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IN 1883 I gave to the reading public a work entitled, “ A Dictionary of Quotations from the Poets." The favor with which it has been received has encouraged me to prepare the present compilation, and to hope that henceforth these two works may stand side by side as companion volumes.
In collecting these prosa quotations, I have allowed myself a wide range. The chief place has, of course, been accorded to the standard English authors; but, at the same time, a generous amount of space has been assigned to American writers, to the writers of continental Europe, and to the ancient classics of Greece and Rome and the Orient. The prose of the poets, -- frequently limited in amount, but often of the highest excellence, — has been successfully explored. Some writers almost unknown to "literature” have been drawn upon, for the simple reason that utterances which have come from them, in addresses or newspaper articles, have seemed to me sufficiently valuable, because of their terseness, or beauty, or originality, to justify their preservation. On the other hand, authors of world-wide reputation are in not a few instances represented by a meagre selection of passages, simply because their writings, however unquestionable their ability, do not contain quotable sayings. The entire absence of some well-known names is explained in the same way. In a few
instances extracts have been made from prose translations of ancient poets.
From the various qualities indicated, there have been brought together more than six thousand extracts, wise thoughts of famous men, shrewd sayings, apothegms, epigrams, utterances in “ lyric prose," — the precious fruit of intellect and genius. Five hundred and fifty-three authors and translators are represented. Their sayings are grouped under eight hundred and forty-one heads, and there are twelve hundred and thirty-eight cross references.
I have ventured but seldom to transfer to these pages passages gathered by previous compilers. This has been done only where the original text has been difficult of access, and where there has been no question in regard to authenticity and accuracy. I have sought to avoid duplicating in this volume my own previous collections; but certain noteworthy and familiar phrases have been repeated, without which no compendium, however elaborate, could meet the public demand.
It is believed that the present compilation possesses a high degree of accuracy, — a quality which in such a work is priceless. In gathering the various sayings and in verifying those already current, the original text has been habitually consulted. References are usually full and exact. Each quotation is followed by a concise indication of the work from which it is taken, with a specification of the book, the chapter, and frequently the paragraph; so that verification is rendered easy, and valuable guidance is furnished to those who wish to consult the context.
As a rule, the quotations have been drawn from authorized editions and popular translations. In the case of
Shakespeare, Charles Knight's edition has been used; in the other old dramatists, the edition of Routledge and Sons. Quotations from Plato have been drawn from Professor Jowett's matchless translation. In many of the references, the special edition or translation has been indicated.
So far as practicable, passages are grouped according to the subject matter, whether the subject-title occurs in them or not. The aim has been to indicate the precise idea or dominant sentiment of the quotation. The same aim has controlled in the selection of cross-references.
No labor has been spared in furnishing this volume with indexes. A topical index is given, although the alphabetical arrangement of the book itself renders its use easy to the ordinary reader. A chronological table gives the place and year of the author's birth, and, in the case of deceased authors, the place and the year of death. Where authorities differ in regard to dates, the extreme limits are mentioned; where exact information is unattainable, the fact is indicated by a blank. The list of authors is followed by a list of translators, with the names of the books from which quotations have been made in this work. The analytical index, embracing more than ten thousand lines, furnishes an inventory of the riches stored in this treasury of lofty thought, noble sentiment, and wise utterance.
A. L. W. WATERBURY, CONN., October, 1889.