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Biographical Memoir of Shakspeare
Chronological Order of the Dramas
Dr. Johnson's Preface
COMPLETE IN ONE VOLUME.
An Inquiry into the Plots of the Dramas
On Shakspeare's Clowns and Fools
Some Account of his Dramatic Contemporaries
A Description of the Theatres, &c. in his Timé
Original Actors in his Plays
Eminent by-gone Performers, who have been distinguished in his Characters
The Stratford Jubilee..
Original Dedication and Preface to the Players' Edition.
KING HENRY IV. PART II.
TIMON OF ATHENS
VENUS AND ADONIS
THE RAPE OF LUCRECE
A LOVER'S COMPLAINT
ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA
KING RICHARD II..
KING HENRY IV. PART I.
Summary Remarks on each Play, by Johnson and Steevens
PERICLES, PRINCE OF TYRE
KING LEAR ....
ROMEO AND JULIET
Glossary of obsolete Words, and of Words varying from their ordinary Significations
HAMLET, PRINCE OF DENMARK
OTHELLO, THE MOOR OF VENICE... 772
Page 849 861
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 Dramatic 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, to 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 copious than in any other edition.
There are fifty-one Embellishments, engraved by the best artists. Those which accompany the Prolegomena cannot fail to prove interesting, and the Illustrations to the Plays and Poems are from the designs of the most eminent masters. Some stress may also be laid on the fine Head 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 rea value of their labours must inevitably depend, is, the extreme cheapness of their volume, which 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 the 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.
Sand Balne, Printers, Gracechurch Street.
Biographical Memoir of Shakspeare.
Arte all the laborious research which has been espeded on the subject of Shakspeare's biograpar few particulars are known on those points which would be most gratifying to the curiosity eftis rational admirers. We may trace his anestors to the doomsday book, and his posterity they dwindle into tongueless obscurity; but at own habits and domestic character we know paratively nothing. During his early days, his pain life was so humble, that all our inquiries
arily terminate in disappointment; and of the are busy period of his existence, when he Trots for the stage, and was the public favourite, his remarkable humility of mind and manners indated him to avoid the eye of notoriety; and, unformately, there was no Boswell or Medwin to ake memoranda of bis conversations, or transmit le our times a fac-simile of the great dramatist in the familiar moments of relaxation and friendly intercourse. Such hiatuses in the life of Shakspeare
This account turns out to be very incorrect; for on reference to the authorities cited, we find that the Shakspeares, though their property was respectable, never rose above the rank of tradesmen or husbandmen. Nothing is known of the immediate ancestors of John Shakspeare, the poet's father, who was originally a glover, afterwards a butcher, and in the last place, a wool-stapler, in the town of Stratford. Being very industrious, his wealth gave him importance among his neighbours, and having served various offices in the borough with credit, he ultimately obtained its supreme municipal honours, being elected high-bailiff, at Michaelmas, 1568. His townsfolk no doubt considered this the summit of earthly felicity; but however reverend the corporation of Stratford in its own estimation, we cannot but smile at these erudite sages, out of nineteen of whom, as we find from their signatures, attached to a public document, 1564, only seven were able to write their names. While chief magistrate of the borough, and on his marriage with Mary Arden, he obtained a grant of arms from the Herald's College, and was allowed to impale his own achievement with that of the ancient family of the Ardens. In the deed respecting John Shakspeare, his pro
at now be supplied; more than two hundred years bare elapsed since his mortal remains were la to moulder beneath a tomb, over which Time has shaken the dust of his wings too often to allow of our recovering details, local and fugitive, however interesting. Rowe was the first, whose re-perty is declared to be worth five hundred pounds, earches elicited anything like a satisfactory me- a sum by no means inconsiderable in those days; moir of our great bard. Poets and critics have and, on the whole, we have sufficient evidence of abricsly re-trodden his steps; the genius of Pope his worldly prosperity. From some unexplained and the acumen of Johnson have been employed on causes, however, his affairs began to alter for the same subject, but the sun of their adoration the worse about 1574, and after employing such had gone down before their intellectual telescopes expedients to relieve his growing necessities as in e levelled to discover its perfections. Malone the end served only to aggravate them, he at length as done the most, and appears indeed to have fell into such extreme poverty, that he was obliged sted the subject; bat, from inadvertency or to give security for a debt of five pounds; and a cassess, he has overlooked many particulars distress issuing for the seizure of his goods, it was which deserve preservation. Having turned over returned: "Joh'es Shakspere nihil habet unde distr. riety of books, and consulted every accessible potest levari." (John Shakspere has no effects on bority, we shall attempt to condense, under one which a distraint can be levied.) During the last bed, such recollections of Shakspeare, as are at ten years of his life we have no particular account Pest scattered over many volumes, as well as the of his circumstances; but, as in 1597 he describes are obvious and familiar portions of his history. himself as "of very small wealth and very few It appears a family, designated indifferently friends," we may justly suppose that he reper, Shakespeare, Shakspere, and Shakspeare, mained in great indigence. He seems, indeed, to te well known in Warwickshire during the six- have fallen into decay with his native town, the century. Rowe says: "It seems by the trade of which was almost ruined; as we may learn Master and other public writings of Stratford, from the supplication of the burgesses, in 1590. the poet's family were of good figure and The town had then "fallen into much decay, for ading there, and are mentioned as gentlemen." want of such trade as heretofore they had by