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A HISTORY, CRITICAL AND BIOGRAPHICAL, OF BRITISH
OF THEIR WRITINGS,
ORIGINALLY EDITED BY ROBERT CHAMBERS, LL. D.
REVISED BY ROBERT CARRUTHERS, LL.D.
IN EIGHT VOLUMES.
AMERICAN BOOK EXCHANGE,
present work, the first of its kind in Great Britain, was originally published in 3. It was designed and commenced by the late DR. ROBERT CHAMBERS-always zealous and indefatigable, as he was successful, in the promotion of literature and public improvement. The work was undertaken for the purpose of supplying what was considered a deficiency in the literature addressed at that time to the great body of the people-namely, a chronological series of extracts from our national authors --a concentration of the best productions of English intellect, from Anglo-Saxon to recent times, set, as it were, in a popular biographical history of our literature. Great efforts had previously been made for the diffusion of useful knowledge, and for popularizing scientific information; but there was no work, at once cheap and comprehensive, which sought to bring the treasures of imaginative and historical Iterature within the reach of the busy mercantile and industrial classes of society. This CYCLOPÆDIA, which aimed at supplying the want, was received with great favour, both in this country and in America. Gratifying proofs of its usefulness have been received from various quarters and from numerous readers, who have acknowledged that their earliest love of literature, and their veneration for our great authors, from CHAUCER to WORDSWORTH, were first called forth by the successive monthly parts of this work.
After the lapse of fifteen years, during which literature and literary information had greatly increased, a Second Edition of the CYCLOPEDIA was issued, bringing it down to the year 1858. This edition also was highly successful.
A further interval of eighteen years having taken place, a Third Edition is now offered to the public, carefully revised, continuing the extracts and biographical notices to the present time.
It remains to be added that, for the revision of the second and third editions of the work, we have been indebted to ROBERT CARRUTHERS, LL.D., of Inverness, whose excellent literary knowledge and taste are conspicuously observable in the present improved edition.
EDINBURGH, March, 1876.
W. & R. C.