Imágenes de páginas
[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

The present collection of SNAKSPEARE's Plays differs in arrangement from any that bas bitherto been published. The Tragedies, Comedies, and Historical Plays, are divided; and in each division, the consecative order of the pieces bas reference to the country in which the action is laid, or to the epoch at which it is supposed to bave taken place. Such as are founded on Grecian or Roman occurrences, are distinctly separated from those whicb 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 aniform and judicious method of punctuation, so necessary to the intelligibility of the old Eaglish writers, has been adopted throughout.

Large or numeroas notes being inconsistent with the design of the work, such only are subjoined, as were necessary for explaining obsolete words, opusual passages, old cestoms, and obscure allasions.

A literary and bistorical Notice is prefixed to each Play, containing a succinct criti

of its characters, and assigoing 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, Johnson, Steevens, Malone, Reed, Percy, Tollett, Warton, Hazlett, and others, have been carefully examined, and contrasted with each otber.

The Editor feels that little praise can accompany the termination of his undertaking, 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 aew 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 Tolly. “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 bis solitary ramble.

To comprise the multiplied and diffusive materials of many large, laboured, and costly publications, in one commodious volume, has not been unattended with difficulty; but the type is sufficiently large for the common parposes of study, whilst the beautiful " meadow of margin” by wbich it is surrounded, secares its handsome appearance when clothed in a proper binding, and placed upon the shelves of a library.

C. H. W.





[ocr errors]

Essay on the Life and Writings of Shakspeare, 1 Coriolanus, ... 2 Jalius Cæsar, 3 Antony and Cleopatra, 4 Titus Andronicus,.. 5 Troilus and Cressida,. 6 Timon of Athens, 7 Pericles, Prince of Tyre,.. 8 Hamlet, Prince of Denmark,. 9 Othello, the Moor of Venice, 10 Romeo and Juliet, 11 Cymbeline, 12 King Lear, 13 Macbeth,..... 14 King John, 15 Life and Death of King Richard II. 16 First Part of King Henry IV..... 17 Second Part of King Henry IV. 18 King Henry V... 19 First Part of King Henry VI. 20 Second Part of King Henry VI. 21 Third Part of King Henry VI...... 22 Life and Death of King Richard III. 23 King Henry VIII. 24 A Midsummer Night's Dream, 25 The Tempest, 26 The Twelfth Night; or, What You Will, 27 All's Well that Ends Well, 28 The Two Gentlemen of Verona, 29 Love's Labour's Lost, 30 Comedy of Eriors, . 31 As You Like It, 32 Much Ado about Nothing, 33 The Merchant of Venice,. 34 Measure for Measure, 35 Winter's Tale, 36 Taming of the Shrew, 37 The Merry Wives of Windsor,..


80 . 101

129 150 171 204 233

259 .. 289

319 ... 340

362 386 411 438 465 490 518 546 580 608


.640 .667


73 75

79 81

80 88





WILLIAM SHAKSPEARE was born at Stratford-upon-Avon, in Warwickshire, April 23, 1564. His ancestors are mentioned as “gentlemen of good figure and fasbion," His father was a considerable dealer in wool, and had been the high-bailiff or mayor of the body corporate of Stratford. He beld also the office of justice of the peace, and at one time, it is said, possessed lands and tenements to the amount of £500 ; but he must have been greatly reduced in the latter part of his life, as he was excused the trilling weekly tax of fourpence, levied on all aldermen, and sabsequently resigned the cflice to another individual. His wife was the daughter an heiress of Robert Arden, of Wellingcote, in Warwickshire, “a gentleman of worship." This lady brought him ten children; of whom William, onr poet, was the eldest. At a proper age he was sent to the freeschool in Stratford, to which he was indebted for whatever learning he may bave possessed ; tbougb bis father had apparently no design to make him “a scholar,” as he took bin, at an early period, into bis owo business. Mr. Malone, on the contrary, conjectures, that he was placed in the office of some country attorney, after leaving school, or with the seneschal of some manor court, where he picked up those technical law phrases that so frequeetly occur in bis plays, and could not have been in common use unless among professional men. However this may be, he resolved to write.“man" earlier than usual, and before he was eighteen, married Anne Hathaway, eight years older than bimself, the daughter of Jobo Hathaway, who is said to have been a substantial yeoman in the neighbourhood of Stratford. Before the expiration of his minority he became the father of three children, & son and two daugbters, bis wise producing bim twips. Notbing is known of bis domestic economy or professional occupation at tbis time ; though Mr. Capell supposes that this early marriage prevented his being sent to some university. Shortly after the birth of his youngest child, he left Siratsord for the metropolis : bis motive for doing so, as well as bis connexion and prospects in London, are involved in considerable obscurity. It is said that he became acquainted with a gang of deer-stealers, and being detected with them in robbing the park of Sir Thomas Lucy, of Charlecote, was prosecuted with so much rigoor as to be obliged to take shelter in London; having first revenged himself upon the knight by writing a satirical ballad. This was affixed to Sir Thomas's park-gates, and being liberally circulated in the veighbourhood, excited considerable attention, thoagh it does no bouoor to our poet's genius, and was manifestly unjust. Some writers bare asserted, that Sbakspeare escaped with impunity after his first offence; but that, repeating it audaciously, be was prosecuted by Sir Thomas, whom he grossly lampoonedthat to escape a prison, he fled to London, where, as might be expected from a man of wit and humour in similar circumstances, he threw himself among the players, and made his first appearance on the stage in a very subordinate character. This account (according to a modern publication) is not entitled to full credence ; for though he may have associated with some idle youths, either for the sake of catching deer, or for some less difficult and hazardous enterprise, yet the story seems improbable, and comes in such a questionable shape, that it ought to be strongly corroborated before it be believed. Without depending on this circumstance, or supposing that “ he held horses at the door of a theatre for his livelihood," a rational motive for his visiting London may be found in the eircumstance, that be had a relative and townsman already established there ; Thomas Green, “ a celebrated comedian.” The statement of John Aubrey, a student in the university of Oxford only twenty-six years after our poet's death, strongly substantiates this view of the case, though it differs in some particulars from the commonly accepted opipions respecting his parentage and occopation. “ His father (says Aubrey) was a butcher, and I have been told heretofore, by some of the neighbours, that when he was a boy be exercised his father's trade, bat when he killed a calfe, he would doe it in a high style, and make a speeche. This William, (meaning Shakspeare,) being naturally inclined 10 poetry and acting, came to London, I guesse about eighteen, and was an actor at one of the play-houses, and did act exceedingly well. He began early to make essayes at dramatique poetry, which at that time was very lowe, and his playes tooke well.” This is good to a certain extent; but the truth probably is, that some freak, or it might be, selony, determined Sbakspeare promptly to embrace that profession to which bis habits and inclinations bad for a long time previously inclined bim. The playful enthusiasın of bis


« AnteriorContinuar »