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PREFACE to the quarto edition of this play, 1609.
A never writer, to an ever reader. Newes.
Eternall reader, you have heere a new play, never stal'd with the itage, never clapper-claw'd with the palmes of the vulger, and yet paffing full of the palme comicall; for it is a birth of your braine, that never under-tooke any thing commicall, vainely and were but the vaine names of commedies changde for the titles of commodities, or of playes for pleas; you should fee all thofe grand cenfors, that now ftile them fuch vanities, flock to them for the maine grace of their gravities: especially this authors commedies, that are fo fram'd to the life, that they serve for the most common commentaries of all the actions of our lives, fhewing fuch a dexteritie and power of witte, that the most difpleafed with playes, are pleasd with his commedies. And all fuch dull and heavy witted worldlings, as were never capable of the witte of a commedie, comming by report of them to his reprefentations, have found that witte there, that they never found in them-felves, and have parted better-witted then they came: feeling an edge of witte fet upon them, more than ever they dreamd they had braine to grind it on. So much and such savored falt of witte is in his commedies, that they feeme (for their height of pleafure) to be borne in that fea that brought forth Venus. Amongst all there is none more witty than this: and had I time I would comment upon it, though I know it needs not, (for fo much as will make you think your testerne well beftowd) but for fo much worth, as even poore I know to be stuft in it. It deferves fuch a labour, as well as the best commedy in Terence or Plautus. And beleeve this, that when hee is gone, and his commedies out of fale, you will scramble for them, and fet up a new English inquifition. Take this for a warning, and at the peril of your pleafures loffe, and judgements, refufe not, nor like this the leffe, for not being fullied with the fmoaky breath of the multitude; but thanke fortune for the fcape it hath made amongst you. Since by the grand poffeffors wills I believe you should have prayd for them rather then beene prayd. And fo I leave all fuch to bee prayd for (for the ftates of their wits healths) that will not praise it. Vale.
INTroy, there lies the fcene. From ifles of Greece
And the deep-drawing barks do there difgorge
The princes orgillous,] Orgillous, i. e. proud, disdainful. Orgueilleux, Fr. This word is used in the ancient romance of Richard Cueur de Lyon :
"His atyre was orgulous." STEEVENS.
(Dardan and Timbria, Helias, Chetas, Troien,
And Antenonidus) with maffie ftaples,
Stirre up the fons of Troye.] This has been a moft miferably mangled paffage through all the editions; corrupted at once into falfe concord and falfe reafoning. Priam's fix-gated city flirre up the fons of Troy?-Here's a verb plural governed of a nominative fingular. But that is eafily remedied. The next question to be afked is, In what fenfe a city, having fix ftrong gates, and thofe well barred and bolted, can be faid to fir up its inhabitants? unless they may be fuppofed to derive fome fpirit from the ftrength of their fortifications. But this could not be the poet's thought. He must mean, I take it, that the Greeks had pitched their tents upon the plains before Troy; and that the Trojans were fecurely barricaded within the walls and gates of
And correfponfive and fulfilling bolts3,
their city. This fenfe my correction reftores. To sperre, or Spar, from the old Teutonic word Speren, fignifies to fut up, defend by bars, &c. THEOBALD..
So, in Spenfer's Faery Queen, b. 5. c. 10:
"The other that was entred, labour'd fast-
Again, in the romance of the Squhr of lowe Degre:)
And in the Vifions of P. Plowman it is faid that a blind man unfparryd his eine."
Again, in Warner's Albion's England, 1602, B. II. chap. 12: "When chafed home into his holdes, there sparred up in gates.' Again, in the 2nd Part of Bale's Actes of Eng. Votaryes: "The dore thereof oft tymes opened and Speared agayne." STEEVENS. "Therto his cyte compaffed enuyrowne
"Hadde gates VI to entre into the towne :
Was by the kinge called | Dardanydes;
Stronge and myghty | both in werre and pes."
Lond. empr. by R. Pynfon, 1513, Fol. b. ii. ch. 11. The Troye Boke was fomewhat modernized, and reduced into regular stanzas, about the beginning of the last century, under the name of, The Life and Death of Hector who fought a Hundred mayne Battailes in open Field against the Grecians; wherein there were flaine on both Sides Fourteene Hundred and Sixe Thousand, Fourfcore and Sixe Men.-Fol. no date. This work Dr. Fuller, and feveral other critics, have erroneously quoted as the original; and obferve in confequence, that if Chaucer's coin were of greater weight for deeper learning, Lydgate's were of a more refined ftandard for purer language: fo that one might mistake him for a modern writer." FARMER.
On other occafions, in the courfe of this play, I shall infert quotations from the Troye Boke modernized, as being the most intelligible of the two. STEEVENS. 3fulfilling bolts,] To fulfill in this place means to fill till
Now expectation, tickling skittish fpirits,
To tell you, fair beholders, that our play
there be no room for more. In this fenfe it is now obfolete. So,
Fulfilled of all curtofie."
Fulfilled of all unkindhip." STEEVENS.
To be " fulfilled with grace and benediction" is still the language of our Litany. BLACKSTONE.
• A prologue arm'd, I come here to speak the prologue, and come in armour; not defying the audience, in confidence of either the author's or actor's abilities, but merely in a character faited to the fubject, in a drefs of war, before a warlike play.
JOHNSON. -the vaunt- -] i. e. the avant, what went before. STEEVENS.
Margarelon, a baftard fon of Priam.
Helen, wife to Menelaus.
Caffandra, daughter to Priam, a prophetefs.
Alexander, Creffida's fervant.
Servant to Diomed.
Trojan and Greek Soldiers, with other attendants.
SCENE, Troy, and the Grecian Camp before it.