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THE

PL A Y S

OF

WILLIAM SHAKSPEARE,

ACCURATELY PRINTED FROM

THE TEXT OF MR. STEEVEN'S

LAST EDITION,

WITH

A SELECTION

OF

THE MOST IMPORTANT NOTES.

VOLUME I,

CONTAINING

THE TEMPEST;
TWO GENTLEMEN OF VERONA;
THE MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR.

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It seems to be a kind of respect due to the memory of excellent men, especially of those whom their wit and learning have made famous , to deliver some account of themselves, as well as their works, to posterity. For this reason, how foud do we see some people of discovering any little personal story of the great men of antiquity! their fami. lies, the common accidents of their lives, and even their shape, make, and features have been the subject of critical inquiries. How trifting socver this curiosity may seem to be, it is certainly very natural; and we are hardly satisfied with an account of any remarkable person, till we have heard him described even to the very cloaths he wears. As for what relates to men of letters, the knowledge of an author may someti. mes conduce to the better understanding his book ; and though the works of Mr. Shakspeare may seem to many not to want a comment, yet I fancy some little account of the man himself may not be thought improper to go along with them.

VOL. I.

were

was

He was the son of Mr. Jokir Shakspeare, and was lioru at Sıralford upon Avon, in var wickshire, in April 1564. His family, as appears by the register and public writings relating to that town,

of good figure and fashion there, and are mentioned as gentlemen. His father, who was a considerable dealer in wool, had so large a family, ten children in all, that though he was his cldest son, he could give him no better education than liis own employment. He had bred him, it is true, for some time at a free-school, where it is probable, le acquired what Latin he

master of: but the narrowness of his cir. cumstances, and the want of his assistance at 110me,

forced his father to withdraw hinn from thence, and unhappily prevented his further proficiency in that language. It is without controversy, that in his works we scarce find any traces of any thing. that looks like an imitation of the ancients. The delicacy of his taste, and the natural bent of his own great genius, (equal, if not sliperior, to some of the best of theirs ) would certainly have led him to read and study them with so much pleasurc, that some of their fine images would na. turally have insinuated themselves into, and been mixed with his own writings; so that his not copying at least something from them, may be an argıment of his never inaving read them. Whether His ignorance of the ancients were a disadvantage to him or 10, may admit of a dispute: for though the knowledge of them might have made him more correct, yet it is not improbable but that the regularity and deference for them, which would have attended that correctness, might have re. strained some of that fire, impetuosity and even beautiful extravagance, which we admire iu. Shak

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