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THE POETS

OF THE

NINETEENTH CENTURY.

SELECTED AND EDITED

BY THE

REV. ROBERT ARIS WILLMOTT.

ILLUSTRATED WITH ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTY ENGRAVINGS,

DRAWN BY EMINENT ARTISTS,

AND ENGRAVED BY THE BROTHERS DALZIEL.

NEW EDITION.

London:
FREDERICK WARNE AND CO.,

BEDFORD STREET, STRAND.

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Uazell, Watson, and Viney, Printers, London and Aylesbury.

PREFACE.

TERY suggestive of musical and pleasant thoughts is the

is the recollection of the manner in which these choice Wordpaintings have been contributed by the Authors, or their representatives; always with liberal promptness, and sometimes with expressions of personal good-will, to be gratefully treasured. Nor can I forget the generous enterprise of the Publishers, and the tasteful skill of the Brothers Dalziel, by whom the grace and the beauty of the pencil have been translated into the popular language of their own Art.

The Volume embraces a period of about eighty-five years, for the first Canto of the Minstrel appeared in 1771; Beattie survived Cowper only three years; while Percy, exchanging the friendship of Goldsmith for that of Scott, lived into the eleventh year of this century. The dates of these poets might seem to exclude them from our calendar; but, in truth, the fancy of the present age was largely inspired and moulded by the past; and the sentiment of the Minstrel, the naturalness of the Task, and the simplicity of the Reliques, very strikingly reappear in Campbell, Wordsworth, and Scott. Nor has the embellished landscape of Darwin been without imitators; while the footprints of Rogers are easily traced in the trim garden-paths of Hayley. One member of the classic band will be less familiar to general readers : I allude to Professor Crowe, whose descriptive poem is written with fine taste and in choice numbers. The traveller, walking from Charmouth to Lyme, discovers Lewesdon Hill on the right hand, and forming one of the boundaries to a rich vale chequered by enclosures.

Our Poetry owes many beauties to womanly genius, and in the following pages some specimens of it will be found. The “Psyche" of Mary Tighe yet lives in the memory of Taste; but Scotland furnishes a greater name: “If you wish to speak of a real poet,” Scott said to Ballantyne, “ Joanna Baillie is now the highest genius of our country.” He numbered the description of Orra's madness with the sublimest scenes ever written, and compared the language to Shakspeare's. The Songs of Mrs. Hemans afford a lively contrast. It was her misfortune that she wrote to live, instead of living to write. Her compositions, therefore, are unequal; but in her best pieces the eye is delighted by the glow and colour, and the ear is soothed by the varied cadence-often delicious, never harsh. The visionary tenderness and romance of Mrs. Radcliffe are breathed over the Address to Melancholy and the Song of a Spirit. The quotation from Hannah More was chosen for the subject which it offered to the Artist, who has so happily embodied it in his genre sketches. The chaste elegance of Mrs. Barbauld is of a higher order; and very true poetic feeling and utterance are conspicuous in the local pictures and the tender Sonnets of Charlotte Smith, which Miss Seward, clever in her spite, called "everlasting duns upon pity."

One name in the tuneful Sisterhood has a home-interest for

It seems but yesterday that the shutters were shut in “Qur Village,” and Mary Russell Mitford went from amongst us. While turning over the leaves of this book, I have thought of the kindly welcome with which she would have greeted the illustration of her own “Rienzi," if I had taken it to her on one of those soft autumn days which she loved so much, and when her familiar lanes and dingles wore their sweetest colours. She had compared her old abode to a bird-cage that might be laid on a shelf or hung upon a tree; and her latest dwelling was hardly less odd or dwarfish. But there, also, she had a cool retreat out-ofdoors, in the shade of her garden, and I see her sitting in it now, with table and book; constant to all her little heresies of taste; reading the interminable Richardson every year, preferring wood-. embers to the fairest moonbeams that ever lighted lovers, and panegyrising the nightingale's song, if accompanied by the moan of the pigeon.

me.

But the Brotherhood has names also to be remembered by

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