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Shakspeare was not the author of these translations. Let them turn to a forgotten book, by Thomas Heywood, called, Britaines Troy, printed by W. Jaggard in 1609, fol. and they will find these identical Epistles, which being so pertinent to our historie," says Heywood, "I thought necessarie to translate."-How then came they ascribed to Shakspeare? We will tell them that likewise. The same voluminous writer published an Apology for Actors, 4to. 1612, and in an Appendix directed to his new printer, Nic. Okes, he accuses his old one, Jaggard, of "taking the two Epistles of Paris to Helen and Helen to Paris, and printing them in a less volume, and under the name of another :-but he was much offended with Master Jaggard, that altogether unknowne to him, he had presumed to make so bold with his name *" In the same work of Heywood are all the other translations, which have been printed in the modern editions of the poems of Shakspeare.
You now hope for land: We have seen through little matters, but what must be done with a whole book?In 1751, was reprinted, " A compendious or briefe Examination of certayne ordinary Complaints of diuers of our Countrymen in these our Days: which although they are in some Parte unjust and friuolous, yet are they all by way of Dialogue, throughly debated and discussed by William Shakspeare, Gentleman." 8vo,
This extraordinary piece was originally published in 4to. 1581, and dedicated by the author, "To the most vertuous and learned lady, his most deare and soveraigne princesse, Elizabeth; being inforced by her Majesties late and singular clemency in pardoning certayne his unduetifull misdemeanour." And by the modern editors, to the late King; as "a treatise composed by the most extensive and fertile genius, that ever any age or nation. produced,"
Here we join issue with the writers of that excellent
* It may seem little matter of wonder, that the name of Shakspeare should be borrowed for the benefit of the bookseller; and by the way, as probably for a play as a poem: but modern criticks may be surprised perhaps at the complaint of John Hall, that "certayne chapters of the Proverbes, translated by him into English metre, 1550, had before been untruely entituled to be the doyngs of Mayster Thomas Sternhold.
though very unequal work, the Biographia Britannica*: "If," say they, "this piece could be written by our poet, it would be absolutely decisive in the dispute about his learning, for many quotations appear in it from the Greek and Latin classicks.",oderd suro od dasht q de grad
52I must, however, correct a remark in the Life of Spenser, which is impotently levelled at the first criticks of the age. It is observed from the correspondence of Spenser and Gabriel Harvey, that the plan of The Fairy Queen, was laid, and part of it executed in 1580, three years before the Gierusalemme Liberata was printed:" hence appears the impertinence of all the apologies for his choice of Ariosto's manner in preference of
But the fact is not true with respect to Tasso. Manso and Niceron inform us, that his poem was published, though imperfectly, in 1574; and I myself can assure the biographer, that I have met with at least six other editions, preceding his date for its first publication. I suspect, that Baillet is accountable for this mistake: who, in the Jugemens des Scavans, tom. iii. p. 399, mentions no edition previous to the quarto, Venice, 1583.t
It is a question of long standing, whether a part of The Fairy Queen hath been lost, or whether the work was left unfinished which may effectually be answered by a single quotation. William Browne published, some Poems in fol. 1616, under the name of Britannia's Pastorals, "esteemed then,' "to be written in a sublime strain, and for subject amorous and says Wood, very pleasing."-In one of which, book ii. song 1, he thus speaks and of Spenser:
"He sung th' heroicke knights of faiery land
"In lines so elegant, of such command, to ne zguilty
"But e're he ended his melodious song,
"An host of angels flew the clouds among,
"And rapt this swan from his attentive mates,i20179
"In heauens faire quire: where now he sings the praise
It appears, that Browne was intimate with Drayton, Jonson, and Selden, by their poems prefixed to his book: he had therefore good opportunities of being acquainted with the fact abovementioned. Many of his poems remain in MS. We have in our library at Emmanuel, a masque of his, presented at the Inner Temple, Jan. 13, 1614. The subject is the story of Ulysses and Circe.
The concurring circumstances of the name, and the misdemeanor which is supposed to be the old story of deer-stealing, seem fairly to challenge our poet for the author: but they hesitate.-His claim may appear to be confuted by the date 1581, when Shakspeare was only seventeen, and the long experience, which the writer talks of.-But I will not keep you in suspense: the book was not written by Shakspeare.
Strype, in his Annals, calls the author some learned man, and this gave me the first suspicion. I knew very well, that honest John (to use the language of Sir Thomas Bodley) did not waste his time with such baggage books as plays and poems; yet I must suppose, that he had heard of the name of Shakspeare. After a while I met with the original edition. Here in the title-page, and at the end of the dedication, appear only the initials, W. S. Gent. and presently I was informed by Anthony Wood, that the book in question was written, not by William Shakspeare, but by William Stafford, Gentleman*: which at once accounted for the misdemeanour in the dedication. For Stafford had been concerned at that time, and was indeed afterward, as Camden and the other annalists inform us, with some of the conspirators against Elizabeth; which he properly calls his unduetifull behaviour.
I hope by this time, that any one open to conviction may be nearly satisfied; and I will promise to give you on this head very little more trouble.
The justly celebrated Mr. Warton hath favoured us, in his Life of Dr. Bathurst, with some hearsay particulars concerning Shakspeare from the papers of Aubrey, which had been in the hands of Wood; and I ought not to suppress them, as the last seems to make against my doctrine. They came originally, I find, on consulting the MS. from one Mr. Beeston: and I am sure Mr. Warton, whom I have the honour to call my friend, and an associate in the question, will be in no paín about their credit.
"William Shakspeare's father was a butcher, while he was a boy he exercised his father's trade, but when he killed
*Fasti, 2d edit. vol. i. 208.-It will be seen on turning to the former edition, that the latter part of the paragraph belongs to another Stafford.-I have since observed, that Wood is not the first who hath given us the true author of the pamphlet.
a calf, he would do it in a high style, and make a speech. This William being inclined naturally to poetry and acting, came to London, I guess, about eighteen, and was an actor in one of the playhouses, and did act exceedingly well. He began early to make essays in dramatique poetry. The humour of the Constable in the Midsummer Night's Dream he happened to take at Crendon* in Bucks. -I think, I have been told, that he left near three hundred pounds to a sister. He understood Latin pretty well, for he had been in his younger yeares a schoolmaster in the country."
I will be short in my animadversions; and take them in their order.
The account of the trade of the family is not only contrary to all other tradition, but, as it may seem, to the instrument from the Herald's Office, so frequently reprinted.
Shakspeare most certainly went to London, and commenced actor through necessity, not natural inclination.
Nor have we any reason to suppose, that he did act exceeding well. Rowe tells us, from the information of Betterton, who was inquisitive into this point, and had very early opportunities of inquiry from Sir W. D'Avenant, that he was no extraordinary actor; and that the top of his performance was the Ghost in his own Hamlet. Yet this chef d'œuvre did not please: I will give you an original stroke at it. Dr. Lodge, who was for ever pestering the town with pamphlets, published in the year 1596, "Wits Miserie, and the Worlds Madnesse, discovering the Devils incarnat of this Age," 4to. One of these devils are" Hate-virtue, or Sorrow for another man's good successe," who, says the Doctor, is "a foule lubber, and looks as pale as the visard of the Ghost, which cried so miserably at the theatre, like an oister-wife, Hamlet revenget. Thus you see Mr. Holt's supposed proof, in the
* It was observed in the former edition, that this place is not met with in Spelman's Villare, or in Adams's Index; nor, it might have been added, in the first and the last performance of this sort, Speed's Tables, and Whatley's Gazetteer: perhaps, however, it may be meant under the name of Crandon;-but the inquiry is of no importance. It should, I think, be written Credendon; though better antiquaries than Aubrey 'have ac quiesced in the vulgar corruption.
To this observation of Dr. Farmer it may be added, that the play of Hamlet was better known by this scene, than by any
Appendix to the late edition, that Hamlet was written after 1597, or perhaps 1602, will by no means hold good; whatever might be the case of the particular passage on which it is founded.
Nor does it appear, that Shakspeare did begin early to make essays in dramatick poetry: The Arraignment of Paris, 1584, which hath so often been ascribed to him on the credit of Kirkman and Winstanley*, was written by George Peele; and Shakspeare is not met with, even as an assistant, till at least seven years afterward+.—Nash, in his Epistle to the Gentlemen Students of both Universi
other. In Decker's Satiromastix, 1602, the following passage
Would I were hang'd if I can call you any names but tain, and Tucca."
ut cap"No, fye; my name's Hamlet Revenge: thou hast been at Paris-Garden, hast thou not ?"
Again, in Westward Hoe, by Decker and Webster, 1607:1 Let these husbands play mad Hamlet, and cry, revenge! STEEVENS, disDr. Farmer's observation may be further confirmed by the following passage in an anonymous play, called A Warning for faire Women, 1599. We also learn from it the usual dress of the stage ghosts of that time:
that w A filthie whining ghost,, G71090 "Lapt in some foule sheet, or a leather pilch, Comes screaming like a pigge half stickt, And cries vindicta-revenge, revenge." The leathern pitch, I suppose, was a theatrical substitute for armour MALONE..
*These people, who were the Curls of the last age, ascribe likewise to our author, those miserable performances, Mucidorus, and The Merry Devil of Edmonton.
Rowley which edition a
44 Mr. Pope asserts, "The troublesome Raigne of King John," in two parts, 1611, to have been written by Shakspeare and is a mere copy of another in black letter, 1591. But I find his assertion is somewhat to be doubted : for the old edition hath no name of author at all; and that of 1611, the initials only, W. Sh. in the title-paget.
See the Essay on the Order of Shakspeare's Plays, Article, King John. MALONE.