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The reader, I have no doubt, will be gratified in the perusal of the following letter, from Mr. Burke to to Mr. Malone; which I have subjoined as an introduction to this Essay. It was written in 1790, upon receiving Mr. Malone's edition of Shakspeare, which was published in that year :


My dear Sir,

[No date.] Upon my coming to my new habitation in town, I found your valuable work upon my table. I take it as a very good earnest of the instruction and pleasure which may be yet reserved for my declining years. Though I have had many little arrangements to make, both of a public and private nature, my occupations were not able to overrule my curiosity, nor to prevent me from going through almost the whole of your able, exact, and interesting History of the Stage. A history of the Stage is no trivial thing to those who wish to study human nature in all shapes and positions. It is of all things the most instructive, to see not only the reflection of manners and characters at several periods, but the modes of making their reflection, and the manner of adapting it at those periods to : the taste and disposition of mankind. The Stage in

be considered as the republic of active literature, and its history as the history of that state. The great events of political history, when not combined with the same helps towards the study of the manners and characters of men, must be a study of an inferior nature.

“ You have taken infinite pains, and pursued your inquiries with great sagacity, not only in this respect, but in such of your notes as hitherto I have been able

You have earned your repose by publicspirited labour. But I cannot help hoping, that when

deed may

to peruse.


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you have given yourself the relaxation which you will find necessary to your health, if you are not called to exeft your great talents, and employ your great acquisitions, in the transitory service to your country which is done in active life, you will continue to do it that permanent service which it réceives from the labours of those who know how to make the silence of their closets more beneficial to the world than all the noise and bustle of courts, senates, and camps.

" I beg leave to send you a pamphlet which I have lately published. It is of an edition more correct, I think, than any of the first; and rendered more clear in points where I thought, in looking over again what I had written, there was some obscurity. Pray do not think my not having done this more early was owing to neglect or oblivion, or from any want of the highest and most sincere respect to you; but the truth is (and I have no doubt you will believe me), that it was a point of delicacy which prevented me from doing myself that honour. I well knew that the publication of your Shakspeare was hourly expected; and I thought if I had sent that small donum, the fruit of a few weeks, I might [have] subjected myself to the suspicion of a little Diomedean policy, in drawing from you a return of the value of an hundred cows for my nine. But you

have led the way, and have sent me gold, which I can only répay you in my brass. But pray admit it on your shelves; and you will shew yourself generous in your acceptance, as well as your gift. Pray present my best respects to Lord and Lady Sunderlin, and to Miss Malone. I am, with the most sincere affection and gratitude, my dear Sir, your most faithful and obliged humble servant,


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