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2 to CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER
Should the errors and desiciencies of this essay invite others to deeper and more successful researches, the end proposed by it will be attained: and' he who offers the present arrangement of Shakspeare's dramas, will be happy to transfer the slender portion of credit that may result from the novelty of his undertaking, to some future claimant, who may be supplied with ampler materials, and endued with a superio-r degree of antiquarian sagacity.
7 To some, he is not unapprized, this inquiry will appear a tedious and barren speculation. But there are many, it is hoped, who think nothing which relates to the brightest ornament of the English nation, wholly uninteresling; who willbe gratified by observing, how the genius of our great poet gradually expanded itsclf, till, like his own Ariel, itflamed amazemcnt in every quarter, blazing forth with a lustre, that has not hitherto been equalled, and probably will never be surpasI'ed.7 MALONE..
at The Puritan Maid, the rnodesl Wife, and the wanton Widow;
'I Query if not Dekkefs King of Swethlanal', entered on the
Stationers' books, -]une 29, 1660. . P
I HAVE long had great doubts concerning the authenticity oftlie facfis mentioned in aletter printed in Vol. III. giving a pretended extract from a pamphlet-of the lafi age, entitled " Old Ben's Light Heart made heavy by young-]ohn's Melanch0lyL0vcr," containing some anecdotes of Shakspeare, Benjonfon, and john Ford, the dramatick poet; and suspefled that the plausible tale which the writer of the letter alluded to has told, was an innocent forgery, fabricated for the purpose of aiding a benefit, and making the town believe that The L0ver's Melancholy' came from the mint of Shakspeare. Some additional information on this subjedt, which I have lately obtained, appears to me so decifively to! confirm and eflablilh my opinion, that I shall here, though fomewhat out of place, devote a few pages to the examination of this question. i Having always thought with indignation on the tasleleifnefs of the scholars of thatsage in preferring Jonson to Shakspeare after the death of the latter, I did not find rnyfelf much inclined to dispute the authenticity ofa paper, which, in-its general tenour, was conformable to my own notions: but the love of truth ought ever to be superior to such confiderations. Our poet's fame is fixed upon 3. bafis as broad and general as the cafingair, and Hands