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Theobald’s The Double Falsehood: A Revision of Shakespeare’s Cardenio? Harriet C. Frazier In 1727, Lewis Theobald, shortly to be recognized as the hero of Pope’s The Dunciad and one of Shakespeare’s most capable editors, claimed to have three manuscript copies of a then lost and still nonextant seventeenth-century text written by Shakespeare late in his career and based on Don Quixote. Theobald claimed that he had re­ vised Shakespeare’s manuscript and entitled his revision The Double Falsehood. Opinion on the authorship of The Double Falsehood was divided when it was first staged in 1727; then, Fletcher, Shakespeare, and Theobald were all suggested as possible authors, and these differing suggestions continue to date. Recent scholarship has favored the likeli­ hood that Theobald was working, at least in part, from a seventeenthcentury text. Both Kenneth Muir in Shakespeare as Collaborator (1960) and Paul Bertram in Shakespeare and The Two Noble Kins­ men (1965) devote a chapter of their books to the lost Shakespearian play based on Don Quixote, and both reach the tentative and guarded conclusion that Theobald’s version was based to some extent on an early seventeenth-century manuscript. However, an analysis of all the evidence seems to point toward a different conclusion. I The Double Falsehood dramatizes the Cardenio episode from Don Quixote, and we know that Shakespeare’s name was linked to a play entitled Cardenio. The Stationers’ Register indicates that on Septem­ ber 9, 1653, Humphrey Moseley declared his intention to publish “ The History of Cardenio by Mr. Fletcher & Shakespeare.” W. W. Greg and E. K. Chambers are apparently correct in their assumption, how­ ever, that Theobald was ignorant of Moseley’s entry of The History of Cardenio. As Greg has written, “His indignant repudiation of the suggestion that the original might have been by Fletcher precludes our supposing that he had somehow acquired Moseley’s manuscript or even knew of his entrance.” ! However, there is yet another account from which Theobald might well have learned about the Whitehall performances of Cardenio in 1613. Included among the Rawlinson manuscripts in the Bodleian 219 Library is a document entitled the Lord Stanhope of Harrington item. It reads: Item paid to John Heminges vppon lyke warrant, date att Whitehall ix die Julij 1613 for himself and the rest of his fellowes his Majesties servauntes and Players for presentinge a playe be­ fore the Duke of Savoyes Embassadour on the viijth daye of June, 1613, called Cardenna, the some of vj, xiij iiij. Item paid to the said John Heminges vppon the lyke warrant, dated att Whitehall xx die Maij 1613, for presentinge sixe severall playes, viz: one playe called a Badd beginininge makes a good endinge, One other called the Gapteyne, One other the Alchumist, one other Cardenno, one other The Hotspur, And one other called Benedicte and Betteris, All played within the tyme of this Accompte viz: paid Fortie powndes, And by waye of his Majesties rewarde twentie powndes, In all lx.2 E. K. Chambers writes of this court record: “ It is, of course, most unlikely that Theobald knew anything of the Cardenio record, and to some extent, therefore, that supports his story.” 3 On the other hand, it is perhaps not so unlikely that Theobald was familiar with the Lord Stanhope of Harrington manuscript. The records of the Bodleian Library reveal that the M.S. Rawlinson A.239, fol. 47v first came to the library in 1756 with the books and papers of Richard Rawlinson after his death.4 Despite the lack of definitive proof that Theobald (1688-1744) was acquainted with either Richard Rawlinson (1690-1755) or his brother Thomas (16811725 ), Theobald’s acquaintance with one or both of these brothers is quite probable. All three were London residents of approximately the same age with antiquarian interests, and Thomas Rawlinson and Theobald both studied law. In addition, Thomas frequently lent manuscripts to scholars. Therefore, it seems reasonable to allow that Theobald was familiar with the stage history of Cardenna or Car­ denno or Cardenio independent of Moseley’s entry and from an account which does not connect Fletcher with the work. If there is reason to entertain the possibility...


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