Internet Shakespeare Editions

Author: William Shakespeare
Not Peer Reviewed

Prefatory Materials (Folio 1, 1664)

To the great variety of Readers
wise, 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
publish'd them; & so to have publish'd them, as
where (before) you were abus'd with divers
stoln, and surreptitious Copies, maimed and de-
formed by the frauds & stealths of injurious Im-
postors, that expos'd them: even those, are now
offer'd 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 e-
nough, both to draw, and hold you: for his wit
can no more lie hid, then it could be lost. Read
him, therefore; and again, & again: And if then
you do not like him, surely you are in some ma-
nifest danger, not to understand him. And so we
leave you to other of his Friends, who, if you
need, can be your guides: if you need them not,
you can lead yourselves, and others. And such
Readers we wish him.
J. Heminge. H. Condell.