THE DRAMA IN RETROSPECT
OUR structure is now complete, and we may demolish the scaffolds with some little pause in the process. It is related that Malone, a competent judge, once estimated the total output of plays on the London stage between the accession of Queen Elizabeth and the closing of the theaters at something like two thousand.1 In view of the large number of plays which must have perished and left not even their titles behind them, this estimate cannot be considered excessive. And yet, when we come to an actual census of the material at hand,--plays extant, in print or still in manuscript, plays entered for printing in the Stationers' Register and otherwise recorded or alluded to, --the sum total rises scarcely to sixteen hundred; and to eke out this we must include a hundred and thirty university plays, Latin and English, a hundred and forty masques and entertainments, and between thirty and forty city pageants, productions, all of them dramatical, but, like the translations of foreign plays (likewise included), only
Census of plays written between 1558 and 1642.