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T AMING OF THE SHREW.

“ The Taming of the Shrew" is usually supposed to have been first printed in the folio of 1623, but such appears not to be

In that folio it occupies twenty-two pages, viz. from p. 209 to p. 229 inclusive, in the division of “ Comedies.” It was reprinted in the three later folios.

INTRODUCTION.

was

It has been hitherto thought that“ The Taming of the Shrew one of the Comedies, by Shakespeare, first printed in the folio, 1623. This is not the fact: it had been printed in 4to. at an earlier date, although we are, unluckily, not in a condition to prove what that date might be. The difficulty in ascertaining this point arises partly out of the mutilation of two of the only known copies of the 4to. impression of “The Taming of the Shrew." It is not mentioned in the “ Biographia Dramatica,” but it was included by Steevens in the four volumes he published in 1766 of the Twenty Quartos, which had come out anterior to the Restoration. He assigned to it the date of 1631, and unquestionably such is the year upon the title-page, but that title-page must have been struck off long subsequent to the printing of the body of the comedy to which it is attached ; and upon examination the most unpractised eye will discover that the type used throughout was considerably older than 1631.

Only three copies of this 4to. have yet come to light: one (among Capell's books at Cambridge) has the title-page with the imprint of I. Smithwicke, 1631; another (in the British Museum) has only a fragment of that title-page, without the imprint; and the third (in the hands of the editor) has no title-page at all, but a memorandum in manuscript at the top of the first page (sign. A 2), the upper half of which has been cropped away by a careless binder, so that only the lower half of the figures and letters remains; enough, however, to enable us to read, as well as the inscription can be made out, “1607 stayed by the Author.” The date may be 1609, but the top of the six, and of the seven, or nine, has fallen a sacrifice to the shears. What we are, probably, to understand is, that the publication of the comedy in 1607, or 1609, had been in some way “stayed” by the intervention of the author, on behalf of himself and the company to which he belonged; and that, having in consequence been laid aside for a number of years, some copies of it, remaining in the hands of Smithwicke the stationer, were issued in 1631, as if it had been then first published.

The cause of the “stay” of publication in 1607, or 1609, was doubtless the anxiety of Shakespeare and his fellow-actors that the attraction of the piece at the Globe or Blackfriars should not be diminished; but before it was issued in 1631, 4to." The Taming of the Shrew" had been included in the folio, 1623, and we are able to show that, as was usual with the player-editors of that volume, they printed from the 4to, with a copy of which they must bave been furnished, and not from any original manuscript. As in other cases, they cured some obvious defects, but they left many passages just as they stood in the original. As an improvement, we may point out a line near the commencement of the “Induction," where in the 4to. the Huntsman says

“ Trust me, I take him for the dog." In the folio, 1623, it runs thus

Trust me, I take him for the better dog," which was doubtless the true reading. Again, in Act ii. sc. 1, where Hortensio enters “with his head broken,” he tells Baptista in the 4to.

" I think she'll prove a soldier;" when he ought to say, according to the folio, 1623,

“ I think she'll sooner prove a soldier." In both these instances the necessity of emendation is evident. In our notes we have pointed out places where various corruptions of the 4to. are transferred to the folio; and trifling circumstances show that the folio, 1623, was, in general, merely a repetition of the 4to, which we suppose to have been printed, but not published, in 1607 or 1609. Thus, in the scene last quoted, Gremio is boasting

My hangings all of Tyrian tapestry." Here, both in the 4to. and folio, “Tyrian" is spelt tirian. In the saine way the name of Hortensio is sometimes spelt with an s and sometimes with a t both in the folio and 4to, and precisely in the same places; but the chief proof that the folio was printed after the 4to. is derived from the not unfrequent emendations of measure, and even of punctuation (the last a matter seldom much attended to), while, in nearly all cases, the orthography of the folio is more modern than that of the 4to.

It is not to be disputed that the plot of Shakespeare's "Taming of the Shrew" was obtained from an earlier comedy called “The Taming of a Shrew;" and what renders it more probable that the former was originally printed in 1607 is, that a new edition of the latter came out in that very year. Perhaps the popularity of Shakespeare's production about this period led to the re-appearance of the drama upon which it was known to be founded; and so little did our great dramatist wish to conceal his obligation, that with

the smallest possible variation, “the” for a, he adopted the title of the rival performance. Moreover, if Malone be correct (Shaksp. by Boswell, ii. 342 and v. 352), the two comedies were entered at Stationers' Hall within a short period of each other, viz. the older production on the 22nd Jan. 1606, and Shakespeare's comedy on 19th Nov. 1607, when, as Malone imagines, Smithwicke (who had entered it) contemplated the publication of what did not in fact come out until twenty-four years afterwards.

When Steevens in 1779 published the “Six Old Plays," more or less employed by Shakespeare in six of his own dramas, no older edition of the “ Taming of a Shrew" than that of 1607 was known. It was conjectured, however, that it had come from the press at an earlier date, and Pope appeared to have been once in possession of a copy of it, dated as early as 1594. This copy has since been recovered, and is now in the collection of the Duke of Devonshire: the exact title of it is as follows:

A Pleasant Conceited Historie, called The taming of a Shrew. As it was sundry times acted by the Right honorable the Earle of Pembrook his seruants. - Printed at London by Peter Short and are to be sold by Cutbert Burbie, at his shop at the Royall Exchange. 1594.” 4to."

It was reprinted in 1596, and a copy of that edition is in the possession of the Earl of Ellesmere. The impression of 1607, the copy used by Steevens in 1766, is likewise in the collection of the Duke of Devonshire.

There are three entries in the Registers of the Stationers' Company relating to “The Taming of a Shrew;" and when Blounte and Jaggard, on the 8th Nov. 1623, entered “Mr. William Shakspeare's Comedyes, Histories, and Tragedyes, soe many of the said copies as are not formerly entered to other men,” they did not include “The Taming of the Shrew :” hence an inference may be fairly drawn, that at some previous time it had been “entered to other men;" and this, we apprehend, is the very edition which, in consequence of the “stay” by the author, long remained in the stationer's hands, and was not finally published until 1631.

On the question, when it was originally composed, opinions have varied considerably. Malone first believed that “The Taming of the Shrew” was written in 1606, and subsequently gave 1596 as its probable date. Nobody seems to have sufficiently attended to the apparently unimportant fact, that in “Hamlet” Shakespeare mistakenly introduces the name of Baptista as that of a woman, while in “The Taming of the Shrew” Baptista is the father of Katharine and Bianca. Had he been aware, when he wrote

1 It was. by the kind permission of his Grace, reprinted by the Shakespeare Society in 1844, with a fac-simile of the original title-page.

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