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OF THE ABBREVIATED REFERENCE TO THE CONTEXT, APPENDED TO
The Act is expressed by Roman numerals; the Scene by Arabio
EXAMPLE: A. C. iv. 7, signifies, Antony and Cleopatra, Act the Fourth, Scene the Seventh.
THE matchless genius of Shakespeare has furnished occupation for authors, from the very age in which he wrote, down to the present day; so that, independent of the innumerable editions of his plays, from the original authentie copies, to the modern mutilations represented under his name upon the stage, we have more than two hundred works of which Shakespeare and his writings are the subject.
Such being the case, it may be thought necessary, for one who ventures to add to the number, to offer some apology to the public for so doing. That tendered for the present compilation is founded on the belief, that among all these works, there does not exist one which effectively occupies the ground here taken, and very few which even attempt to connect Shakespeare's felicitous expressions -exhibiting, as they do, a matchless insight into human naturewith the various casualties, motives, and objects of ordinary life. Such a task, if performed with judgment and faithfulness, could hardly fail to prove both pleasing and useful. In support of the opinion that this task yet remained to be accomplished, it will be necessary to submit a few observations concerning the works which profess to have the same object, upon the comparative merits of which with the SHAKESPEARIAN DICTIONARY, its pretensions to public favour must be founded.
Ayscough's "Index to Shakespeare," is a work of great labour, and, as a verbal compilation, is doubtless of utility; but it is a dictionary of the poet's words, rather than of his expressions, giving only so much of the context as was necessary to elucidate the peculiar sense wherein each word is to be understood, and connecting this with remarkable speeches only by means of references. From almost any arrangement of the words of such an author, occasional scintillations will necessarily flash out; but in