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CONTENTS OF VOL. I.
61. Thomas, Duke of Gloucester, 344 88. Walter de Merton,
66. Sir Richard Whittington, 352| 93. Archbishop Courtney, .
The plan of the present Work is, we believe, original; but it is simple, and possesses strong recommendations. Its object is to combine the advantages and attractions of HISTORY and B10GRAPHY; to present to the British reader A HISTORY OF HIS COUNTRY, IN THE LIVES OF THOSE DISTINGUISHED MEN who gave
the tone and character to their times, or whose names are connected with its glory in arts or arms; and to do this in such an order as may at once exhibit the progress of the nation in liberty and greatness, mark the chronological relation to each other of these eminent individuals, and bring out into clear light the events in which they were the prominent actors.
Instead of a dry, abstract, and burdensome succession of events being imprinted, after immense labour, upon the memory, the study of our national history in these consecutive series of illustrious biographies, will it is hoped be found to confer upon each epoch and event a personal interest, and to excite all the sympathies of our humanity. It will be found, it is expected, to be the very best method of strengthening the memory, awakening the imagination, and individualizing the subjects on which our judg. ments are to operate. It will give, instead of a huge mass of bald facts collected secundem artem, in a picturesque and dramatic shape, the very soul of history, as seen in the breathing agents of its fulfilment. A combined and general view of facts, princi: ples and changes, which such a noble subject as the History of England furnishes to the philosophical cultivators of it, is not indeed without its peculiar advantages, but before, or even along with that, the present work will, we anticipate, be read with far more advantage than any number of recurrences to the same generalized authorities can yield.
If the mind of our reader turns to any period in our annals, and longs for a living display of it, he has but to turn to the lives of the master spirits, who gave it not only its complexion, but were the appointed instruments in the hand of providence of all its changes and wonders. Whether the man of business at his desk, the mechanic in his workshop, the idler on his couch, or the man of letters in his study, he has but to turn to them for a brief interval, and he will behold, for every period and age, the very embroidered and moving scene that he has been seeking to understand and to sympathise with, in a way, so far as the effect and the cause are concerned, not unlike that which Shakspeare's Historical Plays, and Sir Walter Scott's Historical Romances produce upon the vivid imagination.
For, be it remembered, these Lives are not a mere abridgment from any previous celebrated mass of histories and biographies, but new and independent, the writers of them having for themselves ransacked all accessible sources of original authorities, as well as the best historians that had previously drawn from the same fountains,—and thus literally and essentially have pro: duced an original work.
Its historical character is maintained, further, by the arrangement of the respective divisions or epochs which it contains into a Political Series, an Ecclesiastical Series, and a Literary Series of Biographies. One of its principal excellencies, it is considered, will be found to be the HISTORICAL INTRODUCTIONS to each Division, by which the line of narrative, from beginning to end, is preserved unbroken, and which, we trust, will be found not unworthy of our very best constitutional writers. In respect to exterior matters (in those days of fastidiousness of taste and accomplishment in the arts) this publication will yield to none in its getting-up. The Engravings, which are executed in Freeman's very best style, are of the first order of art, and from originals of undoubted authenticity. There are seven portraits given in each volume, by which the subscribers will perceive that the work is upon a scale, and in a fashion, where no expense or effort is withheld that can ensure excellence, while the price is so moderate as to invite the support of an intelligent public.
PLAN OF PUBLICATION.
i. The whole work will be arranged in nine general divisions, corresponding with the following nine distinct periods of English history, viz.
I. From Alfred the Great to the Conquest.
V. From James I. to the Revolution.
2. It will be published in sixteen half-volumes, in very handsome cloth, each containing on the average fifteen sheets of letter press, and four and three Portraits alternately; or in eight volumes, each containing seven Portraits, and will be published regularly at intervals of not longer than two months for each half-volume.
3. The volumes will be published at nine 'shillings and the halfvolumes at four shillings and sixpence each, and no abatement or discount will be allowed to any party in any case.
4. For the accommodation of parties desirous to bind to their own taste, it will also be published in Divisions in stiff covers at four shil. lings each, on similar conditions. Each Division will contain the same matter and be illustrated with the same number of Portraits as the respective half volumes in numerical order.
5. The publishers being themselves pledged to complete the publication agreeably to the above Proposals, will hold each subscriber pledged on his part to take and pay for the whole work as it appears.