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speare's plays seems, almost uniformly, to have been confined to the company to which he belonged; but we know from Henslowe's Diary that between 3rd June, 1594, and 15th Nov. 1596, the Lord Chamberlain's servants were acting in conjunction with those of the Lord Admiral?: one of the plays, enumerated by Henslowe (Diary, p. 35) as having been acted in this interval, is " Titus Andronicus,” which circumstance he records under date of 5th June, 1594. This may have been the very play Shakespeare had written, and which having been thus represented by several companies, although the Earl of Nottingham's servants was not one of them, the fact was stated on the title-page of the earliest extant impression. It is to be observed, however, that Henslowe (p. 33) has an entry of the performance of a Titus Andronicus” on the 23rd Jan. 1593-4, when it appears to have been a new play. The “ Titus Andronicus," therefore, acted on 5th June, 1594, may have been a repetition of a drama, which possibly had been got up for Henslowe, in consequence of the success of a tragedy upon the same story, the property of a rival company. There can be little doubt that Shakespeare's "Titus Andronicus" was written several years earlier.
It is very possible that Shakespeare's "Titus Andronicus” was founded upon some anterior dramatic performance, but on this point we have no evidence beyond what may be collected from the piece itself, in certain real or supposed dissimilarities of composition, and subsequent changes.
When Danter entered the “noble Roman History of Titus Andronicus” in 1593, he coupled with it “the ballad thereof,” which probably is the same printed in Percy's "Reliques," vol. i. p. 241, edit. 1812. A play called “ Andronicus” is mentioned by Ben Jonson in the Induction to his “Bartholomew Fair," (played first in 1614,) as a piece of twenty-five or thirty years standing. This may have been Shakespeare's tragedy, that acted by Henslowe's company, or a drama which had served as the foundation of both. The earliest printed notice of “Titus Andronicus” (excepting that by Meres) is contained in a tract called "Father Hubbard's Tales, or the Ant and the Nightingale," 4to. 1604, imputed to Thomas Middleton, where (Sign. E. 3) the author speaks of the “lamentable action of one arm, like old Titus Andronicus." The loss of his hand by the hero would no doubt form an incident in every drama written upon the subject.
2 See “ The Memoirs of Edward Alleyn," published by the Shakespeare Society in 1841, p. 22. The theatre the Lord Chamberlain's and the Lord Admiral's players jointly occupied, was that at Newington Butts.
3 By the mark which the old manager usually put opposite the entry of a play on its first performance. It was repeated on 6th Feb. and on 12th June, 1594 : see Henslowe's Diary, printed by the Shakespeare Society in 1843, p. 36.
SATURNINUS, Son to the late Emperor of Rome, and afterwards
declared Emperor. BASSIANUS, Brother to Saturninus; in love with Lavinia. TITUS ANDRONICUS, a noble Roman, General against the
Goths. MARCUS ANDRONICUS, Tribune of the People; and Brother
to Titus. LUCIUS, QUINTUS,
Sons to Titus Andronicus.
TAMORA, Queen of the Goths.
Kinsmen of Titus, Senators, Tribunes, Officers, Soldiers, and
SCENE, Rome; and the Country near it.
| A list of persons was first printed by Rowe.
ACT I. SCENE I.
Rome. Before the Capitol.
The tomb of the Andronici appearing; the Tribunes and Senators
aloft, as in the Senate. Enter, below, SATURNINUS and his Followers, on one side; and BASSIANUS and his Followers, on the other; with drum and colours.
Sat. Noble patricians, patrons of my right,
Bas. Romans,-friends, followers, favourers of my right,
1 I am the first-born son, that was the last] The corr. fo. 1632 puts it,
“ I am the first-born son of him, the last
That wore the imperial diadem of Rome." 2 Nor wrong mine age] i. e. My claim by reason of seniority.
3 To justice, CONTINENCE, and nobility,] This may not be wrong, but the corr. fo. 1632 has "continence" erased, and conscience inserted instead of it. There seems no sufficient reason for saying that “the imperial seat” was consecrate to "continence.” For "continence" Prof. Mommsen has der Treu.
But let desert in pure election shine ;
Enter MARCUS ANDRONICUS, aloft, with the crown.
your deserts in peace and humbleness.
Bas. Marcus Andronicus, so I do affy In thy uprightness and integrity,
He by the senate is accited home,] i.e. Is recalled, or summoned home. Shakespeare uses the verb to "accite” twice in the same play, viz. in “ Henry IV., Part II.," A. ii. sc. 2 (Vol. iii. p. 453), where it should rather mean to excite“What accites your most worshipful thought to think so ?" and in A. v. sc. 2 (p. 520), where the King says that he will “ accite all his state," or summon together all his nobility, &c.
- so I do AFFY In thy uprightness] To “affy in” is to trust to, to have confidence in :
And so I love and honour thee and thine,
[Exeunt the Followers of BASSIANUS.
[E.ceunt the Followers of SATURNINUS. Rome, be as just and gracious unto me, As I am confident and kind to thee.Open the brazen gates, and let me in'. Bas. Tribunes, and me, a poor competitor.
[Sat, and Bas. go into the Capitol, and exeunt with
Senators, MARCUS, &c.
Enter a Captain, and others.
it is used also by Ben Jonson. Shakespeare employs the verb “to affy” in " Henry VI., Part II.," A. iv. sc. 1 (Vol. iv. p. 73), and there it means to betroth. The noun "affiance" is a common word.
6 – and the cause.] “And my cause" in the corr. fo. 1632: so the line was perhaps recited, but the change is not necessary.
Open the BRAZEN gates, and let me in.] The measure is elsewhere quite regular, but two syllables are deficient in this line, and we find them most unob. jectionably supplied, in the corr. fo. 1632, by the word “brazen." It is rendered Oeffnet das ehrne Thor in the recent German edition.
8 From WHERE] So the 4tos, 1600 and 1611: the folio, 1623, “ From whence," a misprint which the sense corrects.