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WILLIAM S. WALSH,
PARADOXES OF A PHILISTINE," ETC.
COPYRIGHT, 1892, BY J. B. LIPPINCOTT COMPANY
PRINTED IN UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
PRIMARILY the aim of this Handy-book is to entertain. If it succeeds in instructing as well, there is no harm done. But a sugar coating of grateful gust has been quite as much an object with the compiler as the tonic which it may envelop.
It is obvious that in so large a field as is afforded by the curiosities of literature the embarrassment has been mainly that of riches. No single volume nor a dozen volumes of this size could exhaust the material. Nevertheless, if the compiler has been even approximately successful, if his gleanings from the rich harvest-field have been fairly judicious, a gain in interest and even in value has been achieved by consulting the limitations of space.
At one time he had thought of disarming a certain kind of criticism by calling this "A Dictionary of Things Not Worth Knowing," the bulk of the matter herein contained being either in substance or in detail that which is deemed below the dignity of encyclopædias, dictionaries, or literary manuals. However, we are gradually coming to learn that there is no great and no small in the achievements of the human intelligence; that what has ever interested men in the past must preserve an interest for the student of human nature at all times; that the literary trifling which pleased the keenest wits at particular periods of mental development has a distinct historical value in the retrospect; that the blunders of great minds are worth preserving as successive steps towards the altar of Knowledge ; that in proverbs is embodied the wisdom of many as well as the wit of one ; and that the vagaries of slang are dignified by the fact that slang may become the scholarly language of the future, just as the slang of the past is nearly the richest and most idiomatic portion of the current speech of to-day. Even the tracing of literary analogies, which is held in some disrepute by those who see in it merely a low detective cunning, a joy in convicting nobler minds of larceny and of discrediting the gifts of Nature's bounty,—even this is an exercise which, reverently conducted, is full of instruction and profit as well as curious interest. To learn that there is nothing new under the sun is to take to heart the lesson that the right direction fynuman achievement is to co-ordinate and harmonize the disjecte