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The Famous Historie of Troylus and Cresseid. Excellently expressing the beginning of their loues, with the conceited wooing of Pandarus Prince of Licia. Written by William Shakespeare. London Imprinted by G. Eld for R. Bonian and H. Walley, and are to be sold at the spred Eagle in Paules Church-yeard, ouer against the great North doore. 1609. 4to. 46 leaves.
The Historie of Troylus and Cresseida. As it was acted by the Kings Maiesties seruants at the Globe. Written by William Shakespeare. London Imprinted by G. Eld for R. Bonian and H. Walley, and are to be sold at the spred Eagle in Paules Church-yeard, ouer against the great North doore. 1609. 4to. 45 leaves.
In the folio of 1623, "The Tragedie of Troylus and Cressida” occupies twenty-nine pages, the Prologue filling the first page and the last being left blank. It retains its place in the later folios; but in that of 1685 the Prologue is placed at the head of the page on which the play commences.
We will first state the facts respecting the early impressions of " Troilus and Cressida," and then make such observations upon them as seem necessary.
The play was originally printed in 1609. It was formerly supposed that there were two editions in that year, but they were merely different issues of the same impression : the body of the work (with two exceptions, pointed out hereafter) is alike in each ; they were from the types of the same printer, and were published by the same booksellers. The title-pages, as may be seen on the opposite leaf, vary materially ; but there is another more remarkable alteration. On the title-page of the copies first circulated, it is not stated that the drama had been represented by any company; and in a sort of preface headed, "A never Writer to an' ever Reader. News," it is asserted that it had never been "staled with the stage, never clapper-clawed with the palms of the vulgar;" in other words, that the play had not been acted. This was probably then true; but as “ Troilus and Cressida” was very soon afterwards brought upon the stage, it became necessary for the publishers to substitute a new title-page, and to suppress their preface : accordingly a re-issue of the same edition took place, by the title-page of which it appeared, that the play was printed “as it was acted by the King's Majesty's servants at the Globe."
In the Stationers' Registers are two entries, of distinct dates, relating to a play, or plays, called, “Troilus and Cressida :" they are in the following terms :
"7 Feb. 1602-3 “Mr. Roberts] The booke of Troilus and Cresseda, as
yt is acted by my Lo. Chamberlens men." 4 28 Jan. 1608-9 « Rich. Bonion and Hen. Whalleys] Entered for their
copie under t’ hands of Mr. Segar Deputy to Sir Geo. Bucke, and Mr. Warden Lownes: A
booke called the History of Troylus and Cressula." The edition of 1609 was, doubtless, published in consequence of the entry of “28 Jan. 1608–9;" but if Roberts printed a “ Troilus and Cressida," whether by Shakespeare or by any other dramatist, in consequence of the earlier entry of "7 Feb. 1602–3,"none such has come down to our time. Shakespeare's tragedy was not again printed, as far as can
now be ascertained, until it appeared, under rather peculiar circumstances, in the folio of 1623.
In that volume the dramatic works of Shakespeare, as is well known, are printed in three divisions-"Comédies,” “ Histories," and "Tragedies ;” and a list of them, under those heads is inserted at the commencement. In that list " Troilus and Cressida” is not found; and it is farther remarkable, that it is inserted near the middle of the folio of 1623, without any paging, excepting that the second leaf is numbered 79 and 80: the signatures also do not correspond with any others in the series. Hence it was inferred by Farmer, that the insertion of " Troilus and Cressida" an afterthought by the player-editors, and that when the rest of the folio was printed, they had not intended to include it. It seems to us, that there is no adequate ground for this notion, and that the peculiar circumstances to which we have alluded may be sufficiently accounted for by the supposition that “ Troilus and Cressida” was given to, and executed by, a different printer. The paging of the folio of 1623 is in several places irregular, and in the division of “ Tragedies " (at the head of which “Troilus and Cressida” is placed) there is a mistake of 100 pages. The list of“ Comedies,” “ Histories,” and “Tragedies," at the beginning of the volume was most likely printed last, and the person who formed it accidentally omitted “Troilus and Cressida,” because it had been as accidentally omitted in the pagination. No copy of the folio of 1623 is, we believe, known, which does not contain " Troilus and Cressida :" it is not there divided into acts and scenes, although at the commencement of the piece we have Actus Primus, Scæna Prima.
Such are the facts connected with the appearance of the tragedy in quarto and folio. It seems very evident that 66 Troilus and Cressida" was acted in the interval between the first and the second issue of the quarto, as printed by G. Eld for Bonian and Walley in the early part of 1609. It is probable that our great dramatist prepared it for the stage in the winter of 1608–9, with a view to its production at the Globe as soon as the season commenced at that theatre : before it was so produced, and after it had been licensed, 2 Bonian and Walley seem to have possessed themselves of a copy of it; and having procured it to be printed, issued it to the world as “a new play, never staled with the stage, never clapperclawed with the palms of the vulgar.” That they had obtained it without the consent of the company, “the grand possessors,” as they are called, may be gathered from the conclusion of the preface. The second issue of Bonian and Walley's edition of 1609 was not made until after the tragedy had been acted at the Globe, as is stated on the title-page. This is an easy and intelligible mode of accounting for the
1 We infer this from the terms of the entry in the Stationers' Registers, in which Sir George Buck, and his deputy, Segar, are mentioned. It is upon this evidence only that we know that Segar acted for the Master of the Revels. Sir George Buck was not formally appointed until 1610.