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English Literature, Considered as an Interpreter of English History Designed as a Manual of Instruction   By:

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English Literature, Considered as an Interpreter of English History.

Designed as a Manual of Instruction .

By

Henry Coppée, LL.D.,

President of the Lehigh University.

The Roman Epic abounds in moral and poetical defects; nevertheless it remains the most complete picture of the national mind at its highest elevation, the most precious document of national history, if the history of an age is revealed in its ideas, no less than in its events and incidents. Rev. C. Merivale.

History of the Romans under the Empire , c. xli.

Second Edition. Philadelphia: Claxton, Remsen & Haffelfinger. 1873.

Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1872, by Claxton, Remsen & Haffelfinger, in the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.

Stereotyped by J. Fagan & Son, Philadelphia.

To The Right Reverend William Bacon Stevens, D.D., LL.D., Bishop Of Pennsylvania.

My Dear Bishop:

I desire to connect your name with whatever may be useful and valuable in this work, to show my high appreciation of your fervent piety, varied learning, and elegant literary accomplishments; and, also, far more than this, to record the personal acknowledgment that no man ever had a more constant, judicious, generous and affectionate brother, than you have been to me, for forty years of intimate and unbroken association.

Most affectionately and faithfully yours,

Henry Coppée.

PREFACE

It is not the purpose of the author to add another to the many volumes containing a chronological list of English authors, with brief comments upon each. Such a statement of works, arranged according to periods, or reigns of English monarchs, is valuable only as an abridged dictionary of names and dates. Nor is there any logical pertinence in clustering contemporary names about a principal author, however illustrious he may be. The object of this work is to present prominently the historic connections and teachings of English literature; to place great authors in immediate relations with great events in history; and thus to propose an important principle to students in all their reading. Thus it is that Literature and History are reciprocal: they combine to make eras.

Merely to establish this historic principle, it would have been sufficient to consider the greatest authors, such as Chaucer, Spenser, Shakspeare, Milton, Dryden, and Pope; but it occurred to me, while keeping this principle before me, to give also a connected view of the course of English literature, which might, in an academic curriculum, show students how and what to read for themselves. Any attempt beyond this in so condensed a work must prove a failure, and so it may well happen that some readers will fail to find a full notice, or even a mention, of some favorite author.

English literature can only be studied in the writings of the authors here only mentioned; but I hope that the work will be found to contain suggestions for making such extended reading profitable; and that teachers will find it valuable as a syllabus for fuller courses of lectures.

To those who would like to find information as to the best editions of the authors mentioned, I can only say that I at first intended and began to note editions: I soon saw that I could not do this with any degree of uniformity, and therefore determined to refer all who desire this bibliographic assistance, to The Dictionary of Authors , by my friend S. Austin Allibone, LL.D., in which bibliography is a strong feature. I am not called upon to eulogize that noble work, but I cannot help saying that I have found it invaluable, and that whether mentioned or not, no writer can treat of English authors without constant recurrence to its accurate columns: it is a literary marvel of our age.

It will be observed that the remoter periods of the literature are those in which the historic teachings are the most distinctly visible; we see them from a vantage ground, in their full scope, and in the interrelations of their parts... Continue reading book >>




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