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TO THE QUARTO EDITION OF THIS PLAY, 1609.
A never Writer to an ever Reader. Newes.
Eternall reader, you have heere a new play, never stal'd with the stage, never clapper-claw'd with the palmes of the vulger, and yet passing full of the palme comicall; for it is a birth of your (r. that] braine, that never under-tooke any thing commicall, vainely: and were but the vaine names of commedies changde for the titles of commodities, or of playes for pleas; you should see all those grand censors, that now stile them such vanities, flock to them for the maine grace of their gravities: especially this authors commedies, that are so fram'd to the life, that they serve for the most common commentaries of all the actions of our lives, shewing such a dexteritie and power of witte, that the most displeased with playes, are pleasd with his commedies. And all such dull and heavy-witted worldlings, as were never capable of the witte of a commedie, comming by report of them to his representations, have found that witte there, that they never found in them-selves, and have parted better-wittied then they came: feeling an edge of witte set upon them, more then ever they dreamd they had braine to grind it on. So much and such savored salt of witte is in his commedies, that they seeme (for their height of pleasure) to be borne in that sea that brought forth Venus. Amongst all there is none more witty than this: and had I time I would comment upon it, though I know it needs not, (for so much as will make you thinke your testerne well bestowd) but for so much worth, as even poore I know to be stuft in it. It deserves such a labour, as well as the best commedy in Terence or Plautus. And beleeve this, that when hee is gone, and his commedies out of sale, you will scramble for them, and set up a new English inquisition. Take this for a warning, and at the perill of your pleasures losse, and judgements, refuse not, nor like this the lesse, for not being sullied with the smoaky breath of the multitude; but thanke fortune for the scape it hath made amongst you: since by the grand possessors wills I believe you should have prayd for them [r. it] rather then beene prayd. And so I leave all such to bee prayd for (for the states of their wits healths) that will not praise it.
In Troy, there lies the scene. From isles of Greece
The princes orgulous, their high blood chaf'd,
* I cannot regard this Prologue (which indeed is wanting in the quarto editions) as the work of Shakspeare; and perhaps the drama before us was not entirely of his construction. It appears to have been unknown to his associates, Hemings and Condell, till after the first folio was almost printed off. On this subject, indeed, (as I learn from Mr. Malone's extracts from Henslowe's MS.) there seems to have been a play anterior to the present one.
April 7, 1599. Lent unto Thomas Downton to lende unto Mr. Deckers, and harey cheattel, in earnest of ther boocke called Troyeles and Creassedaye, the some of iii lb."
Lent unto harey cheattell, and Mr. Dickers, [Henry Chettle and master Deckar] in pte of payment of their booke called Troyelles & Cresseda, the 16 of Aprell, 1599, xxs."
"Lent unto Mr. Deckers and Mr. Chettel the 26 of maye, 1599, in earnest of a booke called Troylles and Creseda, the some of xxs." STEEVENS.
I conceive this prologue to have been written, and the dialogue, in more than one place, interpolated by some Kyd or Marlowe of the time; who may have been paid for altering and amending one of Shakspeare's plays: a very extraordinary instance of our author's negligence, and the managers' taste! KITSON.
2 The princes ORGULOUS,] Orgulous, i. e. proud, disdainful. Orgueilleux, Fr. This word is used in the ancient romance of Richard Cueur de Lyon :
"His atyre was orgulous.” Again, in Froissart's Chronicle, vol. ii. p. 115, b:
Have to the port of Athens sent their ships,
With wanton Paris sleeps; And that's the quarrel.
And the deep-drawing barks do there disgorge
And corresponsive and fulfilling bolts*,
wyst nat how to passe y ryver of Derna whiche was fell and orgulous at certayne tymes," &c. STEEVENS.
3 - Priam's six-gated city, &c.] The names of the gates are here exhibited as in the old copy, for the reason assigned by Dr. Farmer; except in the instance of Antenorides, instead of which the old copy has Antenonydus. The quotation from Lydgate shows that was an error of the printer. MALONE.
4 — FULFILLING bolts,] To fulfill, in this place, means to fill till there be no room for more. In this sense it is now obsolete. So, in Gower, De Confessione Amantis, lib. v. fol. 114: "A lustie maide, a sobre, a meke, "Fulfilled of all curtosie."
Fulfilled of all unkindship." STEEvens.
To be "fulfilled with grace and benediction" is still the language of our liturgy. BLACKSTONE.
5 SPERR up the sons of Troy.] [Old copy-Stirre.] This has been a most miserably mangled passage throughout all the editions; corrupted at once into false concord and false reasoning. Priam's " six-gated city stirre up the sons of Troy?" Here's a