SOME of the great names which illustrated the former period, and have made it famous, continued after 1830 to grace our literature. Scott, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Campbell, Moore, the creative masters of the last generation, still remained, but their strength was spent, their honours won, and it may be long ere the world see again such a cluster of eminent poetical contemporaries. Other names, however, were brightening the horizon. Macaulay, Carlyle, and Tennyson appeared, and we had vast activity in every department of our national literature, while in some there was unquestioned pre-eminence. This has been seen in the revival of speculative philosophy, corresponding with the diffusion of physical science — in the study of nature, its laws and resources; and in the rich abundance of our prose fiction, which is wholly without a parallel in ancient or modern times. The novel has, indeed, become a necessity in our social life — a great institution. It no longer deals with heroic events and perilous adventures — the romance of history or chivalry. But it finds nourishment and vigour in the daily walks and common scenes of life — in the development of character, intellect, and passion, the struggles, follies, and varieties of ordinary existence. Even poetry reflects the contemplative and inquiring spirit of the age. In history and biography, the two grand sources of our literary distinction in this latter half of the nineteenth century, the same tendencies prevail — a desire to know all and investigate all. Every source of information is sought after — every leading fact, principle, or doctrine in taste, criticism, and ethics is subjected to scrutiny and analysis; while literary journals and cheap editions, multiplied by the aid of steam, pour forth boundless supplies. To note all these in our remaining space would be impossible; many works well deserving of study we can barely glance at, and many must be omitted. In the delicate and somewhat invidious task of dealing with living authors, we shall seek rather to afford information and awaken interest than to pronounce judgments; and we must trust largely to the candour and indulgence of our readers.
Allingham, William (March 19, 1824 – November 18, 1889)