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MORE than twenty years ago the author of this work was invited to deliver, professionally, a Course of Lectures on English Literature. The lectures then prepared, with such additions and corrections as successive years of investigation and study naturally suggested, have since been annually repeated. In preparing them for the press the author has availed himself of every assistance that other publications on kindred subjects afford. In investigating the literature of the Saxons he has derived much assistance from Wright's Anglo-Saxon Period of British Literature, and Thorp's Edition of Cadmon; and in the period that immediately follows the Saxon, Ellis's Metrical Romances, and Wright's Lyric Poetry and Political Songs of the Reign of Edward I. have been of equal service. To Godwin's Life of Chaucer he also acknowledges himself particularly indebted.

After the age of Chaucer the exposition of English Literature is so full, and the expositors are so numerous, that in the selection of authorities, both judgment and discretion were required. The works to which the author is here most indebted, are Warton's History of English Poetry, Percy's Reliques of English Poetry, Hazlitt's Lectures on the Age of Elizabeth, the Lectures of Dr. Drake, Bale's Account of the Lives of Eminent Writers of Great Britain, Burnett's Specimens of English Prose Writers, Hallam's Literature of the Fifteenth, Sixteenth, and Seventeenth Centuries, and Chambers' Cyclopædia of English Literature. He has also made liberal use of various articles in the Edinburgh and other Reviews, and has, as occasion required, freely consulted the Biographia Britannica

Literaria. With aids so abundant, the author has still, in no instance, sacrificed his own judgment to the opinion of others; but has endeavored, in all cases, to present such views of the Literature and Literary Men of Great Britain and Ireland, as truth and justice seemed to require: aiming, throughout, to leave a correct impression of the moral influence which the life of each author, and each work noticed, is calculated to produce. He can not, however, withhold an expression of the deep solicitude with which he offers so important a production to the public; and in the language used by Burke under similar circumstances, he would ‘desire one favor, that no part of this work may be judged of by itself, and independently of the rest; for he is sensible he has not disposed his materials to abide the test of a captious controversy, but of a sober and even forgiving examination; that they are not armed at all points for battle, but dressed to visit those who are willing to give a peaceful entrance to truth.'


AUGUST, 1851.

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