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our splendid English tongue owe a deep debt to the author of this work.
Its first eleven impressions touched very lightly on the nineteenth century, but an arrangement was come to with Baron Tauchnitz, at whose request Professor Morley had written an account of English Literature in the Reign of Victoria for his Collection of British Authors, whereby part of that volume was, thanks to the friendliness of the great German firm, incorporated, together with some new matter, in the twelfth edition of this work. The Supplement bringing the work down to the close of the Victorian era, which was added to the edition of 1901, has been entirely rewritten and much augmented for the present edition by Mr. E. W. Edmunds, M.A., B.Sc., who has treated of a large number of writers (including many still happily with us) who are unmentioned in previous editions.
In this Supplement Mr. Edmunds has set himself the task of continuing the work on the lines adopted by Professor Morley, and of bringing the First Sketch of English Literature down to the deaths of those great figures of our later literary world -Swinburne and Meredith. In effecting this, the author has had to treat rather more fully than Professor Morley had been able to do writers such as Tennyson, Browning, and Stevenson, who were prominent towards the limit of his period ; and it is believed that the new Supplement, taken together with Professor Morley's final chapter, will give the student a comprehensive, and to a large extent a critical, view of the various forces at work in our literature for the past hundred years.
The new classification of writers in the later years of the Victorian, and the earlier of the succeeding, era will, it is hoped be found both to facilitate criticism on the part of the reader, and to supplement in the true sense the good work done by Professor Morley, in showing the way to the best literature that has been produced by our countrymen in our own time.
1. The Literature of a People tells its life. History records its deeds; but Literature brings to us, yet warm with their first heat, the appetites and passions, the keen intellectual debate, the higher promptings of the soul, whose blended energies produced the substance of the record. We see some part of a man's outward life and guess his character, but do not know it as we should if we heard also the debate within, loud under outward silence, and could be spectators of each conflict for which lists are set within the soul. Such witnesses we are, through English Literature, of the life of our own country. Let us not begin the study with a dull belief that it is but a bewilderment of names, dates, and short summaries of conventional opinion, which must be learnt by rote. As soon as we can feel that we belong to a free country with a noble past, let us begin to learn through what endeavours and to what end it is free. Liberty as an abstraction is not worth a song. It is precious only for that which it enables us to be and do. Let us bring our hearts, then, to the study which we here begin, and seek through it accord with that true soul of our country by which we may be encouraged to maintain in our own day the best work of our forefathers.
The literature of this country has for its most distinctive mark the religious sense of duty. It represents a people striving through successive generations to find out the right and do it, to root cut the wrong, and labour ever onward for the
love of God. If this be really the strong spirit of her people, to show that it is so is to tell how England won, and how alone she can expect to keep, her foremost place among the nations.
2. Once Europe was peopled only here and there by men who beat at the doors of nature and upon the heads of one another with sharp fints. What knowledge they struck out in many years was bettered by instruction from incoming tribes who, beginning earlier or learning faster, brought higher results of experience out of some part of the region that we now call Asia. Generation after generation came and went, and then Europe was peopled by tribes different in temper : some scattered among pastures with their focks and herds, or gathering for fight and plunder around chiefs upon whom they depended ; others drawing together on the fields they ploughed, able to win and strong to hold the good land of the plain in battle under chiefs whose strength depended upon them. But none can distinguish surely the forefathers of these most remote forefathers of the Celt and Teuton, in whose unlike tempers lay some of the elements from which, when generations after generations more had passed away, a Shakespeare was to come.
Their old home may have been upon the plains and in the valleys once occupied by the Medes and Persians, and in the lands watered by those five rivers of the Punjaub which flow into the Indus. We may look for it westward from the Indus to the Euphrates ; northward from the shores of the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Sea to the Caucasus, the Caspian, and the river Oxus.
Through the passes of the Caucasus it may be true that those known as the Celts first migrated to the region north of the Black Sea. Ezekiel, 600 years B.C., named Gomer as a nation, placing it in the north quarter, that is, south of the Caucasus. Æschylus, about 130 years later, placed the Cimmerians (whose name lives with our Welsh countrymen as Cymry) about the Sea of Azov and in the peninsula called from them the Crimea. We are told that in Assyrian inscriptions the Sacan or Scythian population which spread over the Persian Empire was called Gimiri ; and the two words (each, perhaps, meaning “ rover ") were applied afterwards to separate branches of the same national stock. North of the Black Sea, between the Danube and the Don, were the Cimmerian or Cymric Celts. East of the Don were the Scyths, whose name may live among ourselves as Sco:, since they are thought to be forefathers of