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An attentive reader will perceive in this speech several words which are employed in none of the legitimate plays of Shakspeare. Such, I believe, are, sardonyr, hyacinth, eye-train'd, radiations, and especially uninhabitable; our poet generally using inhabitable in its room, as in Rich. II.
Or any other ground inhabitable. These instances may serve as some proofs, that the former play was not the work of Shakspeare.
-a copatain hat,] is, I believe, a hat with a conical crown, such as was anciently worn by welldressed men.
JOHNSON This kind of hat is twice mentioned by Gascoigne. See Hearbes, page 154:
A coptankt hat made on a Flemish block. And again in his epilogue, page 216. With high copt hats, and feathers flaunt a
flaunt. In Stubs's Anatomie of Abuses, printed 1595, there is an entire chapter on the hattes of England, beginning thus:
Sometimes they use them sharpe on the crowne, pearking up like the speare or shaft of a steeple, standing a quarter of a yard above the crowne of their heads, &c.
My cake is dough.] This is a proverbial ex
pression which I meet with in the old interlude of Tom Tyler and his Wife, 1598. “Alas poor Tom, his cake his dough.”
STEEVENS. €3 A good swift simile, but something currish.] Swift and nimble had the same metaphorical signification, in Shakspeare's days, as quick has now. The Duke says of the Clown, in As You Like It, He is very swift and sententitious, meaning, be is very quick, or witty.
64 —vail your stomachs-] i. e. lower your stomachs or your resentments. Though you
hit the white;] To hit the while (or the mark) is a term in archery, and Bianca is also white in Italian. Shakspeare was too much of a wag to let such a double-entendre escape him.
66 At the conclusion of this piece, Mr. Pope continued his insertions from the old play as follows. Enter two servants, bearing Sly in his own apparel
and leaving him on the stage. Then enter a Tapster. Sly. [awaking.] Sim, give's some more winewhat, all the players gone? Am I not a lord ?
Tap. A lord, with a murrain ? come, art thou drunk still?
Sly. Who's this? Tapster! oh, I have had the lravest dream that ever thou heard'st in all thy life.
Tap. Yea, marry, but thou hadst best get thee home, for your wife will curse you for dreaming here all night.
Sly. Will she? I know how to tame a shrew. I dreamt upon it all this night, and thou hast wak'd me out of the best dream that ever I had. But I'll to my wife, and tame her too if she anger
These passages, which have been hitherto printed as part of the work of Shakspeare, I have sunk into the notes, that they may be preserved, as they are necessary to the integrity of the piece, though they really compose no part of it, being neither published in the folio or quarto editions. The players delivered down this comedy, among the rest, as one of Shakspeare's own; and its intrinsic merit bears sufficient evidence to the propriety of their decision. Mr. Pope is the only person who appears to have met with the old spurious play of the same name. This speech which he has quoted from hence, bears little resemblance, in my opinion, to the stile of Shakspeare; and, if I am not mistaken, exhibits several words, whieh he has employed in no other of his pieces. It may likewise be remarked, that the old copy of this play, dated 1607, from which Mr. Pope inserted such passages as are now degraded, does not appear to have reached the hands of Dr. Warburton, who inherited all the rest which his friend had enumerated. For this copy I have re.
peatedly advertised, with such offers as might have tempted any indigent owner to have sold it, and, I hope, in such terms as might have procured me the loan of it from those who preserved it only on account of its rarity. It was, however, neither to be bought, borrowed, or heard of. I would therefore, excuse myself for having left such parts out of the text, as I do not believe to be genuine, for the same reason that Bernini declined the task of repairing a famous though mutilated statue, because I am unwilling to unite stucco with Grecian marble.
I must add a few more reasons why I neither believe the former comedy of the Taming the Shrew, 1607, nor the old play of King John in two parts, to have been the work of Shakspeare. He generally followed every novel or history from whence he took his plots, as closely as he could; and is so often indebted to these originals for his very thoughts and expressions, that we may fairly pronounce him not to have been above borrowing, to spare himself the labour of invention. It is therefore probable, that both these plays, (like that of Hen. V. in which Oldcastle is introduced) were the unsuccessful performances of contemporary authors. Shakspeare saw they were meanly written, and yet that their plans were such as would furnish incidents for a better dramatist. He therefore might lazily adopt the order of their scenes, still writing the dialogue anew, and inserting little more from either piece, than a few lines which he might think worth preserving, or was too much in haste to alter. It is no uncommon thing in the literary world to see the track of others followed by those who would never have given themselves the trouble to mark out one of their own.