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WILLIAM LYON PHELPS
A.M. (Harvard) PH.D. (Yale)
HENRY HOLT AND COMPANY
In a number of the London Spectator, dated exactly forty-seven years ago to-day, the reviewer of Thackeray's new book on the English Humourists remarked, - All will be interested in looking over the accompanying notes, (which might have been and may yet be made more complete).” To the best of my knowledge, this suggestion in the Spectator—with the exception of a few bracketed foot-notes added to the Biographical Edition has never been heeded, and since the editio princeps of 1853 there has never appeared an annotated edition of these famous lectures. As they are particularly allusive, the need for explanatory notes is a real one, and in this instance I have therefore chosen to err on the side of fullness rather than be incomplete. Many readers and students may feel some irritation at finding things elucidated that in their judgment require no comment; but on the other hand it is hoped that few will look to the Notes for necessary explanations, and look in vain.
The text of this edition, with the regular foot-notes, is taken, by the kind permission of Messrs. Harper and Brothers, from the Biographical Edition of Thackeray's Works. Except in a few obvious typographical errors, I have followed this standard text verbatim et literatim, correcting in my own Notes at the rear of the book errors that occur in the text and foot-notes of the Biographical Edition, and pointing out important variations from the text of the first edition. And the receipt of corrections of my own errors will be gratefully and promptly acknowledged.
For furnishing some references in the Notes, I wish to express my thanks to Professor H. P. Wright, Professor T. D. Goodell, Professor W. L. Cross, and Mr. Richard Holbrook, all of Yale, and to Professor G. L. Kittredge, of Harvard.
W. L. P. YALE COLLEGE, 11 June 1900.
After this book was entirely cast and ready for publication, I came across, in the library of the British Museum, the following work: “Thackeray's Lectures on the English Humourists of the Eighteenth Century. Mit bibliographischen Material, litterarischer Einleitung und sachlichen Anmerkungen für Studierende. Herausgegeben von Ernst Regel. Halle: Max Niemeyer. 1885–1891." [In six parts, 8°, paper.] I greatly regret that this valuable work did not come to my notice in time to be of assistance.
W. L. P. LONDON, 19 July, 1900.