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THE object of this work is to furnish students of Shakespeare and Bacon with a short systematic account of some points of difference between Elizabethan syntax and our own. The words of these authors present but little difficulty. They can be understood from glossaries, and, even without such aid, a little reflection and attention to the context will generally enable us to hit the meaning. But the differences of idiom are more perplexing. They are more frequent than mere verbal difficulties, and they are less obvious and noticeable. But it need hardly be said, that if we allow ourselves to fancy we are studying Shakespeare critically, when we have not noticed and cannot explain the simplest Shakespearian idiom, we are in danger of seriously lowering our standard of accurate study, and so far from training we are untraining our understanding. Nor is it enough to enumerate unusual idioms without explaining them. Such is not the course we pursue in Latin and Greek, and our native tongue should either not be studied critically at all, or be studied as thoroughly as the languages of antiquity. 1

The difficulty which the author has experienced in teaching pupils to read Shakespearian verse correctly, and to analyse a metaphorical expression, has induced him to add a few pages on Shakespeare's prosody and on the use of simile and metaphor.

A very important question in the study of English is, what should be the amount and nature of the assistance given to students in the shape of notes. It is clear that the mere getting up and reproducing a commentator's opinions, though the process may fill a boy with useful information, can in no sense be called a training. In the Notes and Questions at the end of this volume I have tried to give no more help than is absolutely necessary. The questions may be of use as a holiday-task, or in showing the student how to work the Grammar. They have been for the most part answered by a class of boys from fourteen to sixteen years old, and some by boys much younger.

In some of the sections of the Prosody I must acknowledge my obligations to Mr. W. S. Walker's work on Shakespeare's Versification. 2 Other obligations are acknowledged in the course of the work; but the great mass of the examples have been collected in the course of several years' close study of Shakespeare and contemporaneous authors. I am aware that there will be found both inaccuracies and incompleteness in this attempt to apply the rules of classical scholarship to the criticism of Elizabethan English, but it is perhaps from a number of such imperfect contributions that there will at last arise a perfect English Grammar.


The following works are referred to by the pages:--
    Ascham Scholemaster Mayor London 1863 The Advancement of Learning Oxford 1640 Bacon Essays Wright London 1868 Ben Johnson Works Gifford London 1838 North Plutarch London 1656 Florio Montaigne London 1603

Wager, Heywood, Ingelend, &c., and sometimes Beaumont and Fletcher, are quoted from The Songs of the Dramatists, J. W. Parker, 1855.


Some of the plays of Shakespeare are indicated by the initials of the titles, as follow:

A. W.All's Well that Ends Well.
A. and C.Antony and Cleopatra.
A. Y. L.As You Like It.
C. of E.Comedy of Errors.
J. C.Julius Cæsar.
L. L. L.Love's Labour Lost.
M. for M.Measure for Measure.
M. of V.Merchant of Venice.
M. W. of W.Merry Wives of Windsor.
M. N. D.Midsummer Night's Dream.
M. AdoMuch Ado about Nothing.
P. of T.Pericles of Tyre.
R. and J.Romeo and Juliet.
T. of Sh.Taming of the Shrew.
T. of A.Timon of Athens.
T. A.Titus Andronicus.
Tr. and Cr.Troilus and Cressida.
T. N.Twelfth Night.
T. G. of V.Two Gentlemen of Verona.
W. T.Winter's Tale.

(The quotations are from the Globe edition unless otherwise specified.)

Asch.Ascham's Scholemaster.
B. E.Bacon's Essays.
B. and F.Beaumont and Fletcher
B. J.Ben Jonson.
B. J. E. in &c.Every Man in his Humour.
B. J. E. out &c.Every Man out of his Humour.
B. J. Cy.'s Rev.Cynthia's Revels.
B. J. Sil. Wom.Silent Woman.
B. J. Sejan.Sejanus.
B. J. Sad Sh.Sad Shepherd.
L. C.Lover's Complaint.
N. P.North's Plutarch.
P. P.Passionate Pilgrim.
R. of L.Rape of Lucrece.
Sonn.Shakespeare's Sonnets.
V. and A.Venus and Adonis.

Numbers in parentheses thus (81) refer to the paragraphs of the Grammar.

1 Of course it is possible to study Shakespeare with great advantage, and yet without any reference to textual criticism. Only, it should be distinctly under-stood in such cases that textual criticism is not attempted.

2 In correcting the proof-sheets I have gained much from consulting Mr. Walker's Criticisms on Shakespeare.

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