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THE TEXT CAREFULLY
THE FIRST EDITIONS; WITH INTRODUCTIONS,
A LIFE OF THE POET;
HARVARD COLLEGE LIBRARY
THE BEQUEST OF
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
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1871, by
OYE HOLMES, AND COMPANY,
In the Office of the Librarian of Congress at Washington.
UNIVERSITY PRESS: JOHN WILSON & SON,
THE MERCHANT OF VENICE.
IN 1598, under date of July 22, the following entry was made in the Stationers' Register by James Roberts: “A book of THE MERCHANT OF VENICE, or otherwise called the Jew of Venice. Provided that it be not printed by the said James Roberts, or any other whatsoever, without licence first had from the right honourable the Lord Chamberlain." It was also included in the list given the same year by Francis Meres in his Wit's Commonwealth. These are the earliest certain notices of the play that have come down to us; though there is some ground for thinking that it was on the stage four years earlier. In Henslow's Diary, under date August 25, 1594, occurs an item relating to the performance of a play called The Venetian Comedy, which Malone conjectured might be the same as The Merchant of Venice. In 1594 the company to which Shakespeare belonged was playing at the theatre in Newington Butts; and, so far as can now be 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 zame 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 par 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 hath been divers times acted by the Lord Chamberlain his servants. Writ ten by William Shakespeare. At London: Printed by J. R. for