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ILLUSTRATIONS

Rosalind [Reads]. From the east to western Ind,
No jewel is like Rosalind

Duke Frederick. How dost thou, Charles?

Celia. Why, cousin! why, Rosalind! Cupid have mercy! not a word? 16

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Doth not Brutus bootless kneel?

Cæsar
Casca. Hands, speak for me!

Brutus. Yet countrymen, O yet hold up your heads

The quarrel between Titania and Oberon .

Quince. Bless thee, Bottom! bless thee! thou art translated
John Bunny, the funniest Bottom of his day.

Ada Rehan as Katharina

John Drew as Petruchio.
Lucentio.

My fair Bianca, bid my father welcome

John Barrymore as Hamlet.

Edwin Booth as Hamlet.

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Benedick. I do spy some marks of love in her

Frontispiece

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Caliban. You taught me language; and my profit on it
Is, I know how to curse

Prospero and Ariel driving out Stephano, Trinculo, and Caliban

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Benedick. I will live in thy heart, die in thy arms, and be buried in thy eyes; and moreover I will go with thee to thy uncle's

Malvolio. [Reads] . . . Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon 'em

Olivia. How now, Malvolio?
Malvolio. Sweet lady, ho, ho

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Prince. Your money!

Falstaff. I shall think the better of myself and thee during my life; I for a valiant lion, and thou for a true prince

Falstaff's defence of himself.

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Maria. Get him to say his prayers, good Sir Toby, get him to pray 275 Olivia. Alas, poor fool, how have they baffled thee!

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Robert B. Mantell as Macbeth

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Falstaff. Well said, Hal! to it, Hal!

Falstaff. The better part of valor is discretion; in the which better part I have saved my life.

Prince. Why, Percy I killed myself and saw thee dead

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THE MAN WHO WROTE THE PLAYS

The man who wrote the plays was William Shakespeare, who lived in the days of Queen Elizabeth and her successor, King James I of England.

Both Queen Elizabeth and King James took great delight in plays and often summoned the actor Shakespeare with his fellow actors to perform their plays at court.

The players acted also in a roughly built theatre called The Globe. James Burbage, the father of one of the actors, had built the first theatre in London. You may guess from this that the plays that Shakespeare wrote were among the earliest in the English language, and so indeed they were. Others had preceded them, of curious types, but we can trace in the plays of Shakespeare and his contemporaries the actual beginnings of writing for the theatre in English literature.

There had been rude farces, written for the strolling actors who played in the inn yards; there were a few comedies and tragedies written after the style of ancient Latin plays; and preceding these had come the sacred dramas played at first by the clergy but afterwards by the tradesmen's guilds. About the time that Shakespeare reached the theatre an epoch of playwriting began. Tragedies, histories, and comedies of a new type called romantic made their appearance.

The romantic drama reached its greatest height in Shakespeare's work. As the actor-playwright-poet experimented with each of the kinds of plays existing in his day, he wrote the greatest plays in each, and as his insight into the good, great, and beautiful was keen, he wrote for all time.

Seven years after Shakespeare's death, two of his fellow actors assembled his plays and published them in a great volume the First Folio. That was in 1623, three hun

dred years ago.

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INTRODUCTION

ANTECEDENTS

Shakespeare has been played almost constantly during the three hundred and odd years since the plays were written, and as nearly all of the plays are long and difficult, making heavy demands upon a large cast, many abridgments of one type or another have been made. The Forty-minute Plays have had their forbears dating back almost if not quite to the time of Shakespeare himself. The earliest playlets can only be conjectured, because the records are fragmentary and perhaps inaccurate in the naming of the plays. But playlets of the Restoration period, fifty years later, are extant.

THE EARLIEST PLAYLETS

The earliest printed reference to what may have been a Shakespearean playlet is in a book published in 1624,1 eight years after Shakespeare's death, in which there is a passage complaining of the high price of certain other entertainments and continuing, "As for flashes of light, we might see very cheape in the Comedie of Piramus, where one comes in with a Lanthorne and Acts Moonshine." This may be identified with the interlude from A Midsummer Night's Dream. Charles I wrote "Piramus and Thisby" on the title page of A Midsummer Night's Dream in his copy of the Second Folio of 1632, preserved at Windsor Castle.

At any rate Bottom and his fellows, the actors in the interlude of Piramus and Thisbe, were well known and much beloved before the Puritans closed the theatres in 1642. In 1631 the Bishop of Lincoln was accused by his Puritan 1 Gee's New Shreds of the Old Snare.

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