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Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1871, by
HARPER & BROTHERS,
In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.
The plan of this edition has been already explained in the Preface to The Merchant of Venice. The notes on this play also were written several years ago, but have been carefully revised before being sent to the press.
The “expurgation” of the text consists in the removal of only three or four lines. I might, perhaps, have decided to strike out a few other passages, had they not been so interwoven with the thought of the play that too much of the context would have to be sacrificed with them.
The enlarged edition of Abbott's “Shakespearian Grammar” was published just as The Merchant of Venice was going to press, and I was able to make but limited use of it in the final revision of
It seems to me the best work on the English of Shakespeare that has yet appeared, and in these notes on The Tempest I have referred to it frequently. One of its chief merits is the very full citation of illustrative passages. Shakespeare is thus made his own commentator, and he often proves a far better one than any of his editors or critics.
The “ Philadelphia edition,” to which I have often referred, is the “Notes of Studies on The Tempest, from the Minutes of the Shakespeare Society of Philadelphia for 1864–65," of which sixty copies were privately printed for the society in 1866. It is much to be regretted that these valuable Notes are accessible to only a favored few among the students of Shakespeare, but we may hope that Mr. Furness, the Secretary of the Society, will ere long make them more widely known by incorporating them into his “New Variorum Edition” of this play.
References to the notes have not been inserted in the text of either The Merchant of Venice or the present play, partly because they would have been so numerous as to disfigure the page, and partly because they seem
to me of no special use. For the school-room they are worse than useless. While preparing his lesson, the pupil is not likely to overlook any thing in the notes that will help him; and at the recitation, neither the notes themselves, nor any thing that may serve as a guide-board to them, should be directly before his eyes.
With regard to this and all other features of this edition, I have been guided by my experience as a teacher, while I have aimed at the same time to keep constantly in view the wants and the tastes of the general reader. The favor with which The Merchant of Venice has been received, both by teachers and by the public, encourages me in bringing out this second number of the series, which I trust may prove in some respects even more worthy of their approval.
Cambridge, June 1, 1871.