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ACCURATELY PRINTED FROM
THE TEXT OF MR. STEEVENS'S LAST EDITION,
A SELECTION OF THE MOST IMPORTANT NOTES.
IN EIGHT VOLUMES.
TWO GENTLEMEN OF VERONA;
MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR;
PRINTED FOR T. LONGMAN, B. LAW, C. DILLY, JOHNSON,
It has been the wifh and the intention of the Reviser of thefe Volumes to effectuate an idea which the last very intelligent Editor of SHAKSPEARE predicted would fome time take place.
"To other defects of our late editions," he fays, " may be fubjoined, as not the leaft notorious, an exuberance of comment. Indulgence to the remarks of others, as well as partiality to our own; an ambition in each little Hercules to fet up pillars, afcertaining how far he had travelled through the dreary wilds of black letter; and perhaps, a reluctance or inability to decide between contradictory fentiments, have alfo occafioned the appearance of more annotations than were abfolutely wanted, unless it be thought requifite that our author, like a Dauphin Claffick, fhould be reduced to marginal profe for the ufe of children; that all his various readings (affembled by Mr. Capell) fhould be enumerated, the genealogies of all his real perfonages deduced; and that as many of his plays as are founded on Roman or British hiftory, fhould be attended by complete tranfcripts from their originals in Sir Tho mas North's Plutarch, or the Chronicles of Hall and Holinfhed.-Thefe faults, indeed,-fi quid prodeft delicta fateri, within half a century, (when the prefent race of voluminous criticks is extinct) cannot fail to be remedied by a judicious and frugal felection from the labours of us all. Nor is fuch an event to be deprecated even by ourfelves; fince we may be certain that fome ivy of each individual's growth will fill adhere to the parent oak, though not enough, as at prefent, to hide the princely trunk, and fuck the verdure out of it a.'-It may be feared
too, fhould we perfift in fimilar accumulations of extraneous matter, that our readers will at length be frighted away from Shakspeare, as the foldiers of Cato deferted their comrade when he became bloated with poisoncrefcens fugere cadaver. It is our opinion, in fhort, that every one who opens the page of an ancient English writer, fhould bring with him fome knowledge; and yet he by whom a thousand minutiæ remain to be learned, needs not to close our author's volume in defpair, for his fpirit and general drift are always obvious, though his language and allufions are occafionally obfcure."
Fully impreffed with the force of this admonition, the late excellent Edition has been made the groundwork of the prefent, and the Text of it most scrupulously adopted; and if in the felection of the Notes (a tafk more delicate and difficult than may in general be imagined) fome fuperAuities are even yet retained, it must be attributed folely to a wish to preserve the various fentiments of the ingenious Commentators, whofe labours are attentively abridged, though their language and fignatures are uniformly preferved.
It would be unjust, however, to Mr. STEEVENS, were we not to prefent to our readers fome extracts from his Preface. "In this republication, a confiderable number of fresh remarks are both adopted and fupplied by the prefent editors. They have perfifted in their former track of reading for the illuftration of their author, and cannot help obferving that those who receive the benefit of explanatory extracts from ancient writers, little know at what expence of time and labour fuch atoms of intelligence have been collected. That the foregoing information, however, may communicate no alarm, or induce the reader to fuppofe we have bestowed our whole tedioufnefs' on him, we fhould add, that many notes have likewife been withdrawn. A few, manifeftly erroneous, are indeed retained, to fhow how much the tone of Shakfperian criticism is changed, or on account of the skill difplayed in their confutation; for furely every editor in his turn is occafionally entitled to be feen, as he would have shown himself, with his vanquished adversary at his feet. We have therefore