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IN presenting the first volume of this edition of the Works of Shakespeare to the notice of the Public, the Editor deems it expedient to point out the leading features by which it is distinguished.
The text of Malone, as published in 1821, in twenty-one volumes, is scrupulously followed; and a brief Historical Sketch and Argument are affixed to each Play.
Dr. Johnson has observed in his excellent Preface, that 'notes are often necessary, necessary evil' such only are inserted as may serve to elucidate obscure passages, or to explain obsolete words and phrases; by which the Editor hopes to obtain for his work the appellation of 'a legible edition of Shakespeare,' uniform with the most popular productions of the present day, and suited to the taste of the age.
The attention of the reader is directed to the most striking and brilliant passages by the Index, which will form a supplement to the last volume, and is intended to form a COMPLETE REFERENCE TO THE BEAUTIES OF SHAKESPEARE.
The Steel engravings are drawn from the one hundred and seventy plates, published by Boydell, and re-engraved in the best style of outline; the steel frontispiece, engraved by Freeman, is from the Chandos portrait.
The large number of wood engravings, principally topographical illustrations, will materially aid in the reading of the plays. Our thanks are gratefully rendered to the Messrs. Dalziels, Nicholls, and Whymper for the admirable execution of these wood engravings.
The number and quality of the Illustrations, the convenience and portability of the size adopted for the edition, and the general execution of the whole work, will, it is hoped, merit the approbation of the public, as the most useful, beautiful, and economical edition of Shakespeare's whole works.