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PLOT, THE FABLE, AND CONSTRUCTION
TAMING OF THE SHREW.
Of this play the two plots are so well united, that they can hardly be called two without injury to the art with which they are interwoven. The attention is entertained with all the variety of a double plot, yet is not distracted by unconnected incidents.
The part between Catherine and Petruchio is eminently spritely and diverting. At the marriage of Bianca, the arrival of the real father, perhaps, produces more perplexity than pleasure. The whole play is very popular and diverting. JOHNSON.
We have hitherto supposed Shakspeare the author of the Taming of the Shrew, but his property in it is extremely disputable. I will give you my opinion, and the reasons on which it is founded. I suppose then the present play not originally the work of Shakspeare, but restored by him to the stage, with the whole Induction of the Tinker; and some other occasional improvements; especially in the character of Petruchio. It is very obvious that the Induction
and the Play were either the works of different hands, or written at a great interval of time. The former is in our author's best manner, and a great part of the latter in his worst, or even below it. Dr. Warburton declares it to be certainly spurious; and without doubt, supposing it to have been written by Shakspeare, it must have been one of his earliest productions. Yet it is not mentioned in the list of his works by Meres in 1598.
I have met with a facetious piece of sir John Harrington, printed in 1596, (and possibly there may be an earlier edition) called The Metamorphoses of Ajax, where I suspect an allusion to the old play; "Read the booke of Taming a Shrew, which hath made a number of us so perfect, that now every one can rule a shrew in our countrey, save he that hath hir."-I am aware a modern linguist may object that the word book does not at present seem dramatick, but it was once technically so: Gosson in his Schoole of Abuse, containing a pleasaunt Inuective against Poets, Pipers, Players, Jesters, and such like Caterpillars of a Commonwealth, 1579, mentions "twoo prose bookes played at the Bell-sauage:" and Hearne tells us, in a note at the end of William of Worcester, that he had seen a MS. in the nature of a Play or Interlude, intitled the booke of sir Thomas Moore."
And in fact there is such an old anonymous play in Mr. Pope's list: "A pleasant conceited history, called, The Taming of a Shrew-sundry times acted by the earl of Pembroke his servants." Which seems