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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.
MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR;
MEASURE FOR MEASURE.
PRINTED FOR T. LONGMAN, B. LAW, C. DILLY, J. JOHNSON,
G. G. AND J. ROBINSON, R. BALDWIN, H. L. GARDNER,
It has been the with and the intention of the Reviser of these Volumes to effectuate an idea which the last very intelligent Editor of SHAKSPEARE predicted would some time take place.
“ To other defects of our late editions,” he says, may be subjoined, as not the least 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 set 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 sentinents, have also occasioned the appearance of more annotations than were absolutely wanted, unless it be thought requisite that our author, like a Dauphin Classick, should be reduced to marginal prose for the use of children ; that all his various readings (assembled by Mr. Capell) should be enumerated, the genealogies of all his real perfonages deduced; and that as many of his plays as are founded on Roman or Britiih history, should be attended by complete transcripts from their originals in Sir Thomas North's Plutarch, or the Chronicles of Hall and Holinfhed. These faults, indeed, quid prodeft deli&ta fateri, -within half a century, (when the present race of voluminous criticks is extinct) cannot fail to be remedied by a judicious and frugal selection from the labours of us all. Nor is such an event to be deprecated even by our. selves; since we may be certain that some ivy of each individual's growth will still adhere to the parent oak, though not enough, as at present, to hide the princely trunk, and suck the verdure out of it a.'- It may be feared
too, should we perfift in similar accumulations of extra.. neous matter, that our readers will at length be frighted away from Shakspeare, as the soldiers of Cato deserted their comrade' when he became bloated with poisoncrefcens fugére cadaver. It is our opinion, in short, that every one who opens the page of an ancient English writer, should bring with him some knowledge; and yet he by whom a thousand minutiæ remain to be learned, needs not to close our author's volume in despair, for his fpirit and general drift are always obvious, though his language and allusions are occasionally obscure."
Fully impressed with the force of this admonition, the late excellent Edition has been made the groundwork of the present, and the Text of it most scrupulously adopted ; and if in the selection of the Notes (a talk more delicate and difficult than may in general be imagined) some superfluities are even yet retained, it must be attributed solely to a wish to preserve the various sentiments of the ingenious Commentators, whose labours are attentively abridged, though their language and signatures are uniformly preserved.
It would be unjust, however, to Mr. Steevens, were we not to present to our readers fome extracts from his Preface.
• In this republication, a considerable number of fresh remarks are both adopted and supplied by the present teditors. They have perlifted in their former track of reading for the illustration of their author, and cannot help observing that those who receive the benefit of explanatory extracts from anciert writers, little know at what expence
of time and labour such atoms of intelligence have been collected. That the foregoing information, however, may communicate no alarm, or induce the reader to suppose we have • bestowed our whole tediousness' on him, we should add, that many notes have likewise been with. drawn. A few, manifeftly erroneous, are indeed retained, to show how much the tone of Shaksperian criticism is changed, or on account of the skill displayed in their confutation ; for surely every editor in his turn is occasionally entitled to be seen, as he would have shown himself, with his vanquished adversary at his feet. We have therefore