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The following is Sir Aston's epigram:
"TO MR. CLEMENT FISHER, OF WINCOT.
"But you affirm (and in it seem most eager)
In spite of the great deference which is due from every commentator to Dr. Farmer's judgment, I own I cannot concur with him on the present occasion. I know not to whom I could impute this comedy, if Shakspeare was not its author. I think his hand is visible in almost every scene, though perhaps not so evidently as in those which pass between Katharina and Petruchio.
I once thought that the name of this play might have been taken from an old story, entitled The Wf lapped in Morells Skin, or The Taming of a Shrew; but I have since discovered among the entries in the books of the Stationers' Company, the following: "Peter Shorte] May 2, 1594, a pleasaunt conceyted hystorie, called The Taminge of a Shrowe." It is likewise entered to Nich. Ling, Jan. 22, 1606; and to John Smithwicke, Nov. 19, 1607.
It was no uncommon practice among the authors of the age of Shakspeare, to avail themselves of the titles of ancient performances. Thus, as Mr. Warton has observed, Spenser sent out his Pastorals under the title of The Shepherd's Kalendar, a work which had been printed by Wynken de Worde, and reprinted about twenty years before these poems of Spenser appeared, viz. 1559.
Dr. Percy, in the first volume of his Reliques of Ancient Eng lish Poetry, is of opinion, that The Frolicsome Duke, or the Tink er's Good Fortune, an ancient ballad in the Pepys' Collection, might have suggested to Shakspeare, the Induction for this comedy,
The following story, however, which might have been the parent of all the rest, is related by Burton in his Anatomy of Melancholy, edit. 1632, p. 649: "A Tartar Prince, saith Marcus Polus, Lib. II, cap. 28, called Senex de Montibus, the better to establish his government amongst his subjects, and to keepe them in awe, found a convenient place in a pleasant valley environed with hills, in which he made a delitious parke full of odorif ferous flowers and fruits, and a palace full of all worldly contents that could possibly be devised, musicke, pictures, variety of meats, &c. and chose out a certaine young man whom with a soporiferous
potion he so benummed, that he perceived nothing: and so, fast asleepe as he was, caused him to be conveied into this faire garden. Where after he had lived a while in all such pleasures a sensuall man could desire, he cast him into a sleepe againe, and brought him forth, that when he waked he might tell others he had beene in Paradise."-Marco Paolo, quoted by Burton, was a traveller of the 13th century.
Chance, however, has at last furnished me with the original to which Shakspeare was indebted for his fable; nor does this discovery at all dispose me to retract my former opinion, which the reader may find at the conclusion of the play. Such parts of the dialogue as our author had immediately imitated, I have occasionally pointed out at the bottom of the page; but must refer the reader, who is desirous to examine the whole structure of the piece, to Six Old Plays on which Shakspeare founded, &c. published by S. Leacroft, at Charing-cross, as a Supplement to our commentaries on Shakspeare.
Beaumont and Fletcher wrote what may be called a sequel to this comedy, viz. The Woman's Prize, or the Tamer Tam'd; in which Petruchio is subdued by a second wife. Steevens.
Among the books of my friend the late Mr. William Collins of Chichester, now dispersed, was a collection of short comick stories in prose, printed in the black letter under the year 1570: "sett forth by maister Richard Edwards, mayster of her Majesties revels." Among these tales was that of the INDUCTION OF THE TINKER in Shakspeare's Taming of the Shrew; and perhaps Edwards's story-book was the immediate source from which Shakspeare, or rather the author of the old Taming of a Shrew, drew that diverting apologue. If I recollect right, the circumstances almost tallied with an incident which Heuterus relates from an epistle of Ludovicus Vives to have actually happened at the marriage of Duke Philip the Good of Burgundy about the year 1440. That perspicuous annalist, who flourished about the year 1580 says, this story was told to Vives by an old officer of the Duke's court. T. Warton.
See the earliest English original of this story, &c. at the con. clusion of the play. Steevens.
CHARACTERS IN THE INDUCTION
To the Original Play of The Taming of a Shrew, entered on the Stationers' books in 1594, and printed in quarto in 1607.
A lord, &c.
Page, players, huntsmen, &c.
Alphonsus, a merchant of Athens.
Aurelius, his son,
Valeria, servant to Aurelius.
Sander, servant to Ferando.
Phylotus, a merchant who personates the duke.
suitors to the daughters of Alphonsus.
daughters to Alphonsus.
Tailor, haberdasher, and servants to Ferando and
Athens; and sometimes Ferando's country house.
TAMING OF THE SHREW.
Before an Alehouse on a Heath,
Enter Hostess and SLY.
Sty. I'll pheese you, in faith.
I'll pheese you,] To pheese or fease, is to separate a twist into single threads. In the figurative sense it may well enough be taken, like teaze or toze, for to harass, to plague. Perhaps I'll pheese you, may be equivalent to I'll comb your head, a phrase vulgarly used by persons of Sly's character on like occasions. The following explanation of the word is given by Sir Thomas Smith, in his book de Sermone Anglico, printed by Robert Stephens, 4to: "To feize, means in fila diducere." Johnson.
Shakspeare repeats his use of the word in Troilus and Cressida, where Ajax says he will pheese the pride of Achilles: and Lovewit in The Alchemist employs it in the same sense. Again, in Puttenham's Arte of English Poesie, 1589:
"Your pride serves you to feaze them all alone." Again, in Stanyhurst's version of the first Book of Virgil's Eneid:
"We are touz'd, and from Italye feaz’d.”
"Feaze away the droane bees," &c. Steevens.
To pheeze a man, is to beat him; to give him a pheeze, is, to give him a knock. In The Chances, Antonio says of Don John, "I felt him in my small guts; I am sure he has feaz'd me."
To touze or toaze had the same signification. See Florio's Italian Dictionary, 1598: "Arruffare. To touze, to tug, to bang, or rib-baste one." Malone.
2- no rogues:] That is, vagrants, no mean fellows, but gentlemen. Johnson.
One William Sly was a performer in the plays of Shakspeare, as appears from the list of comedians prefixed to the folio, 1623.
Look in the chronicles, we came in with Richard Conqueror. Therefore, paucas pallabris;3 let the world slide: Sessa!
Host. You will not pay for the glasses you have burst?5 Sly. No, not a denier: Go by, says Jeronimy;— Go to thy cold bed, and warm thee."
This Sly is likewise mentioned in Heywood's Actor's Vindication, and the Induction to Marston's Malecontent. He was also among those to whom James I, granted a license to act at the Globe theatre in 1603. Steevens.
paucas pallabris;] Sly, as an ignorant fellow, is purposely made to aim at languages out of his knowledge, and knock the words out of joint. The Spaniards say, pocas palabras, i. e. few words: as they do likewise, Cessa, i. e. be quiet. Theobald.
This is a burlesque on Hieronymo, which Theobald speaks of in a following note: "What new device have they devised now? Pocas pallabras." In the comedy of The Roaring Girl, 1611, a cut-purse makes use of the same words. Again, they appear in The Wise Woman of Hogsden, 1638, and in some others, but are always appropriated to the lowest characters. Steevens.
·let the world slide] This expression is proverbial. It is used in Beaumont and Fletcher's Wit without Money: will you go drink
"And let the world slide, uncle?" Steevens.
you have burst?] To burst and to break were anciently synonymous. Falstaff says, that "John of Gaunt burst Shallow's head for crouding in among the marshal's men.”
Again, in Soliman and Perseda:
"God save you, sir, you have burst your shin." Steevens. Burst is still used for broke in the North of England. See Dodsley's Collection of Old Plays, edit. 1780, Vol. XII, p. 375.
Go by, says Jeronimy;-Go to thy cold bed, and warm thee.] The old copy reads-go by S Jeronimie-. Steevens.
All the editions have coined a Saint here, for Sly to swear by. But the poet had no such intentions. The passage has particular humour in it, and must have been very pleasing at that time of day. But I must clear up a piece of stage history to make it understood. There is a fustian old play called Hieronymo; or The Spanish Tragedy: which I find was the common butt of raillery to all the poets in Shakspeare's time: and a passage, that appeared very ridiculous in that play, is here humorously alluded to. Hieronymo, thinking himself injured, applies to the king for justice; but the courtiers, who did not desire his wrongs should be set in a true light, attempt to hinder him from an audience:
"Hiero. Justice! O! justice to Hieronymo.
"Lor. Back;-seest thou not the king is busy?