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OF SHAKSPEARES PLAYS. '2o5

King's Company, before prince Charles , the lady Elizabeth, and the prince Palatine elecftor , in the beginning ofthe year 1613.

The names of Trinculo and Antonio , two of the characters in this comedy, are likewise found in that of Albumazar; which was printed in 1614, but is supposed by Dryden to have appeared some years before. '

Ben jonson probably meant to sneer at this play in the prologue to Every Man in his Humour, first printed in 16i6 , and probably written a few years before:

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In the induftion to his Bartholomcw Fair he has endeavoured to depreciatc this beautiful comedy b'y calling it asoolery. Dryden, however, informs us that it was a very popular play at Blackfriars , but unluckily has not said aword relative to the time of its first representation there, though he might certainly have received information on that subjetft from Sir VVilliam D'Avenant.

The only note of time which I have observed in this play , is in Aft Il. sc. ii; " --- when they [the English] will not give a doit to relieve a lame beggar , they will lay out ten to seea dead Indian." This probably alludes to some recent circumfiance with which I am unacquainted.

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It has been generally believed Q that' Shakspcare retired from the theatre , and ceased to write, about

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three years before he died. The latter suppofition
mustnowv be considered as extremely doubtful; for
Mr. Tyrwhitt, with great probability, conjeftures ,
that Twclfth ]Vz'ght was written in 1614: ground-
ing his opinion on an allulion, 'which it seems
to contain, to those parliamentary undcrsav-'ters of
whom .frequent mention is made in thejoumals of
the House of Commons for that year; 3 who were
fligmatized with the invidious name , on' account
of their having undertaken to manage the eleflions
of knights and burgesses in such a manner as to
secure a rnajority in parliament for the court, If
this allusion was intended, Tzuclsth Night was pro-
bably our author's last produftion; and, we may
presume , was written after he had retired to Strat-
ford. It is observable that Mr. Ashley, a member
of the House of Commons, in one of the debates
on this subject , says , " that the rumour concerning
these undertaken had spread into the c0unrfr)'."
VVhen Shakfpeare quitted London and his 'pro-
feslion , for the tranquillity ofa rural retirement ,"
it is improbable that such an excurlive genius should
have been immediately reconciled to a state of
mental inaeiivity. It is more natural to conceive,
that he should have occasionally bent his thoughts
towards the theatre , which his muse had supported,
and the interest of his associates whom he hadleft
behind him to firuggle with the capricious vicissi-
tudes of publick casie, andlwhom, his last Will
shews us , he had not forgotten. To the necessity ,
therefore , of literary amusement to every cultivated

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mind, or to the dielates of sriendlhip, or to both (hese incentives, we are perhaps indebted sor the comedy of Twelfth Nigltt; which bears evident marks of having been composed at leisure , as mosl: of the charaftexrs that it contains , are finilhed to a. higher degree of dramatick perseelion, than is discover:-.ble in some of our author's earlier comick persormanccsf '

In the third a8; of this comedy , Decker's Hfcflward Hoe seems to be alluded to. Wqflward Hoc was printed in 1607 , and from the prologue' to Easfward Hoc appears to have been ailed in 16o4 , or before.

Maria, in Twclfth Night, speaking of Malvolio , says, " he does smile hisface into'm0re lines than the new map with the augmentation of the Indies." I have not been able to learn the date of the map here alluded to; but, as it is spoken of as a recent publieation, it' may, when discovered, serve to ascertain the date of this'play more exaflly.

The comedy of What you will, (the second title of the play now before us,) which was entered at Stationers' hall, Aug. 9, 1607, was certainlyMarfl0n"s play, as it was jlrintcd in that year for T. Thorpe, by whom the above mentioned entry was made; and it appears to have been the general praftice of the booksellers at that time, reccntly before jzublicazion, to enter those plays of which they had procured copies. V

TwelsthNzght was not registercd on the Stationers' books, nor printed till 1623. .

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general of artillerie, and married the Lady Teresa, whose fisler was one ofthe queens of Perlia, arrived in England as ambasfador from the Sophy in 1612. After flaying one year he and his wife returned to Perfia, Uan. 1512-13,) leaving a son, to whom the queen was godmother, and Prince Henry godfather."

Camdensaccount agrees with this, for according to him Sir Robert Shirley came to England on his e1;nba[fy,]une 26, 1612 2 but both the accounts are erroneous; for Sir Robert Shirley certainly arrived in London as ambalfador from the Sophy in 1611,' 53 appears from a letterwritten by him to Henry prince ofWaies, dated Nov. 4, 16i 1, requeliing the prince to be god-father to his fon.5 Sir Robert, and his Perfian. lady, at this time made much noise; and Shakspeare, it is highlyprobable, here alludes to the magnificence which he clifplayed during his fiay in England, out of the funds allotted to him by the emperor of Perfia. He remained in England about eighteen months. .

U the dates here alligned to our author's plays should not, in every inflance, bring with them conviction oftheir propriety, let it be remembered, V-that this is a subjetfl on which conviction cannot at this day be obtained; and that the obfervations now fubmitted to the publick, ,d0 not pretend to any higher title than that of " AN ATTEMPT to ascertain the Chrunology of the Drarnas of Shak.speare." ' ,

5 MSS. Harl, 7oo3,

' VOL. II. P

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