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SOME THOUGHTS OF A READER OF TENNYSON Fifty years after Tennyson’s birth he was saluted a great poet by that unanimous acclamation which includes mere clamour.  Fifty further years, and his centenary was marked by a new detraction.  It is sometimes difficult to distinguish the obscure but not unmajestic law of change from the sorry custom of reaction.  Change hastes not and rests not, reaction... 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... more...

EARLY LIFE. 'I was of a low and inconsiderable generation, my father's house being of that rank that is meanest and most despised of all families in the land.' 'I never went to school, to Aristotle or Plato, but was brought up in my father's house in a very mean condition, among a company of poor countrymen.' 'Nevertheless, I bless God that by this door He brought me... more...

PREFACE: ON FLUCTUATIONS OF TASTE When Voltaire sat down to write a book on Epic Poetry, he dedicated his first chapter to "Differences of Taste in Nations." A critic of to-day might well find it necessary, on the threshold of a general inquiry, to expatiate on "Differences of Taste in Generations." Changes of standard in the arts are always taking place, but it is only with advancing... more...

RAFTERY I. One winter afternoon as I sat by the fire in a ward of Gort Workhouse, I listened to two old women arguing about the merits of two rival poets they had seen and heard in their childhood. One old woman, who was from Kilchreest, said: 'Raftery hadn't a stim of sight; and he travelled the whole nation; and he was the best poet that ever was, and the best fiddler. It was always at my... 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... more...

ON THE LIFE AND WRITINGS OF MR. DISRAELI. BY HIS SON. The traditionary notion that the life of a man of letters is necessarily deficient in incident, appears to have originated in a misconception of the essential nature of human action. The life of every man is full of incidents, but the incidents are insignificant, because they do not affect his species; and in general the importance of every... more...

CHAPTER I BALLAD CHARACTERISTICS'Layés that in harpingBen y-found of ferli thing;Sum beth of wer, and sum of wo,Sum of joye and mirthe also;And sum of treacherie and gile;Of old aventours that fell while;And sum of bourdes and ribaudy;And many ther beth of faëry,—Of all things that men seth;Maist o' love forsoth they beth.'The Lay of the Ash. Who would set forth to explore the realm... more...

Chapter I THE COURAGE OF HUGH WALPOLE i Says his American contemporary, Joseph Hergesheimer, in an appreciation of Hugh Walpole: “Mr. Walpole’s courage in the face of the widest scepticism is nowhere more daring than in The Golden Scarecrow.” Mr. Walpole’s courage, I shall always hold, is nowhere more apparent than in the choice of his birthplace. He was born in the Antipodes. Yes! In that... 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... more...