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"What, will the afpiring blood of Lancaster
let him never pretend difcernment hereafter in any cafe of this nature.
It is hard to perfuade one's felf, that the objecters to the play which comes next are indeed ferious in their opinion; for if he is not vifible in Love's Labour's Loft, we know not in which of his comedies he can be faid to be fo: the ease and fprightliness of the dialogue in very many parts of it; it's quick turns of wit, and the humour it abounds in; and (chiefly) in thofe truly comick characters, the pedant and his companion, the page, the conftable, Coftard, and Armado,-seem more than sufficient to prove Shakspeare the author of it and for the blemishes of this play, we must feek the true caufe in it's antiquity; which we may venture to carry higher than 1598, the date of it's firft impreffion rime, when this play appear'd, was thought a beauty of the drama, and heard with fingular pleasure by an audience who but a few years before, had been accuftom'd to all rime; and the measure we call dogrel, and are fo much offended with, had no fuch effect upon the ears of that time but whether blemishes or no, however this matter be which we have brought to exculpate him, neither of thefe articles can with any face of juftice be alledg'd againft Love's Labour's Loft, feeing they are both to be met with in feveral other plays, the genuineness of which has not been queftion'd by any one. And one thing more shall be obferv'd in the behalf of this play;-that the author himself was fo little difpleas'd at least with fome parts of it, that he has brought them a fecond time
upon the ftage; 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 confider'd, and that especially of the writer's childhood (as it may be term'd) when this comedy was produc'd, we may confidently pronounce it his true offspring, and replace it amongst it's brethren.
That the Taming of the Shrew should ever have been put into this clafs of plays, and adjudg'd a fpurious one, may juftly be reckon'd wonderful, when we confider it's merit, and the reception it has generally met with in the world: it's fuccefs at first, and the esteem it was then held in, induc'd Fletcher to enter the lifts with it in another play, in which Petruchio is humbl'd and Catharine triumphant; and we have it in his works, under the title of "The Woman's Prize, or, the Tamer tam'd;" but, by an unhappy mistake of buffoonery for humour and obfcenity for wit, which was not uncommon with that author, his production came lamely off, and was foon confign'd to the oblivion in which it is now bury'd; whereas this of his antagonist flourishes ftill, and has maintain'd its place upon the stage (in some shape or other) from its yery firft appearance down to the prefent hour: and this fuccefs it has merited, by true wit and true humour; a fable of very artful conftruction, much bufinefs, and highly interefting; and by natural and well-fuftain'd characters, which no pen but Shakspeare's was capable of drawing : what defects it has, are chiefly in the diction; the fame (indeed) with those of the play that was lastmention'd, and to be accounted for the fame way: for we are ftrongly inclin'd to believe it a neighbour in time to Love's Labour's Loft, though we
want the proofs of it which we have luckily for that.2
But the plays which we have already spoke of are but flightly attack'd, and by few writers, in comparison of this which we are now come to of "Titus Andronicus;" commentators, editors, every one (in fhort) who has had to do with Shakspeare, unite all in condemning it,-as a very bundle of horrors, totally unfit for the ftage, and unlike the poet's manner, and even the ftyle of his other pieces; all which allegations are extreamly true, and we readily admit of them, but can not admit the conclufion-that, therefore, it is not his; and fhall now proceed to give the reasons of our diffent, but (firft) the play's age must be enquir'd into. In the Induction to Jonfon's Bartholomew Fair, which was written in the year 1614, the audience is thus accofted :-" Hee that will fweare, Jeronimo, or Andronicus are the best playes, yet, fhall paffe unexcepted at, heere, as a man whofe judgeiment fhewes it is conftant, and hath ftood ftill, thefe five and twentie, or thirty yeeres. Though it be an ignorance, it is a vertuous and stay'd ignorance; and next to truth, a confirm'd errour does well; fuch a one the author knowes where to finde him.' We have here the great Ben himself, joining this play with Jeronimo, or, the Spanish Tragedy, and bearing exprefs teftimony to the credit
2 The authenticity of this play stands further confirm'd by the teftimony of Sir Afton Cockayn; a writer who came near to Shakspeare's time, and does expressly ascribe it to him in an epigram addrefs'd to Mr. Clement Fisher of Wincot; but it is (perhaps, fuperfluous, and of but little weight neither, as it will be faid that Sir Afton proceeds only upon the evidence of it's being in print in his name: we do therefore lay no great stress upon it, nor fhall infert the epigram; it will be found in The School of Shakspeare, which is the proper place for things of that fort.
they were both in with the publick at the time they were written; but this is by the by; to afcertain that time, was the chief reason for inferting the quotation, and there we fee it fix'd to twentyfive or thirty years prior to this Induction: now it is not neceffary, to fuppofe that Jonfon speaks in this place with exact precifion; but allowing that he does, the firft of these periods carries us back to 1589, a date not very repugnant to what is afterwards advanc'd: Langbaine, in his Account of the English dramatick Poets, under the article-SHAKSPEARE, does expressly tell us,-that "Andronicus was first printed in 1594, quarto, and acted by the Earls of Derby, Pembroke, and Effex, their fervants;" and though the edition is not now to be met with, and he who mentions it be no exact writer, nor greatly to be rely'd on in many of his articles, yet in this which we have quoted he is fo very particular that one can hardly withhold affent to it; efpecially, as this account of it's printing coincides well enough with Jonfon's æra of writing this play; to which therefore we fubfcribe, and go on upon that ground. books of that time afford ftrange examples of the barbarifm of the publick tafte both upon the stage and elsewhere: a conceited one of John Lilly's set the whole nation a madding; and, for a while, every pretender to politenefs" parl'd Euphuifm," as it was phras'd, and no writings would go down with them but fuch as were pen'd in that fantastical manner: the fetter-up of this fashion try'd it alfo in comedy; but feems to have mifcarry'd in that, and for this plain reafon: the people who govern theatres are, the middle and lower orders of the world; and thefe expected laughter in comedies, which this ftuff of Lilly's was incapable of exci
ting but fome other writers, who rose exactly at that time, fucceeded better in certain tragical performances, though as outrageous to the full in their way, and as remote from nature, as these comick ones of Lilly; for falling in with that innate love of blood which has been often objected to British audiences, and choofing fables of horror which they made horrider ftill by their manner of handling them, they produc'd a set of monsters that are not to be parallel'd in all the annals of play-writing; yet they were receiv'd with applaufe, and were the favourites of the publick for almoft ten years together ending at 1595: many plays of this ftamp, it is probable, have perifh'd; but thofe that are come down to us, are as follows;-" The Wars of Cyrus; Tamburlaine the Great, in two parts; The Spanish Tragedy, likewife in two parts; Soliman and Perfeda; and Selimus, a tragedy;"3 which whoever
3 No evidence has occur'd to prove exactly the time thefe plays were written, except that paffage of Jonfon's which relates to Jeronimo; but the editions we have read them in, are as follows: Tamburlaine in 1593; Selimus, and The Wars of Cyrus, in 1594; and Soliman and Perfeda, in 1599; the other without a date, but as early as the earlieft: they are alfo without a name of author; nor has any book been met with to inftruct us in that particular, except only for Jeronimo; which we are told by Heywood, in his Apology for Actors, was written by Thomas Kyd; author, or tranflator rather, (for it is taken from the French of Robert Garnier,) of another play, intitl'd-Cornelia, printed likewife in 1594. Which of thefe extravagant plays had the honour to lead the way, we can't tell, but Jeronimo feems to have the best pretenfions to it; as Selimus has above all his other brethren, to bearing away the palm for blood and murther; this curious piece has these lines for a conclufion :
"If this first part Gentles, do like you well,
"The second part, fhall greater murthers tell." but whether the audience had enough of it, or how it has hap pen'd we can't tell, but no fuch second part is to be found. All thefe plays were the constant butt of the poets who came imme