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Amenities of Literature Consisting of Sketches and Characters of English Literature   By: (1766-1848)

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AMENITIES OF LITERATURE,

Consisting of Sketches and Characters of English Literature.

by

ISAAC DISRAELI.

A New Edition,

Edited by His Son,

THE EARL OF BEACONSFIELD.

[Illustration]

London: Frederick Warne and Co., Bedford Street, Strand.

London: Bradbury, Agnew, & Co., Printers, Whitefriars.

PREFACE.

A history of our vernacular literature has occupied my studies for many years. It was my design not to furnish an arid narrative of books or of authors, but following the steps of the human mind through the wide track of Time, to trace from their beginnings the rise, the progress, and the decline of public opinions, and to illustrate, as the objects presented themselves, the great incidents in our national annals.

In the progress of these researches many topics presented themselves, some of which, from their novelty and curiosity, courted investigation. Literary history, in this enlarged circuit, becomes not merely a philological history of critical erudition, but ascends into a philosophy of books where their subjects, their tendency, and their immediate or gradual influence over the people discover their actual condition.

Authors are the creators or the creatures of opinion; the great form an epoch, the many reflect their age. With them the transient becomes permanent, the suppressed lies open, and they are the truest representatives of their nation for those very passions with which they are themselves infected. The pen of the ready writer transmits to us the public and the domestic story, and thus books become the intellectual history of a people. As authors are scattered through all the ranks of society, among the governors and the governed, and the objects of their pursuits are usually carried on by their own peculiar idiosyncrasy, we are deeply interested in the secret connexion of the incidents of their lives with their intellectual habits. In the development of that predisposition which is ever working in characters of native force, all their felicities and their failures, and the fortunes which such men have shaped for themselves, and often for the world, we discover what is not found in biographical dictionaries, the history of the mind of the individual and this constitutes the psychology of genius.

In the midst of my studies I was arrested by the loss of sight; the papers in this collection are a portion of my projected history.

The title prefixed to this work has been adopted to connect it with its brothers, the "Curiosities of Literature," and "Miscellanies of Literature;" but though the form and manner bear a family resemblance, the subject has more unity of design.

The author of the present work is denied the satisfaction of reading a single line of it, yet he flatters himself that he shall not trespass on the indulgence he claims for any slight inadvertences. It has been confided to ONE whose eyes unceasingly pursue the volume for him who can no more read, and whose eager hand traces the thought ere it vanish in the thinking; but it is only a father who can conceive the affectionate patience of filial devotion.

CONTENTS.

PAGE THE DRUIDICAL INSTITUTION 1

BRITAIN AND THE BRITONS 12

THE NAME OF ENGLAND AND OF THE ENGLISH 24

THE ANGLO SAXONS 28

CÆDMON AND MILTON 37

BEOWULF; THE HERO LIFE 51

THE ANGLO NORMANS 59

THE PAGE, THE BARON, AND THE MINSTREL 70

GOTHIC ROMANCES 81

ORIGIN OF THE VERNACULAR LANGUAGES OF EUROPE 96

ORIGIN OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE ... Continue reading book >>




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