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INTRODUCTION. [Illustration] Thackeray In His Study At Onslow Square. From a painting by E. M. Ward We know exceedingly little of the genesis and progress of Esmond. “It did not seem to be a part of our lives as Pendennis was,” says Lady Ritchie, though she wrote part of it to dictation. She “only heard Esmond spoken of very rarely”. Perhaps its state was not the less gracious. The Milton girls found Paradise Lost a... more...

PREFACE. As this volume, although not the first in chronological order, is likely to be the first to appear in the Series of which it forms part, and of which the author has the honour to be editor, it may be well to say a few words here as to the scheme of this Series generally. When that scheme was first sketched, it was necessarily objected that it would be difficult, if not impossible, to obtain contributors who could boast intimate and... more...

ADVERTISEMENT. [Prefaced to Edition issued in 1808, edited by Sir Walter Scott.] After the lapse of more than a century since the author's death, the Works of Dryden are now, for the first time, presented to the public in a complete and uniform edition. In collecting the pieces of one of our most eminent English classics,—one who may claim at least the third place in that honoured list, and who has given proofs of greater versatility of... more...

LIFE TILL MARRIAGE Scott's own 'autobiographic fragment,' printed in Lockhart's first volume, has made other accounts of his youth mostly superfluous, even to a day which persists in knowing better about everything and everybody than it or they knew about themselves. No one ever recorded his genealogy more minutely, with greater pride, or with a more saving sense of humour than Sir Walter. He was connected, though remotely, with gentle families... more...

INTRODUCTION It is sometimes thought, and very often said, that political writing, after its special day is done, becomes more dead than any other kind of literature, or even journalism. I do not know whether my own judgment is perverted by the fact of a special devotion to the business, but it certainly seems to me that both the thought and the saying are mistakes. Indeed, a rough-and-ready refutation of them is supplied by the fact that, in no... more...


Chapter I. Life till Marriage, and Work till the Publication of the Poems of 1853. Even those who are by no means greedy of details as to the biography of authors, may without inconsistency regret that Matthew Arnold’s Letters do not begin till he was just five-and-twenty. And then they are not copious, telling us in particular next to nothing about his literary work (which is, later, their constant subject) till he was past thirty. We... more...

INTRODUCTIONTHE KINDS OF CRITICISM It is probably unnecessary, and might possibly be impertinent, to renew here at any length the old debate between reviewers as reviewers, and reviewers as authors—the debate whether the reissue of work contributed to periodicals is desirable or not. The plea that half the best prose literature of this century would be inaccessible if the practice had been forbidden, and the retort that anything which can... more...

PREFACE. An attempt to present to students a succinct history of the course of French literature compiled from an examination of that literature itself, and not merely from previous accounts of it is, I believe, a new one in English. There will be observed in the parts of this Short History a considerable difference of method; and as such a difference is not usual in works of the kind, it may be well to state the reasons which have induced me to... more...

PREFACE When my publishers were good enough to propose that I should undertake this book, they were also good enough to suggest that the Introduction should be of a character somewhat different from that of a school-anthology, and should attempt to deal with the Art of Letter-writing, and the nature of the Letter, as such. I formed a plan accordingly, by which the letters, and their separate Prefatory Notes, might be as it were illustrations to... more...

PREFACE "The second chantry" (for it would be absurd to keep "temple") of this work "is not like the first"; in one respect especially, which seems to deserve notice in its Preface or porch—if a chantry may be permitted a porch. In Volume I.—though many of its subjects (not quite all) had been handled by me before in more or less summary fashion, or in reviews of individual books, or in other connections than that of the... more...