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5530

st

no 4

LONDON :
F. SHOBERL, JUN., 51, RUPERT STREET, HAYMARKET,

PRINTER TO H.R. H, PRINCE ALBERT.

COUNCIL

ор

THE SHAKESPEARE SOCIETY.

President.

THE MOST NOBLE THE MARQUESS OF NORMANBY.

Cice-Presidents.
RT. HON. LORD BRAYBROOKE, F.S.A.
RT. HON. LORD F. EGERTON, M.P.
RT. HON. THE EARL OF GLENGALL.
RT. HON. LORD LEIGH.

AMYOT, THOMAS, ESQ., F.R.S., TREAS. S. A.
AYRTON, WILLIAM, ESQ., F.R.S., F. S.A.
BRUCE, JOHN, ESQ., F.S.A.
CAMPBELL, THOMAS, ESQ.
COLLIER, J. PAYNE, ESQ., F.S.A., DIRECTOR.
COURTENAY, RT. HON, THOMAS P.
CRAIK, GEORGE L., ESQ.
DILKE, C. W., ESQ., TREASURER.
DYCE, REV. ALEXANDER.
HALLIWELL, J. O., ESQ., F.R.S. F.S.A., &c.
HARNESS, REV. WILLIAM.
JERROLD, DOUGLAS, ESQ.
KENNEY, JAMES, ESQ.
KNIGHT, CHARLES, ESQ.
MACREADY, WILLIAM C., ESQ.
MADDEN, SIR F., F.R.S., F.S.A., KEEPER OF THE MSS.

IN THE BRITISH MUSEUM.
MILMAN, REV. HENRY HART.
TALFOURD, MR. SERGEANT, M.P.
TOMLINS, F. GUEST, ESQ., SECRETARY.
WRIGHT, THOMAS, ESQ., F.S.A.
YOUNG, CHARLES M., ESQ.

INTRODUCTION.

THREE complete collections of ancient English mysteries have descended to modern times, or rather are now known to be preserved, which are generally distinguished by the titles of the Chester, the Townley, and the Coventry Mysteries; and, with the exception of a few detached pieces of far inferior importance, we derive nearly all our actual knowledge of the early English drama from these series of plays, which have been long known to every one interested in this class of literary pursuits, as some of the most curions and valuable relics of bygone times; not merely as important records of our early stage, but also as illustrating, in a very interesting manner, the customs, language, and manners of the periods to which they belong. The only one of these series (which is, perhaps, the most important of all), that has yet been printed, is the Townley, which was published by the Surtees Society, with a very interesting and learned preface by Mr. Hunter. The Coventry is contained in the following volume; and the Chester, so ably commented upon by Mr. Markland, a gentleman to whom belongs the distinction of being the first in recent times to direct public

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