Imagens das páginas

remaine to my sayed neece Hall, and the heires males of her bodie lawfullie yssueing; and for defalt of such issue, to my daughter Judith, and the heires males of her bodie lawfullie issueinge; and for defalt of such issue, to the right heires of me the saied William Shackspeare for ever. Item, I gyve unto my wief my second best bed with the furniture. Item, I gyve and bequeath to my saied daughter Judith my broad silver gilt bole. All the rest of my goodes, chattel, leases, plate, jewels, and household stuffe whatsoever, after my dettes and legasies paied, and my funeral expences dischardged, I give, devise, and bequeath to my sonne in lawe, John Hall gent., and my daughter Susanna, his wief, whom I ordaine and make executours of this my last will and testament. And I doe intreat and appoint the saied Thomas Russell esquier and Frauncis Collins gent. to be overseers hereof, and doe revoke all former wills, and publishe this to be my last will and testament. In witness whereof I have hereunto put my [seale] hand, the daie and yeare first abovewritten.


Witnes to the publyshing hereof,






Probatum coram magistro Willielmo Byrde, legum doctore comiss. &c. xxij. die mensis Junii, anno Domini 1616, juramento Johannis Hall, unius executorum, &c. cui &c. de bene &c. jurat. reservat. potestate &c. Susannæ Hall, alteri executorum &c. cum venerit petitur. &c. (Inv. ex.).


To the most noble and incomparable pair of brethren, William Earl of Pembroke, &c., Lord Chamberlain to the King's most excellent majesty, and Philip Earl of Montgomery, &c., Gentleman of his majesty's bedchamber; both Knights of the most noble Order of the Garter, and our singular good lords.


Whilst we study to be thankful in our particular for the many favours we have received from your L.L., we are fallen upon 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 of 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 his orphans guardians; without ambition either of self-profit or fame; only to keep the memory of so worthy a friend and fellow alive as was our Shakespeare, by humble offer of his plays to your most noble patronage. Wherein, as we have justly observed no man to come near your L.L. but with a kind of religious address, it hath been the height of our care, who are the presenters, to make the present


worthy of your H.H. by the perfection. But there we must also crave our abilities to be considered, my lords. We cannot go beyond our own powers. Country hands reach forth milk, cream, fruits, or what they have; and many nations, we have heard, that had not gums and incense, obtained their requests with a leavened cake. It was no fault to approach their gods by what means they could and the most, though meanest, of things are made more precious when they are dedicated to temples. In that name, therefore, we most humbly consecrate to your H.H. these remains of your servant Shakespeare, that what delight is in them may be ever your L.L., the reputation his, and the faults ours, if any be committed by a pair so careful to show their gratitude both to the living and the dead as is

Your Lordships' most bounden,




To the great variety of readers.

FROM the most able to him that can but spell: there you are numbered. We had rather you were weighed: especially when the fate of all books depends upon your capacities; and not of your heads alone, but of your purses. Well, it is now public; and you will stand for your privileges, we know, to read and censure. Do so, but buy it first: that doth best commend a book, the stationer says. Then how odd soever your brains be or your wisdoms, make your license the same, and spare not. Judge your six-pen'orth, your shilling's-worth, your five-shillings'-worth at a time, or higher, so you rise to the just rates, and welcome. But, whatever you do, buy. Censure will not drive a trade, or make the jack go. And though you be a magistrate of wit, and sit on the stage at Blackfriars or the Cock-pit, to arraign plays daily, know, these plays have had their trial already, and stood out all appeals, and do now come forth quitted rather by a decree of court than any purchased letters of commendation.

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. But, since it hath been ordained otherwise, and he by death departed from that right, we pray you do not envy his friends the office of their care and pain, to have collected and published them; and so to have published them as where (before) you were abused with divers stolen and surreptitious copies, maimed and deformed by the frauds and stealths of injurious impostors that exposed them, even those are now offered to your view cured and perfect of their limbs, and all the rest absolute in their numbers as he conceived them; who, as he was a happy imitator of nature, was a most gentle expresser of it: his mind and hand went together; and what he thought, he uttered with that easiness, that we have scarce

received from him a blot in his papers. But it is not our province, who only gather his works and give them you, to praise him. It is yours that read him: and there we hope, to your divers capacities, you will find enough both to draw and hold you; for his wit can no more lie hid than it could be lost. Read him, therefore; and again and again and if then you do not like him, surely you are in some manifest danger not to understand him. And so we leave you to other of his friends, whom if you need, can be your guides: if you need them not, you can lead yourselves and others. And such readers we wish him.


« AnteriorContinuar »