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will finde enough, both to draw, and hold you : for his wit can no more lie hid, then it could be lost. Reade him, therefore ; and againe, and againe : And if then you doe not like him, surely you are in some manifest danger, not to vnderstand him. And so we leaue you to other of his Friends, whom if you need, can bee your guides : if you neede them not, you can leade your selues, and others. And such Readers we wish him.
Iohn HEMINGE. HENRIE CONDELL.
THE WORKES OF WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE,
Containing all his Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies : Truely
set forth, according to their first Originall'.
THE NAMES OF THE PRINCIPALL ACTORS IN ALL THESE
This heading precedes the list of the Actors in the folio of 1623, and in the three subsequent editions in the same form. We spell the names precisely as they stand in the first folio.
PREFIXED TO THE FOLIO OF 1623.
To the Memory of the deceased Author, Master William
Shake-speare, at length thy pious fellows give
The world thy works; thy works, by which outlive
Thy tomb thy name must: when that stone is rent,
And time dissolves thy Stratford monument,
Here we alive shall view thee still: this book,
When brass and marble fade, shall make thee look
Fresh to all ages; when posterity
Shall loath what's new, think all is prodigy
That is not Shake-speare's, every line, each verse,
Here shall revive, redeem thee from thy herse.
Nor fire, nor cankering age, as Naso said
Of his, thy wit-fraught book shall once in vade:
Nor shall I e'er believe or think thee dead,
(Though miss d) until our bankrout stage be sped
(Impossible) with some new strain tout-do
Passions of Juliet, and her Romeo;
Or till I hear a scene more nobly take,
Than when thy half-sword parleying Romans spake':
Till these, till any of thy volume's rest,
Shall with more fire, more feeling, be expressid,
1 Than when thy half-sword parleying Romans spake:] Leonard Digges prefixed a long copy of verses to the edition of Shakespeare's Poems in 1610, 8vo, in which he makes this passage, referring to “ Julius Cæsar," more distinct; he also there speaks of the audiences Shakespeare's plays at that time drew, in comparison with Ben Jonson's. This is the only part of his production worth adding in a note.
“ So have I seen, when Cæsar would appear,
And on the stage at half-sword parley were
Be sure, our Shake-speare, thou canst never die,
But, crown’d with laurel, live eternally.
To the Memory of M. W. Shake-speare.
We wonder’d, Shake-speare, that thou went’st so soon
From the world's stage to the grave's tiring-room :
We thought thee dead; but this thy printed worth
Tells thy spectators, that thou went'st but forth
To enter with applause. An actor's art
Can die, and live to act a second part:
That's but an exit of mortality,
This a re-entrance to a plaudite.
To the Memory of my beloved, the Author, Mr. William Shake
speare, and what he hath left us.
To draw no envy, Shakespeare, on thy name,
Am I thus ample to thy book, and fame;
While I confess thy writings to be such,
As neither man, nor muse, can praise too much ;
'Tis true, and all men's suffrage; but these ways
Were not the paths I meant unto thy praise :
Brutus and Cassius, 0, how the audience
Were ravish'd! with what wonder they went thence!
When, some new day, they would not brook a line
Of tedious, though well-labour'd, Catiline ;
Sejanus too, was irksome : they priz'd more
‘Honest'Iago, or the jealous Moor.
And though the Fox and subtil Alchymist,
Long intermitted, could not quite be mist,
Though these have sham'd all th' ancients, and might raise
Their author's merit with a crown of bays,
Yet these sometimes, even at a friend's desire,
Acted, have scarce defray'd the sea-coal fire,
And door-keepers: when, let but Falstaff come,
Hal, Poins, the rest,-you scarce shall have a room,
All is so pester’d: let but Beatrice
And Benedick be seen, lo ! in a trice
The cock-pit, galleries, boxes, all are full,
To hear Malvolio, that cross-garter'd gull.
Brief, there is nothing in his wit-fraught book,
Whose sound we would not hear, on whose worth look," &c. ? Perhaps the initials of John Marston.
For seeliest ignorance on these may light,
Which, when it sounds at best, but echoes right;
Or blind affection, which doth ne'er advance
The truth, but gropes, and urgeth all by chance ;
Or crafty malice might pretend this praise,
And think to ruin, where it seem'd to raise :
These are, as some infamous bawd, or whore,
Should praise a matron ; what could hurt her more?
But thou art proof against them; and, indeed,
Above th’ill fortune of them, or the need.
I, therefore, will begin :—Soul of the age,
The applause, delight, the wonder of our stage,
My Shakspeare, rise! I will not lodge thee by
Chaucer, or Spenser; or bid Beaumont lie
A little further, to make thee a room':
Thou art a monument without a tomb;
And art alive still, while thy book doth live,
And we have wits to read, and praise to give.
That I not mix thee so, my brain excuses ;
I mean, with great but disproportion'd muses :
For, if I thought my judgment were of years,
I should commit thee surely with thy peers ;
And tell how far thou didst our Lyly outshine,
Or sporting Kyd, or Marlowe's mighty line:
And though thou hadst small Latin, and less Greek,
From thence to honour thee, I would not seek
For names; but call forth thundering Æschylus,
Euripides, and Sophocles, to us,
Pacuvius, Accius, him of Cordova dead,
To life again, to hear thy buskin tread
And shake a stage: or, when thy socks were on,
Leave thee alone, for the comparison
Of all that insolent Greece, or haughty Rome,
Sent forth, or since did from their ashes come.
Triumph, my Britain ! thou hast one to show,
To whom all scenes of Europe homage owe.
He was not of an age, but for all time;
And all the muses still were in their prime,
When like Apollo he came forth to warm
Our ears, or like a Mercury to charm.
Nature herself was proud of his designs,
And joy'd to wear the dressing of his lines;
Which were so richly spun, and woven so fit,
As since she will vouchsafe no other wit.
The merry Greek, tart Aristophanes,
Neat Terence, witty Plautus, now not please ;
But antiquated and deserted lie,
As they were not of Nature's family.
Yet must I not give Nature all; thy art,
My gentle Shakspeare, must enjoy a part:
For though the poet's matter nature be,
His art doth give the fashion; and that he,
Who casts to write a living line, must sweat,
(Such as thine are) and strike the second heat
Upon the muses' anvil; turn the same,
(And himself with it) that he thinks to frame;
Or for the laurel he may gain a scorn,
For a good poet's made, as well as born:
And such wert thou. Look, how the father's face
Lives in his issue; even so the race
Of Shakespeare's mind, and manners, brightly shines
In his well-torned and true-filed lines;
In each of which he seems to shake a lance,
As brandish'd at the eyes of ignorance.
Sweet Swan of Avon, what a sight it were,
To see thee in our waters yet appear;
And make those flights upon the banks of Thames,
That so did take Eliza, and our James !
But stay; I see thee in the hemisphere
Advanc'd, and made a constellation there :
Shine forth, thou star of poets; and with rage,
Or influence, chide, or cheer, the drooping stage ;
Which, since thy flight from hence, hath mourn'd like
And despairs day, but for thy volume's light !