Internet Shakespeare Editions

Author: Ben Jonson
Not Peer Reviewed

Prefatory Materials (Folio 1, 1663)

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,