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SIR JOHN MANDEVILLE
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES OF THE AUTHORS, SELECTIONS FROM THEIR
WORKS, WITH NOTES, EXPLANATORY, ILLUSTRATIVE, AND
DIRECTING TO THE BEST EDITIONS AND TO
AS A TEXT-BOOK FOR THE HIGHEST CLASSES IN SCHOOLS AND FOR JUNIOR CLASSES IN
CHARLES D. CLEVELAND.
NCINNATI: H. W. DERBY & CO.; BRADLEY & ANTHONY; J. F. DESILVER.
E. C. & J. BIDDLE, No. 6 SOUTH FIFTH ST.
Entered according to act of Congress, in the year 1848, by
CHARLES D. CLEVELAND,
In the Clerk's Office of the District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
The Publishers would hereby announce that the Sequel to the "Compendium," upon the same plan, and embracing the most prominent English Authors, dead and living, since 1800, and entitled "English Literature of the Nineteenth Century," is now published, and ready for delivery. The size of the volume is about the same as that of the "Compendium," and is sold at the same price.
PREFACE TO THE FIRST EDITION.
THE following work is, perhaps, as much the offspring of necessity, as of a love for the subject. In 1834, very soon after I opened my School for Young Ladies in this city, I felt greatly the want of a book to give my first or "finishing' class a knowledge of the best British Poets and Prose writers, arranged in a chronological order, to show the progress of the English language, with short accounts of the authors and of their works, and such notes as would direct the reader to the best editions of the writers, to the various criticisms upon them, and to other books upon kindred subjects which might be read with profit. But such a work I could not find. Accordingly, in 1838, I printed, solely for the use of my pupils, a small syllabus of the names of most of the British authors, with the dates of their birth and death, arranged under the different sovereigns. From this syllabus I delivered a series of lectures, from time to time, until I had gone through the reign of Elizabeth, when I determined, about four years ago, to prepare, as soon as I could, a work like the present. But numerous avocations have, until now, prevented me from completing my design.
I have felt it to be a duty to myself to give this brief history of my book, lest it should be supposed that the hint of it was taken from Chambers's "Cyclopedia of English Literature," recently reprinted in this country. On the contrary, it is apparent, that, years before that work was published, I had matured the plan of this, and had gathered materials for it. Besides, the "Cyclopedia," excellent as it is, is on a different plan, and far too voluminous for the object for which the "Compendium" is intended: yet the two, so far from conflicting with each other, may be mutual aids; for I should hope that my own work would give the reader a greater longing to extend his inquiries into the same most interesting subject-one so rich in every thing that can refine the taste, enlarge the understanding, and improve the heart.
In making selections for my work, I have not been prevented from inserting many pieces because they had previously been selected by others; for I did not deem myself to be wiser, or to possess a better taste, than hundreds who have gleaned from the same rich field. Hence, while much, to the generality of readers, will be new, some extracts may also be found that will be familiar. But, like old friends, their re-appearance, I hope, will be hailed with pleasure. Besides, I have constantly endeavored to bear in mind a truth, which even those engaged in education may sometimes forget, that what is well known to us, must be new to every successive generation; and, therefore, that all books of selections designed for them, should contain a portion of such pieces as all of any pretensions to taste have united to admire. Milton's "Invocation to Light," Pope's "Messiah," Goldsmith's "Village Pastor," and Gray's "Elegy" are illustrations of my meaning.
But if any one should miss some favorite piece, let him reflect that I could not put in every thing, and be assured that often, very often I have felt no little pain in being compelled, from my narrow limits, to reject pieces of acknowledged beauty and merit. Let him but propose to himself, too, the task of bringing the beauties of English Literature into a duodecimo of seven hundred pages, and I am sure he will be little inclined to censure my deficiencies. I say not this to deprecate criticism. On the contrary, I invite it, and shall be glad to have all the faults in the work-both of omission and commission-faithfully pointed out.