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THE EDITOR'S PREFACE
THIS little book was first published
in 1847, when I happened to see a copy of it among some young friends at a summer hotel. Some years afterward, I tried to get a copy of it, to replace one that had disappeared from my library; but though an edition of the book, printed in England, was brought out here in 1847 by Wiley & Putnam (New York) it was already out of print on both sides of the Atlantic. Later I became acquainted with Mrs. Cowden-Clarke, and in 1890 (in a notice in The Critic of the Shakespeare Key, compiled by her and
her husband) I referred to the Proverbs and my early interest in it, and added that it ought to be reprinted. I
I also wrote to her, suggesting that a new edition might include additions from Shakespeare's Poems, from which she had not drawn in the original selection. The idea pleased her, and she at once gave me permission to edit the book with the proposed additions whenever I might find it convenient to do so. The book was then so scarce that the only copy she could send me was one she had given in 1847 to a friend, who was then (1890) dead, but whose family consented to return it to the donor.
At that time I was too busy with other work to take up this labour of love; and other tasks, including the complete remaking of my edition of
Shakespeare, have kept me very busy until a few months ago, when I wrote to Messrs. Putnam, offering to prepare a new edition of the Proverbs if they would publish it. This they promptly consented to do, and the present volume is the result.
I may add that the first American edition, mentioned above, was published through the influence of Mr. G. P. Putnam, then of the firm of Wiley & Putnam, who also brought out the first American edition of Mrs. CowdenClarke's Girlhood of Shakespeare's Heroines, the first fifteen tales being issued serially here as they appeared in London (1850-52) before being collected into volumes.
In the original edition of the present book no references were given to the plays from which the “ proverbs”