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A gown made of the finest wool,
A belt of straw, and ivie buds,
The shepherd swains shall dance and sing
THE NYMPH'S REPLY.
that the World and Love were young, And truth in every shepherd's toung, These pretty pleasures might me move To live with thee, and be thy love. But time drives flocks from field to fold, When rivers rage, and rocks grow cold, And Philomel becometh dumb, And all complain of cares to come.
The flowers do fade, and wanton fields
Thy gowns, thy shoes, thy beds of roses,
Thy belt of straw, and ivie buds,
All these in me no means can move
But could youth last, and love still breed,
TITUS ANDRONICUS'S COMPLAINT.
HE reader has here an ancient ballad on the same subject as the play of Titus Andronicus, and it is probable that the one was borrowed from the other: but which of them was the original it is not easy to decide. And yet, if the argument offered above for the priority of the ballad of the Jew of Venice may be admitted, somewhat of the same kind may be urged here; for this ballad differs from the play in several particulars, which a simple ballad-writer would be less likely to alter than an inventive tragedian. Thus in the ballad is no mention of the contest for the empire between the two brothers, the composing of which makes the ungrateful treatment of Titus afterwards the more flagrant: neither is there any notice taken of his sacrificing one of Tamora's sons, which the tragic poet has assigned as the original cause of all her cruelties. In the play Titus loses twenty-one of his sons in war, and kills another for assisting Bassianus to carry off Lavinia : the reader will find it different in the ballad. In the latter she is betrothed to the emperor's son: in the play to his brother. In the tragedy only two of his sons fall into the pit, and the third being banished returns to Rome with a victorious army, to avenge the wrongs of his house: in the ballad all three are entrapped and suffer death. In the scene the emperor kills Titus, and is in return stabbed by Titus's surviving son. Here Titus kills the emperor, and afterwards himself.
Let the reader weigh these circumstances and some others wherein he will find them unlike, and then pronounce for himself. After all, there is reason to conclude that this play was rather improved by Shakespeare with a few fine touches of his pen, than originally written by him; for, not to mention that the style is less figurative
than his others generally are, this tragedy is mentioned with discredit in the Induction to Ben Jonson's Bartholomew Fair, in 1614, as one that had then been exhibited "five and twenty or thirty years:" which, if we take the lowest number, throws it back to the year 1589, at which time Shakespeare was but 25: an earlier dete than can be found for any other of his pieces:* and if it does not clear him entirely of it, shews at least it was a first attempt.†
The following is given from a copy in The Golden Garland intitled as above; compared with three others, two of them in black letter in the Pepys Collection, intitled, The Lamentable and Tragical History of Titus Andronicus, &c. To the tune of, Fortune. Printed for E. Wright. Unluckily none of these have any dates.
[No original from which the plot of the play of Titus Andronicus could be taken has yet been discovered, and it is just possible that this ballad may have given the hint, but the Registers of the Stationers' Company go some way towards proving a negative to this supposition, for on the 6th of February, 1593-4, John Danter registered A noble Roman Historye of Tytus Andronicus, and also the ballad thereof.]
OU noble minds, and famous martiall wights,
Yet reapt disgrace at my returning home.
* Mr. Malone thinks 1591 to be the æra when our author commenced a writer for the stage. See in his Shakesp. the ingenious Attempt to ascertain the order in which the plays of Shakespeare were
† Since the above was written, Shakespeare's memory has been fully vindicated from the charge of writing the above play by the best criticks. See what has been urged by Steevens and Malone in their excellent editions of Shakespeare, &c. [The question of Shakspere's authorship is not by any means so completely settled in the negative as this note would imply. The external evidence for its authenticity is as strong as for most of the other plays. See New Shakspere Society's Transactions, Part i. p. 126, for a list of sages which seem to bear evidence of Shakspere's hand in their composition.]
In Rome I lived in fame fulle threescore yeeres,
For when Romes foes their warlike forces bent,
Just two and twenty of my sonnes were slaine
When wars were done, I conquest home did bring,
Then she, whose thoughts to murder were inclinde,
The emperour did make this queene his wife,
The moore soe pleas'd this new-made empress' eie, 25
Soe when in age I thought to live in peace,
My deare Lavinia was betrothed than
He being slaine, was cast in cruel wise,
The moore then fetcht the emperour with speed, 45
But nowe, behold! what wounded most my mind,
Then both her hands they basely cutt off quite,
When they had tasted of soe sweete a flowre,
But when I sawe her in that woefull case,
My brother Marcus found her in the wood,