William Shakespeare: The Critical Heritage - Vol. 6

By Brian Vickers | Go to book overview

257.

George Steevens and others, edition of Shakespeare

1778

From The Plays of William Shakespeare, in Ten Volumes, with the Corrections and Illustrations of various Commentators: to which are added Notes by Samuel Johnson and George Steevens. The Second Edition revised and augmented (1778).

On Steevens see the head-note to Vol. 5, No. 211; for the earlier versions of 1765 and 1773 see Nos 205 and 240. This edition was favourably reviewed, by Samuel Badcock in the Monthly Review, lxii (1780), pp. 12-26, 257-70, and in the Critical (perhaps by Percival Stockdale), xlvii (1779), pp. 129-36, 172-83; but it was attacked by Joseph Ritson, No. 274.

[From the ‘Prefatory Material’]

[1] [From Edmond Malone, ‘An Attempt to ascertain the Order in which the Plays attributed to Shakespeare were Written’]

Every circumstance that relates to those persons whose writings we admire interests our curiosity. The time and place of their birth, their education and gradual attainments, the dates of their productions and the reception they severally met with, their habits of life, their private friendships, and even their external form are all points which, how little soever they may have been adverted to by their contemporaries, strongly engage the attention of posterity. Not satisfied with receiving the aggregated wisdom of ages as a free gift, we visit the mansions where our instructors are said to have resided, we contemplate with pleasure the trees under whose shade they once reposed, and wish to see and to converse with those sages whose labours have added strength to virtue, and efficacy to truth.

Shakespeare above all writers since the days of Homer, has excited this curiosity in the highest degree; as perhaps no poet of

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