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One hundred books famous in English literature online

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The Committee on Publications of the Grolier Club
certifies that this copy of "One Hundred Books
Famous in English Literature" is one of three
hundred and five copies printed on hand-made
paper, and that all were printed during the year
nineteen hundred and two.












Copyright, 1902, by





First Page of the Canterbury Tales . . . Chaucer . 1478 . 3

First Page of the Confessio Amantis . . Gower . . 1483 . 5

First Page of the Morte Arthure . . . Malory . 1485 . 7

The Booke of Common Praier 1 549 . 9

The Vision of Pierce Plowman .... Langland . 1550 . n

Chronicles of England, Scotlande, and

Irelande Holinshed . 1577 . 13

A Myrrour for Magistrates 1 563 . 1 5

Songes and Sonettes Surrey . . 1567 . 17

The Tragidie of Ferrex and Porrex . . Sackville . 1570 . 19

Euphues. The Anatomy of Wit . . . Lylie . . 1579 . 21

The Countesse of Pembrokes Arcadia . . Sidney . . 1590 . 23

The Faerie Queene Spenser. . 1590 . 25

Essaies Bacon . . 1598 . 27

The Principal Navigations, Voiages,
Traffiques and Discoveries of the

English Nation Hakluyt . 1598 . 29

The Whole Works of Homer .... Chapman . 1 6 1 1 . 31

TM, u i TJ-UI King James's ,

The Holy Bible tf 1611. **


The Workes of Benjamin Jonson . . . Jonson . . 1616 . 35

The Anatomy of Melancholy Burton . . 1621 . 37




Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, His-
tories, & Tragedies Shakespeare 1623 . 39

The Tragedy of the Dutchesse of Malfy . Webster . 1623 . 41

A New Way to Pay Old Debts .... Massinger . 1633 . 43

The Broken Heart Ford . . 1633 . 45

The Famous Tragedy of the Rich Jew of

Malta Marlowe . 1633 . 47

The Temple Herbert . 1633 . 49

Poems Donne . . 1633 . 51

Religio Medici Browne. . 1642 . 53

The Workes of Edmond Waller Esquire 1645 . 55

Comedies and Tragedies and^Sdier l6 ^ ' 57

Hesperides Herrick . . 1648 . 59

The Rule and Exercises of Holy Living . Taylor . . 1650 . 61

The Compleat Angler Walton . . 1653 . 63

Hudibras Butler . . 1663 . 65

Paradise Lost Milton . . 1667 . 67

The Pilgrims Progress Bunyan . . 1678 . 69

Absalom and Achitophel Dryden . . 1681 . 71

An Essay Concerning Humane Understanding Locke . . 1690 . 73

The Way of the World Congreve . 1700 . 75

The History of the Rebellion and Civil

Wars in England Clarendon . 1702 . 77

The Lucubrations of Isaac Bickerstaff Esq. Steele . . 1710 . 79

The Spectator Addison . 1711 . 81

The Life and Strange Surprizing Adventures

of Robinson Crusoe Defoe . . 1719 . 83




Travels into Several Remote Nations of

the World Swift . . 1726 . 85

An Essay on Man Pope . . 1733 . 87

The Analogy of Religion Butler . . 1736 . 89

Reliques of Ancient English Poetry . . Percy . . 1765 . 91

Odes on Several Descriptive and Allegoric

Subjects Collins . . 1747 . 93

Clarissa Richardson 1748 . 95

The History of Tom Jones Fielding . 1749 . 97

An Elegy Wrote in a Country Church Yard Gray . . 1751 . 99

A Dictionary of the English Language . Johnson . 1755 . 101

Poor Richard's Almanack Franklin . 1758 . 103

Commentaries on the Laws of England . Blackstone. 1765 . 105

The Vicar of Wakefield Goldsmith. 1766 . 107

A Sentimental Journey Sterne . . 1768 . 109

The Federalist 1788 . in

The Expedition of Humphry Clinker . . Smollett i6[7J7i . 113

An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of

the Wealth of Nations Smith . . 1776 . 115

The History of the Decline and Fall of the

Roman Empire Gibbon . . 1776 . 117

The School for Scandal Sheridan . 1777 . 119

The Task Cowper . 1785 . 121

Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect . . Burns . . 1786 . 123

The Natural History and Antiquities of

Selborne White . . 1789 . 125

Reflections on the Revolution in France . Burke . . 1790 . 127




Rights of Man Paine . . 1791 . 129

The Life of Samuel Johnson Boswell. . 1791 . 131

Lyrical Ballads Wordsworth 1798 . 133

A History of New York, from the Begin-
ning of the World to the End of the

Dutch Dynasty Irving . . 1809 . 135

Childe Harold's Pilgrimage Byron . . 1812 . 137

Pride and Prejudice Austen . . 1813 . 139

Christabel Coleridge . 1816 . 141

Ivanhoe Scott . . 1820 . 143

Lamia, Isabella, The Eve of St. Agnes, and

Other Poems Keats . . 1820 . 145

Adonais Shelley . . 1821 . 147

Elia Lamb . . 1823 . 149

Memoirs of Samuel Pepys, Esq. F.R.S. . Pepys . . 1825 . 151

The Last of the Mohicans Cooper. . 1826 . 153

Pericles and Aspasia Landor . . 1836 . 155

The Pickwick Papers Dickens . 1837 . 157

Sartor Resartus Carlyle . . 1834 . 159

Nature Emerson . 1836 . 161

History of the Conquest of Peru . . . Prescott . 1847 . 163

The Raven and Other Poems .... Poe . . . 1845 . 165

Jane Eyre Bronte . . 1847 . 167

Evangeline Longfellow 1847 . 169

Sonnets Mrs. Browning 184 7 . 171

The Biglow Papers Lowell . . 1848 . 173

Vanity Fair Thackeray. 1848 . 175



The History of England Macaulay . 1 849 . 177

In Memoriam Tennyson . 1850 . 179

The Scarlet Letter Hawthorne 1850 . 181

Uncle Tom's Cabin Mrs. Stowe 1852 . 183

The Stones of Venice Ruskin . . 1851 . 185

Men and Women Browning . 1855 . 187

The Rise of the Dutch Republic . . . Motley. . 1856 . 189

Adam Bede George Eliot 1859 . 191

On the Origin of Species by Means of

Natural Selection Darwin. . 1859 . 193

Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam Fitzgerald . 1859 . 195

Apologia pro Vita Sua Newman . 1864 . 197

Essays in Criticism Arnold . . 1865 . 199

Snow-Bound . . . Whittier 1866 201

Except where noted, all facsimiles of title-pages
are of the size of those in the original editions.



BOOK is judged by its peers.
In the presence of the greater
works of authors there is no
room for personal criticism;
they constitute in themselves
the perpetual mind of the race,
and dispense with any private
view. The eye rests on these hundred titles of
books famous in English literature, as it reads a
physical map by peak, river and coast, and sees
in miniature the intellectual conformation of a na-
tion. A different selection would only mean an-
other point of view ; some minor features might be
replaced by others of similar subordination; but
the mass of imagination and learning, the mind-
achievement of the English race, is as unchange-
able as a mountain landscape. Perspective thrusts
its unconscious judgment upon the organs of


sight, also; if Gower is thin with distance and the
clump of the Elizabethans shows crowded with
low spurs, the eye is not therefore deceived by
the large pettiness of the foreground with its more
numerous and distinct details. The mass governs.
Darwin appeals to Milton; Shelley is judged by
Pope, and Hawthorne by Congreve.

These books must of necessity be national books;
for fame, which is essentially the highest gift of
which man has the giving, cannot be conferred ex-
cept by a public voice. Fame dwells upon the lips
of men. It is not that memorable books must all
be people's books, though the greatest are such
the Book of Common Prayer, the Bible, Shake-
speare; but those which embody some rare intel-
lectual power, or illuminate some seldom visited
tract of the spirit, or merely display some peculiar
taste in learning or pastime, must yet have some-
thing racial in them, something public, to secure
their hold against the detaching power of time;
they must be English books, not in tongue only,
but body and soul. They are not less the books
of a nation because they are remote, superfine, un-
common. Such are the books of the poets the
Faerie Queene; books of the nobles Arcadia;
books of the scholar the Anatomy of Melan-
choly. These books open the national genius as
truly, kind by kind, as books of knowledge exhibit
the nation's advancement in learning, stage by
stage, when new sciences are brought to the birth.


The Wealth of Nations, Locke's Essay, Black-
stone's Commentaries, are not merely the product
of private minds. They are landmarks of English
intellect; and more, since they pass insensibly into
the power of civilization in the land, feeding the
general mind. The limited appeal that many clas-
sics made in their age, and still make, indicates
lack of development in particular persons; but
however numerous such individuals may be, in
whatever majorities they may mass, the mind of
the race, once having flowered, has flowered with
the vigor of the stock. The Compleat Angler finds
a rustic breast under much staid cloth ; Pepys was
never at a loss for a gossip since his seals were
broken, and Donne evokes his fellow-eccentric
whose hermitage is the scholar's bosom; but
whether the charm work on few or on many is in-
different, for whom they affect, they affect through
consanguinity. The books of a nation are those
which are appropriate to its genius and embody
its variations amid the changes of time; even its
sports, like Euphues, are itself; and the works
which denote the evolution of its civilized life in
fructifying progress, whose increasing diversities
are yet held in the higher harmony of one race, one
temperament, one destiny, are without metaphor
its Sibylline books, and true oracles of empire.

It is a sign of race in literature that a book can
spare what is private to its author, and comes at
last to forgo his earth-life altogether. This is


obvious of works of knowledge, since positive
truth gains nothing from personality, but feels it
as an alloy; and a wise analysis will affirm the
same of all long-lived books. Works of science
are charters of nature, and submit to no human
caprice; and, in a similar way, works of imagina-
tion, which are to the inward world of the spirit
what works of science are to the natural universe,
are charters of the soul, and borrow nothing from
the hand that wrote them. How deciduous such
books are of the private life needs only to be
stated to be allowed. They cast biography from
them like the cloak of the ascending prophet. An
author is not rightly to be reckoned among im-
mortals until he has been forgotten as a man, and
become a shade in human memory, the myth of
his own work. The anecdote lingering in the
Mermaid Tavern is cocoon-stuff, and left for
waste; time spiritualizes the soul it released in
Shakespeare, and the speedier the change, so
much the purer is the warrant of a life above
death in the minds of men. The loneliness of
antique names is the austerity of fame, and only
therewith do Milton, Spenser, Chaucer, seem nobly
clad and among equals; the nude figure of Shelley
at Oxford is symbolical and prophetic of this dis-
encumberment of mortality, the freed soul of the
poet, like Bion, a divine form. Not to speak of
those greatest works, the Prayer Book, the Bible,
which seem so impersonal in origin as to be the


creation of the English tongue itself and the
genius of language adoring God; nor of Hakluyt
or Clarendon, whose books are all men's actions;
how little do the most isolated and seclusive
authors, Surrey, Collins, Keats, perpetuate except
the pure poet! In these hundred famous books
there are few valued for aught more than they
contain in themselves, or which require any other
light to read them by than what they bring with
them; they are rather hampered than helped by
the recollection of their authors' careers. Sidney
adds lustre to the Arcadia; an exception among
men, in this as in all other ways, by virtue of that
something supereminent in him which dazzled his
own age. But who else of famous authors is
greater in his life than in his book? It is the
book that gives significance to the man, not the
man to the book. These authors would gain by
oblivion of themselves, and that in proportion to
their greatness, thereby being at once removed
into the impersonal region of man's permanent
spirit and of art. The exceptions are only seem-
ingly such; it is Johnson's thought and the style
of a great mind that preserve Boswell, not his
human grossness; and in Pepys it is the mundane
and every-day immortality of human nature, this
permanently curious and impertinent world, not
his own scandal and peepings, that yield him
allowance in libraries. In all books to which a na-
tion stands heir, it is man that survives, the as-


pect of an epoch, the phase of a religion, the mood
of a generation, the taste, sentiment, thought, pur-
suit, entertainment, of a historic and diversified
people. There is nothing accidental in the fact
that of these hundred books forty-six bear no
author's name upon the title-page; nor is this due
merely to the eldest style of printing, as with
Chaucer, Gower, Malory, Langland; nor to the
inclusion of works by several hands the Book
of Common Prayer, the Mirror for Magistrates,
the Tatler, the Spectator, the Reliques, the Fed-
eralist; nor to the use of initials, as in the case
of Donne and Mrs. Browning. The characteris-
tic is constant. It is interesting to note the names
thus self-suppressed: Sackville, Spenser, Bacon,
Burton, Browne, Walton, Butler, Dryden, Locke,
Defoe, Swift, Pope, Richardson, Gray, Franklin,
Goldsmith, Sterne, Smollett, Sheridan, White,
Wordsworth, Irving, Austen, Scott, Lamb, Cooper,
Carlyle, Emerson, Bronte, Lowell, Tennyson,
George Eliot, Fitzgerald.

The broad and various nationality of English
literature is a condition precedent to greatness, and
underlies its mighty fortune. Its chief glory is its
continuity, by which it exceeds the moderns, and
must, with ages, surpass antiquity. Literary ge-
nius has been so unfailing in the English race
that men of this blood live in the error that litera-
ture, like light and air, is a common element in
the life of populations. Literature is really the


work of selected nations, and with them is not a
constant product. Many nations have no litera-
ture, and in fertile nations there are barren cen-
turies. The splendid perpetuity of Greek literature,
which covered two thousand years, was yet broken
by lean ages, by periods of desert dearth. In the
English, beginning from Chaucer (as is just, since
he is our Homer, whatever ages went before Troy
or Canterbury), there have been reigns without
a poet; and Greek example might prepare the
mind for Alexandrian and Byzantine periods in
the future, were it not for the grand combinations
of world-colonies and world-contacts which open
new perspectives of time for which the mind, as
part of its faith in life, requires destinies as large.
The gaps, however, were greatest at the be-
ginning, and grow less. One soil, one govern-
ment, one evenly unfolded civilization long life
in the settled and peaceful land contribute to this
continuity of literature in the English; but its ex-
planation lies in the integrity of English nurture,
and this is essentially the same in all persons of
English blood. Homer was not more truly the
school of Greece than the Bible has been the
school of the English. It has overcome all exter-
nal change in form, rule and institution, fused con-
venticle and cathedral, and in dissolving separate
and narrow bonds of union has proved the greatest
bond of all, and become like a tie of blood. Eng-
lish piety is of one stock, and through every book


of holy living where its treasures are laid up, there
blows the breath of one Spirit Herbert and
Bunyan are peers of a faith undivided in the hearts
of their countrymen. It does not change, but is
the same yesterday, to-day and forever. On the
secular side, also, English nurture has been of
the like simple strain. The instinct of adventure,
English derring-do, has never failed. Holinshed
and Hakluyt were its chroniclers of old; and from
the Morte d' Arthur to Sidney, from the Red-Cross
Knight to Ivanhoe, from Shakespeare's Henry to
Tennyson's Grenville, genius has not ceased to
stream upon it, a broad river of light. The Word
of God fed English piety; English daring was
fed upon the deeds of men. Hear Shakespeare's
Henry: "Plutarch always delights me with a fresh
novelty. To love him is to love me; for he has
been long time the instructor of my youth. My
good mother, to whom I owe all, and who would
not wish, she said, to see her son an illustrious
dunce, put this book into my hands almost when
I was a child at the breast. It has been like my
conscience, and has whispered in my ear many
good suggestions and maxims for my conduct and
the government of my affairs." The English Plu-
tarch is written on the earth's face. Its battles
have named the lands and seas of all the world;
but, as was said of English piety, from Harold to
Cromwell, from the first Conqueror to Welling-
ton, from the Black Prince to Gordon, English


daring the strength of the yeoman, the breath
of the noble is of one stock. Race lasts; those
who are born in the eyrie find eagles' food. This
has planted iron resolution and all-hazarding
courage in epic-drama and battle-ode, and, as in
the old riddle, feeds on what it fed. English liter-
ature is brave, martial, and brings forth men-chil-
dren. It has the clarion strength of empire; like
Taillefer at Hastings, Drayton and Tennyson still
lead the charge at Agincourt and Balaclava. As
Shakespeare's Henry was nourished, so was the
English spirit in all ages bred. This integrity of
English nurture, seen in these two great modes
of life turned toward God in the soul and toward
the world in action, is as plainly to be discerned
in details as in these generalities; and to state
only one other broad aspect of the facts governing
the continuity of literary genius in the English, but
one that goes to the foundations, the condition
that both vivifies and controls that genius in
law, metaphysics, science, in all political writing,
whether history, theory, or discussion, as well as
in the creative and artistic modes of its develop-
ment, is freedom. The freedom of England, which
is the parent of its greatness in all ways, is as
old in the race as fear of God and love of peril;
and, through its manifold and primary operation
in English nurture, is the true continuer of its

A second grand trait of English literature that


is writ large on these title-pages, is its enormous
assimilative power. So great is this that he who
would know English must be a scholar in all lit-
eratures, and that with no shallow learning. The
old figure of the torch handed down from nation
to nation, as the type of man's higher life, gives
up its full meaning only to the student, and to him
it may come to seem that the torch is all and the
hand that bears it dust and ashes; often he finds
in its light only the color of his own studies, and
names it Greek, Semitic, Hindu, and looks on
English, French and Latin as mere carriers of the
flame. In so old a symbol there must be profound
truth, and it conveys the sense of antiquity in life,
of the deathlessness of civilization, and something
also of its superhuman origin the divine gift of
fire transmitted from above; but civilization is
more than an inheritance, it is a power; and truth
is always more than it was ; and wherever the torch
is lit, its light is the burning of a living race of
men. The dependence of the present on the past,
of a younger on an older people, of one nation on
another, is often misinterpreted and misleads; life
cannot be given, but only knowledge, example,
direction influence, but not essence; and the im-
pact of one literature upon another, or of an old
historic culture upon a new and ungrown people,
is more external than is commonly represented.
The genius of a nation born to greatness is irre-
sistible, it remains itself, it does not become an-


other. The Greeks conquered Rome, men say,
through the mind; and Rome conquered the bar-
barians through the mind; but in Gibbon who
finds Greece? and the mind of Europe does not
bear the ruling stamp of either Byzantine or
Italian Rome. In the narrowly temporal and per-
sonal view, even under the overwhelming might
of Greece, Virgil remained, what Tennyson calls
him, "Roman Virgil"; and in the other capital in-
stance of apparently all-conquering literary power,
under the truth that went forth from Judea into all
lands, Dante remained Italian and Milton English.
Yet in these three poets, whose names are syn-
onyms of their countries, the assimilated element
is so great that their minds might be said to have
been educated abroad.

What is true of Milton is true of the young
English mind, from Chaucer and earlier. In the
beginning English literature was a part of Euro-
pean literature, and held a position in it analogous
to that which the literature of America occupies in
all English speech; it was not so much colonial
as a part of the same world. The first works
were European books written on English soil;
Chaucer, Gower and Malory used the matter of
Europe, but they retained the tang of English, as
Emerson keeps the tang of America. The name
applied to Gower, "the moral Gower," speaks him
English; and Arthur, "the flower of kings,"
remains forever Arthur of Britain; and the Can-


terbury pilgrimage, whatever the source of the
world-wandering tales, gives the first crowded
scene of English life. In Lan gland, whose form
was mediaeval, lay as in the seed the religious
and social history of a protestant, democratic, and
labor-honoring nation. In the next age, with
the intellectual sovereignty of humanism, Surrey,
Sackville, Lyly, Sidney and Spenser put all the
new realms of letters under tribute, and made
capture with a royal hand of whatever they would
have for their own of the world's finer wealth;
the dramatists gathered again the tales of all na-
tions; and, period following period, Italy, Spain
and France in turn, and the Hebrew, Greek and
Latin unceasingly, brought their treasures, light
or precious, to each generation of authors, until
the last great burst of the age now closing, itself
indebted most universally to all the past and all
the world. Yet each new wave that washed em-
pire to the land retreated, leaving the genius of
English unimpaired and richer only in its own
strength. Notwithstanding the concettisti, the
heroic drama, the Celtic mist, which passed like
shadows from the kingdom, the instinct of the
authors held to the massive sense of Latin and
the pure form of Greek and Italian, and constituted
these the enduring humane culture of English
letters and their academic tradition. The perma-
nence of this tradition in literary education has
been of vast importance, and is to the literary


class, in so far as they are separate by training,
what the integrity of English nurture at large has
been to the nation. The poets, especially, have
been learned in this culture; and, so far from be-
ing self-sprung from the soil, were moulded into
power by every finer touch of time. Chaucer,
Spenser, Milton, Gray, Shelley, Tennyson are the
capital names that illustrate the toil of the scholar,
and approve the mastery of that classical culture
which has ever been the most fruitful in the
choicest minds. As on the broad scale English
literature is distinguished by its general assimila-
tive power, being hospitable to all knowledge, it
is most deeply and intimately, because continu-
ously, indebted to humane studies, in the strictest
sense, and has derived from them not, as in many
other cases, transitory matter and the fashion of
an hour, but the form and discipline of art itself. In
assimilating this to English nature, literary genius
incurred its greatest obligation, and in thereby dis-
covering artistic freedom found its greatest good.
This academic tradition has created English cul-
ture, which is perhaps best described as an instinc-
tive standard of judgment, and is the necessary
complement to that openness of mind that has
characterized English literature from the first.

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