THE OBJECT of this collection is to show the growth and development of English Prose, by extracts from the principal and most characteristic writers. In the introductory notice to each author, only so much of biographical detail has been given as may enable the reader to judge the general circumstances of the authors life and surroundings, and the scope of his work; and to this is added a critical description of his style and methods, and of his place in the development of English Prose. It is thought that the specimens thus brought together may prove useful to the student of our literature, as a supplement to the histories of that literature now chiefly in use.
It has been judged best, as a rule, to modernise the spelling and to bring it into conformity with modern usage, except in a few instances where the expressions used belong to some peculiar dialect and represent a distinct and interesting variety. Peculiar words are printed in italics, and are explained in the notes at the end of each volume. For this arrangement the Editor alone is responsible.