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THIS edition is an essay in what has been dis
paragingly called “Sign-post Criticism." All notes intended for young students must be of the nature of sign-posts; only in annotating an English classic, and especially a play of Shakespeare, discretion may be exercised as to what is most worth indicating. A boy's powers are limited; and if he has to master a hundred pages of grammatical notes, he is not likely to have much attention to spare for the text; and the question arises, Which is of greater importance, the grammar or the literature? It is the design of this edition to help the school-boy to realize that Shakespeare had some other end to serve when he wrote plays than the exhibition of Elizabethan English. At the same time it is hoped that such notes as are grammatical, with the Appendices and Glossary, will be found sufficient for their purpose. Obligations to previous editors are acknowledged in their place. The Glossary has been compiled from Richardson, Nares, Dyce, and Skeat,
and the parts already published of the Philological Society's dictionary, and Dr. Murray has most courteously given information on several difficult words. To Mr. Robert Bridges, of Yattendon ; Mr. A. C. Bradley, Professor of English Literature at University College, Liverpool ; and Mr. J. W. Mackail, of the Privy Council Office, I am deeply indebted for their kindness in reading and correcting what I have written: to their criticism and suggestions this little book owes very much.
H. C. B.
YATTENDON, April, 1886.
TRAGEDY is a work of representative art. The
object of such art is to arrange and develope, so far as its special conditions will permit, some beauty of nature in some definite, beautiful form, by which it can be easily presented to the senses, while at the same time it is heightened by being set free of all disturbing accompaniments, whether unbeauteous or merely unrelated. It is not difficult to see how this is so with painting and sculpture. No pigment on a flat surface can adequately reproduce the beauty, say, of any landscape ; but still under the conditions which such means prescribe, it is the aim of the painter, by selection and exclusion, to present some beautiful scene which shall be in certain respects more perfect than anything before his eyes in nature. The men of Phidias are not men of flesh and blood; but in so far as they do resemble them, in form and moving, they are, beyond life, express and admirable. And in poetry, where the matter is more subtle, the object aimed at remains the same, and the same conditions hold : within the limits of each kind, and by means of its special instruments, there must be the same truth to nature, and the same outdoing of nature. The material of the dramatist is human character, the spirits of men. These it is his business to represent in perfectly free action, in accordance with their proper laws; but in order to do this