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A Literary History of the English People From the Origins to the Renaissance   By: (1855-1932)

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A Literary History of the English People


ENGLISH WAYFARING LIFE IN THE MIDDLE AGES (XIVth Century). Translated by L. T. Smith. Revised and Enlarged by the Author. 4th Edition. 61 Illustrations. Large crown 8vo, cloth, 7s. 6d.

"An extremely fascinating book." Times.


Translated by E. Lee. Revised and Enlarged by the Author. Illustrated by 6 Heliogravures by Dujardin, and 21 full page and many smaller illustrations. 3rd Edition. Large crown 8vo, cloth, 7s. 6d.

"One of the brightest, most scholarly, and most interesting volumes of literary history." Speaker.

A FRENCH AMBASSADOR AT THE COURT OF CHARLES II.: Le Comte de Cominges, from his unpublished correspondence.

10 Portraits. Second Edition. Large crown 8vo, cloth, 7s. 6d.

"The whole book is delightful reading." Spectator.

PIERS PLOWMAN: A Contribution to the History of English Mysticism.

Translated by M. E. R. Revised and Enlarged by the Author. Illustrated. Demy 8vo, cloth, 12s.

"This masterly interpretation of an epoch making book." Standard.




MEDIÆVAL LONDON from manuscript 16 F. II in the British Museum


A Literary History of The English People

from the Origins To the Renaissance


J. J. Jusserand

London T. Fisher Unwin Mdcccccv


Many histories have preceded this one; many others will come after. Such is the charm of the subject that volunteers will never be lacking to undertake this journey, so hard, so delightful too.

As years go on, the journey lengthens: wider grows the field, further advance the seekers, and from the top of unexplored headlands, through morning mists, they descry the outlines of countries till then unknown. They must be followed to realms beyond the grave, to the silent domains of the dead, across barren moors and frozen fens, among chill rushes and briars that never blossom, till those Edens of poetry are reached, the echoes of which, by a gift of fairies or of muses, still vibrate to the melody of voices long since hushed.

More has been done during the last fifty years to shed light on the origins than in all the rest of modern times. Deciphering, annotating, printing, have gone on at an extraordinary pace and without interruption; the empire of letters has thus been enlarged, according to the chances of the explorers' discoveries, by gardens and deserts, cloudy immensities, and boundless forests; its limits have receded into space: at least so it seems to us. We laugh at the simplicity of honest Robertson, who in the last century wondered at the superabundance of historical documents accessible in his time: the day is not far distant when we shall be laughed at in the same way for our own simplicity.

The field of literary history widens in another manner yet, and one that affects us more nearly. The years glide on so rapidly that the traveller who started to explore the lands of former times, absorbed by his task, oblivious of days and months, is surprised on his return at beholding how the domain of the past has widened. To the past belongs Tennyson, the laureate; to the past belongs Browning, and that ruddy smiling face, manly and kind, which the traveller to realms beyond intended to describe from nature on his coming back among living men, has faded away, and the grey slab of Westminster covers it. A thing of the past, too, the master who first in France taught the way, daring in his researches, straightforward in his judgments, unmindful of consequences, mindful of Truth alone; whose life was a model no less than his work. The work subsists, but who shall tell what the life has been, and what there was beneficent in that patriarchal voice with its clear, soft, and dignified tones? The life of Taine is a work which his other works have not sufficiently made known... Continue reading book >>

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