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"line. My answer hath been, Would he had blotted
son of Thomas Hart, late of Stratford-upon-Avon aforesaid, all that my other messuage or inn situate in Stratford-upon-Avon aforesaid, commonly called the Maidenhead, with the appurtenances, and the next house thereunto adjoining, with the barn belonging to the same, now or late in the occupation of Michael Johnson or his assigns, with all and singular the appurtenances; to hold to him the said Thomas Hart the son, and the heirs of his body; and for default of such issue, I give and devise the same to George Hart, brother of the said Thomas Hart, and to the heirs of his body; and for default of such issue to the right heirs of me the said Elizabeth Barnard for ever.
"Item, I do make, ordain, and appoint my said loving kinsman Edward Bagley sole executor of this my last will and testament, hereby revoking all former wills; desiring him to see a just performance hereof, according to my true intent and meaning. In witness whereof I the said Elizabeth Barnard have hereunto set my hand and seal, the nine-and-twentieth day of January, Anno Domini, one thousand six hundred and sixty-nine,
"ELIZABETH BARNARD, "Signed, sealed, published, and declared to be the last will and testament of the said Elizabeth Barnard, in the presence of "John Howes, Rector de Abington. "Francis Wickes.
"Probatum fuit testamentum suprascriptum apud ædes Exonienses situat. in le Strand, in comitatu Middx. quarto die mensis Martij, 1669, coram venerabili viro Domino Egidio Sweete, milite et legum doctore, surrogato, &c. juramento Edwardi Bagley, unici executor. nominat, cui, &c, de bene, &c. jurat."
2 that in writing (whatsoever he penned) he never blotted out a line.] This is not true, They only say in their preface to his plays, that " his mind and hand went together, and what he thought, he uttered with that easiness, that we have scarce. received from him a blot in his papers." On this Mr. Pope observes, that "there never was a more groundless report, or to the contrary of which there are more undeniable evidences. As, the comedy of The Merry Wives of Windsor, which he entirely new writ; The History of Henry the Sixth, which was first published under the title of The Contention of York and Lancaster; and that of Henry V. extremely improved; that of Hamlet enlarged to almost as much again as at first, and many others."
"a thousand! which they thought a malevolent "speech. I had not told posterity this, but for
Surely this is a very strange kind of argument. In the first place this was not a report, (unless by that word we are to understand relation,) but a positive assertion, grounded on the best evidence that the nature of the subject admitted; namely, ocular proof. The players say, in substance, that Shakspeare had such a happiness of expression, that, as they collect from his papers, he had seldom occasion to alter the first words he had set down; consequence of which they found scarce a blot in his writings. And how is this refuted by Mr. Pope? By telling us, that a great many of his plays were enlarged by their author. Allowing this to be true, which is by no means certain, if he had written twenty plays, each consisting of one thousand lines, and afterwards added to each of them a thousand more, would it therefore follow, that he had not written the first thousand with facility and correctness, or that those must have been necessarily expunged, because new matter was added to them? Certainly not. But the truth is, it is by no means clear that our author did enlarge all the plays mentioned by Mr. Pope, if even that would prove the point intended to be established. Mr. Pope was evidently deceived by the quarto copies. From the play of Henry V. being more perfect in the folio edition than in the quarto, nothing follows but that the quarto impression of that piece was printed from a mutilated and imperfect copy, stolen from the theatre, or taken down by ear during the representation. What have been called the quarto copies of the Second and Third Parts of King Henry VI. were in fact two old plays written before the time of Shakspeare, and entitled The First Part of the Contention of the two Houses of Yorke and Lancaster, &c. and The True Tragedy of Richard Duke of Yorke, &c. on which he constructed two new plays; just as on the old plays of King John, and The Taming of a Shrew, he formed two other plays with nearly the same titles. See The Dissertation in Vol. XIV. p. 223.
The tragedy of Hamlet in the first edition, (now extant,) that of 1604, is said to be "enlarged to almost as much again as it was, according to the true and perfect copy." What is to be collected from this, but that there was a former imperfect edition (I believe, in the year 1602)? that the one we are now speaking of was enlarged to as much again as it was in the former mutilated impression, and that this is the genuine and perfect copy, the other imperfect and spurious?
"their ignorance, who chose that circumstance to "commend their friend by, wherein he most fault"ed: and to justify mine own candour, for I loved "the man, and do honour his memory, on this side "idolatry, as much as any. He was, indeed, ho
nest, and of an open and free nature, had an કંદ excellent fancy, brave notions, and gentle ex"pressions; wherein he flowed with that facility, "that sometimes it was necessary he should be "stopped: Sufflaminandus erat, as Augustus said "of Haterius. His wit was in his own power; "would the rule of it had been so too. Many "times he fell into those things which could not escape laughter; as when he said in the person of "Cæsar, one speaking to him,
• Cæsar did never wrong, but with just cause.'
" and such like, which were ridiculous. But he
The Merry Wives of Windsor, indeed, and Romeo and Juliet, and perhaps Love's Labour's Lost, our author appears to have altered and amplified; and to King Richard II. what is called the parliament-scene, seems to have been added; (though this last is by no means certain ;) but neither will these augmentations and new-modellings disprove what has been asserted by Shakspeare's fellow-comedians concerning the facility of his writing, and the exquisite felicity of his first expressions.
The hasty sketch of The Merry Wives of Windsor, which he is said to have composed in a fortnight, he might have written without a blot; and three or four years afterwards, when he chose to dilate his plan, he might have composed the additional scenes without a blot likewise. In a word, supposing even that Nature had not endowed him with that rich vein which he un questionably possessed, he who in little more than twenty years produces thirty-four or thirty-five pieces for the stage, has cer tainly not much time for expunging, MALONE.
"redeemed his vices with his virtues; there was "ever more in him to be praised than to be par“doned."
As for the passage which he mentions out of Shakspeare, there is somewhat like it in Julius Cæsar, but without the absurdity; nor did I ever meet with it in any edition that I have seen as quoted by Mr. Jonson.3
Besides his plays in this edition, there are two or three ascribed to him by Mr. Langbaine, which
nor did I ever meet with it in any edition that I have seen, as quoted by Mr. Jonson.] See Mr. Tyrwhitt's note on Julius Caesar, Act III. sc. i. Vol. XVI. MALone.
• Besides his plays in this edition, there are two or three ascribed to him by Mr. Langbaine,] The Birth of Merlin, 1662, written by W. Rowley; the old play of King John, in two parts, 1591, on which Shakspeare formed his King John; and The Arraignment of Paris, 1584, written by George Peele.
The editor of the folio 1664, subjoined to the 36 dramas published in 1623, seven plays, four of which had appeared in Shakspeare's life-time with his name in the title-page, viz. Pericles, Prince of Tyre, 1609, Sir John Oldcastle, 1600, The London Prodigal, 1605, and The Yorkshire Tragedy, 1608; the three others which they inserted, Locrine, 1595, Lord Cromwell, 1602, and The Puritan, 1607, having been printed with the initials W. S. in the title-page, the editor chose to interpret those letters to mean William Shakspeare, and ascribed them also to our poet. I published an edition of these seven pieces some years ago, freed in some measure from the gross errors with which they had been exhibited in ancient copies, that the publick might see what they contained; and do not hesitate to declare my firm persuasion that of Locrine, Lord Cromwell, Sir John Oldcastle, The London Prodigal, and The Puritan, Shakspeare did not write a single line.
How little the booksellers of former times scrupled to affix the names of celebrated writers to the productions of others, even in the life-time of such celebrated authors, may be collected from Heywood's translations from Ovid, which in 1612, while Shakspeare was yet living, were ascribed to him. See Vol. X. p. 321, n. 1.* With the dead they would certainly
* Mr. Malone's edition of our author's works, 1790.
I have never seen, and know nothing of. He writ likewise Venus and Adonis, and Tarquin and Lucrece, in stanzas, which have been printed in a late collection of poems." As to the character given of him by Ben Jonson, there is a good deal true in it: but I believe it may be as well expressed by what Horace says of the first Romans, who wrote tragedy upon the Greek models, (or indeed translated them,) in his epistle to Augustus:
"Nam spirat tragicum satis, et feliciter audet,
As I have not proposed to myself to enter into a large and complete criticism upon Shakspeare's works, so I will only take the liberty, with all due submission to the judgment of others, to observe some of those things I have been pleased with in looking him over.
His plays are properly to be distinguished only into comedies and tragedies. Those which are called histories, and even some of his comedies, are really tragedies, with a run or mixture of comedy
make still more free. "This book (says Anthony Wood, speaking of a work to which the name of Sir Philip Sydney was prefixed) coming out so late, it is to be inquired whether Sir Philip Sydney's name is not set to it for sale-sake, being a usual thing in these days to set a great name to a book or books, by sharking booksellers, or snivelling writers, to get bread." Athen. Oxon. Vol. I. p. 208. MALONE.
in a late collection of poems.] In the fourth volume of State Poems, printed in 1707. Mr. Rowe did not go beyond A Late Collection of Poems, and does not seem to have known that Shakspeare also wrote 154 Sonnets, and a poem entitled A Lover's Complaint. MALONE.