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To the Quarto Edition of this Play, 1609.
A never writer, to an ever reader. Newes.
Eternall reader, you have heere a new play, never stald with the stage, never clapper-claw'd with the palmes of the vulger, and yet passing full of the palme comicall; for it is a birth of your braine, that never under-tooke any thing commicall, vainely: and were but the vaine names of commedies changde for the titles of commodities, or of playes for pleas; you should see all those grand censors, that now stile them such vanities, flock to them for the maine grace of their gravities : especially this authors commedies, that are so fram'd to the life, that they serve for the most common commentaries of all the actions of our lives, shewing 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 commedie, comming by report of them to his representations, have found that witte there, that they never found in them-selves, and have parted better-witted than they came: feeling an edge of witte set upon them, more then ever they dreamd they had braine to grind it on. So much and such favored 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 beftowd) 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 fale, you will scramble for them, and set up a new English inquisition. Take this for a warning, and at the peril of your pleasures losse, and judgements, refuse not, nor like this the lefse, 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 a orgillous, their high blood chaf'd, Have to the port of Athens sent their ships Fraught with the ministers and instruments Of cruel war: Sixty and nine, that wore Their crownets regal, from the Athenian bay Put forth toward Phrygia : and their vow is made, To ransack Troy; within whole strong immures Tbe ravisk'd Helen, Menelaus' queen, With wanton Paris seeps; And that's the quarrel. To Tenedos they come ; And the deep-drawing barks do there disgorge Their warlike fraughtage : Now on Dardan plains The fresh and yet unbruised Greeks do pitch Their brave pavilions : Priam's fix-gated city (Dardan, and Thymbria, Ilias, Chetas, Troyan, And Antenoridas) with masy staples, And corresponjve and fulfilling bolts, Sperts up the fons of Troy. Now expe&tation, tickling skittish fpirits, On one and other side, Trojan and Greek, Sets all on bazard :-And bitber am I come A prologue' armid, -but not in confidence Of author's pen, or actor's voice; but suited In like conditions as our argument, To tell you, fair beholders, that our play Leaps o’er' the vaunt and firstlings of those broils, 'Ginning in the middle ; starting thence away To wbat may be digested in a play. Like, or find fault; do as your pleasures are; Now good, or bad, 'tis but the chance of war. * ergillous,)-proud, haughty. $ immures]-walls. falflling)-nicely fitting their fockets. Sperrs]-shuts up, barricadoes. and]-in a dress adapted to the character I sustain in this warlike
f the vaunt and firstlings]-high speeches, and first efsays, che prelude.
? Now good, now bad.
HELEN, Wife to Menelaus.
SCENE-Troy, and the Grecian Camp before it.
This Play was probably written in the year 1602; the principal circumstances of it are extracted from LydGate's Troy-Boke, and CHAUCER'S TALE OF TROILUS AND CRESSBIDE.
Troi. Call here my varlet", I'll unarm again
Pan. 'Will this geer ne'er be mended ?
Pan. Well, I have told you enough of this: for my
parlet,]-valet. Will this guer ne'er be mended?]-Will this foolery never end? fonder)more childish.