« ZurückWeiter »
BAUDRY'S EUROPEAN LIBRARY,
AND STASSIN & XAVIER, RUE DU COQ, NEAR THE LOUVRE.
SOLD ALSO BY AMYOT, RUE DE LA PAIX; TRUCHY, BOULEVARD DES ITALIENS ;
AND BY ALL THE PRINCIPAL BOOKSELLERS ON THE CONTINENT.
A HISTORY of our vernacular literature has occupied my studies for many years. It was my design not to furnish an arid narrative of books or of authors, but following the steps of the human mind through the wide track of Time, to trace from their beginnings the rise, the progress, and the decline of public opinions, and to illustrate, as the objects presented themselves, the great incidents in our national annals.
In the progress of these researches many topics presented themselves, some of which, from their novelty and curiosity, courted investigation. Literary history, , in this enlarged circuit, becomes not merely a philological history of critical erudition, but ascends into a philosophy of books, where their subjects, their tendency, and their immediate or gradual influence over the people discover their actual condition.
Authors are the creators or the creatures of opinion ; the great form an epoch, the many reflect their age. With them the transient becomes permanent, the suppressed lies open, and they are the truest representatives of their nation for those very passions with which they are themselves infected. The pen of the ready-writer transmits to us the public and the domestic story, and thus books become the intellectual history of a people. As authors are scattered through all the ranks of society, among the governors and the governed, and the objects of their pursuits are usually carried on by their own peculiar idiosyncracy, we are deeply interested in the secret connexion of the incidents of their lives with their intellectual habits. In the development of that predisposition which is ever working in characters of native force, all their felicities and their failures, and the fortunes which such men have shaped for themselves, and often for the world, we discover what is not found in biographical dictionaries, the history of the mind of the individual; --and this constitutes the psychology of genius.
In the midst of my studies I was arrested by the loss of sight; the papers in this collection are a portion of my projected history.
The title prefixed to this work has been adopted to connect it with its brothers, the “Curiosities of Literalure,” and “ Miscellanies of Literature;" but though the form and manner bear a family resemblance, the subject has more unity of design.