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PREFACE 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 stald with the ftage, 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 itile them such vanities, Aock to them for the maine grace of their gravities : especially this authors commedies, that are fo 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 heavywitted 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 dreaind they had braine to grind it on. So much and such favored 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 loffe, 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: fince 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. Vak,
In Troy, there lies the scene. From isles of
Greece The princes orgulous, their high blood chaf'd, Have to the port of Athens sent their ships Fraught with the ministers and instruments, Of cruel war: Sixty and nine, that wore Their crownets regal, from the Athenian bay Put forth toward Phrygia: and their vow is made,
2 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 Emendations and Additions, &c. see Vol. II.) there seems to have been a play anterior to the present
Aprel 7, 1599. Lent unto Thomas Downton to lende unto Mr. Deckers, & harey cheattel, in earnest of ther boocke called Troyeles and Creaffedaye, the some of jilb.”
“ Lent unto harey cheattell, & Mr. Dickers, [Henry Chettle and master Deckar] in pte of payment of their booke called Troyelles & Crefjeda, the 16 of Aprell, 1599, XX s."
“ Lent unto Mr. Deckers and Mr. Chettel the 26 of maye, 1599, in earnest of a booke called Troylles and Creseda, the fome 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! Ritson.
3 The princes orgulous,] Orgulous, i. e. proud, disdainful. Or. gueilleux, Fr. This word is used in the ancient romance of Richard Cucur de Lyon :
His atyre was orgulous." Again, in Froilárt's Chronicle, Vol. II. p. 115, b: “- but they wyft nat how to passe yo ryver of Derne whiche was fell and orgulcus at certayne ty mes," &c. Steevens.
To ransack Troy; within whose strong immures
Priam's fix-gated city, &c.] The names of the gates aro 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 shews that was an error of the printer. MALONE.
5-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 Confilione Amantis, Lib. V. fol. 114:
“ A luitie maide, a sobre, a meke,
Fulfilled of all curtofie.” Again
“ Fulfilled of all unkindship.” Steevens. To be “ fulfilled with grace and benediction" is still the language of our liturgy. BLACKSTONE.
Sperr up the sons of Troy.) [Old copy—Stirre.] This has been a moft miserably mangled passage throughout all the editions ; corrupted at once into falle concord and falle reasoning. Priam's fix-gated city stirre up the fans of Troy -Here's a verb plural governed of a nominative singular. But that is easily remedied. The next question to be asked is, In what sense a city, having fix strong gates, and those well barred and bolted, can be said to flir up its inhabitants ? unless they may be supposed to derive some spirit from the strength of their fortifications. But this could not be the poet's thought. He must mean, I take it, that the Greeks had pitched their tents upon the plains before Troy; and that the Trojans were securely barricaded within the walls and gates of their city. This sense my correction restores. To sperre, or spar, from the old Teutonic word Speren, fignities to put up, defend by bars, &c. THEOBALD,
Now expectation, tickling skittish spirits,
So, in Spenser's Faery Queen, Book V. c. 10:
“ The other that was entred, labour'd fast
“ To sperre the gate" &c. Again, in the romance of The Squhr of Low Degre:
“ Sperde with manie a dyvers pynne. And in The Vision of P. Plowman, it is said that a blind man “ unsparryd his eine.” Again, in Warner's Albion's England, 1602, Book II. ch. 12: • When chased home into his holdes, there sparred up in
gates." Again, in the 2nd Part of Bale's Aftes of English Voraryes: “ The dore thereof oft tymes opened and speared agayne."
STEEVENS. Mr. Theobald informs us that the very names of the gates of Troy have been barbarously demolished by the editors; and a deal of learned duft he makes in setting them right again ; much however to Mr. Heath's satisfaction. Indeed the learning is modestly withdrawn from the later editions, and we are quietly instructed to read
“ Dardan, and Thymbria, Ilia, Scaa, Trojan,
« And Antenorides." But had he looked into the Troy boke of Lydgate, instead of puzzling himself with Dares Phrygius, he would have found the horrid demolition to have been neither the work of Shakspeare, nor his editors:
• Therto his cyte | compassed enuyrowne
Lond. empr. by R. Pynson, 1513, fol. b. ii. ch. 11. The Troye Boke was somewhat modernized, and reduced into regular stanzas, about the beginning of the last century, under the name of, The Life and Death of Heller
who fought a Hundred
A prologue arm’d,”—but not in confidence
mayne Battailes in open Field against the Grecians; wherein there were Naine on both Sides Fourteene Hundred and Sixe Thousand, Fourscore and Sixe Men.-Fol. no date. This work Dr. Fuller, and several other criticks, have erroneously quoted as the original; and observe in consequence, that “ if Chaucer's coin were of greater weight for deeper learning, Lydgate's were of a more refined fandard for purer language: so that one might mistake him for a modern writer." Farmer.
On other occasions, in the course of this play, I shall insert quotations from the Troye Booke modernized, as being the most intelligible of the two. STEVENS.
7 A prologue arm’d,] I come here to speak the prologue, and come in armour; not defying the audience, in confidence of either the author's or actor's abilities, but merely in a character suited to the subject, in a dress of war, before a warlike play.
JOHNSON. Motteux seems to have borrowed this idea in his prologue to Farquhar's Twin Rivals:
“ With drums and trumpets in this warring age,
STEEVENS. the vaunt --] i. e. the avant, what went before. So, in King Lear: “ Vaunt-couriers to oak-cleaving thunderbolts.”
STEVENS, The vaunt is the vanguard, called in our author's time the vauntguard. Percy.
- forflings-) A scriptural phrase, fignifying the first produce or offspring. So, in Genesis, iv. 4: " And Abel, he also brought of the forflings of his flock. STEEVENS.