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  • Title: Prefatory Materials (Folio 1, 1663)

  • Copyright Internet Shakespeare Editions. This text may be freely used for educational, non-proift purposes; for all other uses contact the Coordinating Editor.
    Author: Ben Jonson
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    Prefatory Materials (Folio 1, 1663)

    1To the Reader.
    This Figure, that thou here seest put,
    It was for gentle Shakespeare cut;
    Wherein the Grauer had a strife
    5 with Nature, to out-doo the life :
    O, could he but haue drawne his wit
    As well in brasse, as he hath hit
    His face ; the Print would then surpasse
    All, that vvas euer vvrit in brasse.
    10But, since he cannot, Reader, looke
    Not on his Picture, but his Booke.
    Published according to the True Originall Copies.
    20Printed by Isaac Iaggard, and Ed. Blount. 1623.
    Earle of Pembroke, &c. Lord Chamberlaine to the
    Kings most Excellent Maiesty.
    30Earle of Montgomery, &c. Gentleman of his Maiesties
    Bed-Chamber. Both Knights of the most Noble Order
    of the Garter, and our singular good
    Right Honourable,
    35WHilst 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; rashnesse in the enterprize, and
    40feare 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, vvhile we name them trifles, we haue
    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, heereto-
    45fore ; and haue prosequuted both them, and their Authour liuing,
    vvith 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 wri-
    tings) you will vse the like indulgence toward them, you haue done
    vnto their parent. There is a great difference, vvhether any Booke
    50choose his Patrones, or finde them: This hath done both. For,
    so much were your L L. likings of the seuerall parts, vvhen
    they were acted, as before they vvere 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; vvithout ambition ei-
    55ther of selfe-profit, or fame: onely to keepe the memory of so worthy
    a Friend, & Fellow aliue, as was our SHAKESPEARE, by hum-
    ble offer of his playes, to your most noble patronage. Wherein, as
    we haue iustly obserued, no man to come neere your L.L. but vvith
    a kind of religious addresse; it hath bin the height of our care, vvho
    60are 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, obtai-
    65ned their requests with a leauened Cake. It vvas 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
    70what delight is in them, may be euer your L.L. the reputation
    his, & the faults ours, if any be committed, by a payre so carefull to
    shew their gratitude both to the liuing, and the dead, as is
    Your Lordshippes most bounden,
    To the great Variety of Readers.
    FRom 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 vp-
    80on 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 saies. Then, how odde soeuer your
    85braines be, or your wisedomes, make your licence the same, and spare
    not. Iudge your sixe-pen'orth, your shillings worth, your fiue shil-
    lings worth at a time, or higher, so you rise to the iust rates, and wel-
    come. But, what euer you do, Buy. Censure will not driue a Trade,
    or make the Iacke go. And though you be a Magistrate of wit, and sit
    90on 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 Ap-
    peales; 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 wished, that
    95the 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 de-
    parted 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
    100stolne, and surreptitious copies, maimed, and deformed by the frauds
    and stealthes of iniurious impostors, 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 thẽ. Who, as he was
    a happie imitator of Nature, was a most gentle expresser of it. His mind
    105and 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
    110you: for his wit can no more lie hid, then it could be lost. 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.
    115And such Readers we wish him.
    Iohn Heminge.
    Henrie Condell.
    To the memory of my beloued,
    The AVTHOR
    what he hath left vs.
    TO draw no enuy (Shakespeare) on thy name,
    Am I thus ample to thy Booke, and Fame:
    125While I confesse thy writings to be such,
    As neither Man, nor Muse, can praise too much.
    'Tis true, and all mens suffrage. But these wayes
    Were not the paths I meant vnto thy praise:
    For seeliest Ignorance on these may light,
    130 Which, when it sounds at best, but eccho's right;
    Or blinde Affection, which doth ne're aduance
    The truth, but gropes, and vrgeth all by chance;
    Or crafty Malice, might pretend this praise,
    And thinke to ruine, where it seem'd to raise.
    135These are, as some infamous Baud, or Whore,
    Should praise a Matron. What could hurt her more?
    But thou art proofe against them, and indeed
    Aboue th' ill fortune of them, or the need.
    I, therefore will begin. Soule of the Age!
    140 The applause! delight! the wonder of our Stage!
    My Shakespeare, rise; I will not lodge thee by
    Chaucer, or Spenser, or bid Beaumont lye
    A little further, to make thee a roome:
    Thou art a Moniment, without a tombe,
    145And art aliue still, while thy Booke doth liue,
    And we haue wits to read, and praise to giue.
    That I not mixe thee so, my braine excuses;
    I meane with great, but disproportion'd Muses:
    For, if I thought my iudgement were of yeeres,
    150 I should commit thee surely with thy peeres,
    And tell, how farre thou didstst our Lily out-shine,
    Or sporting Kid, or Marlowes mighty line.
    And though thou hadst small Latine, and lesse Greeke,
    From thence to honour thee, I would not seeke
    155For names; but call forth thund'ring AEschilus,
    Euripides, and Sophocles to vs,
    Paccuuius, Accius, him of Cordoua dead,
    To life againe, to heare thy Buskin tread,
    And shake a Stage: Or, when thy Sockes were on,
    160 Leaue thee alone, for the comparison
    Of all, that insolent Greece, or haughtie Rome
    sent forth, or since did from their ashes come.
    Triumph, my Britaine, thou hast one to showe,
    To whom all Scenes of Europe homage owe.
    165He was not of an age, but for all time!
    And all the Muses still were in their prime,
    When like Apollo he came forth to warme
    Our eares, or like a Mercury to charme!
    Nature her selfe was proud of his designes,
    170 And ioy'd to weare the dressing of his lines!
    Which were so richly spun, and wouen so fit,
    As, since, she will vouchsafe no other Wit.
    The merry Greeke, tart Aristophanes,
    Neat Terence, witty Plautus, now not please;
    175But antiquated, and deserted lye
    As they were not of Natures family.
    Yet must I not giue Nature all: Thy Art,
    My gentle Shakespeare, must enioy a part.
    For though the Poets matter, Nature be,
    180 His Art doth giue the fashion. And, that he,
    Who casts to write a liuing line, must sweat,
    (such as thine are) and strike the second heat
    Vpon the Muses anuile: turne the same,
    (And himselfe with it) that he thinkes to frame;
    185Or for the lawrell, he may gaine a scorne,
    For a good Poet's made, as well as borne.
    And such wert thou. Looke how the fathers face
    Liues in his issue, euen so, the race
    Of Shakespeares minde, and manners brightly shines
    190 In his well torned, and true-filed lines:
    In each of which, he seemes to shake a Lance,
    As brandish't at the eyes of Ignorance.
    Sweet Swan of Auon! what a sight it were
    To see thee in our waters yet appeare,
    195And make those flights vpon the bankes of Thames,
    That so did take Eliza, and our Iames!
    But stay, I see thee in the Hemisphere
    Aduanc'd, and made a Constellation there!
    Shine forth, thou Starre of Poets, and with rage,
    200 Or influence, chide, or cheere the drooping Stage;
    Which, since thy flight frõ hence, hath mourn'd like night,
    And despaires day, but for thy Volumes light.
    Vpon the Lines and Life of the Famous
    205Scenicke Poet, Master WILLIAM
    THose hands, which you so clapt, go now, and wring
    You Britaines braue; for done are Shakespeares dayes:
    His dayes are done, that made the dainty Playes,
    210Which made the Globe of heau'n and earth to ring.
    Dry'de is that veine, dry'd is the Thespian Spring,
    Turn'd all to teares, and Phoebus clouds his rayes:
    That corp's, that coffin now besticke those bayes,
    Which crown'd him Poet first, then Poets King.
    215If Tragedies might any Prologue haue,
    All those he made, would scarse make one to this:
    Where Fame, now that he gone is to the graue
    (Deaths publique tyring-house) the Nuncius is.
    For though his line of life went soone about,
    220 The life yet of his lines shall neuer out.
    of the seuerall Comedies, Histories, and Tra-
    gedies contained in this Volume.
    THe Tempest. Folio 1.
    The two Gentlemen of Verona. 20
    The Merry Wiues of Windsor. 38
    Measure for Measure. 61
    230The Comedy of Errours. 85
    Much adoo about Nothing. 101
    Loues Labour lost. 122
    Midsommer Nights Dreame. 145
    The Merchant of Venice. 163
    235As you Like it. 185
    The Taming of the Shrew. 208
    All is well, that Ends well. 230
    Twelfe="Night," or what you will. 255
    The Winters Tale. 304
    The Life and Death of King Iohn. Fol. 1.
    The Life & death of Richard the second. 23
    The First part of King Henry the fourth. 46
    The Second part of K. Henry the fourth. 74
    245The Life of King Henry the Fift. 69
    The First part of King Henry the Sixt. 96
    The Second part of King Hen. the Sixt. 120
    The Third part of King Henry the Sixt. 147
    The Life & Death of Richard the Third.173
    250The Life of King Henry the Eight. 205
    The Tragedy of Coriolanus. Fol. 1.
    Titus Andronicus. 31
    Romeo and Iuliet. 53
    255Timon of Athens. 80
    The Life and death of Iulius Caesar. 109
    The Tragedy of Macbeth. 131
    The Tragedy of Hamlet. 152
    King Lear. 283
    260Othello, the Moore of Venice. 310
    Anthony and Cleopater. 346
    Cymbeline King of Britaine. 369
    of the deceased Authour Maister
    SHake-speare, at length thy pious fellowes giue
    The world thy Workes: thy Workes, by which, out-liue
    Thy Tombe, thy name must: when that stone is rent,
    And Time dissolues thy Stratford Moniment,
    270Here we aliue shall view thee still. This Booke,
    When Brasse and Marble fade, shall make thee looke
    Fresh to all Ages: when Posteritie
    Shall loath what's new, thinke all is prodegie
    That is not Shake-speares; eu'ry Line, each Verse
    275Here shall reuiue, redeeme thee from thy Herse.
    Nor Fire, nor cankring Age, as Naso said,
    Of his, thy wit-fraught Booke shall once inuade.
    Nor shall I e're beleeue, or thinke thee dead
    (Though mist) vntill our bankrout Stage be sped
    280(Impossible) with some new straine t' out-do
    Passions of Iuliet, and her Romeo;
    Or till I heare a Scene more nobly take,
    Then when thy half=Sword parlying Romans spake.
    Till these, till any of thy Volumes rest
    285Shall with more fire, more feeling be exprest,
    Be sure, our Shake=speare, thou canst neuer dye,
    But crown'd with Lawrell, liue eternally.
    L. Digges.
    To the memorie of M. W. Shake-speare.
    290VVEE wondred (Shake-speare) that thou went'st so soone
    From the Worlds=Stage, to the Graues-Tyring-roome.
    Wee thought thee dead, but this thy printed worth,
    Tels thy Spectators, that thou went'st but forth
    To enter with applause. An Actors Art,
    295Can dye, and liue, to acte a second part.
    That's but an Exit of Mortalitie;
    This, a Re-entrance to a Plaudite.
    The Workes of William Shakespeare,
    300containing all his Comedies, Histories, and
    Tragedies: Truely set forth, according to their first
    The Names of the Principall Actors
    in all these Playes.
    305WIlliam Shakespeare.
    Richard Burbadge.
    Iohn Hemmings.
    Augustine Phillips.
    William Kempt.
    310Thomas Poope.
    George Bryan.
    Henry Condell.
    William Slye.
    Richard Cowly.
    315Iohn Lowine.
    Samuell Crosse.
    Alexander Cooke.
    Samuel Gilburne.
    Robert Armin.
    320William Ostler.
    Nathan Field.
    Iohn Vnderwood.
    Nicholas Tooley.
    William Ecclestone.
    325Ioseph Taylor.
    Robert Benfield.
    Robert Goughe.
    Richard Robinson.
    Iohn Shancke.
    330Iohn Rice.