« PreviousContinue »
And in fact there is such an old anonymous play in Mr. Pope's list: “A pleasant conceited history, called, The Taming of a Shrew——sundry times acted by the Earl of Pembroke his servants.” Which seems to have been republished by the remains of that company in 1607, when Shakespeare's copy appeared at the Black-Friars or the Globe.-Nor let this seem derogatory from the character of our poet. There is no reason to believe that he wanted to claim the play as his own ; for it was not even printed till some years after his death ; but he merely revived it on his stage as a manager.
In support of what I have said relative to this play, let me only observe, that the author of Hamlet speaks of Gonzago, and his wife Baptista ; but the author of The Taming of the Shrew knew Baptista to be the name of a
Mr. Capell indeed made me doubt, by declaring the authenticity of it to be confirmed by the testimony of Sir Aston Cockayn. I knew Sir Aston was much acquainted with the writers immediately subsequent to Shakespeare ; and I was not inclined to dispute his authority : but how was I surprised, when I found that Cockayn ascribes nothing more to Shakespeare, than the Induction-Wincot-Ale and the Beggar! I hope this was only a slip of Mr. Capell's memory.
FARMER The following is Sir Aston's Epigram :
TO MR. CLEMENT FISHER, OF WINCOT.
Shakespeare your Wincot-ale hath much renown'd,
Sleeping) that there needed not many a word
Did put Kit Sly into such lordly trances :
Sir A. Cockayn's Poems, 1659, p. 124.
In spite of the great deference which is due from every commentator to Dr. Farmer's judgment, I own I cannot concur with him on the present occasion. I know not to
whom I could impute this comedy, if Shakespeare was not its author. I think his hand is visible in almost every scene, though perhaps not so evidently as in those which pass between Katharine and Petruchio.
I once thought that the name of this play might have been taken from an old story, entitled, The Wyf lapped in Morells Skin, or The Taming of a Shrew; but I have since discovered among the entries in the books of the Stationers' Company the following : “Peter Shorte] May 2, 1594, a pleasaunt conceyted hystorie, called, The Taminge of a Shrowe.” It is likewise entered to Nich. Ling, Jan. 22, 1606; and to John Smythwicke, Nov. 19, 1607.
It was no uncommon practice among the authors of the age of Shakespeare, to avail themselves of the titles of ancient performances. Thus, as Mr. Warton has observed, Spenser sent out his Pastorals under the title of The Shepherd's Kalendar, a work which had been printed by Wynken de Worde, and reprinted about twenty years before these poems of Spenser appeared, viz. 1559.
Dr. Percy, in the first volume of his Reliques of Ancient English Poetry, is of opinion, that The Froličksome Duke or the Tinker's Good Fortune, an ancient ballad in the Pepys' Collection, might have suggested to Shakespeare the Induction for this comedy.
The following story, however, which might have been the parent of all the rest, is related by Burton in his Anatomy of Melancholy, edit. 1632, p. 649 : A Tartar Prince, saith Marcus Polus, Lib. II. cap. 28, called Senex de Montibus, the better to establish his government amongst his subjects, and to keepe them in awe, found a convenient place in a pleasant valley environed with hills, in which he made a delitious parke full of odorifferous flowers and fruits, and a palace full of all worldly contents that could possibly be devised, musicke, pictures, variety of meats, &c. and chose out a certaine young man whom with a soporiferous potion he so benummed, that he perceived nothing; and so, fast asleepe as he was, caused him to be conveied into this faire garden. Where, after he had lived a while in all such pleasures a sensuall man could desire, he cast him into a sleepe againe, and brought him forth, that when he waked he might tell others he had beene in Paradise.”—Marco Paolo, quoted by Burton, was a traveller of the 13th century.
Chance, however, has at last furnished me with the original to which Shakespeare was indebted for his fable nor does this discovery at all dispose me to retract my former opinion ; and I would refer the reader, who is desirous to examine the whole structure of the piece, to Siz old Plays on which Shakespeare founded, &c. published by S. Leacroft, at Charing-Cross.
Beaumont and Fletcher wrote what may be called a sequel to this comedy, viz. The Woman's Prize, or the Tamer Tam’d; in which Petruchio is subdued by a second wife.
Among the books of my friend the late Mr. William Collins of Chichester, now dispersed, was a collection of short comic stories in prose, printed in the black letter under the year 1570 : “ sett forth by maister Richard Edwards, mayster of her Majesties revels.” Among these tales was that of the INDUCTION OF THE TINKER in Shakespeare's Tuming of the Shrew; and perhaps Edwards's story-book was the immediate source from which Shakespeare, or rather the author of the old Taming of a Shrew, drew that diverting apologue. If I recollect right, the circumstances almost tallied with an incident which Heuterus relates from an epistle of Ludovicus Vives to have actually happened at the marriage of Duke Philip the Good of Burgundy, about the year 1440. That perspicuous annalist, who flourished about the year 1580 says, this story was told to Vives by an old officer of the Duke's court.
Our author's Taming of the Shrew was written, I imagine, in 1594. See An Attempt to ascertain the Order of Shakespeare's Plays, Vol. II.
suitors to Bianca.
servants to Lucentio. GRUMIO,
servants to Petruchio. CURTIS, PEDANT, an old fellow set up to personate Vincentio.
KATHARINA, the shrew,
} daughters to Baptista.
Tailor, Haberdasher, and Servants, attending on Bap
tista and Petruchio.
SCENE-sometimes in Padua ; and sometimes in Pe
truchio's house in the country.