Shakespeare Bibliography: A Dictionary of Every Known Issue of the Writings of Our National Poet and of Recorded Opinion Thereon in the English Language (Classic Reprint)
A Long book needs but a short preface. Perchance, then, one may claim privilege for a tired pen, and stand excused if some necessary observations are compressed into the briefest space. From a remote period the indispensable tribute to distinguished merit has found expression in the form of biography. Like most good things, it is often abused. What probably originated and ended in some simple tombstone inscription now sometimes extends to a set of several ponderous tomes - documentary proof, as Dr. Johnson would say, of misplaced vanity. In modern days literary genius asserts its right to a fresh prerogative in the shape of bibliography, a claim no one will grudge. That form of hero-worship honourably serves a double purpose. It fulfils the desire to pay homage where due, and, as a key to recorded knowledge, becomes a handmaid to fresh literary labour. With these few words I might fitly 'say amen betimes' did not other remarks, perhaps apropos to the place and time, press for notice.
'Mans most of might' - in Browning's expressive phrase - the transcendent genius now surveyed, is by acclaim the chosen spokesman of a race entrusted with profound and world-wide responsibilities. In addition to the labour, that fact did not lessen the serious nature of this gigantic task. But of that more anon. Among millions of Anglo-Saxons influenced by books, either at home or overseas, there can be but few who feel no quickening of the pulse at the mention of that 'great heir of fame' who left so free, so matchless a heritage. Beyond the vast numbers who have read and enjoyed, how many more millions do his happy precepts guide and cheer! How much of his wisdom and wit is woven into the common life and language of the nations!
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