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Matthew Arnold   By: (1853-1919)

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[Transcriber's note: The inconsistent use of quotation marks in the original was retained in this etext.]

[Illustration: Matthew Arnold

From a Photograph by Sarony ]

Literary Lives






COPYRIGHT, 1904, BY CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS Published, March, 1904



Edited by Robertson Nicoll, LL.D.

MATTHEW ARNOLD. By G.W.E. Russell. CARDINAL NEWMAN. By William Barry, D.D. MRS. GASKELL. By Flora Masson. JOHN BUNYAN. By W. Hale White. CHARLOTTE BRONTË. By Clement K. Shorter. R.M. HUTTON. By W. Robertson Nicoll. GOETHE. By Edward Dowden. HAZLITT. By Louise Imogen Guiney.

Each Volume, Illustrated, $1.00, net





"We see him wise, just, self governed, tender, thankful, blameless, yet with all this agitated, stretching out his arms for something beyond tendentemque manus ripæ ulterioris amore ." Essays in Criticism .


It may be thought that some apology is needed for the production of yet another book about Matthew Arnold. If so, that apology is to be found in the fact that nothing has yet been written which covers exactly the ground assigned to me in the present volume.

It was Arnold's express wish that he should not be made the subject of a Biography. This rendered it impossible to produce the sort of book by which an eminent man is usually commemorated at once a history of his life, an estimate of his work, and an analysis of his character and opinions. But though a Biography was forbidden, Arnold's family felt sure that he would not have objected to the publication of a selection from his correspondence; and it became my happy task to collect, and in some sense to edit, the two volumes of his Letters which were published in 1895. Yet in reality my functions were little more than those of the collector and the annotator. Most of the Letters had been severely edited before they came into my hands, and the process was repeated when they were in proof.

A comparison of the letters addressed to Mr. John Morley and Mr. Wyndham Slade with those addressed to the older members of the Arnold family will suggest to a careful reader the nature and extent of the excisions to which the bulk of the correspondence was subjected. The result was a curious obscuration of some of Arnold's most characteristic traits such, for example, as his over flowing gaiety, and his love of what our fathers called Raillery. And, in even more important respects than these, an erroneous impression was created by the suppression of what was thought too personal for publication. Thus I remember to have read, in some one's criticism of the Letters, that Mr. Arnold appeared to have loved his parents, brothers, sisters, and children, but not to have cared so much for his wife. To any one who knew the beauty of that life long honeymoon, the criticism is almost too absurd to write down. And yet it not unfairly represents the impression created by a too liberal use of the effacing pencil.

But still, the Letters, with all their editorial shortcomings (of which I willingly take my full share) constitute the nearest approach to a narrative of Arnold's life which can, consistently with his wishes, be given to the world; and the ground so covered will not be retraversed here. All that literary criticism can do for the honour of his prose and verse has been done already: conscientiously by Mr. Saintsbury, affectionately and sympathetically by Mr. Herbert Paul, and with varying competence and skill by a host of minor critics. But in preparing this book I have been careful not to re read what more accomplished pens than mine have written; for I wished my judgment to be, as far as possible, unbiassed by previous verdicts.

I do not aim at a criticism of the verbal medium through which a great Master uttered his heart and mind; but rather at a survey of the effect which he produced on the thought and action of his age... Continue reading book >>

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