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completeness to the results of previous researches. In saying this, however, I must not be understood as intending to state that I believe the subject to be exhausted in the present essay. So far from entertaining such an opinion, I on the contrary am well aware that in many parts of my attempt the matter offered is incomplete, and that I can lay claim to nothing more than having made my contributions to a structure, the superstructure upon which, I hope, will be continued by abler hands than mine. Nor should I have ventured to publish matter thus casually collected, had I not entertained the conviction, that any essay however imperfect, if throwing any light upon a question connected with Shakespeare, cannot be altogether useless. I had also originally intended to avail myself of an external incident as a motive for the publication of the present pages, and to found on it a claim to the reader's indulgence, as I had hoped to publish it as a contribution to the Shakespeare Tercentenary Festival; but circumstances over which I had no control deprived me of this advantage. The work was nearly through the press, when its further progress had to be interrupted for more than six months.
Four out of the six old German Plays, the first four pieces of the present work — which constitute its most important part, were to have been published more than twenty years ago by the Shakespeare Society in London, as may be gathered from the list of their intended publications; the Society however was dissolved without having carried its intention into effect. To these four pieces two others are added which possess no less interest for the present purpose. In all the six pieces, here presented to the reader in the original language with an English translation annexed, the old printed editions or manuscripts have been faithfully adhered to. In the second piece alone, 'The Beautiful Phaenicia' by Jacob Ayrer, I have confined myself to extracts, because the whole piece, which is extremely long, contains a great deal of matter entirely foreign to the object of the present essay. For the translation of these pieces I am indebted to friends, who kindly granted me their valuable assistance and to whom it is a special pleasure for me to express here publicly my sincerest thanks. The 'Beautiful Sidea' and the 'Phaenicia' have been translated by Professor Thomas Solly. Any one who has made the attempt to give a nearly literal translation in another language of the concise and pithy style of the German poets of the sixteenth century, preserving moreover the metre of the original, will be able to appreciate the difficulties of his task, and will agree with myself in admiring the skill of the translator. It would have been an easier problem for him to give the verses a somewhat more poetical colouring than the originals themselves can boast of having. Our object, however, was not to offer any improvement on the original, but a faithful reflex of it, both as regards matter and form. The translation of the four succeeding pieces will be found not to be less meritorious. 'Julius and Hyppolita', as also 'Hamlet' have been translated by Miss Georgina Archer; 'Titus Andronicus' by Mr. Moritz Lippner; and 'Romeo and Juliet' by Mr. Lothar Bucher.
Documents scattered far and wide, which had hitherto lain hidden in public libraries, state archives, and similar depositories, were necessary for the introductory and historical part of the work. For their kind and ready aid in enabling me to procure such materials I have sincerely to thank several personal friends as well as other gentlemen whose personal acquaintance I have not had the advantage to enjoy. My especial obligations are due to Mr. Friedrich Culemann of Hanover, Mr. Moritz Fi'irstenau of Dresden, Professor Hoffmann von Fallersleben ofCorvey, Baron Wendelin von Maltzahn. of Berlin, Mr. Ernst Pasque of Darmstadt, Mr. W. B. Rye of the British Museum, Mr. C. W. Sack of Brunswick, Dr. A. Tobias of Zittau, and Dr. Ferdinand Wolf of the Imperial Library of Vienna.
Berlin, October 1864.
The Plays acted by the English Comedians civ.
PART II: TEXTS.