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changed it happens not unfrequently that the original name occurs in the course of the play—this is the case in the Virtuous Wife—in the first scene one female only is on the stage—some of her speeches are given to Matilda and some to Jenny Wheedle — in a Mad Couple well Matched, Thrivewell is called Sir Valentine in the D. P., but never in the play— in the play he is called Sir Oliver 5 times, and Sir Anthony 4 times—similar mistakes occur in many other plays—in the 3d act of the School for Greybeards 1786 Sebastian says "Don Philip has only "to betray you"—there is no such character as Don Philip—the name had been changed to Don Gaspar —in the last scene of the same act Don Philip is said to enter—yet the speech, which immediately follows his entrance, is given to Don Gaspar—3 subsequent speeches with the exit are given to Don Philip—such is the carelessness of an author and printer even in modern times.
Steevens is unconvinced by Theobald's remark and says—" Old. might have been the beginning of "some actor's name: thus we have Kempe and "Cowley instead of Dogberry and Verges in the 4to. "Edition of Much ado about Nothing lbOO."
But if some actor whose name began with Old had played Falstaff, how happens it, that we have never heard of him?
In Act 3d Scene 2d Shallow says■-" Then was "Jack Falstaff, now Sir John, a boy and page to "Thomas Mowbray Duke of Norfolk"—Reed quotes a poem in which Sir John Oldcastle says he was page
to Sir Thomas Mowbray Steevens will not allow
that this coincidence proves any thing—he talks of the credulity of Field, Fuller, and others; and attempts to draw from the quotation a conclusion favourable to his own opinion.—(Note. An eminent Divine observes "when men aim at being thought "wiser and more knowing than others, and labour "to possess the world with an idea of their sagacity; "they can have no satisfaction in any opinion that is "commonly received in the world, for how will they "appear wiser than other men by professing to believe "what other men believe as well as they? give them "any thing that looks like a new discovery, and they "will struggle hard with their reason, but they will "find something to say in defence of it.")
In the Epilogue Shakspeare says—" If you be not "too much cloy'd with fat meat, our humble author "will continue the story, with Sir John in it, and "make you merry with fair Katharine of France: "where, for any thing I know, Falstaff shall die of "a sweat, unless already he be kill'd with your hard "opinions; for Oldcastle died a martyr, and this is
"not the man" this (says Theobald) looks like
declining a point, that had been made an objection to him—Unless Falstaff was originally called Oldcastle it will be very difficult to assign a sufficient reason why Shakspeare should mention Oldcastle at all in his Epilogue—
What was he to Oldcastle, or Oldcastle to him?
Or how could Falstaff suffer from the hard opinions of the audience, because the character of Oldcastle had been misrepresented in an obscure play?
Steevens says there is an absolute certainty that the old Henry 5th must have been condemned by any audience before whom it was represented—supposing this to be the case, and that Falstaff, as he argues, was always called Falstaff, is it probable that the author of Sir John Oldcastle should think it necessary to write an explanatory Prologue? would a piece that was damned induce him to call the title of his own play doubtful f in the old Henry 5th, Oldcastle is one of the Prince's loose companions, but he does not say or do any thing, which could occasion the writer of the Prologue to call him a glutton, and an aged counsellor to sin—his age is not specified, and he is so far from being a prominent character, that he only speaks about 34 lines.
On the supposition that the popular character of Falstaff was originally called Oldcastle, an explanation was requisite.
Sir John Oldcastle obtained his peerage by marrying the heiress of Lord Cobham—for renouncing the spiritual dominion of the Pope and exposing the vices of the clergy, he was burnt as a heretic; thus he fell a sacrifice to unfeeling rage and barbarous superstition, tho' every way qualified to be the ornament of
his country the author of the 1st part of Sir John
Oldcastle has done him justice—Malone in his 1st note says that Oldcastle was engaged in a traitorous design against Henry 5th—this and other calumnies were laid to the charge of Oldcastle—but Fox in the 1st Vol. of his Acts and Monuments, has given us a very laboured and satisfactory vindication of him. ( Gilpin.)
Such being the real character of Oldcastle, serious Protestants would naturally be offended at the gross liberties, which Shakspeare had taken with him.
The Dancer who speaks the Epilogue to Henry 4th part 2d says—" I was lately here in the end of a dis"pleasing play "—Steevens thinks it highly probable that the play alluded to was the old Henry the 5th, but he does not give the shadow of a reason why this was highly probable.
In 1779 2 Vols of Old Plays were printed with the following advertisement—" Mr. Steevens being of "opinion that these 6 dramatic pieces, which have "been occasionally quoted in the notes to the last "edition of Shakspeare, are requisite in an entire "state to his illustration; I have undertaken to pub"lish them without departure from theoriginal copies: "their claim to be preserved is built on their having "suggested such plans as his superiour genius and "judgment enabled him to improve &c.
One of these plays is Henry the 5th—which is a poor play, but not so bad as Steevens represents—if it had been still worse, this circumstance alone would not have authorized Steevens to pronounce with certainty, that it must have been damned—he allows that Shakspeare seems to have taken not a few hints from it, and that it comprehends in some measure the story of the 2 parts of Henry the 4th as well as
of Henry the 5th in the old play the Prince's
companions are Tom, Ned, and Sir John Oldcastle— Gadshill is the Prince's man and a thief—Shakspeare borrows the name of Gadshill—he calls Poins Ned, and why should it be thought improbable that he should use the name of Oldcastle, till that name gave offence?
Shakspeare (as Dr. Warburton remarks) was not scrupulous—in the Merry Wives he calls his French quack Caius, a name at that time very respectable, as belonging to an eminent and learned Physician, one of the founders of Gonvil and Caius College in Cambridge.
Dr. Johnson observes on the Courtship between Henry 5th and the Princess Katharine—" I know "not why Shakspeare now gives the King nearly "such a character as he made him formerly ridicule "in Percy"—the reason probably was this, that Shakspeare met with a similar scene in the "old play —the King says—
"I cannot do as these Countries do,
It appears from the Bills that Booth's name was not inserted in the License, when the Theatre opened for this season—Dogget acted Sir Tristram Cash on Nov. 11th, and probably Hob on the 20th—there can scarcely be a doubt, but that he had left the stage on Dec. 18, when Johnson played Savil—Colley Cibber says that the new License was issued about the beginning of the Winter—Dogget returned to the stage for 3 nights in 1717—see D. L. March 18—For his coat and badge see D. L. Aug. 1 1716.
As an actor Dogget was an original and the strictest observer of nature of any of his contemporaries; he borrowed from none of them, his manner was his