Did Melville read The Four Prentices of London, or any old play by Thomas Heywood? The Mermaid Series volume of Thomas Heywood does not contain Four Prentices.
In February 1862 Melville had this message hand-delivered to Evert Duyckinck:
I want you to loan me some of those volumes of the Elizabethan dramatists. Is Deckar among the set? And Webster? If so, please put them up and let the bearer have them.—Send me any except Marlowe, whom I have read. --Melville's Correspondence p373Lynn Horth in the Northwestern-Newberry edition of Melville's correspondence quoted above figures that "Duyckinck probably sent Melville volumes three and six" from Collier's new edition of Dodsley's Select Collection of Old Plays. Sealts 188 if you must know, confirm-able in the Online Catalog at Melville's Marginalia Online.
Hey hey, Heywood's Four Prentices of London is in vol. 6 of A Select Collection of Old Plays at the Hathi Trust Digital Library. So Melville could have seen it then--for the first time?