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PREFACE.

THE Author has endeavoured to collect within the compass of a small volume the historical documents and the testimonies of the poet's contemporaries, by which the claim of William Shakespeare to the authorship of the six-and-thirty plays, published in the folio edition of 1623, is clearly established. His title is confirmed by such a mass of evidence, that many readers who have not investigated the matter will wonder how it could ever have been called in question. They must not forget that the province of some critics is to scatter doubts broad-cast over the literature of a country; and that weeds always spread more rapidly than wholesome plants and sweet-smelling flowers. To vindicate the character of our mighty Shakespeare, thus wantonly assailed, has indeed been a labour of love; and if this little volume should have the effect of kindling in any

heart a deeper reverence for the memory of William Shakespeare, or giving to a single reader a fairer idea of his extraordinary superiority over all other poets, ancient as well as modern, the author will not have written in vain.

LONDON, January 26th, 1857.

“Truth may perhaps come to the price of a pearl, that showeth best by day; but it will not rise to the price of a diamond or carbuncle, that showeth best in varied lights. A mixture of a lie doth ever add pleasure. Doth any man doubt, that if there were taken out of men's minds, vain opinions, flattering hopes, false valuations, imaginations, as oue would, and the like, but it would leave the minds of a number of men poor shrunken things, full of melancholy and indisposition, and unpleasing to themselves ? One of the fathers, in great severity, called poesy vinum dæmonum, because it filleth the imagination, and yet it is but with the shadow of a lie. But it is not the lie that passeth through the mind, but the lie that sinketh in and settleth in it, that doth the hurt, such as we spake of before. But howsoever these things are thus in men’s depraved judgments and affections, yet truth, which only doth judge itself, teacheth that the inquiry of truth, which is the love-making, or wooing of it—the knowledge of truth, which is the presence of it—and the belief of truth, which is the enjoying of it—is the sovereign good of human nature.”- FRANCIS BACON,

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