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HIS edition of Hazlitt's View of the English
Stage contains the whole of that book as first issued in 1818. The articles were selected by the author from his contributions to various newspapers, as he states in his preface, and were reprinted with the very slightest revision from the papers in which they first appeared, but with considerable omissions, They have been compared for this edition with the original newspapers, and those portions which were omitted in 1818 have been supplied between square brackets. The author's own notes are given: those which were in the periodical and in the reprint are marked "Original Note"; those which were in the paper but not in the volume are marked “Note in " (with the name of the journal); and those which first appeared in 1818 are marked "W. H." The dates at the head of the articles are those of the original publication, as that plan was adopted with more or less accuracy by the author.
Many other contributions of Hazlitt to these newspapers have been identified with confidence almost amounting to certainty; only two of them are printed in the Appendix to this volume. These are a letter to The Examiner in reply to the dramatic critic's strictures on the two articles of July 24 and August 7, 1814, on Mr. Kean's Iago, which appear at pages 54
and 59 of this volume, and an article comparing Mrs. Mardyn with Mrs. Alsop as Miss Peggy in The Country Girl, which is plainly referred to by the author in his notice of Mrs. Alsop as Violante, January 5, 1817 (page 284).
Hazlitt's text is given verbatim, with the exception of evident slips; it was not thought worth while to print a wrong name in the text and correct it in the footnote unless any criticism or allusion turned upon the name used. Hazlitt's grammar is often slipshod; but he conveys his meaning to the reader, and if he does not agree with the rules of Lindley Murray so much the worse for the rules. Spelling is often more the concern of the printer than of the author; incorrect or unusual spellings have not been allowed to remain to distract the reader's attention unless they were evidently used deliberately by Hazlitt, as in the case of the word “ melodrame."
Hazlitt made great use of quotations, and he was very inaccurate in citing the words of poets and dramatists. Where these quotations are printed as poetry they have in most cases been corrected either in the text or in a footnote; but where they are introduced into his sentences, unless correctly cited they are passed as an "allusion." It is possible that in some instances he manufactured his own "quotations," as was sometimes done by Sir Walter Scott. In a footnote to his article on “ The Draina” in The London Magazine for May, 1820, he says: “We have given this sentence in marks of quotation, and yet it is our own.”
The notes in this edition are intended to assist the intelligent reader in understanding the allusions, literary and dramatic, in the text. Where possible, the
dates of the birth and death of the actors named are given. This information is most wanted just in those cases where it is most difficult to obtain it. Leading actors, who are in the biographical dictionaries, do not need more than an indication as to what stage of their career is being discussed; but many of the performers mentioned are like faint comets—no one knows whence they came, or whither they went, or when they finally disappeared. Great care has been taken in supplying the dates of the performances criticized and of the first appearances referred to. Use has been made of the account books of Covent Garden and Drury Lane theatres, preserved at the British Museum, as well as of the files of play-bills, contemporary journals and magazines, and other printed sources of information.
W. S. J. January, 1906.