Ambrose Eccles was born in Ireland, and received
his education at the College of Dublin. Little is
known concerning him except that he was a man-of
means, and that he lived at his country seat of
Cronroe, where he died in 1809.
He edited three of Shakespeare's plays :
Cymbeline, King Lear, and The Merchant of Venice.
The two former were first published in Dublin in
1793, and afterwards in London, in 1801. The
Merchant of Venice was published in Dublin in 1805.
King Lear and Cymbeline were issued together in
two volumes. As to the reason why these two plays
were selected, Eccles stated that " they have
generally been judged inferior to few others in
poetical excellence and beauty, they likewise
appeared, in an eminent degree, to stand in need of
that kind of assistance which it has been
endeavoured to administer." He believed that the
plays had not been properly edited, and that many of
the scenes had become transposed through the
carelessness of the "editors " of the First Folio.
Thus Act I, scene iii, he made I,ii, in King Lear ;
and I,v, he made I,iv. Eleven changes of this kind
he adopted in King Lear, and fifteen in Cymbeline.
He adopted Jennens' "sketch of the play" in King
Lear, and altered it to suit his own changes in the
scenes. The notes are printed at the bottom of the
page, and consist of a selection of those of former
editors, and a goodly number of his own.
The three plays which Eccles published were well
edited for the time when he lived, and contain much
that is valuable.