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IN adding another to the many editions of Shakspeare already published, it may be justly expected that the promoters should shew on what peculiar grounds they rest their claims to preference. The mere multiplying of impressions, unaccompanied by some distinctive excellence, would be to confer no benefit on the Public, and be productive of little advantage to themselves. Aware of the justice of this position, the Proprietors of the present Edition are desirous of briefly stating what they conceive to be fair reasons why they should hope to at least divide the palm with their competitors.
As a chief object, they have laboured for CORRECTNESS. The Reader is assured, that the following pages have not been passed through the press in a hasty or slovenly manner. The utmost diligence has been used to prevent the occurrence of errors; and the best edition of Johnson, Steevens, and Reed, has been diligently consulted, even to the scrupulous revision of every point.
A principal feature, by which the present Edition is distinguished from all others yet published in a single volume, is the valuable illustrative matter with which it is enriched. All that could tend to elucidate the text, or illumine the obscurity which envelopes the great Bard and the Dra matic History of his time, has been collected from every authentic source, and the essence of many scarce and high-priced volumes, only to be found in the libraries of the opulent, presented for the first time to the General Reader. The Variorum Notes are placed at the end of the volume, t prevent the interruption and confusion arising from their accompanying the text, and those only preserved which tend to elucidate real difficulties. The Glossary we may affirm to be more copiou than in any other edition.
There are fifty-one Embellishments, engraved by the best artists. Those which accompan the Prolegomena cannot fail to prove interesting, and the Illustrations to the Plays and Poem are from the designs of the most eminent masters. Some stress may also be laid on the fine Hea of Shakspeare, and the very novel feature of the Eight Portraits of eminent by-gone Performers who have been distinguished for personating his characters. But the main point, on which the red value of their labours must inevitably depend, is, the extreme cheapness of their volume, whic presents the entire Works of our immortal Poet, adorned by the talents of the critic, the antiquary and the engraver, at the very low price usually charged for a common and incorrect edition of hi PLAYS ALONE, without either Poems, Hlustrative Matter, or Embellishments; and the Pro prietors cannot but feel they have attained an object of no mean importance, in thus placing withi the reach of the humblest Reader, the cheapest and most complete Edition of the Works of Shak speare that has ever yet been published.
As several of our best Commentators have agreed in rejecting the plays of Titus Andro nicus and Pericles, some apology may be expected for retaining them. Steevens's excuse for th same proceeding may be fairly quoted :-Some ancient prejudices in their favour may still exist to which may be added, that they have usually accompanied all editions of repute.
ve and Balne, Printers, Gracechurch Street.
The Birth-Place of Shakspeare.
Biographical Memoir of Shakspeare. Arrez all the laborious research which has been This account turns out to be very incorrect; for ou espeded on the subject of Shakspeare's biogra- reference to the authorities cited, we find that the phy few particulars are known on those points Shakspeares, though their property was respectwhich would be most gratifying to the curiosity able, never rose above the rank of tradesmen or elis rational admirers. We may trace his an- husbandmen. Nothing is known of the immediate estors to the doomsday book, and his posterity ancestors of John Shakspeare, the poet's father, they dwindle into tongueless obscurity; but who was originally a glover, afterwards a butcher, his own habits and domestic character we know and in the last place, a wool-stapler, in the town of paratively nothing. During his early days, his Stratford. Being very industrious, his wealth gave pain life was so humble, that all our inquiries him importance among his neighbours, and having sarily terminate in disappointment; and of served various offices in the borough with credit, the more basy period of his existence, when he he ultimately obtained its supreme municipal horots for the stage, and was the public favourite, nours, being elected high-bailiff, at Michaelmas, his remarkable humility of mind and manners in- 1568. His townsfolk no doubt considered this the dated him to avoid the eye of notoriety; and, un- summit of earthly felicity; but however reverend fortately, there was no Boswell or Medwin to the corporation of Stratford in its own estimation, make memoranda of bis conversations, or transmit we cannot but smile at these erudite sages, out of le our times a fac-simile of the great dramatist in nineteen of whom, as we find from their signatures, the familiar moments of relaxation and friendly in- attached to a public document, 1564, only seven were tercourse. Such hiatuses in the life of Shakspeare able to write their names. While chief magistrate of at now be supplied; more than two hundred the borough, and on his marriage with Mary Arden, years bare elapsed since his mortal remains were he obtained a grant of arms from the Herald's la to monider beneath a tomb, over which Time College, and was allowed to impale his own achievebas shaken the dust of his wings too often to allow ment with that of the ancient family of the Ardens. of our recovering details, local and fugitive, how- In the deed respecting John Shakspeare, his proever interesting. Rowe was the first, whose re-perty is declared to be worth five hundred pounds, arches elicited anything like a satisfactory memoir of our great bard. Poets and critics have abricsly re-trodden his steps; the genius of Pope and the acumen of Johnson have been employed on the same subject, but the sun of their adoration had gone down before their intellectual telescopes e levelled to discover its perfections. Malone has done the most, and appears indeed to have sted the subject; but, from inadvertency or tesaness, he has overlooked many particulars which deserve preservation. Having turned over variety of books, and consulted every accessible norits, we shall attempt to condense, under one bend, such recollections of Shakspeare, as are at Pest scattered over many volumes, as well as the are obvious and familiar portions of his history. It appears a family, designated indifferently per, Shakespeare, Shakspere, and Shakspeare, We well known in Warwickshire during the sixcentury. Rowe says: "It seems by the Mer and other public writings of Stratford, that the poet's family were of good figure and ading there, and are mentioned as gentlemen."
a sum by no means inconsiderable in those days; and, on the whole, we have sufficient evidence of his worldly prosperity. From some unexplained causes, however, his affairs began to alter for the worse about 1574, and after employing such expedients to relieve his growing necessities as in the end served only to aggravate them, he at length fell into such extreme poverty, that he was obliged to give security for a debt of five pounds; and distress issuing for the seizure of his goods, it was returned: "Joh'es Shakspere nihil habet unde distr. potest levari." (John Shakspere has no effects on which a distraint can be levied.) During the last ten years of his life we have no particular account of his circumstances; but, as in 1597 he describes himself as "of very small wealth and very few friends," we may justly suppose that he remained in great indigence. He seems, indeed, to have fallen into decay with his native town, the trade of which was almost ruined; as we may learn from the supplication of the burgesses, in 1590. The town had then "fallen into much decay, for want of such trade as heretofore they had by