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PREFACE A twofold misconception regarding The New Inn prevails in the minds of students of English literature: first, as to the author's relations with the public at the time of its presentation; and secondly, as to the relation in which the play stands to the poet's other comedies. Jonson himself, and his partisans, as well as his detractors, have been responsible for the prominence which has been given to the damning' of the piece; and the event has been so magnified and distorted that the only picture which is conjured up, when the name of this comedy is mentioned, is one of poor old Ben, driven from the boards by the jeers of personal enemies. Inconsistently linked with this is the idea that the play, thus unmercifully hissed off the stage by the dramatist's foes, was a work of imbecility and dotage: a play written when the palsy, laying hold upon his powers, led to the production of a monstrosity wholly unlike the other offspring of the poet's brain.
In the Introduction I have discussed the known facts concerning the presentation of The New Inn, and have reviewed the evidence which goes to show that the reception of this play differed but little from that of contemporary productions similarly lacking in the qualities essential to dramatic success; that the events of the first night were not particularly exciting to any one but Ben Jonson ; and that no personal note sounded in the uproar with which the drama was greeted. I have also presented the results of a comparison of The New Inn with the other comedies of Jonson-a study which tends to show that
this comedy is indeed very closely related to his other plays, and that the faults, which, combined, made its failure inevitable, are to be found severally in his other dramas. A number of other matters are dealt with : Jonson, in spite of Gifford's heroic defense, is found guilty of a snarl at Brome; an attempt is made to sum up his debt to Plato and Aristotle for the philosophy of love and valor; probable sources for the Court of Love are suggested; and the relationship of this play to Fletcher's Love's Pilgrimage is given a new interpretation.
The reproduction of the original text of The New Inn is, in itself, a sufficient justification for this edition. The foot-notes, recording the variation in the texts of preceding editors, show their corruption through sins of omission and commission. Matters of historical, social, and literary interest are dealt with in the Notes.
I am glad of this opportunity of acknowledging my debt of gratitude to those who have helped me in this work: to Professor Albert S. Cook for the inspiring counsel of frequent conferences ; to Professor William Lyon Phelps for the unlimited use of his 1692 Folio; to Professor Joseph Dunn of the Catholic University for letters regarding the Irish phrases; to Dr. R. Harman-Ashley for examination of the copies at London and Oxford ; to Mr. W.W. Greg for a letter regarding the Folios; and to Mr. Andrew Keogh and Mr. Henry A. Gruener for aid in bibliographical matters.
A portion of the expense of printing this book has been borne by the Modern Language Club of Yale University from funds placed at its disposal by the generosity of Mr. George E. Dimock of Elizabeth, New Jersey, a graduate of Yale in the Class of 1874
G. B. T. YALE UNIVERSITY,
May 1, 1907.