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THE ENGLISH STAGE.
THE drama before the time of Shakspeare was so little cultivated, or so ill understood, that to many it may appear unnecessary to carry our theatrical researches higher than that period. Dryden has truly observed, that he "found not, but created first the stage;" of which no one can doubt, who considers, that of all the plays issued from the press antecedent to the year 1592, when there is reason to believe he commenced a dramatick writer, the titles are scarcely known, except to antiquaries; nor is there one of them that will bear a second perusal. Yet these, contemptible and few as they are, we may suppose to have been the most popular productions of the time, and the best that had been exhibited before the appearance of Shakspeare.1
1 There are but thirty-eight plays, (exclusive of mysteries, moralities, interludes, and translated pieces,) now extant, written antecedent to, or in, the year 1592. Their titles are as follows:* Acolastus
Ferrex and Porrex
Tancred and Gismund Cambyses, no date, but probably written before 1570
*To this list may be added a piece hitherto mentioned in no catalogue, nor to be found in any library, except that of the Duke of Bridgewater, entitled, "The rare Triumphs of Love and Fortune. Plaide before the Queene's most excellent Maiesty; wherein are manye fine conceites with
Between the years 1592 and 1600, the following plays were printed or exhibited; the greater part of which, probably, were written before our author commenced play-wright:
Selymus, Emperor of the Turks
1593 Edward III.
Battle of Alcazar
Wounds of Civil War
Woman in the Moon
Warning for fair Wo
David and Bethsabe
great delight. At London. Printed by E. A. for Edward White, and are to be solde at the little Northe doore of St. Paules Church, at the signe of the Gunne. 1589." 4to. REED.