« VorigeDoorgaan »
Taming of the Shrew.
PRELIMINARY REMARKS. There is an old anonymous play extant with the same title, first printed in 1596, which (as in the case of King John and Henry V.) Shakspeare rewrote, “adopting the order of the scenes, and inserting little more than a few lines which he thought worth preserving, or was in too much haste to alter. Malone, with great probability, suspects the old play to have been the production of George Peele or Robert Greene*. Pope ascribed it to Shakspeare, and his opinion was current for many years, until a more exact examination of the original piece (which is of extreme rarity) undeceived those who were better versed in the literature of the time of Elizabeth than the poet. It is remarkable that the Induction, as it is called, has not been continued by Shakspeare so as to complete the story of Sly, or at least it has not come down to us; and Pope therefore supplied the deficiencies in this play from the elder performance; they have been degraded from their station in the text, as in some places incompatible with the fable and Dramatis Personæ of Shakspeare; the reader will, however, be pleased to find them subjoined to the notes. The origin of this amusing fiction may probably be traced to the sleeper awakened of the Arabian Nights; but similar stories are told of Philip the good Duke of Burgundy, and of the Emperor Charles the Fifth. Marco Polo relates something similar of the Ismaelian Prince Alo-eddin, or chief of the mountainous region, whom he calls, in common with other writers of his time, the old man of the mountain. Warton refers to a collection of short comic stories in prose, set forth by maister Richard Edwards, master of her majesties revels in 1570 (which he had seen in the collection of Collins the poet), for the immediate source of the fable of the old drama. The incidents related by Heuterus in his Rerum Burgund. lib. iv. is also to be found in Goulart's Admirable and Memorable Histories, trans
* There was a second edition of the anonymous play in 1607 ; and the curious reader may consult it, in Six old Plays upon which Shakspeare founded, &c.' published by Steevens.
lated by E. Grimeston, 4to. 1607. The story of Charles V. is related by Sir Richard Barckley, in A Discourse on the Felicitie of Man, printed in 1598; but the frolic, as Mr. Holt White observes, seems better suited to the gaiety of the gallant Francis, or the revelry of our own boisterous Henry.
Of the story of the Taming of the Shrew no immediate English source has been pointed out. Mr. Douce has referred to a novel in the Piacevoli Notti of Straparola, notte 8, fav. 2, and to El Conde Lucanor, by Don Juan Manuel, Prince of Castile, who died in 1362, as containing similar stories. He observes that the character of Petruchio bears some resemblance to that of Pisardo in Straparola's novel, notte 8, fav. 7.
Schlegel remarks that this play has the air of an Italian co medy; and indeed the love intrigue of Lucentio is derived from the Suppositi of Ariosto, through the translation of George Gascoigne. Johnson has observed the skilful combination of the two plots, by which such a variety and succession of comic incident is ensured without running into perplexity. Petruchio is a bold and happy sketch of a humorist, in which Schlegel thinks the character and peculiarities of an Englishman are visible. It affords another example of Shakspeare's deep insight into human character, that in the last scene the meek and mild Bianca shows she is not without a spice of self will. The play inculcates a fine moral lesson, which is not always taken as it should be.
Every one, who has a true relish for genuine humour, must regret that we are deprived of Shakspeare's continuation of this Interlude of Sly*, 'who is indeed of kin to Sancho Panza.' We think with a late elegant writer, the character of Sly, and the remarks with which he accompanies the play, as good as the play itself.'
It appears to have been one of Shakspeare's earliest productions, and is supposed by Malone to have been produced in 1594.
* Dr. Drake suggests that some of the passages in which Sly is introduced should be adopted from the old Drama, and connected with the text, so as to complete his story; making very slight alteration, and distinguishing the borrowed parts by some mark.
CHARACTERS IN THE INDUCTION
To the Original Play of The Taming of a Shrew, en
tered on the Stationers' books in 1594, and printed
in quarto in 1607.
ALPHONSUS, a Merchant of Athens.
phonsus. SCENE, Athens; and sometimes Ferando's Country
other Servants attending on the Lord.
BAPTISTA, a rich Gentleman of Padua.
Suitors to Bianca.
, Servants to Lucentio.
Servants to Petruchio.
KATHARINA, the Shrew, } Daughters to Baptista.
Tailor, Haberdasher, and Servants attending on Bap
tista and Petruchio.
SCENE, sometimes in Padua; and sometimes in PetruTAMING OF THE SHREW.
chio's House in the Country.
SCENE I. Before an Alehouse on a Heath.
Enter Hostess and SLY.
Sly. I'll pheese? you, in faith.
Host. A pair of stocks, you rogue !
Sly. Y’are a baggage; the Slies are no rogues: Look in the chronicles, we came in with Richard Conqueror. Therefore, paucas pallabrisa; let the world slide: Sessao!
1 So again in Troilus and Cressida, Ajax says of Achilles :• I'll pheese his pride.' And in Ben Johnson's Alchemist.
Come, will you quarrel ? I'll feize you, sirrah.' Mr. Gifford says, 'this word does not mean to drive, but to beat, to chastise, to humble, &c. in which sense (in the west of England) it may be heard every day. This is conformable to Skinner's interpretation of 'Fease or Feag, Virgis cædere, Flagellare.' It appears formerly to have sometimes been used in the sense of to drive away, as in Stanyhurst's Translation of Virgil : ' Feaze away the drone bees.' And again :
“We are toused, and from Italy feazed.' I find in Baret's Alvearie, 1573 : 'a feese, or race; Procursus.' Johnson has noticed Sir Thomas Smith's explanation of 'to feize, in fila diducere. Kersey, in his Dictionary, 1708, says, that it is a sea-term, and signifies to separate a cable by untwisting its ends. This seems to have some analogy with to teize, or tease, wool : as 'feese, or race,' may with to chase, or drive away. I have since found it in Ray's Proverbs, ed. 1737, p. 269, as communicated to him by a Somersetshire man:“I'll vease thee, that is, hunt, drive thee.
2 Pocas palabras, Span. few words. 3 Cessa, Ital. be quiet. VOL. III.