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COME live with me, and be my love,
There will we sit upon the rocks,
There will I make thee beds of roses
A gown made of the finest wool,
A belt of straw, and ivie buds,
The shepherd swains shall dance and sing
THE NYMPH'S REPLY.
If that the World and Love were young,
But time drives flocks from field to fold,
The flowers do fade, and wanton fields
Thy gowns, thy shoes, thy beds of roses,
Thy belt of straw, and ivie buds,
But could youth last, and love still breed,
XIII. Títus Andronicus's Complaint. The reader has here an ancient ballad on the same subject as the play of Titus Andronicus, and it is probable that the one was borrowed from the other: but which of them was the original, it is not easy to decide. And yet, if the argument offered above in p. 225, for the priority of the ballad of the Jew of Venice may be admitted, somewhat of the same kind may be urged here; for this ballad differs from the play in several particulars, which a simple Lallad-writer would be less likely to alter than an inventive tragedian. Thus in the ballad is no mention of the contest for the empire between the two brothers, the composing of which makes the ungrateful treatment of Titus afterwards the more flagrant: neither is there any notice taken of his sacrificing one of Tamora's sons, which the tragic poet has assigned as the original cause of all her cruelties. In the play, Titus loses twenty-one of his sons in war, and kills another for assisting Bassianus to carry off Lavinia: the reader will find it different in the ballad. In the latter she is betrothed to the Emperor's son: in the play to his brother. In the tragedy only two of his sons fall into the pit, and the third, being banished, returns to Rome with a victorious army, to avenge the wrongs of his house: in the ballad all three are entrapped, and suffer death. In the scene the Emperor kills Titus, and is in return stabbed by Titus's surviving son. Here Titus kills the Emperor, and afterwards himself.
Let the reader weigh these circumstances, and some others wherein he will find them unlike, and then pronounce for himself. After all, there is reason to conclude, that this play was rather improved by Shakspeare with a few fine touches of his pen, than originally writ by
him; for not to mention that the style is less figurative than his others generally are, this tragedy is mentioned with discredit in the Induction to Ben Jonson's Bartholomew-fair, in 1614, as one that had then been exhibited “five and twenty or thirty years :" which, if we take the lowest number, throws it back to the year 1589, at which time Shakspeare was but 25: an earlier date than can be found for any other of his pieces : * and if it does not clear him entirely of it, shows at least it was a first attempt.†
The following is given from a copy in The Golden Garland, entitled as above; compared with three others, two of them in black letter, in the Pepys Collection, entitled The Lamentable and Tragical History of Titus Andronicus, &c.—To the tune of Fortune. Printed for E. Wright.Unluckily none of these have any dates.
You noble minds, and famous martiall wights,
In Rome I lived in fame fulle threescore yeeres,
* Mr. Malone thinks 1591 to be the era when our author commenced a writer for the stage. See, in his Shakspeure, the ingenious “attempt to ascertain the order in which the Plays of Shakspeare were written."
+ Since the above was written, Shakspeare's memory has been fully vindicated from the charge of writing the above Play by the best critics. See what has been urged by Steevens and Malone, in their excellent editions of Shakspeare, &c.
For when Rome's foes their warlike forces bent,
Just two and twenty of my sonnes were slaine
When wars were done, I conquest home did bring,
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 bee allowd.
The moore soe pleas'd this new-made empress' eie, That she consented to him secretlye
26 For to abuse her husbands marriage bed, And soe in time a blackamore she bred.
Then she, whose thoughts to murder were inclinde,