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17o CHRONOLOGICAL oiuzizrt
hall. But this, I conjeelure, was notits firfi exhibition. ,]t seemsfextrernely probable that its firfi appearance was in March or April, 16o5; in which. year 'the old play of Kz'ngLcz'r, that had been entered at Stationer's hall in 15g4, was printed by Simon Stafiord, for john VV1"-ight, who, we may presuime, finding.Shakspeare's playsuccessful, hoped to palm the spurious one on the publick for his." The old King Lcir was entered on the Stationers' books, May 8, 1605. as it was lately ailed.
Harsnefs Dcclaration ofP0j)ish Impaflurcs, from which Shakspcare borrowed some fantafiick names of spirits, mentioned in this play, was printed in 1-603. Our author's King Lcar was not published till 1503. , A
This play is ascertained to have been written after the month of Oaober, 1604, by a minute change which Shakspeare made -in a traditional line, put into the mouth of Edgar: ,
The old metrical laying, which is found in one of Na(he's pamphlepts, printed in' 1596, and in other books, was, ' ,
Though a complete union of England and Scotland, which was projecftedin the firfi parliament that met after jamesls accefiion to 'the English throne , was not carried into efleafl till a century afterwa.-rds,. the two kingdoms were united in name, and he was proclaimed king of Great Britain, Oaober 24, 1604.
' -27. CYMBELINE, 1605.
Cymbclinc was not entered in thestationers' books nor printed till 1623. It stands the lzflt play in the earliest folio edition; but nothing can be collefied from thence, for the folio editors manifefily paid -no attention to chronological arrangement. Nor was this negligence peculiar to them: for in the folio collection of D'Avenant's works printed after his death, Alba-uinc, King of the Lombards, one of his' earliefl plays, which had been published in quarto , in 1629 , is placed at -the end of the volume.
I have found in Cymbclinc little internal evidence by which its date might be ascertained. Such evidence, however. as it furnishes, induces me to ascribe it to 16o5 , after Shakfpeare had composed King Lear, and before he had written Macbcth. The charafier of Edgar in King Lcar is undoubtedly formed on that of Leonatus , the legitimate son of the blind king of Paphlagonia, in Sydney's Arcadia. Shakfpeare having occasion to turn to that book while he was writing King Lcar, the name of Lcomitus adhered to his memory , and he
- Philasier had appeared on the (lage before 161 1 , being mentioned by John Davies of Hereford, in his Epigrams , which have no date, -but were published according to Oldys , in or about that year." Dryden mentions a tradition, (whichehe might have received from Sir William D'Avenant ,) that Philafler was the first play by which Beaumont and Fletcher acquired reputation , and that they had written two or three less successful pieces, before Plzilafler appeared. From a prologue ofD'Avenant's their first produflion should seem to have been exhibited about the year 1605. Plzilafler, therefore, it may be presumed, was represented in 16o8 or 1609. X
,One edition of the tract called Weflward for Smelts , from which part of the fable of Cymlzeline is borrowed, was published in 1603.
In this play mentiondis made of Caesar'sN immeasureable ambition, and Cleopatra's sailing on the Cydnus to meet Antony: from which, and other circumstances , I think it probable that about: this time Shakspeare perused the lives of Caesar, Brutus ,' and Mark Antony.
King james," to prove how thoroughly he was emancipated from the tutelage of his clergy , desired Queen Elizabeth in the year 159g to send him a company of English coimedians. She complied, and James gave them a licence to act in his capital and in his court. I have great reason to think ,,
T Addilions to Langbainds Account qfdramatick Poets, MS.
174' CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER.
(adds the hisl0rian,) that the immortal Shakspearewas of the number) But his drarna, which finds access at this day to the moPc insensible hearts , had no charms in the eyes of the presbyterian. clergy. They threatened excommunication to all who attended the playhouse. Many forebore to attend the theatrical exhibitions. James considered the insolent interpofition of the clergy as a fresh attack upon his prerogative , and ordered those who had been most aciive, to retracfl: their menaces , which they un-willingly did; and we are told that the playhoufe was then greatly crowded."
, I know not to what degree of credit this anec-' dote is entitled; but it is certain, thatjames, after his accession to the English throne, was a great encourager of theatrical exhibitions. From 16o4 to 16o8 he devoted himself entirely to hunting, rhasques, plays, tiltings. Scc. In 16o5 he visitecl Oxford. From a book entitled Rcx Platonic-us, cited by Dr. Farmer , we learn , that on entering the city the king was addrelsecl by three Pcudents of St. ]ohn's college , who alternately accofied his majefiy, reciting some Latin verses , founded on the predicflion of the w'e'ird sisiers relative to Banquo and Macbeth.9 ,
Dr. Farmer is of opinion, that this performance preceded Shakspeare's play; a suppofition which is firengthened by the filence of the author of Rex