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In preparing for the press a second edition of this little work, the author has endeavored to render it more worthy of the approbation and kindly feeling with which it has been received; she cannot better express her sense of both than by justifying, as far as it is in her power, the cordial and flattering tone of all the public criticisms. It is to the great name of SHAKSPEARE, that bond of sympathy among all who speak his language, and to the subject of the work, not to its own merits, that she attributes the success it has met with, success the more delightful, because, in truth, it was from the very first so entirely unlooked for, as to be a matter of surprise as well as of pleasure and gratitude.
In this edition there are many corrections, and some additions which the author hopes may be deemed improvements. She has been induced to insert several quotations at length, which were formerly only referred to, from observing that however familiar they may be to the mind of the reader, they are always recognized with pleasure-like dear domestic faces; and if the memory fail at the moment to recall the lines or the sentiment to which the attention is directly required, few like to interrupt the course of thought, or undertake a journey, from the sofa or garden-seat to the library, to hunt out the volume, the play, the passage, for themselves.
When the first edition was sent to press, the author contemplated writing the life of Mrs. Siddons, with a reference to her art; and deferred the complete development of the character of Lady Macbeth, till she should be able to illustrate it by the impersonation and commentary of that grand and gifted actress; but the task having fallen into other hands, the analysis of the character has been almost entirely re-written, as at first conceived, or rather restored to its original form.
This little work, as it now stands, forms only part of a plan which the author hopes, if life be granted her, to accomplish;-at al events, life, while it is spared, shall be devoted to its fulfilment.
I do, with all the deference which befits a gentleman when a lady holds forth on the virtues of her own sex.
He is a parricide of his mother's name,
And with an impious hand murders her fame,
That wrongs the praise of women; that dares write
Libels on saints, or with foul ink requite
The milk they lent us.
Yours was the nobler birth,
Only a rhyme I learned from one I talked withal;" is a