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A Select Collection of Old English Plays, Volume 6

A SELECT COLLECTION OF OLD ENGLISH PLAYS, VOL. VI

Originally published by Robert Dodsley in the Year 1744.

FOURTH EDITION, NOW FIRST CHRONOLOGICALLY ARRANGED, REVISED AND ENLARGED WITH THE NOTES OF ALL THE COMMENTATORS, AND NEW NOTES

BY

W. CAREW HAZLITT.

1874-1876

CONTENTS

The Conflict of Conscience The rare Triumphs of Love and Fortune The three Ladies of London The three Ladies and three Lords of London A Knack to know a Knave

FIVE PLAYS.

[These five dramas were originally edited for the Roxburghe Club in 1851 by Mr J. Payne Collier, and are now incorporated with the present Collection precisely as they stand in the Roxburghe Club volume, with Mr Collier's kind permission, his general introduction included. The only difference is that the notes, instead of occurring at the end of each Play, are placed at the foot of the page.]

[MR COLLIER'S GENERAL INTRODUCTION.]

Four of the five ensuing Plays belong to a peculiar class of our early dramatic performances never yet especially noticed, nor sufficiently illustrated.

Many specimens have of late years been printed, and reprinted, of Miracle-plays, of Moral-plays, and of productions written in the most matured period of our dramatic literature; but little or nothing has been done to afford information respecting a species of stage-representation which constitutes a link between Moral-plays on the one hand, and Tragedy and Comedy on the other, as Tragedy and Comedy existed at the period when Shakespeare and his contemporaries were writers for various theatres in the metropolis. This deficiency it has been our main object to supply.

The four pieces to which we refer are neither plays which enforce a moral lesson by means of abstract impersonations only, nor are they dramas which profess to consist merely of scenes drawn from life, represented by real characters: they may be said to form a class by themselves, where characters both abstract and individual are employed in the same performance. The most remarkable drama of this intermediate kind, and the only one to which particular attention has been directed in modern times, is called "The Tragical Comedy of Appius and Virginia," which originally came out in 1575, and is reprinted in the [former and present] edition of "Dodsley's Old Plays" from the sole existing copy.[1] In it an important historical event is commemorated, and the hero, heroine, and some other principal agents are known characters; but they are mixed up with allegorical abstractions, and the representatives of moral qualities, while the Vice of the older stage is introduced, for the sake of diversifying the representation, and amusing popular audiences. The plot of this production has no religious application, and it was not written with any avowed moral purpose. In this respect, as well as in some other peculiarities, it is unlike the drama which stands first in the following sheets. Still, the general character is the same in both: in both we have a mixture of fact and fable, of reality and allegory, of individuality and abstraction, with the addition, in the latter case, of the enforcement of a lesson, for the instruction of those to whom it was addressed.

"The Conflict of Conscience," by Nathaniel Woodes, "Minister in Norwich," was originally


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