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THE object of the author of this volume has been a modest one. He has not attempted to write a full and complete history of English wit and humour as discovered in our poetry; for that purpose several such volumes would have been required. But he has essayed to give a sketch, however rapid, of that history, illustrating his remarks by quotations designed at once to give pleasure in themselves and to convey an idea of the different styles of different writers. The author's hope is that this volume may be the means of inducing the reader to go more deeply into its fascinating subject. It can hardly be possible, he thinks, for any one to make acquaintance with extracts from the works of wits and humourists like Chaucer, Shakespeare, Dryden, Pope, Goldsmith, Cowper, and the rest, without yearning to render that acquaintance more close and intimate. This volume is offered, then, both as an inducement to further study, and as, in itself, a popular compendium; and it is hoped that it may prove acceptable and serviceable in both respects.
A. H. E.
ON WIT AND HUMOUR GENERALLY.
The distinction between poetry and wit and humour-Wit and humour the product of the intellect-Leigh Hunt's definition of wit-Hazlitt's-Locke's-Addison's-Wit and humour analysed-The difference between themTheir characteristics-The forms in which they show themselves-Their essential properties.