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OF SHAKSPEARES PLAYS. 175
Platonicus , who , if Macbeth had then appeared on the Rage, would probably have mentioned some-1 thing of it. It should be likewise remembered, that there subfisled at that time, aspirit of opposition and rivalship between the regular players and the academicks of the-two univerfi-ties; the latter of whom frequently acfted plays both in Latin and English , and seem to have piqued themselves on the superiority of their exhibitions to those of the eslablilhed theatresf VViihing probably to rnanifell; this superiority to the royal pedant , it is not likely that they would choose fora collegiate interlude, (if this little persormanceldeserves that name,) a subject whichlhadlalready appeared on the publick Rage; with all the embellishments that the magick hand of Shakspeare could bellow. X
In the following july (16o6) the king of Denmark came to England on a vifit to his fillet, Queen Anne, and on the third of Augufi: was infialled 8. knight of the garter. " There is nothing to be heard at court," (says Drummond of Hawthornden in a letter dated that day,) 'F but sounding of trumpets, hautboys, mufick, revellings; and cornedies." Perhaps during this visit Macbcth. was firll; cxhibited. ,
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This tragedy contains an allusxon to the union of the threse kingdoms of England, Scotland, and lreland, under one sovereign, and also to the cure of the king's-evil by. the royal touch. 3 A ritual for the healing of that difiemper was esiablished early in this reign; but in what year -that pretended power was assumed by Kingjames I. is uncertain.
Matbeth was not entered in the Stationers' books, nor printed, till 1623. p V
In The Tragedy of Cxsar and Pompey, or Ca:sar's Rcvengc, are these lines: '
If the author of that play, which was published in 16o7, should be thought to have had Macbeth's soliloquy in view , (which is not unlikely,) this circumslance may add some degree of probability to the supposition that this tragedy had appeared before that year :
- OF SHAKSPEAREFS PLAYS.. 177
Ben jonson, a few years afterwards ,4paid'his court to his majesty by his Masquc of Queens , 4 pre-' sented at Whitehall , Feb. 12, 16og;. in which he has given a minute detail 'of all the magick rites that are recorded by King James in his book of Damonologie, or by any other author ancient or modern. T
Mr. Steevens has lately discovered a MS. play, entitled' THE WITCH, written by Thomas Middleton, ' which renders it questionable, whether Shak
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fpeare wztslnot indebted to that author for the first hint ofthe magick introduced in this tragedy. The reader will find 'an account of this singular Curiosity in the note. 6-To the observations of Mr. Stee