Page images

equally-balanced excellence, not that which is most easy, but that which is most difficult of access. To the credit of former collectors it may be said, that continued and somewhat laborious researches after overlooked merit have often been attended with only negative results.

Withal, this selection claims to be other than former or contemporaneous ones.

There is nothing arbitrary in the unequal length of the biographical sketches. The notices of authors are shortened or prolonged, not as they have achieved a secular distinction, but in proportion as their poetry presents points of contact with religion, and, again, as the sources of information concerning them are open or recondite.

It has seemed just to the reader, and a sacred right of the author, that poems which profess to be quoted in their integrity should be given unmutilated. One exception may be noted—the suppression of two redundant lines, as extraneous in sense as in form, from the sonnet by William Lithgow.

In a few of the earliest poems their original orthography has been retained, for the reason that it involves the rhythm; and in one or two more modern instances a single terminal word involving the rhyme has been preserved as the author wrote it.

February, 1863.

« PreviousContinue »