Billeder på siden
[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]


1816. Wilson's "City ofthe Plague.”.
1816. Leigh Hunt's “ Story of

1818. llallam's “ Sta:e of Europe

during the Middle Ages."
1819. Lockhari's “ Peter's Lellers

to his Kinsfolk."
1821. Lockhart's Spanish Bal.

1821. De Quincey's “Confessions

of an Opium-Eater."
1823. Lamb's “ E-says of Elia.”
1824-29. Landor's “ Imaginary

1825. Mazlili's "Spirit of the Age."
1927. Luckhail's “ Life of Burns.”
1827. Scott's “Life o Napoleon.”
1827. llalla m's “ Consitu ional

History of England.”
1828-30. Hazlitt's “I ile of Napo.

1830. Hazbit dieri.
1830. Mackintosh's “Dissertation

on Ethical Philosophy."
1830-32. Mackintosh's “ History of


1832. Sir James Mackintosh died.
1832. Scoit died.
1834. Mackintosh's “Hi-tory of

the Revolution, 1688."
1837. Lamb died.
1836–38. Lockhart's “Life of

1838–39. Hallam's “Literature of

1839-42. Alison's “History of

1842. Wilson's “Recreations of

Christopher North.”
1845. Sydney Smith died.
1847. Chalmers died.
1850. Jeffrey died.
1850. Leigh Hunt's

“ Autobio
1854. John Wilson died.
1854. Lockhart died.
1859. Hailam died.
1859. De Quincey died.
1839. Leigh Hunt died.
1807. Alison died.

Dickens, Thackeray, Lytton, Charlotte Brontë, George Eliot, Lever,

Charl s Kingsley, Beaconsfield, Charles Reade, Anthony Trol-
lope, Blackmore, Hardy, Black ; Tennyson, Browning, Mrs.
Browning, Rossetti, Morris, Swinburne ; Macaulay, Carlyle,

[ocr errors]


1847. Charlotte Brontë's “ Jane


1863. George Elior's “Romola."
1863. Thackeray died.



1864 Tennyson's “Enoch Arden."
1865. Matthew Arnold's “ * Essays

in Criticism."
1867–79. Freeman's "Norman Con.

1868. George Eliot's

“ Spanish
1870. Dickens's “Mystery of Edwin

1870. Dickens died.
1872. George Eliot's

“ Middle-

1873. Lytton's “Kenelm Chilling.

1873. Lytion died.
1875. Tennyson's "Queen Mary.”
1877. George Eliot's “ Daniel De.

1877. Tennyson's “Harold."
1880. Lord Beaconsfield's “ Endy.

1880. George Eliot died.
1881. Tennyson's “ Poems and Bal.


The Eighteenth-Century Periodical Essayists; New Departures

in Periodical Literature in the Nineteenth Century; the great
English Encyclopædias,

Pp. 443-458

[ocr errors][merged small]


HE present volume does not pretend to be a full record

of the literary activity of our country. Not only are
many writers omitted whose works are dear to those

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

ܐ ܐ

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

more practical utility than the most beautiful landscape ever
painted, but as it lacks the essential element of beauty, it will
not be placed in the same category.

In like manner many
Society and Solitude," p. 164 (English edition).

[ocr errors]
« ForrigeFortsæt »