Imatges de pÓgina

Storyse to rede ar delitabill.

BARBOUR's Bruce, I. 1.

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5 65 1827


There is not a more common error than that of attaching undue importance to our own times; yet we surely hazard little in affirming, that, in works of fancy, this age fairly surpasses all others, or, if an exception must be made, can only be equalled by the age of Sidney and Spenser, Shakspeare and Ben Johnson. The important station which the Novel has of late years taken in English literature—a station which ignorance and prejudice had long denied it has afforded free and honourable scope for the exertion of talents that might otherwise have lain dormant; and it is creditable to the literary character of the country, that among the many who may have been induced, by the unparalleled success of one 'mighty master,' to follow his path, the greater part—instead of servilely tracing his footsteps, as has been by some insinuated-have marked out their own way, and relied on their own strength.

The present volume may be considered as a consequence of that spirit, and those productions, which distinguish modern literature. When the market is full, the samples are many, says the proverb ; and the nature of the samples will, of course, be more readily questioned than the necessity for producing them.—In selecting our Specimens, we have endeavoured that they should be characteristic of their respective authors, and at the same time, complete in themselves--so that the volume might constitute a valuable collection of

scenes and stories, independent of its professed object. We are
well aware that we may not, in all cases, have attained both points;
but it must be considered, as an apology for those instances in which
we may have failed in giving proper specimens, that many of the most
characteristic passages of Novelists are strictly dependent on fore-
going circumstances, and to have placed them alone would have
rendered them spiritless and ineffective. The writings of Mrs Rad-
cliffe furnish a notable proof of this :-her most striking scenes
would be tame and uninteresting without their context. Of this
lady's works, however, as well as of many others, we have been un-
able even to attempt a specimen ; for a single volume, it is plain,
could not embrace the whole of a numerous range of writers. A
long list of old Romancers--a term, by the way, which, as the
Troubadours are extinct, we may be pardoned for applying to an
existing race)--and modern Novelists still remains, from which at.
least another volume could be compiled ; and should the present
one be favourably received, we may be induced to continue our
gleanings.-It will be seen that no attention has been paid to the
arrangement of the authors; but any inconvenience this may occa-
sion is removed by the Index which follows. To have arranged
them alphabetically or chronologically would have been to presup-
pose the extent of the work, and would, at any rate, have rendered
it less agreeably diversified,

Glasgow, August, 1825.

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