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THE present volumes are the first instalment towards a collective edition of the dramatists who lived about the time of Shakespeare. As the series is intended neither for school-boys nor antiquarians, I have avoided discussions on grammatical usages, and I have not preserved the orthography of the old copies. In Elizabethan times orthography followed the caprices of the printer.1
I desire to acknowledge in the fullest and frankest manner the obligation under which I lie towards the late Mr. Dyce. Perhaps it will be thought that Mr. Dyce's name occurs too frequently in the notes to the present volumes. In many cases the emendations he proposes would naturally suggest themselves to any sensible reader ; but I was unwilling to incur the suspicion of having furtively appropriated my predecessor's notes.
I have used with advantage the late Lieutenant-Colonel Cunningham's edition of Marlowe. Colonel Cunningham was a genial and acute editor, though somewhat inaccurate. The elaborate editions of The Tragical History of Dr. Faustus, by Professor Ward, and the late Professor Wagner of Hamburg, have afforded me much help; and I have consulted with profit the edition of Edward II. prepared by Mr. F. G. Fleay, a scholar whose knowledge in some respects is unrivalled. In the British Museum is preserved an interleaved copy of the 1826 edition of Marlowe (acquired by the Museum authorities in 1847), containing MS. notes by a competent scholar, J. Broughton. I have found Broughton's notes serviceable.
1 Where in the old editions we find a plural subject joined to a singular verb, I have not modernised the well-authenticated construction. Such a line as
“Her lips sucks forth my soul; see where it flies !” sounds very harsh to our ears; but if Marlowe so wrote the verse, an editor is not justified in making any alteration.
My best thanks are due to the Keeper of the Records of Canterbury Cathedral, Mr. J. Brigstocke Sheppard, for his courtesy in examining the Treasurer's Accounts of the King's School, Canterbury, and in sending me extracts from the Chamberlain's Accounts; to my friend Mr. C. H. Firth of Balliol College, who, besides making frequent references for me to books in the Bodleian, and aiding me with valuable suggestions, read the proof sheets of half of the second volume and of the whole of the third ; and to my friend Mr. L. Jacob, formerly scholar of Trinity College, Cambridge, by whose advice I have frequently profited. For permission to print as an appendix Mr. R. H. Horne's Death of Marlowe, I am indebted to Mr. Horne's literary executor, Mr. H. Buxton Forman, the well-known editor of Shelley and Keats.
July 7, 1884.