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The multitude of different texts to be found in the acts and thoughts of our Literary Men is so great, that the commentary never needs to be a repetition of what was formerly written. And were it otherwise, this little book seeks to occupy a vacant place, by acting as an interpreter between higher authors and the ordinary reader, who is sometimes repelled by the dryness of literary history, as found in compendiums, and even in essays written in a learned or technical style. The aim of the Author of this work has been, by avoiding unnecessary detail, difficult language, or involved phraseology, to interest English readers in the lives and thoughts of some of our greatest Writers, who are indeed familiar names, but often nothing more. Those who have not received a collegiate education sometimes take it for granted that the great classics of our tongue are too high and difficult for them. This book aims at making such persons feel that those Great Writers might all have one motto describing themselves and their works—'I am a man, and everything human interests me.'

It is also hoped that the Book will demonstrate that the cultivation of our literature should not be placed under the ban which it is placed under by some serious' people; as literature (with that mixture of evil which belongs to all human things) is neither more nor less than a record of the 'noblest and best thoughts of the best and noblest minds,'

Though many labourers have worked in this field, it is still rich enough to repay not one, but many, more. The treatment in the present instance is biographical, with an expository aim —the incidents and characteristics of the author being set in connection with the thoughts found in his works.

Two chapters are of an entirely expository kind, dealing only with the works of the authors—one on ‘HAMLET,' the other on * IN MEMORIAM.' These are attempts to popularize the highest thinking of SHAKESPEARE and TENNYSON, which it is hoped will prove acceptable.

Sectarian bias is, of course, excluded; the Author holding that the works of our great men, whatever be their faults, should be treated, not in a strait-laced or dogmatic, but in a considerate and liberal, spirit.

PORTADOWN, Christmas, 1883.




THERE are those in this northern Province who will ask, What has a man, whose life is devoted to pastoral work, to do with literature ? It is true there still exists among us a certain kind of religion that repels literary culture as a thing antagonistic to its very nature ; but, whatever may be the sentiment on this subject in my own or in other churches, I am one of those who deplore and condemn the divorce of agencies which were married in the beginning. I regard religion as the highest kind of culture, and something more ; but I reckon it a reproach and injury done to religion when, by bigotry and narrowness, it is severed from subordinate kinds of culture. I know well the narrow, exclusive, and gloomy spirit in which religious people in this country are sometimes brought up. I know why the religious spirit has sometimes proscribed the works of genius. I can to some degree respect the motive while deploring the act. Whatever in works of genius may be styled divine, there is nothing in these works so divine as duty; and those who cannot reconcile the use of works of genius with their sense of duty, are bound at all risks to preserve the latter. But they are bound also to make progress and acquire broader and higher views of duty-views which will enable them to

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