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All the best men are ours; for 'tis ill hap,
officiousness of Jonson, whose manner they will be perhaps found exactly to resemble. There is yet another supposition possible: the Prologue and Epilogue may have been written after Shakspeare's departure from the stage, upon some accidental revival of the play, and there will then be reason for imagining that the writer, whoever he was, intended no great kindness to him, this play being recommended by a subtle and covert censure of his other works. There is, in Shakspeare, so much of fool and fights
the fellow, “ In a long motley coat, guarded with yellow,". appears so often in his drama, that I think it not very likely that he would have animadverted' so severely on himself
. All this, however, must be received as very dubious, since we know not the exact date of this or the other plays, and cannot tell how our author might have changed his practice or opinions.
Johnson. Dr. Johnson's conjecture, thus cautiously stated, has been since strongly confirmed by Mr. Tyrwhitt's note, p. 5, by which it appears that this play was revived in 1613, at which time, without doubt, the Prologue and Epilogue were added by Ben Jonson, or some other person. On the subject of every one of our author's historical pieces, except this, I believe a play had been written, before he commenced a dramatick poet. See the Essay at the end of The Third Part of King Henry VI.
MALONE. I entirely agree in opinion with Dr. Johnson, that Ben Jonson wrote the Prologue and Epilogue to this play. Shakspeare had, a little before, assisted him in his Sejanus ; and Ben was too proud to receive assistance without returning it. It is probable, that he drew up the directions for the parade at the christening, &c. which his employment at court would teach him, and Shakspeare must be ignorant of. I think, I now and then perceive his hand in the dialogue.
It appears from Stowe, that Robert Greene wrote somewhat on this subject. FARMER.
See the first scene of this play, p. 3. MALONE.
In support of Dr. Johnson's opinion it may not be amiss to quote the following lines from old Ben's Prologue to his Every Man in his Humour:
“ To make a child new swaddled, to proceed
“ And in the tyring-house," &c. STEEVENS. The historical dramas are now concluded, of which the two Parts of Henry the Fourth, and Henry the Fifth, are among the happiest of our author's compositions; and King John, Richard the Third, and Henry the Eighth, deservedly stand in the second class. Those whose curiosity would refer the historical scenes to their original, may consult Holinshed, and sometimes Hall: from Holinshed, Shakspeare has often inserted whole speeches, with no more alteration than was necessary to the numbers of his verse. To transcribe them into the margin was unnecessary, because the original is easily examined, and they are seldom less perspicuous in the poet than in the historian.
To play histories, or to exhibit a succession of events by action and dialogue, was a common entertainment among our rude ancestors upon great festivities. The parish clerks once performed at Clerkenwell a play which lasted three days, containing The History of the World. Johnson.
It appears from more than one MS. in the British Museum, that the tradesmen of Chester were three days employed in the representation of their twenty-four Whitsun plays or mysteries. The like performances at Coventry must have taken up a longer time, as they were no less than forty in number. The exhibition of them began on Corpus Christi day, which was (according to Dugdale) one of their ancient fairs. See the Harleian MSS. No. 2013, 2124, 2125, and MS. Cot. Vesp. D. VIII. and Dugdale's Warwickshire, p. 116. Steevens.
* TROILUS AND CRESSIDA.] The story was originally written by Lollius, an old Lombard author, and since by Chaucer.
Pope. Mr. Pope (after Dryden) informs us, that the story of Troilus and Cressida was originally the work of one Lollius, a Lombard; (of whom Gascoigne speaks in Dan Bartholmewe his first Triumph : “ Since Lollius and Chaucer both, make doubt upon that glose,”) but Dryden goes yet further. He declares it to have been written in Latin verse, and that Chaucer translated it. Lollius was a historiographer of Urbino in Italy. Shakspeare received the greatest part of his materials for the structure of this play from the Troye Boke of Lydgate. Lydgate was not much more than a translator of Guido of Columpna, who was of Messina in Sicily, and wrote his History of Troy in Latin, after Dictys Cretensis, and Dares Phrygius, in 1287. On these, as Mr. Warton observes, he engrafted many new romantick inventions, which the taste of his age dictated, and which the connection between Grecian and Gothick fiction easily admitted ; at the same time comprehending in his plan the Theban and Argonautic stories from Ovid, Statius, and Valerius Flaccus. Guido's work was published at Cologne in 1477, again 1480: at Strasburgh, 1486, and ibidem, 1489. It appears to have been translated by Raoul le Feure, at Cologne, into French, from whom Caxton rendered it into English in 1471, under the title of his Recuyel, &c. so that there must have been yet some earlier edition of Guido's performance than I have hitherto seen or heard of, unless his first translator had recourse to a manuscript.
Guido of Columpna is referred to as an authority by our own chronicler Grafton. Chaucer had made the loves of Troilus and Cressida famous, which very probably might have been Shakspeare's inducement to try their fortune on the
stage.-Lydgate's Troye Boke was printed by Pynson, 1513. In the books of the Stationers' Company, anno 1581, is entered “ A proper ballad, dialogue-wise, between Troilus and Cressida.” Again, Feb. 7, 1602: “ The booke of Troilus and Cressida, as it is acted by my Lo. Chamberlain's men.” The first of these entries is in the name of Edward White, the second in that of M. Roberts. Again, Jan. 28, 1608, entered by Rich. Bonian and Hen. Whalley, “ A booke called the history of Troilus and Cressida.”
STEEVENS. The entry in 1608-9 was made by the booksellers for whom this play was published in 1609. It was written, I conceive, in 1602. See an Attempt to ascertain the Order of Shakspeare's Plays, Vol. "I. MALONE.
Before this play of Troilus and Cressida, printed in 1609, is