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“Hamlet,” that Baptista was the name of a man, he would hardly have used it for that of a woman; but before he produced “ The Taming of the Shrew" he had detected his error. The great probability is, that “Hamlet” was written at the earliest in 1601, and " The Taming of the Shrew” perhaps came from the pen of its author not very long afterwards.
The recent reprint of “The pleasant Comedy of Patient Grissill," by Dekker, Chettle, and Haughton, from the edition of 1603, tends to throw light on this point. Henslowe's Diary establishes, that the three dramatists above named were writing it in the winter of 1599. It contains various allusions to the taming of shrews; and it is to be recollected that the old “Taming of a Shrew” was acted by Henslowe's company, and is mentioned by him under the date of 11th June, 1594. One of the passages in “ Patient Grissill," which seems to connect the two, occurs in Act v. sc. 2, where Sir Owen, producing his wands, says to the marquess, “I will learn your medicines to tame shrews." This expression is remarkable, because we find by Henslowe's Diary that, in July, 1602, Dekker received
a payment from the old manager, on account of a comedy he was then writing under the title of “ A Medicine for a curst Wife.” Our conjecture is, that Shakespeare (in coalition, possibly, with some other dramatist, who wrote the portions which are admitted not to be in Shakespeare's manner) produced his “ Taming of the Shrew" soon after “ Patient Grissill” had been brought upon the stage in 1599, and as a sort of counterpart to it; and that Dekker fol. lowed up the subject in the summer of 1602 by his “Medicine for a curst Wife,” having been incited by the success of Shakespeare's “ Taming of the Shrew” at a rival theatre. At this time the old “ Taming of a Shrew ” had been laid upon the shelf as a public performance, and Shakespeare having very nearly adopted its title, Dekker took a different one, in accordance with the expression he had used two or three years before in “ Patient Grissill?.”
The silence of Meres in 1598 regarding any such play by Shakespeare is also important: had it then been written, he could scarcely have failed to mention it; so that we have strong negative evidence of its non-existence before the appearance of Palladis Tamia. When Sir John Harrington, in his “Metamorphosis of Ajax," 1596, says "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 country, save he that hath her," he meant the old “ Taming of a Shrew," reprinted in the same year. In that play we have not only the comedy in which Petruchio and Katharine
? If we suppose Shakespeare, in A. iv. sc. 1, to allude to T. Heywood's play, “ A Woman Killed with Kindness," it might show that “The Taming of the Shrew" was written after Feb. 1602-3.
are chiefly engaged, but the Induction, which is carried out to the close ; for Sly and the Tapster very humorously conclude the piece, as they had begun it.
As it is evident that Shakespeare made great use of the old comedy, both in his Induction and in the body of his play, it is not necessary to inquire particularly to what originals the writer of “ The Taming of a Shrew” resorted. As regards the Induction, Douce was of opinion that the story of “The Sleeper awakened,” in the “ Arabian Nights' Entertainments," was the source of the many imitations which have, from time to time, been referred to. Warton (Hist. Engl. Poetry, iv. 117. Edit. 1824) tells us, that among the books of Collins was a collection of tales by Richard Edwards, dated in 1570, and including "the Induction of the Tinker in Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew.?” This might be the original employed by the author of the old “Taming of a Shrew:” for the play itself he, perhaps, availed himself of some now unknown translation of Nott. viii. fab. 2, of the Piacevoli Notti of Straparola :.
The Suppositi of Ariosto, freely translated by Gascoyne (before 1566, when it was acted at Gray's Inn) under the title of “The Supposes," seems to have afforded Shakespeare part of his plot: it relates to the manner in which Lucentio and Tranio pass off the Pedant as Vincentio, which is not in the old "Taming of a Shrew.” In the list of persons preceding Gascoyne's “Supposes” Shakespeare found the name of Petrucio, (a character not so called by Ariosto) and hence, perhaps, he adopted it. This affords another slight link of connexion between “The Taming of the Shrew" and “The Supposes ;” but there exists a third, still slighter, of which no notice has ever been taken. It consists of the use of the word “supposes," in A. v. sc. 1, exactly in the substantive sense in which it is employed by Gascoyne, and in reference to that part of the story which had been derived from his translation. How little Shakespeare's “ Taming of the Shrew” was known near the beginning of the eighteenth century, may be judged from the fact, that “The Tatler," No. 231, contains the story of it, told as of a gentleman's family then residing in Lincolnshire.
3 The plot of the Induction, probably from some old version of Goulart's “ Admirable Histories,” which were wholly translated by Edward Grimstone in 1607, may be seen in Vol. iv. of the Shakespeare Society's Papers. The old titlepage of the edition of Shakespeare's “ Taming of the Shrew,” in 4to, printed, as we suppose, in 1607, must have been cancelled, and that of 163) substituted by Smithwicke. This will account for the editor's copy being without a title-page.
Persons in the
Players, Huntsmen, and Servants,
Suitors to Bianca.
Servants to Lucentio.
Servants to Petruchio.
Tailor, Haberdasher, and Servants, attending on Baptista and
SCENE, sometimes in Padua; and sometimes in Petruchio's
House in the Country.
1 A list of the characters in this comedy was first printed by Rowe.
TAMING OF THE SHREW.
Before an Alehouse on a Heath.
Enter HOSTESS and SLY.
Sly. Y'are a baggage : the Slys are no rogues; look in the chronicles, we came in with Richard Conqueror. Therefore, paucas pallabris; let the world slide. Sessa?!
Host. You will not pay for the glasses you have burst' ?
Sly. No, not a denier. Go by, Jeronimy: Go to thy cold bed, and warm thee *.
1 I'll PHEESE you, in faith.] Thus the word is printed in the 4to. and in the folio of 1623. In the old “ Taming of a Shrew," it is printed fese, in the three editions of 1594, 1596, and 1607. Ben Jonson uses the word in his “ Alchemist,” and spells it, in his folio of 1616, feize, in which form he is followed by modern lexicographers. It is the same word, however spelt; and Gifford, who was a West of England man, says that in that part of the country it means, to “beat, chastise, or humble,” &c. B. Jonson's Works, iv. 188. Dr. Johnson, on the authority of Sir Thomas Smith, in his book De Sermone Anglico, says that it means in fila diducere. Such may have been its original sense, but there is no doubt that it is used figuratively in the way Gifford has explained,
? Therefore paucas pallabris ; let the world slide. Sessa!] Pocas palabras is Spanish for “ few words,” a foreign phrase in common use in the time of Shakespeare. The same remark, as regards common use, will apply to “let the world slide," or " let the world slip," as Sly afterwards words it; but we do not find sessa, or cessa (cease), so employed in other authors. It occurs again, under the form of sessey, in “ King Lear," A. iii. sc. 4. you have BURST ?] To burst and to break were anciently synonymous.
Go by, Jeronimy: Go to thy cold bed, and warm thee.] In this passage, there is a double allusion to "The Spanish Tragedy," by Thomas Kyd. How the capital S became
Host. I know my remedy; I must go fetch the headborough.
[Erit. Sly. Third, or fourth, or fifth borough, I'll answer him by law. I'll not budge an inch, boy: let him come, and kindly.
[Lies down on the ground, and falls asleep. Wind Horns. Enter a Lord from hunting, with Huntsmen
1 Hun. Why, Belman is as good as he, my lord;
I take him for the better dog.
1 Hun. I will, my lord.
introduced into the text before Jerominy, so as to convert him into a saint, in the folio, 1623, it is not easy to explain : it is not in the 4to. nor in the corr. fo. 1632, and may be fairly dismissed as an interpolation. The Rev. Mr. Dyce's notion that Sly was well acquainted with St. Jerome is not happy. The phrase “ Go by” is derived from one part of “The Spanish Tragedy," of which Jeronimo may be called the hero; and “Go to thy cold bed, and warm thee,” refers to another part of the same play. See “ Dodsley's Old Plays," last edition, vol. iii. p. 130 and 163. Different parts of this popular play were often quoted and ridiculed by contemporary writers; but nothing would be gained by enumerating them.
5- I must go fetch the HEADBOROUGH.] So it stands in all the old copies, but in some modern editions it has been needlessly altered to thirdborough, under the notion that it made Sly's answer more apposite. The threat regarding the "headborough,” by the hostess, brings the “ thirdborough" (an officer of similar duties, and often mentioned in connexion) into Sly's mind. The "thirdborough " (as Ritson shows by a quotation from “ The Constable's Guide," 1771) is an officer still known in Warwickshire. Dull calls himself “tharborough," or third. borough, in “Love's Labour's Lost.”
6 BRACH Merriman,--the poor cur is EM BOSS'd,] “ Brach" generally meant a hound used in the chase: a dog, or a deer, is said to be "embossed” when fatigue makes either foam at the mouth. Etymologists have puzzled themselves, but probably we need go no farther for the derivation of “embossed,” or emboshed, than the French emboucher.