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The aim of this publication is to gather into a single volume a careful selection of specimens from the works of our chief English Poets, illustrated in the highest style of Art by some of our most distinguished Painters and Engravers. It differs from most other Anthologies of a generally similar character in this respect, that the specimens are arranged chronologically, beginning with Chaucer, and coming down from the fourteenth century to our own time; so that it brings before the reader a Procession of Poets which may be said to mark distinctly the successive periods of our poetical history. The union of the poems with illustrations contributed by the sister Art of Painting will, it is hoped, impart additional value to the publication.
This volume does not pretend to enter upon the same ground as the Collections of Ellis, Southey, and Campbell; but it has the advantage of being less bulky and more select. It is in a convenient form; and the examples it gives are picked and characteristic. I have not attempted to embrace the whole round of verse-makers who have found their way into the commodious, and now unread, Libraries of British Poets edited by Johnson, Anderson, and Chalmers. Such a design would be impossible within reasonable limits, and, if possible, would find little favour with the public. The modern reader, who may be tempted to run over the airy lyrics of Lovelace, as he would a sparkling melody on the guitar, or who might even derive a graver satisfaction from the thoughtful conceits