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have supplied more apposite quotations than those I have employed. In the number of illustrations I have been sparing, and I have introduced only so many as I thought necessary to make my meaning plain, and, in two or three important cases, to establish the point for which I was contending. It would have been easy to make a show of cheap learning by multiplying extracts, but I have preferred, after pointing out sufficient, and I fear for the most part neglected, sources of instruction, to leave to the reader the pleasant and profitable task of seeking authorities for himself.
The Lectures are addressed to the many, not to the few; to those who have received such an amount of elementary discipline as to qualify them to become their own best teachers in the attainment of general culture, not to the professed grammarian or linguistic inquirer. The many well-edited republications of old English authors which have issued from the Boston press, the learned and valuable labors of Mr. Klipstein in Anglo-Saxon philology, and the admirable elucidations of Shakespeare by Mr. White and other American critics, abundantly prove the existence among us of the knowledge and the taste, the further promotion of which has been my special aim. These studies are, we may hope, soon to receive a new impulse and new aids from the publication of a complete dictionary of the English language—a work of prime necessity to all the common moral and literary interests of the British and American people, and which is now in course of execution by the London Philological Society, upon a plan, and with a command of facilities, that promise the most satisfactory results.
I have only to add, that the occasional allusions to the political condition of Europe are to be understood with reference to the time when the Lectures were delivered, and that subsequent events have but strengthened the convictions I have expressed on this important subject.
BURLINGTON, VERMONT, October 25, 1859.
PREFACE TO THE FOURTH EDITION.
In this edition, numerous errors of the copyists of my manuscript and of the press, which through inexperience in proof-reading I had failed to detect, as well as many inadvertences of my own, are corrected, and the appendix is much enlarged. The additions consist principally of citations and proofs in illustration of statements and opinions not sufficiently supported before.
It is with some reluctance that I have multiplied my excerpts and references, because I know that though, in a country new to him, the true angler is thankful to be told where lie the clear lakelets and the fishy brooks, yet he desires no man to catch his trout for him.
But the wealth of English literature is such, that I need not fear to exhaust its stores by twenty pages of quotation; and he who patiently explores its abundant waters, will not fail to find, that, after all that I and other laborers have extracted, there are still as good fish in the sea as ever were caught.
I entitle this volume, First Series, because I am about to publish a second, consisting of a course of Lectures delivered at the Lowell Institute upon the history of the English language, and particularly of its lexical and grammatical changes, with special reference to its literary capabilities and adaptations.
Burlington, VT., January 1, 1861.
TABLE OF CONTENTS,