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1816. Wilson's "City ofthe Plague.”.
during the Middle Ages."
to his Kinsfolk."
of an Opium-Eater."
History of England.”
on Ethical Philosophy."
1832. Sir James Mackintosh died.
the Revolution, 1688."
CHAPTER X.-OUR OWN TIMES.
Charl s Kingsley, Beaconsfield, Charles Reade, Anthony Trol-
Contents and Chronology.
1825. Macaulay's Edinburg! Re-
view article on Milion.
1841–46. Browning's “Bells and
1847. Charlotte Brontë's “ Jane
1864 Tennyson's “Enoch Arden."
1873. Lytton's “Kenelm Chilling.
CHAP. XI. - PERIODICALS, REVIEWS, AND ENCYCLOPÆDIAS.
in Periodical Literature in the Nineteenth Century; the great
PLAN OF THE WORK-SOME HINTS ON THE STUDY
OF ENGLISH LITERATURE,
of the literary activity of our country. Not only are
laboricus pedants who speak contemptuously of the literature of our own time, but regard with admiring reverence the rubbish bequeathed to us by wretched playwrights and dreary prose writers of three or four centuries ago; not only are the names of these forgotten worthies, whose proper place is in bibliographies and biographical dictionaries, passed over, but a great number of authors whose writings are of real and permanent value, and should in nowise be neglected by those who can find time and opportunity for the thoroughgoing study of our noble literature, are either not mentioned at all, or only very slightly alluded to. The plan adopted in this book has been to deal solely with the very greatest names in the several departments of English literature—with those writers whose works are among the most imperishable glories of Britain, and with whom it is a disgrace for even the busiest to remain unacquainted. The time which most people are able to devote to literature proper is very limited; and if second or third rate authors are read by them, the result must inevitably be that first-rate authors will be neglected. “Always in books keep the best company," wrote Sydney Smith to his son with his usual good sense. “ Don't read a line of Ovid till you have mastered Virgil, nor a line of Thomson till you have exhausted Pope, nor of Massinger till you are familiar with Shakespeare." It is very obvious that those who
read Pollok's “Course of Time" while remaining ignorant of Milton's “Paradise Lost," or the writings of “A. K. H. B." while neglecting Bacon's “Essays" and Addison's Spectator, are guilty of a lamentable waste of time and misexpenditure of energy. “If you should transfer the amount of your reading day by day," says Emerson,' “from the newspapers to the standard authors—but who dare speak of such a thing ?” To expect people to give up newspaper-reading is certainly a very Utopian speculation, nor, indeed, is it desirable in many respects that they should give it up. But it is a very easy and practicable thing to obey the rule to study, the best authors first, for it may be safely laid down as a general principle that the greatest works of our literature are also the most attractive. No dramatist is so readable as Shakespeare; to no works of fiction can we relurn again and again with greater pleasure than to the masterpieces of Fielding and Scott; nowhere can the blood-stained story of the French Revolution be followed with keener interest than in the pages of Carlyle.
Literature is a word often so loosely applied, that it may be well at the outset to define exactly what we mean by it. By people in general it is used with a very wide range of meaning. Milton's “ Paradise Lost” and Buchan's “ Domestic Medicine;" Rhymer's “Foedera” and Macaulay’s “History of England," are ranked under the same all-embracing name. But literature rightly so termed is a word of much narrower signification. To entitle anything to be classed as literature, it must be so written that, apart from the meaning conveyed, its mere style shall be such as to give pleasure. Neither wealth of information nor depth of thought gives a work a right to be called literature unless the information and the thougiit be attractively expressed. From this it is clear that many books, otherwise of great merit, have no claim to consideration in a literary history. A plan of a country may have
In like manner many