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WORDS THAT BURN,
Poet, Sage and Humorist.
A VAST COLLECTION OF CHOICE LITERATURE OF ALL AGES,
WITH FINE STEEL PLATE AND WOOD ENGRAVINGS.
ELLIOTT & BEEZLEY,
PHILADELPHIA AND CHICAGO.
HE aim and scope of this work is to condense into one volume the precious life-blood of the master spirits of the literary world. It desires to introduce all lovers of good literature into that charmed circle of great authors, and asks them to sit down with Homer and Milton and Pope and Addison and Lamb, and drink at the overflowing fountain of their genius; to become guests at the table around which sit Shakespeare and Dante and Johnson and Goethe and Cervantes, and partake of a feast far richer than any ever spread by the dainty Lucullus; to learn of the genius and all-embracing humanity of Wordsworth, of the magic of Byron and Coleridge, of the ever murmuring music of Burns and Moore, of the enchanting verse of Tennyson and Longfellow; to wander by the babbling brooks and amid the fragrant flowers of these great gardeners of men, and to pluck therefrom the sweet and rare exotics that have exhilarated and intoxicated the human race of the past, and will continue to do so for ages to come.
Within the prescribed limits of our volume, many authors of fair reputation will, of course, be missed. The number is so great that it would be utterly impossible to give room to all. We have, therefore, confined ourselves to first rank, making a few exceptions now and then for which we leave our readers to judge whether or not we have been justified in so doing.
It has been truly said: "The world of thought is so large and the span of human life so brief, that it is impossible for one man to be profound on many subjects, or to be throughly conversant with the writings of many authors."
In the compilation of this work we have sought to gather within its pages, not only the greatest authors that have written for the edification of their fellow-men, but to select therefrom the finest passages and parts of their greatest efforts. We have viewed the literary field as a bountiful harvest, from which to gather abundant stores of best mental food. Taking a careful survey of the entire field, sickle in hand we have gone to the most fertile spots and gathered sheaves of the tallest, ripest and most perfect grain.
Those of our readers who have not time and means for securing a thorough and knowledge of the master minds of the past and present, may herein be enabled to form, at least, a slight acquaintance with them.
While every sentiment that is pure and lofty is expressed in words that breathe thoughts that burn, no attempt is made to classify them, believing that indiscriminate commingling of the various subjects add brilliancy and luster to its pages. The tall and stately oak loses much of its grandeur when surrounded only with others of equal height and dimensions; and the vine that encircles it and clings to its sides loses much of its sentiment when torn away and placed amid any other surroundings. Even the fire-fly, that emits ever and anon its luminous spark, in the depths of the forest shades, would not be half so charming if transported to other scenes. The volume will be as it is intended, not as a text-book on literature, but a book to pick up and read during a leisure hour, with greatest possible benefit and enjoyment.
Our thanks are due to the many friends for their kind suggestions and valuable assistance in this arduous task, and we take this method of expressing our appreciation. With this introduction, we send our work forth upon its mission accompanied with the earnest wish that the pleasure derived from its perusal may equal that resulting from its preparation.