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THE TEXT CAREFULLY RESTORED ACCORDING TO
THE FIRST EDITIONS; WITH INTRODUCTIONS,
NOTES ORIGINAL AND SELECTED, AND
A LIFE OF THE POET;
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1871, by
In the Office of the Librarian of Congress at Washington.
BY ESTES AND LAURIAT.
JOHN WILSON AND SON, CAMBRIDGE.
ROWE'S ACCOUNT OF THE POET'S LIFE.
SHAKESPEARE, by general suffrage, is the greatest name in Literature. There can be no extravagance in saying, that to all who speak the English language his genius has made the world better worth living in, and life a nobler and diviner thing. And, throughout the civilized world, those who do not "speak the tongue that Shakespeare spake" are growing more and more to wish that his vernacular were theirs, and even to study the English language, that they may be at home with him. How he came to be what he was, and to do what he did, are questions that can never cease to be interesting, wherever his works are known, and men's powers of thought in any fair measure developed. But Providence nas left a veil, or rather cloud, about his history, so that these questions can never be satisfactorily answered. And perhaps it is better that the thing stands thus, lest we should trust overmuch to historical transpirations for the understanding of that which no such transpirations can adequately convey. Nevertheless, these questions are certainly well worth all the labour and pains that have been or are likely to be spent in trying to answer them from the grounds of history. We have barely facts enough to stimulate and guide in the right course of inquiry; and where facts are so few, there is the less danger of our relying too much on these for that knowledge which, after all, must be chiefly sought for in a higher sphere of thought.