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of Shakspeare are remarkably decent; but it is not sufficient that his defects are trifling in comparison with writers who are highly defective. It certainly is my wish, and it has been my study, to exclude from this publication whatever is unfit to be read aloud by a gentleman to a company of ladies. I can hardly imagine a more pleasing occupation for a winter's evening in the country, than for a father to read one of Shakspeare's plays to his family circle. My object is to enable him to do so without incurring the danger of falling unawares among words and expressions which are of such a nature as to raise a blush on the cheek of modesty, or render it necessary for the reader to pause, and examine the sequel, before he proceeds further in the entertainment of the evening. •
But though many erasures have for this purpose been made in the writings of Shakspeare in the present edition, the reader may be assured that not a single line, nor even the half of a line, has, in any one instance, been added to the original text. I know the force of Shakspeare, and the weakness of my own pen, too well, to think of attempting the smallest interpolation. In a few, but in very few instances, one or two words (at the most three) have been inserted to connect the sense of what follows the passage that is expunged with that which precedes it. The few words which are thus added, are connecting particles, words of little moment, and in no degree affecting the meaning of the author, or the story of the play. A word that is less objectionable is sometimes substituted for a synonymous word that is improper.
In the following work I have copied the text of the last Edition of the late Mr. Steevens. This I have done so scrupulously, as seldom to have allowed myself to alter either the words or the punctuation. Othello's speech, for example, in the second scene of the fifth act, will be found as it is in Mr. Steevens, and in the old editions of Shakspeare, not as it is usually spoken on the stage. In a few instances I have deviated from Mr. Steevens, in compliance with the original folio of 1623. I do not presume to enter into any critical disputes as to certain readings of " Judean or Indian," " Sables or Sable," or any thing of that nature, respecting which many persons of superior abilities have entertained contrary opinions. The glossary (but nothing except the glossary) is borrowed from the edition of 1803. It was compiled by Mr. Harris, under the direction of Mr. Steevens. My great objects in this undertaking are to remove from the writings of Shakspeare some defects which diminish their value, and at the same time to present to the Public an edition of his plays, which the parent, the guardian, and the instructor of youth may place, without fear, in the hands of the pupil; and from which the pupil may derive instruction as well as pleasure; may improve his moral principles while he refines his taste; and, without incurring the danger of being hurt with any indelicacy of expression, may learn in the fate of Macbeth, that even a kingdom is dearly purchased, if virtue be the price of the acquisition.
My first idea of the FAMILY SHAKSPEARE arose from the recollection of my father's custom of reading in this manner to his family. Shakspeare (with whom no person was better acquainted) was a frequent subject of the evening's entertainment. In the perfection of reading few men were equal to my father; and such was his good taste, his delicacy, and his prompt discretion, that his family listened with delight to Lear, Hamlet, and Othello, without knowing that those matchless tragedies contained words and ex. pressions improper to be pronounced; and without having reason to suspect that any parts of the plays had been omitted by the circumspect and judicious reader.
It afterwards occurred to me, that what my father did so readily and successfully for his family, my inferior abilities might, with the assistance of time and mature consideration, be able to accomplish for the benefit of the public. I say, therefore, that if "The Family Shakspeare" is entitled to any merit, it originates with my father.
SCENE I.-On a Ship at Sea.
A storm with thunder and lightning.
Enter a Ship-master and a Boatswain. Master. Boatswain, — Boats. Here, master: what cheer? Master. Good: Speak to the mariners: fall to't yarely', or we run ourselves aground: bestir, bestir. [Exit.
Gon. Good; yet remember whom thou hast aboard.
Boats. None that I more love than myself. You are a counsellor; if you can command these elements to silence, and work the peace of the present, we will not hand a rope more; use your authority. If you cannot, give thanks you have lived so long, and make yourself ready in your cabin for the mischance of the hour, if it so hap. Cheerly, good hearts. Out of our way, I say. [Exit.
Gon. I have great comfort from this fellow; methinks, he hath no drowning mark upon him! his complexion is perfect gallows. Stand fast, good fate, to his hanging; make the rope of his destiny our cable, for our own doth little advantage! If he be not born to be hanged, our case is miserable. [Exeunt.
split, we split!-Farewell, my wife and children!
Gon. Now would I give a thousand furlongs of sea for an acre of barren ground! long heath, brown furze, any thing: The wills above be done! but I would fain die a dry death.
Lend thy hand,
I should inform thee further.
Lie there my art.
[Lays down his mantleWipe thou thine eyes; have
The direful spectacle of the wreck, which touch'd
For thou must now know further.
You have often
Begun to tell me what I am; but stopp'd
Concluding, Stay, not yet.
The hour's now come;
The very minute bids thee ope thine ear;
Canst thou remember
A time before we came into this cell?
I do not think thou canst; for then thou wast not
Certainly, sir, I can.
Pro. By what? by any other house, or person?
Had I not
'Tis far off;
That this lives in thy mind? What seest thou else
SCENE II. - The Island: before the Cell of If thou remember'st aught, ere thou cam'st here,
Put the wild waters in this roar, allay them:
O, my heart bleeds
Pro. My brother, and thy uncle, call'd Anto