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if possible, no responsibility except for his own part in this Manual; and I have tried to express, even upon the title-page, the nature of the changes which his “ First Sketch " has undergone at my hands. The precise range and detail of those changes, however, it is impossible for me fully to point out, either upon the title-page or here.
In general, I may say that the substance of this Manual is Professor Morley's, and that the construction of it is mine. Even with reference to the substance of the book, however, I ought to explain that it differs in many respects from the “ First Sketch." I have retained from that work the essential part of every thing bearing directly upon English literature ; but I have tried to leave out every thing whose relation to English literature was either indirect, or, for American readers, bewildering : such as, on the one hand, extended references to Italian, French, and Spanish literatures ; or, on the other hand, a multitude of incidental allusions — genealogical, domestic, local, and titular ---- that would perplex no student in England, but are sure to perplex most students in America. changes in the substance of the “ First Sketch” have not been confined to those of omission. Wherever I thought it desirable, I have freely added materials not in the original work: for example, all of the Introduction excepting the first section ; sereral pages of the chapters on the fifteenth century; the larger part of the account of the nineteenth century; besides many of the paragraphs of introduction and transition scattered through the book. But the most of my work upon the substance of this Manual cannot be here specified; it consists of innumerable small bits of alteration and addition, fitted in and mixed up with the original materials, and no longer distinguishable from them except by a careful collation of the two books item by item.
In a large book like this - a book of minute historical, biographical, and bibliographical statement - the liability to errors in dates, names, quotations, and other small details, is something enormous. My endeavor to detect all inaccuracies whatsoever to be found in the materials which compose the present work has cost an amount of labor and anxiety that would hardly be imagined, except by those who know from experience what it is to go through, sentence by sentence, a book of this sort, and try to verify every fact asserted or implied in it. As the book now stands, it will be found, I think, far more trustworthy, even in this sacred matter of precision in small things, than most other works of the kind. Yet I know that, in spite of all my effort to keep them out, some inaccuracies must still have crept into the book; and I shall be exceedingly grateful to any reader who will kindly notify me of any error, whether large or small, which he may discover in it.
In the citation of book-titles, many of which, especially in the times before the eighteenth century, are long and diffuse, Professor Morley, in his “ First Sketch," has followed a custom which has hitherto prevailed in such books, and which may perhaps be adapted to the convenience of the general reader, but which is not strictly scientific; he has often given, in quotationpoints but without signs of ellipsis, only the leading words of a title : thus, “ Tragical History of Doctor Faustus," instead of “The Tragical History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faus
Moreover, in the spelling of old book-titles, his usage is not uniform, even for the same period, even for the same au. thor ; some titles are given in the antique spelling, others are modernized in part, and still others are modernized altogether. I confess that while for the ordinary uses of a text-book these methods of citation may be sufficient, and do certainly correspond to the common practice, I regret their adoption by Pro
fessor Morley in his “ First Sketch ;” and in my revision of that book, I began with the purpose of transforming all titles according to a fixed standard of precise and full citation. I was, however, soon forced to give up the attempt, as involving an amount of labor that I could not bestow upon the book; and I have contented myself with verifying every title - which I
had the means of verifying at all --- with respect to its accordance with the sense of the original.
In passing from the substance of this Manual to its construction, my task of explanation is made easy. · For this portion of the work, I alone am responsible. Any one who will take the “ First Sketch” and compare it with this Manual, with reference to the arrangement of materials into literary epochs, into chapters, into subordinate topics under chapters, and even in many cases into paragraphs under subordinate topics, will see that in all these particulars the Manual is a new book.
The disadvantages that I have observed as attending the use of the “ First Sketch ” as a text-book seemed to me largely to grow out of peculiarities in its construction. It is a mass of rich and various learning upon English literature, but densely packed together in small uniform type, with chapters very few and very long, with meagre indication at the head of each chapter respecting its contents, with no charts of periods and of the authors belonging to each period, with no analytic table of contents at the beginning, and with no analytic index at the end. It is lacking in perspective; in sharp and obvious divisions of the great departments of the subject; in such an adjustment of materials under these departments as to separate the essential from the non-essential, the more important from the less important; in paragraphs of transition that may give to the student, in the right places, a clew to the spirit and drift of what is coming, and to its relations with what has just gone. Furthermore, the narrative of English authors which it presents is told synchronistically and in fragments, — each of the principal authors being dealt with for a single stage of his career, then giving way to some contemporary author, and to another, and another, the first one then returning, and again giving way, and again returning, and so on, until the end of his career is reached. For the general reader, provided that he is already acquainted with the principal personages in English literature, and can thus witness, without forgetfulness or confusion, this flitting appearance and disappearance and re-appearance of names along the pages, such a method of narrating literary history is both interesting and helpful; it especially gives him & vivid sense of the actual contemporaneousness of authors in each group, and of the mutual entanglements and reciprocations of their lives. But for the average college-student, even though tolerably advanced in literary knowledge, the case is very different: the vast majority of these once famous names are new and strange to him ; their separate individuality cannot easily be grasped and remembered by him; and after some scores of them have flitted in and out before his vision, he finds it hard to collect around each name the facts pertaining to it as they lie dispersed over so many pages; he begins to get the wrong man into the right place, or the right man into the wrong place; and finally, unless supported by uncommon help from his teacher, he is in danger of surrendering to discouragement and disgust.
It is perhaps needless to say that all these disadvantages in the construction of the original work, I have endeavored to remove by an entirely new combination both of the old and of the new materials that have gone into the present work. Instead of the presentation of the careers of authors synchronistically and in fragments, they are, with the exception of two or
three names, here presented in wholes, - contemporary authors being carefully grouped together, but each author having the privilege of telling his whole story through before another one gets the floor. Moreover, the twelve centuries of English literature are here broken into natural and manageable periods, as explained in the Introduction ; each of these periods is boldly marked off from the others by subordinate title-pages and by conspicuous charts of names; in the exposition of each period, authors are grouped together in such manner as to give most prominence to those who are most important; and by the familiar device of using type of different sizes, the student is easily guided to those portions of the narrative which, for the immediate purpose of the recitation, deserve his chief attention, while, also, space is thus gained for materials that will be valuable to him for illustration and for subsequent reference.,
With respect to the proportion of parts in this work, there is one peculiarity about which I venture to offer a suggestion, especially to my fellow-teachers. Here are twelve centuries of English literature to be dealt with. In any proper account of these twelve centuries, how much space should be given to each century? Nothing can be plainer than that, in a wise and helpful treatment of such a subject, some centuries should be unfolded with greater detail than others; and, that the most help should be given to the student upon just those centuries on which the most help is needed, — that is, upon those centuries respecting which the materials within his reach are likely to be the most scanty, as well as the most difficult to handle. It will be safe to say, I suppose, that, wherever this Manual shall be used, there will be sufficient materials for studying the literature of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries ; namely, the works of the leading authors of those times, together with many periodicals and books in review of them. But for the