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1 On this drama, and on the share Shakespeare had in the authorship of it, opinions have varied ; and some years ago we were disposed to believe that his contribution was greater than, perhaps, we now think it ; but that he materially aided in its composition and production we are quite clear : therefore, as in the case of Pericles and The Two Noble Kinsmen, we add it confidently to his other works. It was got up in the utmost haste by several dramatists ; and with three other short pieces was acted in 1604, when the sad event on which it is founded was recent. So far as we now know, it was not printed until 1608, when it bore Shakespeare's name on the following title-page, “A Yorkshire Tragedy, not so new as lamentable and true : acted by his Majesties Players at the Globe. Written hy W. Shakespeare.” 1608, 4to. Malone tells us that in 1608 it was entitled All's One ; but this seems to be a mistake, as is shown by the copy in the library of the Duke of Devonshire, which we have employed. It was printed again in 4to. in 1619, but it was not included in the folios of 1623 or of 1632, while it made its appearance, with six other doubtful plays including Pericles, in the folios of 1664 and 1685. It is only in one Act, and has, in modern times, been divided into ten scenes.
A Room in Calverley Hall.
Enter OLIVER and RALPH, two serving-men. Oliv. SIRRAH RALPH, my young mistress is in such a pitiful passionate humour for the long absence of her love.
Ralph. Why, can you blame her? Why, apples hanging longer on a tree than when they are ripe make many fallings; viz., mad wenches, because they are not gathered in time, are fain to drop of themselves, and then 'tis common, you know, for every man to take them up.
Oliv. Mass, thou say'st true, 'tis common indeed. But, sirrah, is neither our young master returned, nor our fellow, Sam, come from London ?
Ralph. Neither of either, as the Puritan bawd says. 'Slid, I hear Sam. Sam's come! here he is; tarry—come i' faith : now my nose itches for news.
Oliv. And so does mine elbow.
Sam. [Calls within.] Where are you, there? Boy, look you walk my horse with discretion. I have rid him simply; I warrant his skin sticks to his back with very heat : if he should catch cold, and get a cough of the lungs, I were well served, were I not?
Enter Sam, furnished with things from London. What! Ralph and Oliver ? :
Both. Honest fellow Sam, welcome i' faith. What tricks hast thou brought from London ?
Sam. You see I am hanged after the newest fashion ; three hats and two glasses bobbing upon them ; two rebato wires upon my breast, a cap-case by my side, a brush at my back, an almanac in my pocket, and three ballads in my codpiece. Nay, I am the true picture of a common serving-man.
Oliv. I'll swear thou art: thou mayst set up when thou wilt : there's many a one begins with less, I can tell thee, that proves a rich man ere he dies.—But what's the news from London, Sam?
Ralph. Ay, that is well said : what is the news from London, sirrah? My young mistress keeps such a puling for her love.
Sam. Why, the more fool she : aye, the more ninnyhammer she.
Oliv. Why, Sam, why?
Sam. Why, did you not know that till now? Why, he's married, beats his wife, and has two or three children by her : for you must note that any woman bears the more when she is beaten.
Ralph. Aye, that's true ; for she bears the blows.
? —two REBATO WIRES] A rebato was a ruff for the neck, and the wires were the supports of it.