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VOL. I. in former times as at present, our ancient theatres do not PROLEGO- appear to have laboured under any disadvantage in this re

spect; for the players printed and exposed accounts of the pieces that they intended to exhibit", which, however, did not contain a complete list of the characters, or the names of the actors by whom they were represented b.

The long and whimsical titles that are prefixed to the quarto copies of our author's plays, I suppose to have been transcribed from the play-bills of the time. They were equally calculated to attract the notice of the idle gazer in



They use to set up their billes upon posts fome certaine dayes before, to admonith the people to make resorte to their theatres, that they may thereby be the better furnished, and the people prepared to fill their purses with their treasures." Treatije against Idlenes, vaine Playes and Interludes, bl, let. (no date).

The antiquity of this custom likewise appears from a story recorded by Taylor the water-poet, under the head of Wit and Mirth. 30. “ Master Field, the player, riding up Fleet Street a great pace, a gentleman called him, and asked him what play was played that day. He being angry to be staied on so frivolous a demand, answered that he might see what play was to be plaied upon every pofte. I cry you mercy, said the gentleman, I took you for a pofte, you rode so fast."''Taylor's Works, p. 183.

Ames, in his Hisory of Printing, p. 342, says, that James Roberts (who published some of our author's dramas) printed bills for the players.

It appears from the following entry on the Stationers' books, that even the right of printing play-bills was at one time made a subject of monopoly :

" Oct. 1587. John Charlewoode.] Lycensed to him by the whole consent of the affistants, the onlye ymprinting of all manner of billes for players. Provided that if any trouble arise herebye, then Charlewoode to beare the charges."

• This practice did not commence till the beginning of the present century. I have seen a play-bill printed in the year 1697, which expressed only the titles of the two pieces that were to be exhibited, and the time when they were to be represented. Notices of plays to be performed on a future day, fimilar to those now daily published, are found in the original edition of the Spectators in 1711. In these early theatrical advertisements, our author is always styled the immortal Shakspeare. Hence Pope :

“ Shakespeare, whom you and every play-house bill
* Style the divine, the matchless, what you will "



the walks at St. Paul's, or to draw a crowd about some vo- VOL. I. ciferous Autolycus, who perhaps was bired by the players PROLEGOthus to raise the expectations of the multitude. It is indeed MENA. highly improbable that the modest Shakspeare, who has more than once apologized for his untutored lines, should in his manuscripts have entitled any of his dramas most excellent and pleasant performances. A contemporary writer has pre

The titles of the following plays may serve to justify what is
here advanced :

The most excellent
Historie of the Merchant

of Venice.
With the extreame crueltie of Shylocke the Jewe
towards the fayd Merchant, in cutting a just pound
of his fieíh : and the obtayning of Portia
by the choyse of three

As it hath been diverse Times acted by the Lord

Chamberlaine his Servants.
Written by William Shakespeare.


M. William Shak-speare:

True Chronicle Historie of the Life and
Death of King LEAR and his three

With the unfortunate life of Edgar, Sonne
and Heire to the Earle of Glofter, and his
sullen and assumed humor of

Tom of Bedlam :
As it was played before the King's Majestie at Whitehall upon

S. Stephen's Night in Chriftmass Hollidayes.
By his Majestie's Servants playing usually at the Globe

on the Bank-side.


A most
Plafant and Excellent Conceited


Syr John Falstaffe,

and the
Merry Wives of Windsor.




Vol. I. ferved fomething like a play-bill of those days, which PROLEGO- seems to corroborate this observation ; for if it were di

vefted NOTES,

With fundrie variable and pleasing Humors of Sir
Hugh the Welch Knight, Justice Shallow,
and his wise Cousin Mr. Slender.

With the
Swaggering Vaine.of ancient Pistoll,

and Corporal Nym.

By William Shakespeare.
As it hath been divers Times acted
By the Right Honourable my Lord Chainber-

laine's Servants ;
Both before her Majestie and else where,


History of
Henrie the

With the Battell at Shrewsburie,
betweene the King and Lord Henrie
Percy, surnamed Henry Hot-

spur of the North.
With the humorous conceits of Sir

John Falstaffe.
Newly corrected by W. Shakespeare.





King Richard.

The Third
Containing his treacherous Plots, against
his brother Clarence: The pittifull Murther of his inno.
cent Nephews : his tiranous usarpation : with the whole
course of his detelted Life, and most

deserved Death
As it hath been lately acted by the King's Majesties

Newly augmented
By William Shakespeare.




Fested of rime, it would bear no very distant resem- Vol. I. biance to the title pages that stand before some of our au- PROLEGOthor's dramas:

Prithee, what's the play?
“ (The first I visited this twelvemonth day)

They say- A new invented boy of Purle,
“ That jeoparded his necké to steale a girl
« Of twelve ; and lying fast impounded for't,
“ Has hicher sent his bearde to act bis part ;
“ Against all those in open malice bent,
“ That would not freely to the theft consent:
“ Faines all to's wish, and in the epilogue
Goes out applauded for a famous -rogue.”

-Now hang me if I did not look at first
“ For some such stuff, by the fond people's thrust "."
It is uncertain at what time the usage of giving authors a
benefit on the third day of the exhibition of their piece, com-
menced. Mr. Oldys, in one of his manuscripts, intimates
that dramatick poets bad anciently their benefit on the first day
that a new play was represented; a regulation which would have
been very favourable to fome of the ephemeral productions
of modern times. But for this there is not, I believe, any fus-
ficient authority. From D'Avenant, indeed, we learn, that
in the latter part of the reign of queen Elizabeth, the poet

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And much-admired Play,

Pericles Prince

of Tyre.

With the true Relation of the whole Historie,
adventures and fortunes of the said Prince ;

As also,
The no less strange and worthy accidents,
in the Birth and Life of his Daughter

As it hath been divers and fundry times acted by
His Majestie's Servants at the Globe on.

the Banck-fide.
By William Shake-speare.


Rotes from Black.fryars, 1619.



VOL. I. had his benefit on the second day. As it was a general Prolego- practice, in the time of Shakspeare, to sell the copy of the

play to the theatre, I imagine, in such cases, an author derived no other advantage from his piece, than what arole from the sale of it. Sometimes, however, he found it more beneficial to retain the copy-right in his own hands; and when he did so, I suppose he had a benefit. It is certain that the giving authors the profits of the third exhibition of their play, which seems to have been the usual mode during almost the whole of the last century, was an established custom in the year 1612; for Decker, in the prologue to one of his comedies, printed in that year, speaks of the poet's thira' day. The unfortunate Otway had no more than one


N O T E s.
• See The Play House to be Let:

There is an old tradition,
". That in the time of mighty Tamburlane,
“ Of conjuring Fauftus and the Beauchamps bold,
" You poets usd to have the second day ;
" This shall be ours, Sir, and to-morrow yours.

66 Poet. I'll take my venture ; 'tis agreed.”
1 " It is not praise is fought for now, but pence,

Though dropp'd from greasy-apron'd audience.
" Clap'd may he be with thunder shat plucks bays
o With such foul hands, and with squint eyes doch

gaze " On Pallas' shield, not caring, so he gains

" A cram'd third day, what filth drops from his brains !” Prologue to If this be not a good Play tbe Devil's in't, 1612.

Yet the following passages intimate, that the poet at a sublequent period bad fome interest in the second day's exhibition :

" Whether their sold scenes be dislikid or hit,
“ Are cares for them who eat by the stage and wit;
" He's one whose unbought muse did never sear

“ An empty second day, or a thin share."
Prologue to The City Match, a comedy, by J. Mayne, 1639.

So, in the prologue to The Sophy, by Sir John Denhain, acted at Blackfryars in 1642:

Gentlemen, if you diflike the play,
“ Pray make no words on't till the second day,
“ Or third be paft; for we would have you know it,
" The loss will fall on us, not on the poet,
66 For he writes not for

money.” In other cases, then, it may be presumed, the loss, either o the fecond or third day, did affect the author.


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