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WILLIAM FRANCIS COLLIER, LL.D.,
TRINITY COLLEGE, DUBLIN ;
EDINBURGH ; AND NEW YORK,
This History of English. Literature is essentially biographical, for true criticism cannot separate the author from his book. Leaving entirely out of sight what is no light matter in a work written for the young,—the living interest thus given to a subject for which some have little love, so much do the colour and the flavour of that wonderful Mind-fruit, called a Book, depend upon the atmosphere in which it has ripened, and the soil whence its sweet or sour juices have been drawn, that these important influences cannot be overlooked in tracing, however slightly, the growth of a Literature. It has, accordingly, been my principal object to shew how the books, which we prize among the brightest of our national glories, have grown out of human lives—rooted oftener, perhaps, in sorrow than in joy; and how the scenery and the society, amid which an author played out his fleeting part, have left indelible hues upon the pages that he wrote.
Instead of trying to compress the History of our