English Literature, Considered as an Interpreter of English History eBook

Henry Coppée
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 540 pages of information about English Literature, Considered as an Interpreter of English History.
language.”  Among the series of his letters, those of the greatest historical importance are those addressed to Sir Horace Mann, between 1760 and 1785.  Of this series, Macaulay, who is his severest critic, says:  “It forms a connected whole—­a regular journal of what appeared to Walpole the most important transactions of the last twenty years of George II.’s reign.  It contains much new information concerning the history of that time, the portion of English history of which common readers know the least.”

John Lord Hervey, 1696-1743:  he is known for his attempts in poetry, and for a large correspondence, since published; but his chief title to rank among the contributors to history is found in his Memoirs of the Court of George II. and Queen Caroline, which were not published until 1848.  They give an unrivalled view of the court and of the royal household; and the variety of the topics, combined with the excellence of description, render them admirable as aids to understanding the history.

Sir William Blackstone, 1723-1780:  a distinguished lawyer, he was an unwearied student of the history of the English statute law, and was on that account made Professor of Law in the University of Oxford.  Some time a member of Parliament, he was afterwards appointed a judge.  He edited Magna Charta and The Forest Charter of King John and Henry III.  But his great work, one that has made his name famous, is The Commentaries on the Laws of England.  Notwithstanding much envious criticism, it has maintained its place as a standard work.  It has been again and again edited, and perhaps never better than by the Hon. George Sharswood, one of the Judges of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.

Adam Smith, 1723-1790:  this distinguished writer on political economy, the intelligent precursor of a system based upon the modern usage of nations, was educated at Glasgow and Oxford, and became in turn Professor of Logic and of Moral Philosophy in the University of Glasgow.  His lecture courses in Moral Science contain the germs of his two principal works:  1. The Theory of Moral Sentiments, and 2. An Enquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations.  The theory of the first has been superseded by the sounder views of later writers; but the second has conferred upon him enduring honor.  In it he establishes as a principle that labor is the source of national wealth, and displays the value of division of labor.  This work—­written in clear, simple language, with copious illustrations—­has had a wonderful influence upon the legislation and the commercial system of all civilized states since its issue, and has greatly conduced to the happiness of the human race.  He wrote it in retirement, during a period of ten years.  He astonished and instructed his period by presenting it with a new and necessary science.


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