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Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1866, by
CHARLES DEXTER CLEVELAND, in the Clerk's Office of the District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
SERIES OF COMPENDIUMS OF GENERAL LITERATURE
Compendium of English Literature. 762 pp., large 12mo.
Comyrising English Aụthors from the 14th to the 18th century inclusive. English Literature of the vinteenth Century. 800 pp., large 12mo.
Çomprising living English authors, and those who have died in the 19th century. Compendium of Ilmorichu čijerature.
comprising American authors from the carliest period of American literature to
the present to.. Compeniivim of crassicaż literature.
Consisting of choice oxtracts translated from the Greek and Latin Prose Writers
STEREOTYPED BY L. JOHNSON & Co.
The present edition of this work is such a thorough remodelling of the former editions, the alterations of scheme are so fundamental and of detail so numerous, that it devolves upon me to state my reasons for changing, in these respects, a book with which the public had seemed satisfied for fourteen years, and of which there have been printed above twenty thousand copies. Such reasons are owing, mainly, to the progress and revolution of events, the changes in public opinion, and the shaping of literary history, since 1852,--the date of the publication of the first edition.
First: At the period named, a system of human slavery existed in our land, not only absorbing a large part of its practical energies, and spreading like a miasma through our entire social and political life, but poisoning the very centres of the nation's moral life, and giving bent to all its sentimental expressions; for it seemed as if the newspaper press, the educational press, and the religious press, as well as hundreds of pulpits, had challenged each other in a shameless eagerness to deny or ignore the essential rights of man. The principles not only of republican freedom, but of vital Christianity, being thus threatened, my duty, in the preparation of my work, seemed to me very plain,-to do what I could, appropriately, in my humble way, to counteract
the pernicious influences thus undermining the moral sense of the nation, by showing to all, and especially to our youth, that the highest minds of England, her greatest poets, essayists, orators, and divines, had ceaselessly labored to contribute their best intellectual wealth to the cause of liberty and righteousness. I therefore gave considerable margin to those general sentiments of justice and philanthropy as connected with the “inalienable rights” of man, which, if applied to the condition of our own nation, would tend to arrest its impending decay. I acknowledge that some of the purely literary claims of my work were thus subordinated in the first editions, by the course then pursued, as they may be said to be in the present,—though in a much less degree,–by the record I have now felt bound to make of the apostasy of a few leading English minds, who, during our recent struggle for “Union and Liberty,” falsified their former noble record as champions for the right, by throwing the weight of their influence on the side of the slaveholding rebels. If the trial of storm shook these men from faith in those great principles which they proclaimed clearly enough in the sunshine, justice can know but the single duty of exposing the weakness and making it stand as a warning; and, though widely and bitterly denounced for my former course, and censured as I may be in some quarters for my present, I am more than willing to let both the records stand, verily believing that the views thus advocated are applicable not only to the phases of a transient time, but are founded on the basis of ETERNAL TRUTH.
But, thanks be to God! the moral necessity that thus constrained me to the course I took in 1852 exists no longer in these days of 1866. Human slavery, with its awful catalogue of crimes, has been swept away. The little band that, through every calumny of speech and every villany of persecution, bore
its testimony against the foulest wrong that can be perpetrated upon man, has swelled into a mighty host, and is now moulding the policy of the nation whose governmental and moral integrity it has equally saved. I have therefore felt at liberty to drop from this new edition of my book most of the protests against the barbaric past, and to give the room thus gained to excerpts of a more strictly literary character.
The second marked change in my book results, of course, from the necessity of keeping abreast with the intellectual progress of the age,-the busiest-brained generation the world has ever known. During the last fourteen years, a large number of authors have emerged, from greater or less obscurity of reputation, into assured prominence in their several departments of literature; and one of my most delicate tasks has been to set forth in these pages a just record of such developments; and no effort has been spared to determine fairly, as far as I could, the comparative attitude, as well as the absolute literary status, of every prominent writer. That this has been, all along, a work of great and constant difficulty and embarrassment, I need hardly say; that I shall secure a unanimous verdict in favor of my success upon this point, it would be idle to hope; but of this I feel sure, that the most lenient criticism will be extended to me from those who have most widely viewed and critically examined this illimitable field.
There is one new feature of the present edition which, I am confident, will be universally acceptable,—the “Supplementary Lists” of secondary authors, alphabetically arranged and appended to each decade, with short notices of their chief works. They are classed as “secondary" only in a comparative sense; for, though they are writers of greater or less acknowledged excel
lence in their particular paths, they have not yet won such generally established repute as to justify my representing them in selections. Of course not one-fourth part of the possible illustrious roll is given; but those names have been assigned a place which in the judgment of the author possessed some element of interest that would make them generally sought for. Of these supplementary writers there are in the first decade twenty-one; in the second, nineteen; in the third, twenty-five; in the fourth, thirty; in the fifth, forty-one; in the sixth, thirty-nine; in the seventh, one hundred and eighty-nine; in all, THREE HUNDRED AND SIXTYFOUR, with here and there a gem from one of them ; while there
new authors, with more extended biographical sketches and selections.
But the chief embarrassment that attended me, from the beginning to the end of my labors, was not so much whom and what to insert, as whom and . what to leave uninserted. The very difficult-I might almost say the impracticable problem given for solution was, to present, in a volume of this size, a fair and adequately full view of the literary genius and products of the nineteenth century; and no one can fully appreciate the perplexity attending such a task unless he has gained some experimental knowledge of it. Conflicting claims of rank, of value, and of influence, both of authors and of selections, were continually forced upon me; and there was no court of ultimate appellate jurisdiction but my own taste and judgment: their decisions, therefore, however deficient, must be accepted. Often
1 They are--ARCHIBALD Alison, Jr., MATTHEW ARNOLD, ANNE BARNARD, HORATIUS BONAR, CHARLOTTE BRONTĚ, ROBERT BROWNING, CHARLES DICKENS, JAMES ANTHONY FROUDE, THOMAS GUTURIE, IIENRY IIALLAM, ARTHUR HELPS, DOUGLAS JERROLD, JOHN KEATS, CHARLES KingsLEY, JAMES SHERIDAN KNOWLES, ACSTIN HENRY LAYARD, EDWARD BULWER LYTTON, Hugh MILLER, WINTHROP MACKWORTH PRAED, ADELAIDE ANNE PROCTER, FREDERICK W. ROBERT30%, HENRY ROGERS, JOHN RUSKIN, PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY, ALEXANDER SMITH, THOMAS Noon TALO FOURD, ISAAC TAYLOR, WILLIAM MAKEPEACE THACKERAY, RICHARD CHENEVIX Trench, and NICROLAS WISEMAN.