« AnteriorContinuar »
Printed for J. Nichols and Son; F. C. and J. Rivington; J. Stockdale;
* TITUS ANDRONICUS.] It is observable, that this play is printed in the quarto of 1611, with exactness equal to that of the other books of those times. The first edition was probably corrected by the author, so that here is very little room for conjecture or emendation; and accordingly none of the editors have much molested this piece with officious criticism.
There is an authority for ascribing this play to Shakspeare, which I think a very strong one, though not made use of, as I remember, by any of his commentators. It is given to him, among other plays, which are undoubtedly his, in a little book, called Palladis Tamia, or the Second Part of Wit's Commonwealth, written by Francis Meres, Maister of Arts, and printed at London in 1598. The other tragedies, enumerated as his in that book, are King John, Richard the Second, Henry the Fourth, Richard the Third, and Romeo and Juliet. The comedies are, the Midsummer-Night's Dream, the Gentlemen of Verona, the Comedy of Errors, the Love's Labour's Lost, the Love's Labour Won, and the Merchant of Venice. I have given this list, as it serves so far to ascertain the date of these plays; and also, as it contains a notice of a comedy of Shakspeare, the Love's Labour Won, not included in any collection of his works; nor, as far as I know, attributed to him by any other authority. If there should be a play in being with that title, though without Shakspeare's name, I should be glad to see it; and I think the editor would be sure of the publick thanks, even if it should prove no better than the Love's Labour's Lost. TYRWHITT.
The work of criticism on the plays of our author, is, I believe, generally found to extend or contract itself in proportion to the value of the piece under consideration; and we shall always do little where we desire but little should be done. I know not that this piece stands in need of much emendation; though it might be treated as condemned criminals are in some countries,-any experiments might be justifiably made on it.
The author, whoever he was, might have borrowed the story, the names, the characters, &c. from an old ballad, which is entered in the books of the Stationers' Company immediately after the play on the same subject. "John Danter] Feb. 6, 1593. A book entitled A Noble Roman Historie of Titus Andronicus." "Enter'd unto him also the ballad thereof."
Entered again April 19, 1602, by Tho. Pavyer.
The reader will find it in Dr. Percy's Reliques of Ancient English Poetry, Vol. I. Dr. Percy adds, that "there is reason to conclude that this play was rather improved by Shakspeare with