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HER MOST GRACIOUS MAJESTY
HER MAJESTY'S GRATEFUL AND DEVOTED
SUBJECT AND SERVANT,
HELENA FAUCIT MARTIN.
HESE letters were begun at the earnest request of a
dear friend, who thought that what I had told her in our conversations of my impressions of certain female characters in Shakespeare, which we both believed had not been duly appreciated, ought to be written down, and not allowed to fade away with the talk of the moment.
It was summer time. She was in her last illness, and we were parting-she to keep the bed of suffering from which, before many months, she passed into "the haven of rest where she wished to be,"-I, from the busy town life, to seek the quiet of my country home.
I could not refuse a request thus made, and the first three of these letters were at once written. My friend lived to see only two of them; but after reading these, she asked me to promise her that I would have them printed, at least for circulation among my friends. I could refuse her nothing, and she had my promise. When the letters, privately printed, were seen within my own immediate circle, I was strongly urged to make them public, and to extend them to the other characters of Shakespeare with the impersonation of which I had been especially identified. In this way these letters grew, one by one, under my hand into the present volume.