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“The silence of Meares, in 1598, regarding any such play by Shakespeare, is also important; had it then been written, he could scarcely have failed to mention it; so that we have strong negative evidence of its non-existence before the appearance of Palladis Tamia.' When Sir John Harrington, in his . Metamorphosis of Ajax,' (1596,) says, * 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 her,' he meant the old • Taming of a Shrew,' reprinted in the same year."
The original play and the reconstruction of it, by Shakespeare, are thus contrasted by Mr. Knight:
“ The Taming of a Shrew,' upon which the comedy attributed to Shakespeare is undoubtedly founded, first appeared in 1594, under the following title : “A pleasant conceited Historie called the taming of a Shrew. As it was sundry times acted by the Right honourable the Earle of Pembroke his servants. Printed at London by Peter Short, and are to be sold by Cuthbert Burbie, at his shop at the Royal Exchange, 1594.* The comedy opens with an Induction, the characters of which are a Lord, Slie, a Tapster, Page, Players, and Huntsmen. The incidents are precisely the same as those of the play which we must call Shakespeare's. There is this difference in the management of the character of Sly in the original comedy, that, during the whole of the performance of the • Taming of a Shrew,' he occasionally makes his remarks; and is finally carried back to the alehouse door in a state of sleep: In Shakespeare we lose this most diverting personage before the end of the first act.
After our Poet had fairly launched him in the Induction, and given a tone to his subsequent demeanour during the play, the performer of the character was perhaps allowed to continue the dialogue extemporally. We doubt, by ihe way, whether this would have been permitied after Shakespeare had prescribed that the clowns should “speak no more than what is set down for them.'
“ The scene of the old • Taming of a Shrew' is laid at Athens; that of Shakespeare's at Padua. The Athens of the one and the Padua of the other are resorts of learning; the old play opening thus:
Welcome to Athens, my beloved friend,
To Plato's schools, and Aristotle's walks. Alfonso, a merchant of Athens, (the Baptista of Shakespeare,) has three daughters, Kate, Emelia, and Phylema. Aurelius, son of the Duke of Cestus, (Sestos,) is enamoured of one, Polidor of another, and Ferando (the Petruchio of Shakespeare) of Kate, the Shrew. The merchant hath sworn, before he will allow his two younger daughters to be addressed by suitors, thal
His cldest daughter first shall be espous'd. The wooing of the Kate of the old play by Ferando is exactly in the same spirit as the wooing by Petruchio in this play; so is the marriage; so the Lenten entertainment of the bride in Ferando's country-house; so the scene with the Tailor and Haberdasher; so the prostrate obedience of the tamed Shrew. The under-plot, however, is essentially different. The lovers of the younger sisters do not woo them in assumed characters; though a merchant is brought to personate the Duke of Cestus. The real duke arrives, as Vincentio arrives in our play, to discover the imposture; and his indignation occupies much of the latter part of the action, with sufficient tediousness. All parties are ultimately happy and pleased ; and the comedy ends with the wager, as in Shake. speare, about the obedience of the several wives, the Shrew pronouncing a homily upon the virtue and beauty of submission, which sounds much more hypocritical even than that of the Kate of our Poet. There cannot be a doubt that the latter author had the original play before liim; that he sometimes adopted particular images and forms of expression,-occasionally whole lines; but that he invariably took the incidents of those scenes in which the process of taming the shrew is carried forward. There can only be ne solution of the motives which led to this bold adaptation of the performance of another, and that not a contemptible production like the Famous Vic. tories,' upon which Henry IV. and HENRY V. may be said to have been founded. Shakespeare found the old • Taming of a Shrew'a favourite, in its rude mirth and high-sounding language; and in presenting a nearly similar plot to the audience at his own theatre, he was careful not to disturb their recollections of what had afforded thein the principal entertainment in what he had to remodel. Infinitely more spirited and characteristic was the drama which he produced; but it would leave the same impressions as the older play upon the majority of his audience. They would equally enjoy the surprise and self-satisfaction of the drunken man when he became a lord; equally relish the rough wooing of the master of the taming school;' rejoice at the dignity of the more worthy gender when the poor woman was denied beef and mustard ;' and hold their sides with convulsive laughter, when the Tailor was driven off with his gown and the Haberdasher with his cap. Shakespeare took these incidents as he found them; perhaps, for the purposes of the stage, he could not have improved them."
The story of Christopher Sly, again, is worked up from one of those pleasant old stories which are either founded on facts that have actually occurred in various countries and ages, or have else travelled along from generation to generation, and across the globe, from ancient or eastern tradition or invention.
Mr. Singer has summed up, with his usual perspicuous brevity, much of the curious learning on this subject, collected by the several editors, as well as their leading opinions on the comedy itself:
• There is an old anonymous play extant with the same title, first printed in 1596, which (as in the case of King John and HENRY V.) Shakespeare rewrote, ' adopting the order of the scenes, and inserting little more than a few lines which he thought worth preserving, or was in too much haste to alter.' Malone, with great probability, suspects the old play to have been the production of George Peele or Robert Greene. Pope ascribed it to Shakespeare, and his opinion was current for many years, until a more exact examination of the original piece (which is of extreme rarity) undeceived those who were better versed in the literature of the time of Elizabeth than that poet. It is remarkable that the Induction, as it is called, has not been continued by Shakespeare so as to complete the story of Sly, or at least it has not come down to us; and Pope therefore supplied the deficiencies in this play from the elder performance. They have been degraded from their station in the text, as in some places
* We copy this title from Mr. Collier's “ Ilistory of Dramatic Poetry." This edition was unknown to the commentators. That of 1606, which Stevens reprinted, has no material variations from this very rare copy.
+ There was a second edition of the anonymous play in 1607; and the curious reader inay consult it, in “Six old plays upon which Shakespeare founded," etc.. published by Stevens.
incompatible with the fable and dramatis personæ of Shakespeare ; the reader will, however, be pleased to find them subjoined to the notes. The origin of this amusing fiction may probably be traced to the sleeper awakened of the Arabian Nights ;' but similar stories are told of Philip, the good Duke of Burgundy, and of the Emperor Charles the Ffth. Marco Paulo relates something similar of the Ismaelian prince Alo-eddin, or chief of the mountainous region, whom he calls, in common with other writers of his time, the old man of the mountain.' Warton refers to a collection of short comic stories in prose, set forth by maister Richard Edwards, master of her majesties revels in 1570,' (which he had seen in the collection of Collins, the poet,) for the immediate source of the fable of the old drama. The incidents related by Heuterus, in his 'Rerum Burgund.,' lib. iv., are also to be found in Goulart's • Admirable and Memorable Histories, translated by E. Grimeston, quarto, 1607. The story of Charles V. is related by Sir Richard Barckley, in ‘A Discourse on the Felicitie of Man,' printed in 1598; but the frolic, as Mr. Holt White observes, seems better suited to the gayety of the gallant Francis, or the revelry of our own boisterous Henry.
“Of the story of the TAMING OF THE SAREw no immediate English source has been pointed out. Mr. Douce has referred to a novel in the Piacevoli Notti' of Straparola, notte viii. fav. 2, and to · El Conde Lucanor,' by Don Juan Manuel, Prince of Castile, who died in 1362,--as containing similar stories. He observes that the character of Petruchio bears some resemblance to that of Pisardo in Straparola's novel, notte vii. fav. 7.
Schlegel remarks that this play has the air of an Italian comedy ;' and indeed the love-intrigue of Lucentio is derived from the Suppositi of Ariosto, through the translation of George Gascoigne. Johnson has observed the skilful combination of the two plots, by which such a variety and succession of comic incident is ensured, without running into perplexity. Petruchio is a bold and happy shetch of a humourist, in which Schlegel thinks the character and peculiarities of an Englishman are visible. It affords another example of Shakespeare's deep insight into human character, that in the last scene the meek and mild Bianca shows she is not without a spice of self-will
. The play inculcates a fine moral lesson, which is not always taken as it should be. “ Every one who has a true relish for genuine humour, must regret that we are deprived of Shakespeare's continuation of this Interlude of Sly, who is indeed of kin to Sancho Panza.' We think, with Hazlitt, the character of Sly, and the remarks with which he accompanies the play, as good as the play itself.'”
As this play was not printed during the author's life, but appeared first in the folio of 1623, there are no clashing various readings, other than such as have been proposed to correct some evident or probable misprints, which are neither very gross nor numerous.
SCENE I.—Before an Alehouse on a Heath.
Enter Hostess and Sly.
Sly. Y'are a baggage : the Slys are no rogues;
world slide. Sessa! Host. You will not pay for the glasses you have Lord. Thou art a fool : if Echo were as fleet. burst?
I would esteem him worth a dozen such. Sly. No, not a denier. Go, by S. Jeronimy, But sup them well, and look unto them all : Go to thy cold bed, and warm thee.
To-morrow I intend to hunt again. Host. I know my remedy; I must go fetch the 1 Hun. I will, my lord. third-borough.
[Exit. Lord. What's here ? one dead, or drunk? See, Sly. Third, or fourth, or fifth borough, I'll an
doth he breathe ? swer him by law. I'll not budge an inch, boy: let 2 Hun. He breathes, my lord. Were he not him come, and kindly.
warm'd with ale, [Lies down on the ground, and falls asleep. This were a bed but cold to sleep so soundly.
Lord. O, monstrous beast! how like a swine he Wind horns. Enter a Lord from hunting, with
Grim death, how foul and loathsome is thine image! Lord. Huntsman, I charge thee, tender well my Sirs, I will practise on this drunken man. hounds :
What think you, if he were convey'd to bed, Brach Merriman,—the poor cur is emboss'd, Wrapp'd in sweet clothes, rings put upon his fingers, And couple Clowder with the deep-mouth'd brach. A most delicious banquet by his bed, Saw'st thou not, boy, how Silver made it good And brave attendants near him when he wakes, At the hedge corner, in the coldest fault?
Would not the beggar then forget himself? I would not lose the dog for twenty pound.
1 Hun. Believe me, lord, I think he cannot 1 Hun. Why, Belman is as good as he, my
choose. lord ;
2 Hun. It would seem strange unto him when He cried upon it at the merest loss.
he wak'd. And twice to-day pick'd out the dullest scent : Lord. Even as a flattering dream, or worthless Trust me, I take him for the better dog.
Then take him up, and manage well the jest.
your honour will command ?
hands? Some one be ready with a costly suit, And ask him what apparel he will wear; Another tell him of his hounds and horse, And that his lady mourns at his disease. Persuade him, that he hath been lunatic ; And, when he says he is,—say, that he dreams, For he is nothing but a mighty lord. This do, and do it kindly, gentle sirs : It will be pastime passing excellent, If it be husbanded with modesty. 1 Hun. My lord, I warrant you, we will play our
part, As he shall think, by our true diligence, He is no less than what we say he is.
Lord. Take him up gently, and to bed with him, And each one to his office when he wakes.
[Sly is borne out. A trumpet sounds. Sirrah, go see what trumpet 'tis that sounds :
[Exit Servant. Belike, some noble gentleman, that means, Travelling some journey, to repose him here.
An it please your honour, Players that offer service to your lordship.
Lord. Bid them come near.
Lord. Go, sirrah, take them to the buttery, And give them friendly welcome every one : Let them want nothing that my house affords.
[Ereunt Servant and Players. Sirrah, go you to Bartholomew my page,
[To a Servant. And see him dress'd in all suits like a lady : That done, conduct him to the drunkard's chamber; And call him madam, do him obeisance : Tell him from me, as he will win my love, He bear himself with honourable action, Such as he hath observ'd in noble ladies Unto their lords by them accomplished: Such duty to the drunkard let him do, With soft low tongue, and lowly courtesy ; And say,--What is’t your bonour will command, Wherein your lady, and your humble wife May show her duty, and make known her love? And then, with kind embracements, tempting kisses, And with declining head into his bosom, Bid him shed tears, as being overjoy'd To see her noble lord restor'd to health, Who for this seven years hath esteemed him No better then a poor and loathsome beggar. And if the boy have not a woman's gift, To rain a shower of commanded tears, An onion will do well for such a shift, Which, in a napkin being close convey'd, Shall in despite enforce a watery eye. See this despatch'd with all the baste thou canst : Anon I'll give thee more instructions.
[Exit Serrant. I know, the boy will well usurp the grace, Voice, gait, and action of a gentlewoman: I long to hear him call the drunkard husband, And how my men will stay themselves from laughter, When they do homage to this simple peasant. I'll in to counsel them : haply, my presence May well abate the over-merry spleen, Which otherwise would grow into extremes.
Now, fellows, you are welcome. Players. We thank your honour. Lord. Do you intend to stay with me to-night ? 2 Play. So please your lordship to accept our
duty. Lord. With all my heart. This fellow I re
member, Since once he play'd a farmer's eldest son :'Twas where you woo'd the gentlewoman so well. I have forgot your name; but, sure, Was aptly fitted, and naturally perform’d.
1 Play. I think, 'twas Soto that your honour
SCENE II.-A Bedchamber in the Lord's House. Sly is discovered, with Attendants ; some with ap
parel, others with bason, ewer, and appurtenances. Enter LORD, dressed like a Servant. Sly. For God's sake, a pot of small ale. 1 Serv. Will't please your lordship drink a cup
of sack? 2 Serv. Will't please your honour taste of these
conserves ? 3 Serv. What raiment will your honour wear to
Lord. 'Tis very true: thou didst it excellent. Well, you are come to me in happy time, The rather for I have some sport in hand, Wherein your cunning can assist me much. There is a lord will hear you play to-night; But I am doubtful of your modesties, Lest, over-eyeing of his odd behaviour, (For yet his honour never heard a play,) You break into some merry passion, Ard so offend him; for I tell you, sirs, If you should smile he grows impatient. i Play. Fear not, my lord : we can contain our
selves, Were he the veriest antic in the world.
Sly. I am Christophero Sly; call not me honour, por lordship: I ne'er drank sack in my life; and if you give me any conserves, give me conserves of beef. Ne'er ask me what raiment I'll wear, for I have no more doublets than backs, no more stockings than legs, nor no more shoes than feet; nay, sometime, more feet than shoes, or such shoes as my toes look through the overleather. Lord. Heaven cease this idle humour in your
honour ! 0! that a mighty man, of such descent, Of such possessions, and so high esteem, Should be infused with so foul a spirit !
Sly. What! would you make me mad? Am not I Christopher Sly, old Sly's son, of Burtonheath; by birth a pedlar, by education a cardmaker, by transmutation a bear-herd, and now by