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Pars minima et orationis fragmentum (the smallest part and fragment of a sentence]; this is the translation which Schrevelius, in his Lexicon, gives of the Greek word Comma, and this is the source from which the present Essay has taken its rise. Meeting accidentally with the above passage, upon it I founded a paper, which I read to some of my fellow-members of the Banbury Mechanics' Institute :-afterwards, when others of us volunteered to give a series of lectures, fortnightly, during a winter season, I chose Punctuation as my theme.

My attention thus drawn to the subject, I have not, in my reading, passed unnoticed whatever occurred bearing on the subject; and further, I have searched out every work which my time and my abode, could place within my reach, at all likely to help me to a just conclusion.

If any one thinks that, in so small a work, I have been too profuse in my quotations or citations of authorities, let him remember that I have studied in a profession in which it is the pride of its writers to bring forward authorities and precedents for what they say; in the assurance that, while they thereby add authority to their works, they do not diminish their own reputations either as lawyers or men of general learning. For myself, I add, that while I am proud to bring forward the authority of eminent Rhetoricians and Grammarians for much which I have asserted, I have not shrunk from citing any one, because what he has published may be brought to bear against a single proposition in the Essay, original or derivative. Besides, if any of the learned should honour my work with a consideration, the quotations and citations may afford them some small help in forming an opinion on the subject, or if they shall be minded to refer to the originals, may serve them as an index.

While for the loan of books and assistance in other ways, I confess myself indebted to many men, I cannot refrain mentioning by name my friend William Bigg of Banbury, who, having read my work in manuscript, and the proof sheets before passing through the press, has suggested many additions and omissions, which I have felt it right to adopt.

NEITHROP, BANBURY, October, 1842.


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hundred years ago, fifty years ago, and at the present time,




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