States of America, as well as of Great Britain, together with marginal notes of important facts of history, art, philosophy, and science, of inventions, discoveries, and miscellaneous events attending the progress of civilization, are given under each age, and finally ocular summaries of these ages are afforded by the accompanying charts, intended as helps to the student in reconstructing the world as it appeared to and affected the great English writers of

the past.

(c.) The Manual has been prepared in the spirit of the modern method of instruction, dealing conspicuously only with those authors who have exerted most potent influence over English thought and language. Thus the general survey of each age is designed as a preliminary and surbordinate matter of consideration to the study of its representative writers who are subjected to special and full treatment.

(d.) The studies of these most famous writers in English literature are arranged in a manner to elicit the attention, arouse the interest, and train the imaginative and critical powers of the student. In order “to supply as much as possible the want of present, personal, direct, and sensible observation which we can no longer practise," and which is the “only means of knowing men," details are given in each case respecting the author's personal appearance, habits, homes, friends, and character; while the free use of extracts from their letters and journals, the collections of comments, mots, etc., referring to them, are intended to serve as further assistance to the student in reconstructing through his imagination these men of other days, and in feeling towards them a close and intimate relationship. Every student should recognize as readily the portraits of John Milton, Geoffrey Chaucer, Sir Walter Scott, and the other luminaries of English literature, and entertain as vivid and distinct an idea of them as living authors, toiling and impassioned, fortified in their prejudices and peculiarities, with their customs, manners, and habits, as of the foremost writer of his own age and nation.

(e.) This volume also attempts to promote and popularize that analytical and psychological study of the masterpieces of English literature now practised to a greater or less extent in leading schools and colleges. Literary works are the sublimest fruit of human genius; they are creations. Beneath the smoothly-flowing verses, the narrative details, and character conceptions lies an underworld to be exhumed only by profound critical study. To work out such a psychology requires an expert; but during the last half century skilful critics have zealously engaged in this field of labor, so that with the assistance of their interpretations and a well-planned course of analytical study every student can acquire a critical education which will enable him to become in some degree his own literary anatomist.

(f.) The Manual has somewhat the nature of a compilation--an innovation upon the usual style of text-books which perhaps requires an explanation. Literature is not a science whose leading principles can be systematically exhibited within a moderate compass, and of which a complete elementary knowledge can be imparted within a limited time. English literature, even in its most restricted sense, covers a vast field through which, properly speaking, there is no short-cut. Compendiums of English literature describe the field of labor instead of placing it before the student for personal examination, and hence, by converting the study into a mere exercise of the memory, fail to accomplish the most advantageous result. The only road to a competent knowledge of English literature is that of personal investigation, not only among its masterpieces, but also among the critical reviews and biographical essays pertaining to them and their authors, which are scattered here and there over the whole field of literature—a labor requiring study so extensive as to be impracticable to the ordinary student. To make this road of investigation accessible as far as possible to the student, even during the limited time devoted to the study in the usual courses of instruction, the following volume attempts, by presenting within the limits of a convenient manual a carefully collected mass of facts and information respecting the representative English authors from varied and reliable sources, together with celebrated and characteristic passages referring to them and their writings, quoted from the works of the keenest critics of Europe and America. It is hoped that the study of English literature pursued according to this plan will result not alone in the acquirement of a knowledge of the great writers and their works, but in an acquaintance with those productions of æsthetic criticism which constitute in themselves so valuable a part of literature, and in the development and discipline of the critical powers by which the various merits of literary works may be discerned and their dependence or bearing on each other traced.

(g) A list of books of reference for collateral reading has been given in connection with the topics under consideration. Nor have the literatures of France, Germany, Italy, and Spain been neglected in this respect; attention is drawn to various translations and works of criticism relating to them, for the purpose of arousing a cosmopolitical interest in literature.

II. As a Guide to the General Reader. Within the last few years there has also been awakened a deeper interest in English literature among general readers. Cheap editions of the best authors have placed them within reach of the masses, and it is rapidly becoming the fashion in polite circles to cultivate polite literature. Here then, perhaps more pressing than elsewhere, is the demand for an advantageous and interesting scheme of reading, particularly with those who, though possessing a desire for literary culture, cannot conveniently place themselves under competent instructors, and so are often at a loss how and where to begin and to pursue their studies. The attempt to furnish assistance to such was the primary object in the preparation of this volume. The topical arrangements of the studies of the representative English writers, the collected mass of general information respecting them, were made in the endeavor to enable any person possessing only the chief works of the writers themselves to acquire in a comparatively limited time a knowledge of literature which otherwise could be obtained only by prolonged study, systematically pursued, in an extensive library.

III. As a Book of Reference. It is also hoped that the historical outlines of the modern world's literature, the systematic arrangement of some of the most conclusive and characteristic passages of asthetic criticism, and the charts of contemporary sovereigns, literati, philosophers, and scientists, painters and sculptors, will render the work helpful as a book of reference.

Literature, more than any other distinct branch of knowledge, exercises an important influence on practical life-on the destinies of individuals and of nations. The character of a man is as much moulded by the books he reads as by the company he keeps-a fact which is being demonstrated in these days of an unrestricted press. Hence it is of the highest importance to every nation that a taste for pure and lofty literature should be developed among its people; and this is especially true in a republic where every citizen is free and self-governing.

The Manual is designed to meet a practical want. In the hope of its answering in some degree to this want, it is commended to the judgment of the teaching profession and to general readers of literature.

M. G. P. Springfield, lsass.



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