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ART of the substance of this book has
appeared in a popular magazine; but very much has been added, and some
has been taken away. The Essays are intended as a guide for self-helpers, which points out what to read, and how it should be read; and incidentally a view—presumably a new and fresh one-of the origin and antagonistic elements in English literature, is given. Without dogmatism, as the author hopes, these pages are not without opinion freely expressed; nor has their mission, that of carrying into thousands of homes a knowledge and love of English literature been without results, for letters, not only from England, but from Australia, Canada, and even California, speak of classes formed to carry on the studies indicated, and of young men and women won from the too often silly
and evanescent tales and novels of the day, to the pure and noble study of our glorious literature. That the good fortune which has hitherto attended these Essays may still wait upon the book is the only wish its author would express; but he would remind the reader of the purpose of this work, and would urge that the space occupied forbad a complete view of the most fertile field in the world, so that many names are barely mentioned or regretfully omitted. He has, lastly, publicly to thank Mr. Edward Pepper, who has before assisted him, for reading the book for the press, and for selecting the far greater part of the admirable extracts of the old writers which will be found in the early portion of this volume.