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A Collection of Old English Plays, Volume 3   By:

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In Four Volumes

Edited by


1882 1889.


Preface Sir Gyles Goosecappe The Wisdome of Dr. Dodypoll The Distracted Emperor The Tryall of Chevalry Footnotes


I have not been able to give in the present volume the unpublished play of Heywood's to which I referred in the Preface to Vol. I. When I came to transcribe the play, I found myself baffled by the villanous scrawl. But I hope that, with the assistance of some expert in old handwriting, I may succeed in procuring an accurate transcript of the piece for the fourth volume.

One of the plays here presented to the reader is printed for the first time, and the others have not been reprinted. I desire to thank ALFRED HENRY HUTH, Esq., for the loan of books from his magnificent collection. It is pleasant to acknowledge an obligation when the favour has been bestowed courteously and ungrudgingly. To my friend F.G. FLEAY, Esq., I cannnot adequately express my gratitude for the great trouble that he has taken in reading all the proof sheets, and for his many valuable suggestions. Portions of the former volume were not seen by him in the proof, and to this cause must be attributed the presence of some slight but annoying misprints. One serious fault, not a misprint, occurs in the first scene of the first Act of Barnavelt's Tragedy (p. 213). In the margin of the corrected proof, opposite the lines,

"And you shall find that the desire of glory Was the last frailty wise men ere putt of,"

I wrote

"That last infirmity of noble minds,"

a [mis]quotation from Lycidas . The words were written in pencil and enclosed in brackets. I was merely drawing Mr. FLEAY'S attention to the similarity of expression between Milton's words and the playwright's; but by some unlucky chance my marginal pencilling was imported into the text. I now implore the reader to expunge the line. On p. 116, l. 12 (in the same volume), for with read witt ; p. 125 l. 2, for He read Ile ; p. 128, l. 18, for pardue read perdue ; p. 232, for Is read In ; p. 272, l. 3, for baste read haste ; p. 336, l. 6, the speaker should evidently be not Do . (the reading of the MS.) but Sis ., and noble Sir Richard should be noble Sir Francis ; p. 422, l. 12, del. comma between Gaston and Paris . Some literal errors may, perhaps, still have escaped me, but such words as anottomye for anatomy , or dietie for deity must not be classed as misprints. They are recognised though erroneous forms, and instances of their occurrence will be given in the Index to Vol. IV.

5, WILLOW ROAD, HAMPSTEAD, N.W. January 24, 1884.


This clever, though somewhat tedious, comedy was published anonymously in 1606. There is no known dramatic writer of that date to whom it could be assigned with any great degree of probability. The comic portion shows clearly the influence of Ben Jonson, and there is much to remind one of Lyly's court comedies. In the serious scenes the philosophising and moralising, at one time expressed in language of inarticulate obscurity and at another attaining clear and dignified utterance, suggest a study of Chapman. The unknown writer might have taken as his motto a passage in the dedication of Ovid's Banquet of Sense : "Obscurity in affection of words and indigested conceits is pedantical and childish; but where it shroudeth itself in the heart of his subject, uttered with fitness of figure and expressive epithets, with that darkness will I still labour to be shrouded." Chapman's Gentleman Usher was published in the same year as Sir Gyles Goosecappe ; and I venture to think that in a passage of Act III., Scene II., our author had in his mind the exquisite scene between the wounded Strozza and his wife Cynanche. In Strozza's discourse on the joys of marriage occur these lines:

"If he lament she melts herselfe in teares; If he be glad she triumphs; if he stirre She moon's his way: in all things his sweete Ape ... Continue reading book >>

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