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ENGLISH CLASSICS

A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S

DREAM

W. A. WRIGHT

HENRY FROWDE, M.A.

PUBLISHER TO THE UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD

LONDON, EDINBURGH, AND NEW YORK.

SHAKESPEARE

SELECT PLAYS

A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S

DREAM

EDITED BY

WILLIAM ALDIS WRIGHT, M.A.

Bursar of Trinity College, Cambridge

Oxford

AT THE CLARENDON PRESS

MDCCC LXXIX

[All rights reserved]

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PREFACE.

The first edition of this play was issued in quarto in 1600 by Thomas Fisher, under the title “A Midsommer nights dreame. As it hath beene sundry times publickely acted, by the Right honourable, the Lord Chamberlaine his seruants. Written by William Shakespeare.' It was entered at Stationers' Hall on the 8th of October, and in the same year a pirated edition by James Roberts appeared. Fisher's and Roberts's editions are spoken of in the Notes as the first and second quartos, and from the latter of these the play as it appears in the first folio was printed in 1623. But although it was not printed, so far as we know, before 1600, it was written at least as early as 1598, for ‘Midsummers Night Dreame' is enumerated among Shakespeare's plays by Francis Meres in his Palladis Tamia (p. 282), which was published in that year. How long before this time it had been written is to a great extent a matter of pure conjecture. Steevens, in his note on ii. i. 15, 'And hang a pearl in every cowslip's ear,' quotes a passage in which the same thought occurs from an old comedy called The Wisdom of Doctor Dodypoll, 1600, where an enchanter says:

"'Twas I that led you through the painted meads
When the light fairies danc'd upon the flowers,

Hanging on every leaf an orient pearl.' Malone pointed out that although no earlier edition is known of this anonymous comedy than that of 1600 yet Doctor Dodipowle is mentioned by Nashe in 1596, in his preface to Gabriel Harvey's Hunt is Up. This however proves nothing, for Nashe

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