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Taming OF THE SHREW.]-We have hitherto supposed Shakespeare the author of The Taming of the Shrew, but his property in it is extremely disputable. I will give my opinion, and the reasons on which it is founded. I suppose then the present play not originally the work of Shakespeare, but restored by him to the stage, with the whole Induction of the Tinker; and some other occasional improvements ; especially in the character of Petruchio. It is very obvious that the Induction and the Play were either the works of different hands, or written at a great interval of time. The former is in our author's best manner, and a great part of the latter in his worst, or even below it. Dr. Warburton declares it to be certainly spurious ; and without doubt, supposing it to have been written by Shakespeare, it must have been one of his earliest productions. Yet it is not mentioned in the list of his works by Meres in 1598.
I have met with a facetious piece of Sir Jobn Harington, printed in 1596, (and possibly there may be an earlier edition,) called The Metamorphosis of Ajax, where I suspect an allusion to the old play: * 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 countrey, save he that hath bir.”-I am aware a modern linguist may object that the word book does not at present seem drarratic, but it was once technically so : Gosson, in bis Schoole of Abuse, containing a pleasaunt Invective against Poets, Pipers, Players, Jesters, and such like Caterpillars of
Commonwealth, 1579, mentions“ twoo prose bookcs layed at the Bell-Sauage :” and Hearne teils us, in a ote at the end of William of Worcester, that he had seen
MS. in the nature of a Play or Interlude, intitled The Booke of Sir Thomas Moore.