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27 May 1600.
As You Like It, a book.
to be staicd
23 Jan. 1603 To Thomas Thorpe, } This to be their copy, &c. and William Aspley.
, It is extremely probable that this 4th of August was of the year 1600; which standing a little higher on the paper, the clerk of the Stationers' company might have thought unneceffary to be repeated. All the plays which were entered with As You Like it, and are here said to be feied, were printed in the year 1600 or 1601. The stay or injunction against the printing appears to have been very speedily taken off; for in ten days afterwards, on the 14th of August 1600, King Henry V. was entered, and published in the same year. So, Much Ade about Nothing, was ertered August 23, 16co, and printed also in that year: and Every Man in his Humour was published in 1601.
Shakspeare, it is said, played the part of Adam in As You Like It. As he was not eminent on the stage, it is probable that he ceased to act some years before he retired to the country. His appearance, however, in this comedy, is not inconfiftent with the date here assigned; for we know that he performed a part in Jonson's Sejanus in 1603.
26. MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR, 1601.
The first sketch of this comedy was printed in 1602. It was entered in the books of the Stationers' company, on the 18th of January 1601-2, and was therefore probably write ten in 1601, after the two parts of K. Henry IV. being, it is said, composed at the desire of queen Elizabeth, in order to exhibit Falstaff in love, when all the pleasantry which he could afford in any other situation was exhausted. But it may not be thought to clear, that it was written after ki [V2]
Henry V. Nym and Bardolph are both hanged in K. Henry V. yet appear in The Merry Wives of Windsor. Falstaff is disgraced in the Second Part of K. Henry IV. and dies in K. Henry V. But in the Merry IVives of Windsor he talks as if he were yet in favour at court; “ If it should come to the ear of the court how I have been transformed, &c" and Mr. Page dilcountenances Fenton's addreffes to his daughter, because he kept company with the wild Prince and with Pointz. These circumstances feem to favour the supposition that this play was written between the First and Second Parts of K. Henry IV. But that it was not written then, may be collected from the tradition above mentioned. If it should be placed (as Dr. Johnson observes it should be read) between the Second Part of K. Henry IV. and Henry V. it must be remembered, that Mrs. Quickly, who is half-bawd half-hoftefs in K. Henry IV. is in the Merry Wives of Windsor, Dr. Caius's housekeeper, and makes a decent appearance; and in K. Henry V. is Pistol's wife, and dies in an hospital; a progression that is not very natural. Besides on Mrs. Quickly's first appearance in the Merry Wives of IVindsor, Falstaff does not know her, nor does the know Piftol nor Bardolph. The truth, I believe, is, that it was written after K. Henry V. and after Shakspeare had killed Falstaff. In obedience to the royal commands, having revived him, he found it necellary at the same time to revive all those persons with whom he was wont to be exbibited; Nyin, Pistol, Bardolph and the Page: and disposed of them as he found it convenient, without a strict regard to their situations or catastrophes in former plays.
There is reason to believe that The Merry IVives of Windfor was revised and considerably enlarged by the author, after its first production. The old edition in 1602, like that of Romeo and Juliet, is apparently a rough draught, and nota mutilated or imperfect copy. At what time the alterations and additions were made, is uncertain. Mr. Warton supposes them to have been made in 1607. Dr. Farmer concurs with him in that opinion, though he does not think the argument on which it is founded, conclulive. I have not met with any information on this head.
This comedy was not printed in its present state, till 1623, when it was published with the rest of our author's plays in folio.
This play seems to have been entered on the Stationers' books, February 12, 1604, under the title of the Enterlude " of K. Henry VIIl. It was probably written, as Dr. Johnson and Mr. Steevens obferve, before the death of queen Elizabeth, which happened on the 24th of March 1603. The elogium on king James, which is blended with the panegyrick on Elizabeth, in the last scene, was evidentiy a sublequent insertio!ı, after the acceflion of the Scotish monarch to the throne: for Shakspeare was too well acquainted with courts, to compliment in the life-time of queen Elizabeth, her presumptive fucceffor, of whom history informs us the was not a little jealous. That the prediction concerning king James was added after the death of the queen, is still more clearly evinced, as Dr. Johnson has remarked, by the aukward manner in which it is connected with the foregon ing and subscquent lines.
It may be objected, that if this play was written after the accession of king James, the author could not introduce a panegyrick on him, without making queen Elizabeth the vehicle of it, the being the object immediatcly presented to the audience in the last act of K. Henry VIII. and that, therea fore, the praises fo profusely Javished on her, do not prove this play to have been written in her life-time; on the contrary, that the concluding lines of her character feem to imply that she was dead, when it was composed. The objection certainly has weight; but, I apprehend, the following observations afford a suificient answer to it.
1. It is more likely that Shakspeare should have written a play, the chief subject of which is, the disgrace of queen Catharine, the aggrandizement of Anne Boleyn, and the birth of her daughter, in the life-time of that daughter, than after her death: at a time when the subject must have been
k This appears to be one of the many titles by which plays were anciently defcribed. “ An Enterlude, entitled the tragedie of Richard III” (not our author's) was entered on the Stationers' books, by Thomas Creede, June 19, 1994; and in the same year, Mother Bombie, a comedy by Lilly, appears to have been entered under the description of " A booke entituled Mother Bune bze, being an Enterlude." (V 3]
Highly pleasing at court, rather than at a period when it must have been leis interesting.
Queen Catherine, it is true, is represented as an amiable character, but fill the is eclipsed; and the greater her merit, the higher was the compliment to the mother of Elizabeth, to whofe fuperior beauty the was obliged to give way.
2. Had K. Henry Vill. been written in the time of king James I. the author, instead of expatiating fo largely in the last seene, in praise of the queen, which he could not think would be very acceptable to her succeffor, would probably have made him the principal figure in the prophecy, and thrown her into the back-ground as much as possible.
3. Were James 1. Shakipeare's chief object in the original construction of the last act of this play, he would probably have given a very short character of Elizabeth, and have dwelt on that of James, with whose praile he would have oncluded, in order to make the stronger impreflion on the audience, instead of returning again to queen Elizabeth, in a very aukward and abrupt manner, after her character seemed to be quite finished: an aukwardness that can only be accounted for, by supposing the panegyrick on king James an after-production!
1 After having enumerated some of the blessings that were to ensue from the birth of Elizabeth, and celebrated her majesty's farious virtues, the poet thus pri-ceeds:
Cran. “ In her cays every man shall eat in safety
Under his own vine, what he plants, and fing
He thall flourith,
Shall see this, and bless heaven.
An aged princess; many days shall see her
4. If the queen had been dead when our author wrote this play, he would have been acquainted with the particular circumstances attending her death, the fituation of the kingdom at that time, and of foreign states, &c. and as archbishop Cranmer is supposed to have had the gift of prophecy, Shakspeare, probably, would have made hiin mention some of those circumstances. Whereas the prediction, as it stands at present, is quite general, and such as might, without any hazard of error, have been pronounced in the life-time of her majesty; for the principal facts that it foretells, are, that she should die aged, and a virgin. Of the former, supposing this piece to have been written in 1601, the author was sufficiently secure; for she was then near seventy years old. The laiter may perhaps be thought too delicate a subject, to have been mentioned while the was yet living. But, we may presume, it was far from being an ungrateful topick; for very early after her accession to the throne, she appears to have been proud of her maiden character; declaring that she was wedded to her people, and that she desired no other inscription on her tomb, than-Here lyeth Elizabeth, who reigned and died a virginm. Besides, if Shakespeare knew, as probably most people at that time did, that she became very folicitous about the reputation of virginity, when her title to it was at least equivocal, this would be an additional inducement to him to compliment her on that head.
5. Granting that the latter part of the panegyrick on Ilizabeth implies that she was dead when it was composed, it would not prove that this play was written in the time of king James; for these latter lines in praise of the queen, as well as the whole of the compliment to the king, might have been added after his accession to the throne, in order to bring the speaker back to the object immediately before him, the infant Elizabeth. And this Mr. Theobald conjectured to have been the case. I do not, however, see any neceffity for this supposition; as there is nothing, in my appreheiz
She must, the faints must have her; yet a virgin, &c."