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I HAVE now the satisfaction of presenting to the public the third of the series of Dictionaries of English Literature originally projected about a quarter of a century since. In these works I have had the great advantage of profiting by the labours of my predecessors in the same fertile fields. The Dictionaries of Johnson, Webster, and Worcester, and the excellent compilation of Henry Southgate entitled "Many Thoughts of Many Minds," First Series, have furnished me with many quotations; but the most valuable portions of the present volume have been derived from the “Tatlers” and “Spectators" of Addison and Steele, " The Rambler" of Dr. Johnson, the works of Sir Thomas Browne, Edmund Burke, Robert Hall, and Montaigne, and the vigorous, brilliant, and thoughtful “ Essays” of Lord Macaulay. I would especially recommend to the attention of the intelligent reader the subjects, AUTHORS, AUTHORSHIP, BIBLE, Books, Christ, CHRISTIANITY, CONSCIENCE, CONVERSATION, CRITICISM, DEATH, DRAMA, EDUCATION, ENGLAND, FREEDOM, FRIENDSHIP, GOD, GOVERNMENT, HISTORY, INDEXES, INSANITY, JUDGES, LAW, LAWYERS, LIFE, LITERATURE, LOVE, MAN, MANNERS, MATRIMONY, MEMORY, ORATORY, PARTY, PATRIOTISM, PHILOSOPHY, POETRY, POLITICS, PREACHING, READING, RELIGION, SIN, STATES, STUDIES, STYLE, TALKING, TRANSLATION, Truth, VIRTUE, WAR, Wisdom, Wit, Words, and Youth. To no student who has devoted the best years of his life to anxious and assiduous labour are success and miscarriage empty sounds;" and no author-Dr. Johnson to the contrary notwithstanding—“ dismisses” the result of such labour " with frigid tranquillity, having little to fear or hope from censure or from praise;" but I can truly affirm that I aim rather to instruct than to amuse my readers, and that I greatly prefer the hope of usefulness to the certainty of fame.
S. AUSTIN ALLIBONE.
1816, SPRUCE STREET, PHILADELPHIA, April 17, 1875.
No skilful reader of the plays of Shakspeare
can endure to see what are called the best things We love, we own, to read the great produc-taken out, under the name of “ Beauties” or of tions of the human mind as they were written.
• Elegant Extracts,” or to hear any single pasWe have this feeling even about scientific treatises , though we know that the sciences are al sage, “ To be or not to be,” for example, quoted
as a sample of the great poet. “To be or not ways in a state of progression, and that the alter
to be” has merit undoubtedly as a composition. ations made by a modern editor in an old book It would have merit if put into the mouth of a on any branch of natural or political philosophy chorus. But its merit as a composition vanishes are likely to be improvements. Some errors have when compared with its merit as belonging to been detected by writers of this generation in the Hamlet. It is not too much to say that the great speculations of Adam Smith. A short cut has been made to much knowledge at which Sir plays of Shakspeare would lose less by being Isaac Newton arrived through arduous and cir- called the fine passages than those passages lose
deprived of all the passages which are commonly cuitous paths. Yet we still look with peculiar by being read separately from the play. This is veneration on the Wealth of Nations and on the Principia, and should regret to see either of these perhaps the highest praise which can be given
to a dramatist. great works garbled even by the ablest hands.
LORD MACAULAY: But in works which owe much of their interest
Moore's Life of Byron, June, 1831.. to the character and situation of the writers, the case is infinitely stronger. What man of taste
Abstracts, abridgments, summaries, etc., have and feeling can endure rifacimenti, harmonies, the same use with burning glasses—to collect the abridgments, expurgated editions? Who ever diffused rays of wit and learning in authors, and reads a stage copy of a play when he can pro- make them point with warmth and quicknesscure the original? Who ever cut open Mrs. upon the reader's imagination. SWIFT. Siddons's Milton? Who ever got through ten pages of Mr. Gilpin's translation of John Bunyan’s Pilgrim into modern English ? Who would lose, in the confusion of a Diatessaron, the peculiar charm which belongs to the narrative of
ABSENCE. the disciple whom Jesus loved? The feeling of a reader who has become intimate with any great
Absence, what the poets call death in love, original work is that which Adam expressed has given occasion to beautiful complaints in towards his bride:
those authors who have treated of this passion
I distinguish a man that is absent because he
thinks of something else, from him that is ab. No substitute, however exquisitely formed, will sent because he thinks of nothing. fill the void left by the original.' The second
ADDISON. beauty may be equal and superior to the first; but still it is not she.
Absence destroys trilling intimacies, but it LORD MACAULAY : invigorates strong ones. Boswell's Life of Johnson, Sept., 1831.
pate the occasion, and to live by a rule more general.
BURKE: The greater absurdities are, the more strongly Letter to R. Shackleton, May 25, 1779. they evince the falsity of that supposition from whence they flow.
The only things in which we can be said to
have any property are our actions. Our thoughts Absurdities are great or small in proportion may be bad, yet produce no poison; they may be to custom or insuetude.
LANDOR. good, yet produce no fruit. Our riches may be
taken from us by misfortune, our reputation by malice, our spirits by calamity, our health by
disease, our friends by death. But our actions ACTIONS.
must follow us beyond the grave: with respect
to them alone we cannot say that we shall carry Actions are of so mixed a nature, that as nothing with us when we die, neither that we men pry into them, or observe some parts more shall go naked out of the world. Our actions than others, they take different hints, and put must clothe us with an immortality, loathsome contrary interpretations on them.
or glorious: these are the only title-deeds of which Addison we cannot be disinherited; they will have their
full weight in the balance of eternity, when Outward actions can never give a just esti: everything else is as nothing; and their value mate of us, since there are many perfections of will be confirmed and established by those two a man which are not capable of appearing in
sure and sateless destroyers of all other earthly actions.
COLTON: Lacon. He was particularly pleased with Sallust for his entering into internal principles of action. When young we trust ourselves too much, and
ADDISON. we trust others too little when old. Rashness
is the error of youth, timid caution of age. A superior capacity for business, and a more
Manhood is the isthmus between the two ex. extensive knowledge, are steps by which a new man often mounts to favour and outshines the
tremes: the ripe and fertile season of action,
when alone we can hope to find the head to rest of his contemporaries. ADDISON,
contrive united with the hand to execute. There is no greater wisdom than well to time
COLTON: Lacon. the beginnings and onsets of ngs.
No two things differ more than burry and LORD Bacon.
despatch. Hurry is the mark of a weak mind, When things are come to the execution, there despatch of a strong one.
Colton: Lacon. is no secrecy comparable to celerity.
LORD BACON. Hurry and Cunning are the two apprentices Natures that have much heat, and great and
of Despatch and of Skill, but neither of them
ever learn their master's trade. violent desires and perturbations, are not ripe
COLTON: Lacon. for action till they have passed the meridian of their days.
The causes and designs of an action are the
beginning; the effects of these causes, and the In choice of instruments it is better to choose difficulties met with in the execution of these men of a plainer sort that are like to do that designs, are the middle; and the unravelling that is committed to them, and to report faith and resolution of these difficulties are the end. fully the success, than those that are cunning to
DRYDEN. contrive somewhat to grace themselves, and
The actions of men are oftener determined will help the matter in report.
by their character than their interest : their conLORD BACON.
duct takes its colour more from their acquired Some men's behaviour is like a verse wherein tastes, inclinations, and habits, than from a deevery syllable is measured: how can a man com- liberate regard to their greatest good. It is only prehend great matters that breaketh his mind too on great occasions the mind awakes to take an much to small observations ? LORD BACON. extended survey of her whole course, and that
she suffers the dictates of reason to impress a However, to act with any people with the
new bias upon her movements. The actions of least degree of comfort, I believe we must con- each day are, for the most part, links which fol. trive a little to assimilate to their character. We low each other in the chain of custom. Hence must gravitate toward them, if we would keep the great effort of practical wisdom is to imbue in the same system, or expect that they should the mind with right tastes, affections, and habits; approach toward us.
the elements of character and masters of action, Letter to Hon. C. 7. Fox, Oct. 8, 1777.
ROBERT Hall: Modern Infidelity. The progressive sagacity that keeps company The ways of well-doing are in number even with times and occasions, and decides upon as many as are the kinds of voluntary actions: things in their existing position, is that alone so that whatsoever we do in this world, and may which can give true propriety, grace, and effect do it ill, we show ourselves therein by well10 a man's conduct. It is very hard to antici. I doing to be wise.