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within, I, like other menials, indulge in the entrance-hall, and the Sketch of French Literature, given at the commencement of the volume, is little more than a repetition of what I have been able to collect when it has been my good fortune to overhear the opinion of my Betters, of the La HARPES, and the CHÉNIERS, the BaRANTES and the VILLEM AINS, who, as critics, form the beau-monde of French society. But, to drop the metaphor, it appeared adviseable to add to the heterogeneous mass of criticisms collected in the present work, a sketch which might give the reader a general view of the progress of French Literature, and this I have endeavoured to do in the introductory Essay, as far as the limits of space, and the much more circumscribed limits of my humble abilities, would allow. That this View should be perfect, or even satisfactory to the enquiring reader, is impossible, since, from the small space allowed me, I have sometimes been obliged to express in a few words, the character of a writer whose works it would require volumes fully to appreciate. All I could do therefore, was to offer a few leading ideas which might make the reader acquainted with the peculiar characters istics of our Literature in every century, and at the same time point out where, if more were desired, fuller information could be obtained. This, therefore, is all I have attempted, and if in this I have succeeded, my purpose is accomplished and the reader will be satisfied.
With respect to the work itself, it requires but little experience in literary matters, to be aware of the extreme labour requisite in order to accomplish such a task, and of the impossibility of rendering it perfect and satisfactory to every class of readers. Some works mentioned, to many persons will appear undeserving of notice, while a few may wish that, for their particular advantage, more of the same class had been introduced. Many also may have been omitted which it will seem ought to have found a place in this volume ; nor has this omission always been wilful; for it has frequently arisen from the difficulty of obtaining, in a foreign country, access to books and information which could easily have been procured had this work been compiled in Paris. While alluding to this difficulty, it is however but just to say, that it was greatly lessened by the kindness of the London Booksellers, to whom (even when a perfect stranger) I never applied for assistance which was not immediately granted, and who often proffered it unasked. I am indeed the more anxious to acknowledge this, as I know a strong prejudice exists, especially among literary men, against the liberality of Booksellers, and I feel desirous, as far as my own experience warrants, to bear witness to the liberality of a class of men who
"Sate like a Cormorant once Fast by the tree of knowledge.” To avoid omissions, however, every possible precaution has been taken, and an Appendix has been added, containing a few books, of which no mention had been made. If nevertheless, any should still be found, the indulgence of the reader is intreated, for a defect unavoidable in
works of this nature, and which can only be removed as they proceed through future editions. Should a second one of this work be called for, no means will be left untried to render it as perfect as possible, and I shall feel obliged by any suggestion from the periodical
press which may enable me to accomplish so desirablo a purpose.
Having thus stated the motives which led to the composition of this work, the manner in which the task has been accomplished, and its claims to the indulgence of the “ Kind Reader,” I lave only, in concluding this lengthy Preface, to express my hope that it may answer the end for which it was intended, and by making the English more fully acquainted with the Literature of France, add to their stock of knowledge as well as of enjoyment, and obtain at the same time for the Writers of my own country, a higher degree of estimation than they have hitherto enjoyed in England.
PROGRESS OF FRENCH LITERATURE.
LITERATURE was first introduced into France, by the Normans, who inspired the Gauls with that love of the wonderful which is so peculiarly the characteristic of a warlike people, and will always be found most fully displayed in the compositions of a half-civilized nation. The rude spirit which these northern warriors infused into our early Literature soon gave place, however, to the gentler aspirations of the Troubadours; and the praise of beauty, as well as of valour, was the theme which occupied the early poets of France, from the thirteenth, to the end of the fifteenth, century. To the English reader the Language used by the writers of that period will appear almost unintelligible, but French had then already become so universal, that Brunetto Latini, a countryman and cotemporary of Dante, wrote in it, and gave as his rea