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Essays from 'The Guardian'   By: (1839-1894)

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Reliability: Although I have done my best to ensure that the text you read is error free in comparison with an exact reprint of the standard edition Macmillan's 1910 Library Edition please exercise scholarly caution in using it. It is not intended as a substitute for the printed original but rather as a searchable supplement. My e texts may prove convenient substitutes for hard to get works in a course where both instructor and students accept the possibility of some imperfections in the text, but if you are writing a scholarly article, dissertation, or book, you should use the standard hard copy editions of any works you cite.

Pagination and Paragraphing: To avoid an unwieldy electronic copy, I have transferred original pagination to brackets. A bracketed numeral such as [22] indicates that the material immediately following the number marks the beginning of the relevant page. I have preserved paragraph structure except for first line indentation.

Hyphenation: I have not preserved original hyphenation since an e text does not require line end or page end hyphenation.

Greek typeface: For this full text edition, I have transliterated Pater's Greek quotations. If there is a need for the original Greek, it can be viewed at my site,, a Victorianist archive that contains the complete works of Walter Pater and many other nineteenth century texts, mostly in first editions.


1. English Literature: 1 16

2. Amiel's "Journal Intime": 17 37

3. Browning: 39 51

4. "Robert Elsmere": 53 70

5. Their Majesties' Servants: 71 88

6. Wordsworth: 89 104

7. Mr. Gosse's Poems: 105 118

8. Ferdinand Fabre: 119 134

9. The "Contes" of M. Augustin Filon: 135 149



E text Editor: Alfred J. Drake, Ph.D. Electronic Version 1.0 / Date 10 12 01

PATER'S NOTE: The nine papers contained in the following volume originally appeared anonymously in The Guardian newspaper.

E TEXT EDITOR'S NOTE: I have not preserved the title pages of this volume, but have instead moved dates to each essay's end and included any necessary title page material in the heading area of the first substantive page.



[3] THE making of an anthology of English prose is what must have occurred to many of its students, by way of pleasure to themselves, or of profit to other persons. Such an anthology, the compass and variety of our prose literature being considered, might well follow exclusively some special line of interest in it; exhibiting, for instance, what is so obviously striking, its imaginative power, or its (legitimately) poetic beauty, or again, its philosophical capacity. Mr. Saintsbury's well considered Specimens of English Prose Style, from Malory to Macaulay (Kegan Paul), a volume, as we think, which bears fresh witness to the truth of the old remark that it takes a scholar indeed to make a [4] good literary selection, has its motive sufficiently indicated in the very original "introductory essay," which might well stand, along with the best of these extracts from a hundred or more deceased masters of English, as itself a document or standard, in the matter of prose style. The essential difference between poetry and prose "that other beauty of prose" in the words of the motto he has chosen from Dryden, the first master of the sort of prose he prefers: that is Mr. Saintsbury's burden. It is a consideration, undoubtedly, of great importance both for the writer and the critic; in England especially, where, although (as Mr. Saintsbury rightly points out, in correction of an imperfectly informed French critic of our literature) the radical distinction between poetry and prose has ever been recognized by its students, yet the imaginative impulse, which is perhaps the richest of our purely intellectual gifts, has been apt to invade the province of that tact and good judgment, alike as to matter and manner, in which we are not richer than other people... Continue reading book >>

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