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HE books catalogued in the present volume were
collected by the Shakespearian scholar Edward Capell and formed the principal part of his library during the years which he spent in the preparation of his edition of Shakespeare's dramatic works. After the publication of this his life's work and the completion of his commentary, the appearance of which however was delayed, Capell parted with his library, the most valuable portion being presented to Trinity while the remainder was dispersed. The conclusion of the Seniority relating to the gift is preserved in the books of the College under the date June 26, 1779. It runs “Agreed by the Master and Seniors, that the thanks of the Society be presented to Edward Capel, Esq. for the valuable Collection of the old Editions of Shakespeare, and of the several manuscripts and printed books, relating to the same Author. J. Peterborough, M.C.” The further conclusion relating to the keeping of the books will be found quoted in the entry concerning the MS catalogue (p. 163).
Edward Capell, son of the rector of Stanton in Suffolk, was born on June 11, 1713. He was educated at the grammar school of Bury St Edmunds and at Catharine Hall, Cambridge. In 1737 he became deputy-inspector of plays and in 1745 groom of the privy chamber; both appointments being due to the patronage of the Duke of Grafton. In 1760 he published his volume of ‘Prolusions. In 1768 appeared his edition of 'Shakespeare in ten volumes, dedicated to the grandson of his former patron. The commentary was not finally published till 1783. In the meanwhile Capell had died at his chambers in Brick Court in the Temple on February 24, 1781. He also published 'Two Tables elucidating the Sounds of Letters' in 1749 and 'Reflections on the Originallity of Authours' in 1766.
The system on which the books have been catalogued will I think explain itself. Each work is entered under the author's name whenever the ascription can be made with a reasonable degree of certainty, whether or not the name appears in the work itself. Otherwise books are entered under their titles, except in the case of those published under pseudonyms, which are treated as real names. Initials have not been allowed as headings. In all cases in which any possibility of doubt exists, cross references will be found in the index. With regard to information concerning printers, etc. I have only given notes in cases of particular interest. A list of printers and stationers will be found at the end. In one detail I have deliberately sacrificed consistency to expediency. I have, namely, in giving the names of authors of commendatory verses and the like, followed the original or modernised spelling as appeared more convenient in each individual case.
Finally it is my pleasant duty to acknowledge the kind and valuable help I have throughout received from Mr Aldis Wright, at whose original suggestion the present work was undertaken. I also owe certain suggestions and corrections to my friend Mr A. W. Pollard of the British Museum, to whom the proofs were submitted.
W. W. G.