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I remember the players have often nientioned " it as an honour to Shakspeare, that in writing " ( whatsoever he penned) he never blotted out a “ line.' My answer hath been, Tould he had blotted

a thousand! which they thought a malevolent speech. I had not told posterity this, but for



that in writing ( whatsoever he penned.) he never blotted out a line.] This is not true. They only fay in their

preface to his plays, that

w his mind and hand went together, and what he thought, he uttered with that eafinefs, that we have scarce received from him a.blot in his

papers. On this Mr. Pope observes, that "there never was a more groundless report, or to the contrary, of which

there are more undeniable evidences. As, the comedy of The Merry Wives of Windfor, which he entirely new, writ; The History of Henry the Sixth, which was first published under the title of The Contention of York and Lancalier ; and that of Henry V. extremely improved; that of Hamlet enlarged to almost as much again as at first, and many others.

Surely this is a very firange kind of argument. In the first place this was not a report, (unless by thạt word we are to understand relation, but a positive assertion, grounded on the best evidence that the nature of the subject admitted ; namely, ocular proof. The players fay, in fub

. ftance, that Shakspeare had fuch a happiness of expression, that, as they collect from his papers, he had seldom occafion to alter the first words he fet down; in consequence of which they found foarce a blot in his writings. And how is this refuted by Mr. Pope? By telling us, that a great many of his plays were enlarged by their author. .

Allowing this to be true, which is by no means certain, if he had written twenty plays, cach consisting of one thousand lines, and afterwards added to each of them a thousand more, would it therefore follow, that he had not written the first thoufand with facility and correctness, or that those must have been necessarily expunged, because new matter was added to them, ? Certainly not.-- But the truth is, it is by no means clear that our author did enlarge all the plays mentioned by Mr. Pope, if even that would prove the point intended to be established, Mr. Pope was evidently deceived by the quarto

" their ignorance, who chose that circumstance to “ commend their friend by, wherein he most fault“ ed: and to justify my own candour, for I loved " the man, and do honour his memory, on this side

idolatry, as much as any. He was, indeed, ho" neft, and of an open and free nature, had an “ excellent fancy, brave notions, and gentle expres' fions; wherein he flowed with that facility, that ** sometimes it was necessary he should be stopped:

Sufflaminandus erat, as Augustus said of Haterius. “ His wit was in his own power; would the rule

of it had been so too. Many times he fell into * those things which could not escape laughter; as " when he said in the person of Cæfar one speak"ing to him,

" Cæsar thou doft me wrong!

" He replied:

“ Cæsar did never wrong, but with just cause. copies. From the play of Henry V. being more perfect in the folio edition than in the quarto, nothing follows but that the quarto impression of tħat piece was printed from a mutilated and imperfect copy, stolen from the theatre or taken down by ear during the representation. What have been called the quarto copies of the Second and Third Parts of King Henry Vi. were in fact two old plays written before the time of Shakspeare, and entitled The First Part of the Contention of the two houses of York and Lancaster, &c. and The true trageily of Richard Duke of York, co 'on which he constructed two new plays; just as on the old plays of King. John, and The Taming of a Shrew, he formed two other plays with nearly the fame titles. See The Differtation in Vol xv.

The tragedy of Hamlet in the first edition, ( now extant,.) that of 1604, is said to be "enlarged to almost as much again as it was, according to the true and perfect copy." What is VOL. I.


p. 205.

" and such like, which were ridiculous. But he

redeemed his vices with his virtues : there was

ever more in him to be praised than to be par" doned."

As for the passage which he' mentions out of Shakspeare, there is somewhat like it in Julius Cæfar, but without the absurdity; nor did I ever meet with it in any edition that I have seen, as quoted by Mr. Jonson. *

Besides his plays in this edition, there are two or three ascribed to him by Mr. Langbaine,' which

to be collected from this, but that there was a former imperfe&t edition (I believe in the year 1602)! that the one we are now speaking of was enlarged to as much again as it was in the former mutilated impression, and that this is the genuine and perfect copy, the other imperfect and fpurious ?

The Merry Wives of Windsor, indeed, and Romeo and Juliet, and perhaps Love's Labour's Loft, our author appears to have altered and amplified; and to King Richard II. what is called the parliament-scene, seems to have been added; (though this last is by no mcans certain :) but neither will thefe augmentations and new-modellings disprove what has been afierted by Shakspeare's fellow-comedians concerning the facility of his writings and the exquisite felicity of his first expreflions.

Tke hally sketch of The Merry Wives of Windfor, which he is said to have compofed in a fortnight, he might have written without a blot; and three or four years afterwards, when he cliofe to dilate his plan, he might have composed the additional fienes without a bior likewife. In a word, fuppoling even that Nature had 110t endowed him with that rich vein which he unquestionably possessed, he who in little more than twenty year's produces thirty-four or thirty-five pieces for the stage, has certainly not much time for expunging.

MALONE. nor did I ever meet with it in any edition that I have feen, as quoted by Mr. Jonfer..] See Mr. Tyrwhitt's note, Vol. Xvill. p. 78. n. 4. MALONE.

{ Bifices his plays in this edition, there are two or three ascribed to him by Mr. Langbaine, ] The Birth of Merlin, 1662, written




I have never seen, and know nothing of. He writ likewise Venus and Adonis, and Tarquin and Lucrece, in stanzas, which have been printed in a late collection of poems. As to the character given of by W. Rowley; the old play of King John in two parts, 1591, on which Shakspeare formed his King John; and The Arraignment of Paris, 1584, written by George Peele.

The editor of the folio 1664, fubjoined to the 36 dra. mas publifhed in 1623, seven plays, four of which had appeared in Shakspeare's life-time with his name in the title-page, viz. Pericles, Prince of Tyre, 1609, Sir John Oldcastle, 1600, The London Prodigal, 1605, and The Yorkshire Tragedy, 1608; the three others which they inferted, Lotrine, 1595, Lord Cromwell, 1602, and The Puritan, 1607, having been printed with the initials W. S. in the title-page, the editor chose to interpret those letters to mean William Shakspeare, and ascribed them also to our poet. I published an edition of these feven pieces fome years ago, freed in fome measure from the grofs errors with which they had been exhibited in ancient copies, that the public might fee what they contained; and do not hesitate to declare my firm persuasion that of Locrine, Lord Cromwell, Sir John oldcastle, the London Prodigal, and The Puritan, Shakspeare did not write a single line.

How little the booksellers of former times fcrupled to aflix the names of celebrated writers to the productions of others, even in the life-iime of such celebrated authors, may be collected from Heywood's Tranflations of Ovid, which in 1612, while Shakspeare was yet living, were af. cribed to him. See Vol. X. p. 321, n. 1, * With the dead they would certainly make fill more free. · This book" (says Anthony Wood, speaking of a work to which the name of Sir Philip Sydney was prefixed) - coming out fo

so late, it is to be inquired whether Sir Philip Sydney's name is not fer to it for fale-fake, being a usual thing in these days to fet a great name to a book or books, by sharking booksellers, or snívelling writers, to get bread." Athen. Ox01. Vol. I.


208. MALONE.

in a late colletion of poems, ] In the forth volume of State Poems, printed in 1707. Mr. Rowe did not go be

Mr. Malone's edit, of our auibor's works, 1990.


him by Ben Jonson, there is a good deal true in it: but I believe it may be as well expressed by what Horace says of the first Romans, who wrote tragedy upon the Greek models, (or indeed translated them,) in his epistle to Augustus:

naturâ fublimis & acer:
" Nam fpirat tragicum fatis, & feliciter audet,

“ Sed turpem putat in chartis metuitque lituram." As I have not proposed to myself to enter into a large and complete criticism upon Shakspeare's works, so I will only take the liberty, with all due submission to the judgment of others, to observe some of those things I have been pleased with in looking him over.

His plays are properly to be distinguished only into comedies and tragedies.

Those which are called histories, and even some of his comedies, are really tragedies, with a run or mixture of comedy amongst them.' That way of tragi-comedy was yond A late Collection of Poems, and does not feem to have known that Shakspeare also wrote 154 Sonnets, and a poem entitled A Lover's Complaint. MALONE.

are really tragedies, with a run or mixture of comedy amongst them. ] Heywood, our author's contemporary, has stated the best defence that can be made for his intermixing lighter with the more serious scenes of the dramas.


may likewise be objected, why amongst fad and grave histories I have here and there inserted fabulous jefts and tales favouring of lightnefs. I answer I have therein imitated our historical and comical poets, that write to the stage, who, left the auditory should be dulled with serious courfes, which are merely weighty and material, in every ac present fome Zany, with his mimick action to breed in the lefs capable mirth and laughter; for they that write to all, muft strive to please all. And as such fashion themselves to a multitude diversely addicted, so I to an universality of readers diversely disposed." Pref, to History of Wonien, 1624.



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