Literary Taste, by Arnold Bennett

Chapter xiii

An English Library: Period iii

The catalogue of necessary authors of this third and last period being so long, it is convenient to divide the prose writers into Imaginative and Non-imaginative.

In the latter half of the period the question of copyright affects our scheme to a certain extent, because it affects prices. Fortunately it is the fact that no single book of recognised first-rate general importance is conspicuously dear. Nevertheless, I have encountered difficulties in the second rank; I have dealt with them in a spirit of compromise. I think I may say that, though I should have included a few more authors had their books been obtainable at a reasonable price, I have omitted none that I consider indispensable to a thoroughly representative collection. No living author is included.

Where I do not specify the edition of a book the original copyright edition is meant.

PROSE WRITERS: IMAGINATIVE. £ s. d.
SIR WALTER SCOTT, Waverley, Heart of Midlothian, Quentin Durward, Red-gauntlet, Ivanhoe: Everyman’s Library (5 vols.) 0 5 0
SIR WALTER SCOTT, Marmion, etc.: Canterbury Poets 0 1 0
Charles Lamb, Works in Prose and Verse: Clarendon Press (2 vols.) 0 4 0
Charles Lamb, Letters: Newnes’s Thin Paper Classics 0 2 0
Walter Savage Landor, Imaginary Conversations: Scott Library 0 1 0
Walter Savage Landor, Poems: Canterbury Poets 0 1 0
Leigh Hunt, Essays and Sketches: World’s Classics 0 1 0
Thomas Love Peacock, Principal Novels: New Universal Library (2 vols.) 0 2 0
Mary Russell Mitford, Our Village: Scott Library 0 1 0
Michael Scott, Tom Cringle’s Log: Macmillan’s Illustrated Novels 0 2 6
Frederick Marryat, Mr. Midshipman Easy: Everyman’s Library 0 1 0
John Galt, Annals of the Parish: Everyman’s Library 0 1 0
Susan Ferrier, Marriage: Routledge’s edition 0 2 0
Douglas Jerrold, Mrs. Caudle’s Curtain Lectures: World’s Classics 0 1 0
Lord Lytton, Last Days of Pompeii: Everyman’s Library 0 1 0
William Carleton, Stories: Scott Library 0 1 0
Charles James Lever, Harry Lorrequer: Everyman’s Library 0 1 0
Harrison Ainsworth, The Tower of London: New Universal Library 0 1 0
George Henry Borrow, Bible in Spain, Lavengro: New Universal Library (2 vols.) 0 2 0
Lord Beaconsfield, Sybil, Coningsby: Lane’s New Pocket Library (2 vols.) 0 2 0
W.M. THACKERAY, Vanity Fair, Esmond: Everyman’s Library (2 vols.) 0 2 0
W.M. THACKERAY, Barry Lyndon, and Roundabout Papers, etc.: Nelson’s New Century Library 0 2 0
CHARLES DICKENS, Works: Everyman’s Library (18 vols.) 0 18 0
Charles Reade, The Cloister and the Hearth: Everyman’s Library 0 1 0
Anthony Trollope, Barchester Towers, Framley Parsonage: Lane’s New Pocket Library (2 vols.) 0 2 0
Charles Kingsley, Westward Ho!: Everyman’s Library 0 1 0
Henry Kingsley, Ravenshoe: Everyman’s Library 0 1 0
Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre, Shirley, Villette, Professor, and Poems: World’s Classics (4 vols.) 0 4 0
Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights: World’s Classics 0 1 0
Elizabeth Gaskell, Cranford: World’s Classics 0 1 0
Elizabeth Gaskell, Life of Charlotte Brontë 0 2 6
George Eliot, Adam Bede, Silas Marner, The Mill on the Floss: Everyman’s Library (3 vols.) 0 3 0
G.J. Whyte-Melville, The Gladiators: New Universal Library 0 1 0
Alexander Smith, Dreamthorpe: New Universal Library 0 1 0
George Macdonald, Malcolm 0 1 6
Walter Pater, Imaginary Portraits 0 6 0
Wilkie Collins, The Woman in White 0 1 0
R.D. Blackmore, Lorna Doone: Everyman’s Library 0 1 0
Samuel Butler, Erewhon: Fifield’s Edition 0 2 6
Laurence Oliphant, Altiora Peto 0 3 6
Margaret Oliphant, Salem Chapel: Everyman’s Library 0 1 0
Richard Jefferies, Story of My Heart 0 2 0
Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland: Macmillan’s Cheap Edition 0 1 0
John Henry Shorthouse, John Inglesant: Macmillan’s Pocket Classics 0 2 0
R.L. Stevenson, Master of Ballantrae, Virginibus Puerisque: Pocket Edition (2 vols.) 0 4 0
George Gissing, The Odd Women: Popular Edition (bound) 0 0 7
£5 0 1

Names such as those of Charlotte Yonge and Dinah Craik are omitted intentionally.

PROSE WRITERS: NON-IMAGINATIVE. £ s. d.
William Hazlitt, Spirit of the Age: World’s Classics 0 1 0
William Hazlitt, English Poets and Comic Writers: Bohn’s Library 0 3 6
Francis Jeffrey, Essays from Edinburgh Review: New Universal Library 0 1 0
Thomas de Quincey, Confessions of an English Opium-eater, etc.: Scott Library 0 1 0
Sydney Smith, Selected Papers: Scott Library 0 1 0
George Finlay, Byzantine Empire: Everyman’s Library 0 1 0
John G. Lockhart, Life of Scott: Everyman’s Library 0 1 0
Agnes Strickland, Life of Queen Elizabeth: Everyman’s Library 0 1 0
Hugh Miller, Old Red Sandstone: Everyman’s Library 0 1 0
J.H. Newman, Apologia pro vita sua: New Universal Library 0 1 0
Lord Macaulay, History of England, (3), Essays (2): Everyman’s Library (5 vols.) 0 5 0
A.P. Stanley, Memorials of Canterbury: Everyman’s Library 0 1 0
THOMAS CARLYLE, French Revolution (2), Cromwell (3), Sartor Resartus and Heroes and Hero-Worship (1): Everyman’s Library (6 vols.) 0 6 0
THOMAS CARLYLE, Latter-day Pamphlets: Chapman and Hall’s Edition 0 1 0
CHARLES DARWIN, Origin of Species: Murray’s Edition 0 1 0
CHARLES DARWIN, Voyage of the Beagle: Everyman’s Library 0 1 0
A.W. Kinglake, Eothen: New Universal Library 0 1 0
John Stuart Mill, Auguste Comte and Positivism: New Universal Library 0 1 0
John Brown, Horæ Subsecivæ: World’s Classics 0 1 0
John Brown, Rab and His Friends: Everyman’s Library 0 1 0
Sir Arthur Helps, Friends in Council: New Universal Library 0 1 0
Mark Pattison, Life of Milton: English Men of Letters Series 0 1 0
F.W. Robertson, On Religion and Life: Everyman’s Library 0 1 0
Benjamin Jowett, Interpretation of Scripture: Routledge’s London Library 0 2 6
George Henry Lewes, Principles of Success in Literature: Scott Library 0 1 0
Alexander Bain, Mind and Body 0 4 0
James Anthony Froude, Dissolution of the Monasteries, etc.: New Universal Library 0 1 0
Mary Wollstonecraft, Vindication of the Rights of Women: Scott Library 0 1 0
John Tyndall, Glaciers of the Alps: Everyman’s Library 0 1 0
Sir Henry Maine, Ancient Law: New Universal Library 0 1 0
JOHN RUSKIN, Seven Lamps (1), Sesame and Lilies (1), Stones of Venice (3): George Allen’s Cheap Edition (5 vols.) 0 5 0
HERBERT SPENCER, First Principles (2 vols.) 0 2 0
HERBERT SPENCER, Education 0 1 0
Sir Richard Burton, Narrative of a Pilgrimage to Mecca: Bohn’s Edition (2 vols.) 0 7 0
J.S. Speke, Sources of the Nile: Everyman’s Library 0 1 0
Thomas Henry Huxley, Essays: Everyman’s Library 0 1 0
E.A. Freeman, Europe: Macmillan’s Primers 0 1 0
WILLIAM STUBBS, Early Plantagenets 0 2 0
Walter Bagehot, Lombard Street 0 3 6
Richard Holt Hutton, Cardinal Newman 0 3 6
Sir John Seeley, Ecce Homo: New Universal Library 0 1 0
David Masson, Thomas de Quincey: English Men of Letters Series 0 1 0
John Richard Green, Short History of the English People 0 8 6
Sir Leslie Stephen, Pope: English Men of Letters Series 0 1 0
Lord Acton, On the Study of History 0 2 6
Mandell Creighton, The Age of Elizabeth 0 2 6
F.W.H. Myers, Wordsworth: English Men of Letters Series 0 1 0
£4 10 6

The following authors are omitted, I think justifiably:— Hallam, Whewell, Grote, Faraday, Herschell, Hamilton, John Wilson, Richard Owen, Stirling Maxwell, Buckle, Oscar Wilde, P.G. Hamerton, F.D. Maurice, Henry Sidgwick, and Richard Jebb.

Lastly, here is the list of poets. In the matter of price per volume it is the most expensive of all the lists. This is due to the fact that it contains a larger proportion of copyright works. Where I do not specify the edition of a book, the original copyright edition is meant:

POETS. £ s. d.
WILLIAM WORDSWORTH, Poetical Works: Oxford Edition 0 3 6
WILLIAM WORDSWORTH, Literary Criticism: Nowell Smith’s Edition 0 2 6
Robert Southey, Poems: Canterbury Poets 0 1 0
Robert Southey, Life of Nelson: Everyman’s Library 0 1 0
S.T. COLERIDGE, Poetical Works: Newnes’s Thin Paper Classics 0 2 0
S.T. COLERIDGE, Biographia Literaria: Everyman’s Library 0 1 0
S.T. COLERIDGE, Lectures on Shakspere: Everyman’s Library 0 1 0
JOHN KEATS, Poetical Works: Oxford Edition 0 3 6
PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY, Poetical Works: Oxford Edition 0 3 6
LORD BYRON, Poems: E. Hartley Coleridge’s Edition 0 6 0
LORD BYRON, Letters: Scott Library 0 1 0
Thomas Hood, Poems: World’s Classics 0 1 0
James and Horace Smith, Rejected Addresses: New Universal Library 0 1 0
John Keble, The Christian Year: Canterbury Poets 0 1 0
George Darley, Poems: Muses’ Library 0 1 0
T.L. Beddoes, Poems: Muses’ Library 0 1 0
Thomas Moore, Selected Poems: Canterbury Poets 0 1 0
James Clarence Mangan, Poems: D.J. O’Donoghue’s Edition 0 3 6
W. Mackworth Praed, Poems: Canterbury Poets 0 1 0
R.S. Hawker, Cornish Ballads: C.E. Byles’s Edition 0 5 0
Edward FitzGerald, Omar Khayyam: Golden Treasury Series 0 2 6
P.J. Bailey, Festus: Routledge’s Edition 0 3 6
Arthur Hugh Clough, Poems: Muses’ Library 0 1 0
LORD TENNYSON, Poetical Works: Globe Edition 0 3 6
ROBERT BROWNING, Poetical Works: World’s Classics (2 vols.) 0 2 0
Elizabeth Browning, Aurora Leigh: Temple Classics 0 1 6
Elizabeth Browning, Shorter Poems: Canterbury Poets 0 1 0
P.B. Marston, Song-tide: Canterbury Poets 0 1 0
Aubrey de Vere, Legends of St. Patrick: Cassell’s National Library 0 0 6
MATTHEW ARNOLD, Poems: Golden Treasury Series 0 2 6
MATTHEW ARNOLD, Essays: Everyman’s Library 0 1 0
Coventry Patmore, Poems: Muses’ Library 0 1 0
Sydney Dobell, Poems: Canterbury Poets 0 1 0
Eric Mackay, Love-letters of a Violinist: Canterbury Poets 0 1 0
T.E. Brown, Poems 0 7 6
C.S. Calverley, Verses and Translations 0 1 6
D.G. ROSSETTI, Poetical Works 0 3 6
Christina Rossetti, Selected Poems: Golden Treasury Series 0 2 6
James Thomson, City of Dreadful Night 0 3 6
Jean Ingelow, Poems: Red Letter Library 0 1 6
William Morris, The Earthly Paradise 0 6 0
William Morris, Early Romances: Everyman’s Library 0 1 0
Augusta Webster, Selected Poems 0 4 6
W.E. Henley, Poetical Works 0 6 0
Francis Thompson, Selected Poems 0 5 0
£5 7 0

Poets whom I have omitted after hesitation are: Ebenezer Elliott, Thomas Woolner, William Barnes, Gerald Massey, and Charles Jeremiah Wells. On the other hand, I have had no hesitation about omitting David Moir, Felicia Hemans, Aytoun, Sir Edwin Arnold, and Sir Lewis Morris. I have included John Keble in deference to much enlightened opinion, but against my inclination. There are two names in the list which may be somewhat unfamiliar to many readers. James Clarence Mangan is the author of My Dark Rosaleen, an acknowledged masterpiece, which every library must contain. T.E. Brown is a great poet, recognised as such by a few hundred people, and assuredly destined to a far wider fame. I have included FitzGerald because Omar Khayyam is much less a translation than an original work.

SUMMARY OF THE NINETEENTH CENTURY. £ s. d.
83 prose-writers, in 141 volumes, costing £9 10 7
38 poets " 46 " " 5 7 0
121 187 £14 17 7
GRAND SUMMARY OF COMPLETE LIBRARY.
Authors. Volumes. Price.
1. To Dryden 48 72 £5 9 0
2. Eighteenth Century 57 78 6 8 0
3. Nineteenth Century 121 187 14 17 7
226 337 £26 14 7

I think it will be agreed that the total cost of this library is surprisingly small. By laying out the sum of sixpence a day for three years you may become the possessor of a collection of books which, for range and completeness in all branches of literature, will bear comparison with libraries far more imposing, more numerous, and more expensive.

I have mentioned the question of discount. The discount which you will obtain (even from a bookseller in a small town) will be more than sufficient to pay for Chambers’s Cyclopædia of English Literature, three volumes, price 30s. net. This work is indispensable to a bookman. Personally, I owe it much.

When you have read, wholly or in part, a majority of these three hundred and thirty-five volumes, with enjoyment, you may begin to whisper to yourself that your literary taste is formed; and you may pronounce judgment on modern works which come before the bar of your opinion in the calm assurance that, though to err is human, you do at any rate know what you are talking about.

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Last updated Wednesday, March 12, 2014 at 13:31