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Preface to the quarto edition of this play, 160g.
A never writer, to an ever reader.' Newes.
Eternall reader, you have heere a new play, never stald with the ftage, never clapper-claw'd with the palmes of the vulger, and yet palling full of the palme comicall; for it is a birth of your braine,
that never under-tcoke any thing commicall, vainely: and were but the vaine names of commedies changde for the ticles of commodities, or of playes for pleas; you should see all those grand censors, that now ftile them such 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, fhcwing such a dexteritie and power of witte, that the most displeased with playes, are pleasd with his commedies. And all such dull and heavy witted worldlings, as were never capable of the witte of a ccnimedie, comming by report of them to his representations, 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 set upon them, more than ever they dreamd they had braine to grind it on. So much and such fa. vored salt of witte is in his commedies, that they seeme (for their height of pleasure) to be borne in that sea 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 so much as will make you think your testerne well be. ftowd) but for so much worth, as even poore I know to be stuft in it. It deserves such 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 sale, you will scramble for them, and set up a new Englih inquisition. Take this for a warning, and at ine perill of your pleasures lofse, and judgements, refule not, nor like this the leffe, for not being sullied with the smoaky breath of the multitude; but thanke fortune for the scape it hath made amongst you. Since by the grand possessors wills I believe you should have prayd for them rather then beene prayd. And so I leave all such to bee prayd for (for the states of their wits healths) that will not praise it. Vale.
IN Troy, there lies the scene. From isles of Greece
The princes 'orgillous, their bigh blood cbaf d,
"The princes orgillous, -] Orgillous, i.e. proud, disdainfal. Orgueilleux, Fr. This word is used in the ancient romance of Ricbard Cueur de Lyon :
“ His atyre was orgulous.” Steevens.
-Priam's fix-gated city,
Stirre up the fons of Troye.- -] This has been a most miser. ably mangled passage through all the editions ; corrupted at once into false concord and false reasoning. Priam's fix-gated city firre up the fons of Troy -Here's a verb plural governed of a nominative fingular. But that is cafily remedied. The next question to be aked is, In what sense a city, having fix strong gates, and those well barred and bolted, can be said 10 Air up its inhabitants ? unless they may be supposed to derive some spirit from the itrength 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 securely barricaded within the walls and gates of
And corresponsive and fulfilling bolts },
their city. This sense my correction restores. To sperre, or Spar, from the old Teutonic word Speren, fignifies to flout up, defend by bars, &c. THEOBALD., So, in Spenser's Faery Queen, b. 5. c. 10 :
" The other that was entred, labour'd fast
" To sperre the gate, &c.” Again, in the romance of the Squhr of lowe Degre:
Sperde with manie a dyvers pynne.” And in the Visions of P. Plowman it is said that a blind man “ unsparryd his eine.”
Again, in Warner's Albion's England, 1602, B. II. chap. 12 : • When chased 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 | compassed enuyrowne.
Tymbria / was named the seconde ;
Lond. empr. by R. Pynfon, 1513, Fol. b. ii. ch. 11. The Troye Boke was somewhat 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 moyne Battailes in open Field against the Grecians; wherein there were saine on both Sides Fourteene Hundred and Sixe Thousand, Fourscore and Sixe Men.-Fol. no date. This work Dr. Fuller, and several other critics, have erroneously quoted as the original; and observe in consequence, that“ if Chaucer's coin were of greater weight for deeper learning, Lydgate's were of a more refined standard for purer language : fo that one might mistake him for a modern writer." PARMER,
On other occasions, in the course of this play, I shall insert quotations from the Troye Boke modernized, as being the most intelligible of the two. STEEVENS. -fulfilling bolts,] To fulfill in this place means to fill till
Now expectation, tickling skittish Spirits,
there be no room for more. In this sense it is now obsolete. So, in Gower, Dc Confeffione Amantis, lib. V. fol. 114:
" A luftie maide, a sobre, a meke,
Fulfilled of all curtofie.' Again :
Fulfilled of all unkindship.” Steevens. To be “ fulfilled with grace and benediction” is still the language of our Litany. BPACKSTONE.
• 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 suited to the subject, in a dress of war, before a warlike play.
JOHNSON the vaunt -] i, e. the avant, what went before.
Helen, wife to Menelaus.
Alexander, Cresida's servant.
SCENE, Troy, and the Grecian Camp before it.