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and Gibbon, Goldsmith and Sheridan, Cowper and Burns. Then comes the era of Romance dealt with in our Sixth Book. It is the great transforming epoch of Scott, Wordsworth, Byron, Shelley, Keats, Coleridge, Lamb, and Hazlitt. The wonder-worship that was to do combat with the critical forces of the age is mirrored in the typical apostrophe of Keats to the Voice of Romance,
The same that oft-times hath
Our Seventh and last Book is devoted to the literature of the era 1837-1900, which will probably be known as the Victorian. Although in inspiration, in intensity, and in sunny humour the Victorian age may have been surpassed, in fundamental brain power and in intellectual variety it is probably without a rival in our literary annals. It is the age of Carlyle, Newman, Mill, Emerson, Froude, Ruskin, and Spencer; of Tennyson, Arnold, Browning, and Swinburne; of Macaulay; of Dickens, Thackeray, George Eliot, George Meredith, and Thomas Hardy. To this age we give the title "The Ascendency of the Novel."
The present attempt at an historical survey of our literature from the invention of printing down to the present day makes no pretence of being exhaustive. It has been reported from an honest study of the materials, but we cannot hope to have escaped errors. We have written, not for specialists or scholars, but for the general public. We have hoped to interest and amuse, and in some measure to instruct ordinary readers. We provide no large-scale map, but a handy atlas to direct the student to an independent exploration of certain definite regions. Some attempt has been made at classification, scientific, æsthetic,
and moral, and we have tried to refer individual works to their respective types. More importance, however, is attached to the biographical element, which sets forth the environment and personality of authors.
In attempting to supply an index to the best things that have been said and the best things that have been written about English literature we have not disdained the plan of Baedeker in using a star (*). This, it is hoped, will be useful in helping those who are bewildered by the number of items in systematic bibliographies. But while trying to convey the verdicts of different ages and successive schools of critics, we have not by any means refrained from personal estimates. In short, a sincere attempt has been made to convey within moderate limits and with as much fulness and accuracy as was possible an introduction to English literature easy to read and understand, and at the same time not wholly devoid of value as a book of reference. The illustrations have been selected from the best available portraits.
The main part of this history has been done by Mr. Thomas Seccombe. The authors are both much indebted to Mr. J. H. Lobban, who has carefully revised the whole work. There are many other minor obligations, which it will be our pleasant duty to acknowledge in their proper places in the bibliographical notes appended to the various chapters.
THE KING'S ENGLISH
"Good reason has England to be proud of this son of hers who opens a new era in her literature."-JUSSERAND.
From xylography to typography-Gutenberg-Pre-Caxton English-William Caxton-His life and Dictes and Sayinges of the Philosophers-Caxton's influence on the language-Early printing and manuscripts.
THE invention of typography was not the result of a happy thought or of a flash of invention; it was rather the result of a long series of modifications and mechanical improvements, more especially in connection with the manufacture of tools, which took place between 1400 and 1440. This last may be taken as the critical date, which witnessed the transformation from Xylography to Typography; while the perfection of the art, as far as all its principles are concerned, is associated indissolubly with the printing of the Bible of forty-two lines, known as the Mazarine Bible, or First Bible of John Gutenberg, inaugurated at Mainz in the autumn of 1450. We do not know precisely when this impression of the Vulgate was completed, though we shall probably not be wrong in making it coincide with that of the greatest historical event of the age-the capture of Constantinople by the Turks in 1453. We know for certain that the Indulgence of Nicholas V. was printed at Mainz in November, 1454;