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A SKETCH OF HIS LIFE, AND AN ESTIMATE OF HIS WRITINGS ;
Newly Arranged and Edited.
BY CHARLES HENRY WHEELER.
QUIDQUID AGUNT HOMINES, VOTUM, TIMOR, IRA, VOLUPTAS,
FISHER, SON, & CO. 38, NEWGATE-STREET.
The present collection of SHAKSPEARE's Plays differs in arrangement from any that bas bitberto been published. The Tragedies, Comedies, and Historical Plays, are divided ; and in each division, the consecutive order of the pieces bas reference to the country in which the action is laid, or to the epoch at which it is sapposed to have taken place. Such as are founded on Grecian or Roman occurrences, are distinctly separated from those which commemorate the events of British history; and in each class a proper chronological priority is as much as possible maintained. Thus the merry knights of Christendom are not associated with the sober demagogues of Rome ; nor the belles and beaux of Venice confounded with the “worn and witbered" phantoms of a Scottish beath.
The text has been critically and laboriously collated with the standard edition of 1803, and an uniform and judicious method of panctaation, so necessary to the intelligibility of the old English writers, has been adopted throughout.
Large or numerous notes being inconsistent with the design of the work, such only are subjoined, as were necessary for explaining obsolete words, unusual passages, old customs, and obscure allusions.
A literary and bistorical Notice is prefixed to each Play, containing a succinct criticism upon its merits or defects, tracing the origin of its plot, investigating the fidelity of its characters, and assigning as nearly as possible tbe date of its production.
In the preparation of these, and of the biographical portraiture of Shakspeare, the remarks of Rowe, Pope, Theobald, Warburton, Hanmer, Jolinson, Steevens, Malone, Reed, Percy, Tollett, Warton, Hazlett, and others, bave been carefully examined, and contrasted with each otber.
The Editor feels that little praise can accompany the termination of his andertaking, if novelty of matter be the only criterion of merit; but he thought it more becoming to condense and re-mould the accumulated comments of so many distinguished writers, than to revive speculations which have become too stale to be interesting, or to search for new proofs of that which has long been an article of belief.
It was formerly urged, as a recommendation of polite studies, that they were always companionable, and never cumbersome. “Delectant domi, non impediunt foris," says Tully. “ At bome they are delightful, and abroad they are not troublesome.” In the same manner, this edition may conveniently accompany the traveller by a stage-coach, the tourist in his chaise or gig, and the pedestrian in his solitary ramble.
To comprise the multiplied and diffusive materials of many large, laboured, and costly publications, in one commodious volume, bas not been unattended with difficulty; but the type is sufficiently large for the common purposes of study, whilst the beautiful “meadow of margin” by wbich it is surrounded, secures its handsome appearance when clothed in a proper binding, and placed upon the shelves of a library.