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Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1866, by

DAVIS, PORTER & COATES, In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States for the Eastern District of Pennsylva va

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[ A Literal Copy from the Edition of 1623.)


To the most Noble and Incomparable Paire of Brethren. William Earle of Pembroke, &c.

Lord Chamberlaine to the Kings moft Excellent Maiesty. And Philip Earle of Montgomery, &c. Gentleman of his Maiesties Bed-Chamber. Both Knights of the most Noble Order of the Garter, and our fingular good Lords.

Right Honourable, HILST we studie to be thankful in our particular, for the many fauors we haue receiued from your L. L. we are falne vpon the ill fortune, to mingle two the most diuerse things that can bee, feare, and rashnesse; rashneffe in the enterprize, and feare of the successe. For, when we valew the places your H. H. sustaine, we cannot but know their dignity greater, then to descend to the reading of these trifles : and, while we name them trifles, we have depriu'd our selues of the defence of our Dedication. But

since your L.L. haue beene pleas’d to thinke these trifles some-thing, heeretofore; and haue prosequuted both them, and their Author liuing, with so much fauour : we hope, that they out-liuing him, and he not hauing the fate, common with some, to be exequutor to his owne writings) you will vse the like indulgence toward them, you haue done vnto their parent. There is a great difference, whether any Booke choose his Patrones, or finde them: This hath done both. For, so much were your L. L. likings of the seuerall parts, when they were acted, as before they were published, the Volume ask'd to be yours. We haue but collected them, and done an office to the dead, to procure his Orphanes, Guardians; without ambition either of selfe-profit, or fame; onely to keepe the memory of so worthy a Friend, & Fellow aliue, as was our SHAKESPEARE, by humble offer of his playes, to your most noble patronage. Wherein, as we haue iuftly obserued, no man to come neere your L. L. but with a kind of religious addresse; it hath bin the height of our care, who are the Presenters, to make the present worthy of your H. H. by the perfection. But, there we must also craue our abilities to be considerd, my Lords.

We cannot go beyond our owne powers. Country hands reach foorth milke, creame, fruites, or what they haue: and many Nations (we haue heard) that had not gummes & incense, obtained their requests with a leauened Cake. It was no fault to approch their Gods, by what meanes they could: And the most, though meanest, of things are made more precious, when they are dedicated to Temples. In that name therefore, we most humbly consecrate to your H. H. these remaines of your seruant Shakespeare: that what delight is in them, may be euer your L. L. the reputation his, & the faults ours, if any be committed, by a a payre so carefull to shew their gratitude both to the liuing, and the dead, as is

Your Lordshippes most bourden,


[A Literal Copy from the Edition of 1623.]



ROM the most able, to him that can but spell : There you are number'd. We had rather you were weighd. Especially, when the fate of all Bookes depends vpon your capacities: and not of your heads alone, but of your purses. Well! it is now publique, & you wil stand for your priuiledges wee know: to read, and censure. Do so, but buy it first. That doth best commend a

. Booke, the Stationer faies. Then, how odde soeuer your braines be, or your wisedomes, make your licence the same, and spare not. Iudge your fixe-pen'orth, your fillings worth, your fiue shillings worth at a time, or higher, so you rise to the iuft rates, and welcome. But, what euer you do, Buy. Censure will not driue a Trade, or make the lacke go. And though you be a Magistrate of wit, and sit on the Stage at Black-Friers,

. or the Cock-pit, to arraigne Playes dailie, know, these Playes haue had their triall alreadie, and stood out all Appeales; and do now come forth quitted rather by a Decree of Court, then any purchas'd Letters of commendation.

It had bene a thing, we confesse, worthie to haue bene wilhed, that the Author himselfe had liu'd to haue set forth, and ouerseen his owne writings ; But since it hath bin ordain'd otherwise, and he by death departed from that right, we pray you do not envie his Friends, the office of their care, and paine, to haue collected, & publish'd them; and so to haue publish'd them, as where (before) you were abus’d with diuerse stolne, and surreptitious copies, maimed, and deformed by the frauds and stealthes of iniurious imposters, that expos'd them: euen those, are now offer’d to your view cur’d, and perfect of their limbes; and all the rest, absolute in their numbers, as he conceiued them. Who, as he was a happie imitator of Nature, was a most gentle expresser of it. His mind and hand went together : And what he thought, he vttered with that easinesse, that wee haue scarse receiued from him a blot in his papers. But it is not our prouince, who onely gather his works, and giue them you, to praise him. It is yours that reade him. And there we hope, to your diuers capacities, you will finde enough, both to draw, and hold you: for his wit can no more lie hid, then it could be loft. Reade him, therefore ; and againe, and againe : And if then you

doe not like him, surely you are in some manifest danger, not to vnderstand him. And so we leaue you to other of his Friends, whom if you need, can bee your guides : if you neede them not, you can leade your selues, and others. And such Readers we wish him.

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ILLIAM SHAKESPEARE was born at Strat- Our illustrious poet was the eldest son, and received

ford-upon-Avon, in Warwickshire, on the 23d his carly education, however narrow or liberal, at a day of April, 1564. Of the rank of his family it is free school, probably that founded at Stratford. From not easy to form an opinion. Mr. Rowe says that by this he appears to have been soon removed, and placed the register and certain public writings relating to in the office of some country attorney, or the seneschal Stratford, it appears that his ancestors were “ of good of some manor court, where it is highly probable he figure and fashion," in that town, and are mentioned picked up those technical law phrases that so fre13 “gentlemen," an epithet which was more determi- quently occur in his plays, and could not have been nate then than at present, when it has become an un- in common use, unless among professional men. His limited phrase of courtesy. His father, John Shake- early life was incompatible with a course of education; speare, was a considerable dealer in wool, and had and it is certain, that “his contemporaries, friends and been an officer and bailiff (probably bigh-bailiff or foes, nay, and himself likewise, agree in his want of mayor) of the body corporate of Stratford. He held what is usually termed literature.” It is, indeed, a 2.00 tbe office of justice of the peace; and at one time, strong argument in favor of Shakespeare's illiterature, it is said, possessed lands and tenements to the amount that it was maintained by all his contemporaries, many of £500, the reward of his grandfather's fnithful and of whom have left upon record every merit they could spproved services to King Henry VII. This, however, bestow on him; and by his successors, who lived nearhas been asserted upon very doubtful authority. But est to his time, when his memory was green.” wbatever may have been his former wealth, it appears In his eighteenth year, or perhaps a little sooner, to bave been greatly reduced in the latter part of his he married Anne Hathaway, who was eight years older life, as we find, from the books the Corporation, than himself, the daughter of one Hathaway, who is that, in 1579, he was excused the trifling weckly tax said to have been a substantial yeoman in the neighof fourpence levied on all the aldermen; and that, in borhood of Stratford. Of his domestic economy, or 1586, another alderman was appointed in his room, in professional occupation at this time, we have no inconsequence of his declining to attend on the business formation; but it would appear that both were in a of that ofice. It is even said that he followed for some considerable degree neglected by his associating with time the occupation of a butcher. It must have been, a gang of deer-stealers. Being detected with them in bowever, at this time, no inconsiderable addition to robbing the park of Sir Thomas Lucy of Charlecote, his dificulties that he had a family of ten children. near Stratford, he was so rigorously prosecuted by His wife was the daughter and heiress of Robert that gentleman, as to be obliged to leave his family Arden of Wellingcote, in the county of Warwick, who and business, and take shelter in London. Sir Thomas, is styled “g gentleman of worship.” The woodland on this occasion, is said to have been exasperated by a part of this country was anciently called Ardern, af- ballad Shakespeare wrote, probably his first essay in forwards softened to Arden; and hence the name.


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