Page images


This book is the outcome of personal experience with the problem of teaching literature to young people. Usefulness has been the first thing sought, and it is this that has determined the chief features of the book.

Only those writers have been treated whose works the students may reasonably be expected to read. It is not the mission of a history of literature for schools to furnish a complete encyclopedia of names.

There has been no attempt to give detailed treatment of recent writers, with whom the magazines have made most pupils familiar. A fair judgment cannot as yet be passed on their work, and time for consideration of them cannot well be spared from the earlier writers, who are the first object of our study.

Nowhere in the book has simplicity been sacrificed for the sake of literary effect. Too often the author of a text-book has spoiled an otherwise good chapter by a few flights of fancy or a clever analogy quite beyond the student's observation and experience.

In the matter of proportion this book differs from most in the space given to Southern literature. The position that should be taken on both sides of Mason and Dixon's line is admirably expressed by Professor Wendell : “As our new patriotism strengthens, we cannot prize too highly such verses as Whittier's, honestly phrasing noble Northern sentiment, or as Timrod's, who with equal honesty phrased the noble sentiment of the South.”

No pains have been spared to equip the book with useful and attractive illustrations. 66 Whoever would understand a poet,” says the proverb, “must pay a visit to the poet's country.” It is hoped that the homes and haunts, the manuscripts and title-pages, the portraits, tombs, and monuments reproduced here will help the pupil to pay such visits in imagination, and will enliven and increase his interest in the men and their works.

To the many friends who have aided by criticism and suggestion the author here records his indebtedness and gratitude. Though he alone is responsible for the form which the book finally takes, that form is due in no small degree to kindly consideration given by those with other and better points of view.



January 1, 1915.

« PreviousContinue »