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in manner nor ftyle has it the leaft refemblance to any of the other tragedies of that time: most of them rife now and then, and are poetical; but this creeps in one dull tenour, from beginning to end, after the fpecimen here inferted: it should feem he was a Latinift, by the tranflation following:
"Feare not, my lord, the perfit good indeed,
"A new fresh veffell ftill retaynes the taste
"Of that which first is powr'd into the fame :" [fign. H.
But whoever he was, Shakspeare has done him the honour to follow him in a stroke or two: one has been obferv'd upon above; and the reader, who is acquainted with Shakspeare's Lear, will perceive another in the fecond line of the concluding speech: and here is a third; " Knoweft thou these letters ?" fays Leir to Ragan, (fign. I. 3b.) fhewing her hers and her fifter's letters commanding his death; upon which, fhe fnatches at the letters, and tears them (v. Lear, p. 590, 591,) another, and that a moft fignal one upon one account, occurs at fignature C 3b:
"But he, the myrrour of mild patience,
"Puts up all wrongs, and never gives reply :"
Perillus fays this of Leir; comprizing therein his character, as drawn by this author: how oppofite to that which Shakspeare has given him, all know; and yet he has found means to put nearly the same words into the very mouth of his Lear,
"No, I will be the pattern of all patience,
Laftly, two of Shakspeare's perfonages, Kent, and the Steward, feem to owe their exiftence to the above-mention'd " fhag-hair'd wretch," and the Perillus of this Leir.
The episode of Glofter and his two fons is taken from the Arcadia: in which romance there is a chapter thus intitl'd;-" The pitifull ftate, and ftorie of the Paphlagonian unkinde King, and his kind fonne, firft related by the son, then by the blind father." (Arcadia, p. 142, edit. 1590, 4to.) of which episode there are no traces in either chronicle, poem, or play, wherein this history is handl'd.
Love's Labour's Loft.
The fable of this play does not seem to be a work entirely of invention; and I am apt to believe, that it owes its birth to some novel or other, which may one day be discover'd. The character of Armado has fome refemblance to Don Quixote; but the play is older than that work of Cervantes: of Holofernes, another fingular character, there are fome faint traces in a mafque of Sir Philip Sidney's that was prefented before Queen Elizabeth at Wanfted: this mafque, call'd in catalogues-The Lady of May, is at the end of that author's works, edit. 1627. folio.
Meafure for Measure.
In the year 1578, was publish'd in a black-letter quarto a miserable dramatick performance, in two parts, intitl'd-Promos and Caffandra; written by one George Whetstone, author likewife of the Heptameron, and much other poetry of the fame
ftamp, printed about that time. These plays their author, perhaps, might form upon a novel of Cinthio's; (v. Dec. 8, Nov. 5,) which Shakspeare went not to, but took up with Whetstone's fable, as is evident from the argument of it; which, though it be fomewhat of the longeft, yet take it in his own words.
"The Argument of the whole
"In the Cyttie of Julio (fometimes under the dominion of Corvinus Kinge of Hungarie and Boemia) there was a law, that what man fo ever committed adultery, fhould lofe his head, & the woman offender, fhould weare fome difguifed apparel, during her life, to make her infamouflye noted. This fevere lawe, by the favour of fome mercifull magiftrate, became little regarded, untill the time of Lord Promos auctority: who convicting, a yong gentleman named Andrugio of incontinency, condemned, both him, and his minion to the execution of this ftatute. Andrugio had a very vertuous, and beawtiful gentlewoman to his fifter, named Caffandra: Caffandra to enlarge her brothers life, fubmitted an humble petition to the Lord Promos: Promos regarding her good behaviours, and fantasying her great beawtie, was much delighted with the fweete order of her talke: and doyng good, that evill might come thereof: for a time, he repryv'd her brother: but wicked man, tourning his liking unto unlawfull luft, he fet downe the spoile of her honour, raunsome for her Brothers life: Chafte Caffandra, abhorring both him and his fute, by no perfwafion would yeald to
this raunfome. But in fine, wonne with the importunitye of hir brother (pleading for life:) upon thefe conditions fhe agreed to Promos. Firft that he should pardon her brother, and after marry her. Promos as fearles in promiffe, as careleffe in performance, with follemne vowe, fygned her conditions but worse than any Infydel, his will fatisfyed, he performed neither the one nor the other for to keepe his aucthoritye, unfpotted with favour, and to prevent Caffandraes clamors, he commaunded the Gayler fecretly, to prefent Caffandra with her brother's head. The Gayler, with the outcryes of Andrugio, (abhorryng Promos lewdnes,) by the providence of God, provided thus for his fafety. He prefented Caffandra with a felons head newlie executed, who, (being mangled, knew it not from her brothers, by the Gayler, who was fet at libertie) was fo agreeved at this trecherye, that at the pointe to kyl her felfe, fhe fpared that ftroke, to be avenged of Promos. And devyfing a way, the concluded, to make her fortunes knowne unto the kinge. She (executing this refolution) was fo highly favoured of the King, that forthwith he hafted to do juftice on Promos: whofe judgement was, to marrye Caffandra, to repaire her crafed Honour: which donne, for his hainous offence he should lofe his head. This maryage folempnifed, Caffandra tyed in the greateft bondes of affection to her husband, became an earnest futer for his life the Kinge (tendringe the generall benefit of the cōmon weale, before her special case, although he favoured her much) would not graunt her fute. Andrugio (difguifed amonge the company) forrowing the griefe of his fifter, bewrayde his fafety, and craved pardon. The Kinge, to renowne the vertues of Caffandra, pardoned both
him, and Promos.
The circumftances of this rare
Historye, in action livelye foloweth."
The play itself opens thus :
"Actus I. Scena 1.
Promos, Mayor, Shirife, Sworde bearer: One with a bunche of keyes: Phallax, Promos man.
“ You Officers which now in Julio ftaye,
“ Phal. As you commande, I wyll: give heedful eare.
"Pro. Loe, here you fee wbat is our Soveraignes wyl,
And thus it proceeds; without one word in it, that Shakspeare could make use of, or can be read with patience by any man living: and yet, befides the characters appearing in the argument, his Bawd Clown, Lucio, Juliet, and the Provost, nay, and even his Barnardine, are created out of hints which this play gave him; and the lines too that are quoted, bad as they are, fuggefted to him the manner in which his own play opens.
Merchant of Venice.
The Jew of Venice was a story exceedingly well known in Shakspeare's time; celebrated in ballads; and taken (perhaps) originally from an Italian book