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AS YOU LIKE IT
Summary Remarks on each Play, by Johnson and Steevens
In adding another to the many editions of Shakspeare already published, it may be justly expected that the promoters should shew on what peculiar grounds they rest their claims to preference. The mere multiplying of impressions, unaccompanied by some distinctive excellence, would be to confer no benefit on the Public, and be productive of little advantage to themselves. Aware of the justice of this position, the Proprietors of the present Edition are desirous of briefly stating what they conceive to be fair reasons why they should hope to at least divide the palm with their competitors.
As a chief object, they have laboured for CORRECTNESS. The Reader is assured, that the following pages have not been passed through the press in a hasty or slovenly manner. The utmost diligence has been used to prevent the occurrence of errors; and the best edition of Johnson, Steevens, and Reed, has been diligently consulted, even to the scrupulous revision of every point.
A principal feature, by which the present Edition is distinguished from all others yet published in a single volume, is the valuable illustrative matter with which it is enriched. All that could tend to elucidate the text, or illumine the obscurity which envelopes the great Bard and the Dramatic History of his time, has been collected from every authentic source, and the essence of many scarce and high-priced volumes, only to be found in the libraries of the opulent, presented for the first time to the General Reader. The Variorum Noles are placed at the end of the volume, to prevent the interruption and confusion arising from their accompanying the text, and those only preserved which tend to elucidate real difficulties. The Glossary we may affirm to be more copious than in any other edition.
There are fifty-one Embellishments, engraved by the best artists. Those which accompany the Prolegomena cannot fail to prove interesting, and the Illustrations to the Plays and Poems are from the designs of the most eminent masters. Some stress may also be laid on the fine Head of Shakspeare, and the very novel feature of the Eight Portraits of eminent by-gone Performers, who have been distinguished for personating his characters. But the main point, on which the real value of their labours must inevitably depend, is, the extreme cheapness of their volume, which presents the entire Works of our immortal Poet, adorned by the talents of the critic, the antiquary, and the engraver, at the very low price usually charged for a conmon and incorrect edition of his PLAYS ALONE, without either Poems, Illustrative Matter, or Embellishments; and the Proprietors cannot but feel they have attained an object of no mean importance, in thus placing within the reach of the humblest Reader, the cheapest and most complete Edition of the Works of Shakspeare that has ever yet been published.
As several of our best Commentators have agreed in rejecting the plays of Titus Andronicus and Pericles, some apology may be expected for retaining them. Steevens's excuse for the same proceeding may be fairly quoted :-Some ancient prejudices in their favour may still exist; to which may be added, that they have usually accompanied all editions of repute.
Gye and Balne, Printers, Gracechurch Street.