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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 stal'd 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-wittied then they came: feeling an edge of witte set upon them, more than ever they dreamd they had braine to grind it on. So much and such savored salt of witte is in his commedies, that they seem (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 testern well bestowd,) 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 sale, you will scramble for them, and set up a new English inquisition. Take this for a warning, and at the perill of your pleasures losse, and judgements, refuse not, nor like this the lesse, for not being sullied with the smoaky breath of the multitude ; but thank 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.
PRIAM, King of Troy:
AGAMEMNON, the Grecian General.
ACHILLES, AJAX, ULYSSES, NESTOR, DIOMEDES, PATROCLUS,
THERsites, a deformed and scurrilous Grecian.
HELEN, Wife to Menelaus.
Trojan and Greek Soldiers, and Attendants.
SCENE. Troy, and the Grecian Camp before it.
TROILUS AND CRESSIDA.
In Troy, there lies the scene. From isles of Greece
1 This prologue is wanting in the quarto editions. Steevens thinks that it is not by Shakspeare; and that perhaps the drama itself is not entirely of his construction. It appears to have escaped Heminge and Condell
, the editors of the first folio, until the volume was almost printed off; and is thrust in between the tragedies and histories without any enumeration of pages, except on one leaf. There seems to have been a previous play on the same subject by Henry Chettle and Thomas Decker. Entries appear in the accounts of Henslowe of money advanced to them in earnest of Troylles and Cressida, in April and May, 1599.
2 Proud, disdainful.
Now expectation, tickling skittish spirits,
SCENE I. Troy. Before
Before Priam's Palace.
Enter TROIlus, armed, and PANDARUS.
Pan. Will this gear ne'er be mended ?
1 i. e. the avant, what went before.
2 This word, which we have from the old French varlet or vadlet, anciently signified a groom, a servant of the meaner sort.
3 i. e. in addition to. 4 i. e. more weak.