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TROILUS AND CRESSIDA
THE circumstances connected with the publication of this play both in quarto form and in the folio of 1623 are singular. On February 7, 1602-3 an entry appears in the Stationers' Register of 'Master Robertes' copy of The booke of Troilus and Cresseda as it is acted by my lord Chamberlens Men', giving permission to Roberts to print the play when he hath gotten sufficient aucthority for yt'. No quarto, as far as we know, appeared until 1609. Mr. A. W. Pollard notices that soon after February 1603 the theatres were closed by the Queen's death and the plague'. He maintains that the entry of 'Troilus and Cressida ' had. been made not after but in anticipation of a theatrical performance, and that as a fact no performance took place. Again on January 28, 1608-9, the play was entered in the Register under the names of Richard Bonian and Henry Walley; it appeared in the same year in two issues, the first named 'The Historie of Troylus and Cresseida', with the added words, As it was acted by the Kings Maiesties servants at the Globe'; the second named 'The Famous Historie of Troylus and Cresseid,' and substituting for the words. which refer to its performance an extension of the title in which is mentioned the conceited wooing of Pandarus Prince of Licia'. The sheets of the play were not reprinted, but for some reason the original title had been cancelled, and a curious address to the reader headed 'A never writer, to an ever reader. Newes.' was inserted after the title. In this address the play is described as new, never stal'd with the Stage, never clapper-clawd with the palmes of the vulger'; it goes on to eulogize the writer-whose name both issues bear -to refer to the price of the publication, a testern, and to predict that hereafter copies of Shakespeare's
comedies would be scrambled for; the reader, it adds, should thank fortune for the scape it has made' in obtaining publication, since by the grand possessors wills, I beleeve you should have prayd for them rather then beene prayd.' The grand possessors were probably the members of the theatrical company to which Shakespeare belonged, who may have objected to its publication. Whether Troilus and Cressida was acted, as the title of the first issue of the quarto states, or was not acted, we cannot tell.
When the folio of 1623 was in preparation, Walley, the survivor of Bonian and Walley, may have opposed the inclusion of the present play. It is not mentioned in the 'Catalogue' of contents. At first the intention was to place it after Romeo and Juliet, and copies of the folio have been found in which the opening of the play was so printed; the leaf was cancelled, and the following leaf was transferred to a new position. Possibly the editors were uncertain whether Troilus and Cressida should be reckoned among the histories or the tragedies; they finally placed it between the two, after Henry VIII and before Coriolanus; they prefixed a prologue which had not appeared in the quarto, and which may have been written by some unknown hand to fill a blank page; with the exception of one leaf, betraying its original position, they left the pages unnumbered; the signatures of the quires are special to this play. 'We are of opinion,' write the Cambridge editors, that the Quarto was printed from a transcript of the author's original MS.; that this MS. was afterwards revised and slightly altered by the author himself, and that before the first Folio was printed from it, it had been tampered with by another hand.' Perhaps, however, the quarto is but an imperfect presentation of substantially the same text as that of the folio.
The questions which some of these peculiarities raise chiefly concern the bibliographer. There is and can be no doubt as to the authorship of the great body of the play; Shakespeare's sign-manual is impressed upon it; but the authenticity of certain passages towards the close, as for example, that which concerns the death of Hector, has been questioned. It is not difficult to admit that the play had been tampered