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P R E F A CE.

In placing before the public the first volume of the “NEW YORK DRAMA,” the publishers deem it advisable to follow the time-honored custom of briefly setting forth the objects of their enterprise. This they were led to undertake in consequence of the poor style in which dramatic literature had hitherto been gotten up, and the high price charged for those indifferently printed and often incorrect editions.

At the outset of our enterprise, we were told by many that there was no demand for anything but literature of the lightest order, and that the prejudice against the stage in this country was still so strong that dramatic compositions would find but few readers. Having marked well, however, the advanced and advancing condition of theatrical affairs in this country, we were confident of success, and the result has, we are happy to say, fully justified that confidence. The “NEW YORK DRAMA” is published in numbers, each number containing one standard Play, and two pieces of a lighter character. All are carefully printed from the best obtainable authorities, and have the stage business, directions and explanations complete. They are also preceded by lists of some of the important casts which have appeared therein, and these records of theatrical history are valuable and entertaining. Of the type, printing and quality of paper the publishers do not think it necessary to speak, believing that they will command general approval.

This volume introduces our readers, in the plays of " The Lady of Lyons,” “ London Assurance,”

," “ The Stranger,” “ Richelieu,” “Brutus,” “ Julius Cæsar,” “Money," " Ion,” “ Caste," " The School for Scandal,” “She Stoops to Conquer," and “ The Rent Day," to some of the best authors who have written for the English-speaking stage, and in the case of “ The Stranger," to the work of one of the first of German dramatists. The Comediettas and Farces have been carefully selected, and will be found to furnish admirable material for private theatricals or school exhibitions, for which purposes the clearness and fullness of the stage instructions will be found specially valuable.

English literature is particularly strong in dramatic works; yet, singularly enough, many comparatively well-read persons are strangely ignorant about any Plays but Shakspeare's, and those which they are accustomed to see performed. One great reason of this, we believe, has been the difficulty of obtaining at a moderate price copies which could be read with any degree of satisfaction. The publication of the “ NEW YORK DRAMA” will, we hope, mark the commencement of an era of wider study and more general appreciation of dramatic literature, and particularly of that portion of it which has now become classical. During nearly two centuries of English history, the stage was almost the sole medium of communication between authors and the public. Newspapers were unknown, and books were only for the very rich. The stage was in those days the journal, the novel, the history, the lecture-room. What a wealth of intellect must, under these circumstances, have been lavished upon it by the great writers of the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, can be imagined. It will be our aim to cull the choicest of their works, and to vary these with such of the best modern Plays as may be obtainable for publication. Great care will be taken that every Play published shall be of high literary value, and pure in tone.

With these aims and intentions, we launch our venture, firm in the determination to carry them out to the letter, and confident that by doing so we shall deserve and obtain the support of the public, and be enabled to fulfill our aspiration of making the “NEW YORK DRAMA” the “ STANDARD DRAMATIC WORK OF AMERICA."

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