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[3] THE making of an anthology of English prose is what must have occurred to many of its students, by way of pleasure to themselves, or of profit to other persons. Such an anthology, the compass and variety of our prose literature being considered, might well follow exclusively some special line of interest in it; exhibiting, for instance, what is so obviously striking, its imaginative power, or its (legitimately) poetic beauty, or again, its... more...

STYLE [5] SINCE all progress of mind consists for the most part in differentiation, in the resolution of an obscure and complex object into its component aspects, it is surely the stupidest of losses to confuse things which right reason has put asunder, to lose the sense of achieved distinctions, the distinction between poetry and prose, for instance, or, to speak more exactly, between the laws and characteristic excellences of verse and prose... more...

CHAPTER I: ADVENTURES AMONG BOOKS I In an age of reminiscences, is there room for the confessions of a veteran, who remembers a great deal about books and very little about people?  I have often wondered that a Biographia Literaria has so seldom been attempted—a biography or autobiography of a man in his relations with other minds.  Coleridge, to be sure, gave this name to a work of his, but he wandered from his apparent purpose... 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...

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...


Chapter I. The Historical Scope of the Subject. . . . . . . . . . Literature and Science. There are two words in the English language which are now used to express the two great divisions of mental production—Science and Literature; and yet, from their etymology, they have so much in common, that it has been necessary to attach to each a technical meaning, in order that we may employ them without confusion. Science, from the... more...

CHAPTER I. Walter Scott.[1] It was reserved for Walter Scott, "the Ariosto of the North," "the historiographer royal of feudalism," to accomplish the task which his eighteenth-century forerunners had essayed in vain. He possessed the true enchanter's wand, the historic imagination. With this in his hand, he raised the dead past to life, made it once more conceivable, made it even actual. Before Scott no genius of the highest order had lent... more...

CHAPTER I. A PRELIMINARY VIEW. Anglo-Saxon literature is the oldest of the vernacular literatures of modern Europe; and it is a consequence of this that its relations with Latin literature have been the closest. All the vernacular literatures have been influenced by the Latin, but of Anglo-Saxon literature alone can it be said that it has been subjected to no other influence. This literature was nursed by, and gradually rose out of, Latin... more...

CHAPTER I THE RENAISSANCE (1) There are times in every man's experience when some sudden widening of the boundaries of his knowledge, some vision of hitherto untried and unrealized possibilities, has come and seemed to bring with it new life and the inspiration of fresh and splendid endeavour. It may be some great book read for the first time not as a book, but as a revelation; it may be the first realization of the extent and moment of what... more...

Peter “No, Antone, I have told thee many times, no, thou shalt not sell it until I am gone.” “But I need money; what good is that old fiddle to thee? The very crows laugh at thee when thou art trying to play. Thy hand trembles so thou canst scarce hold the bow. Thou shalt go with me to the Blue to cut wood to-morrow. See to it thou art up early.” “What, on the Sabbath, Antone, when it is so cold? I get so very... more...