works of Raphael and the last.” But could it even be proved that these rejected pieces were not among the earliest effufions of Shakspeare, such proofs would by no means affect their authenticity; as both Dryden and Rowe, after having written their best plays, are known to have produced others, which refiect a very inconsiderable degree of honour on their memory.'

These reasonings in favour of the rejected plays, which had been originally attributed to Shakspeare, are exceedingly plaufible; but whether they will be considered as decisive, we presume not to determine. Perhaps they have been rejected too precipitately, through an implicit dependence on the authority of Mr. Pope; whose reasons for their total omission were, however, very far from being conclusive.

The most curious and important supplement to the prefaces of the former edition, is an attempt to ascertain the order in which the plays attributed to Shakspeare were written,' by Mr. Malone. Of this attempt,'Mr. Steevens makes the following handsome acknowledgment. ' By the aid of the registers at Stationers Hall, and such internal evidences as the pieces them selves supply, hc (Mr. Malone] hath so happily accomplished his undertaking, that he only leaves me the power to thank him for an arrangement which I profess my inability either to dispute or to improve.'

Of the success of this undertaking Mr. Malone speaks in the following modest and candid manner: After the most diligent enquiries, very few particulars have been recovered respecting Shakspeare's private life or literary history; and while it hath been the endeavour of all his editors and commentators to illurtrate his obscurities, and to regulate and correct bis text, no attempt hath been made to trace the progress and order of his plays. Yet, surely, it is no incurious speculation to mark the * gradations by which he rose from mediocrity to the summit of excellence: from artless and uninteresting dialogues, to those unrivalled compositions, which have rendered him the delight and wonder of successive ages.

* It is not pretended that a regular scale of gradual improvement is here presented to the Public : or that if even Shakspeare himself had left os a chronological list of his dramas, it would exhibit such a (cale. All that is meant is, that as his knowledge increased, and he became more conversant with the ftage and with life, his performances, in general, were written more happily, and with greater art. Rev. Jan. 1780.

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· The materials for ascertaining the order in which his plays were written, are indeed so few, that it is to be feared nothing very decisive can be produced on this subject. In the following attempt to trace the progress of his dramatic art, probability alone is pretended to. The filence and inaccuracy of those persons who, after his death, had the revisal of his papers, will, perhaps, for ever prevent our attaining to any thing like proof on this head. Little then remains, but to collect into one view, from his several dramas, and from the ancient tracts in which they are mentioned, or alluded to, all the circumstances that can throw any light on this new and curious inquiry. From these circumstances, and from the entries in the books of the Stationers Company, extracted, and now first published by Mr. Steevens (to whom every admirer of Shakspeare has the highest obligations), it is probable that the plays attributed to our Author were nearly written in the following succession, which, though it cannot at this day be ascertained to be their true order, may yet be considered as approaching nearer to it than any which has been observed in the various editions of his works. The rejected plays are here enumerated with the rest; but no opinion is thereby meant to be given concerning their authenticity. Of the nineteen genuine plays, which were not printed in our Author's life-time, the majority of them were, I believe, late compositions. The following arrangement is, in fome meafure, formed on this idea,

The dates of the several plays are arranged by Mr. Malone in the following order :

N. B. The reje&ted plays, which had been admitted in the 3d and 4th editions of the last century, and also by Mr. Rowe, are, in the following list, marked by Italics; and those which were not printed till after the Author's death, and made their first appearance in the folio edition of his plays in 1623, are distinguished by an asterisk.

1. Titus Andronicus, 1589. [This play, though admitted by all the Editors, yet is generally supposed to be fpurious.] 2. Love's Labour Lolt, 1591. 3. * First Part of King Henry VI. 1591. 4, Second Part of Henry VI. 1591.

5. Third Part of ditto, 1592. 6. Pericles, 1592. 7. Locrine, 1593. 8. * The Two Gentlemen of Verona, 1593. 9. * The Winter's Tale, 1594 10. Midsummer Night's Dream, 1595, II. Romeo and Juliet, 1595. 12. * The Comedy of Errors, 1596. 13. Hamlet, 1596. 14. * King John, 1596. 15. King Richard the IId. 1597. 16. King Richard the IIId. 1597. 17. First Part of King Henry IV. 1597. 18. Merchant of Venice, 1598. 19. * All's Well that Ends Well, 1598. 20. Sir John Oldcastle, 1598. 21. Second Part of King Henry IV. 1598. 22. King Henry V. 1599. 23. The Puritan, 1600.

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