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The object of the present volume is to give adequate material for a study of Dryden's dramatic work, particularly in its relation to the general history of the English drama. The Rehearsal is added to the examples of Dryden's plays, not because it had any demonstrable influence on his dramatic work, but because it illustrates, better than reams of modern commentary, his prominent position, as an object of admiration and of ridicule, among the dramatists of his time.
An attempt has been made to give a critical text of each of Dryden's dramas here printed, with variant readings from all editions
shed in his lifetime, and from the first collected edition of his dramatic works, the Folio of 1701, published just after his death. The text of the Scott-Saintsbury edition was first collated with the first edition of each play, and next with the Folio, and a record was made of all variants. Then these variants were compared with the readings of the quartos (in which form Dryden's separate plays were always printed) intermediate between the first quarto and the Folio. In the case of All for Love, this process showed progressive degeneration of the text; the second quarto had been printed from the first, the third from the second, and the Folio from the third quarto. No sign of author's corrections appeared at any point; the variants were mere printers' errors. The first quarto was therefore made the basis of this edition, and the variant readings justifying this choice were duly recorded. To make a complete collation of each quarto would have been a mere waste of time.
A similar procedure was adopted for The Conquest of Granada, though here the question of text was by no means so simple. In the second edition of this play Dryden seems to have made some trifling changes, which disappeared in the later quartos. It did not seem worth while, however, to collate each line of the second quarto, in order to present a complete list of such changes.
With Marriage à la Mode and The Spanish Friar the case was somewhat different. Here the Folio had evidently been printed from the first quarto of each play. Therefore a complete collation was made of the quarto immediately preceding the Folio, and the variants thus obtained were compared with the readings of the intermediate quartos. This process revealed degeneration in the