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When I was honoured by the invitation to deliver this course of lectures, I did not accept without some hesitation. I am not qualified to speak with authority upon such subjects as have been treated by my predecessors—the course of political events or the growth of legal institutions. My attention has been chiefly paid to the history of literature, and it might be doubtful whether that study is properly included in the phrase 'historical.'... more...

BRITANNIA. I. The people that now occupies England was formed, like the French people, by the fusion of several superimposed races. In both countries the same races met and mingled at about the same period, but in different proportions and under dissimilar social conditions. Hence the striking resemblances and sharply defined contrasts that exist in the genius of the two nations. Hence also the contradictory sentiments which mutually animated... more...

The 18th of the Month Scheval, in the Year of the Hegira, 837. Thou Joy of ev’ry Eye! Thou Torment of every Heart! Thou Intellectual Light! I do not kiss the Dust of thy Feet; because thou seldom art seen out of the Seraglio, and when thou art, thou walkest only on the Carpets of Iran, or on Beds of Roses. I here present you with a Translation of the Work of an ancient Sage, who having the Happiness of living free from all Avocations,... more...

THE FIRE If I were 'seeing over' a house, and found in every room an iron cage let into the wall, and were told by the caretaker that these cages were for me to keep lions in, I think I should open my eyes rather wide. Yet nothing seems to me more natural than a fire in the grate. Doubtless, when I began to walk, one of my first excursions was to the fender, that I might gaze more nearly at the live thing roaring and raging behind it; and I... more...

THE DAWN OF A GALA DAY To begin with the old rigmarole of childhood. In a country there was a shire, and in that shire there was a town, and in that town there was a house, and in that house there was a room, and in that room there was a bed, and in that bed there lay a little girl; wide awake and longing to get up, but not daring to do so for fear of the unseen power in the next room—a certain Betty, whose slumbers must not be disturbed... more...


PREFACE Writing not long ago to my oldest literary friend, I expressed in a moment of heedless sentiment the wish that we might have again one of our talks of long-past days, over the purposes and methods of our art. And my friend, wiser than I, as he has always been, replied with this doubting phrase "Could we recapture the zest of that old time?" I would not like to believe that our faith in the value of imaginative art has diminished, that... more...

An April Day My study has been a dull place of late; even the open fire, which still lingers on the hearth, has failed to exorcise a certain gray and weary spirit which has somehow taken possession of the premises. As I was thinking this morning about the best way of ejecting this unwelcome inmate, it suddenly occurred to me that for some time past my study has been simply a workshop; the fire has been lighted early and burned late, the windows... more...

Dandies and Dandies How very delightful Grego's drawings are! For all their mad perspective and crude colour, they have indeed the sentiment of style, and they reveal, with surer delicacy than does any other record, the spirit of Mr. Brummell's day. Grego guides me, as Virgil Dante, through all the mysteries of that other world. He shows me those stiff-necked, over-hatted, wasp-waisted gentlemen, drinking Burgundy in the Café des Milles... more...

A CRITICISM OF THE HEGELIAN PHILOSOPHY OF RIGHT As far as Germany is concerned the criticism of religion is practically completed, and the criticism of religion is the basis of all criticism. The profane existence of error is threatened when its heavenly oratio pro aris et focis has been refuted. He who has only found a reflexion of himself in the fantastic reality of heaven where he looked for a superman, will no longer be willing to find... more...

HENRY CUYLER BUNNER (1855-1896) The position which Henry Cuyler Bunner has come to occupy in the literary annals of our time strengthens as the days pass. If the stream of his genius flowed in gentle rivulets, it traveled as far and spread its fruitful influence as wide as many a statelier river. He was above all things a poet. In his prose as in his verse he has revealed the essential qualities of a poet's nature: he dealt with the life... more...