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ADAPTED FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES, WITH AN INTRODUCTION,
T. NELSON AND SONS, PATERNOSTER ROW;
EDINBURGH; AND NEW YORK.
This Edition of Macbeth is specially designed for use in Schools and Colleges. The "First Polio" (1623) has been taken as the basis of the text; and, in departing from it, the emendations adopted by Mr Dyce have been more generally followed than those of other commentators. In two or three places it has been thought advisable to omit short passages, the presence of which would have made the work unsuitable for public classes, whether of boys or of young ladies, and the absence of which in no degree mars the development of the plot, or interrupts the line of thought in the particular passages. It is important to observe, that these omissions do not amount to more than twenty-two lines over the whole Play; and that they are omissions, not alterations: this the Editor believes to be the only legitimate way of dealing with passages which, while it may be left to the discretion of the private reader to deal with them as he pleases, certainly become "objectionable" when they have to be publicly read and commented upon in classes of young people.
The chapters of Hollinshed's Historie, referring to the reigns of Duncan and Macbeth, have been appended to the Introduction. No one who reads the Historie and the Tragedy together can have any doubt of the source to which Shakespeare is indebted for the facts of his Play. These chapters, however, are not printed here for the purpose of giving a historical character to the Play,—enough is said in the Introduction to show that a very different idea is held of its nature,—but in order to exhibit the rough material out of which the Tragedy was framed, side by side with the finished work. It is believed that, if youthful readers are led intelligently to compare and contrast the Historie with the tragedy, they will attain to a higher conception of Shakespeare's greatness as a dramatic artist, than by the perusal of many learned commentaries and philosophical disquisitions. There is in this the further advantage, that it affords a specimen of the ordinary narrative prose of the sixteenth century.
The Notes embrace three different departments of criticism,— the grammatical, the philological, and the aesthetic; the first, as a transition from the ordinary work of English classes to the higher study which the analytic reading of Shakespeare implies, —the second, in connexion with the more minute study of the English language, to which the recent revival of Anglo-Saxon learning has led,—and the third, as an introduction to the study of literature as a fine art, in which we have to examine the artistic construction of the Play, and to trace the development of character. In the Grammatical Notes, the most general principles of Analysis have been adopted; so that they will be easily intelligible to those who have been accustomed to any of the systems now in use. These Notes are also brief; for it seems undesirable that, at this stage, pupils should be detained by the minutiae of grammar longer than is necessary for the elucidation of the Poet's thoughts,
Edinbuboh, February 1862,
NOTE TO SECOND EDITION.
The Editor has taken advantage of the call for a Second Edition, to separate the Etymological from the Critical and Grammatical Notes. He has placed the former in an Alphabetical Vocabulary, a form in which they will be more convenient for reference.
"the name of Shakespeare," says Hallam, "is the greatest in our literature : it is the greatest in all literature,"—yet how little do we know of the man who is placed on this pre-eminence; how little of his personal history, at least; of his education, of his early life, and even of his professional career! We have a mighty resultant, it is true, from which we may infer something of the forces that produced it; but so entirely have the achievements of his sovereign mind engrossed us, that what of him was of the earth, earthy, has, till too late, been allowed to fall into undue insignificance.
The few facts that have been gathered regarding Shakespeare,—for his biography is but a mass of ill-joined fragments,—make his triumph all the more marvellous. He came in between two illiterate generations in his own family; for we have it on reliable authority, that neither his mother nor his daughter could write her name. His father was at one time chief magistrate of his borough; but he also was illiterate, as well as improvident, and grossly litigious. Shakespeare's regular education was over by his fifteenth year; he was married, and "upon the world," by his nineteenth. Where, then, was there time for that extraordinary in-taking that must have preceded this marvellous out-giving? For though native genius is pre-eminent in Shakespeare, it is genius working upon rich and varied material, indicating a wonderful range of acquired knowledge. As to his early career, accounts are vague and perplexing. We are told that he was a glover and wool-dealer with his father; that he was certainly a cattle-dealer and butcher; that he was for gome time a country schoolmaster; and that he spent some years in an attorney's office. In so far as these conclusions are drawn from the acquaintance he displays in his writings with legal or other terms and processes, the inference is a very doubtful one. In that case, Shakespeare, like Homer, must have belonged, not to one trade or profession, but to all; for with all he shows, for the purposes of his art, equal familiarity; he is
"Not one, but all mankind's epitome." As well might the time when Shakespeare lived be called in question, co