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Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1871,


in the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.




HAKESPEARE'S DRAMAS, confessedly the greatest classic


and literary treasure of the world, are rapidly growing into use as a text-book in schools and institutions of learning. A close and regular course of study in them has at length come to be widely recognized as among our very best means both for acquiring a right knowledge and use of the English tongue, and also, which is of still more importance, for conversing with the truth of things. Some of the plays, however, owing to the nature of the subjects and to the Poet's mode of treating them, are quite impracticable for such use, and cannot be made suitable without so much of amputation as would, in effect, let all the life-blood out of them. Others of them, again, and such withal as are the very best for study in class, have more or less of matter in them which, while nowise essential to the proper health and integrity of the work, is greatly in the way, and sometimes so embarrassing as to hinder seriously both the pleasure and the profit of the study. All of them, moreover, for obvious reasons, need a certain measure and style of annotation, specially adapted, as far as may be, to rendering the Poet's language, imagery, and allusions intelligible and interesting to young minds, who cannot be supposed to be much at home in the peculiarities of English thought and expression three hundred years ago.

Hence a need is getting to be strongly and extensively felt, of a selection of Shakespeare's plays, prepared and set forth with a special eye to the use in question. The Editor has received many assurances of this from others, and has found abundant evidence of it in his own case. A pretty long and large and varied experience in teaching Shakespeare in class has brought home to him, beyond peradventure, the pressing occasion of some such work as is here offered to the public. And the want, be it observed, is not of mere chips and fragments of the Poet, but of whole plays, with the development of character and the course of action preserved unmutilated and entire, and with only such erasures as are really demanded by the just proprieties of intercourse between teacher and pupils, and of pupils with one another.

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