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M HE present work is the American version of the latest
1 edition of Bohn's Dictionary of Poetical Quotations. It largely represents American authors, and embraces many additions from English writers. All the quotations have been carefully compared with the author's text, not one being included the accuracy of which has not been verified. Full references have been supplied in every instance.
The quotations from Shakespeare's Plays have been verified by Charles Knight's text, and those from his Poems, by Mrs. Horace Howard Furness's Concordance to Shakespeare; those from the Old Dramatists by Routledge's edition; and those from other authors, by the best editions of their works.
Subjects have been grouped, and full cross-references have been made.
Every quotation has been consecutively numbered, and a Concordance Index added, giving the prominent words in each extract twice or more, so that every passage can be readily referred to.
The places, and dates of birth and death are given, with the authors' names, in an Index showing the quotations from each writer. In long poems the lines have been counted, and the extracts verified by a reference to the exact passage.
It is believed that by these methods, and by the great care observed in proof-reading, this volume will approve itself to the tastes and necessities of the ordinary reader, as weil as to all literary and studious persons, containing, as it does, so choice a representation of English verse.
ANNA L. WARD.
NEW YORK, July, 1883.
T HAVE examined this Dictionary of Poetical Quotations I carefully, and, bearing in mind the multitude of difficulties which must have beset the making of it, I can hon estly say that, in my opinion, they have been triumphed over by the maker. At first sight, it may seem easy to compile such a work. One has but to go through any dictionary of the language, and select as many of the words which are things as are likely to have inspired the poets, and then proceed to illustrate these words with extracts from the poets,
— the expression, words which are things, covering what is felt as well as what is seen, — whatever comes home to the business and bosoms of men, as well as whatever surrounds them in the material universe. This seems easy, I say, but a little reflection will show that it involves labor: not merely of the hand in transcription of the extracts to be used, but of the mind in determining what extracts should be used; the labor of reading scores of works similar to the one contemplated, and of devising improvements for them; and the labor of reading hundreds of other works, in order to procure the materials for these improvements. In old Burton's time (the thought is his, not mine), men made books as apothecaries made their medicines, — by pouring out of one bottle into another; but this is no longer possible, for reading has become so general that plagiarism is readily detected, and criticism so outspoken that would-be plagiarists are afraid. If books have not entirely ceased to be drugs in the market, is publishers sometimes complain, it is not because they are still compounded after the old recipes, for every apothecary - I mean every bookmaker -- is supplied with essences and flavors and tinctures of his own.
This Dictionary of Poetical Quotations ought to be the best that has yet been compiled, partly because it is the latest, and partly because it covers more ground and embraces more poets than any other. It may interest the reader to know that the two earliest collections of the kind were published in the last year of the sixteenth century; that the extracts in the first (if it were the first) — “ Belvidere, or the Garden of the Muses ” — were restricted to one line each, and chiefly to contemporary poets, and that the extracts in the second, — “England's Parnassus,” — while not so narrowly restricted, were also from contemporary poets, the only early poet represented therein being Lord Surry, who had been dead but fifty-three years. These collections, though made in the Golden Age or English Poetry, are dreary reading: one reason being that their worthy editors, Bodenham and Allot, were didactic dullards; another, that they failed to comprehend the greatness of the dramatic writing of their time. Five or six similar anthologies followed during the next century and a half, until at last the despised and neglected dramatists had ample justice done them. It was in “The British Muse,” which purported to be edited by Thomas Hayward, Gent. Whether the historians of English literatụre have discovered who Hayward was, i am not scholar enough to know. I only know that they give William Oldys the credit of writing the preface, and that it is an excellent piece of work. He passes judgment upon the earlier anthologies, and, concerning most of them, remarks jf one, that the book, bad as it is, suggests one good obser. vation upon the use and advantage of such collections, which is that they may prove more successful in preserving the best parts of some authors than their works themselves. Pursuing this train of thought, Oldys states, in his quaint way, the necessity for such collections. “Hence we have long wanted a compiler, or reader-general for mankind, to digest whatever was most excellent (the flowers) in our poets, into the most commodious method for use and application ; a person void of all prejudice, who would take no author's character