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This Volume consists, for the most part, of a selection from Essays, on very various topics, contributed, during the last ten or twelve years, to Reviews and other periodicals. Had the selection been large enough to represent the entire series of compositions from which it is taken, the Author would have preferred arranging the papers included in it in the exact order in which they were written. The Essays chosen, however, having been such as, from their character, might most aptly go together in the same volume, it has been deemed best to arrange them in the historical order of the matters to which they refer. After a certain slight and rapid fashion, indeed, the Essays, as they here stand, will be found to present a series of views of the History of English Literature, as illustrated in the lives and writings of some of its most remarkable men, from the age of Elizabeth to our own time.

Allowing for an occasional verbal correction, and one or two omissions, the Papers, with one exception, are printed as they originally appeared. The exception is in the case of the Sketch of the Life of Chatterton; a considerable portion of which is here published for the first time.



A certain difference, also, will be observed between this paper and the others, both as regards the extent of space allotted to it, and as regards the manner of the literary treatment. In some respects, this portion of the Volume departs from the typical character of the Essay, and approaches that of a miniature Biography.


April, 1856.

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