A SELECT COLLECTION OF OLD ENGLISH PLAYS - VOLUME I.
A SELECT COLLECTION OF OLD ENGLISH PLAYS - VOLUME I.
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A SELECT COLLECTION OF OLD ENGLISH PLAYS
FOURTH EDITION NOW FIRST CHRONOLOGICALLY ARRANGED REVISED AND
ENLARGED WITH THE NOTES OF ALL THE COMMENTATORS AND NEW NOTES
W. CAREW HAZLITT.
Interlude of the Four Elements
Calisto and Melibaea
Everyman: a Moral Play
The Pardoner and the Friar
The World and the Child (Mundus and Infans)
The Four P.P.
A New Interlude called Thersites
After the lapse of about half a century since the issue of the last
edition of _Dodsley's Select Collection of Old Plays_ and the
admittance of that work into the honourable rank of scarce and dear
books it seemed a desirable thing to attempt with such additional
improvements as might be practicable or expedient a revival of a
publication which has been a favourite with the lovers of our early drama
since its first publication more than a hundred years ago. Between 1744
the date of its original appearance and 1825 it passed through three
editions; and it may be remarked that the tendency in each successive
edition has been to remodel the undertaking on the principle of rejecting
plays which from time to time have been lifted up (so to speak) into the
collected works of their respective authors and to substitute for them
plays which have either suffered unmerited obscurity in original and rare
editions or have lain so far scattered about in various other
collections; and in the present instance that principle has been strictly
It is desirable that it should be seen precisely in what manner and to
what extent the edition now offered differs from its predecessors as
regards the contents. The points of variation are three: 1. Omissions; 2.
Additions of pieces not included in the former editions; 3. Additional
plays now first reprinted from the originals. The first division
comprises the following productions which since the last republication
of Dodsley have been taken up into the collected editions of their
Ferrex and Porrex _Sackville &c_.
Alexander and Campaspe _Lyly_.
Jew of Malta _Marlowe_.
Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay _Greene_.
Edward the First _Peele_
Edward the Second _Marlowe_.
Pinner of Wakefield _Greene_.
Four Prentices of London _Heywood_.
Mayor of Quinborough _Middleton_.
Malcontent _Marston &c_.
All Fools _Chapman_.
Woman Killed with Kindness _Heywood_.
Honest Whore (two parts) _Decker and Middleton_.
The White Devil _Webster_.
Eastward Hoe _Marston &c_.
A Mad World my Masters _Middleton_.
The Roaring Girl _Middleton_.
The Widow's Tears _Chapman_.
The Widow _Jonson &c_.
The Wits _Davenant_.
The Jovial Crew _Brome_.
The second and third characteristics of our book are the ADDITIONS
which as we have stated are of two kinds. In the first place we may
enumerate the dramas new to Dodsley's collection though previously
edited in a variety of forms:
Interlude of the Four Elements _Anon_.
Disobedient Child _Ingelend_.
Trial of Treasure _Anon_.
Lusty Juventus _Wever_.
Hickscorner An Interlude _Anon_.
Everyman An Interlude _Anon_.
Pardoner and Friar An Interlude _Heywood_.
Jack Juggler | _Anon_.
Thersites | Interludes _Anon_.
Ralph Roister Doister _Udall_.
Conflict of Conscience _Woodes_.
Three Ladies of London _Wilmot_.
Three Lords and Three Ladies of London _Wilmot_.
Rare Triumphs of Love and Fortune _Anon_.
Knack to Know a Knave _Anon_.
Jeronimo (Part the First) _Anon_.
Two Angry Women of Abingdon _Porter_.
Spanish Tragedy _Kyd_.
Solyman and Perseda _Anon_.
How a Man may choose a Good Wife from a Bad _Anon_.
Englishmen for my Money _Haughton_.
Second Maiden's Tragedy _Anon_.
Wily Beguiled _Anon_.
Return from Parnassus _Anon_.
New Wonder _Rowley_.
Lust's Dominion _Anon_.
"The Lost Lady" by Sir William Berkley or Barkley; "The Marriage Night"
by Lord Falkland; "The Shepherd's Holiday" by Joseph Butter;
"Andromana" by J.S. and "All Mistaken or the Mad Couple" which were
given by Dodsley in 1744 but were omitted in the second and third
impressions have been restored to their places.
The remaining feature recommending the undertaking to indulgent notice
is perhaps the most important and interesting. Subjoined is a list of the
dramatic compositions which have never hitherto appeared in any series of
Old English Plays and of which the originals are of the utmost rarity:--
1. The Tragi-Comedy of Calisto and Melibaea 1520.
2. Nice Wanton An Interlude 1560.
3. An Interlude called Like Will to Like by Ulpian
4. The History of Jacob and Esau 1568.
5. The Marriage of Wit and Science 1570.
A strictly chronological arrangement has been adopted. Such a plan
appeared to be the most desirable and the most obvious as it facilitates
our appreciation of the gradual and progressive development of dramatic
composition. If it may be thought to labour under any disadvantage it is
perhaps that it has the effect of throwing into a single consecutive
series without discrimination pieces which are mere interludes and
others which are characterised by higher qualities and aspire to belong
to the regular drama. But the evil will be found not to be of a very
serious kind and it will disappear after the earlier volumes of the
In fixing the order of sequence the place of a production in the series
has been occasionally determined by the date at which it is believed to
have been written or presented rather than by the date at which it left
the printer's hands. Such is the case with Heywood's "Pardoner and
Friar" and the anonymous interlude of "New Custom;" as well as with
"Ralph Roister Doister" and "Gammer Gurton's Needle" all of which may
be taken to belong to a period some time anterior to their publication.
A leading characteristic of the collection as now reconstructed is the
great preponderance of pieces of which the authors are not known or by
authors who have not left more than one or two dramatic productions. It
was judged expedient in the interest of purchasers to give a preference
to these single or anonymous plays as it will probably not be long
before the works of every voluminous writer are collected. Those of
Jonson Shirley Peele Greene Ford Massinger Middleton and Chapman
have already been edited and Brome's Deckers Heywood's and
Glapthorne's will follow in due course. To all these the new DODSLEY will
serve as a supplement and companion.
The editor felt himself in a position of somewhat special difficulty and
delicacy when it became necessary to consider the question of retaining
or excluding the prefatory matter attached to the impressions of this
work in 1744 and 1780. A careful and impartial perusal of that matter
made it evident that the prudent course on the whole was to reject
these prolegomena. There was no alternative but their entire preservation
or their entire suppression; for any arbitrary alterations or
curtailments would have been liable to objection or censure. In the first
place there was Dodsley's own preface chiefly occupied by a sketch of
the history of our stage but based on the most imperfect information
and extremely unsatisfactory if not misleading. Then there was like
Pelion heaped on Ossa Isaac Reed's introduction more elaborate and
copious than Dodsley's yet far from complete or systematic and not
improved by the presence of an appendix or sequel. Reed of course went
over the same ground as Dodsley had already traversed with inferior
ability and less ample resources at his command and there were
repetitions as might be expected of the same particulars. There seemed
to be two forms of weakness--redundancy on the one hand and meagreness on
the other. Again all the information collected by Dodsley and Reed was
to be found elsewhere with innumerable improvements and corrections of
mistakes the subject itself more methodically handled and the early
annals of the English drama and theatre almost presented to the public
view under a new aspect by Mr Collier in his well-known work printed in
1831 a publication heartily welcomed and appreciated at the time of its
appearance and long after and even now a literary monument of which it
may be said that with whatever defects it may possess it reflects as
much credit on its author as a far more perfect performance brought to
completion at the present day under more favourable auspices could
reflect on any one else. It was a long advance on anything which had been
attempted so far in the same direction; and to reproduce in the face of
Mr Collier's volumes the obsolete and superseded labours of Dodsley and
even Reed seemed to be a waste of space which might be far more
beneficially occupied by additional texts.
As regards the orthography it has to be pointed out that in consonance
with the system adopted by Dyce and others it has been reduced to our
modern standard; but at the same time it should be understood that the
_language_ of the writers has in every case been held sacred. Than the
spelling which occurs in early plays and tracts more especially perhaps
those of a popular character nothing can well be more capricious and
uncouth; but the phraseology and terms are on all accounts of value. Not
a word therefore nor even part of a word has suffered alteration; and
wherever there was a doubt as there might be in preparing for the press
once more such an extensive collection of pieces it was thought better
to err on the side of caution. Weever the author of "Funeral Monuments"
retained with scrupulous exactitude the ancient spelling _ipsissimis
verbis_; and such a plan might be advisable and convenient with
sepulchral inscriptions or records; but in the matter before us what an
editor had principally if not almost exclusively to consider was the
preservation in their fullest integrity of the language of the time and
the sense of the playwright.
The first and second editions of Dodsley's collection appear
notwithstanding what is asserted to the contrary in Reed's preface to
have been superintended with no very high degree of care and the late Mr
Dyce indeed used to observe that the same criticism was applicable to
the edition of 1825. But the latter with the fullest admission of its
defects is certainly marked by great improvements on its predecessors in
more than one way. The labours of Hawkins and Dilke reflect
considerable honour upon those gentlemen.
It is almost superfluous to observe that the preceding editions the last
and best not excepted present a very large number of statements
opinions and readings which more recent and more exact information has
shown to be erroneous. All these mistakes have been carefully rectified
wherever the knowledge and experience of the editor enabled him to detect
A certain number of corruptions and obscurities remain which it passed
the editor's ingenuity to eradicate or clear away. The printed remains of
our early drama have come down to us for the most part in a sadly
mutilated state and the attempt to amend and restore the text to its
original purity will it may be safely affirmed never succeed more than
to a very imperfect extent. Even the late Mr Dyce's revised edition of
Shakespeare 1868 abounds with misprints and other distortions of the
writer's sense; and we must abandon in some cases the hope of ever
arriving at the true readings. So it is with the miscellaneous assemblage
of dramatic productions here brought together. A great deal has been done
by a succession of editors to reduce the errors of the printer or copyist
to a minimum; but after all there are places where it would require the
assistance of the Sphinx to supply a chasm or rectify a palpable
The work in its present state should assuredly have some degree of
interest and worth; for it offers in one collected body the best
specimens of dramatic literature which the English language affords
castigated and enriched by some of our best commentators and critics.
In these volumes as now rearranged it is trusted that very few
uncollected plays of real importance will be found wanting; but as an
enterprise of this kind can never amount to more than a _selection_ as
it purports to be it appeared judicious in making the choice to give
the preference to such pieces as either illustrated the manners of the
period or marked the gradual development of the dramatic art.
The only basis on which the present editor can rest so far as he is
aware the slightest claim to credit is the attention which he has
bestowed on the rearrangement of the collection as it now stands; the
conscientious and vigilant supervision of the whole matter here brought
together--prefaces texts and notes--and the correction of errors on the
part of his predecessors occasioned by a variety of causes. In carrying
out even this unambitious programme there was a fair share of labour and
difficulty and of course it has involved the addition of a new crop of
notes scattered up and down the series as well as the occasional
displacement of certain illustrative remarks founded on wrong _data_.
The Notes without any initial attached to them in the following pages
may be presumed to be from the pen of Isaac Reed with the exception of a
limited number which were written by Dodsley himself and which are not
easily mistakable. The matter signed _S_. appears to have been
communicated to Reed by George Steevens. The _C_. notes are Mr Collier's
and _O.G_. stands for Octavius Gilchrist. For the notes which remain and
which have been enclosed between brackets the present editor alone is
It is proposed to introduce in the concluding volume two indexes one of
names and another of subjects as the want of a ready means of reference
to passages phrases and characters in these old plays is one which the
editor himself has so strongly felt as to make him desirous of removing
it so far as possible for his own sake and that of the public.
The long table of _errata_ to the former edition has of course been
attended to and the _additional notes_ there placed at the end have been
arranged under their respective heads.
_1st November_ 1873.
TO SIR CLEMENT COTTEREL DORMER KT.
Sir--If there be anything in this collection worthy of being preserved
it is to you the public is indebted for the benefit. Your obliging
readiness to communicate the stores of which you were possessed
encouraged me to undertake the design which otherwise I should have
despaired of prosecuting with success. Under the sanction of your name
therefore I beg leave to shelter the remains of these old dramatic
writers which but for your generosity had fallen with their authors
into utter oblivion. To your candour I submit the pains I have taken to
give a tolerably correct edition of them and am with great respect Sir
your most obliged and obedient humble servant
INTERLUDE OF THE FOUR ELEMENTS.
_A new interlude and a merry of the nature of the Four Elements
declaring many proper points of philosophy natural and of divers strange
lands and of divers strange effects and causes; which interlude if the
whole matter be played will contain the space of an hour and a half;
but if ye list ye may leave out much of the sad matter as the
Messenger's part and some of Nature's part and some of Experience's
part and yet the matter will depend conveniently and then it will not
be past three-quarters of an hour of length. London: John Rastell_.
1519. 8vo black letter.
MR HALLIWELL'S PREFACE TO THE FORMER EDITION.
The curious interlude reprinted in the following pages is one of the
earliest moral plays in the English language known to exist and it
possesses an interest beyond its connection with the history of the
stage as being the only dramatic piece extant in which science is
attempted to be made popular through the medium of theatrical
representation. Only one copy of it is known to exist but that is
unfortunately imperfect a sheet in the middle and concluding leaves
being lost so that we are left without the means of giving the reader
much information respecting it. On the other hand while this
circumstance must excuse the brevity of these preliminary observations
its singularity and extreme rarity offered additional inducements for
selecting it for republication.
An allusion to the discovery of the West Indies and America "within this
twenty year" would appear to ascertain the date of the composition of
the play; but I suspect from internal evidence the form and manner of
its dialogue that it was not written so early as some authors have
supposed Dr Dibdin assigning 1510 to the period of its appearance.
The same writer considers it to be a production of Rastell's press; and
it has been stated on somewhat doubtful authority that the printer was
also the author; a combination that has seldom effected much service and
has too frequently deteriorated the efforts of both. Be this as it may
no great talent is displayed in the construction of the following piece
the value of which must be allowed to consist in the curious illustration
it affords of the phraseology and popular scientific knowledge of the
day and its curiosity as a link in the history of the drama rather than
in any intrinsic merits of its own.
It is only necessary to add that the play was rather carelessly printed
and a few very obvious errors have been corrected. With these exceptions
the following pages present a faithful copy of the original a very small
octavo volume in black letter.
INTERLUDE OF THE FOUR ELEMENTS.
THE NAMES OF THE PLAYERS.
_Here follow the names of the players_.
The Messenger Nature Natura[t]e Humanity Studious Desire Sensual
Appetite the Taverner Experience Ignorance; also if ye list ye may
bring in a Disguising.
_Here follow divers matters which be in this interlude contained_.
Of the situation of the four elements that is to say the earth the
water the air and fire and of their qualities and properties and of
the generation and corruption of things made of the commixtion of them.
Of certain conclusions proving that the earth must needs be round and
that it hangeth in the midst of the firmament and that it is in
circumference above 21000 miles.
Of certain conclusions proving that the sea lieth round upon the earth.
Of certain points of cosmography as how and where the sea covereth the
earth and of divers strange regions and lands and which way they lie;
and of the new-found lands and the manner of the people.
Of the generation and cause of stone and metal and of plants and herbs.
Of the generation and cause of well-springs and rivers; and of the cause
of hot fumes that come out of the earth; and of the cause of the baths of
water in the earth which be perpetually hot.
Of the cause of the ebb and flood of the sea.
Of the cause of rain snow and hail.
Of the cause of the winds and thunder.
Of the cause of the lightning of blazing stars and flames flying in the
Th' abundant grace of the power divine
Which doth illumine the world environ
Preserve this audience and cause them to incline
To charity this is my petition;
For by your patience and supportation
A little interlude late made and prepared
Before your presence here shall be declared
Which of a few conclusions is contrived
And points of philosophy natural.
But though the matter be not so well declared
As a great clerk could do nor so substantial
Yet the author hereof requireth you all
Though he be ignorant and can little skill
To regard his only intent and good-will;
Which in his mind hath ofttimes pondered
What number of books in our tongue maternal
Of toys and trifles be made and imprinted
And few of them of matter substantial;
For though many make books yet unneth ye shall
In our English tongue find any works
Of cunning that is regarded by clerks.
The Greeks the Romans with many other mo
In their mother tongue wrote warks excellent.
Then if clerks in this realm would take pain so
Considering that our tongue is now sufficient
To expound any hard sentence evident
They might if they would in our English tongue
Write works of gravity sometime among;