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Proposals For Printing The Works Of Shakespeare
by [?]

But when the beauty arises from some adaptation of the sentiment to customs worn out of use, to opinions not universally prevalent, or to any accidental or minute particularity, which cannot be supplied by common understanding, or common observation, it is the duty of a commentator to lend his assistance.

The notice of beauties and faults, thus limited, will make no distinct part of the design, being reducible to the explanation of some obscure passages.

The editor does not, however, intend to preclude himself from the comparison of Shakespeare’s sentiments or expression with those of ancient or modern authors, or from the display of any beauties not obvious to the students of poetry; for, as he hopes to leave his author better understood, he wishes, likewise, to procure him more rational approbation.

The former editors have affected to slight their predecessors: but in this edition all that is valuable will be adopted from every commentator, that posterity may consider it as including all the rest, and exhibiting whatever is hitherto known of the great, father of the English drama.


[1] It is not true, that the plays of this author were more incorrectly printed than those of any of his contemporaries: for in the plays of Massinger, Marlowe, Marston, Fletcher, and others, as many errors may be found. It is not true, that the art of printing was in no other age in such unskilful hands. Nor is it true, in the latitude in which it is stated, that “these plays were printed from compilations made by chance or by stealth, out of the separate parts written for the theatre:” two only of all his dramas, The Merry Wives of Windsor, and King Henry V. appear to have been thus thrust into the world; and of the former it is yet a doubt, whether it is a first sketch, or an imperfect copy. See Malone’s Preface throughout. –Ed.

[2] See how this respectful reference to his labours was rewarded by this “meek and modest ecclesiastic” in his Letters, 410, 272, 273. Also Edinburgh Review for January, 1809.