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modify the native characteristics, have all been carefully noted at every step of the work. The author believes that there is no other way to understand fully the literature and the intellectual life of a people; nor is he alone in this view. “There is no greater desideratum in our literature at present,” says a recent English critic, “than a complete and able account of the history of English literature in which the connection between the literary and political history of our country shall be fully dealt with.” While the author of this book does not for an instant presume to assert that it is the work demanded above, he does maintain that it is written from the right standpoint. It has attempted to cover only the foundation period; it closes with the great era of Shakespeare and Milton, when the language and the literature and the people had settled into their permanent forms. The whole subject of English literature is too large to be covered in a single session: it is better to study it by periods, and the foundation period is the first well rounded unity. In the words of Saintsbury, “None but a charlatan will pretend that he has written, and none but a very unreasonable person will expect any one else to write, a history of the kind free from blunders.” The author will esteem it a favor if all who detect errors will communicate them to him. An attempt has been made to base all facts upon reliable authorities. The chronology has been founded as far as possible upon Ryland's Chronological Outlines, and upon Green's Short History; the biographical data have been taken in each case from the most recent authorities, and quotations and estimates have been based upon the latest reprints and editions. The sincere thanks of the author are due to Mr. A. H. Espenshade, of the English department of the Pennsylvania State College,
for help upon the proof and for valuable suggestions. Acknowledgments are also due to Jno.: Lesslie Hall for extracts from his translation of Beowulf; and to Charles Scribner's Sons; G. P. Putnam's Sons; Ginn & Co.; Longmans, Green & Co.; Cassell & Co.; Houghton, Mifflin & Co.; Harper & Brothers, and others for permission to make brief quotations from their publications.
VERY careful teacher of literary history has realized keenly the truth of Ten Brink's remark that “the beginner needs a guide in the labyrinth of literature about literature.” Such a wilderness of criticism and commentary, of history and biography, of description and conjecture has grown up about the subject of English literature that even the most experienced worker is often bewildered. It is to furnish some clue to this labyrinth that a select list of authorities has been prefixed to every chapter and division of this book. There has been no attempt at exhaustive bibliographies. The practical value of every reference has been carefully considered, as well from the standpoints of the availability of the book referred to and its adaptation to the needs of beginners, as from that of absolute worth. Often the highest authorities on a subject, the works that alone would interest the special student, have not been mentioned at all. The publications of the Early English Text Society, for instance, of the Chaucer and Shakespeare Societies and kindred organizations, the issues of the Master of the Rolls, and the costly reprints of old books, although of untold value to the specialist, have, for obvious reasons, been omitted. The student, if he needs them, can find them in the large libraries. Another group of authorities that has been neglected is that list of indispensable reference works that every student of English literature should have constantly