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A HISTORY CRITICAL AND BIOGRAPHI-
CAL OF AUTHORS IN THE ENGLISH
W. & R. CHAMBERS, LIMITED
THE NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY
798501 A ASTOR, LENOX AND TILDEN FOUNDATIONS R
Edinburgh : Printed by W. & R. Chambers, Limited. See pages
Dr STOPFORD BROOKE.
In this first volume old English literature as a
See pages 1–31.
Mr A. W. Pollard has charged himself with
31-119 and 150-162.
The article on Shakespeare is contributed by Mr
Sidney Lee. See pages 355-376.
Mr Andrew Lang has dealt with the Ballads,
Scottish and English. See pages 520-541.
The essay on the Puritan movement is Dr
Samuel Rawson Gardiner's. See page 542.
Mr A. H. Bullen, besides revising articles on
Mr EDMUND GOSSE.
There are essays from the pen of Mr Gosse on the Elizabethan and Jacobean literature, on the Anthologies, on the Elizabethan Song-Writers, on the Elizabethan Sonnet-Cycles; as also on Sir Philip Sidney the poet, Spenser, Webster, Ford, and Shirley. See pages 235, 257, 273,
286, 287, 293, 426, 481, and 484. Professor SAINTSBURY. Prosessor Saintsbury's contribution to
this volume is on Dryden. See pages 791-816. Professor HUME BROWN.
Professor Hume Brown has treated James I.,
Knox, and Buchanan. See pages 183, 218, 222. Mr GEORGE NEILSON.
Mr George Neilson has written on Huchown
and The Buik of Alexander. See pages 171, 178. Dr T. G. LAW.
Dr T. G. Law has discussed the Scots Wyclifite
See pages 212 and 218.
Mr Groome, besides revising many of the
than before. The area of its currency has we have a cloud of witnesses to the contrary : grown with the political and commercial sway of our divines, our sages, our poets, our storythe people who speak it. In Ælfred's time the tellers, our men of science, our historians, have Low Dutch dialects called English, and spoken uttered in our tongue words which the world by a few hundred thousand islanders, were un- will not willingly let die. It is no dream known outside the island. Queen Elizabeth indeed that the other sheaves have made ruled scarcely three million subjects, many of obeisance to our sheaf; Shakespeare is not whom were not of English speech ; while to the only Englishman who has won the willing many more in the north and west, who heard homage of the world. it or essayed to read it, Shakespeare's literary In that vast English library which has been London dialect was barely intelligible. And steadily growing for fourteen hundred years, now English, with no essential differences, is there is happily much that concerns us not, the mother-tongue of more than a hundred and much that is no part of our national inheritance. twenty millions of men and women, scattered There are more than enough of books that are over all the quarters of the planet. Some no books, of literature that does not deserve the fifty millions of Britons at home and abroad name, of poems that are not poetry, of prose rule about a fourth of the inhabitants of the which is a mere waste of weary words. Even globe. In the United States the daughter so, of English books new and old that it is nation now reckons her seventy-five millions, worth our while to know, or know about, there mainly of British stock, and, with trifling ex- are many more than would suffice for a lifeceptions, all of English speech. To multitudes time of hard reading. British publications mulof the darker-skinned subjects of the British tiply by thousands in a year, and American crown, English is only less familiar than their volumes at an almost equal rate. The flood, own vernaculars, and English literature a main constantly swelling, threatens to engulf even instrument of education English is becoming the strongest swimmer. Year by year the more and more the language of commerce need becomes greater for an approved mentor, among men of all kindreds. And the writings a comprehensive guide; and such a Vadeof English authors, now read and studied by mecum Dr Robert Chambers devised and the educated of all races, are an element of called, not unjustly, a CycloPÆDIA OF English culture in every civilised country.
LITERATURE, the first of its kind in Britain.
On a plan greatly more comprehensive verse; and “The Autocrat of the Breakfastthan the time-honoured Elegant Extracts of Table' had made but a few desultory efforts in Vicesimus Knox, this Cyclopædia of English literature. · Howells was an infant, and Henry Literature -- like all the old cyclopædias James was not yet born. A vast proportion of systematic and not alphabetic, and following what gives character to modern letters had not the chronological order as obviously the only yet been written or thought out. Upper and practicable one—aimed to give a conspectus Lower Canada had just been united, the New of our literature by a series of extracts from Zealand Company had only begun to plant the more memorable authors set in a bio- the colony, and the first great rush of free graphical and critical history of the literature settlers had not yet given promise of the future itself. Dr Chambers laid the plan in 1841, and Commonwealth of Australia. for realising it secured the help of his friend Sixty years after Dr Chambers and Dr Dr Robert Carruthers of Inverness. The out- Carruthers addressed themselves to their task, come of their joint labours, which began to we stand in a new century, and, as regards appear before the close of 1842, was completed literature, in a new world. In the new edition, in two volumes in 1844, and was brought down
of which the first volume now appears, the to date and reprinted in 1858. It was revised essential plan has been retained. The aim and extended under the charge of Dr Carruthers has been to carry that plan out even more in 1876; and a fourth reissue, again incorpo- | perfectly, and to make the new work more rating new matter, took place a dozen years fully representative of our present and past later. But a keener interest in our older litera- literary history at the commencement of the ture and a fuller knowledge of it, new facts, Twentieth Ce iry than the first edition was new theories, and new light on a thousand for the middle of the Nineteenth. Neither then points, the increasing supply of new materials nor now has a pedantic attempt been made for selection, the continued activity of accepted to draw a hard-and-fast line between what is authors, the rise of new and brilliant stars, and by right and what is not a part of pure or all that is implied in the unabated continuity national literature, and to include only what of the literary life of the nation, have rendered wholly approves itself before the strictest necessary a much more thorough-going revision canons of the higher criticism of the day. and reconstruction; a completely new edition The selection was made on a more catholic, is imperatively demanded.
comprehensive, and historical plan : nobody 'Tis sixty years since—just sixty years since being excluded whom the general consensus of Dr Chambers began work on the first edition. the ages has adjudged worthy of remembrance. Coleridge had then been dead for half-a-dozen In literature more than in most things human years, but Southey was still laureate and die Weltgeschichte ist das Weltgericht, history Wordsworth was in vigorous health. Tennyson is the supreme and final judge; in the end it had not yet published those two volumes that is the best books that live. gave him a secure place amongst English poets. John Ruskin, Charles Kingsley, and Matthew Our enterprise has a quite definite aim, and Arnold were still at Oxford, and William Morris from the nature of the case its scope is limited was a schoolboy. Marian Evans, at Griff, had severely limited by the boundlessness of as yet no literary ambitions, and George Mere- the materials with which it deals. dith had not sent his first contribution to and is not meant to be, an anthology of the Chambers's Journal. Macaulay was M.P. for perfect models of our prose and verse, a Edinburgh, but had not published his Lays chrestomathy of purple patches, a collection or begun bis History. The reputation Carlyle of elegant extracts. The acknowledged gem had made by the French Revolution was but five should be there, if the man is mainly known years old, Thackeray's first volume was lately by some one noble passage, one sonnet, one published, and Dickens had issued only a very song, one aphorism or sententious saying ; but few of the long series of his stories. Darwin something there should be, as a rule, to illushad not yet put on paper the first rough sketch trate his average achievement, the standard by of his evolution theory, and Huxley was a which he may fairly be judged. Nor does the young medical student. Emerson was hardly work profess to be a marrow of our literature, known in England; Longfellow and Lowell or to give the spirit and quintessence of the had each published but one volume of original | several authors; still less does it aim to
It is not,