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HARVARD COLLEGE LIBRARY
FROM THE LIBRARY OF
JOHN GRAHAM BROOKS
APRIL 25, 1939

Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1883, by

HARPER & BROTHERS,

In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.

All rights reserved.

ΤΟ

JOHN FISKE

WHOSE FRIENDSHIP AND EXAMPLE HAVE CONTINUALLY ENCOURAGED ME

I AFFECTIONATELY DEDICATE THIS BOOK

PREFACE.

THIS Volume contains the substance of a course of lectures delivered in Cambridge, and repeated in part in Philadelphia, during the winter of 1881-82. This statement will, it is hoped, incline the reader to overlook the direct appeals to his memory and attention, which may be permissible to one reading aloud to a friendly audience, although less pardonable in the formality of print.

In preparing this book for the press I have endeavored to make the references to the works of other writers. as full and as exact as possible, but I would once more explicitly acknowledge my indebtedness to Mr. J. A. Symonds, whose volumes on Italian literature have been of constant service; to Mr. Leslie Stephen, whose "History of English Thought in the Eighteenth Century" is a thorough exposition of many subjects barely mentioned by me; to Mr. Karl Hillebrand's profound “German Thought," and to Mr. Alexandre Beljame's "Le Public et les Hommes de Lettres." This last-mentioned book I have made use of continually, especially in the pages on the periodicals that preceded the Tatler, on Pope, and on Addison. Mr. Beljame's thoroughness and precision make his volume of inestimable value to

the student of the first half of the last century, and I am the more desirous of insisting in this place upon my obligations to him because his suggestiveness is so manifold that continual reference to his pages would have been monotonous. The literary histories of Hettner, Biedermann, Julian Schmidt, and Koberstein have been frequently consulted, and seldom in vain.

It will be noticed that this book is by no means a complete history of the literature of the last century: many important authors, like Prior and Smollett, have but a word given them; Fielding receives no full discussion; and many other writers are not even mentioned. My aim, however, has been rather to supplement the histories by pointing out, so far as I could, the more evident laws that govern literature. I have accordingly tried to show the principles that went to the formation of the literature of the last century, and also the causes of its overthrow. Many will doubtless be unwilling to subscribe to the belief that letters are controlled by laws. Mrs. Oliphant, a writer who deserves and receives the respect of all her many readers, affirms, in her admirable "Literary History of England in the End of the Eighteenth and the Beginning of the Nineteenth Century" (i. 7 and 8), that "every singer is a new miraclecreated if nothing else is created-no growth developed out of precedent poets, but something sprung from an impulse which is not reducible to law." If this statement is correct, literature forms a singular exception to what has seemed a universal rule. When we consider Mrs. Oliphant's delightful novels we find them occupying a normal position in the development of fiction, with their exact drawing of life and avoidance of direct

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