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Mr. Capell informs me, (and he is, in these matters, the most able of all men to give information,) that our author appears to have been beholden to some novels, which he hath yet only seen in French or Italian: but he adds, “ to say they are not in some English dress, prosaic or metrical, and perhaps with circumstances nearer to his stories, is what I will not take upon me to do: nor indeed is what I believe; but rather the contrary, and that time and accident will bring some of them to light, if not all."
W. Painter, at the conclusion of the second Tome of his Palace of Pleasure, 1567, advertises the reader, “ bicause fodaynly (contrary to expectation) this volume is risen to a greater heape of leaues, I doe omit for this present time fundry nouels of mery deuise, reseruing the fame to be joyned with the rest of another part, wherein shall succeede the remnant of Bandello, specially futch (suffrable) as the learned French man François de Belleforest hath selected, ant the choy sest done in the Italian. Some also out of frizzo, Ser Giouanni Florentino Parabosco, Cynthio, Straparole, Sanfouino, and the best liked out of the Queene of Nauarre, and other authors. Take these in good part, with those that haue and shall come forth."-But I am not able to find that a third Tome was ever published : and it is very probable, that the interest of his booksellers, and more especially the prevailing mode of the time, might lead him afterward to print his sundry novels separately. If this were the case, it is no wonder, that such fugitive pieces are recovered with difficulty; when the two Tomes, which Tom Rawlinson would have called jufta volumina, are almost annihilated. Mr. Ames, who searched after books of this fort with the utmost avidity, most certainly had not seen them, when he published his Typographical Antiquities; as appears from his blunders about
them : and poslibly I myself might have remained in the fame predicament, had I not been favoured with a copy by my generous friend Mr. Lort.
Mr. Colman, in the Preface to his elegant translation of Terence, hath offered some arguments for the learning of Shakspeare, which have been retailed with much confidence, since the appearance of Mr. Johnson's edition.
“ Besides the resemblance of particular passages scattered up and down in different plays, it is well known, that the Comedy of Errors is in great measure founded on the Menachmi of Plautus; but I do not recollect ever to have seen it observed, that the disguise of the Pedant in The Taming of the Shrew, and his assuming the name and character of Vincentio, seem to be evidently taken from the disguise of the Sycophanta in the Trinummus of the said author ; and there is a quotation from the Eunuch of Te. rence also, fo familiarly introduced into the dialogue The Taming of the Shrew, that I think it puts the question of Shakspeare's having read the Ronan comick poets in the original language out of all doubt,
“ Redime te captum, quam queas, minimo.”
With respect to resemblances, I shall not trouble you any further.—That the Comedy of Errors is founded on the Menachmi, it is notorious : nor is it less so, that a translation of it by W.W. perhaps William Warner, the author of Albion's England, was extant in the time of Shakspeare ; though Mr. Upton, and some other advocates for his learning, have cautiously dropt the mention of it. Besides this, (if indeed it were different,) in the Gesta Grayorum, the Christmas Revels of the Grays- Inn Gentlemen, 1594, “ a Comedy of Errors like to Plautus his Menechmus was played by the Players.” And the
fame hath been suspected to be the subject of the geodlie Comedie of Plautus, acted at Greenwich before the King and Queen in 1520; as we learn from Hall and Holin. fhed :-Riccoboni highly compliments the English on opening their stage so well; but unfortunately, Cavendish in his Life of Wolsey calls it, an excellent Interlude iz Latine. About the same time it was exhibited in German at Nuremburgh, by the celebrated Hanfsach, the fhoemaker.
“ But a character in The Taming of the Shrew is borrowed from the Trinummus, and no translation of that was extant."
Mr. Colman indeed hath been better employed; 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 Shakspeare 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 Petruchia. My young master and his man exchange habits and characters, and perfuade a Scenæse, as he is called, to perfonate 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, Shakspeare 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.
Qur author 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 Latin speaking, gathered out of Terence 1560, reduces the passage to a single line, and subjoins a translation.
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 ob. vious, that the induktion 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 fpurious : and without doubt, fuppofing 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 Harring. ton, printed in 1996, (and possibly there may be an earlier edition,) called, The Metamorphosis of Ajax, where I sufpect an allufion to the old play: « Reade 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 countrey, fave 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 almoft tecbnically fo: Gof
fon, in his Schoole of Abuse, "contayning a pleafaunt inuective against Poets, Pipers, Players, Fejters, 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 lift. “A pleafant conceited History, called, The Taming of a Shrew-fundry times acted by the Earl of Pembroke his Servants." Which seems to have been republished by the remains of that company in 1607, when Shakspeare's copy appeared at the Black-Friars or the Globe.-Nor let this feein 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 Shakspeare'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 Shakpeare.
But the sheet-anchor holds fast: Shakspeare 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."