J. H. (John Henry) Fowler.

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First Edition 1911.
Reprinted 1913.



When called upon to justify the scanty time
allotted in English education to the national litera-
ture, defenders of the " grand old fortifying classical
curriculum " have often pointed out that nobody
acquires the art of writing Latin prose without inci-
dentally bestowing close attention upon a number of
the choicest pieces of English prose offered for the
purpose of translation. For those students of Latin
who reached the standard of a good sixth-form, or of
classical honours at a university, the defence was not
without reason ; though for the reduced number of
classical students to-day it is possibly less adequate
than it was, since the modern desire to find interesting
and novel material sometimes leads the teacher or
examiner to select a tricky piece of current journalism
in preference to a model of pure style, just as it leads
him in dealing with younger pupils to displace Caesar
and his battalions in favour of a dialogue about a
half-holiday and a cricket match.

Be this as it may, the number of English-speaking
boys and girls who gain an acquaintance in this way
with the best English prose is strictly limited. Cannot
something more be done than has been attempted
yet to bring a knowledge of the best prose within the
reach of all who enjoy what is called secondary


education ? This book is the outcome of a belief
that something more is both possible and eminently

It is true that an anthology of prose is not so
simple a matter as an anthology of poetry. The
criticism of prose style is less advanced than the
criticism of poetic style. There is not the same
agreement as to what constitutes excellence in the
case of prose as in the case of poetry. Nay, the very
fact that we rightly tend to value prose primarily for
its matter, not for its manner, might be held to fore-
doom to failure the attempt to select passages mainly
in virtue of their form. Again, the amount of prose
is much larger than the amount of poetry, and the
best passages of a prose work do not always stand
out with the same distinctness as the best passages
of a lengthy poem.

But real as these objections are (and the reviewer,
it is hoped, will appreciate the forethought that here
offers them for his use), they are less cogent than
might at first appear. There are many famous pas-
sages of prose, as any student of English literature
who turns over these pages will readily admit —
passages whose pre-eminent excellence is established
by the secure judgment of the world of letters —
passages, therefore, without knowledge of which an
Englishman's education cannot be said to be com-
plete. Further, in some prose writings, and especially
in oratory, there are one or two paragraphs of supreme
significance, the central point of the author's argument
or the impressive climax of his appeal. Lastly, the
distinction between matter and form is by no means
fatal to the scheme. Though the distinction is real


and important, when we are bent on analysis, yet
excellence of style always implies excellence of
matter. Without goodness of the thing said, mere
skill in saying would be as sounding brass or a
tinkling cymbal. No piece, it is believed, has been
admitted within these pages that does not answer to
the test of " thorough truth of substance and an
answering truth of form."

The editor hopes, therefore, that he may without
presumption offer this collection to the boys and girls
of the English-speaking world as a " golden book "
of the choicest prose, in the assurance that the more
faithfully they study it, the more they will find in it
to admire and to love, not in youth only but through-
out their lives. Moreover, it will give them, if they
care for the gift, a touchstone by which they can
try other prose that is presented for their reading,
an unerring rule by which they can accept the
good and reject the bad. Whatever fate may be in
store for the book now that it is at last completed,
its compilation (if the personal note may be forgiven)
has been a labour of love, and there are few pages
that do not recall to the compiler memories of friends
whose sympathetic appreciation has fortified his own
judgment of, and deepened his own affection for,
many a noble saying. He would fain hope that
some of these utterances may go on sounding in the
ears of his readers as they have sounded in his own,
rememberable as the lines of great poetry, and not
less powerful " to interpret life, to console, to

There is still a smaller use — and yet it is not
small. Of prose that is perverse, pretentious, obscure


and affected, when it is not merely shapeless, how
much we have at the present time ; and how little
that is simple, natural, and yet dignified and of a
musical quality ! If any one cares to learn some-
thing of the difficult art of writing, and of its last
triumph, the " art to conceal art," there is no better
way than by accustoming the ear to the finer cadences
of the most perfect examples.

As excellence of style has been the single aim
kept in view throughout, the book is not primarily,
though to some extent it could hardly escape being,
a collection of characteristic specimens. Considera-
tions of space, and some other reasons, have deter-
mined the exclusion of prose fiction. Letters have
also been excluded, except where, as in the case of
Gray, they were remarkable for formal excellence of
style. The editor is glad to think that these limita-
tions of his scope and purpose prevent his work from
entering into direct competition with the Anthology of
Modern English Prose, recently compiled by his friends,
Mrs. Barnett and Mrs. Dale (Messrs. Longmans).

Thanks are due to Messrs. Chatto & Windus for
the use of the two extracts from R. L. Stevenson's
works, and to Messrs. Macmillan for the other copy-
right matter contained in this book.

J. H. Fowler.

Clifton College,

October, 191 1.




Preface vii

PART I. 1470- 1603

Sir Thomas Malory (c. 1470)

I. The Passing of Arthur I


OGER ASCHAM (1515-I568)

2. Lady Jane Grey ........ 4


Sir Thomas North (i535?-i6oi ?)

3. Coriolanus in Exile ....... 6

Sir Walter Raleigh (1552-1618)

4. The End of Life 8

Sir Philip Sidney (1554-1586)

5. The Poet as Teacher ....... 10

/^6. The Praise of Song .II

Richard Hooker (i554?-i6oo)

7. The Obedience of Angels 12

Francis Bacon, Lord Verulam (1561-1626)

8. Of Adversity 14

9. Of Friendship 14

ID. Of Studies 15

" II. Character of Henry VH 16


William Shakespeare (1564-1616) page

12. Man 19

>^ 13. The Actor's Art 19

•^ 14. The Human Instrument .21

Authorised Version of the Bible, 161 i

15. Psahn XC 23

16. The Counsel of the Preacher 24

17. "Comfort ye . . ." 25

^^ 18. Charity 25

-^ Ben Jonson (i573?-i637)

19. Shakespeare ......••• 27

Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679)
y 20. The Importance of Definitions 28

■^ IzAAK Walton (1593-1683)

y 21. Fishing for Trout 30

Sir Thomas Browne (1605-1682)

22. ObHvion 33

'' John Milton (1608-1674)

y 23. A Poet's Aspiration 35

/ ^ y 24. Books 36

25. True Virtue 36

26. The English Nation ....... 37

Edward Hyde, Lord Clarendon (1609-1674)

27. Lord Falkland 39

Jeremy Taylor (1613-1687)

y 28. Similitudes 42

29. Memento mori ........ 43

Abraham Cowley (1618-1667)

/ 30. The Love of Poetry 45

31. The Funeral of Oliver Cromwell ..... 46



iR William Temple (1628-1699) page

,-32. Music and Poetry ..47

John Bunyan (1628-1688)

3. The Celestial City ....... 49

John Dryden (1631-1700)

34. Chaucer ......... 51

35. Shakespeare and Jonson ...... 52

36. Satire 54


Jonathan Swift (1667-1745)

37. The King of Brobdingnag's Verdict .... 57

38. The Profession of Law ...... 58


Richard Steele (1671-1729)

39. Two Children ........ 60

40. My First Grief .• 61

41. The Fine Gentleman ....... 62




Joseph Addison (1672-1719)

42. Reflections in Westminster Abbey .... 64

43. The Vision of Mirza ....... 64

44. Sir Roger at the Abbey 66

45. The Tory Fox-hunter ....... 68

Samuel Johnson (1709- 1784)

46. Letter to Lord Chesterfield 70

47. Books and Life . . . . . . . .71

48. The Art of Flying 73

49. Addison 75

Thomas Gray (1716-1771)

50. The Grande Chartreuse ...... 79

51. A Sunrise ......... 80

Oliver Goldsmith (1728-1774)

52. The Vanity of Fame 81

53. Epitaphs .,,,.,.,. 83


Edmund Burke (1729-1797)

54. Constitutional Government .

55. The Bond of Empire .

56. The Defects of Official Training

57. The British Throne

58. The Devastation of the Carnatic

59. The Decay of Chivalry

Edward Gibbon (1737-1794)

60. Two Memorable Moments .

61. The Evening of Life .

62. The Power of the Roman Emperors

63. Julian made Emperor .

64. Alaric at the Gates of Rome


William Pitt [the younger] (1759-1806)

65. Plea for the Abolition of the Slave-Trade









George Canning (1770-1827)

66. The Balance of the Constitution .

Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834)

67. Influence of Contemporary Writings

68. The Educated Man



Robert Southey (1774-1843)

69. Reflections on the Death of Nelson

Charles Lamb (1775-1834)

70. Dreams .....

71. Blakesmoor in H — shire

72. The Sanity of True Genius .

73. Shakespeare's Lear

Walter Savage Landor (1775-1S64)

74. The Dream of Petrarca .....

75. Dialogue between Marcus Cicero and his Brother





William Hazlitt (1778 -1830) page

76. Caliban 125

77. On a Sun-dial ........ 126

78. Church Bells 127

79. On Going a Journey . . . . . . .127

MES Henry Leigh Hunt (1784- 1859)

80. Sorrows . . . . . . . . .130

^^1. Books and Places 132

HOMAS De QuINCEY (1785-1859)

82. The Opium -Eater's Dream . . . . . .134

83. The Affliction of Childhood 135

84. The English Mail-Coach 138

•• 85. Joan of Arc 139

IR William Francis Patrick Napier (1785- 1860)

86. Character of Sir John Moore . . . . .142

87. The British Fusiliers at Albuera 143

^Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)

88. Poetry 145

■"' 89. The Temples of Posidonia (Paestum) .... 147

John Keats (1795-1821)

90. Preface to "Endymion" ...... 149

Thomas Arnold (1795-1842)
y 91. Hannibal's Vision . . . . . . . \^\

92. The Death of Marcellus 152

Thomas Carlyle (i 795-1 881)

^ ^ 93. Death of Louis XVI 154

^"^ 94. Work 156

95. Laborare est Orare . . . . . . '157

Thomas Babington Macaulay (Lord Macaulay) (1800-1S59)

^ , 96. The Trial of Warren Hastings . . . . -159

97. The Burial of Chatham 162

98. The Friendship of Books 163

99. The Restoration . 164



John Henry Newman {1801-1890) page

100. The Value of University Training .... 167

loi. The Character of a Gentleman ..... 168

102. St. Philip Neri 170

103. The Power of the Classics. . . . . .172

Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864)

104. The Faun of Praxiteles . . . . . •173

Alexander William Kinglake (1809-1891)

105. A Child's Reading of Homer ..... 174

106. The Desert 176

^. William Makepeace Thackeray (1811-1863)

107. The Last Years of George HI. ..... 178

John Bright (1811-1889)

•^ .108. The Crimean War 180

109. The War in America, 1862 . . . . . 181

John Lothrop Motley (1814-1877)

'^ no. The Relief of Leyden ...... 183

James Anthony Froude {181S-1894)

111. The Boyhood of Great Seamen ..... 185

112. The Passing of the Middle Age .... 186

Charles Kingsley (1819-1875)

113. The Mediterranean ....... 188


John Ruskin (1819-1900)

114. An English Cathedral and St. Mark's . . .189

115. Tomb of the Doge Andrea Dandolo .... 194
1x6. The Campagna of Rome ...... 196

117. The South of Italy 197

118. Grass 197

119. Two Boyhoods — Giorgione and Turner . . .198

120. Pine Forest in the Jura 201

121. The Kingdom of God 203



ATTHEw Arnold (1822-1888) page

122. Oxford 205

123. Marcus Aurelius. ....... 206

124. Wordsworth's Style ....... 207

^1"homas Henry Huxley (1825-1895)

125. Education and Life ....... 209

John Richard Green (1837-1883)

126. The Last Days of Queen Ehzabeth . . . .211

^^Ja.mes Bryce (1838- )

127. The Coronation of Charles the Great . . . 213

128. Character of Charles the Great . . . . .214


(Valter Horatio Pater (1839-1894)

129. Symbolism ......... 216

^Frederic William Henry Myers (15543-1901)

130. The Magic of Poetry . . . . . . .218

131. The Story of Dido ....... 219

Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894).

r 132. Night in the Open World 221

133. Talk 221

Index of Subjects 224

PART I. 1470-1603



But my time hieth fast, said the King. Therefore, said
Arthur, take thou Excalibur, my good sword, and go with it
to yonder water side, and when thou comest there, I charge
thee throw my sword in that water, and come again, and
tell me what thou there seest. My lord, said Bedivere, your
commandment shall be done, and lightly bring you word
again. So Sir Bedivere departed, and by the way he beheld
that noble sword, that the pommel and haft were all of
precious stones, and then he said to himself. If I throw this
rich sword in the water, thereof shall never come good, but
harm and loss. And then Sir Bedivere hid Excalibur under
a tree. And as soon as he might he came again unto the
King, and said he had been at the water, and had thrown
the sword into the water. What sawest thou there? said
the King. Sir, he said, I saw nothing but waves and
winds. That is untruly said of thee, said the King ; there-
fore go thou lightly again, and do my command as thou
art to me lief and dear, spare not, but throw it in. Then
Sir Bedivere returned again, and took the sword in his
hand ; and then him thought sin and shame to throw away
that noble sword ; and so eft he hid the sword, and returned
again, and told to the King that he had been at the water,
and done his commandment. What saw thou there ? said

E.P. A (J


the King. Sir, he said, I saw nothing but the waters wap
and the waves wan. Ah traitor, untrue, said King Arthur,
now hast thou betrayed me twice. Who would have wend
that thou that hast been to me so lief and dear, and thou
art named a noble knight, and would betray me for the
riches of the sword. But now go again lightly, for thy long
tarrying putteth me in great jeopardy of my life, for I have
taken cold. And but if thou do now as I bid thee, if ever
I may see thee, I shall slay thee with mine own hands, for
thou wouldest for my rich sword see me dead. Then Sir
Bedivere departed, and went to the sword, and lightly took
it up, and went to the water side, and there he bound the
girdle about the hilts, and then he threw the sword as far
into the water as he might, and there came an arm and an
hand above the water, and met it and caught it, and so
shook it thrice and brandished, and then vanished away
the hand with the sword in the water. So Sir Bedivere
came again to the King, and told him what he saw. Alas,
said the King, help me hence, for I dread me I have
tarried over long. Then Sir Bedivere took the King upon
his back, and so went with him to that water side. And
when they were at the water side, even fast by the bank
hoved a little barge, with many fair ladies in it, and among
them all was a queen, and all they had black hoods, and all
they wept and shrieked when they saw King Arthur. Now
put me into the barge, said the King : and so he did softly.
And there received him three queens with great mourning,
and so they set him down, and in one of their laps King
Arthur laid his head, and then that queen said, Ah, dear
brother, why have ye tarried so long from me ? Alas, this
wound on your head hath caught over much cold. And so
then they rowed from the land ; and Sir Bedivere beheld
all those ladies go from him. Then Sir Bedivere cried, Ah,
my lord Arthur, what shall become of me now ye go from
me, and leave me here alone among mine enemies ? Com-
fort thyself, said the King, and do as well as thou mayest,
for in me is no trust for to trust in. For I will go into the
vale of Avilion, to heal me of my grievous wound. And if


thou hear never more of me, pray for my soul. But ever
the queens and the ladies wept and shrieked, that it was
pity to hear. And as soon as Sir Bedivere had lost the
sight of the barge, he wept and wailed, and so took the
forest, and so he went all that night, and in the morning
he was ware betwixt two holts hoar of a chapel and an

Moi-ie D' Arthur.



And one example, whether love or feare doth worke more
in a child, for vertue and learning, I will gladlie report :
which male be hard with some pleasure, and folowed with
more profit. Before I went into Germanic, I came to
Brcdegate in Lecestershire, to take my leave of that noble
hadie/ane Grey, to whom I was exceding moch beholdinge.
Hir parentes, the Duke and Duches, with all the houshold,
gentlemen and gentlewomen, were huntinge in the parke :
I found her, in her chamber, readinge Phaedon Platoiiis in
Greeke, and that with as moch delite, as som jentlemen
wold read a merie tale in Bocase} After salutation, and
dewtie done, with som other taulke, I asked hir, whie she
wold leese soch pastime in the parke ? Smiling she answered
me : I wisse, all their sporte in the parke is but a shadoe to
that pleasure, that I find in Plato. Alas good folke, they
never felt, what trewe pleasure ment. And howe came you
madame, quoth I, to this deepe knowledge of pleasure, and
what did chieflie allure you unto it : seinge, not many
women, but verie fewe men have atteined thereunto? I
will tell you, quoth she, and tell you a troth, which per-
chance ye will mervell at. One of the greatest benefites,
that ever God gave me, is, that he sent me so sharpe and
severe parentes, and so jentle a scholemaster. For when I
am in presence either of father or mother, whether I speake,
kepe silence, sit, stand, or go, eate, drinke, be merie, or sad,

^ Boccaccio.


be sowyng, plaiyng, dauncing, or doing anie thing els, I
must do it, as it were, in soch weight, mesure and number,
even so perfiteUe, as God made the world, or else I am so
sharplie taunted, so cruellie threatened, yea presentlie some-
tymes, with pinches, nippes, and bobbes, and other waies,
which I will not name, for the honor I beare them, so
without measure misordered, that I think myselfe in hell,
till tyme cum, that I must go to M. Elmer, who teacheth
me so jentlie, so pleasantlie, with soch fair allurementes to
learning, that I thinke all the tyme nothing, whiles I am
with him. And when I am called from him, I fall on
weeping, because, whatsoever I do els but learning, is ful of
grief, trouble, feare, and whole misliking unto me. And
thus my booke hath bene so moch my pleasure, and
bringeth dayl}' to me more pleasure and more, that in
respect of it, all other pleasures, in very deede, be but trifles
and troubles unto me. I remember this talke gladly, both
bicause it is so worthie of memorie, and bicause also, it was
the last talke that ever I had, and the last tyme that ever I
saw that noble and worthie Ladie.

The Scholemaster.



It was even twilight when he entered the city of Antium,
and many people met him in the streets, but no man knew
him. So he went directly to Tullus Aufidius' house, and
when he came thither, he got him up straight to the chimney
hearth, and sate him down, and spake not a word to any
man, his face all muffled over. They of the house spying
him, wondered what he should be, and yet they durst not
bid him rise. For ill-favouredly mufifled and disguised as he
was, yet there appeared a certain majesty in his countenance
and in his silence : whereupon they went to Tullus who was
at supper, to tell him of the strange disguising of this man.

Tullus rose presently from the board, and coming towards
him, asked him what he was, and wherefore he came. Then
Martius unmuffled himself, and after he had paused awhile,
making no answer, he said unto him : " If thou knowest me
not yet, Tullus, and seeing me, dost not perhaps believe me
to be the man I am indeed, I must of necessity bewray
myself to be that I am. I am Caius Martius, who hath done
to thyself particularly, and to all the A^olsces generally, great
hurt and mischief, which I cannot deny for my surname of
Coriolanus that I bear. For I never had other benefit nor
recompense of the true and painful service I have done, and
the extreme dangers I have been in, but this only surname :
a good memory and witness of the malice and displeasure
thou shouldest bear me. Indeed the name only remaineth
with me : for the rest, the envy and cruelty of the people of


Rome have taken from me, by the sufferance of the dastardly
nobility and magistrates, who have forsaken me, and let me
be banished by the people. This extremity hath now driven
me to come as a poor suitor to take thy chimney hearth, not
of any hope I have to save my life thereby. For if I had
feared death, I would not have come hither to have put
my life in hazard: but pricked forward with desire to be
revenged of them that thus have banished me, which now
I do begin, in putting my person into the hands of their
enemies. Wherefore, if thou hast any heart to be recked of
the injuries thy enemies have done thee, speed thee now,
and let my misery serve thy turn ; and so use it, as my
service may be a benefit to the Volsces : promising thee,
that I will fight with better good will for you, than I did
when I was against you, knowing that they fight more
valiantly who know the force of the enemy, than such as
have never proved it. And if it be so that thou dare not,
and that thou art weary to prove fortune any more : then
am 1 also weary to live any longer. And it were no wisdom
in thee to save the life of him who hath been heretofore
thy mortal enemy, and whose service now can nothing help
nor pleasure thee."

Tullus hearing what he said, was a marvellous glad man,
and taking him by the hand, he said unto him : " Stand up,
O Martius, and be of good cheer, for in proffering thyself
unto us thou dost us great honour : and by this means thou
mayest hope also of greater things at the Volsces' hands."
So he feasted him for that time, and entertained him in the
honourablest manner he could, talking with him of no other
matters at that present : but within a few days after, they
fell to consultation together in what sort they should begin
their wars.

Plutarclis Life of Coriolanus.



For the rest, if we seek a reason of the succession and con-
tinuance of this boundless ambition in mortal men, we may
add to that which hath been already said ; That the kings
and princes of the world have always laid before them, the
actions, but not the ends, of those great ones which preceded
them. They are always transported with the glory of the
one ; but they never mind the misery of the other, till they
find the experience in themselves. They neglect the advice
of God, while they enjoy life, or hope it ; but they follow the
counsel of death, upon his first approach. It is he that puts
into man all the wisdom of the world, without speaking a
word ; which God with all the words of his law, promises or
threats, doth not infuse. Death which hateth and destroyeth
man, is believed ; God, which hath made him and loves him,
is always deferred. " I have considered," saith Solomon,
"all the works that are under the sun, and behold, all is
vanity and vexation of spirit : " but who believes it, till death
tells it us ? It was death, which opening the conscience of
Charles the fifth, made him enjoin his son Philip to restore
Navarre ; and King Francis the first of France, to command

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