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Earle of Pembroke, &c., Lord Chamberlaine to

the Kings mof Excellent Maiesty.


Earle of Montgomery, &c., Gentleman of his
Maiesties Bed-Chamber. Both Knights of the most Noble
Order of the Garter, and our fingular good

Right Honourable,

Hilf we ftudie to be thankful in our particular, for the
many fauors we haue receiued from your L.L we are
falne upon the ill fortune , to mingle two the most di-

uerse things that can bee , feare, and rashnesse; rashsa nesse in the enterprize, and feare of the successe. For, when we valew the places your H.H. fustaine, we cannot but know their dignity greater, then to descend to the reading of these trifles: and, vvhile we name them trifles, we haue depriu'd our selues of the defence of our Dedication. But since your L.L. haue beene pleas'd to thinke these trifles fome-thing, heeretofore; and


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haue profequuted both them, and their Author living, vvith jo much fauour : we hope, that (they out-liuing him, and he not hauing the fate, common with some, to be exequutor to his owne writings) you will vse the like indulgence toward them, you haue done unto their parent. There is a great difference, vvhether any Booke choose his Patrones, or finde them; This hath done both. For, so much were your L L. likings of the seuerall parts, vvhen they were acted, as before they uvere published, the Volume ask'd to be yours. We haue but colleeted them, and done an office to the dead, to procure his Orphanes, Guardians ; vvithout ambition either of selfe-profit, or fame : onely to keepe the memory of so worthy a Friend, & Fellow aliue, as was our SHAKESPEARE, by humble offer of his playes, to your most noble patronage. Wherein, as we haue iuftly obserued, no man to come neere your L.L. but vvith a kind of religious addrese; it hath bin the height of our care, vuho are the Presenters, to make the present worthy of your H H. by the perfection. But, there we must also craue our abilities to be confiderd, my Lords. We cannot go beyond our owne powers. Country hands reach foorth milke, creame, fruites, or what they haue : and many Nations (we haue heard) that had not gummes & incense, obtained their requests with a leauened Cake. It vvas no fault to approch their Gods, by what meanes 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 remaines of your seruant Shakespeare; that what delight is in them, may be euer your L.L. the reputation his, & the faults ours, if any be committed, by a payre so carefull to shew their gratitude both to the liuing, and the dead, as is

Your Lordshippes most bounden,

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Rom the most able, to him that can but spell: There you are number'd.

We had rather you were weighd. Especially, when the fate of all Bookes depends vpon your capacities: and not of your

heads alone, but of your purses. Well! it is now publique, & you wil stand for your priuiledges wee know: to read, and censure. Do to, but buy it first. That doth best commend a Booke, the Stationer saies. Then, how odde soeuer your braines be, or your wisedomes, make your licence the lame, and spare not. Iudge your fixe-pen’orth, your shillings worth, your fiue fhillings worth at a time, or higher, so you rise to the iuft rates, and welcome. But, what euer you do, Buy. Censure will not driue a Trade, or make the lacke go. And though you be a Magistrate of wit, and sit on the Stage at Black-Friers, or the Cock-pit, to arraigne Playes dailie, know, these Playes haue had their triall alreadie, and stood out all Appeales; and do now come forth quitted rather by a Decree of Court, then any purchas'd Letters of commendation.

It had bene a thinge, we confesse, worthie to haue bene wished, that the Author himselfe had liu'd to haue fet forth, and ouerleen his owne writings; But since it hath bin ordain'd otherwise, and he by death departed from that right, we pray you do not envie his Friends, the office of their care, and paine, to haue collected & publish'd them; and so to haue publish'd them, as where (before) you were abus'd with diurte stolne, and surreptitious copies, maimed, and deformed by the frauds and stealthes of iniurious impostors, that expos’d them : euen those, are now offer'd to your view cur'd, and perfect of their limbes; and all the rest, absolute in their numbers, as he conceived them. Who, as he was a happie imitator of Nature, was a most gentle expreffer of it. His mind and hand went together: And what he thought, he vttered with that easinesfe, that wee haue lcarce receiued from him a blot in his papers. But it is not our prouince, who onely gather his works, and giue them you, to praise him. It is

receiued yours

that reade him. And there we hope, to your diuers capacities, you will finde enough, both to draw, and hold you : for his wit can no more lie hid, then it couid be loft. Reade him, therefore ; and againe, and againe: And if then you doe not like him, surely you are in some manifest danger, not to vnderstand him. And so we leaue you to other of his Friends, whom if you need, can bee your guides : if you neede them not, you can leade your selues, and others. And fuch Readers we with him.

lohn Heminge. Henrie Condell

To the memory



what he hath left vs.

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O draw no enuy .(Shakespeare) on thy name

Am I thus ample to thy Booke, and Fame :

While I confesse thy writings to be such, As neither Man, nor Muse, can praise too much. 'Tis true, and all mens suffrage. But these wayes

Were not the paths I meant vnto thy praise : For feelieft Ignorance on these may light,

W bich, when it sounds at best, but eccho's right; Or blinde Affe Etion, which doth ne're aduance

The truth, but gropes, and vrgeth all by chance ; Or crafty Malice, might pretend this praise,

And thinke to ruine, where it seemed to raise. These are, as some infamous Baud, or Whore,

Should praise a Matron. What could hurt her more ! But thou art proofe against them, and indeed

Aboue th’ill fortune of them, or the need. 1, therefore will begin. Soule of the Age !

The applause ! delight! the wonder of our Stage ! My Shakespeare, rise; I will not lodge thee by

Chaucer, or Spenter, or bid Beaumont lye A little further, to make thee a roome :

Thou art a Moniment, without a tombe, And art aliue fill, while thy Booke doth liue,

And we haue wits to read, and praise to giue. That I not mixe thee so, my braine excuses ;

I meane with great, but disproportion’d Muses :
For, if I thought my iudgement were of yeeres,

I should commit thee surely with thy peeres,
And tell, how farre thou didstst our Lily out-shine,
Or sporting Kid, or Marlowes mighty line


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