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had been originally entered in 1594, and perhaps foon afterwards printed, was republifhed in 1607 by Nich. Ling. As it bore the fame title with Shakspeare's play, (which was not printed till 1623) the hope of getting a fale for it, under the fhelter of a celebrated name, was probably the inducement to iffue it out at that time: and its publication then, gives weight to the fuppofition that Shakspeare's play was written and first acted in the latter end of the year 1606. It was entered by John Smythwick, Nov. 19, 1507; from which circumftance, we may conclude, that he had procured a copy of it, and had then thoughts of publishing it. It was not, however, printed by him till 1631, eight years after it had appeared in the edition of the players in folio.

In this play there feems to be an allufion to a comedy of Thomas Heywood's, entitled a Woman Killed with Kindnefs, which, though not printed till 1617, muft have been acted before 1604, being mentioned in an old tract called the Black Book, published in that year.

36. JULIUS CAESAR, 1607.

A tragedy on the fubject, and with the title, of Julius Cefar, written by Mr. William Alexander, who was afterwards Earl of Sterline, was printed in the year 1607. This, I imagine, was prior to our author's performance. Shakfpeare, we know, formed feven or eight plays on fables that had been unsuccessfully managed by other poets'; but no contemporary writer was daring enough to enter the lifts with him, in his life-time, or to model into a drama a fubject that had already employed his pen: and it is not likely that Lord Sterline, who was then a very young man, and


From a paffage in a tract written by Sir John Harrington, entitled The Metamorphofes of Ajax, 1596, this old play appears to have been printed before that year, though no edition of fo early a date has hitherto been discovered. "Read the booke of Taming a Shrew, which hath made a number of us fo perfect, that now every one can rule a fhrew in our country, fave he that hath hir."

h"This is a way to kill a wife with kindness." The Taming of the Shrew. A& IV. Sc. i.

i See a note on Julius Cæfar, A&t I. Sc. i. in which they are enumerated.


had scarcely unlearned the Scottish idiom, fhould have been more hardy than any other poet of that age.

I am aware, it may be objected, that this writer might have formed a drama on this ftory, not knowing that Shakfpeare had previoufly compofed the tragedy of Julius Cæfar; and that, therefore, the publication of Mr. Alexander's play in 1607, is no proof that our author's performance did not then exift.-In anfwer to this objection, it may, perhaps, be fufficient to obferve, that Mr. Alexander had, before that year, very wifely left the bleak fields of Menstrie in Clackmananfhire, for a warmer and more courtly refidence in London, having been appointed gentleman of the privy chamber to prince Henry; in which fituation his literary curiofity must have been gratified by the earliest notice of the productions of his brother dramatists.

Lord Sterline's Julius Cæfar, though not printed till 1607, might have been written a year or two before; and perhaps its publication in that year was in confequence of our author's play on the fame fubject being then first exhibited. The fame obfervation may be made with refpect to an anonymous performance, called The Tragedie of Cæfar and Pompey or Cæfar's Revenge, which was likewife printed in 1607. The fubject of that piece is the defeat of Pompey at Pharfalia, the death of Julius, and the final overthrow of Brutus and Caffius at Philippi. The attention of the town being, perhaps, drawn to the hiftory of the booknofed fellow of Rome, by the exhibition of our author's Julius Cafar, the bookfellers, who printed thefe two plays, might have flattered themselves with the hope of an expeditious fale for them at that time, especially as Shakspeare's play was not then published.

We have certain proof that Antony and Cleopatra was compofed before the middle of the year 1608. An attentive review of that play and Julius Cæfar, will, I think, lead us to conclude that this latter was firft written'. Not to infift



This play, as appears by the title-page, was privately acted by the ftudents of Trinity College in Oxford. In the running title it is called The Tragedy of Julius Cæfar; perhaps the better to impofe it on the publick for the performance of Shakspeare.

The following paffages in Antony and Cleopatra, (and others of the fame kind may perhaps be found) feem to me to discover fuch a knowledge of the appropriated characters of the perfons ex


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on the chronology of the ftory, which would naturally fug geft this fubject to our author before the other, in Julius Cæfar, Shakspeare does not feem to have been thoroughly poffeffed of Antony's character. He has indeed marked one or two of the striking features of it, but Antony is not fully delineated till he appears in that play which takes its name from him and Cleopatra. The rough sketch would naturally precede the finished picture.

From a paffage in the comedy of Every Woman in her Hus mour, which was printed in 1609, we learn, that a droll on the fubject of Julius Cæfar, had been exhibited before that year." I have seen, (fays one of the perfonages in that comedy) the City of Nineveh, and Julius Cæfar, acted by mammets." Moft of our ancient drolls and puppet-fhews are known to have been regular abridgments of celebrated plays, or particular fcenes of them, only. It does not appear that lord Sterline's Julius Cafar was ever celebrated, or even acted; neither that nor his other plays being at all calculated for dramatick representation. On the other hand, we know that Shakspeare's Julius Cæfar was a very popular piece; Digges, a contemporary writer, having, in his com


hibited in Julius Cæfar, and of the events there dilated and enlarged upon, as Shakspeare would neceffarily have acquired from having previously written a play on that fubject:

"I do not know


Wherefore my father should revengers want,
Having a fon and friends, fince Julius Cæfar,
Who at Philippi the good Brutus ghofted,
There faw you labouring for him. What was't
That mov'd pale Caffius to confpire? And what
Made all-bonour'd, boneft, Roman Brutus,

With the arm'd reft, courtiers of beauteous freedom,
To drench the capitol, but that they would
Have one man but a man?"

So, in another place,


"When Antony found Julius Cæfar dead,
He cry'd almost to roaring; and he wept
When at Philippi he found Brutus flain."

Ant. He at Philippi kept

His fword ev'n like a dancer, while I ftruck
The lean and aurinkled Cafiius; and 'twas I
That the mad Brutus ended."


mendatory verfes on our author's works, particularly alluded to it, as one of his moft applauded performances The droll here mentioned, was therefore, probably formed out of Shakspeare's play: and we may presume that it had been in poffeffion of the ftage at least a year or two, before it was exhibited in this degraded form. Though the term mammets, in the paffage above quoted, fhould be confidered as contemptuoufly applied to the children of Paul's or those of the Chapel", (an interpretation which it will commodiously enough admit) the argument with refpect to the date of Julius Cæfar will ftill remain in its full force.

In the prologue to The Falfe One, by Beaumont and Fletcher, this play is alluded to; but in what year that tragedy was written, is unknown.

If the date of The Maid's Tragedy by the fame authors, were ascertained, it might throw fome light on the prefent enquiry; the quarreling fcene between Melantius and his friend, being manifeftly copied from a fimilar scene in Julius Cafar. Dryden mentions a tradition (which he might have received from Sir William D'Avenant) that Philafler


"Nor fire nor cank'ring age, as Nafo faid

Of his, thy wit-fraught book fhall once invade:
Nor fhall I e'er believe or think thee dead
(Though mifs'd) untill our bankrout stage be íped
(Impoffible!) with fome new ftrain, t'out do
Paffions of Juliet and her Romeo;

Or till I hear a scene more nobly take

Than when thy half-fword-parlying Romans fpake." Verfes by L. Digges, prefixed to the firft edition of our author's plays, in 1623.


By a fimilar figure thefe children are in Hamlet called "little Eyafes.


"New titles warrant not a play for new,
The fubject being old; and 'tis as true,
Fresh and neat matter may with ease be fram'd
Out of their stories that have oft been nam'd
With glory on the stage. What borrows he
From him that wrought old Priam's tragedy,
That writes his love for Hecuba? Sure to tell
Of Cæfar's amorous heats, and how he fell
In the Capitol, can never be the fame
To the judicious.'


Prologue to the False One.


was the first play that brought Beaumont and Fletcher into reputation. That play, as has been already mentioned, was acted about the year 1609. We may therefore prefume that the Maid's Tragedy did not appear before that year; for we cannot fuppofe it to have been one of the unfuccefsful pieces that preceded Philafter. That the Maid's Tragedy was written before 1611, is ascertained by a Ms. play, now extant, entitled The SECOND Maid's Tragedy, which was licensed by Sir George Buck, on the 31st of Oct. 1611. I believe it never was printed P.

If, therefore, we fix the date of the original Maid's Tragedy in 1610, it agrees fufficiently well with that here affigned to Julius Cafar.

It appears by the papers of the late Mr. George Vertue, that a play called Cæfar's Tragedy was acted at court before the 10th of April, in the year 1613. This was probably Shakspeare's Julius Cæfar, it being much the fashion at that time to alter the titles of his plays.

37. A Yorkshire Tragedy, 1608.

A Yorkshire Tragedy, (whoever was the author of it) could not have been written before August 1604, when the murder, on which it was founded, was committed . It was entered at Stationers' hall May 2, 1608, and printed in that year.

It is obfervable, that, in the title-page of this play, the name of Shakspeare is fpelt in the fame manner as he has himself fubfcribed it to his Will; and the piece is faid to have been acted by his majestie's players at the Globe; the theatre in which almost all our author's plays were originally performed.

The very name, however, of the publisher of this piece, (independent of other circumstances) is fufficient to create a doubt concerning its authenticity; for it is printed for Thomas Pavier, who appears, from the Stationers' books, to


P This tragedy (as I learn from a Mf. of Mr. Oldys) was formerly in the poffeffion of John Warburton, Efq. Somerset Herald. It had no author's name to it, when it was licenfed, but was afterwards afcribed to George Chapman, whofe name is erased by another hand, and that of Shakspeare inferted.

See Dr. Farmer's Effay on the Learning of Shakespeare.

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