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COLLECTION OF WORDS, PHRASES, NAMES, AND ALLUSIONS
TO CUSTOMS, PROVERBS, ETC.,
WHICH HAVE BEEN THOUGHT TO REQUIRE ILLUSTRATION,
THE WORKS OF ENGLISH AUTHORS,
SHAKESPEARE AND HIS CONTEMPORARIES.
ROBERT NARES, A.M., F.R.S., F.A.S.,
ARCHDEACON OF STAFFORD, &c.
A NEW EDITION,
JAMES O. HALLIWELL, Esq., F.R.S., &c.
THOMAS WRIGHT, Esq., M.A., F.S.A., &c.
PREFACE OF THE EDITORS.
ROBERT NARES, the author of the following Glossary, was during his whole life an active man of letters, though the great mass of his labours have not left any very permanent mark on the literature of his day. He was born at York on the 9th of June, 1753, and was the son of Dr. James Nares, the celebrated composer and teacher of music, and organist to George II and George III. The Doctor's brother, and the uncle of Robert Nares, was sir George Nares, who sat during fifteen years on the bench of Common Pleas. Robert Nares received his first education in Westminster School, where, in 1767, at the early age of fourteen, he was at the head of his election as king's scholar. In 1771, he was elected to a studentship of Christ Church, Oxford, where he took his bachelor's degree in 1775, and his master's degree in 1778, and entered holy orders. From 1779 to 1783, he held the situation of tutor to the two Wynns (sir Watkin and Charles Williams), residing with them at Wynnstay, and during the season in London. During this period he wrote prologues, epilogues, and light pieces, for the private dramatic fêtes at Wynnstay, as well as a considerable number of essays on various subjects for periodicals. In 1782, Christ Church presented him with the small living of Easton Mawdit in Northamptonshire, and soon afterwards he received that of Doddington from the lord Chancellor. In 1784, Nares published his first philological work, the ‘Elements of Orthoëpy.' The same year he married Elizabeth Bayley, the youngest daughter of Thomas Bayley, of Chelmsford, who died in child-bed in 1785. He resumed his connection with the Wynns from 1786 to 1788, while his pupils were at Westminster School, and he acted as assistant-preacher at Berkeley Chapel. In 1787, he was appointed chaplain to the duke of York, and in the year following he was chosen assistant-preacher to the Honorable Society of Lincoln's Inn, a post which he held during fifteen years. He had now become the centre of a large circle of friends and acquaintances, by whom he was respected not only as a gentleman and scholar but as a sound divine and sincere Christian, and to whom he was endeared by many social qualities ; and he produced a considerable number of political as well as other essays and pamphlets. This literary activity led, in 1793, to his starting that well-known periodical, the British Critic,' in
conjunction with Beloe. Nares conducted this journal until its forty-second volume, when he resigned it. He was about this time appointed assistantlibrarian in the British Museum, and was subsequently librarian of the manuscript department in that institution during twelve years, in which capacity he edited the third volume of the · Harleian Catalogue.' In 1794, Nares lost his second wife, a Miss Fleetwood, of London, who also died after the birth of a son, who lived only a few weeks. In 1796, lord Loughborough gave him the living of Dalby in Leicestershire, and in 1798 that of Sharnford; and bishop Cornwallis made him a canon residentiary of Litchfield. Bishop Porteus gave him the small prebend of Islington in St. Paul's; and, in 1800, the bishop of Litchfield made him archdeacon of Stafford, with which bis ecclesiastical preferments end. In this year (1800), Nares married the daughter of the Rev. Dr. Smyth, head master of Westminster School, who survived him. In 1805 he resigned his vicarage of Easton Mawdit, and also his situation in the British Museum, and went to reside at the vicarage at Reading, where he lived till 1818. In this year, his desire for a more free enjoyment of London society led him to exchange to Allhallows, London Wall, the duties of which he continued to discharge until within about a month of his death, with an absence usually of two months in the year at Litchfield. In 1822, Nares published his Glossary; or Collection of Words, Phrases, Names, and Allusions to Customs, Proverbs, &c., which have been thought to require illustration, in the Works of English Authors, particularly Shakespeare, and his Contemporaries. This was his last and his most important work, though he still continued to mix actively in literary society, where he pleased by his agreeable and unassuming manners. He was one of the founders of the Royal Society of Literature, and one of its earlier presidents, and he contributed to its transactions. Robert Nares died on the 23d of March, 1829, at the age of seventy-five.
It is to his 'Glossary' that Nares owes chiefly his literary fame. An experience of thirty-six years, during which the class of studies to which it especially belongs has made great advance, has established its reputation as the best and most useful work we possess for explaining and illustrating the obsolete language and the customs and manners of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and it is quite indispensable to the readers of the literature of the Elizabethan period. It is a necessary companion to the dramatic writers. The numerous criticisms on the difficulties of the text of Shakespeare, scattered throughout this work, are characterised by a degree of soberness and good sense, as well as by a profound knowledge of the literature of his age, which are by no means common among the commentators on the great bard. In spite of these recommendations, Nares's Glossary has hitherto only passed through one edition in this country. It was published in an inconvenient form, a large quarto volume, and had become sufficiently rare and expensive to place it beyond the reach of a large proportion of those who now take an interest in the literature of the period which it illustrates and require it as a book of reference. It was, therefore, to supply
an absolute want, that the present edition was undertaken. The field in which Nares laboured, though wide in his time, has been considerably enlarged since, and there are few students in the literature of the Elizabethan period who, in using his work, have not been able to add to it words and phrases which had not fallen under his notice, or new and valuable examples illustrative of those which he had given. The editors had made a large collection of such additions, and with this advantage it was thought desirable to give something more than a bare reprint. It is evident that a work like this can never be complete ; but it is believed that by these additions Nares's Glossary may be made somewhat more so, and at all events it cannot but be rendered more useful. The additional words and examples are distinguished from those in the original text by a + prefixed to them. The principle followed in the selection of these additions has been to give words and phrases from books popular at the time when they were published, which have become now very rare, tending to clear up difficulties in writers of that age who are more generally known or who are better deserving of general attention. From these illustrations, some words and phrases only partially understood before, will now receive new light; while others are given because they are rare and curious, and may explain difficult passages in authors of this period which have not yet been brought into discussion. It is for this reason that some new words, the meaning of which could only be given by conjecture, have been left with no other explanation than that furnished by the passages in which they occur ; future researches may fix their meaning more exactly. To these additions, and to a correct reprint of Nares, the editors have almost limited themselves. The errors of his book are comparatively so few, and of so little importance, that it has been thought advisable to interfere as little as possible with his text. A few necessary corrections only, with some slight modifications of what he has written, have been added within brackets [ ], to keep them distinct from the rest. It remains only to add that a few additional words have been contributed by friends; and among these the editors cannot but acknowledge their obligations to the Rev. Richard Hooper, to whom the public owes so excellent an edition of Chapman's Homer.