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In making these selections from the works of our best English poets, the Editor has endeavoured to combine several important objects. He has laboured to choose such extracts as convey some useful and moral lesson, and, at the same time, best illustrate the style of the respective writers. He has also been guided in his choice by an anxiety to insert nothing that was beyond the level of a youthful capacity; and, as it was manifestly impossible to find such in every poet's works, he has added notes, explaining obsolete words, and allusions to historical or mythological circumstances, not within the range of a school-boy's reading.
The extracts are arranged in chronological order, and may, therefore, serve to illustrate the progress both of our language and literature. To the collection are prefixed literary notices of the different writers: they are necessarily brief, but they will, perhaps, have the effect of stimulating the student to the exercise of his own taste and his own
The preliminary pieces prefixed to the extracts will be found to contain more information respecting the nature of English poetry than is usually contained in similar volumes. The writer has been as simple and brief as he could; for his object is not to display multifarious learning, but to simplify and condense the elements of knowledge.
Considerable additions have been made to the original selection, particularly from the writings of American Poets, whose works were comparatively unknown in this country until introduced by the Editor of the present volume.