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the fecond novel of that book. It is highly probable, that this novel likewife is in an old English dress fomewhere or other; and from thence tranfplanted into a foolish book, call'd-The fortunate, the deceiv'd, and the unfortunate Lovers; printed in 1685, octavo, for William Whittwood; where the reader may fee it, at p. 1. fee it, at p. 1. Let me add too, that there is a like story in the-" Piacevoli Notti, di Straparola, libro primo; at Notte quarta, Favola quarta; edit. 1567, octavo, in Vinegia.
The hiftory of our old poets is fo little known, and the first editions of their works become fo very scarce, that it is hard pronouncing any thing certain about them: but, if that pretty fantastical poem of Drayton's, call'd-Nymphidia, or The Court of Fairy, be early enough in time, (as, I believe, it is; for I have feen an edition of that author's paftorals, printed in 1593, quarto,) it is not improbable, that Shakspeare took from thence the hint of his fairies: a line of that poem, "Thorough bufh, thorough briar," occurs alfo in his play. The rest of the play is, doubtless, invention: the names only of Thefeus, Hippolita, and Thefeus' former loves, Antiopa and others, being hiftorical; and taken from the translated Plutarch, in the article-Thefeus.
Much Ado about Nothing.
"Timbree de Cardone deviet amoureux à Meffine de Fenicie Leonati, & des divers & eftrages accidens qui advindrēt avat qu'il l' efpoufaft."—is the title of another novel in the Hiftoires Tragiques of Belle
foreft; Tom. 3. Hift. 18: it is taken from one of Bandello's, which you may fee in his firft tome, at p. 150, of the London edition in quarto, a copy from that of Lucca in 1554. This French novel comes the nearest to the fable of Much Ado about Nothing, of any thing that has yet been discovered, and is (perhaps) the foundation of it. There is a story something like it in the fifth book of Orlando Furiofo: (v. Sir John Harrington's tranflation of it, edit. 1591, folio) and another in Spencer's Fairy Queen.
Cinthio, the best of the Italian writers next to Boccace, has a novel thus intitl'd:-" Un Capitano Moro piglia per mogliera una cittadina venetiana, un fuo Alfieri l'accufa de adulterio al [read, il, with a colon after-adulterio] Marito, cerca, che l'Alfieri uccida colui, ch'egli credea l'Adultero, il Capitano uccide la Moglie, è accufato dallo Alfieri, non confeffa il Moro, ma effendovi chiari inditii, è bandito, Et lo fcelerato Alfieri, credendo nuocere ad altri, procaccia à sè la morte miferamente." Hecatommithi, Dec. 3, Nov. 7; edit. 1565, two tomes, octavo. If there was no tranflation of this novel, French or English; nor any thing built upon it, either in profe or verse, near enough in time for Shakspeare to take his Othello from them; we muft, I think, conclude-that he had it from the Italian; for the ftory (at leaft, in all it's main circumftances) is apparently the fame.
Romeo and Juliet.
This very affecting story is likewife a true one; it made a great noife at the time it happen'd, and
was foon taken up by poets and novel-writers. Bandello has one; it is the ninth of tome the fecond and there is another, and much better, left us by fome anonymous writer; of which I have an edition, printed in 1553 at Venice, one year before Bandello, which yet was not the firft. Some finall time after, Pierre Boifteau, a French writer, put out one upon the fame fubject, taken from thefe Italians, but much alter'd and enlarg'd: this novel, together with five others of Boifteau's penning, Belleforest took; and they now ftand at the beginning of his Hiftoires Tragiques, edition beforemention'd. But it had fome prior edition; which falling into the hands of a countryman of ours, he converted it into a poem; altering, and adding many things to it of his own, and publifh'd it in 1562, without a name, in a fmall octavo volume, printed by Richard Tottill; and this poem, which is call'd-The Tragical Hiftorie of Romeus and Juliet, is the origin of Shakspeare's play: who not only follows it even minutely in the conduct of his fable, and that in thofe places where it differs from the other writers; but has alfo borrow'd from it fome few thoughts, and expreffions. At the end of a fmall poetical mifcellany, publifh'd by one George Turberville in 1570, there is a poem-"On the death of Maifter Arthur Brooke drownde in paffing to New-haven;" in which it appears, that this gentleman, (who, it is likely, was a military man,) was the writer of Romeus and Juliet. In the fecond tome of The Palace of Pleafure, (Nov. 25.) there is a profe tranflation of Boifteau's novel; but Shakspeare made no use of it.
Taming of the Shrew.
Nothing has yet been produc'd that is likely to have given the poet occafion for writing this play, neither has it (in truth) the air of a novel, fo that we may reasonably fuppofe it a work of invention; that part of it, I mean, which gives it it's title. For one of it's underwalks, or plots,-to wit, the ftory of Lucentio, in almost all it's branches, (his love-affair, and the artificial conduct of it; the pleasant incident of the Pedant; and the characters of Vincentio, Tranio, Gremio, and Biondello,) is form'd upon a comedy of George Gascoigne's, call'd-Suppofes, a tranflation from Ariofto's I Suppofiti: which comedy was acted by the gentlemen of Grey's Inn in 1566; and may be feen in the tranflator's works, of which there are feveral old editions and the odd induction of this play is taken from Goulart's Hiftoires admirables de notre Temps; who relates it as a real fact, practis'd upon a mean artifan at Bruffels by Philip the good, duke of Burgundy. Goulart was tranflated into English, by one Edw. Grimefton: the edition I have of it, was printed in 1607, quarto, by George Eld; where this ftory may be found, at p. 587: but, for any thing that there appears to the contrary, the book might have been printed before.
The Tempest has rather more of the novel in it than the play that was last spoken of: but no one has yet pretended to have met with fuch a novel; nor any thing elfe, that can be fuppos'd to have furnish'd Shakspeare with materials for writing
this play the fable of which must therefore pass for entirely his own production, 'till the contrary can be made appear by any future difcovery. One of the poet's editors, after observing that-the perfons of the drama are all Italians; and the unities all regularly obferv'd in it, a custom likewife of the Italians; concludes his note with the mention of two of their plays,-Il Negromante di L. Ariofto, and Il Negromante Palliato di Gio. Angelo Petrucci; one or other of which, he seems to think, may have given rife to the Tempeft: but he is mistaken in both of them; and the last must needs be out of the question, being later than Shakspeare's time.
An old ballad, whofe date and time of writing can not be ascertain'd, is the ground work of Titus Andronicus; the names of the perfons acting, and almost every incident of the play are there in miniature it is, indeed, fo like,-that one might be tempted to fufpect, that the ballad was form'd upon the play, and not that upon the ballad; were it not fufficiently known, that almost all the compofitions of that fort are prior to even the infancy of Shakspeare.
Troilus and Cressida.
The loves of Troilus and Creffida are celebrated by Chaucer: whose poem might, perhaps, induce Shakspeare to work them up into a play. The other matters of that play (hiftorical, or fabulous, call them which you will,) he had out of an ancient book, written and printed firft by Caxton, call'd