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I suppose this comedy to have been written in 1600, in which year it was printed.-See An Attempt to ascertain the Order of Shakspeare's Plays, vol. ix. MALONE.
THE FABLE AND COMPOSITION
A MIDSUMMER-NIGHT'S DREAM.
THIS play was entered Oct. 8, 1600, at Stationers' Hall. It is probable that the hint for this play was received from Chaucer's Knight's Tale thence it is, that our author speaks of Theseus as duke of Athens. The tale begins thus:
"Whylome as olde stories tellin us,
"There was a Duke that highte Theseus,
"Of Athens he was lord and governour," &c.
Lidgate too, the monk of Bury, in his Translation of the Tragedies of John Bochas, calls him the same. chap. xii. 1. 21.
"Duke Theseus had the victorye.”
Creon, in the tragedy of Jocasta, translated from Euripides in 1566, is called Duke Creon.
"Not lyke Duke Hamilcar,
"Nor lyke Duke Asdruball."
And Stanyhurst, in his Translation of Virgil, calls Æneas, Duke Æneas. STEEVENS.
Of this play there are two editions in quarto; one printed for Thomas Fisher, the other for James Roberts, both in 1600. I have used the copy of Roberts, very carefully collated, as it seems, with that of Fisher. Neither of the editions approach to exactness. Fisher is sometimes preferable, but Roberts was followed, b
though not without some variations, by Hemings and Condel, and they by all the folios that succeeded them.
Wild and fantastical as this play is, all the parts in their various modes are well written, and give the kind of pleasure which the author designed. Fairies in his time were much in fashion; common tradition had made them familiar, and Spenser's poem had made them great. JOHNSON.
The Midsummer-Night's Dream I suppose to have been written in 1592.-See An Attempt to ascertain the Order of Shakspeare's Plays, vol. ix. MALONE.
THE FABLE AND COMPOSITION
LOVE'S LABOUR'S LOST.
I HAVE not discovered any novel on which this play appears to have been founded; and yet the story of it wears the features of STEEVENS.
an ancient romance.
In this play, which all the editors have concurred to censure, and some have rejected as unworthy of our poet, it must be confessed, that there are many passages mean, childish, and vulgar; and some which ought not to have been exhibited, as we are told they were, to a maiden queen. But there are scattered through the whole many sparks of genius; nor is there any play that has more evident marks of the hand of Shakspeare. JOHNSON. Love's Labour's Lost I conjecture to have been written in 1594. MALONE.