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Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1865, by
RICHARD GRANT WHITE, in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the Southern District of New York.
UNIVERSITY PRESS : Welch, BIGELOW, & Co.,
TO THE HONORABLE
WILLIAM HENRY SEWARD, LL. D.,
SECRETARY OF STATE.
I venture, without your knowledge, to inscribe this volume to you as an individual recognition of your longcontinued and signal services to the Republic. Through all your public life the unrelenting foe of wrong and of oppression, one of the earliest and most earnest advocates of the cause of freedom, a statesman who recognized his responsibility to a higher law than that of state necessity, you have yet endeavored to secure the blessings of liberty to all by peaceful methods, and to obtain for all the protection of the law without the violation of the law. Called to the Departinent of State at a period when our foreign relations were fraught with peril and environed with difficulty, you have so administered them, that, while you calmly maintained the internal sovereignty and the external rights of the government you represented, the jealous ministers of rival nations publicly acknowledged your fairness and your candor, and were able only to cavil at those assertions of the unabated power and dignity of the Republic, which, made with unflinching confidence in an hour of unprecedented trial, touched the hearts of your countrymen as the expression of a faith
which was then in very deed the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen, but which events have shown to be well founded. Just men may have misunderstood you, but your only enemies have been the enemies of right and of your country. At the hands of some of these, you have lately suffered in common with the good President whom we yet mourn. That your life was sought with his was an additional testimony to your faithfulness and your ability. Men seek to kill only whom they fear and hate. That you escaped this murderous attempt made by assassins who struck at your country through you, was an occasion of rejoicing to true men throughout the land. This book, although purely literary in its character, may be fitly dedicated to a statesman in whom the cause of education has ever found an advocate equally zealous and discreet, and whose pen has gained him an enviable place in the world of letters. That you may live long in the service of your country, and that, while the undying interest of the subject of this volume wins it readers, this page may do a little toward preserving in the minds of your countrymen a memory of how much they and freedom owe you, are the hearty wishes of Your grateful fellow-citizen,
R. G. W. C DE 66
'HIS volume is the result of an endeavor
to present in a narrative form what is known and may be reasonably inferred concerning Shakespeare's life, with an appreciation of his genius, and such a history of our early drama as would conduce to that appreciation and be suited to the perusal of the generality of his intelligent readers. During the last hundred and fifty years much has been written upon these subjects by men of various fitness for the task, and of widely differing degrees of ability. But unless my knowledge of this literature is imperfect, the present book, in its scope, its purpose, and its method, is without a rival among its predecessors. It is not intended for lovers of desultory gossip on the one hand, or for antiquaries and Shakespearian scholars on the other. I have undertaken to examine and to estimate the
mass of material which has been accumulated by the painstaking researches of previous investigators of the facts connected with Shakespeare's life and of the earlier records of the English drama, — much of it having the slightest possible connection, and more no connection at all, with the subject, — to arrange with compactness and coherence that which seemed to me to be distinguished from the remainder by truth and significance, and so to tell the story that it might have a continuous interest for readers not especially devoted to dramatic studies.
Having given my authority in most cases for statement or hypothesis, it is not necessary that I should here repeat my acknowledgment of obligations in this regard. Little has been added, and nothing of moment, to the results either of the searches made in the last two centuries by Betterton, Malone, and Chalmers for tradition and record concerning Shakespeare, or of their investigations of the social and professional conditions under which his life must have been passed. The last two writers seemed also to have exhausted the field of research in regard to the history of the English drama and the English stage. But Mr.