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as of the injury the publication will sustain by the change.
As some alterations have been made in the present edition, it may be thought necessary to point them out. These are of two kinds, additions and omissions. The additions are such as have been supplied by the last editor, and the principal of the living commentators. To mention these assistances, is sufficient to excite expectation; but to speak of anything in their praise will be superfluous to those who are acquainted with their former labours. Some remarks are also added from new commentators, and some notices extracted from books which have been published in the course of a few years past.
Of the omissions, the most important are some notes which have been demonstrated to be ill founded, and some which were supposed to add to the size of the volumes without increasing their value. It may probably have happened that a few are rejected which ought to have been retained; and in that case the present editor, who has been the occasion of their removal, will feel some concern from the injustice of his proceeding. He is, however, inclined to believe, that what he has omitted will be pardoned by the reader; and that the liberty which he has taken will not be thought to have been licentiously indulged. At all events, that the censure may fall where it ought, he desires it to be understood that no person is answerable for any of these innovations but himself.
It has been observed by the last editor, that the multitude of instances which have been produced to exemplify particular words, and explain obsolete customs, may, when the point is once known to be estab
lished, be diminished by any future editor, and, in conformity of this opinion, several quotations, which were heretofore properly introduced, are now curtailed. Were an apology required on this occasion, the present editor might shelter himself under the authority of Prior, who long ago has said,
“That when one's proofs are aptly chosen,
Four are as valid as four dozen.”
The present editor thinks it unnecessary to say any thing of his own share in the work, except that he undertook it in consequence of an application which was too flattering and too honourable to him to decline. He mentions this only to have it known that he did not intrude himself into the situation. He is not insensible, that the task would have been better executed by many other gentlemen, and particularly, by some whose names appear to the notes. He has added but little to the bulk of the volumes from his own observations, having, upon every occasion, rather chosen to avoid a note, than to court the opportunity of inserting one. The liberty he has taken of omitting some remarks, he is confident, has been exercised without prejudice and without partiality; and therefore, trusting to the candour and indulgence of the publick, will forbear to detain them any longer from the entertainment they may receive from the greatest poet of this or any other nation.
1741-1812 DMUND MALONE was born in Dublin, October 4, 1741, and died in London, May 25, 1812.
He was educated at Trinity College, Dublin, and became a member of the Irish bar. He turned his back, however, both upon the land of his birth and the profession of his adoption, and settling in London in the year 1777, devoted himself to literature, and mainly to Shakespearean criticism. His first essay in this field was “ An Attempt to Ascertain the Order in Which the Plays of Shakespeare Were Written” (1778); followed two years later by two volumes supplementary to the Steevens and Johnson edition of the works.
These volumes opened a new era in Shakespearean interpretation. They contained the “ Supplemental Observations," as he called them, which were afterwards made the basis of his history of the English stage; a reprint of Arthur Brooke's translation from the Italian of the old poem, “Romeus and Juliet,” the “ Venus and Adonis,” “Rape of Lucrece,” “ Sonnets,” “ Passionate Pilgrim," and " A Lover's Complaint of Shakespeare " ; and the seven doubtful plays, “ Pericles,” “Locrine," “Sir John Oldcastle,” “Lord Cromwell,” “ London Prodigal,” “ The Puritans,” and “The Yorkshire Tragedy.”
A first and second appendix followed these volumes, containing additional notes and emendations.