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THE present edition has been carefully revised by the late Mr. Reed's coadjutor in the fifth edition, who was particularly recommended to the proprietors for that office by Mr. Steevens: how he has answered such a recommendation is left to the public to judge: he only begs permission to say, that he hopes the present edition will not be found inferior to any of the preceding.
In a work extending to twenty-one volumes some errors will unavoidably occur; such as have happened in former editions have been corrected in this a few notes have been added in their proper places, and a short Appendix in the twenty-first volume, of some observations which occurred to the editor in the course of reading the proof sheets.
In the twentieth volume, Arthur Broke's Tragicall Historye of Romeus and Juliet has been carefully revised from a copy of the edition printed in 1562, and collated by Mr. Joseph Haslewood, who also furnished from the British Bibliographer the
prose Address to the reader, which is not found in the edition printed in 1587, made use of by Mr. Malone.
A more faithful copy of the portrait of Shakspeare than any before engraved from the picture formerly in the possession of Mr. Steevens is prefixed, and also an engraving of Mr. Flaxman's Monument in Poplar Chapel, to the memory of Mr. Steevens, on which is sculptured his likeness in profile that will be acknowledged a striking resemblance by all who knew him.
A brief memorial of Mr. Reed is justly due in this work, and as that has been so lately done by his friend Mr. Nichols, in the second volume of his Literary Anecdotes of the eighteenth century, the following is with his permission extracted from that Magazine of amusing and interesting literary information.
"ISAAC REED, an eminent collector of books and able commentator, was born in the parish of St. Dunstan in the West, where his father passed unambitiously through life, in the useful occupation of a baker, and had the satisfaction of witnessing the son's literary attainments with that enthusiasm which frequently prevails in a strong uncultivated mind.
"He commenced his public life very reputably, as a solicitor and conveyancer; but for several years before his death had confined the practical part of his business to the last-mentioned branch of his profession. Placed in a situation which above all others is frequently the road to riches and honour, Mr. Reed's principal ambition was to acquire a fundamental knowledge of the jurispru dence of his country; and thus far he was eminently successful. But the law, however alluring its prospects, had not charms sufficient to engage his whole attention; he loved, he venerated, that admirable system, which from the days of Alfred and Canute, from the bold usurping Norman to the present reign, has been regularly ameliorating; but he detested the chicanery of which he was almost daily a witness in many of its professors. If ever there was a mind devoid of guile, it was Isaac Reed's; and an attempt to make " the worse appear the better cause," would have been with him a breach of moral obligation. Hence an extensive line of business was necessarily precluded; but he had the satisfaction of numbering among his clients many highly valued friends; and other avenues to fame, if not to fortune, were open to his capacious mind. His intimate knowledge of antient English literature was unbounded. His own publications, though not very numerous, were all valuable; and he was more satisfied with being
a faithful editor, than ambitious of being an original composer.
"In the year 1768, he collected into one volume, 12mo. "The Poetical Works of the Hon. Lady M[arly Wortele]y M[ontagu]e.” His other publications were, Middleton's" Witch, a TragiCoomodie," a few copies only for his friends, 1778; the sixth volume of Dr. Young's Works, 1778, 12mo. " Biographia Dramatica," 2 volumes, 8vo. 1782, founded upon "Baker's Companion to the Playhouse:" the biographical department of this work is the result of diligent enquiry, and his strictures on the productions of the English drama display sound judgment and correct taste; an improved edition of Dodsley's old Plays, with Notes, 12 vols. 8vo. 1780; Dodsley's Collection of Poems, with Biographical Notes, 6 vols. 8vo. 1782; "The Repository; a select Collection of Fugitive Pieces of Wit and Humour, in Prose and Verse, by the most eminent Writers," 4 vols. 8vo. 1777-1783; Pearch's Collection of Poems, with Biographical Notes, 4 vols. 8vo. 1783, (which some have ascribed to the late George Keate, esq.); "A Complete Collection of the Cambridge Prize Poems, from their first Institution, in 1750, to the present Time," 8vo. 1773; an edition of Johnson and Steevens's Shakspeare, 10 vol. 8vo. 1785, which he undertook at the request of Dr. Farmer and