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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...

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...

INTRODUCTIONTHE KINDS OF CRITICISM It is probably unnecessary, and might possibly be impertinent, to renew here at any length the old debate between reviewers as reviewers, and reviewers as authors—the debate whether the reissue of work contributed to periodicals is desirable or not. The plea that half the best prose literature of this century would be inaccessible if the practice had been forbidden, and the retort that anything which can... more...

ALEXANDER POPE. This eminent English poet was born in London, May 21, 1688. His parents were Roman Catholics, and to this faith the poet adhered, thus debarring himself from public office and employment. His father, a linen merchant, having saved a moderate competency, withdrew from business, and settled on a small estate he had purchased in Windsor Forest. He died at Chiswick, in 1717. His son shortly afterwards took a long lease of a house... 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 magical, unpronounceable... more...


INTRODUCTION A section of a long and splendid literature can be most conveniently treated in one of two ways. It can be divided as one cuts a currant cake or a Gruyère cheese, taking the currants (or the holes) as they come. Or it can be divided as one cuts wood—along the grain: if one thinks that there is a grain. But the two are never the same: the names never come in the same order in actual time as they come in any serious study... more...

INTRODUCTION Gay's concern in his survey of The Present State of Wit is with the productions of wit which were circulating among the coffee-houses of 1711, specifically the large numbers of periodical essays which were perhaps the most distinctive kind of "wit" produced in the "four last years" of Queen Anne's reign. His little pamphlet makes no pretence at an analysis of true and false wit or a refining of critical distinctions with regard to... more...

CHAPTER I. INTRODUCTION. Information of Mediæval Europe Concerning India and Persia—Travellers—India and Persia in Mediæval German Poetry. The knowledge which mediæval Europe had of India and Persia was mostly indirect, and, as might be expected, deficient both in correctness and extent, resting, as it did, on the statements of classical and patristic writers, on hearsay and on oral communication. In the... more...

Shakespeare's England and London Shakespeare lived in a period of change. In religion, politics, literature, and commerce, in the habits of daily living, in the world of ideas, his lifetime witnessed continual change and movement. When Elizabeth came to the throne, six years before he was born, England was still largely Catholic, as it had been for nine centuries; when she died England was Protestant, and by the date of Shakespeare's death it... more...

There was a certain island in the sea, the only inhabitants of which were an old man, whose name was Prospero, and his daughter Miranda, a very beautiful young lady. She came to this island so young, that she had no memory of having seen any other human face than her father's. They lived in a cave or cell, made out of a rock; it was divided into several apartments, one of which Prospero called his study; there he kept his books, which chiefly... more...