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HEN Shakspeare had once directed the exertions of English genius to the stage, such a profusion of dramatic talent burst forth' at once, that some poets, who highly deserved the applause of their countrymen, have suffered a degree of neglect, which can only be accounted for by the superior brilliancy of the genius of their great contemporary.
While the matchless poetry of Shakspeare is known wherever the English language is read, the productions of Ben Jonson, and Beaumont and Fletcher, are more frequently talked of and praised than read; and the admirable dramas of Massinger were not rescued from oblivion till Mr Gifford, by his excellent edition, drew the attention of the public towards them. But besides these first-rate ornaments of the stage, there are others who well merit the attention of the reader, though almost unknown to any but professed collectors of ancient poetry; and none is more highly deserving of a revival VOL. I.
than the dramatist whose works the present editor has ventured to rescue from utter neglect, by presenting them to the public in a more engaging form than he appears in the uncouth and inaccurate quartos, which are almost inaccessible to the generality of readers. His plays have indeed been quoted in the notes to that vast mass of dramatic erudition subjoined to the text of Shakspeare; not for the purpose, however, of pointing out the beauties so liberally scattered through them, but in order to prove the propriety of some explanation in the notes, with the same cool indifference as the works of Goffe, Kyd, Nash, and Green. The circumstances of his life have received some notice from one of Shakspeare's most accurate commentators, but merely with a view of refuting the authority of a pamphlet which in some degree affects the reputation of that poet. None of these plays have been reprinted excepting one in the beginning of the last century, to serve a political purpose, and another in the collection of Dodsley; the unfortunate plot of which would deter some readers from its perusal, notwithstanding the superlative merit of the poetry. A few incidental notices, however, in the works of some of our greatest contemporary poets seem to have at last succeeded in engaging some share of attention towards our neglected poet.
With regard to his name (a circumstance of some difficulty when we consider the wavering state of orthography in those days), his