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ESTES

AND

LAURIAT

301 WASHINGTON STREET.

13452.13.5

HARVARD COLLEGE LIBRARY

THE BEQUEST OF
THEODORE JEWETT EASTMAN

1931

Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1851, by

JAMES MUNROE AND COMPANY,

In the Clerk's Office of the District Court for the District of

Massachusetts.

Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1871, by

PoYE4 HOLMES, AND COMPANT,
In the Office of the Librarian of Congress at Washington.

UNIVERSITY Press: John Wilson & SON,

CAMBRIDGE.

INTRODUCTION

To

THE MERCHANT OF VENICE,

Ix 1598, under date of July 22, the following entry was mado in the Stationers' Register hy James Roberts : “ A book of The MERCHANT or VENICE, or otherwise called the Jew of Venice. Provided that it he not printed by the said James Roberts, or any other whatsoever, without licence first had from the right honoura. ble the Lord Chamberlain.” It was also included in the list given the same year by Francis Meres in his Wil's Commonwealth. These are the earliest certuin potices of the play that have coine down to us ; though there is some ground for thinking that it was on the stage four years carlier. In Henslow's Diary, under date August 25, 1594, occurs an item relating to the performance of a play called The Venetian Comedy, wnich Malone conjectured might be the sainc as The Merchant of Venice. In 1594 the company to which Shakespeare belonged was playing at the thea're in Newington Bulls; and, so far as can now he learned, Henslow's company was playing there at the same time: which lends some support to Malone's conjecture.

Touching the entry in the Stationers' books, it should be noted that the purpose of the proviso was, to prevent the printing of the play, till the company's permission were given through their patron · The book of the Merchant of Venice " was again entered in the tame Register, by Thomas Heyes, October 28, 1600, the Lord Chamberlain's licence having probably been obtained by that time. The same year two editions were put forth, in quarto pam phlets, one of which had thirty-eight leaves, and a title-page read. ing as follows : “ The most excellent History of the Merchant of Venice. With the extreme cruelty of Shylock the Jew towards the said Merchant, in cutting a just pound of his flesh : and the obtaining of Portia by the choice of three chests. As it haih been divers times acted by the Lord Chamberlain his servants. Writ Len by William Shakespeare. At London : Printed by J. R. for

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