« ZurückWeiter »
My duty in editing this volume is a very simple one:-to state, with frankness and precision, the circumstances of its publication, and, if need be, to disarm criticism by the absence of any thing like pretension on the part of him whose posthumous work is now given to the reading world of his own countrymen. Immediately on my brother's death in the autumn of last year, or as soon (and with me it was very soon) as all hope of possible rescue had faded away, my attention was turned to his manuscript lectures, delivered in different courses at the University of Pennsylvania. I knew that, as popular lectures, or rather essays at lectures, they had been very successful, and I hoped and believed they would bear the severer test of being printed. This, I was well aware, is not always the case; and I examined these manuscripts with the idea of possible inaptitude clearly in my mind. The result, however, was a conviction that these Lectures, or a portion of them, ought to be published. They contain, aside from their value as works of criticism, developments of the pure taste and gentle feeling of the author, which will interest, at least his friends, and be appreciated by all who value them exactly for what they were designed-not profound disquisitions, but popular
lectures. In saying this, I must be understood as speaking with precision, and not in words either of real or affected disparagement. I wish to describe them as He would do, were he alive to speak of his own modest work. There will be found on these pages, if I mistake not, hints and suggestions of philosophic criticism floating on the surface, or hidden not far beneath,. of a most graceful and attractive current of thought and language.
It will be farther borne in mind that these Lectures are printed exactly as written, with scarcely a verbal alteration, and no change or modification of opinion. He wrote from a full mind, often with great rapidity, and without the opportunity or the necessity of revision. Knowing this to be his habit of composition, and that he never prepared himself specially for any one lecture, I have been much struck with the proof they afford of his long and habitual studiousness and rich and accomplished scholarship. His citations of authorities, or rather quotations, are purely incidental; and one of my duties has been to trace his studies to their sources, and, as far as possible, verify, by exact reference, the citations he has made. In this-for my own occupations have forced my ordinary reading into other channels-I have been aided by the only survivor (one still nearer to him than myself) to whom, before delivery and as he wrote them, he read these Lectures; and also by his and my friends,-to whom I am glad thus to make my acknowledgments,-Mr. George W. Hunter, Mr. Ellis Yarnall, and Mr. William Arthur Jackson.
In selecting this course of Lectures, I was guided by two
considerations,-one that it was a more complete and continuous course than others; another, that it was among the last delivered by him. The dates will be found noted in each lecture.
I have ventured not only to put, in the form of notes, some unconnected remarks by the author himself and marked with his initials, but to add a few of my own. These are very few, and are meant to be illustrative. Perhaps, in the analysis of my feelings, there may be another pardonable motive, in an affectionate desire, not diminishing, but growing with every hour of desolate separation, of connecting some work of mine with his. Now that it is done, I feel as if a mournful pleasure were over, and I was parting anew from him and his.
Should this volume be received with interest and favour, it is my wish to complete the series by two other courses on kindred subjects:
1. Lectures on Modern History down to the Period of the Reformation; and
2. Lectures on the History of England, as illustrated by Shakspeare's Historical Dramas.
If, then, (for I am dealing very candidly with the public,) sufficient interest be felt in the intellectual and moral developments of these volumes to justify such a tribute to his memory, I may venture at least, this now is my purpose-to prepare a Memoir of my brother's gentle and tranquil life, and very interesting correspondence on both sides of the Atlantic. The life of a secluded American scholar may not be without interest to those near and at a distance.