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SATURNINUS, Son to the late Emperor of Rome,
and afterwards daclared Emperor himself. Bassianus, Brother to Saturninus, in love with Lavinia. Titus Andronicus, a noble Roman, General against the
Goths, Marcus Andronicus, Tribune of the People, and Brother
to Titus. Marcus, Quintus,
Sons to Titus Andronicus.
Tamora, Queen of the Goths, and afterwards married to
Saturninus. Lavinia, Daughter to Titus Andronicus. Nurse, with a Black a-moor Child. Senators, Judges, Officers, Soldiers, and other Attendants.
SCENE, Rome ; and the Country near it.
And countrymen, my loving followers, TITUS ANDRONICUS, . Аст І. SCE N É I.
Before the Capitol in Rome. Enter the Tribunes and Senators aloft, as in the senate.
Enter Saturninus and bis followers, at one door; and Bassianus and his followers, at the other, with drum and colours.
Defend the justice of my cause with arms ;
" It is obfervable, 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 acá cordingly none of the editors have much molested this picce with oficious criticism.
JOHNSON. There is an authority for ascribing this play to Shakespeare, which I think a decisive 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 f Wit's Commonwealıb, written by Francis Meeres, Maister of arts, and printed at London in 1598. The other tragedies, enumerated as his in that book, are King Jobn, Richard the second, Henry the fourth, Richard the ikird, and Romeo and Juliet. The comedies are, the Midsummer Night's Dream, the Gentlemen of Verona, the Erro's, the Love's Labour loft, the Love's Labour won, and the Merchant of Venice. I have giver D : 2
Wore the imperial diadem of Rome;
with this indignity. Baf. Romans, friends, followers, favourers of my
this lift, as it serves so far to ascertain the date of these plays ; and also, as it contains a notice of a comedy of Shakespeare, 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 hould be a play in being, with that title, though without Shakespeare's name, I should be glad to see it ; and I think the editor would be sure of the public thanks, even if it should prove no better than the Love's Labour lijt.
Observations and Conjectures, &c. printed at Oxford, 1766. The work of criticism on the plays of this author, is, I believe, generally found to extend or contract itself, in proportion to the value of the piece under confideration ; and we shall always do little where we desire but little should be done. I know not, that this piece (lands 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, borrowed the story, the names, the characters, &c. from an old ballad, the age of which cannot be exaaly aftertained. The reader who is curious about such a wretched piece, will find the original in Dr. Percy's collection.
A special party, have by common voice,
and abate your strength;
thoughts ! Baf. Marcus Andronicus, so I do affy In thy uprightness and integrity, And so I love and honour thee and thine ; Thy noble brother Titus, and his sons, And her, to whom our thoughts are humbled all, Gracious Lavinia, Rome's rich ornament, That I will here dismiss my loving friends, And to my fortunes, and the people's favour, Commit my cause in ballance to be weigh'd.