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such points in modern literary science, that one always has to go over the whole ground completely for oneself.
When these points are settled, with as much certitude as possible, there are still other points on which it is necessary to have right opinions in order to understand Webster. One must know what a play is; one must know how the Elizabethan drama arose; and one must know what the Elizabethan drama was. I have given a chapter to each of these points; not pretending to cover the whole ground, or to do the work of a whole book; but endeavouring to correct some of the more misleading wrong ideas, and to hint at some of the more important right ones. These chapters, of course, though nominally not about Webster, should be even more important to any understanding of him than the Appendices. And I have given two long chapters to the more direct consideration of what Webster wrote, and what its more usual characteristics are.
The Bibliography is, I think, fairly complete with regard to Webster. I did not think it necessary to make a bibliography of books on the wider subjects.
It may seem, in some cases, as if I contradicted myself in different parts of the book; as, for instance, when I say that it is impossible to
understand a play wholly from the text, and later seem to believe that I do understand plays wholly from the text. I think I have not really contradicted myself. Part of the business of the earlier chapters is to prevent the necessity of continually repeated qualifications throughout the work. To express my exact meaning on each occasion would have meant covering the page with “in so far as it is possible’s,” and “I think's,” and “possibly's,” and “perhaps’s”; which makes the style feeble and muffles the idea. I have, perhaps, gone too far in this direction already.