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The Editor of this Volume trusts that his attempt to extend the knowledge and appreciation of British Poetry and British Art will be favourably received by the Public. His object has been to collect and arrange, in a popular and attractive form, the most perfect specimens of the Poets, illustrated by the pencils of the Artists, of Great Britain.
The task was one in which success is more easy than failure ; inasmuch as beauties so abound in our older Poets that the only difficulty lies in rejection.
The earliest age of English Poetry was one of sublime invention, and may here be traced in its course down to the days of agreeable imitation. It is not less instructive than delightful to follow such inquiries; and whether the reader is met by the inventive energy and luxurious rapture of the first Poets, by the various and abundant fancies that succeeded, by the nervous and manly style which rose upon their decline, or by the gay and graceful imitators who sought to restore them—in all he will recognise sources of distinct delight, and acknowledge with the greatest of their later followers, the gratitude we owe to men who have given us
“ nobler loves and nobler cares, The Poets, who on earth have made us heirs Of truth and pure delight :"
for such is the inheritance they bequeath to us, in the simplest exercise of their high privilege. What they receive, they do, indeed, bountifully distribute. “ Poetry," says Lord Bacon, in the most perfect definition that was ever given, " conforms the shows of things to the desires of the soul.” This power their works bestow in turn upon us all. May the present volume assist in extending the blessings of so divine an influence !
Among these specimens of the Poets there may be several with which general readers are already familiar; but they are such as could not have been omitted from a collection of this nature. The volume will be found to contain much that has been hitherto condemned to comparative oblivion.
The Editor has sought by every possible means to give completeness to his work: – by consulting all