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SEVERAL years have elapsed since two plays of Shakspeare, King Lear and Cymbe. line, accompanied by the remarks of various commentators, together with some observa. tions of his own, were presented to the public by an anonymous editor, the person who now offers to their acceptance two others of the productions of the same poet, and illustrated in the same manner : Some unpropitious accidents attending their publication prevented the former of these from being favoured with such a degree of general notice as, under more auspicious circumstances, he ventures to flatter himself, they might, possibly, have obtained; of these it would, at the present moment, be as fruitless to complain, as uninteresting to the reader to be made acquainted with their origin and peculiar nature. He
that occasion delivered so particular an account of his design, and the motives which prompted its execution, that to expatiate, at present, upon that subject, would, to those who thought
his former attempt deserving of their attention, prove altogether superfluous, and with respect to persons of an opposite description, he has little reason to imagine that any thing which he could now advance, would contribute, in any considerable degree, to influence their judgment in his favour : Some, possibly, there are, from whom the obscurity, in which his preceding Essay so long lay buried, may have entirely concealed the knowledge of it, and these he begs to refer for information to that source which is now open for their inspection: Whatever of that nature, it would, at the present period, be in his power to communicate, would be little more than a repetition of matter varied, at most, perhaps, a little in the expression: One or two particulars, however, there are, which he cannot prevail upon himself to conclude without taking notice of : And first as he has reason for suspecting that the notes, upon the former occasion, were, in some instances, perhaps, a little too much swelled out, he has upon this, endeavoured to retrench their number and their length, and where he was apprehensive of their appearing tedious in company with the text, cast them into an Appendix : If they should still be thought too numerous, or, in some cases, unnecessary, he wishes it
to be understood, that he was desirous to render these two delightful dramas, for which he scruples not to acknowledge that he feels a peculiar predilection, intelligible by more than one class of readers, the younger, as well as those, who are possessed of more and better information. While, in the next place, the general elucidation of what appeared obscure engaged his attention, the principal object of his endeavours has been to free them from perplexity by analyzing (if he may so express it) the progress of the Fable, and pointing out the relation and connexion of its several parts: With regard to the latter purpose, what he has just intimated, is but a reiteration of what he has more copiously unfolded in another place; but it is natural that he should he somewhat solicitous to announce, what he has, in a more than ordinary degree, been ambitious to accomplish,
Though he has adhered to his original scheme of rendering this as far as it has been pursued, an edition cum notis variorum, he yet indulges a kind of confidence that it will be found to comprehend some new matter, not totally uninteresting to the admirers of the poet, nor undeserving of their consideration ; otherwise, he would, indeed, be inexcusable for attempt.
ing to obtrude upon the public, under a new and fallacious form, illustrations of which they have, long since been in the possession. He is now, a second time, about to try his fortune in appearing before them as a critic, and an editor: That their approbation would afford him pleasure, he will not attempt to dissemble; but, at the same time, should his efforts fail of the success to which he has aspired, his consolation will be, that while, from the prosecution of his purpose, he derived some amusement, the time bestowed upon it was, at least, innocently employed, and, his expectations never having been sanguine, his disappointment will be proportionally light.