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FROM THE TEXT OF THE CORRECTED COPIES
LEFT BY THE LATE
GEORGE STEEVENS, Esq., AND EDMOND MALONE, Esq.
WITH MR. MALONE'S VARIOUS READINGS;
A SELECTION OF
EXPLANATORY AND HISTORICAL NOTES,
FROM THE MOST EMINENT COMMENTATORS;
A HISTORY OF THE STAGE, AND A LIFE OF SHAKSPEARE;
ALEXANDER CHALMERS, F.S.A.
IN EIGHT VOLUMES.
TWO GENTLEMEN OF VERONA.
MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR.
PRINTED FOR LONGMAN AND CO.; RIVINGTONS; T. HATCHARD; HAMILTON AND CO.;
WHEN (in 1802) this work was first suggested by the Proprietors of Mr. Steevens's elaborate edition, it was the Editor's intention to illustrate the plays of our immortal bard, by a SELECTION of the most important and interesting notes which the labours of the various commentators had accumulated. In this he was encouraged by Mr. Steevens himself, who, in the Advertisement to his edition of fifteen volumes, 1793, after apologizing for the prolixity and number of his notes, seems to anticipate the time when "a judicious and frugal selection" might be made from the labours of all his coadjutors.
In attempting to form such a SELECTION, which the present Editor published in 1803, and which is now reprinted for the third time, his object was to separate the conjectural from the decisive explanations and amendments,-to leave the reader under no difficulty which investigation had already removed,--and to furnish every informa
tion that could contribute to a knowledge of the text, or of the history of the play.
Whatever regarded questions of taste or emendation, it was his wish to retain, but the prescribed limits of an edition like the present,—an edition that was intended to be strictly useful, and easily to be consulted-one in which whatever was wanted might be found without effort, and comprehended without study-must be expected to exclude the tedious and angry contests of rival critics, and the prolix quotations from authorities in support of their opinions. These, however necessary to the niceties of verbal criticism and antiquities of phraseology, and often honourable to the industry and judgment of the gentlemen who have devoted their whole time and attention to the purification of the text, are obstructions in the way of the general reader, unless where they can be brought to a conclusion which may in few words convey some useful information.
The text of the editions of this SELECTION, printed in 1803 and 1811, was that of the corrected copy left by Mr. Steevens, and edited by Mr. Isaac Reed, 21 vols., 1803. In the present republication, we have availed ourselves of the various readings pointed out by Mr. Malone in his last edition (1821): and thus, by repeated collations, and every mode of critical investigation, the text may now be thought to be fixed beyond the hope, or at least the probability, that