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Sung thee asleep, his loving breast thy pillow;
Enter Attendants, with Aaron, 1 Rom. You sad Andronici, have done with woes; Give sentence on this execrable wretch, That hath been breeder of these dire events. Luc. Set him breast-deep in earth, and famish
2 Shed yet some small drops
Because kind nature doth require so :) Thus, in Romeo and Juliet:
fond nature bids us all lament," Steevens. to see him fasten'd in the earth.] That justice and cookery may go hand in hand to the conclusion of this play, in Ravenscroft's alteration of it, Aaron is at once racked and roasted on the stage. Steevens,
Would I perform, if I might have my will';19 2017
* See justice done to Aaron,] The quarto 1600 reads-done on Aaron. Todd.
s Tben, afterwards, to order, &c.] • Then will we apply ourselves to regulate the state. MALONE.
6 This is one of those plays which I have always thought, with the better judges, ought not to be acknowledged in the list of Shakspeare's genuine pieces. And, perhaps, I may give a proof to strengthen this opinion, that may put the matter out of question. Ben Jonson, in the Introduction to his BartholomewFair, which made its first appearance in the year 1614, couples Jeronymo and Andronicus together in reputation, and speaks of them as plays then twenty-five or thirty years standing. Consequently Andronicus must have been on the stage before Shakspeare left Warwickshire, to come and reside in London : and I never heard it so much as intimated, that he had turned his genius to stage-writing before he associated with the players, and became one of their body. However, that he afterwards introduced it a-new on the stage, with the addition of his own masterly touches, is incontestable, and thence, I presume, grew his title to it. The diction in general, where he has not taken the pains to raise it, is even beneath that of the Three Parts of Henry VI, The story we are to suppose merely fictitious. Andronicus is a sur-name of pure Greek derivation. Tamora is neither men, tioned by Ammianus Marcellinus, nor any body else that I can find. Nor had Rome, in the time of her emperors, any war with the Goths that I know of: not till after the translation of the empire, I mean to Byzantium. And yet the scene of our play is laid at Rome, and Saturninus is elected to the empire at the Capitol. THEOBALD,
All the editors and criticks agree with Mr. Theobald in supposing this play spurious. I see no reason for differing from them; for the colour of the style is wholly different from that of the other plays, and there is an attempt at regular versification, and artificial closes, not always inelegant, yet seldom pleasing. The barbarity of the spectacles, and the general massacre, which are here exhibited, can scarcely be conceived tolerable to any audience; yet we are told by Jonson, that they were not only borne but praised. That Shakspeare wrote any part, though Theobald declares it incontestable, I see no reason for believing.
The testimony produced at the beginning of this play, by which it is ascribed to Shakspeare, is by no means equal to the argument against its authenticity, arising from the total difference of conduct, language, and sentiments, by which it stands apart from all the rest. Meres had probably no other evidence than that of a title-page, which, though in our time it be sufficient, was then of no great authority; for all the plays which were rejected by the first collectors of Shakspeare's works, and admitted in later editions, and again rejected by the critical editors, had Shakspeare's name on the title, as we must suppose, by the fraudulence of the printers, who, while there were yet no gazettes, nor advertisements, nor any means of circulating literary intelligence, could usurp at pleasure any celebrated name. Nor had Shakspeare any interest in detecting the imposture, as none of his fame or profit was produced by the press.
The chronology of this play does not prove it not to be Shakspeare's. If it had been written twenty-five years in 1614, it might have been written when Shakspeare was twenty-five years old. When he left Warwickshire I know not, but at the age of twenty-five it was rather too late to fly for deer-stealing.
Ravenscroft, who in the reign of James II. revised this play, and restored it to the stage, tells us, in his preface, from a theatrical tradition, I suppose, which in his time might be of sufficient authority, that this play was touched in different parts by Shakspeare, but written by some other poet. I do not find Shakspeare's louches very discernible. Johnson.
There is every reason to believe, that Shakspeare was not the author of this play. I have already said enough upon the subject.
Mr. Upton declares peremptorily, that it ought to be flung out of the list of our author's works: yet Mr. Warner, with all his laudable zeal for the memory of his school-fellow, when it may seem to serve his purpose, disables his friend's judgment !
Indeed a new argument has been produced ; it must have been written by Shakspeare, because at that time other people wrote in the same manner *!
It is scarcely worth observing, that the original publisher had nothing to do with any of the rest of Shakspeare's works. Dr. Johnson observes the copy to be as correct as other books of the time ; and probably revised by the author himself; but surely Shakspeare would not have taken the greatest care about infinitely the worst of his performances ! Nothing more can be said, except that it is printed by Heminge and Condell in the first
folio : but not to insist, that it had been contrary to their interest to have rejected any play, usually called Shakspeare's, though they might know it to be spurious ; it does not appear, that their knowledge is at all to be depended on; for it is certain, that in the first copies they had entirely omitted the play of Troilus and Cressida.
It has been said, that this play was first printed for G. Eld, 1594, but the original publisher was Edward White. I have seen in an old catalogue of Tales, &c. the history of Titus Andronicus.
FARMER. : I have already given the reader a specimen of the changes made in this play by Ravenscroft, who revised it with success in the year 1687; and may add, that when the Empress stabs her child, he has supplied the Moor with the following lines :
“ She has outdone me, ev'n in mine own art,
“ Give it me, I'll eat it." It rarely happens that a dramatick piece is altered with the same spirit that it was written ; but Titus Andronicus has undoubtedly fallen into the hands of one whose feelings and imagination were congenial with those of its original author.
In the course of the notes on this performance, I have pointed out a passage or two which, in my opinion, sufficiently prove it to have been the work of one who was acquainted both with Greek and Roman literature. It is likewise deficient in such internal marks as distinguish the tragedies of Shakspeare from those of other writers ; I mean, that it presents no struggles to introduce
Capell thought Edward III. was Shakspeare's because nobody could write so, and Titus Andronicus because every body could! Well fare his heart, for he is a jewel of a reasoner!
FARMER. † The original owner of the copy was John Danter, who likewise printed the first edition of Romeo and Juliet in 1597, and is introduced as a character in The Return from Parnassus, &c. 1606. STEVENS.
the vein of humour so constantly interwoven with the business of his serious dramas. It can neither boast of his striking excellencies, nor his acknowledged defects; for it offers not a single inter. esting situation, a natural character, or a string of quibbles from first to last. That Shakspeare should have written without cominanding our attention, moving our passions, or sporting with words, appears to me as improbable, as that he should have studiously avoided dissyllable and trisyllable terminations in this play, and in no other.
Let it likewise be remembered that this piece was not published with the name of Shakspeare till after his death. The quarto in 1611 is anonymous.
Could the use of particular terms employed in no other of his pieces be admitted as an argument that he was not its author, more than one of these might be found; among which is palliament for robe, a Latinism which I have not niet with elsewhere in any English writer, whether ancient or modern ; though it must have originated from the mint of a scholar. I may add, that Titus Andronicus will be found on examination to contain a greater number of classical allusions, &c. than are scattered over all the rest of the performances on which the seal of Shakspeare is indubitably fixed.-Not to write any more about and about this suspected thing, let me observe that the glitter of a few passages in it has perhaps misled the judgment of those who ought to have known, that both sentiment and description are more easily produced than the interesting fabrick of a tragedy. Without these advantages many plays have succeeded ; and many have failed, in which they have been dealt about with the most lavish profusion. It does not follow, that he who can carve a freize with minuteness, elegance, and ease, has a conception equal to the extent, propriety, and grandeur of a temple. Steevens.
Dr. Johnson is not quite accurate in what he has asserted concerning the seven spurious plays, which the printer of the folio in 1664 improperly admitted into his volume. The name of Shakspeare appears only in the title-pages of four of them; Pericles, Sir John Oldcastle, The London Prodigal, and The Yorkshire Tragedy.
To the word palliament mentioned by Mr. Steevens in the preceding note, may be added the words accite, candidatus, and sacred in the sense of accursed ; and the following allusions, and scraps of Latin, which are found in this lamentable tragedy;
“ As hateful as Cocytus' misty mouth —"