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CHAPTER I BROWNING AND TENNYSON Parnassus, Apollo's mount, has two peaks, and on these, for sixty years, from 1830 to 1890, two poets sat, till their right to these lofty peaks became unchallenged. Beneath them, during these years, on the lower knolls of the mount of song, many new poets sang; with diverse instruments, on various subjects, and in manifold ways. They had their listeners; the Muses were also their visitants; but none of them... more...

CHAPTER I THOTH, THE AUTHOR OF EGYPTIAN LITERATURE.WRITING MATERIALS, ETC. The Literature of ancient Egypt is the product of a period of about four thousand years, and it was written in three kinds of writing, which are called hieroglyphic, hieratic, and demotic. In the first of these the characters were pictures of objects, in the second the forms of the characters were made as simple as possible so that they might be written quickly, and in... more...

I.—Mr. Pepys   Mr. Pepys was a Puritan. Froude once painted a portrait of Bunyan as an old Cavalier. He almost persuaded one that it was true till the later discovery of Bunyan’s name on the muster-roll of one of Cromwell’s regiments showed that he had been a Puritan from the beginning. If one calls Mr. Pepys a Puritan, however, one does not do so for the love of paradox or at a guess. He tells us himself that he... more...

The following Tales are meant to be submitted to the young reader as an introduction to the study of Shakespeare, for which purpose his words are used whenever it seemed possible to bring them in; and in whatever has been added to give them the regular form of a connected story, diligent are has been taken to select such words as might least interrupt the effect of the beautiful English tongue in which he wrote: therefore, words introduced into... more...

INTRODUCTION In came the cardinal, grave and coldly wise,His scarlet gown and robes of cobweb laceTrailed on the marble floor; with convex glassHe bent o'er Guido's shoulder.Walter Thornbury. STILL unrivalled, after the lapse of four centuries the villas of the great cardinals of the Renaissance retain their supremacy over their Italian sisters, not, as once, by reason of their prodigal magnificence but in the appealing charm of their... more...


OPINIONS OF AUTHORS Libraries are as the shrines where all the relics of the ancient saints, full of true virtue, and that without delusion or imposture, are preserved and reposed.—Bacon, Advancement of Learning. We visit at the shrine, drink in some measure of the inspiration, and cannot easily breathe in other air less pure, accustomed to immortal fruits.—Hazlitt's Plain Speaker. What a place to be in is an old library! It... more...

INTRODUCTION THE NORMALITY OF MR WELLS In his Preface to the Unpleasant Plays, Mr Shaw boasts his possession of "normal sight." The adjective is the oculist's, and the application of it is Mr Shaw's, but while the phrase is misleading until it is explained to suit a particular purpose, it has a pleasing adaptability, and I can find none better as a key to the works of Mr H.G. Wells. We need not bungle over the word "normal," in any attempt to... more...

INTRODUCTORY The habit, to which we are so much addicted, of writing books about other people who have written books, will probably be a source of intense discomfort to its practitioners in the twenty-first century. Like the rest of their kind, they will pin their ambition to the possibility of indulging in epigram at the expense of their contemporaries. In order to lead up to the achievement of this desire they will have to work in the... more...

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...

by Various
INTRODUCTION. In England, as elsewhere, criticism was a late birth of the literary spirit. English poets had sung and literary prose been written for centuries before it struck men to ask themselves, What is the secret of the power that these things have on our mind, and by what principles are they to be judged? And it could hardly have been otherwise. Criticism is a self-conscious art, and could not have arisen in an age of intellectual... more...