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35. * The
24. Much-ado about Nothing, 1600. 25. * As you like it, 1600. 26. Merry Wives of Windsor, 1601. 27. * King Henry VIII. 1601. 28. Life and Death of Lord Cromwell, 1602. 29. Troilus and Creffida, 1602. 30. * Measure for Measure, 1603. 31. * Cymbeline, 1604. 32. The London Prodigal, 1605. 33. King Lear, 1605. 24. *Macbeth, 1606. Taming of the Shrew, 1606. 36. * Julius Cælar, 1607. 37. A Yorkshire Tragedy, 1608. 38. * Anthony and Cleopatra, 1608. 39.
* Coriolanus, 1609. 40. * Timon of Athens, 1610.
* Othello, 1611. 42. * The Tempeft, 1612. 43. * Twelfth Night, 1614.'
We must not follow this ingenious Writer through every part of his elaborate enquiry,-in which we find much curious criticism interspersed with a number of entertaining anecdotes :but we cannot take our leave of Mr. Malone, without prefenting a specimen or two of bis manner of treating the subject. We thall produce his account of Titus Andronicus and Macbeth.
* In what year our Author began to write for the stage, or which was his first performance, has not been hitherto ascertained. And indeed we have fo few lights to direct our enquiries, that any speculation on this subject may appear an idle expence of time. But the method which has been already marked out, requires that such facts should be mentioned as may serve in any manner to elucidate these points.
? Shakspeare was born on the 23d of April 1564, and was probably married in, or before September 1582; his eldest daughter Susanna having been baptised on the 26th of May 1583. Ac what time he left Warwickshire, or was first employed in the play-house, tradition doth not inform us. How ever, as his son Samuel and his daughter Judith were baptised at Stratford Feb. 2, 1584-5, we may presume that he had not left the country at that time.
• He could not have wanted an easy introduction to the theatre, for Thomas Green, a celebrated comedian, was his townsman, and, probably, his relation; and Michael Drayton was likewise born in Warwickshire : the latter was nearly of his own age, and both were in some degree of reputation soon after the year 1590. If I were to indulge a conjecture, the middle of the year 1591 I should name as the era when our Author commenced a writer for the stage;, at which time he was somewhat more than twenty-seven years of age. The reasons that induce me to fix on that period are these : In Webbe's Discourse of English Poetry, published in 1986, we meet with the names of most of the celebrated poets of that time, particularly those of George Whetstone and Antony Munday, who were dramatic writers; but we find no trace of our Author, or any of his
works. Three years afterwards Puttenham printed his Art of English Poely; and in that work also we look in vain for the name of Shakspeare. Sir John Harrington, in his' Apologie for Peetry, prefixed to the Translation of Ariosto (which was entered in the Stationers' books, Feb. 26, 1590-i, in which year it was printed), takes occasion to speak of the theatre, and mention's some of the celebrated dramas of that time; but says not a word of Shakspeare or any of his plays. If even Love's Labour Loft had then appeared, which was probably his first dramatic composition, is it imaginable that Harrington should have mentioned the Cambridge Pedantius, and The Play of the Cards (which last he tells us was a London comedy), and have passed by, unnoticed, the new prodigy of the dramatic world?
• However, that Shakspeare had commenced a writer for the stage, and even excited the jealousy of his contemporaries, before Sept. 1592, is now decisively proved by a passage, extracted by Mr. Tyrwhite from Robert Greene's Groatsworth of Wit bought with a Million of Repentance*, in which there is an evident allusion to our Author's name, as well as to one of his plays.
• The passage to which this observation refers is too curious to be omitted ; and we thall present our Readers with Mr. Tyrwhitt's own account of it. Though the objections which have been raised to the genuineness of the three plays of Henry VIth have been fully considered and answered by Dr. Johnson, it may not be amiss to add here, from a contemporary writer, a passage which not only points at Shakspeare as the author of them, but also thews, that however meanly we may now think of them, in comparison with his later productions, they had, at the time of their appearance, a sufficient degree of excellence to alarm the jealousy of the older play-wrights. The passage, to which I refer, is in a pamphlet entitled Greene's Grcat favorih of Witte, supposed to have been written by that volumi. nous author Robert Greene, M. A. and said in the title page to be published at his dying request ; probably about 1592. The conclufion of this piece is an address to his brother-poets, to dissuade them from writing any more for the stage, on account of the ill-treatment which they were used to receive from the players. " Trust them not (says he), for there is an upitart crow beautified with our feathers, that with his Tygres Head wrapt in a Player's Hyde, fupposes that he is as well able to bombaste out a blancke verse as the best of you; and being an absolute Johannes Fac-totum, is in his own conceit the only Shake scene in the countrey." There can be no doubt, I think, that Shakspeare is alluded to by the expression Shake-feere, or that his Tygres Head wrapt in a Player's Hyde is a parody upon the following line of York's speech to Margaret, in Third Part of Henry VI. Ad I. Scene 4th. "Oh Tygres Heart wrapt in a Woman's Hide !"
[Vol. vi. p. 566.)
• At what time foever he became acquainted with the theatre, we may presume that he had not composed his first play long before it was acted; for being early encumbered with a young family, and not in very affluent circumstances, it is improbable that he should have suffered it to lie in his closet, without endeavouring to derive from it some profit; and in the miserable ftate of the drama in those days, the meanest of his genuine plays must have been a valuable acquisition, and would hardly, have been refused by any of the managers of our ancient theatres. • Titus Andronicus appears to have been acled before any
other play attributed to Shakspeare: and, therefore, as it hath been admitted into all the editions of his works, whoever might have been the writer of it, it is entitled to the first place in this general lift of his dramas. From Ben Jonson's induction to Bartholomew Fair 1614, we learn that Andronicus had been exhibited twenty-five or thirty years before ; that is, at the lowest computation, in 1589: or, taking a middle period (which is perhaps more just), in 1587. In our Author's dedication of Venus and Adonis to lord Southampton, in 1593, he tells us, as Mr. Steevens bach observed, that that poem was “the firf Heir of his Invention,” and if we were sure that it was published immediately, or soon after it was written, it would at once prove Titus Andronicus not to be the production of Shakspeare, and nearly ascertain the time when he commenced a dramatic writer. But we do not know what interval might have elapsed be. tween the composition and the publication of that poem. There is indeed a pallage in the dedication already mentioned; which, if there were not such' decisive evidence on the other side, might induce us to think that he had not written in 1593 any piece of more dignity than a love-poem ; or at least any on which he himself fet a value. “ If (rays be to his noble patron) your honour seem but pleased, I account myself highly praised; and vow to take advantage of all idle bours till I have honoured you with some graver
labour." "A book entitled “ A Noble Roman History of Titus Andronicus" (without any Author's name) was entered at Stationers Hall, Feb. 6, 1593-4. This I suppose to have been the play as it was printed in that year, and acted (according to Langbaine, who alone appears to have seen the first edition) by the servants of the earls of Pembroke, Derby, and Eflex.
Mr. Pope thought that Titus Andronicus was not written by Shakspeare; becaule Ben Jonson ipoke flightingly of it while Shakspeare was yet living. This argument perhaps will not bear a very strict examination. If it were allowed to have any validity, many of our Author's genuine productions must be excluded from his works; for Ben has ridiculed several of his
dramas in the fame piece in which he hath mentioned Andronicus with contempt.
• It has been said, that Francis Meres, who, in 1598, enumerated this among our Author's plays, might have been muilled by a title-page : but we may presume, that he was informed, or deceived, by some other means ; for Shakspeare's name is not in the title-page of that in 1611 ; and therefore we may conclude, it was not in the title-page of the edition of 1594, of which the other was probably a re-imprellion.
However (notwithstanding the authority of Meres), the high antiquity of the piece, its entry on the Stationers books, without the name of the writer, the regularity of the versification, the dissimilitude of the style from that of those plays which were undoubtedly composed by our Author, and the tradition mentioned by Ravenscroft, at a period when some of his contemporaries had not been long dead (viz, “ that he had been told by some, anciently conversant with the stage, that Andronicus was not originally Shakspeare's, but brought by a private author to be acted, and that he only gave fome maliertouches to one or two of the principal paris or characters.") these circumstances render it highly improbable, that this play should have been the composition of Shakipeare.'
These remarks are acute and judicious, and conclude much against the authenticity of this play: and yet, in spite of evidence internal and external, a certain painful collator of particles and commas hath, through an old pair of fpectacles, which Tom Hearne had thrown aside as good for nothing, discovered beauties and excellencies in Titus Andronicus, which had hitherto been invisible to mortal sight. On this wonderful dircovery, Mr. Malone indulges himself in a little pleasantry : for which we refer to the book.
Concerning the date of Macbeth, Mr. Malone offers the following ingenious conjectures.
• From a book entitled Rex Platonicus, cited by Dr. Farmer, we learn, that King James, when he visited Oxford in 1605, was addressed by three students of St. John's College, who personated the three Weird Sisters; and recited a thore dramatic poem, founded on the prediction of thote Sybils (as the Author calls them), relative to Banquo, and Macbein.
• Dr. Farmer is of opinion, that this little piece preceded Shakspeare's play; a supposition which is strenghened by the silence of the Author of Rex Platonicus, who, if Macbeth had then appeared on the stage, would probably have mentioned something of it. It should likewise be remembered, that there fubfilted, at that time, a spirit of opposition between the regular players and the academics of the two Universities; the latter of whoin frequently acted plays both in Latin and English, and
feem to have piqued themselves on the superiority of their exhibitions to those of the established theatres. Wishing, probably, to manifest this fuperiority to the Royal Pedant, it is not likely, that they would chuse for a collegiate interlude, a subject which had already appeared on the public stage, with all the embellishments that the magic hand of Shakspeare could bestow.
• This tragedy contains an allufion to the union of the three kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland, under one lovereign, and also, to the cure of the King's-Evil by the Royal touch (ACZ IV. Scene I, II.); but in what year that pretended power was assumed by King James I. is uncertain. Macbeth was not entered on the Stationers books, nor printed, till 1623.
At the time when Macbeth was supposed to have been writien, the subject, it is probable, was considered as a topic the most likely to conciliate the favour of the court. In the additions to Warner's Albion's England, which were first printed in 1606, the story of the Three Fairies or Weird Elves, as he calls chem, is shortly told; and King James's descent from Banquo carefully deduced.
• Ben Jonson, a few years afterwards, paid his court to his Majesty, by his Masque of Queens, presented at Whitehall, Feb. 12, 1609, in which he hath given a minute deiail of all the magic rites that are recorded by King James, in his book of Demonologie, or by any other author ancient or modern.
* Mr. Steevens hath lately discovered a MS. play, entitled the Witch, written by Thomas Middleton, which renders it queftionable, whether Shakspeare was not indebted to that author for the first hint of the magic introduced in this tragedy.
- The songs beginning Come away, &c. and Black spirits, &c. being found at full length in Middleton's play, while only the two first words of them are printed in Macbeth, favour the supposition, that Middleton's piece preceded that of Shakspeare, the latter, it should seem, thinking it unnecessary to set down verses which were probably well known, and perhaps then in the possession of the managers of the Globe Theatre. The high reputation of Shakspeare's performances likewise strengthens this conjecture; for it is very improbable, that Middleton, or any other poet of that time, should have ventured into those regions of fiction, in which our Author had already expatiated.'
Mr. Steevens hath produced some curious extracts from this old play, which, we are informed, ' will be published entire, for the satisfaction of the intelligent readers of Shakspeare.?
By the very numerous quotations from old plays, ballads, histories, and romances, which Mr. Steevens hath produced, to illustrate some obscure passages in Shakspeare, a hafty and superficial critic might be tempted to question his peculiar, and almost unrivalled claim to originality: or if he were not so pre