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From Ben Jonson's Induction to Bartholomew Fair, 1614, we learn that Andronicus had been exhibited twenty-five or thirty years before ; that is, according to the lowest computation in 1589 ; or taking a middle period, which is perhaps more just, in 1587.
To enter into a long disquisition to prove this piece not to have been written by Shakspeare, would be an idle waste of time. To those who are not conversant with his writings, if particular passages were examined, more words would be necessary than the subject is worth ; those who are well acquainted with his works, cannot entertain a doubt on the question.I will however mention one mode by which it may be easily ascertained. Let the reader only peruse a few lines of Appius and l'irginia, Tancred and Gismund, The Battle of Alcazar, Jeronimo, Selimus Emperor of the Turks, The Wounds of Civil War, The Wars of Cyrus, Locrine, Arden of Feversham, King Edward I, The Spanish Tragedy, Solyman and Perseda, King Leir, the old King John, or any other of the pieces that were exhibited before the time of Shakspeare, and he will at once perceive that Titus Andronicus was coined in the same mint.
The testimony of Meres, mentioned in a preceding note, alone remains to be considered. His enumerating this among Shakspeare's plays may be accounted for in the same way in which we may account for its being printed by his fellow-comedians in the first folio edition of his works. Meres was in 1598, when his book appeared, intimately connected with Drayton, and probably acquainted with some of the dramatick poets of the time, from some or other of whom he might have heard that Shakspeare interested himself about this tragedy, or had written a few lines for the author. The internal evidence furnished by the piece itself, and proving it not to have been the production of Shakspeare, greatly outweighs any single testimony on the other side. Meres might have been misinformed, or inconsiderately have given credit to the rumour of the day. For six of the plays which he has mentioned, (exclusive of the evidence which the representation of the pieces themselves might have furnished) he had perhaps no better authority than the whisper of the theatre; for they were not then printed. He could not have been deceived by a title-page, as Dr. Johnson supposes; for Shakspeare's name is not in the title-page of the edition printed in quarto in 1611, and therefore we may conclude, was not in the title-page of that in 1594, of which the other was undoubtedly a re-impression. Had this mean performance been the work of Shakspeare, can it be supposed that the booksellers would not have endeavoured to procure a sale for it by stamping his name upon it ?
In short, the high antiquity of the piece, its entry on the Stationers' books, and being afterwards printed without the name of our author, its being performed by the servants of Lord Pembroke, &c. the stately march of the versification, the whole colour of the composition, its resemblance to several of our most
ancient dramas, the dissimilitude of the style from our author's undoubted compositions, and the tradition mentioned by Ravenscroft, when some of his contemporaries had not been long dead, (for Lowin and Taylor, two of his fellow-comedians, were alive a few years before the Restoration, and Sir William D'Avenant, who had himself written for the stage in 1629, did not die till April 1668 ;) all these circumstances combined, prove with irresistible force that the play of Titus Andronicus has been erroneously ascribed to Shakspeare. Malone.
“ Kyd-probably original author of Andronicus, Locrine, and play in Hamlet.-Marloe, of H. 6.
- Ben Jonson, Barthol. Fair-ranks together Hieronymo and Andronicus, [time and stile]—first exposed him to the criticks shelter'd afterwards under another's name.
Sporting Kyd (perhaps wrote comedy) and Marloe's mighty line-Jonson. [might assist Lily,] Perhaps Shakspeare's addi. tions outshone.
“ Tamburlaine mention'd with praise by Heywood, as Marloe's might be different from the bombast one--and that written by Kyd.” From a loose scrap of paper, in the hand writing of Dr. Far
Steevens. In the library of the Duke of Bridgewater, at Ashridge, is a volume of old quarto plays, numbered R. 1.7; in which the first is Titus Andronicus.
I have collated it with the tragedy as it stands in the edition of Shakspeare, 1793: and the following remarks, and various readings, are here assigned to their proper places. Todd.
The ingenious and accurate Mr. Todd has most obligingly collated this tragedy (4to. 1600) with that in 8vo. 1793. Most of his collations &c. will be found at the bottom of the following pages. Steevens,
Saturninus, son to the late emperor of Rome, and after
wards declared emperor himself. Bassianus, brother to Saturninus; in love with Lavinia. Titus Andronicus, a noble Roman, general against the
sons to Titus Andronicus.
Tamora, queen of the Goths.
Kinsmen of Titus, senators, tribunes, officers, soldiers,
ACT I.....SCENE I.
Rome. Before the Capitol.
The Tomb of the Andronici appearing; the Tribunes and
Senators aloft, as in the Senate. Enter, below, SATURNIUS and his Followers, on one side ; and BASSIANUS and his Followers, on the other ; with Drum and Colours.
Sat. Noble patricians, patrons of my right,
Mar. Princes,—that strive by factions, and by friends, Ambitiously for rule and empery,
my successive title -] i. e. my title to the succession.
Malone. Thus also Raleigh : “The empire being elective, and not successive, the emperors, in being, made profit of their own times."
Know, that the people of Rome, for whom we stand
you, and abate your strength; Dismiss your followers, and, as suitors should, Plead your deserts in peace and humbleness.
Sat. How fair the tribune speaks to calm my thoughts!
Bas. Marcus Andronicus, so I do affy
Exeunt the followers of BAS.
[Exeunt the followers of SAT. Rome, be as just and gracious unta me,