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Should the errors and deficiencies 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 flender 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 superior degree of antiquarian sagacity.
To some, he is not unapprized, this inquiry will appear a tedious and barren fpeculation. But there are many, it is hoped, who think nothing which relates to the brightest ornament of the English nation, wholly uninteresting ; who will be gratified by observing, how the genius of our great poet gradually expanded itself, till, like his own Ariel. it flamed amazement in every quarter, blazing forth with a lustre, that has not hitherto been equalled, and probably will never be surpassed.? MALONE.
7 In the list of plays enumerated (p. 184, 185.) by Mr. Malone as unpublished, he might have excepted two more of them which fill remain in manuscript, viz. The Queen of Corsica and The Bugbears, both also in the poffeffion of the Marquis of Lansdowne. The following is the list of plays formerly in the poffeffion of Mr. Warburton, copied from his MS. in the possession of the same nobleman:
66 The honourable Loves, by Will. Rowley.
6 The Governor, T. Sir Corn. Formido.
by Tho. Middleton.
"Query if not Dekker's King of Swethland", entered on the Stationers' books, June 29, 1660.
66 The Nobleman. T. C. · Cyrill Tourneur.
- After I had been many years collecting these ÀS. plays, through my own carelessness and the ignorance of my fervant in whose hands I had lodged them, they were unluckily burn’d, or put under pyebottoms, excepting the three which follow :
66 Second Maiden's Tragedy.
* Now in the library of the Marquis of Lansdownc.
SHAKSPEARE, FORD, AND JONSON.
ubi nulla fugam reperit fallacia, vi&tus, In fefe redit. Virg.
HAVE long had great doubts concerning the. authenticity of the facts mentioned in a letter printed in Vol. III. giving a pretended extract from a pamphlet of the last age, entitled " Old Ben's Light Heart made heavy by young John's Melancholy Lover," containing fome anecdotes of Shakspeare, Ben Jonson, and John Ford, the dramatick poet; and suspected 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 Lover's Melancholy came from the mint of Shakspeare. Some additional information on this subject, which I have lately obtained, appears to me so decisively to confirm and establish my opinion, that I shall here, though somewhat out of place, devote a few pages to the examination of this question.
Having always thought with indignation on the tastelessness of the scholars of that age in preferring Jonson to Shakspeare after the death of the latter, I did not find myself much inclined to dispute the authenticity of a 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 a basis as broad and general as the casing air, and stands
in no need of such meretricious aids as the pen of fiction
be able to furnish. However, before I entered on this discussion, I thought it incumbent on me to apply to Mr. Macklin, the author of the letter in question, upon the subject : but his memory is so much impaired; (he being now in the ninetyfirst year of his age,) that he scarcely recollects having written such a letter, much less the circumstances attending it. Iought, however, to add, that I had some conversation with him a few years ago upon the same topick, and then strongly urged to him that no kind of disgrace could attend his owning that this letter was a mere jeu d'esprit, written for an occasional harmless purpose: but he persisted in asserting that the pamphlet of which he has given an account, (for which I in vain offered by a publick advertisement, continued for some time in the newspapers, to pay two guineas, and of which no copy has been found in any publick or private library in the course of forty years,) was once in his poffeffion; was printed in quarto, and bound up with several small political tracts of the same period; and was lost with a large collection of old. plays and other books, on the coast of Ireland, in the year 1760. I cannot therefore boast, habeo confitentem reum.
However, let the point be tried by those rules of evidence which regulate trials of greater importance; and I make no doubt that I shall be able to produce such testimony as shall convict our veteran comedian of having, sportively, ingeniously, and falsely, (though with no malice afore-thought,) invented and fabricated the narrative given in the letter already mentioned, contrary to the Statute of Biography, and other