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Friars. In the order of the pageants, I have not regarded the speeches of the vexillators; and the divisions in the MS. being very incorrectly given, I have endeavoured to make as correct an arrangement as possible, taking the two other series of mysteries as my guide. At the commencement of the twenty-ninth pageant, Contemplatio, an allegorical personage, who acts as prologue-speaker, explains the events and moralises on occasion, but who is in no way concerned in the action, says— “We intendyn to procede the matere that we lefte the last 3ere :” which proves that the remainder of these pageants were not played the same year as the preceding twentyeight mysteries. In offering the first edition of the Coventry Mysteries to the members of the Shakespeare Society, I am anxious to state that I have endeavoured to give the reader as faithful a copy of the original manuscript as was possible, with all its errors and defects. These are not few, for the MS. is evidently the work of a scribe who was not very well acquainted with his copy. He makes barbarous work of the few Latin passages which occur, and verbal errors are of frequent occurrence; and yet, on mature deliberation, I came to the conclusion that it would be more advisable to leave these corrections for the notes, and thus give the reader an opportunity of forming his own opinion on passages which are certainly corrupt, but which may possibly admit of more than one method of explanation.
The frequent occurrence of the double letters in the manuscript, and in places where it could not be used for the capital letter, implies a dialectical distinction, the exact meaning of which has not yet been discovered. I have carefully preserved them in the text.
The Glossary will be found useful to those who are learned in the philology of our early language, as there are many words of very unfrequent occurrence; but I have constructed it more especially with a view to the wants of those who have not made our early poetry a matter of study. In doing so, I thought that I should be consulting the best interests of the Shakespeare Society, as a large majority of its members belong, in all probability, to the latter class.
J. O. HALLIWELL. Alfred Place, London, June 21st, 1841.