A single book is the chief repertory of knowledge on any important subject. Wile, therefore, epitomes of information are more frequent than every, epitomes of particular authors have become rare. The canon, also, is a classification difficult to maintain in presence of the extreme complexity of modern literature. In the modern literature the principle of the canon is less easy of application, on account of the difficulty of establishing an absolute criterion of style, and also of its greater complexity and variety. The supreme perfection of prose style the felicitous expression to which nothing can be added and from which nothing can be taken away, has perhaps, hardly ever been attained but by those authors of the first rank with whom the modern world has least concern.
Two systems have been followed in these volumes, each of which has its advantages, The first, especially recommendable for poetical complications, is the system of fastidious severity, which can only be carried out by a compiler of exquisite taste and on consummate judgment. Another principle may here be involved, and the selection may in A Manner be entrusted to the public suffrage, those pieces being especially chosen which are known to have appealed with special force to the general heart and conscience.
The Encyclopaedia will be of great interest to the research scholars and to the literary person but will be of general interest to those who love literature without any barriers of language or country.