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For ease of reference the order of the plays in the First Folio has been followed in this edition, in preference to the chronological scheme, in many respects more commendable; there is no fear nowadays of The Tempest being regarded as the earliest of the plays because of its position in the editio princeps. It should be noted that Troilus and Cressida is not mentioned at all in the original
Catalogue of the several Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies, though in the body of the book it opens the section of Tragedies. Pericles, not included in the First Folio, will be found in the last volume of the plays.
The twelfth volume will contain The Sonnets and Poems, together with a concise account of the poet's life, illustrative documents, early editions of the works, contested theories, &c.
I feel sure that many readers will thank me for reprinting the prefatory matter to the First Folio, unaccountably omitted from most modern editions—the precious testimony of Shakespeare's friends and fellow-actors, 'undertaking the design .. to keep the memory of so worthy a friend and fellow alive as was our SHAKESPEARE. It had been a thing, we confess, worthy to have been wished, that the Author himself had lived to have set forth, and overseen his own writings.'
I. G. September 8th, 1899.
PREFATORY MATTER TO
To the Reader
This figure, that thou here seest put,
TO THE MOST NOBLE
INCOMPARABLE PAIR OF BRETHREN
King's most Excellent Majesty
the ill fortune, to mingle two the most diverse things that can be, fear, and rashness ; rashness in the enterprise, and fear of the success. For, when we value the places your H.H. sustain, we cannot but know their dignity greater, than to descend to the reading of these trifles: and, while we name them trifles, we have deprived ourselves
the defence of our Dedication. But since your L.L. have been pleased to think these trifles something heretofore; and have prosecuted both them, and their Author living, with so much favour : we hope, that (they outliving him, and he not having the fate, common with some, to be executor to his own writings) you will use the like indulgence toward them, you have done unto their parent.
There is a great difference, whether any Book choose his Patrons or find them: This hath done both. For, so much were your L.L. likings of the several parts, when they were acted, as before they were published, the Volume asked to be yours. We have but collected them, and done an office to the dead, to procure