This book attempts to trace the course of English tragedy from its beginnings to the middle of the nineteenth century, and to indicate the part which it has played in the history both of the theatre and of literature. All tragedies of the sixteenth century are noticed, because of their historical interest and their close relationship to Shakespeare, but after 1600 only representative plays have been considered. The aim of this series has been kept in view, and the discussion, whether of individual plays or of dramatic conditions, has been determined by their importance in the study of a literary type. Tragedy in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries has attracted very little critical attention, and in those fields the book is something of a pioneer. The Elizabethan drama, on the contrary, has been the subject of a vast amount of antiquarian, biographical, and literary research, without which such a treatment as I have attempted would be almost impossible. In order, however, to keep the main purpose in view, it has been necessary to omit nearly all notice of the processes of research or the debates of criticism, and to give only what seem to me the results. To indicate at every point my reliance on my own investigations or my indebtedness to the researches of others would, indeed, necessitate doubling the size of the book. Its readers will not require an apology for its brevity, but I regret that I can . . .