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NOTES TO THE
TAMING OF THE SHREW.
*** We have hitherto supposed Shakspeare the author of The Taming of the Shrew, but his pro. perty in it is extremely disputable. I will give my opinion, and the reasons on which it is founded, 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 obvious that the Induction and the Play were either the works of different' hands, or written at a great inter. yal of time.
The former is in our author's best
and a great part of the latter in his worst, or even below it. Dr. Warburton declares it to be Certainly spurious; and without doubt, supposing 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 Harrington, printed in 1596, (and possibly there may be an earlier edition,) called The Métamor. phosis of Ajax, where I suspect an allusion to the
old play: „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 hir." I am aware a modern linguist may object that the word book does not at present seem dramatik, but it was once technically 80: Gosson, in his Schoole of Abuse, containing à pleasaunt Invective against Poets, Pipers. Players, Jesters and such like Caterpillars of a Commonwealth, 1579, mentions twoo prose bookes played at the Bell-Sarage:" and Hearné 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 list: A pleasant conceited history, called, The Taming of a Shrew sundry times acied 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 seem derogatory from the character of our poet. There is no reason to believe that he wanted to claim the play as his own; for it was not even printed till some years after his death; but he merely revived it on his stage as a manager.
In support of what I have said relative to this play, let me only observe further at present, that the author of Hamlet speaks of Gonzago, and his wife Baptista; but the author of The Taming of the Shrew knew Baptista to be the name of a man. Mr. Capell indecd made me doubt, by declaring the authenticity of it to be confirmed by the testimony of Sir Aston Cockayn. I knew Sir Aston was much acquainted with the writers immediately subsequent to Shakspeare; and I was not inclined to dispute his authority: but how was I surprised, when I found that Cockayn ascribes nothing more to Shakspeare, than the Induction-Wincot. Ale and the Beggar! I hope this was only a slip of Mr. Capell's memory.
FARMER. The following is Sir Aston's Epigram:
To MR. CLEMENT FISHER, OF WINCOT. ,,Shakspeare your Wincot-ale hath much renown'd, „That fox'd a beggar so (by chance was found ..Sleeping) that there needed not many a word ..To make him to believe he was a lord: ,,But you affirm (and in it seem most eager) ,,'Twill make a lord as drunk as any beggar. ..Bid Norton brew such ale as Shakspeare fancies ,,Did put Kit Sly into such lordly trances: ..And let us meet there (for a fit of gladness) ..And drink ourselves merry in sober sadness.".
Sir A. Cockayn's Poems, 1689, p. 1274. In spite of the great deference which is due from every commentator to Dr. Farmer's judgement, Iown I cannot concur with him on the present occasion. I know not to whom I could impute this comedy, if Shakspeare was not its author. I think his hand is visible in almost every scene, though perhaps not so evidently as in those which pass between Katha. rine and Petruchio.
I once thought that the name of this play might have been taken from an old story, entitled, The Wyf lapped in Morells Skin, or The Taming of a Shrew; but I have since discovered among the entries in the books of the Stationers' Company the following: „Peter Shorte) May 2, 1591, a pleasaunt conceyted hystorie, called, The Tayminge of a Shrowe." It is likewise entered 10 Nich. Ling, Jan. 22, 1606; and to John Smythwicke, Nov. 19, 1607.
It was no uncommon practice among the authors of the age of Shakspeare, to avail themselves of the titles of ancient performances. Thus, as Mr. Warton has observed, Spenser sent out his Pastorals under the title of The Shepherd's Kalendar, a work which had been printed by Wynken de Worde, and reprinted about twenty years before these poems of Spenser appeared, viz. 1559.
Dr. Percy, in the first volume of his Rcliques of Ancient English Poetry, is of opinion, that The Frolick some Duke, or the Tinker's Good Fortune, an ancient ballad in the Pepy's Collection, might have suggested to Shakspeare the Induction for this comedy.
Chance, however, has at last furnished me with the original to which Shakspeare was indebted for his fable; nor does this discovery at all dispose me to retract my former opinion, which the reader may find at the conclusion of the notes on this play. Such parts of the dialogue as our author had immediately imitated, I have occasionally pointed out; but must refer the reader, who is desirous to examine the whole structure of the piece, to Six old Plays on which Shakspeare founded, etc. published by S. Leacroft, at Charing.cross, as a Supplement to our commentaries on Shakspeare.
Beaumont and Fletcher wrote what may be called a sequel to this comedy, viz. The Woman's Prize, or the Tamer Tam'd; in which Petruchio is subdued by a second wife. STEEVENS.
Among the books of my friend the late Mr. William Collins of Chichester, now dispersed , was a collection of short comick stories in prose, print. ed in the black letter under the year 1570, vsett forth by maister Richard Edwards, mayster of her Majesties revels." Among these tales was that of the INDUCTION OF THE TINKER in Shakspeare's Taming of the Shrew; and perhaps Edward's story-book was the immediate source from which Shakspeare, or rather the author of the old Taming of a Shrew, drew that diverting apologue. If I recollect right, the circumstances almost tallied with an incident which Heuterus relates from an epistle of Ludovicus Vives to have actually happen. ed at the marriage of Duke Philip the Good 'of Burgundy, about the year 1410. That perspicuous anualist, who flourished about the year 1580, says, this story was told to Vives by an old officer of the Duke's court. T. WARTON.
See the earliest English original of this story, etc. at the conclusion of the notes on this play.
STEEVENS. Our author's Taming of the Shrew was written, I imagine, in 1595. See An Attempt to ascertain the Order of Shakspeare's Plays. MALONE.
to the Original Play of The Taming of a Shrew,
entered on the Stationers' books in 1591, and printed in quarto in 2607.
A Lord, etc.
Alphonsus, a merchant of Athens.