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1564; and continu'd his publication fucceffively in feveral tomes, how many I know not; the dedication to his fifth tome is dated fix years after. In that tome, the troifieme Hiftoire has this title; "Avec quelle rufe Amleth, qui depuis fut roy de Dannemarch, vengea la mort de fon pere Horvuendille, occis par Fengon fon frere, & autre occurrence de fon hiftoire." Painter, who has been mention'd before, compil'd his Palace of Pleasure almost entirely from Belleforest, taking here and there a novel as pleas'd him, but he did not tranflate the whole other novels, it is probable, were tranflated by different people, and publifh'd fingly; this, at leaft, that we are speaking of, was fo, and is intitl'd-The Hiftorie of Hamblet; it is in quarto, and black letter: there can be no doubt made, by perfons who are acquainted with these things, that the tranflation is not much younger than the French original; though the only edition of it, that is yet come to my knowledge, is no earlier than 1608: that Shakspeare took his play from it, there can likewise be very little doubt.
1 Henry IV.
In the eleven plays that follow,-Macbeth, King John, Richard II. Henry IV. two parts, Henry V. Henry VI. three parts, Richard III. and Henry VIII. -the hiftorians of that time, Hall, Holinfhed, Stow, and others, (and, in particular, Holinfhed,) are pretty closely follow'd; and that not only for their matter, but even fometimes in their expreffions the harangue of the Archbishop of Canterbury in Henry V. that of Queen Catharine in Henry VIII. at her trial, and the king's reply to it, are taken from those chroniclers, and put into
verfe other leffer matters are borrow'd from them and fo largely scatter'd up and down in these plays, that whoever would rightly judge of the poet, must acquaint himself with thofe authors, and his character will not fuffer in the enquiry.
Richard III. was preceded by other plays written upon the fame fubject; concerning which, fee the conclufion of a note in this Introduction, at p. 332. And as to Henry V.-it may not be improper to observe in this place, that there is extant another old play, call'd The famous Victories of Henry the Fifth, printed in 1617, quarto; perhaps by fome tricking bookfeller, who meant to impofe it upon the world for Shakspeare's, who dy'd the year before. This play, which opens with that prince's wildness and robberies before he came to the crown, and fo comprehends fomething of the story of both parts of Henry IV. as well as of Henry V.-is a very medley of nonfenfe and ribaldry; and, it is my firm belief, was prior to Shakspeare's Henries ; and the identical "displeasing play" mention'd in the epilogue to 2 Henry IV.; for that fuch a play fhould be written after his, or receiv'd upon any ftage, has no face of probability. There is a character in it, call'd-Sir John Oldcastle; who holds there the place of Sir John Falstaff, but his very antipodes in every other particular, for it is all dullness and it is to this character that Shakspeare alludes, in those much-difputed paffages; one in his Henry IV. p. 194, and the other in the epilogue to his fecond part; where the words "for Oldcastle dy'd a martyr" hint at this miferable performance, and it's fate, which was--damnation.
Lear's diftrefsful ftory has been often told in poems, ballads, and chronicles: but to none of thefe are we indebted for Shakspeare's Lear; but to a filly old play which firft made its appearance in 1605, the title of which is as follows: The | True Chronicle Hi- ftory of King LEIR, and his three daughters, Gonorill, Ragan, and Cordella. As it hath bene divers and fundry times lately acted. | LONDON, | Printed by Simon Stafford for John | Wright, and are to bee fold at his shop at | Chriftes Church dore, next Newgate- | Market. 1605. (4° I. 4b.)-As it is a great curiofity, and very fcarce, the title is here inferted at large: and for the fame reason, and alfo to fhew the use that Shakspeare made of it, fome extracts will now be added.
The author of this Leir has kept him close to the chronicles; for he ends his play with the reinftating King Leir in his throne, by the aid of Cordella and her husband. But take the entire fable in his own words. Towards the end of the play, at fignature H 3, you find Leir in France: upon whose coaft he and his friend Perillus are landed in fo neceffitous a condition, that, having nothing to pay their paffage, the mariners take their cloaks, leaving them their jerkins in exchange: thus attir'd, they go up further into the country; and there, when they are at the point to perish by famine, infomuch that Perillus offers Leir his arm to feed upon, they light upon Gallia and his queen, whom the author has brought down thitherward, in progrefs, difguis'd. Their difcourfe is overheard by Cordella, who immediately knows them; but,
at her husband's perfuafion, forbears to discover herself a while, relieves them with food, and then afks their story; which Leir gives her in these words:
"Leir. Then know this first, I am a Brittayne borne, "And had three daughters by one loving wife : "And though I fay it, of beauty they were fped; "Efpecially the youngest of the three, "For her perfections hardly matcht could be : "On these I doted with a jelous love,
"And thought to try which of them lov'd me best,
Might do her anfwere I efteem'd most vild,
And the that beft deferv'd the greatest share,
"Who gave me pleafing and most courteous words;
"To maffacre my honeft friend and me.
"And now I am conftraind to feeke reliefe
"Cor. No doubt she will, I dare be fworne she will."
Thereupon enfues her discovery; and, with it, a circumftance of fome beauty, which Shakspeare has borrow'd-(v. Lear, p. 565,) their kneeling to each other, and mutually contending which fhould ask forgiveness. The next page prefents us Gallia, and Mumford who commands under him, marching to embarque their forces, to re-inftate Leir; and the next, a fea-port in Britain, and officers setting a watch, who are to fire a beacon to give notice if any fhips approach, in which there is fome low humour that is paffable enough. Gallia and his forces arrive, and take the town by furprize: immediately upon which, they are encounter'd by the forces of the two elder fifters, and their husbands: a battle enfues: Leir conquers; he and his friends enter victorious, and the play clofes thus:
"Thanks (worthy Mumford) to thee laft of all,
Such is the Leir, now before us. Who the author of it should be, I cannot furmife; for neither