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to profess to do more than to instance some of the
And again in the first Scene of the Fifth Act:—
“All yet seems well; and, if it end so meet,
and then to the audience;—
“The king's a beggar, now the play is done;
There would be no nature or meaning in the dialogue circling
accounted by himself and others one of the chief lights of that early morning of our drama, but destined to be soon completely outshone and extinguished, had, perhaps with some presentiment of his coming fate, in a pamphlet which he entitled “Green's Groatsworth of Wit,” thus vented his anger against the new luminary;-“There is an upstart crow, beautified with our feathers, that, with his tiger's heart wrapped in a player's hide, supposes he is as well able to bombast out a blank verse as the best of you; and, being an absolute Johannes Factotum, is, in his own conceit, the only Shake-scene in a country.” This would seem to imply, what is otherwise probable enough, that up to this time Shakespeare had chiefly made himself known as a dramatic writer by remodelling and improving the works of his predecessors. He may, however, have also even already produced some Plays wholly of his own composition. If Titus Andronicus and the Three Parts of Henry the Sirth are to be accounted his, they probably belong to this earliest stage of his career.
one called The Taming of A Shrew; it is therefore in the highest degree improbable that it was originally produced under its present name. The designation by which it is now known, in all likelihood, was only given to it after its predecessor had been driven from the stage, and had come to be generally forgotten. Have we not that which it previously bore indicated in one of the restorations of Mr. Collier's MS. annotator, who directs us, in the last line but one of the Second Act, instead of “in this case of wooing” to read “in this case of winning,” thus giving us what may stand, in want of a better, for a rhyme to the “if I fail not of my cunning” of the line following? The lines are pretty evidently intended to rhyme, however rudely. The Play is, besides, full of other repetitions of the same key-note. Thus, in the second Scene of Act I., when Hortensio informs Gremio that he had promised Petrucio, if he would become suitor to Katharine, that they “would be contributors, And bear his charge of wooing, whatsoe'er,” Gremio answers, “And so we will, provided that he win her.” In the fifth Scene of Act IV., when the resolute Weronese has brought the shrew to a complete submission, Hortensio's congratulation is, “Petrucio, go thy ways; the field is won.” So in the concluding scene the lady's father exclaims, “Now fair befall thee, good Petrucio ! The wager thou hast won;” to which the latter replies, “Nay, I will win my wager better yet.” And his last words in passing from the stage, as if in pointed allusion to our supposed title of the piece, are—
“'Twas I won the wager, though you [Lucentiol hit the
The title of Love's Labour's Won, it may be added, might also comprehend the underplot of Lucentio and Bianca, and even that of Hortensio and the Widow, though in the case of the latter it might rather be supposed to be the lady who should be deemed the winning party.
Of the thirty-seven Plays there are seven the authenticity of which has been more or less questioned. The Three Parts of King Henry the Sixth (especially the First) and Titus Andronicus, if they are by Shakespeare, have very little of his characteristic manner; Pericles has come down to us in so corrupted a state that the evidence of manner and style is somewhat unsatisfactory, though it is probably his; Timon of Athens is generally admitted to be only partly his; and much of King Henry the Eighth, which has only recently come to be suspected, is also evidently by another hand.*
* See a paper by Mr. Spedding, in the Gentleman's Magazine for August 1851, and various subsequent communications by Mr. Hickson and others in the Notes and Queries.
III. THE SOURCES FOR THE TEXT OF
From what has been stated it appears that, of the entire number of thirty-seven Plays which are usually regarded as Shakespeare's, there are only thirteen (including Hamlet) of which, in what may be called their completed state or ultimate form, we possess impressions published in his lifetime; together with four others (reckoning the Second and Third Parts of Henry the Sirth to be the same with the two Parts of the Contention) of which in an immature and imperfect state we have such impressions. Of one other, Othello, we have also an edition, printed indeed after the author's death, but apparently from another manuscript than that used for the First Folio. For the remaining nineteen Plays our oldest authority is that edition. And the only other sources for which any authority has been claimed are ; 1. The Second, Third, and Fourth Folios; 2. A manuscript of the First Part and some portions of the Second Part of Henry the Fourth, which is believed to be nearly of Shakespeare's age, and of which an impression has been edited by Mr. Halliwell for the Shakespeare Society; 3. The manuscript emendations, extending over all the Plays, with the exception only of Pericles, made in a handwriting apparently of about the middle of the seventeenth century, in a copy of the Second Folio belonging to Mr. Collier.
None of these copies can claim to be regarded as of absolute authority. Even the least carelessly printed of the Quartos which appeared in Shakespeare's lifetime are one and all deformed by too many evident and universally admitted errors to make it possible for us to believe that the proofs underwent either his own revision or those of any attentive editor or reader; it may be doubted if in any case the Play was even set up from the author's manuscript. In many, or in most, cases we may affirm with confidence that it certainly was not. Some of these Quartos are evidently unauthorized publications, hurriedly brought out, and founded probably in the main on portions of the dialogue fraudulently furnished by the actors, with the lacunae filled up perhaps from notes taken by reporters in the theatre. The First Folio (1623) is declared on the title-page to be printed “according to the true original copies;” and it is probable that for most of the Plays either the author's autograph, or, at any rate, some copy belonging to the theatre, was made use of The volume was put forth in the names of two of Shakespeare's friends and fellow-actors, John Heminge and Henrie Condell, who introduce what they style “these trifles,” the “remains” of their deceased associate, in a Dedication to the Earls of Pembroke and Montgomery, who, they observe, had been pleased to think the said trifles something, and in a Preface, in which, after confessing that it would have been a thing to be wished “that the author himself had lived to have set forth and overseen his own writings,” they desire that they his surviving friends may not be envied the office of their care and pains in collecting and publishing them, and so publishing them as that, whereas formerly, they continue, addressing the Reader, “you were abused with divers stolen and surreptitious copies, maimed and deformed by the frauds and stealths of