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THE

LA Y S

O F

WILLIAM SHAKSPEARE.

VOLUME THE THIRD.

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THE ECONOMY AND USAGES OF OUR ANCIENT THEATRES.

THE drama before the time of Shakspeare was

fo little cultivated, or fo ill understood, that to many it may appear unneceffary to carry our theatrical researches higher than that period. Dryden has truly obferved, that he "found not, but created firft the ftage;" of which no one can doubt, who confiders, that of all the plays iffued from the press antecedent to the year 1592. when there is reason to believe he commenced a dramatick writer, the titles are fcarcely known, except to antiquaries; nor is there one of them that will bear a fecond perufal. Yet thefe, contemptible and few as they are, we may suppose to have been the most popular productions of the time, and the best that had been exhibited before the appearance of Shakfpeare.'

There are but thirty-eight plays, (exclufive of mysteries, VOL. III.

B

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