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copies surreptitious; but this was probably said with a view to enhance the value of their own impression, as well as to revenge themselves, as far as possible, on those who had in part anticipated the publication of works from which they expected considerable gleanings of advantage, after their first harvest on the stage was over.--I mean to except from this general character of the quartos, the author's rough draughts of the Merry Wives of Windsor and Romeo and Juliet; together with the play of King Henry V. and the two parts of King Henry VI. for these latter carry all the marks of having been imperfectly taken down by the ear, without any assistance from the originals belonging to the playhouses in which they were first represented.
A preceding table of those ancient copies of the plays of Shakspere, which his commentators have really met with and consulted, if compared with the earliest of these entries on the books already mentioned, may tempt the reader to suppose that some quartos have not yet been found, from which future. assistance may be derived. But I fear that no such resources remain; as it seems to have been the practice of the numerous theatres in the time of Shakspere, to cause some Bookseller to make immediate entries of their new pieces, as a security against the encroachments of their rivals, who always considered themselves as justified in the exhibition of such dramas as had been enfranchised by the press. Imperfect copies, but for these precautions, might have been more
frequently obtained from the repetition of hungry actors, invited for that purpose to a tavern; or something like a play might have been collected by attentive auditors, who made it their business to attend succeeding representations with a like design *. By these means, without
intent of hasty publication, one company of players was studious to prevent the trespasses of anothert. Nor did their policy conclude here; for I have not unfrequently met with registers of both tragedies and comedies, of which the titles were. at some other time to be declared. Thus, July 26, 1576, John Hunter enters “A new and pleasant comedie or plaie, after the manner of Common Condycyons;" and one Fielder, in Sept. 1581, prefers his right to four others, “Whereof he will bring the titles.” “ The famous Tragedy of the Rich Jewe of Malta," by Christopher Marlow, is ascertained to be the property of Nich. Ling and Tho. Millington, in May 1594, though it was not printed by Nich. Vavasour till 1633, as Tho. Heywood, who wrote the preface to it, informs us. In this manner the contending theatres (seventeen in
* See the notes of Mr. Collins and Mr, Malone at the end of the third part of K. Henry VI.
+ From the year 1570 to the year 1629, when the playhouse in White-Friars was finished, it appears that no less than seventeen theatres had been built.
number *) were prepared to assert a priority of title to any copies of dramatick performances; and thus were they assisted by our ancient Stationers, who strengthened every claim of literary property, by entries secured in a manner which was then supposed to be obligatory and legal.
I may add, that the difficulty of procuring licences was another reason why some theatrical publications were retarded, and others entirely suppressed. As we cannot now discover the motives which influenced the conduct of former Lord Chamberlains and Bishops,
* Mr. Dodsley, in a note to the preface to his collection of Old Plays, has the following enumeration of the different theatres which had been built between the years 1570 and 1629, when that in White-Friars was finished:~" St. Paul's Singing-School. The Globe on the Bank-Side, Southwark. The Swan and the Hope there. The Fortune, between Whitecross-Street and Golding-Lane, which Maitland tells us was the first playhouse erected in London. The RedBull in St. John's-Street. The Cross-Keys in GracechurchStreet. The Tuns. The Theater. The Curtain. The Nursery in Barbican. One in Black-Friars. One in WhiteFriars. One in Salisbury-Court. The Cockpit, and the Phænix in Drury-Lane."
To this account I may subjoin, that the Fortune (as appears from the following advertisement in the Mercurius Politicus, Tuesday, Feb. 14, to Tuesday 21, 1661) must have been a place of considerable extent; and it is by no means improbable, that all the actors resided within its who stopped the sale of several works, which, nevertheless, have escaped into the world, and appear to be of the most innocent nature, we may be tempted to regard their severity as rather dictated by jealousy and caprice, than by judgment and impartiality. See a note to my Advertisement which follows Dr. Johnson's Preface.
The publick is now in possession of as accurate an account of the dates, &c. of Shakspere's works, as perhaps will ever be compiled. This was by far the most irksome part of my undertaking, though facili, tated, as much as possible, by the kindness of Mr. Longman, of Paternoster-Row, who readily furnished me with the three earliest volumes of the records of
precincts. " The Fortune playhouse, situate between Whitecross-Street and Golding-Lane, in the parish of St. Giles, Cripplegate, with the ground thereunto belonging, is to be lett to be built upon; where 23 tenements may be erected, with gardens ; and a street may be cut through for the better accommodation of the buildings.” The Curtain was in Shoreditch, a part of which district still retains the name of The Curtain. The original sign hung out at this theatre was the painting of a striped Curtain. We learn, likewise, from Prynne's Histriomastix, that in the time of Queen Elizabeth there were two other play, houses, the one called the Bell-Savage (situated, very probably, on Ludgate-Hill), the other in Bishopsgate-Street ; and Taylor, the Water-Poet, in " The true Cause of the Watermen's Suit concerning Players, 1613,"mentions anotheç theatre called the Rose.
the Stationers-Company, together with accommoda." tions which rendered the perusal of them convenient to me, though troublesome to himself.
Mr. Malone has attempted, in the following pages, to ascertain the chronological order in which the plays of Shakspere were written. By the aid of the registers at Stationers-Hall, and such internal evidence as the pieces themselves supply, he has so happily accomplished his undertaking, that he only leaves me the power to thank him for an arrangement which I profess my inability either to dispute or to improve.