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a celebrated commentator on the works of Shakspeare, was the only

, a celebrated commentator on the works of Shakspeare, was the only son of George Steevens, esq. of Stepney, many years an East India captain, and afterwards a director of the East India company, who died in 1768. He was born at Stepney, May 10, 1736, and was admitted of King’s college, Cambridge, about 1751 or 1752. He seems to have left the university without taking a degree, although not without accumulating a considerable degree of classical knowledge, and exhibiting that general acuteness and taste which he afterwards more fully displayed, particularly on subjects of ancient English literature. His attention, probably very early in life, was by some means attracted to the works of our great dramatic bard Shakspeare, who furnished Mr. Steevens throughout the whole of his life with constant employment. Shakspeare was the property which he thought himself bound to cultivate, improve, protect, and display to the best advantage; and it must be allowed that in illustrating this author, he stands unrivalled. His first appearance as an editor of Shakspeare was in 1766, when he was about thirty years old. At this time he published twenty of Shakspeare’s plays in 4 vols. 8vo, about a year after Dr. Johnson’s edition of the whole works had appeared. In this edition Mr. Steevens performed chiefly the office of a collator of these twenty plays with the quarto and subsequent editions; but about the same time he published, in the newspapers, and probably otherwise, a circular address, announcing his intention of an edition of all the plays with notes and illustrations. In this address, which we believe is not now generally known, he requests assistance from the public, which he says “is not desired with a lucrative view to the editor, but to engage the attention of the literary world. He will no more trust to his own single judgment in the choice of the notes he shall admit or reject, than he would undertake the work in confidence of his own abilities. These shall in their turn be subjected to other eyes and other opinions; and he has reason to hope, from such precautions, that he shall bici fairer for success than from any single reliance. He is happy to have permission, to enumerate Mr. Garrick among those who will take such a trouble on themselves; and is no less desirous to see him attempt to transmit some part of that knowledge of Shakspeare to posterity, without which, he can be his best commentator no longer than he lives.