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ACT V.

(1) SCENE III.

Then, afterwards, to order well the state,

That like events may ne'er it ruinate.] The following is the ballad registered by Danton when he entered the “Historye of Tytus Andronicus” on the Stationers' Rolls. It is extracted from Percy's “Reliques of Antient Poetry," Vol. I. :

“ Titus ANDRONicus's COMPLAINT.
“ You noble minds and famous martiall wights,

That in defence of native country fights,
Give ear to me, that ten yeers fought for Rome,

Yet reapt disgrace at my returning home.
“ In Rome I lived in same fulle threescore yeeres,

My name beloved was of all my peeres;
Full five and twenty valiant sonnes 1 had,
Whose forwarde vertues made their father glad.
“For when Romes foes their warlike forces bent,
Against them stille my sonnes and I were sent;
Against the Goths full ten yeeres weary warte
We spent, receiving many a bloudy scarre.
" Just two and twenty of my sonnes were slaine

Before we did returne to Rome againe :
Of five and twenty sonnes, I brought but three
Alive the stately towers of Rome to see.
" When wars were done I conquest home did bring,
And did present my prisoners to the King.
The Queene of Goths, her sons, and eke a Moore,

Which did such murders, like was nere before.
“ The emperour did make this queene his wife,

Which bred in Rome debate and deadlie strife;
The Moore, with her two sonnes did growe soe proud,

That none like them in Rome might be allowd.
“ The Moore soe pleased this new-made empress' eie,

That she consented to him secretlye
For to abuse her husbands marriage bed,
And soe in time a blackamore she bred.
“ Then she, whose thoughts to murder were inclined,
Consented with the Moore of bloody minde
Against myself, my kin, and all my friendes,

In cruell sort to bring them to their endes.
"Soe when in age I thought to live in peace,

Both care and griefe began then to increase:
Amongst my sonnes 1 had one daughter bright,
Which joy'd, and pleased best my aged sight:
“ My deare Lavinia was betrothed than

To Cæsars sonne, a young and noble man:
Who in a hunting by the emperours wife

And her two sonnes, bereaved was of life.
“ He being slaine was cast in cruel wise

Into a darksome den from light of skies :
I The cruell Moore did come that way as then

With my three sonnes, who fell into the den.
“ T'he Moore then fetcht the emperour with speed,

For to accuse them of that murderous deed;
And when my sonnes within the den were found,

In wrongfull prison they were cast and bound.
“ But nowe, behold! what wounded most my mind,

The empresses two sonnes of savage kind
My daughter ravished without remorse,

And took away her honour, quite perforce.
" When they had tasted of soe sweete a flowre,

Fearing this sweete should shortly turne to soure,
They cutt her tongue, whereby she could not tell
How that dishoncure unto her befell.
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“ Then both her hands they basely cutt off quite,

Whereby their wickednesse she could not write;
Nor with her needle on her sampler sowe

The bloudye workers of her direfull woe. “My brother Marcus found her in the wood, Staining the grassie ground with purple bloud, That trickled from her stumpes, and bloudlesse armes; Noe tongue at all she had to tell her harmes. “ But when I sawe her in that woefull case,

With teares of bloud I wet mine aged face;
For my Lavinia 1 lamented more,

Than for my two and twenty sonnes before.
“When as I sawe she could not write nor speake,

With griefe mine aged heart began to breake;
We spred an heape of sand upon the ground,

Whereby those bloudy tyrants out we found.
** For with a staffe without the help of hand
She writt these wordes upon the plat of sand :

The lustfull sonnes of the proud em perèsse
Are doers of this hateful wickednesse.'
" I tore the milk-white hairs from off mine head,

I curst the houre, wherein I first was bred,
I wisht this hand, that fought for countrie's fame,

In cradle rockt, had first been stroken lame. “ The Moore delighting still in villainy,

Did say, to sett my sonnes from prison free
I should unto the king my right hand give,

And then my three imprisoned sonnes should live. “ The Moore I caused to strike it off with speede,

Whereat I grieved not to see it bleed,
But for my sonnes would willingly impart,

And for their ransome send my bleeding heart. “ But as my life did linger thus in paine,

They seni to me my bootlesse hand againe,
And therewithal the heades of my three sonnes,

Which filld my dying heart with fresher moanes. “ Then past reliefe I upp and downe did goe,

And with my teares writ in the dust my woe:
I shot my arrowes towards heaven hie,

And for revenge to hell did often crie.
“ The empresse then, thinking that I was mad,

Like furies she and both her sonnes were clad,
(She nam'd Revenge, and Rape and Murder they)

To undermine and heare what I would say. “ I fed their foolish veines a certaine space,

Untill my friendes did find a secret place,
Where both her sonnes unto a post were bound,

And just revenge in cruell sort was found.
“I cut their throates, my daughter held the pan

Betwixt her stumpes, wherein the bloud it ran :
And then I ground their bones to powder small,

And made a paste for pyes streight therewithall. " Then with their fleshe I made two mighty pyes,

And at a banquet servde in stately wise :
Before the empresse set this loathsome meat;

So of her sonnes own flesh she well did eat. “Myself bereav'd my daughter then of life,

The empresse then I slewe with bloudy knife,
And stabb'd the emperour immediatelie

And then myself : even soe did Titus die.
“ Then this revenge against the Moor was found,

Alive they sett him halfe into the ground,
Whereas he stood untill such time he starr'd.
And soe God send all murderers may be served."

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CRITICAL OPINIONS ON TITUS ANDRONICUS.

" ALL the editors and critics agree with Mr. Theobald in supposing this play spurious. I see no reason for differing from them; for the colour of the style is wholly different from that of the other plays, and there is an attempt at regular versification, and artificial closes, not always inelegant, yet seldom pleasing. The barbarity of the spectacles, and the general massacre, which are here exhibited, can scarcely be conceived tolerable to any audience ; yet we are told by Jonson, that they were not only borne, but praised. That Shakespeare wrote any part, though Theobald declares it incontestable, I see no reason for believing

“ The testimony produced at the beginning of this play, by which it is ascribed to Shakespeare, is by no means equal to the argument against its authenticity, arising from the total difference of conduct, language, and sentiments, by which it stands apart from all the rest. Meres had probably no other evidence than that of a title-page, which, though in our time it be sufficient, was then of no great authority ; for all the plays which were rejected by the first collectors of Shakespeare's works, and admitted in later editions, and again rejected by the critical editors, had Shakespeare's name on the title, as we must suppose, by the fraudulence of the printers, who, while there were yet no gazettes, nor advertisements, nor any means of circulating literary intelligence, could usurp at pleasure any celebrated name. Nor had Shakespeare any interest in detecting the imposture, as none of his fame or profit was produced by the press.

“ The chronology of this play does not prove it not to be Shakespeare's. If it had been written twentyfive years in 1614, it might have been written when Shakespeare was twenty-five years old. When he left Warwickshire, I know not; but at the age of twenty-five it was rather too late to fly for deerstealing.

“ Ravenscroft, who in the reign of Charles II. revised this play, and restored it to the stage, tells us in his preface, from a theatrical tradition, I suppose, which in his time might be of sufficient authority, that this play as touched in different parts by Shakespeare, but written by some other poet. I do not find Shakespeare's touches very discernible.”—JOHNSON.

641

VOL. III.

T T

“In the course of the notes on this performance, I have pointed out a passage or two which, in my opinion, sufficiently prove it to have been the work of one who was acquainted both with Greek and Roman literature. It is likewise deficient in such internal marks as distinguish the tragedies of Shakspeare from those of other writers ; I mean, that it presents no struggles to introduce the vein of humour so constautly interwoven with the business of his serious dramas. It can neither boast of his striking excellencies, nor his acknowledged defects ; for it offers not a single interesting situation, a natural character, or a string of quibbles from first to last. That Shakspeare should have written without commanding our attention, moving our passions, or sporting with words, appears to me as improbable, as that he should have studiously avoided dissyllable and trisyllable terminations in this play, and in no other.

“Let it likewise be remembered that this piece was not published with the name of Shakspeare till after his death. The quarto in 1611 is anonymous.

“Could the use of particular terms employed in no other of his pieces be admitted as an argument that he was not its author, more than one of these might be found ; among which is palliament for robe, a Latinism which I have not met with elsewhere in any English writer, whether ancient or modern ; though it must have originated from the mint of a scholar. I may add, that “Titus Andronicus' will be found on examination to contain a greater number of classical allusions, &c. than are scattered over all the rest of the performances on which the seal of Shakspeare is indubitably fixed.— Not to write any more about and about this suspected thing, let me observe that the glitter of a few passages in it has perhaps misled the judgment of those who ought to have known, that both sentiment and description are more easily produced than the interesting fabrick of a tragedy. Without these advantages many plays have succeeded ; and many have failed, in which they have been dealt about with the most lavish profusion. It does not follow, that he who can carve a frieze with minuteness, elegance, and ease, has a conception equal to the extent, propriety, and grandeur of a temple.”—STEEVENS.

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