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within reach. The minimum list of such helps should
contain these indispensable works:
The Encyclopædia Britannica.
The Library of British Biography.
Allibone's Dictionary of Authors.
Ryland's Chronological Outlines of English Literature.
Morley's English Writers.
Ten Brink's English Literature (Earliest Times to
Surrey).
Minto's Characteristics of the English Poets.

Manual of English Prose Literature.
Ward's English Poets.
Craik's English Prose.
Green's Short History of the English People.
Traill's Social England.
Taine's English Literature should be within easy reach,
but it must be read with caution, it is intoxicating.

The student should constantly remember that the textbook is simply a guide, and that he should in every case consult as many authorities upon every topic as his time and opportunities will allow.

!

The Foundations of English

Literature

CHAPTER I

1

THE PHYSICAL GEOGRAPHY OF BRITAIN

The Element of Insularity.

“ Britain,” says Shakespeare in Cymbeline,is a world by itself.” It stands,

he says,

As Neptune's park, ribbed and paled in
With rocks unscalable and roaring waters.

Again he alludes to it in Richard II. as

This fortress built by Nature for herself
Against infection and the hand of war,
This happy breed of men, this little world,
This precious stone set in the silver sea,
Which serves it in the office of a wall
Or as a moat defensive to a house,
Against the envy of less happier lands,

This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England. This fact of the insularity of Britain has been the dominating element in its history. Although the Strait of Dover at its narrowest point is only twenty miles in width, it formed for centuries an almost impassable barrier between the island and the continent. No rougher more

treacherous body of water than this strait and

and

Insularity of Britain

Its Size and Contour

the adjacent seas can anywhere be found. The tides in places rise more than twenty-five feet, and they sweep with fury through the Channel. The North Sea, everywhere shallow and full of reefs, is subject to sudden tempests, the terror of seamen. When Cæsar attempted the subjugation of Britain, one of these storms swept away his transports, and a little later a high tide, together with a sudden tempest, shattered the greater part of his fleet. Any force save a Roman one under a general like Cæsar would have been destroyed by such a disaster. The second expedition was delayed three weeks by fierce winds, and after it had reached Britain forty transports were wrecked by a sudden gale. When Claudius had determined upon the conquest of the island he found the Roman army in a state of mutiny. For a time it utterly refused to invade a land protected by such fierce and treacherous seas.

This insularity of Britain, keeping it free during its early history from a mixing of foreign elements, has allowed it to evolve a strongly marked individuality, unlike that of any other nation of Europe. From the English conquest to the Norman, a period of six centuries, Britain received, with one striking exception,—the introduction of Christianity,--almost nothing from across the Channel. While all Europe was a kaleidoscope of shifting boundaries, mixing races, changing institutions and tongues, England was working out its problem practically alone, almost as if it were an island in the unknown Pacific.

Size and Contour. (Milner, The British Islands.) The area of Britain, when compared with that of the other great powers, is almost insignificant. England alone is smaller than the single State of North Carolina; com

Dominated by the Sea

The English Landscape

bined with Wales it is somewhat larger than the States of New York and New Jersey. In shape the island is like a distorted pear, or an irregular triangle with a base of 320 miles and an altitude of some 560 miles. Its contour is remarkable. The sea not only girdles it but indents it with numberless bays and estuaries which give to the island a coast-linę three times as long in proportion to the land surface as that of any other nation of Europe. There is no spot on the entire island more than one hundred miles from tide-water. The island was made by nature for the home of ships; an eyrie for the sea eagles, for the rulers of the Atlantic. The storm-beaten seas about it, fierce and treacherous, have been the training-school for the sailors of the world.

The estuaries of Britain played an important part during the conquests. They admitted the enemy's ships into the very heart of the island. They were the cause, too, of some of the earlier subdivisions. Draw a line between the Friths of Forth and Clyde, another from the Humber to the Mersey, and a third from the Thames to the mouth of the Severn, and you will indicate in a rough way the boundaries of the three rival kingdoms of Northumbria, Mercia, and Wessex.

The English Landscape. From the eastern shore, which in early years was lined with broad marshes, covered at low tide but now rescued from the sea, the land gradually rises with a pleasant alternation of valley and hill, until it culminates in a low mountain chain extending the entire length of the western coast. These mountains, which in Scotland and Wales become wild and broken, account for a great part of the present race distribution. The territory north of the Friths was never

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