Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

rowed from the Trinummus, and no translation of that was extant.”

Mr. Colman indeed hath been better employ'd : but if he had met with an old Comedy, called Supposes, translated from Ariosto by George Gascoigne, he certainly would not have appealed to Plautus. Thence Shakespeare borrowed this part of the Plot (as well as some of the phraseology), though Theobald pronounces it his own invention : there likewise he found the quaint name of Petruchio.

My young Master and his Man exchange habits and characters, and persuade a Scenæse, as he is called, to personate the Father, exactly as in the Taming of the Shrew, by the pretended danger of his coming from Sienna to Ferrara, contrary to the order of the government.

Still, Shakespeare quotes a line from the Eunuch of Terence: by memory too, and, what is more, “purposely alters it, in order to bring the sense within the compass of one line.”—This remark was previous to Mr. Johnson's; or indisputably it would not have been made at all.“Our Authour had this line from Lilly; which I mention that it may not be brought as an argument of his learning."

But how, cries an unprovoked Antagonist, can you take upon you to say that he had it from Lilly, and not from Terence? I will answer for Mr. Johnson, who is above answering for himself.—Because it is quoted as it appears in the Grammarian, and not as it appears in the Poet.And thus we have done with the purposed alteration. Udall likewise in his Floures for Latine speakyng, gathered oute of Terence, 1560, reduces the passage to a single line, and subjoins á Translation.

We have hitherto supposed Shakespeare 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 Shakespeare, but restored by him to the Stage, with the whole Induction

It is very

of the Tinker, and some other occasional improvements; especially in the Character of Petruchio. 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 the greater 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 Shakespeare, 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

may be an earlier Edition), called, The Metamorphosis 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 almost technically so : Gosson in his Schoole of Abuse, contayning a pleasaunt inuective against Poets, Pipers, Players, Jesters, and such like Caterpillars of a Common-wealth, 1579, mentions “twoo prose Bookes plaied at the Belsauage”; 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 to have been republished by the Remains of that Company in 1607, when Shakespeare's copy appeared at the Black-Friars or the Globe.—Nor let this seem derogatory from the character of our Poet. There is no reason to believe that he wanted to claim the Play as his own; it was not even printed 'till some years after his death : but he merely revived it on his Stage as a Manager.—Ravenscroft assures us that this was really the case with Titus Andronicus ; which, it may be observed, hath not Shakespeare's name on the Title-page of the only Edition published in his life-time. Indeed, from every internal mark, I have not the least doubt but this horrible Piece was originally written by the Author of the Lines thrown into the mouth of the Player in Hamlet, and of the Tragedy of Locrine : which likewise, from some assistance perhaps given to his Friend, hath been unjustly and ignorantly charged upon Shakespeare.

But the sheet-anchor holds fast : Shakespeare himself hath left some Translations from Ovid. The Epistles, says One, of Paris and Helen give a sufficient proof of his acquaintance with that poet; and it may be concluded, says Another, that he was a competent judge of other Authors who wrote in the same language.

This hath been the universal cry, from Mr. Pope himself to the Criticks of yesterday. Possibly, however, the Gentlemen will hesitate a moment, if we tell them that Shakespeare 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 Shakespeare? 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 Shakespeare.

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 Shakespeare, 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 tho' 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."

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 Shakespeare 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 Shakespeare.

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 Shakespeare. 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 Shakespeare, 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 Shakespeare 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 pain about their credit.

“ William Shakespeare's Father was a Butcher,—while he was a Boy he exercised his Father's trade, but when he killed a Calf, he would do it in a high stile, 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

« AnteriorContinuar »