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A D VERTISEMENT.
А T no period of time has the study of SHAKSPEARE
been so universal as at present; nor is there any circumstance more honourable to the good taste of the Public to be pointed out. New editions make their appearance, and new editions are projected, with a rapidity which can only be equalled by the eagerness with which they are received. Amidst the various publications of this immortal Author, the present Selection from his works has had the honour to receive the most ample testimony in its favour, by the sale of five numerous impressions. Being again called for, the publishers have reprinted it in a larger type, with Corrections and Amendments, which they flatter themselves will do credit to their own liberality and attention. Concerning the work itself they deem it unnecessary to add any thing to the eulogium which the rapid sale bears the best teftimony of; being convinced, in the words of their Author, that
« Age cannot wither it, nor custom ftale
ever, calculated to answer ends more important than the gratification of idleness: the purposes of amusement are, and ought to be, only its secondary consi. derations. It has for its ultimate object the interest and welfare of society; and, if properly directed, may be made instrumental in enlarging the mind, extending the views; and, by supplying materials for reflection, imperceptibly leads mankind to the knowledge and practice of virtue. It is well observed by an excellent Writer *, that
*, “we are apt to confider Shakspeare only as a Poet; but " he is certainly one of the greatest Moral Philosophers " that ever lived." And of the same sentiments is the never-enough-to-be-commended Author who may himfelf be called the Moral Philofopher of the present times: “It is said of Euripides, that every verse was a “ precept: and it may be said of Shakspeare, that from “his works may be collected a system of Civil and « Oeconomical Prudence +." Again, “ From his writ« ings a system of Social Duty may be collected f.” These sentiments frequently suggested themselves to the Collector of the present Volume, long before he faw them confirmed by such respectable authorities. The idea thus presented to his mind, first gave rise to a wish, that the truth of it might be exemplified in a selection of those observations on the conduct of human life, fcattered through various parts of the writings of our divine Author, digested and arranged in that order that
* Mrs. Montague's Efay on the Genius and Writings of Sbakspeare, 8vo. p. 595 2d edition. + Preface to Johnson's Shakspeare, p. 5. lbid. p. 150
might be useful as well to the learned as the uninformed, to the scholar as to the novice. He thought such a compilation would be very generally useful; and was convinced that, in the whole circle of English literature, no author afforded so many and such various observations on life and manners so much and such useful knowledge of the human heart,
As the title of this volume agrees with the work of a late unfortunate Author, it may be necessary to observe, that the present performance was begun with different views from its predecessor, and is conducted in a dif. ferent manner. The end of the former appears to have been intended chiefly as a vehicle to display the compiler's reading and critic il talents. The present has no higher aims than a selection useful for reference to the learned, for instruction to the ignorant, and for information to all. The knowledge which may be derived from it, is too extensive to be pointed out in this place; but it may be asserted, with modesty and truth, that whoever is concerned in the business of education, will find it very serviceable in impressing on the memory of Youth some of the sublimest and most important lessons of Morality and Religion. As such, it is offered to the attention of instructors of both sexes; as such, the Compiler does not hesitate to say, no person, into whose hands it may come, will meet with any disappointment.
THUS far the present Compiler ventured to deliver his opinion on the first publication of this work; and A 3
he feels fome fatisfaction in discovering that he has not been fingular in his ideas. The sale of a very large impression of the former edition has prompted him to revise and improve the collection, to render it still more useful, and still more worthy the favour which has been shewn it. Besides, therefore, an addition of beautiful passages, there is now added a Selection of detached Scenes from different Plays, which cannot but afford pleasure to the admirers of this divine Poet. To enlarge further on the present work the Editor deems unnecessary, as the public approbation has already given so complete and fo fatisfactory a fanction to his labours. He therefore once again presents it to the world, in full confidence that the more it is examined, the more apparent its usefulness will be found; convinced that the ftudy of the best Poet in the world will produce the moft beneficial infuence on the great interests of society.