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discussed in our Introductions. It is highly probable that Titus Andronicus was printed in 1594, for a play with that title was entered at the Stationers' in February of thar year, and Langbaine, writing in 1691, speaks of an edition of that date. If so, the edition has been lost, no copies of an earlier date than 1600 being now known. In 1597, three of his plays, Romeo and Juliet, Richard II., and Richard III., were published severally in quarto pamphlets. The Romeo and Juliet was evidently a fraudulent edition, and a garbled text. Three years after, the play was reissued, “newly corrected, augmented, and amended." In 1598, two more, The First Part of King Henry IV. and Love's Labour's Lost, came from the press, in the same form as the preceding. The author's name was not given in any of these issues, except the last-named, which was said to be “newly corrected and angmented.” Richard II. and Richard III. were issued again in 1598, and The First Part of Henry IV. in 1599; and in all these cases the author's name was prin'.ed on the title page. The Second Part of Henry IV. was doubtless written before the appearance of the First Part, in 1598, though we hear of no edition of it till 1600. For full statements on all these points, the reader must be again referred to our several Introductions.
Francis Meres has the honour of being the first critic of Shakespeare, that appeared in print. In 1598, he put forth a book entitled “ Palladis Tania, Wit's Treasury, being the Second Part of Wit's Commonwealth.” One division of the work is headed “ A comparative Discourse of our English Poets, with the Greek, Latin, and Italian Poets ;” and in it we have, among divers other references to Shakespeare, the following:
" As the soul of Euphorbus was thought to live in Pythagoras, so the sweet, witty soul of Ovid lives in mellifluous and honey-tongued Shakespeare: witness his Venus and Adonis, his Lucrece, his sugаred Sonnets among his private friends, &c.
“As Plautus and Seneca are accounted the best for comedy and tragedy among the Latins ; so Shakespeare among the English is the most excellent in both kinds for the stage. For comedy, witness his Gentlemen of Verona, his Errors, his Love's Labour's Lost, his Love's Labour's Won, his Midsummer-Night's Dream, and his Merchant of Venice ; for tragedy, his Richard II., Richard III., Henry IV., King John, Titus Andronicus, and his Romeo and Juliet.
“ As Epius Stolo said that the Muses would speak with Plautus' tongue, if they would speak Latin ; so I say that the Muses would speak with Shakespeare's fine-filed phrase, if they would speak English.”
The nature of this writer's purpose did not require him to mention all the plays then known to be Shakespeare's: he needed but to specify such and so many as would “witness” his point. Since the time of Farmer, “Love's Labour's Won” las commonly been supposed to be the original name of All's Well that Ends Well. We have no doubt that such was the case. The play yields strong internal evidence of having been “written at two different and rather distant periods of the Poet's life;" and the title was probably changed at the revisal. Reckoning, then, the original Pericles, the three Parts of Henry VI., The Taming of the Shrew, and the two Parts of Henry IV., along with the others mentioned by Meres, we have eighteen plays written by 1598, when the Poet was thirty-four years of age, and had most likely been in the theatre not far from twelve years. It is not improbable, as we have already seen, that the original Hamlet should also be added to this list.
Shakespeare was now decidedly at the head of the English drama: he had little cause to fear rivalry; he could well afford to be generous ; and any play that had his approval would be likely to pass. Ben Jonson, whose name has a peculiar right to be coupled with his, was ten years his junior, and was working with that learned and sinewy diligence which marked his character. We have it on the sound authurity of Rowe, that Shakespeare lent a helping hand to honest Ben, and on an occasion that does equal credit to them both. “ His acquaintance,” says he, “ with Ben Jonson began with a remarkable piece of humanity and goodnature. Mr. Jonson, who was at that time altogether unknown to the world, had offered one of his plays to the players, in order to have it acted; and the persons into whose hands it was put, after having turned it carelessly and superciliously over, were just upon returning it to him, with an ill-natured answer that it would be of no service to their company; when Shakespeare luckily cast his eye upon it, and found something so well in it, as to engage him first to read it through, and afterwards to recommend Mr. Jonson and his writings to the public.”
Gifford, to whom we owe a clear vindication of Jonson from the reproach of malignity towards our Poet, undertook to impugn Rowe's account in this particular. He found in Henslowe's Diary that a piece there called “Umers” was acted eleven times by the Lord Admiral's players at the Rose in 1597; and he supposed this “Umers ” to have been Every Man in his Humour, which was Jonson's earliest play, and was first performed by the Lord Chamberlain's company in 1598, Shakespeare himself being one of the principal actors in it. Mr. Collier, on the other hand, has fully justified Rowe's statement from Gifford's attack. The argument may be comprised in a nutshell. In 1616, Jonson put forth an authorised edition of his works, and on the title-page states that Every Man in his Humour was “acted in the year 1598 by the then Lord Chamberlain's servants ;” and at the end of the play adds, — “ This comedy was first acted in the year 1598.” This is pretty good evidence as to when and by whom the play was first acted. Moreover, Henslowe's accounts show no pecuniary transactions with Jonson before August, 1598. Now, Jonson was in very needy circumstances, and Henslowe was very exact in all entries relating to money. If, then, the play had been used so much imder Henslowe's management in 1597, it is not at all likely, either that Jonson would have waited so long for what he had earned, or that any payments made to him would not have appeared in the manager's books. Finally, in 1598, Jonson had a quarrel with one of Henslowe's leading actors named Gabriel Spencer: they met, fought, and Spencer was killed. In a letter written by Henslowe to Alleyn, on the 26th of September, that year, the event is thus spoken of: “Since you were with me, I have lost one of my company, which hurteth me greatly ; that is Gabriel, for he is slain in Hoxton Fields by the hands of Benjamin Jonson, Bricklayer." Alleyn was the Burbage of that company; and if Jonson had been as well known among them as, by Gifford's account, he must have been, it is scarce credible that Henslowe would have spoken of him to Alleyn in that manner."
Edward Alleyn appears to have outstripped all the other players of his time in “puiting money in his purse.” In 1601, he purchased the manor of Kenvington for £1065, and, the next year, that of Lewisham and Dulwich for £5000, £2000 being paid down, and the rest left upon mortgage. All this would be nearly equal to $150,000 in our day! Alleyn was the leading actor at the Rose theatre on the Bankside, near the Globe, till 1600, in which year the company removed to a vew house called the Forlune, in a different part of the city. Collier conjectures that this removal was partly occasioned by their inability to stand the competition of their rivals of the Globe. It seems to have been mainly at the Fortune that Alleyn made his fortune. His repute as an actor is indicated by some lines probably written about this time, which we subjoin, merely adding that “ Will's new play" was doubtless Shakespeare's, and “Roscius Richard,” Burbage :
“ Sweete Nedde, nowe wymne an other wager
For thine oid Frend and fellow-stager.
All which may be regarded, perhaps, as putting Rowe's statement out of danger. And his point has the further support, which he probably did not know of, that Jonson's earliest known play was, if Jonson's own testimony may be taken in the matter, first acted in 1598, and by “the then Lord Chamberlain's servants.” How nobly the Poet's gentle and judicious act of kindness was remembered, is shown by Jonson's superb verses “To the Memory of my beloved, the Author, Mr. William Shakespeare, and what he hath left us,” prefixed to the folio of 1623; enough of themselves to confer an immortality both on the writer and the subject of them.
We shall hardly have a fitter place for introducing another passage from Jonson, which must not be omitted. It is from his Discoveries, written in 1640 : “I remember, the players have often mentioned it as an honour to Shakespeare, that in his writing, whatsoever he penn'd, he never blotted out a line. My answer hath been, Would he had blotted a thousand! which they thought a malevolent speech. I had not told posterity this, but for their ignorance, who choose that circumstance to commend their friend by, wherein he most faulted ; and to justify mine own candour, for I lov'd the man, and do honour his memory, on this side idolatry, as much as any. He was indeed honest, and of an open and free nature; had an excellent phantasy, brave notions, and gentle expressions; wherein he flow'd with that facility, that sometime it was necessary he should be stopp'd : Suflaminandus erat, as Augustus said of Haterius. His wit was in his own power; would the rule of it had been so too. Many times he fell into those things, could not escape laughter :
If thou doest act; and Willes newe playe