An English Garner eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 391 pages of information about An English Garner.

INTRODUCTION

The miscellaneous pieces comprised in this volume are of interest and value, as illustrating the history of English literature and of an important side of English social life, namely, the character and status of the clergy in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries.  They have been arranged chronologically under the subjects with which they are respectively concerned.  The first three—­the excerpt from Wilson’s Art of Rhetoric, Sir Philip Sidney’s Letter to his brother Robert, and the dissertation from Meres’s Palladis Tamia—­are, if minor, certainly characteristic examples of pre-Elizabethan and Elizabethan literary criticism.  The next three—­the Dedicatory Epistle to the Rival Ladies, Howard’s Preface to Four New Plays, and the Essay of Dramatic Poesy—­not only introduce us to one of the most interesting critical controversies of the seventeenth century, but present us, in the last work, with an epoch-marking masterpiece, both in English criticism and in English prose composition.  Bishop Copleston’s brochure brings us to the early days of the Edinburgh Review, and to the dawn of the criticism with which we are, unhappily, only too familiar in our own time.  From criticism we pass, in the extract from Ellwood’s life of himself, to biography and social history, to the most vivid account we have of Milton as a personality and in private life.  Next comes a series of pamphlets illustrating social and literary history in the reigns of Anne and George I., opening with the pamphlets bearing on Swift’s inimitable Partridge hoax, now for the first time collected and reprinted, and preceding Gay’s Present State of Wit, which gives a lively account of the periodic literature current in 1711.  Next comes Tickell’s valuable memoir of his friend Addison, prefixed, as preface, to his edition of Addison’s works, published in 1721, with Steele’s singularly interesting strictures on the memoir, being the dedication of the second edition of the Drummer to Congreve.  The reprint of Eachard’s Grounds and Occasions of the Contempt of the Clergy and Religion Enquired into, with the preceding extract from Chamberlayne’s Angliae Notitia and the succeeding papers of Steele’s in the Tatler and Guardian, throws light on a question which is not only of great interest in itself, but which has been brought into prominence through the controversies excited by Macaulay’s famous picture of the clergy of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.  Last comes what is by general consent acknowledged to be one of the most valuable contributions ever made to the literature of proverbs, Franklin’s summary of the maxims in Poor Richard’s Almanack.

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An English Garner from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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