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TO THE READER

This Figure, that thou here seest put,
It was for gentle Shakespeare cut;
Wherein the Graver had a strife
With Nature, to out-do the life :
O, could he but have drawn his wit
As well in brass, as he hath hit
His face; the Print would then surpass
All, that was ever writ in brass.
But, since he cannot, Reader, look
Not on his Picture, but his Book.

BEN JONSON.

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Edinburgh: T. and A. CONSTABLE, Printers to her late Majesty

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ADVERTISEMENT

TO present our SHAKESPEARE in stately yet convenient form is the prime object of those responsible for this Edinburgh Folio. The type is suited to the feeblest eye; there is no mass of commentary to mar the plain simplicity of the general design; such notes as are given are mainly glossarial, and are set forth unobtrusively at the page's foot: the text of the greatest English book is shown in such a completeness of clarity as the Editor has been able to achieve. And in this sense at least it is hoped that here is, pre-eminently, the SHAKESPEARE of all them that love, not to dispute about readings but, to read.

The Plays are set out in the order made conventional and traditional by the First Folio. That book is so demonstrably the greatest gift ever made to English letters, that praise too liberal, or gratitude too lavish, to them that made it could not be. Since it came to us, life and art have been of another colour, another inspiration, another purpose, than in its absence they must have shown themselves; so that to consider SHAKESPEARE at all is to be for ever beholden to the two playmongers, his yoke-fellows in trade, who, with the help (so Mr. Justice MADDEN very plausibly suggests) of Ben Jonson, his comrade in art, did what was in them to secure for their fellow such immortality as is within the provision of paper and print. But to say this is not to say everything. Far and

Far and away the most notable book ever issued from the press, the First Folio is not for that the most

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