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In the following selections the Compiler has endeavoured to furnish a sketch of the leading characteristics of our national Poetry, from Chaucer to the present time, his aim being to present as broad a view of the subject as is compatible with the limited extent and specific objects of the work.
Though the chief intention of the volume is to present a series of extracts fitted to the purposes of education, it is hoped that it may also prove not unacceptable to lovers of poetry, and to young persons desirous to possess a brief account of the British poets, with biographical sketches of their lives, and a critical estimate of their works.
The line of selections is continued down to the poets of the present day, and the Compiler has to thank the authors and proprietors of copyright works for their liberality in permitting him to avail himself of the riches of our recent writers.
In the effort to accomplish the several objects he had in view, the Compiler has been frequently embarrassed by the extent of the passages he intended to extract. He has been compelled reluctantly to reject some which he would have selected had space permitted, and to compress others into an admissible size. This difficulty has been felt especially in such authors as Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton,