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pendous crime may be committed by the most abject of human beings. And common experience shows, that to be superior to our habits and passions is the only true freedom ; while the man of the wildest license is only so much the more fettered and bowed down. But on the grave of Byron there can be but one inscription—that living long enough for fame, he died too soon for his country. All hostility should be sacrificed on the spot where the remains of the great poet sleep; and no man worthy to tread the ground, will approach it but with homage for his genius, and sorrow that such genius should have been sent to darkness, in the hour when it might have begun to fulfil its course, and, freed from the mists and obliquities of its rising, run its high career among the enlighteners of mankind.
The object of this volume is to give such a selection from our eminent writers, as may best exhibit their styles of thought and language. All their beauties it would be impossible to give. But the following pages contain many of those passages on which their authors would perhaps be most content to be tried at the tribunal of popularity. There are other Authors from whom this volume would gladly have adduced extracts, but its size was previously restricted; and such is the opulence of English poetry, that to comprehend all, many volumes must have been formed, instead of one.
I feel the more privileged to speak favourably of the following Selection, from the limited part which I have borne in it; a considerable portion of the materials having been collected before the work came into my hands. The volume was commenced, and in a great measure carried on, by a literary friend, to whom the idea originally suggested itself as a personal amusement; and who persevered in it from the feeling, that the writings of the great poets of England cannot be put into the popular hand too often, in too pleasing a form, or under too accessible circumstances.