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only were printed during the life-time of the poet, As this subject was justly considered by Malone to be both curious and interesting, he has appropriated to its examination a long and laborious essay. Chalmers, in his Supplemental Apology,' however endeavors to controvert Malone's dates, and assigns them to other eras. Dr. Drake suggests a new chro. nological arrangement, and assigns very plausible arguments in support of his opinions : he thinks that the first drama, either wholly, or in great part written by him, was ·Pericles,' which was produced in 1590. Malone says the First Part of Henry VI. published in 1589, and commonly attributed to Shakspeare, was not written by him, though it might receive some corrections from his pen at a subsequent period, in order to fit it for representation. The ‘Second Part of Henry VI. this writer contends, ought therefore to be considered as Shakspeare's first dramatic piece; and he thinks that it might be composed about 1591, but certainly not earlier than 1590.
1. Henry VI. Part 1.
Malone. Chalmers. Drake.
1590 1591 1595
1572 1591 1595 1592 1591 1595 1595 1592 1591 1591 1593 1596
8. Richard III. 9. Love's Labor 's Lost 10. Merchant of Venice 11. Midsummer Night's Dream 12. Taming of the Shrew 13. Romeo and Juliet 14. King John 15. Henry IV. Part 1. 16. Henry IV. Part 2. 17. As You Like It 18. Henry V. 19. Much Ado about Nothing 20. Hamlet 21. Merry Wives of Windsor 22. Troilus and Cressida 23. Measure for Measure 24. Henry VIII. 25. Othello 26. King Lear 27. All's Well that Ends Well 28. Macbeth 29. Julius Cæsar 30. Twelfth Night 31. Antony and Cleopatra 32. Cymbeline 33. Coriolanus 34. Timon of Athens 35. Winter's Tale 36. Tempest
Malone. Chalmers. Drake,
1593 1595 1595 1594 1592 1591 1594 1597 1597 1594 1598 1593 1596 1598 1594 1596 1592 1593 1596 1598 1598 1597
1596 1596 1599 1597 1596 1599 1599 1600 1599 1597 1599
1599 1599 1600 1597 1597 1601 1596 1601 1602 1600 1601 1603 1604 1603 1603 1613 1602 1604 1614 1612 1605 1605 1604 1606 1599 1598 1606 1606 1606 1607 1607 1607 1607 1613 1613 1608 1608 1608 1609 1606 1605 1610 1609 1609 1610 1601 1602 1611 1601 1610 1611 1613 1611
Much has been said by different commentators on certain plays ascribed to Shakspeare, but which are of such a doubtful class, that it is almost impossible to identify their authors; and it is quite impossible to prove them to be, or not to be,' the writings of the bard of Avon. "Titus Andronicus.' is generally classed with his plays; but all the critics, except Care and Schlegel, consider it to be unworthy of Shakspeare. · The editors of the first folio edition however have included it in that volume; which, combined with other circumstances, implies that they considered the play as his production. George Meres, a contemporary and admirer of Shakspeare, enumerates it among his works in 1598, and Meres was personally acquainted with, and consulted by, our poet.
• I cannot conceive,' says Schlegel, “that all the critical scepticism in the world would be sufficient to get over such a testimony.
The same critic assigns other reasons to show that this play was one of Shakspeare's early productions, between 1584 and 1590. Can we imagine,' he asks, 'that such an active head would remain idle for six whole years, without making any attempt to emerge by his talents from an uncongenial situation ?' The following pieces appeared during Shakspeare's lifetime, and with his name to them :-1. Locrine; 2. Sir John Oldcastle; 3. Lord Cromwell; 4. The Londan Prodigal; 5. The Puritan; and, 6. A Yorkshire Tragedy, Schlegel, speaking of these plays, says. The last three are not only unquestionably Shakspeare's, but, in my opinion, they deserve to be classed among his best and maturest works. Steevens admits at least in some degree, that they are Shakspeare's. as well as the others, excepting · Locrine;' but he speaks of them all with great contempt, as
quite worthless productions.' On the same subject let us hear the decided language of Dr. Drake :
Of these wretched dramas, it has been now positively proved, through the medium of the Hensiowe papers, that the name of Shakspeare, which is printed at length in the title-pages of Sir John Oldcastie, 1690, and The London Prodigal, 1605, was affixed to those pieces by a knavish bookseller, without any foundation.' Eight other dramatic pieces have been attributed to Shakspeare; all of which are condemned by Dr. Drake, who says, he does not believe that 'twenty lines can be found of Shakspeare in • King Henry VI.' or • Titus Andronicus,' and not so many in the six above enumerated; aná therefore,' says he, “to enter into any critical discussion of the merits or defects of these pieces, wouia ne an utter abuse of time. The same may ve said or other volumes, consisting of poems, &c. whicr. certain unprincipled booksellers have foisteá on the world, even with the name of Shakspeare in the title-page. A rare little volume, calleä . Cupia s Cabinet Unlocked,' in the possession of James rerry, Esq., with the name of our author, was inspected by that enthusiastic admirer of Shakspeare, Mr. Brittjn, who pronounces it to have no other characteristic or the great author, whose name is thus prostituted.
Besides his thirty-six plays, Shakspeare wrote some poetical pieces, which were published sepa's rately, viz. Venus and Adonis, printed in 1593; The
Rape of Lucrece, in 1594; The Passionate Pilgrim, in 1599; A Lover's Complaint, undated; and a volume of Sonnets, in 1609. The first and second of these productions were dedicated to his great patron, the Earl of Southampton, who is reported, at one time, to have given Shakspeare 10001. to enable him to complete a purchase; a sum which in those days would be equal in value to more than five times its present amount. be, and probably is, an exaggeration; but that it has been founded on the well-known liberality of Lord Southampton to Shakspeare; on a certain knowlege that donations had passed from the peer to the poet, there can be little doubt. The earls of Pembroke and Montgomery are said to have vied with this amiable nobleman in the patronage of our author, who was soon after honored by the favor of Queen Elizabeth, at whose desire he is stated to have composed the “Merry Wives of Windsor.' Tradition says, this was executed in a fortnight, and afforded Her Majesty intire satisfaction. The approbation and encouragement of the two sovereigns, under whose reigns he florished, was a subject of contemporary notoriety; for Ben Jonson, in his celebrated eulogy, thus apostrophises his departed friend :
Sweet swan of Avon, what a sight it were,