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INTRODUCTION. Sir Walter Scott's "Letters on Demonology and Witchcraft" were his contribution to a series of books, published by John Murray, which appeared between the years 1829 and 1847, and formed a collection of eighty volumes known as "Murray's Family Library." The series was planned to secure a wide diffusion of good literature in cheap five-shilling volumes, and Scott's "Letters," written and published in 1830, formed one of the earlier... more...

INTRODUCTION It is a happy memory that associates the foundation of our Royal Academy with the delivery of these inaugural discourses by Sir Joshua Reynolds, on the opening of the schools, and at the first annual meetings for the distribution of its prizes.  They laid down principles of art from the point of view of a man of genius who had made his power felt, and with the clear good sense which is the foundation of all work that looks... more...

INTRODUCTION. Arthur Young was born in 1741, the son of a clergyman, at Bradfield, in Suffolk.  He was apprenticed to a merchant at Lynn, but his activity of mind caused him to be busy over many questions of the day.  He wrote when he was seventeen a pamphlet on American politics, for which a publisher paid him with ten pounds’ worth of books.  He started a periodical, which ran to six numbers.  He wrote novels. ... more...

INTRODUCTION BY THE EDITOR. Recitation with dramatic energy by men whose business it was to travel from one great house to another and delight the people by the way, was usual among us from the first. The scop invented and the glee-man recited heroic legends and other tales to our Anglo-Saxon forefathers. These were followed by the minstrels and other tellers of tales written for the people. They frequented fairs and merrymakings, spreading the... more...

Jonathan Swift was born in 1667, on the 30th of November.  His father was a Jonathan Swift, sixth of the ten sons of the Rev. Thomas Swift, vicar of Goodrich, near Ross, in Herefordshire, who had married Elizabeth Dryden, niece to the poet Dryden’s grandfather.  Jonathan Swift married, at Leicester, Abigail Erick, or Herrick, who was of the family that had given to England Robert Herrick, the poet.  As their eldest brother,... more...


INTRODUCTION. Gilbert White’s home in the quiet Hampshire village of Selborne is an old family house that has grown by additions, and has roofs of nature’s colouring, and creeping plants on walls that have not been driven by scarcity of ground to mount into the air.  The house is larger, by a wing, now than when White lived in it.  A little wooded park, that belongs to it, extends to a steep hill, “The Hanger,”... more...

INTRODUCTION. Gilbert White was born in the village of Selborne on the 18th of July, in the year 1720.  His father was a gentleman of good means, with a house at Selborne and some acres of land.  Gilbert had his school training at Basingstoke, from Thomas Warton, the father of the poet of that name, who was born at Basingstoke in 1728, six years younger than his brother Joseph, who had been born at Dunsford, in Surrey.  Thomas... more...

INTRODUCTION. Again, on behalf of readers of this National Library, I have to thank a poet of our day—in this case the Oxford Professor of Poetry—for joining his voice to the voices of the past through which our better life is quickened for the duties of to-day.  Not for his own verse only, but for his fine sense also of what is truest in the poets who have gone before, the name of Francis Turner Palgrave is familiar to us... more...

INTRODUCTION. This translation of Xenophon’s “Memorabilia of Socrates” was first published in 1712, and is here printed from the revised edition of 1722.  Its author was Edward Bysshe, who had produced in 1702 “The Art of English Poetry,” a well-known work that was near its fifth edition when its author published his translation of the “Memorabilia.”  This was a translation that remained in... more...

It was in 1824 that Robert Southey, then fifty years old, published “Sir Thomas More, or Colloquies on the Progress and Prospects of Society,” a book in two octavo volumes with plates illustrating lake scenery.  There were later editions of the book in 1829, and in 1831, and there was an edition in one volume in 1837, at the beginning of the reign of Queen Victoria. These dialogues with a meditative and patriotic ghost form... more...