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Censure will not drive a trade, or make the jack go. And though you be a magistrate of wit, and sit on the stage at Black-friars or the Cock-pit, to arraign plays daily, know, these plays have had their trial already, and stood out all appeals, and do now come forth quitted rather by a decree of court than any purchased letters of commendation.

It had been a thing, we confess, worthy to have been wished, that the author himself had lived to have set forth and overseen his own writings. But, since it hath been ordained otherwise, and he by death departed from that right, we pray you do not envy his friends the office of their care and pain, to have collected and published them; and so to have published them as where before you were abused with divers stolen and surreptitious copies, maimed and deformed by the frauds and stealths of injurious impostors that exposed them, even those are now offered to your view cured and perfect of their limbs, and all the rest absolute in their numbers as he conceived them; who, as he was a happy imitator of nature, was a most gentle expresser of it: his mind and hand went together; and what he thought, he uttered with that easiness, that we have scarce received from him a blot in his papers. But it is not our province, who only gather his works and give them you, to praise him. It is yours that read him: and there we hope, to your divers capacities, you will find enough both to draw and hold you; for his wit can no more lie hid than it could be lost. Read him, therefore; and again and again: and if then you do not like him, surely you are in some manifest danger not to understand him. And so we leave you to other of his friends, whom if you need, can be your guides: if you need them not, you can lead yourselves and others. And such readers we wish him.



To the memory of my beloved, the author, Master William Shakespeare, 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;
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:

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,
Th' applause, delight, the wonder of our stage,
My Shakespeare, 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 disproportioned 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 Shakespeare, 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 Muse's 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-tornèd and true-filèd 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 night,
And despairs day, but for thy volume's light.




The First Folio was published in 1623, "printed by Isaac Jaggard and Edward Blount." It contains thirty-six plays (Pericles not being included in the Folios until 1664), arranged as Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies. Shakespeare's fellow-actors, John Heminge and Henry Condell, dedicate the volume to the brothers William, Earl of Pembroke [William Herbert], and Philip, Earl of Montgomery. In their address to the readers they profess to give for the first time the true text, and it is implied that they printed from Shakespeare's manuscripts. As a fact, the text abounds with errors, and in many instances they evidently print from the Quartos. In some cases the Folio gives a better text than the corresponding Quarto. It is the sole original authority for seventeen plays. The First Folio was reprinted by Upcott in 1807, and with great accuracy by Lionel Booth (1862-64). It has been reproduced with the aid of photographic processes by Staunton, and in a reduced form (under the superintendence of Halliwell-Phillipps) by Chatto and Windus.

The Second Folio, 1632.-Lowndes's statement that a copy exists with the date 1631 has not been verified. The printer was Thomas Cotes, and the property was vested in five booksellers. It is a reprint from the First Folio, with some errors corrected, some faultily altered to other erroneous readings, and many new errors added.

The Third Folio, "printed for Philip Chetwinde." There are two issues, 1663 and 1664.

The copies dated 1664 add "seven plays never before printed in Folio," viz.: Pericles, Prince of Tyre: The London Prodigal; The



History of Thomas Lord Cromwell; Sir John Oldcastle, Lord Cobham; The Puritan Widow; A Yorkshire Tragedy; The Tragedy of Locrine. These plays seem to have been selected because either the name of Shakespeare or the initials W. S. appear on the titlepages of the Quartos.

The Fourth Folio, 1685, includes the seven plays added in 1664.


In the following table the Quarto editions of the Poems and Plays are arranged in the order of the dates at which the first edition of each appeared. An asterisk points out the particular Quarto from which the text in the First Folio is printed.

Venus and Adonis, 1593, 1594, 1596, 1599, 1600, 1602, 1602, 1617, 1620, 1627 (at Edinburgh), 1630? (title-page lost), 1636. Lucrece, 1594, 1598, 1600, 1607, 1616, 1624, 1632 (?), 1655. Romeo and Juliet, 1597 (pirated and imperfect), 1599, *1609 ? (without date), 1637.

King Richard II., 1597, 1598, 1608, *1615, 1634.

King Richard III., 1597, 1598, 1602, 1605, 1612, 1622, 1629, 1634.

King Henry IV. Part I., 1598, 1599, 1604, 1608, *1613, 1622, 1632, 1639.

Love's Labour's Lost, *1598 (with Shakespeare's name on title, for the first time on any play), 1631.

The Passionate Pilgrim, 1599, 1612 (called third edition on titlepage, but only two extant).

King Henry V., 1600 (pirated and imperfect), 1602, 1608 (both reprinted from 1600).

King Henry IV. Part II., 1600.

Much Ado About Nothing, *1600.

A Midsummer's Night's Dream, 1600 (printed for Fisher), *1600 (printed by Roberts).

The Merchant of Venice, 1600 (printed by Roberts), *1600 (printed for Heyes), 1637, 1652.

Titus Andronicus (? possibly a lost quarto of 1594), 1600, *1611. The Merry Wives of Windsor, 1602, 1619 (both an imperfect report of the early form of the play), 1630.

Hamlet,.1603 (imperfect report of play in first form), 1604, 1605, 1611, ? undated, 1637.

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