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STEEVENS.

frain from quoting the following lines from old Ben's prologue to his Every Man in his Humour.

To make a child now swaddled, to proceed
Man, and then shoot up, in one beard and weed
Past threescore years: or with three rusty swords,
And help of some few foot and half-foot words,
Fight over York and Lancaster's long wars,

And in the tyring-house, &c. The historical dramas are now concluded, of which the two parts of Henry the Fourth, and Henry the Fifth, are among the happiest of our author's compositions; and King John, Richard the Third, and Henry the Eighth, deservedly stand in the second class. Those whose curiosity would refer the historical scenes to their original, may consult Holinshed, and sometimes Hall: from Holinshed Shakspeare has often inserted whole speeches with no more alteration than was necessary to the numbers of his verse. To transcribe them into the margin was unnecessary, because the original is easily examined, and they are seldom less perspicuous in the poet than in the historian.

To play histories, or to exhibit a succession of events by action and dialogue, was a common entertainment among our rude ancestors upon great festivities. The parish clerks once performed at Clerkenwell a play which lasted three days, containing, The History of the Iorld.

JOHNSON

TROILUS AND CRESSIDA.

BY

WILLIAM SHAKSPEARE.

VOL. IX.

ON

THE PLOT, THE FABLE, AND CONSTRUCTION

OF

TROILUS AND CRESSIDA.

This play is more correctly written than most of Shakspeare's compositions, but it is not one of those in which either the extent of his views or elevation of his fancy is fully displayed. As the story abounded with materials, he has exerted little invention ; but he has diversified his characters with great variety, and preserved them with great exactness. His vicious characters disgust, but cannot corrupt, for both Cressida and Pandarus are detested and contemned. The comick characters seem to have been the favourites of the writer ; they are of the superficial kind, and exhibit more of manners than nature ; but they are copiously filled and powerfully impressed. Shakspeare has in his story followed, for the greater part, the old book of Caxton, which was then very popular; but the character of Thersites, of which it makes no mention, is a proof that this play was written after Chapman had published bis version of Homer.

JOHNSON. Mr. Pope (after Dryden) informs us, that the story

of Troilus and Cressida was originally the work of one Lollius, a Lombard. Dryden goes yet further; he declares it to have been written in Latin verse, and that Chaucer translated it. Lollius was a historiographer of Urbino in Italy. Shakspeare received the greatest part of his materials for the structure of this play from the Troye Boke of Lydgate. Lydgate was not much more than a translator of Guido of Columpna, who was of Messina in Sicily, and wrote his History of Troy in Latin, after Dictys Cretensis, 1287. Guido's work was published at Cologne in 1477, again in 1480, at Strasburgh 1486, and ibidem, 1469. This work appears to have been translated by Raoul le Feure, at Cologne, into French, from whom Caxton rendered it into English in 1471, under the title of his Recuyel, &c. so that there must have been yet some earlier edition of Guido's performance than I have hitherto seen or heard of, unless his first translator had recourse to a manuscript.

Guido of Columpna is referred to as an authority by our own chronicler Grafton. Chaucer had made the loves of Troilus and Cressida famous, which very probably might have been Shakspeare's inducement to try their fortune on the stage.-Lydgate's Troye Boke was printed by Pynson, 1513.

STEEVENS. Before this play of Troilus and Cressida, printed in 1609, is a bookseller's preface, shewing that first impression to have been before the play had been acted, and that it was published without Shakspeare's know. ļedge, from a copy that had fallen into the bookseller's

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