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She has out-done me, ev'n in mine own art,
It rarely happens that a dramatic piece is altered with the fame fpirit that it was written; but Titus Andronicus has undoubtedly fallen into the hands of one whose feelings were congenial with thofe of its original author.
In the course of the notes on this performance, I have pointed out a paffage or two which, in my opinion, fufficiently prove it to have been the work of one who was acquainted both with Greek and Roman literature. It is likewife deficient in fuch internal marks as diftinguish the tragedies of Shakspeare from those of other writers; I mean, that it prefents no ftruggles to introduce the vein of humour fo conftantly intervowen with the bufinefs of his ferious dramas. It can neither boast of his ftriking excellencies, nor his acknowledged defects; for it offers not a fingle interefting fituation, a natural character, or a string of quibbles, from the firft fcene to the laft. That Shakspeare should have written without commanding our attention,, moving our paffions, or fporting with words, appears to me as improbable, as that he fhould have ftudiously avoided diffyllable and triffyllable terminations in this play, and in no other.
Let it likewise be remembered that this piece was not published with the name of Shakspeare till after his death. The quarto in 1611 is anonymous.
Could the ufe of particular terms employed in no other of his pieces, be admitted as an argument that he was not its author, more than one of thefe might be found; among which is palliament for robe, a Latinifm which I have not met with elsewhere in any English writer, whether ancient or modern; though it muft have originated from the mint of a scholar. I may add, that Titus Andronicus will be found on examination to contain a greater number of claffical allufions, &c. than are scattered over all the reft of the performances on which the feal of Shakspeare is undubitably fixed.-Not to write any more about and about this fufpected thing, let me observe that the glitter of a few paffages in it has perhaps mifled the judgment of those who ought to have known, that both fentiment and defcription are more eafily produced than the interefting fabrick of a tragedy. Without thefe advantages, many plays have fucceeded; and many have failed, in which they have been dealt about with the most lavish profufion. It does not follow, that he who can carve a frieze with minutenefs, elegance, and eafe, has a conception equal to the extent, propriety, and grandeur of a temple. STEEVENS.
It must prove a circumftance of confummate mortification to the living criticks on Shakspeare, as well as a difgrace on the
memory of those who have ceafed to comment and collate, when it fhall appear, from the fentiments of one of their own fraternity, (who cannot well be fufpected of afinine tafteleffiess, or Gothic prepoffeffions) that we have been all mistaken as to the merits and the author of this play. It is fcarce neceffary to observe, that the perfon exempted from thefe fufpicions is Mr. Capell, who delivers his opinion concerning Titus Andronicus in the following words "To the editor's eye [i. e. his own] Shakspeare ftands confefs'd: the third act in particular may be read with admiration even by the most delicate; who, if they are not without feelings, may chance to find themfelves touch'd by it with fuch paffions as tragedy fhould excite, that is-terror and pity.". It were injuftice not to remark, that the grand and pathetic circumftances in this third act, which we are told cannot fail to excite fuch vehement emotions, are as follows.Titus lies down in the dirt.-Aaron chops off his hand.-Saturninus fends him the heads of his two fons and his own hand again, for a prefent, -His heroic brother Marcus kills a fly.
Mr. Capell may likewife claim the honour of having produced the new argument which Dr. Farmer mentions in a prés ceding note. MALONE.