Roister Doister

Roister Doister

Roister Doister

Roister Doister


The author and early date of the preſent Comedy are ascertained by a quotation in Sir Thomas Wilſon Rule of Reaſon of Roiſter Doiſter letter to Dame Cuſtance.

The firſt edition of the Rule of Reaſon, 1550-1, is a very ſcarce work; of which I have been unable to fee a copy. The ſecond edition, 1662, 8vo, 'newely corrected by Thomas Vvilſon,' has not the quotation: which apparently firſt appears in the third edition of 1663, 4to, the title of which runs, The Rule of Reaſon, conteinyng the Arte of Logique. Sette furthe in Engliſhe, and newly corrected by Thomas Wilſon. Anno Domini. M.D. LIII. Menſe Ianuarij."

At folio of this edition, Wilſon, in treating of The Ambiguitie, adds to his previous examples, Roiſter Doiſter's letter, with the following heading:

⁌ An example of soche doubtful writing, whiche by reason of poincting maie haue double sense, and contrarie meaning, taken out of an entrelude made by Nicolas Vdal.

The preſent comedy was therefore undoubtedly written before the cloſe of the reign of Edward VI., who died 6 July 1553.

If it was then printed, that entire edition has periſhed. The prayer for the Queen at. p. 86', can be for no other than Queen Elizabeth: and therefore, although the title-page is wanting and there is no concluſive alluſion in the play, it may confidently be believed that the extant text was printed in Elizabeth's reign, and that it had poſibly in some reſpects been modified.

There now comes the evidence of the Stationers Co.'s Regiſter, as quoted by Mr. Collier, Extracts, i. 154, Ed. 1848:

Rd of Thomas Hackett, for hys lycense for pryntinge of a play intituled Rauf Ruyster Duster, &c. . . . . . . . . iiij

The miſſing title-page and the abſence of any colophon in the Eton copy, here reprinted, preclude demonſtrative proof that it is one of Hackett's edition. It is however morally certain that it does repreſent that text.

On the whole, therefore, though that text was poſthumous--

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