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Printed for T. Longman, B. Law and Son, C. Dilly, J. Robson, J. Johnson,
T. Vernor, G. G. J. and J. Robinson, T. Cadell, J. Murray, R. Baldwin,
M. DCC. XCIII.
* King John.] The Troublesome Reign of King Jobr was written in two parts, by W. Shakspeare and W. Rowley, and printed 1611. But the present play is entirely different, and infinitely superior to it. Pope.
The edition of 1611 has no mention of Rowley, nor in the. account of Rowley's works is any mention made of his conjunction with Shakspeare in any play. King John was reprinted in two parts in 1622.
The first edition that I have found of this play in its present form, is that of 1623, in folio. The edition of 1591 I have not seen. Johnson.
Dr. Johnson mistakes when he says there is no mention in Rowley's works of any conjunction with Shakspeare. The Birth of Merlin is ascribed to them jointly; though I cannot believe Shakspeare had any thing to do with it. Nr. Capell is equally mistaken when he says Pref. p. 15.) that Rowley is called his partner in the title-page of The Merry Dev'il of Edmonton.
There must have been some tradition, however erroneous, upon which Mr. Pope's account was founded. I make no doubt that Rowley wrote the first King John; and when Shakspeare's play was called for, and could not be procured from the players, a piratical bookseller reprinted the old one, with W. Sh. in the titlepage. FARMER.
The elder play of King John was first published in 1991. Shak. speare has preserved the greatest part of the conduct of it, as well as some of the lines. A few of these I have pointed out, and others I have omitted as undeserving notice. The number of quotations from Horace, and similar scraps of learning scattered over this motley piece, ascertain it to have been the work of a scholar. It contains likewise a quantity of rhyming Latin, and ballad-metre; and in a scene where the Bastard is represented as plundering a monastery, there are strokes of humour, which seem, from their particular turn, to have been moft evidently produced by another hand than that of our author.
Of this historical drama there is a subsequent edition in 1611, printed for John Helme, whose name appears before none of the genuine pieces of Shakspeare. I adıniited this play fome years ago as our author's own, among the twenty which I published from the old editions ; but a more careful perusal of it, and a further conviction of his custom of borrrowing plots, sentiments, &c. disposes me to recede from that opinion. STEEVENS.
A play entitled The troublesome raigue of John King of England, in two parts, was printed in 1591, without the writer's name. It was written, I believe, either by Robert Greene, or George Peele; and certainly preceded this of our author. Mr. Pope, who is very inaccurate in matters of this kind, says that the former was printed in 1611, as written by W. Shakspeare and W. Rowley.