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“Othello;" Note 82, Act i., “Cymbeline;" Notes 61, Act i., and 40, Act v., “ Pericles ; but our chief care has been devoted to discover if the original' word or phrase printed in the first Folio ôr Quarto editions may not by possibility be right, though at first view seeming erroneous. It behoves an editor, not so much to exercise ingenuity in finding a suitable word or sentence, as to judge whether the word in the old copies bears a signification consonant with Shakespeare's mode of thought generally; and to search elsewhere for some other word or sentence used by him which shall serve to exemplify the passage in question.
One thing assuredly will not be found in our edition : to wit, that dogmatic and dictatorial tone, or, worse still, that unworthy spirit of sneer and squabble towards other editors, which has too often disgraced the field of Shakespearian controversy. Where we have had occasion to bring forward an opinion of our own, we have proffered it with all modesty of statement ; having, in the course of our many years' self-deđication to Shakespearian study and labour, learned at least one of the lessons he taught :-“I will chide no breather in the world but myself, against whom I know most faults." The difficulty of making up one's mind on disputed passages-retaining what one has before rejected, or rejecting what one has before retained-ought surely to teach editors diffidence in supporting their own decisions, and temperance in censuring those of others. For token of this difficulty, see such of our Notes as 42, Act v., “Othello;" Notes 23, Act i.; 2, Act ii.,
. “ Antony and Cleopatra ;" Notes 48, Act ii.; 27 and 53, Act iv., “Cymbeline,” where we candidly confess to certain hesitatingly-adopted readings.
For one who is so universal-minded as Shakespeare, we think it will be conceded that there may be peculiar advantage in having a man and woman as his joint editors. While the man-editor uses his masculine judgment as to what expressions are fittest to be expunged from a chastened edition of Shakespeare, the woman-editor is not without her use in bringing feminine discernment as an aid and exponent to some of his passages. It is, perhaps, good and befitting that Shakespeare, who is not so much a man as human-containing in himself the best parts of woman's as well as man's nature-should have a woman to assist in editing and analysing him. A woman's tact in sentiment and perception of nice shades in feeling can possibly best discern and appreciate those delicate and subtle touches of both which abound in Shakespeare above all poets (see Notes 24, 36, 121, Act i. ; 158, Act ii. ; 73, Act iv., “ All's Well that Ends Well;" Notes 17, 21, Act ii., “Romeo and Juliet;" Note 12, Act i., “Midsummer Night's Dream ;" Note 1, Induction; 20, Act i. ; 5, Act iii. ; 33, 36, 59, 106, Act iv. ; 31, 40, Act v., “Taming of the Shrew;" Note 56, Act v.,
Henry V."); while a woman's intimate acquaintance with the consciousnesses, sensitivenesses, and emotions that stir the inner heart of her own sisterhood, may very likely best estimate his almost miraculous knowledge of womanhood. (See Notes 39, Act iii., “ All's Well that Ends Well;" Note 1, Act iv., “ Love's Labour's Lost;" Note 54, Act iv., “As You Like It;" Notes 95, Act i.; 19, Act iii. ; 65, Act iv., "Othello;" Notes 76,
Act iii.; 8, Act iv., “Romeo and Juliet;" Notes 75, 83, Act iv., “ Antony and Cleopatra ;" and Notes 61, Act ii. ; 102, Act iii., “ King Lear.")
In the above-made references to Notes on special topics, treated of in our present edition, we have supplied the clue to a few of each out of the very many Notes which discuss these subjects.
Remembering our own childhood delight in a picture book and story-book in one, we can sympathise with the joy that young readers of the present edition must feel in finding a picture at every other page, illustrating the current scene and situation : while our staider likings can anticipate the satisfaction with which maturer judges will contemplate the adınirable illustrations which the accomplished artist, Mr. H. C. Secous, has supplied in such profusion.
Few stronger evidences could be advanced in testimony of Shakespeare's ever-fresh power to move and delight, than the fact that veteran students like ourselves, who have each devoted life-long examination and loving labour to his works, should be no less excited by affectionate admiration and new enjoyment now when we read him, than when first, as young people, we read him. So vital, so vigorous, so genuine, so intensely true and good is , his writing that, on going through his tragedies during this our latest study of them, we have found our eyes till and our hearts swell in the storm with Lear, or in the mental tempest of Othello, with all the old force of impression ; and our lungs have crowed as cheerily at Falstaff's sallies, while reading them together for our present purpose, as ever they did in the spring-time of green perusal.
In consigning our present edition of Shakespeare's plays to the perusal of its readers, young and old, we hope it will be enjoyed by them with a no less sympathetic zest than our own; and we cordially wish that their happy hearths may be made the brighter and the happier by welcoming Shakespeare's book to their home circle ; at the same time trusting that, while honouring and revering him, they will accord one kindly thought to his and their
} Trojan Commanders.
PRIAM, King of Troy.
Helen, Wife to Menelaus.
Trojan and Greek Soldiers, and Attendants.
Scene-Troy, and the Grecian Camp before it.