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Selected English Letters (XV - XIX Centuries)   By:

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This anthology has been compiled with rather mixed motives. First, 'all for our delight' a rule that editors sometimes observe, and occasionally acknowledge; then, with the desire to interest as large a section of the public as may be. Here is a medley of gay, grave, frivolous, homely, religious, sociable, refined, philosophic, and feminine, something for every mood, and for the proper study of mankind. We do not hope to satisfy all critics, but we do not anticipate that we shall please none. Our difficulty has been that of choice. Many pleasant companions we have had to pass by; to strike from our list many excellent letters. Those that remain are intended to present as complete a portrait of the writer as space permits. Occasionally it was some feature of the age, some nicety of manners, some contrast in point of view, that obtained inclusion.

Into such an anthology the ordinary reader prefers to dip at random, looking for old friends or new faces, and has his reward. But if he is resolute to read letters in chronological order, he will also, we hope, find in our selection some trace of the development of the Epistolary art, as, rising through earlier naiveties and formalities to the grace and bel air of the great Augustans, it slides into the freer, if less dignified, utterance of an age which, startled by cries of 'Equality' at its birth, has concerned itself less with form than with individuality and sincerity of expression.

Three letters are included of which the originals were penned in Latin. In a few cases the spelling and punctuation have been modernized.

Our best thanks are due to Mr. J.C. Smith, whose kind criticism and inspiring suggestions have been of inestimable service to us in the preparation of this work.

M.D. H.W.


SIR THOMAS MORE, 1478 1535 To Margaret Roper. 'Wyth a cole' from prison.

MARGARET ROPER, 1505 1544 To Sir Thomas More. Reply to the above.

ROGER ASCHAM, 1515 1568 To Lady Jane Grey. A most accomplished maiden. To Lady Clarke. An offer of assistance.

FRANCIS BACON, 1561 1626 To Sir Thomas Bodley. With a copy of his book.

SIR THOMAS BROWNE, 1605 1682 To his son Thomas. Fatherly commendations. To his son Edward. Centenarians.

JOHN MILTON, 1608 1674 To a Cambridge friend. The choice of a profession. To Leonard Philaras. The blind poet.

JOHN EVELYN, 1620 1706 To Samuel Pepys. In retirement at Wotton. To the same. An old man's occupations.

DAME DOROTHY BROWNE, 1621 1685 To her daughter in London. Three interesting postscripts.

GEORGE, LORD BERKELEY, 1628 1698 To Samuel Pepys. Honourable acquittal.

DOROTHY OSBORNE, 1628 1698 To Sir William Temple. Passing the time. To the same. Another pretender. To the same. A disappointing preacher. To the same. The ideal husband. To the same. The growth of friendship. To the same. Wilful woman.

KATHARINE PHILIPS, 1631 1664 To the Honourable Berenice. Yielding to opinion.

JOHN LOCKE, 1632 1704 To William Molyneux. A philosopher's confidences. To Dr. Molyneux. True friendship.

SAMUEL PEPYS, 1633 1703 To George, Lord Berkeley. An explanation. To Mrs. Steward. A wedding in the City. To John Evelyn. Reply to an old friend.

JONATHAN SWIFT, 1667 1745 To Stella. The Dean at home. To Lord Treasurer Oxford. The Dean makes his bow. To Dr. Sheridan. News from the country. To Alexander Pope. Mostly about Gulliver . To John Gay. Enquiries into Mr. Gay's pursuits.

JOSEPH ADDISON, 1672 1719 To Alexander Pope. Translation of Homer. To Mr. Secretary Craggs. A bequest.

SIR RICHARD STEELE, 1672 1729 To Mary Scurlock. An explicit declaration. To the same. A pleasing transport. To the same. A lover betrays himself. To his wife. He proposes an outing. To the same. His greatest affliction. To the same... Continue reading book >>

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