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To the annotator of a school or college edition of the poets the fear must often present itself that he may unconsciously be guilty of drawing away the attention of his readers from the text to his notes. In such a case he must feel that, if it should ever be his fortune to penetrate to the Elysian fields, he will receive but a chilling welcome from the "bards of Passion and of Mirth” there reposing “in soft ease.” Not for him an invitation to join their company, “Pledging with contented smack The Mermaid in the Zodiac”! Forecasting, then, the reception of that day, he must ask himself from time to time what extenuating plea he is prepared to urge.
This at least. That he did in his Preface solemnly warn the student that the text is the one thing of importance, and that the value of the notes is wholly subsidiary ; that he urged him to read the poems first, and the notes (if at all) afterwards, and the poems again many times--Nocturna versate manu, versate diurna; and, finally, that he tried, even in writing notes, to bear in mind the principle that the poets are the best interpreters of themselves and of each other. Writing always in this spirit, he ventures to hope that he may sometimes help others to see beauties which they might