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THE NEW YORK
ASTOR, LENOX AND
"I hold that no man can have any just conception of the History of England
who has not often read, and meditated, and learnt to love the great Poets of England. The greatest of them, such as Chaucer, Shakspeare, Massinger, George Herbert, Milton, Cowley, Dryden, Pope, and Burns, often throw more rich and brilliant colours, and sometimes even more clear and steady lights, on the times and the doings of our forefathers, than are to be gathered out of all the chroniclers together, from the Venerable Bede to the Philosophical Hume. They are at least the greatest and the best commentators on those chroniclers.'-Sir James Stephen on Desultory and Systematic Reading.
THE ENGLISH POETS.
THE necessity for a revised and carefully Annotated Edition 1 of the English Poets may be found in the fact, that no such publication exists. The only Collections we possess consist of naked and frequently imperfect Texts, put forth without sufficient literary supervision. Independently of other defects, these voluminous Collections are incomplete as a whole, from their omissions of many Poets whose works are of the highest interest, while the total absence of critical and illustrative Notes renders them comparatively worthless to the Student of our National Literature.
A few of our Poets have been edited separately by men well qualified for the undertaking, and selected Specimens have appeared, accompanied by notices, which, as far as they go, answer the purpose for which they were intended. But these do not supply the want which is felt of a Complete Body of English Poetry,edited throughout with judgment and integrity, and combining those features of research, typographical elegance, and economy of price, which the present age demands.
The Edition now proposed will be distinguished from all preceding Editions in many important respects. It will include the works of several Poets entirely omitted from previous Collections, especially those stores of Lyrical and Ballad Poetry in which our Literature is richer than that of any other Country, and which, independently of their poetical claims, are peculiarly interesting as illustrations of Historical Events and National customs.
By the exercise of a strict principle of selection, this Edition will be rendered intrinsically more valuable than any of its predecessors. The Text will in all instances be scrupulously collated, and accompanied by Biographical, Critical, and Historical Notes.