It remains that I should thank Mr. Bernard QUARITCH, the most famous bibliopole of our age (or any age), for the kind interest that he has shewn in the progress of my undertaking. Of his own accord Mr. QUARITCH offered to subscribe for one third of the impression,—an offer which I gratefully accepted. I have to thank Mr. Fleay for looking over the proof-sheets of a great part of the present volume and for aiding me with suggestions and corrections. To Dr. KOeHLER, librarian to the Grand Duke of Weimar, I am indebted for the true solution (see Appendix) of the rebus at the end of The Distracted Emperor. Mr. Ebsworth, with his usual kindness, helped me to identify some of the songs mentioned in Everie Woman in Her Humor (see Appendix).
17, Sumatra road, west Hampstead, N.W.
8th October, 1885.
Of Robert Yarington, the author of Two Tragedies in One absolutely nothing is known. There is no mention of him in Henslowe’s Diary, and none of his contemporaries (so far as I can discover) make the slightest allusion to him. The Two Tragedies is of the highest rarity and has never been reprinted before.
There are two distinct plots in the present play. The one relates to the murder of Robert Beech, a chandler of Thames Street, and his boy, by a tavern-keeper named Thomas Merry; and the other is founded on a story which bears some resemblance to the well-known ballad of The Babes in the Wood. I have not been able to discover the source from which the playwright drew his account of the Thames Street murder. Holinshed and Stow are silent; and I have consulted without avail Antony Munday’s “View of Sundry Examples,” 1580, and “Sundry strange and inhumaine Murthers lately committed,” 1591 (an excessively rare, if not unique, tract preserved at Lambeth). Yet the murder must have created some stir and was not lightly forgotten. From Henslowe’s Diary (ed. Collier, pp. 92-3) we learn that in 1599 Haughton and Day wrote a tragedy on the subject,—“the Tragedy of Thomas Merrye.” The second plot was derived, I suppose, from some Italian story; and it is not improbable that the ballad of the Babes in the Wood (which was entered in the Stationers’ Books in 1595, tho’ the earliest printed copy extant is the black-letter broadside—circ. 1640?—in the Roxburghe Collection) was adapted from Yarington’s play.