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I believe I have read most of the French and English literature proper of the period that is in print, and much, if not most, of the German.

I shall state very frankly the qualifications which I think I may advance in regard to this volume.

The Celtic tongues were either past or not come to their chief performance ; and it so happens that, by the confession of the most ardent Celticists who speak as scholars, no Welsh or Irish texts affecting the capital question of the Arthurian legends can be certainly attributed to the twelfth or X PREFACE. It seemed to me, there- fore, that I might, without presumption, undertake the volume.

Of the execution as apart from the under- taking others must judge.

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Vll — yet there may, I hope, be a sufficient public who, recognising the advantage of the end, will make a fair allowance for necessary shortcomings in the means.German, if not quite supreme in any way, gives an interesting and fairly representative example of a chapter of national literary history, less brilliant and original in performance than the Erench, less momentous and unique in promise than the English, but more normal than either, and furnishing in the epics, of which the Nihelunyenlied and Kudrun are the chief examples, and in the best work of the Minnesingers, things not only of historical but of intrinsic value in all but the highest degree.Proven Qal and Icelandic literature at this time are both of them of far greater intrinsic interest than English, if not than German, and they are infinitely PREFACE. But it so happens that the promin- ent qualities of form in the first, of matter and spirit in the second, though intense and delightful, are not very complicated, various, or wide-ranging. Now it so happens that — for the period — French is, more than at any other time, the capital literature of Europe. The MID-EIGHTEENTH CENTURY The ROMANTIC REVOLT The ROMANTIC TRIUMPH . T know somewhat less of Icelandic and Provencal ; less still of Spanish and Italian as regards this period, but something also of them : Welsh and Irish I know only in translations. And it could be further urged that this sacrifice might be reduced to a minimum by selecting in each case writers thoroughly acquainted with the literature which happened to be of greatest prominence in the special period, provided always that their general literary knowledge and critical habits were such as to render them capable of giving a fit account of the rest.

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