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THE AUTHOR'S “COMPENDIUM OF ENGLISH LITERATURE,”
PU. BLISHED BY
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1866, by
in the Clerk's Office of the District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
CT, IE TV IE I, _A. INT TY 7 S
o C O N S is T's o F
stereotyped by L. julixson & co. philadelphia.
The present edition of this work'is such a thorough remodelling of the former editions, the alterations of scheme are so fundamental and of detail so numerous, that it devolves upon me to state my reasons for changing, in these respects, a book with which the public had seemed satisfied for fourteen years, and of which there have been printed above twenty thousand copies. Such reasons are owing, mainly, to the progress and revolution of events, the changes in public opinion, and the shaping of literary history, since 1852,—the date of the publication of the first edition.
First: At the period named, a system of human slavery existed in our land, not only absorbing a large part of its practical energies, and spreading like a miasma through our entire social and political life, but poisoning the very centres of the nation's moral life, and giving bent to all its sentimental expressions; for it seemed as if the newspaper press, the educational press, and the religious press, as well as hundreds of pulpits, had challenged each other in a shameless eagerness to deny or ignore the essential rights of man. The principles not only of republican freedom, but of vital Christianity, being thus threatened, my duty, in the preparation of my work, seemed to me very plain,—to do what I could, appropriately, in my humble way, to counteract
the pernicious influences thus undermining the moral sense of the nation, by showing to all, and especially to our youth, that the highest minds of England, her greatest poets, essayists, orators, and divines, had ceaselessly labored to contribute their best intellectual wealth to the cause of liberty and righteousness. I therefore gave considerable margin to those general sentiments of justice and philanthropy as connected with the " inalienable rights" of man, which, if applied to the condition of our own nation, would tend to arrest its impending decay. I acknowledge that some of the purely literary claims of my work were thus subordinated in the first editions, by the course then pursued, as they may be said to be in the present,—though in a much less degree,—by the record I have now felt bound to make of the apostasy of a few leading English minds, who, during our recent struggle for "Union and Liberty," falsified their former noble record as champions for the right, by throwing the weight of their influence on the side of the slaveholding rebels. If the trial of storm shook these men from faith in those great principles which they proclaimed clearly enough in the sunshine, justice can know but the single duty of exposing the weakness and making it stand as a warning; and, though widely and bitterly denounced for my former course, and censured as I may be in some quarters for my present, I am more than willing to let both the records stand, verily believing that the views thus advocated are applicable not only to the phases of a transient time, but are founded on the basis of Eternal Truth.
But, thanks be to God I the moral necessity that thus constrained me to the course I took in 1852 exists no longer in these days of 1866. Human slavery, with its awful catalogue of crimes, has been swept away. The little band that, through every calumny of speech and every villany of persecution, bore