Outlines of English and American Literature The Critics and Essayists byLong, William J.
From the seventeenth to the nineteenth century (or from Shakespeare to
Wordsworth) England was preparing a great literature; and then appeared
writers whose business or pleasure it was to appreciate that literature, to
point out its virtues or its defects, to explain by what principle this or
that work was permanent, and to share their enjoyment of good prose and
poetry with others,--in a word, the critics.
In the list of such writers, who give us literature at second hand, the
names of Leigh Hunt, William Hazlitt, Walter Savage Landor, Charles Lamb
and Thomas De Quincey are written large. The two last-named are selected
for special study, not because of their superior critical ability (for
Hazlitt was probably a better critic than either), but because of a few
essays in which these men left us an appreciation of life, as they saw it
for themselves at first hand.