Imatges de pÓgina
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THE following Selections from Jeffrey's Essays have a three-fold purpose: first, to illustrate Jeffrey's style and methods as a critic and his most characteristic opinions; secondly, to give examples of what was in its day deemed the best literary criticism, with a view to suggesting the changes in methods and aims that have since been wrought; thirdly, to bring together elementary discussions of a few terms and topics in literature which students are always supposed to be familiar with, but which they can hardly find treated in ordinary manuals or reference-books. With these aims in mind it has seemed best to limit the Selections to essays on literature. This limitation ensures unity, and the resulting volume may well be used by classes that are beginning the independent study of literary topics and of methods of criticism.

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On the other hand, this limitation prevents the Selections from doing justice to Jeffrey's versatility, and from illustrating satisfactorily certain points on which much stress is laid in the Introduction, the range of the Edinburgh essays, and their courage and vigor in the treatment of religious, social, and political questions. The reader who wishes illustrations of these points, must consult Jeffrey's four volumes of Contributions

to the Edinburgh Review, or turn to the files of the


The text of the Selections is entire as far as it goes, except in five essays, where omissions are marked by stars; but every Selection ends, when Jeffrey turns from his discussion of general questions, and begins to deal specifically with the book before him by means of summaries and extracts. It has not been thought worth while to mark this form of incompleteness with stars.

The best short sketch of Jeffrey's life is that of Mr. Leslie Stephen in the Dictionary of National Biography; the standard biography is Lord Cockburn's Life and Correspondence of Lord Jeffrey, in two volumes.

The text of the Selections, including punctuation and spelling, is precisely that of the London edition of 1844, save for the correction of a few obvious and trifling misprints.


December 26, 1893.

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