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REVEREND JOHN MITFORD.
MY DEAR MITFORD,
I HAVE two reasons for inscribing the present volume to you :— the first, because, in the wide range of your learning, you have not neglected the minutiæ of verbal criticism ; the second, because you at least will read it with a conviction that it originated in pure love to Shakespeare, and not in the desire of decrying the labours of those who have thought themselves competent to become his editors.
Your sincere friend,
PREF A C E.
Had I committed to paper all the remarks which occurred to me during a careful perusal of Mr. Collier's and Mr. Knight's editions of Shakespeare, they would have far exceeded the limits of a single volume,
—for the passages both of the text and notes, to which I found weighty objections, were, like the afflictions of Diceopolis, ψαμμακοσιογάργαρα : even those remarks now printed form only a part of what I had actually written down ; but the Publisher very reasonably disliking a bulky book, it became necessary to make the present selection, and consequently to weaken the force of my protest against those two editions.
I must not be understood as if I meant to say that the same faults are always common to the editions of Mr, Collier and Mr. Knight; for, though it is my deliberate opinion that Shakespeare has suffered greatly from both, yet the one appears to me to be sometimes right where the other is wrong, and
vice versa. Some of my remarks apply to the modern editors generally.
The censure which I presume to pass so decidedly on those two editions does not extend to the biographical portions. Mr. Collier's Life of Shakespeare exhibits the most praiseworthy research, a careful examination of all the particulars which have been discovered concerning the great dramatist, and the most intimate acquaintance with the history of our early stage. Mr. Knight's Shakspere, a Biography, I have not read.
The few notes on Gifford's edition of Ben Jonson will hardly be considered as out of place in a volume of this description.