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THIS is an attempt to provide for popular reading a representative collection of English Epigrams.
The volume differs from its predecessors-first, in consisting wholly of the work of English writers; secondly, in the arrangement of contents under the heads of certain special subjects; and, thirdly, in the exclusion of mere jeux d'esprit, professing to be epigrams, but having none of the characteristics of that kind of verse.
A certain number of epigrams which have been translated or imitated from foreign writers are given in the form of an Appendix: in some cases, for the sake of illustrating the general literature of epigram; in others, because some of the most familiar couplets in the language have been derived from a Greek, a Latin, or a French original.
Other features of the book will be discovered in the endeavour made to trace the authorship of a number of epigrams which are generally given as anonymous; in the presence in the work of contributions from the pens of living writers; and in the fact that a large number of the epigrams here given now figure for the first time in a collection.
In the arrangement of the volume generally, the chronological element has been occasionally introduced, as, for example, in Books I. II. and XI., where there is interest
and instruction in observing the gradual course of epigram through a long range of years, and in noticing the difference of style and tone. Elsewhere, the object of the Editor has been to place in juxtaposition epigrams which illustrate one another either by similarity or contrast.
In the Introduction will be found a brief, but it is hoped useful, sketch of the rise and progress of the Epigram. The epigrams themselves are accompanied, where necessary, by notes, critical and explanatory; a few particulars of the lives of the Epigrammatists are given in another section; and, by appending full indices of authors, subjects, and first lines, an effort has been made to render rapid and easy the consultation of particular passages.
No pains, in fact, have been spared to attain accuracy and completeness, and it is hoped that the result will meet with the approval of both the public and the critics.
W. DAVENPORT ADAMS.