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The present book is an attempt to supply a want which has been felt of something for higher classes, giving not only variety of style, but more sustained interest than is possible in extracts of only three or four pages. Higher-grade schools, training colleges, and colleges generally, where, of course, the intelligence of the pupils is developed, seem especially conscious of this need. The endeavour here has been to choose passages such as are either celebrated in themselves; have become absolutely proverbial, such as those from Goldsmith and Washington Irving; or which, even though taken from works of fiction, are really able realisations of actual scenes and events. The limits of the book have rendered it necessary to sacrifice number and variety to completeness of each subject, and to the sustaining of interest. Otherwise it would have been satisfactory to have added a larger proportion of actual history or travels than has here been possible.
The introductions to each subject will, it is hoped, give some knowledge of the authors, and interest in pursuing their works further.
C. M. YONGE.
The last extract, that on "Stage Coaches," is inserted by kind permission of Mr. Murray.
THE RUIN OF POMPEII.
EDWARD LYTTON BULWER-LORD LYTTON.
Born, 1805; Died, 1873. Remarkably able and deeply studied novels came from the pen of the author, known as Lord Lytton from the year 1866 until his death. The Last Days of Pompeii, from which the latter chapters are here given, is a most brilliant picture of later Roman life in a provincial town, concluded by the terrible catastrophe of A.D. 79.
It will be remembered that Vesuvius had been dormant throughout the historical times, and though there were signs of former activity, and traces of volcanic action, the great eruption which destroyed Pompeii was the first within the memory of man, so that experience furnished no preparation ; and the rumblings within the mountain, and the cloud hanging over it “like a gigantic pine tree" were not understood as notes of warning in the city, five miles distant.
The novel was written at Naples in 1832-3, every locality then disclosed by the excavations being carefully studied, so that the story is an illustration of them. The scenes are laid in the houses and public buildings then discovered ; and many of the personages, such as the priest of Isis and the family of Pansa, may be called reanimations of the skeletons there found, and the incidents of the story account for their position.
There are paintings on the walls of the cruel sports of the amphitheatre, and the gladiators here brought into action are studied from these figures, both as to their modes of fighting and the fate which overtakes them.
Many further researches have been made at Pompeii during the last half century, and the present book only describes what was discovered before that time.
Glaucus and Ione, the hero and heroine, are both Greek, of high birth and culture, and enjoying the privileges of Roman citizens.
The South of Italy was colonised by Greeks, so that there was much of Greek character among the population, as is shewn in Nydia the blind flower-girl. The Romans adopted the gods of the conquered nations, and thus the Egyptian goddess Isis had been imported to Pompeii. The priest, Arbaces, is shewn as a magician,