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TEIS work originated in a desire, on the part of the Publishers, to supply what they considered a deficiency in the Literature addressed at the present time to the great body of the People. In the late efforts for the improvement of the popular mind, the removal of mere ignorance has been the chief object held in view: attention has been mainly given to what might be expected to impart technical knowledge; and in the cultivation of what is certainly but a branch of the intellectual powers, it has been thought that the great end was gained. It is not necessary here to present arguments establishing that there are faculties for cognising the beautiful in art, thought, and feeling, as well as for perceiving "sand enjoying the truths of physical science and of fact. Nor is it needful to show how elegant and reflective literature, especially, tends to moralise, to soften, and to adorn the soul and life of man.
Assuming this as granted, we were anxious to take the aid of the press-or rather of the Printing | Machine, for by it alone could the object be accomplished-to bring the belles lettres into the list of those agencies which are now operating for the mental advancement of the middle and humbler portians of society.
1 It appeared that, for a first effort, nothing could be more suitable than a systematised series of
extracts from our national authors ; "a concentration"—to quote the language of the prospectus_“ of
the best productions of English intellect, from Anglo-Saxon to the present times, in the various departiments headed by Chaucer, Shakspeare, Milton-by More, Bacon, Locke-by Hooker, Taylor, Barrow
by Addison, Johnson, Goldsmith-by Hume, Robertson, Gibbon—set in a biographical and critical history 1 of the literature itself.” By this a double end might, it seemed, be served; as the idea of the work in.
daded the embodiment of a distinct and valuable portion of knowledge, as well as that mass of polite Eterature which was looked to for the effect above described. In the knowledge of what has been done by English literary genius in all ages, it cannot be doubted that we have a branch of the national history, not only in itself important, as well as interesting, but which reflects a light upon other departments of history-for is not the Elizabethan Drama, for example, an exponent, to some extent, of the state of the sational mind at the time, and is it not equally one of the influences which may be presumed to have modified that mind in the age which followed? Nor is it to be overlooked, how important an end is to
be attained by training the entire people to venerate the thoughtful and eloquent of past and present | tine These gifted beings may be said to have endeared our language and institutions-our national
character, and the very scenery and artificial objects which mark our soil—to all who are acquainted with, and can appreciate their writings. A regard for our national authors enters into and forms part of the most sacred feelings of every educated man, and it would not be easy to estimate in what degree it is to this sentiment that we are indebted for all of good and great that centres in the name of England Assuredly, in our common reverence for a Shakspeare, a Milton, a Scott, we have a social and zaiting sentiment, which not only contains in itself part of our happiness as a people, but much that counteracts influences that tend to set us in division.
A more special utility is contemplated for this work, in its serving to introduce the young to the Pantheon of English authors. The “ Elegant Extracts” of Dr Knox, after long enjoying popularity as a selection of polite literature for youths between school and college, has of late years sunk out of notice, in consequence of a change in public taste. It was almost exclusively devoted to the rhetorical literature, elegant but artificial, which flourished during the earlier half of the eighteenth century, overlooking even the great names of Chaucer and Spenser, as well as nearly the whole range of rich, though not faultless prodactions extending between the times of Shakspeare and Dryden. The time seemed to have come for a substitute work, in which at once the revived taste for our early literature should be gratified, and due
attention be given to the authors who have lived since the time of Knox. Such a work it has been the l' Bamble aim of the editor to produce in that which is now laid before the public.
He takes this opportunity of acknowledging that very important assistance has been rendered throughout the Cyclopædia of English Literature, and particularly in the poetical department, by Mr Robert Carruthers of Inverness.
EDINBURGA, August 15, 1843.
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
Autograph of Sir Philip Sidney, - 232 View of St Lawrence Church,
Illumination-Early Printing-Office, | Portrait of James Howell, - 255 Portrait of Sir William Temple, B01
Autograph of Howell,
256 Portrait of John Locke, . 508
Seal of Locke, .
Portrait of Thomas Hobbes,
| Portrait of the Honourable Robert
Portrait of William Tyndale,
Autograph of Selden, - - 282 | Portrait of Thomas Rymer, - 627
View of the House of Selden, - 283 | Portrait of Sir George Mackenzie,
Portrait of Jeremy Taylor, - 200 Mumination-Rape of the Lock, - 634
Portrait of John Knox, - . 303 | Autograph of Prior, . .
Portrait of Joseph Addison, . 540
Portrait of Archbishop Spottiswood, 306 Autograph of Addison, - -
Portrait of Francis Beaumont,
| View of the House of Cowley, - 313 Autograph of Swift,
View of the Tomb of Swift in Dub-
View of the Birthplace of Randolph, 145 | View of Waller's Tomb, .
Autograph of Pope, -
323 View of Pope's Villa, Twickenham,
Autograph of Gay, -
View of the House of the Earl of Fac-simile of Milton's Second Re-
Autograph of Somerville,
View of Gray's Inn Hall, . 164 Portrait of John Dryden, .
Illumination Steele Writing the
Portrait of Philip Massinger, .
Portrait of the Earl of Shaftesbury,
Portrait of Sir Roger L'Estrange, 423 | View of Bentley's Seat, in Trinity
CONTENTS OF FIRST VOLUME.
! SPECIMENS OF ANGLO-SAXON AND ENGLISH PREVIOUS
Beaufort, who afterwards was his Queen,
Extract from the Saxon Chronicle, 1154,
Description of a Sylvan Retreat,
Coronation, given by Layamon, in his translation of ROBERT HENRYSON,
Wace, executed about 1180, . . . | Dinner given by the Town Mouse to the Country Mouse,
GEOFTLEY CHAUCER, . .
How no age is content with his own estate, and how the
Joss BARBOUR, . .
Thomas TUSSER, . .
Directions for Cultivating a Hop-Garden,
Adventure of Wallace while fishing in Irvine Water,
| MISCELLANEOUS PIECES OF THE SECOND PERIOD,