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It is remarkable that in none of the Publications of a cheap and popular character are the people addressed as if they were the possessors of the greatest Literature of the modern world. Their ability to read is either applied to the most exciting and dangerous ends; or modern ingenuity is taxed to produce some new and mostly ephemeral literary currency. Of the treasures in their STANDARD WRITERS they know little or nothing. I propose to publish, in FIFTY-TWO WEEKLY SHEETS, at ThreeHalf pence each,


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Selected and arranged by me, with short biographical and critical notices. My plan is to confine the selection, whether in POETRY or PROSE—whether Essays—CHARACTERS — STORIES — DESCRIPTIVE, NARRATIVE, or DRAMATIC VERSE— REMARKABLE ADVENTURES_MORAL and RELIGIOUS EXHORTATIONS—to pieces of sufficient length to occupy half an hour's ordinary readingor to pieces which can be so connected as to supply the same amount of instruction and amusement. EACH WEEKLY NUMBER WILL CONTAIN SEVEN HALF-HOURS, of a varied character ; every seventh day being selected from some theological writer of universal acceptation and authority. The larger extracts, forming distinct “Half-Hours,” are selected from about two hundred and sixty different writers. In the smaller pieces, which are grouped under some general head, will be found selections from about forty writers, who have not contributed to the larger extracts. The work, therefore, will contain

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Each Number will consist of Twenty-four large Octavo pages. The issue for the year OR HALF AN HOUR'S READING FOR EVERY DAY IN THE YEAR,—will thus be formed of Twelve Hundred and forty pages equal in quantity to six ordinary octavo volumes, to be purchased for sit shillings and sixpence, in Weekly Payments of Three Half-pence. The Weekly Numbers will form Thirteen Monthly Parts, which may be arranged in Four Quarters or Volumes.

CHARLES KNIGHT. 90, Fleet Street, March 9, 1850.




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156. Imitation of Horace ..




1. Influence of Science

Herschel 160. Criticism on Don Quixote Hallam.

4. Death of the Son of Gaston de

163. Character of James Watt Jeffrey.


Froissart. 166. St. Paul at Athens


9. Scenes from the City Madam.' Massinger.


16. Sack of Magdeburg


169. Account of his early Days Gifford.

19. Tale of Terror .


174. Story of Richard Plantagenet. Dr. T. Brett,

20. The Opening Year


176. Old and Young Courtier. Anonymous.

22. A Good Man'e Day

Bp. Hall.

178. Modern Dramatic Poets. -- I. Various.


184. Hogarth

C. Lamb.

25. Roger Ascham and Lady Jane

186. Inconvenience of Greatness . Montaigne,


Landor. 189. The Faithful Minister T. Fuller.

27. Dejection : An Ode



31. Apophthegms.-I.


193. Flowers


35. Speech at Plymouth in 1823. Canning.

200. Instinct


38. Sir Roger de Coverley.-I. . Addison.

203. Death of Casar


44. The Barometer


208. The Insect of a Day Anonymous.

47. Sunday

G. Herbert.

209. The Schoolmaster.



211. Apophthegms.—III. Various.

49. History of Perkin Warbeck . Lord Bacon.

212. The Imitation of Christ Beveridge.

57. The Ancient Mansion Crabbe.


58. The Spider and the Bee Swift.

217. Sir Roger de Coverley:-III. Addison,

D. Hume.

60. The Jealousy of Trade

219. Work


62. Complaint of the Decay of

223. Scenes from the Alchemist B. Jonson.


C. Lamb.

228. Fall of the Marquis of Mon-

67. The First Man




69. Nature's Law


233. Bunyan .



235. Columbus

W. Irving

73. The Good Lord Clifford Wordsworth.

237. The Sermon of the Plough Latimer.

76. Struggling with Adversity . Basil Hall.


78. Omens

Sir H. Davy. 241. Authors of Eighty Years Ago. Smollett.

80. The Present Age


246. Birds


83. Classical Education


250. Poor Richard

Dr. Franklin.

85. Sir Alexander Ball


256. Of Great Place

Lord Bacon.

91. Measures and Offices of

258. Civilization

Jer. Taylor.



261. The Poet's Year



263. To all Readers

G. White.

Bp. Hall.

97. The British Hirundines.

103. The Voluble Lady

Jane Austen.


105. May


265. Sir Dudley North

Roger North.

267. Adventure in a Forest Smollett.

109. Progress of Mechanical Arts. D. Webster.

iil. Decision of Character J. Foster.

271. Scene from Old Fortunatus


114. Dream of Eugene Aram

. Jefferson.

274, Characters, Washington

117. Contrarieties in Human

Bonaparte Anonymous.




277. Death of Cardinal Wolsey
280. What is Poetry?

Leigh Hunt.

121. Great Fire of London Evelyn.

283. The Industry of a Gentleman Barrow.

124. The Red Fisherman



127. Sir Roger de Coverley.-II. Addison. 289. Progress of the Great Plague

133. Ballads


in London.


136. An Irish Village

Carleton. 293. Happiness


138. Rising of the Waters . Galt.

294. The Old English Admiral E. H. Locker.

141. Religious Knowledge

R. Hall. 299. The Nut-brown Maid Anonymous


303. Sir Roger de Coverley.-IV. Addison.

145. Apophthegmis.—II.

Various. 307. Books

R. de Bury

149. The Koran

G. Campbell. 309. Upon the Government of the

151. Dr. Johnson and his Times Macaulay. Tongue


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FRONTISPIECE, containing Portraits of Spenser, Jeremy Taylor-Lord Bacon—Dr. Johnson.




[SIB JOHN HERSCHEL, the author of a 'Discourse on the Study of Natural Philosophy' (forming a volume of Lardner's Cyclopædia), from which the following ‘Half-hour' is extracted, stands at the head of the men of science of our own times. This is not the place to enlarge upon his eminent merits as a philosopher ; but he claims especial regard from us, and from our readers, as being amongst the ablest and most generous of advocates for the Diffusion of Knowledge. We cannot forbear the pleasure of quoting a beautiful passage from an Address to the Subscribers to the Windsor and Eton Public Library,' delivered by him in 1833 — a period when many eminent men believed, or affected to believe, that the people might be overinstructed. We give this as a fit introduction to a course of general reading, not selected for

class - not diluted or mangled in the belief that the great body of readers have depraved intellectual appetites and weak digestions — but taken from the best and the highest works in all literature - gems from the rich treasury of instruction and amusement which the master minds of the world, and especially of our own nation, have heaped up for an exhaustless and imperishable store :

“ If I were to pray for a taste which should stand me in stead under every variety of circumstances, and be a source of happiness and cheerfulness to me through life, and a shield against its ills, however things might go amiss, and the world frown upon me, it would be a taste for reading. I speak of it of course only as a worldly advantage, and not in the slightest degree as superseding or derogating from the higher office and surer and stronger panoply of religious principles — but as a taste, an instrument, and a mode of pleasurable gratification. Give a man this taste, and the means of gratifying it, and you can hardly fail of making a happy man, unless, indeed, you put into his hands a most perverse selection of books. You place him in contact with the best society in every period of history - with the wisest, the vittiest — with the tenderest, the bravest, and the purest characters that have adorned humanity. You make him a denizen of all nations — a contemporary of all ages. The world has been created for him. It is hardly possible but the character should take a higher and better tone from the constant habit of associating in thought with a class of thinkers, to say the least of it, above the average of humanity. It is morally impossible but that the manners should take a tinge of good breeding and civilisation from having constantly before one's eyes the way in which the best bred and the best informed men have talked and conducted themselves in their intercourse with each other. There is a gentle but perfectly irresistible coercion in a habit of reading, well directed, over the whole tenor of a man's character and conduct, which is not the less effectual because it works insensibly, and because it is really the last thing he dreams of. It cannot, in short, be better summed up than in the words of the Latin poet

*Emollit mores, nec sinit esse feros.' It civilises the conduct of men— and suffers them not to remain barbarous.")

The difference of the degrees in which the individuals of a great community enjoy the good things of life has been a theme of declamation and discontent in all ages ; and it is doubtless our paramount duty, in every state of society, to alleviate the pressure of the purely evil part of this distribution as much as possible, and, by all



the means we can devise, secure the lower links in the chain of society from dragging in dishonour and wretchedness : but there is a point of view in which the picture is at least materially altered in its expression. In comparing society on its present immense scale, with its infant or less developed state, we must at least take care to enlarge every feature in the same proportion. If, on comparing the very lowest states in civilised and savage life, we admit a difficulty in deciding to which the preference is duc, at least in every superior grade we cannot hesitate a moment; and if we institute a similar comparison in every different stage of its progress, we cannot fail to be struck with the rapid rate of dilatation which every degree upward of the scale, so to speak, exhibits, and which, in an estimate of averages, gives an immense preponderance to the present over every former condition of mankind, and, for aught we can see to the contrary, will place succeeding generations in the same degree of superior relation to the present that this holds to those passed away. Or we may put the same proposition in other words, and, admitting the existence of every inferior grade of advantage in a higher state of civilisation which subsisted in the preceding, we shall find, first, that, taking state for state, the proportional numbers of those who enjoy the higher degrees of advantage increases with a constantly accelerated rapidity as society advances; and, secondly, that the superior extremity of the scale is constantly enlarging by the addition of new degrees. The condition of a European prince is now as far superior, in the command of real comforts and conveniences, to that of one in the middle ages, as that to the condition of one of his own dependants.

The advantages conferred by the augmentation of our physical resources through the medium of increased knowledge and improved art, have this peculiar and remarkable property—that they are in their nature diffusive, and cannot be enjoyed in any exclusive manner by a few. An eastern despot may extort the riches and monopolise the art of his subjects for his own personal use ; he may spread around him an unnatural splendour and luxury, and stand in strange and preposterous contrast with the general penury and discomfort of his people ; he may glitter in jewels of gold and raiment of needle-work; but the wonders of well contrived and executed manufacture which we use daily, and the comforts which have been invented, tried, and improved upon by thousands, in every form of domestic convenience, and for every ordinary purpose of life, can never be cnjoyed by him. To produce a state of things in which the physical advantages of civilised life can exist in a high degree, the stimulus of increasing comforts and constantly elevated desires must have been felt by millions ; since it is not in the power of a few individuals to create that wide demand for useful and ingenious applications, which alone can lead to great and rapid improvements, unless backed by that arising from the speedy diffusion of the same advantages among the mass of mankind.

If this be true of physical advantages, it applies with still greater force to intellectual. Knowledge can neither be adequately cultivated nor adequately enjoyed by a few; and although the conditions of our cxistence on earth may be such as to preclude an abundant supply of the physical necessities of all who may be born, there is no such law of nature in force against that of our intellectual and moral wants. Knowledge is not, like food, destroyed by use, but rather augmented and perfected. It requires not, perhaps, a greater certainty, but at least a confirmed authority and a probable duration, by universal assent; and there is no body of knowledge so complete, but that it may acquire accession, or so free from crror but that it may receive correction in passing through the minds of millions. Those who admire and love knowledge for its own sake ought to wish to see its clements made accessible to all, were it only that they may be the more thoroughly examined into, and more effectually developed in their consequences, and receive that ductility and plastic

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