[A handwritten card in front says, "This Edition--which contains the Living Poets was suppressed and the work was published next year, 1825, with the Poets down to Cowper only. [vol?] is very rare." The note is not quite accurate, since the published 1825 edition does also contain Burns, as does this unpublished volume.]
[Same picture (see 1825) facing the title page; no half-title]
Select British Poets, or New Elegant Extracts from Chaucer to the Present Time, With Critical Remarks. By William Hazlitt. Embellished with Seven Ornamented Portraits, After a Design by T. Stothard, R. A. London: Published by Wm. C. Hall, and Sold by all booksellers. 1824.
PREFACE. [The things typed in bold are items that were deleted from the 1825 edition that concern recent poets.]
The volume here presented to the public is an attempt to improve upon the plan of the Elegant Extracts in Verse by the late Dr. Knox. From the length of time which had elapsed since the first appearance of that work, a similar undertaking admitted of considerable additions; and though the table of contents has been enriched both from recent and early sources, the size of the volume has been compressed by means of a more severe selection of matter. At least, a third of the former popular and in many respects valuable work was devoted to articles either entirely worthless, or recommended only by considerations foreign to the reader of poetry. The object and indeed ambition of the present compiler has been to offer to the public a Body of English Poetry, from Chaucer to Burns, such as might at once satisfy individual curiosity and justify our national pride. We have reason to boast of the genius of our country for poetry and of the trophies earned in that way; and it is well to have a collection of such examples of excellence inwoven together as may serve to nourish our own taste and love for the sublime or beautiful, and also to silence the objections of foreigners, who are too ready to treat us as behindhand with themselves in all that relates to the arts of refinement and elegance. If in some respects we are so, it behoves us the more to cultivate and cherish the superiority we can lay claim to in others. Poetry is one of those departments in which we possess a decided and as it were [i / ii] natural preeminence: and therefore no pains should be spared in selecting and setting off to advantage the different proofs and vouchers of it.
All that could be done for this object, has been attempted in the present instance. I have brought together in one view (to the best of my judgment) the most admired smaller pieces of poetry, and the most striking passages in larger works, which could not themselves be given entire. I have availed myself of the plan chalked out by my predecessor, but in the hope of improving upon it. To possess a work of this kind ought to be like holding the contents of a library in one's hand without any of the refuse or "baser matter." If it had not been thought that the former work admitted of considerable improvement in the choice of subjects, inasmuch as inferior and indifferent productions not rarely occupied the place of sterling excellence, the present publication would not have been hazarded. Another difference is that I have followed the order of time, instead of the division of the subjects. By this method, the progress of poetry is better seen and understood; and besides the real subjects of poetry are so much alike or run so much into one another as not easily to come under any precise classification.
The great deficiency which I have to lament is the small portion of Shakespear's poetry, which has been introduced into the work; but this arises unavoidably from the plan of it, which did not extend to dramatic poetry as a general species. The extracts from the best parts of Chaucer, which are given at some length, will, it is hoped, be acceptable to the lover both of poetry and history. The quotations from Spenser do not occupy a much larger space than in the Elegant Extracts; but entire passages are given, instead of a numberless quantity of shreds and patches. The essence of [ii / iii] Spenser's poetry was a continuous, endless flow of indescribable beauties, like the galaxy or milky way:--Dr. Knox has "taken him and cut him out in little stars," which was repugnant to the genius of his writings. I have made it my aim to exhibit the characteristic and striking features of English poetry and English genius; and with this view have endeavoured to give such specimens from each author as showed his peculiar powers of mind and the peculiar style in which he excelled, and have omitted those which were not only less remarkable in themselves, but were common to him with others, or in which others surpassed him, who were therefore the proper models in that particular way. Cuique tribuitur suum. In a word, it has been proposed to retain those passages and pieces with which the reader of taste and feeling would be most pleased in the perusal of the original works, and to which he would wish oftenest to turn again--and which consequently may be conceived to conduce most beneficially to form the taste and amuse the fancy of those who have not leisure or industry to make themselves masters of the whole range of English poetry. By leaving out a great deal of uninteresting and common-place poetry, room has been obtained fro nearly all that was emphatically excellent. The reader, it is presumed, may here revel and find no end of delight, in the racy vigour and manly characteristic humour, or simple pathos of Chaucer's Muse, in the gorgeous voluptuousness and romantic tenderness of Spenser, in the severe, studied beauty and awful majesty of Milton, in the elegance and refinement and harmony of Pope, in the strength and satire and sounding rhythm of Dryden, in the sportive gaiety and graces of Suckling, Dorset, Gay, and Prior, in Butler's wit, in Thomson's rural scenes, in Cowper's terse simplicity, in Burn's laughing eye and feeling heart (among standard and established [iii / iv] reputations)--and in the polished tenderness of Campbell, the buoyant, heart-felt levity of Moore, the striking, careless, picturesque beauties of Scott, the thoughtful humanity of Wordsworth, and Byron's glowing rage (among those whose reputation seems less solid and towering, because we are too near them to perceive its height or measure its duration). Others might be mentioned to lengthen out the list of poetic names
"That on the steady breeze of honour sail
In long possession, calm and beautiful:"--
but from all together enough has been gleaned to make a "perpetual feast of nectar'd sweets, where no crude surfeit reigns." Such at least has been my ardent wish; and if this volume is not pregnant with matter both "rich and rare," it has been the fault of the compiler, and not of the poverty or niggardliness of the English Muse.
W. H. [iv / v]
A CRITICAL LIST OF AUTHORS CONTAINED IN THIS VOLUME.
[The same authors appear and the same things are said about them as 1825.]
[After Burns (see 1825), on p. xii of this text, it continues:]
Of the living poets I wish to speak freely but candidly.
ROGERS is an elegant and highly polished writer, but without much originality or power. He seems to have paid the chief attention to his style--Materiam superabat opus. He writes however with an admiration of the Muse, and with an interest in humanity.
CAMPBELL has equal elegance, equal elaborateness, with more power and scope both of thought and fancy. His Pleasures of Hope is too artificial and antithetical; but his Gertrude of Wyoming strikes at the heart of nature, and has passages of extreme interest, with an air of tenderness and sweetness over the whole, like the breath of flowers. Some of his shorter effusions have great force and animation, and a patriotic fire. [xii / xiii]
BLOOMFIELD'S exellence is confined to a minute and often interesting description of individual objects in nature, in which he is surpassed perhaps by no one.
CRABBE is a writer of great power, but of a perverse and morbid taste. He gives the very objects and feelings he treats of, whether in morals or rural scenery, but he gives none but the most uninteresting or the most painful. His poems are a sort of funeral dirge over human life, but without pity, without hope. He has neither smiles nor tears for his readers.
COLERIDGE has shewn great wildness of conception in his Ancient Mariner, sublimity of imagery in his Ode to the Departing Year, grotesqueness of fancy in his Fire, Famine, and Slaughter, and tenderness of sentiment in his Genevieve. He has however produced nothing equal to his powers.
Mr. WORDSWORTH'S characteristic is one, and may be expressed in one word;--a power of raising the smallest things in nature into sublimity by the force of sentiment. He attaches the deepest and loftiest feelings to the meanest and most superficial objects. His peculiarity is his combination of simplicity of subject with profoundity and power of execution. He has no fancy, no wit, no humour, little descriptive power, no dramatic power, great occasional elegance, with continual rusticity and baldness of allusion; but he is sublime without the Muse's aid, pathetic in the contemplation of his own and man's nature; add to this, that his style is natural and severe, and his versification sonorous and expressive.
Mr. SOUTHEY'S talent in poetry lies chiefly in fancy and the invention of his subject. Some of his oriental descriptions, characters, and fables, are wonderfully striking and impressive, but there is an air of extravagance in them, and his versification is abrupt, affected, and repulsive. In his early poetry there is a vein of patriotic fervour, and mild and beautiful moral reflection.
Sir WALTER SCOTT is the most popular of our living poets. His excellence is romantic narrative and picturesque description. He has great bustle, great rapidity of action and flow of versification, with a [xiii / xiv] sufficient distinctness of character, and command of the ornaments of style. He has neither lofty imagination, nor depth or intensity of feeling; vividness of mind is apparently his chief and pervading excellence.
Mr. C. LAMB has produced no poems equal to his prose writings: but I could not resist the temptation of transferring into this collection his Farewell to Tobacco, and some of the sketches in his John Woodvil; the first of which is rarely surpassed in quaint wit, and the last in pure feeling.
MONTGOMERY is an amiable and pleasing versifier, who puts his heart and fancy into whatever he composes.
Lord BYRON'S distinguishing quality is intensity of conception and expression. He wills to be sublime or pathetic. He has great wildness of invention, brilliant and elegant fancy, caustic wit, but no humour. Gray's description of the poetical character--"Thoughts that glow, and words that burn,"--applies to him more than to any of his contemporaries.
THOMAS MOORE is the greatest wit now living. His light, ironical piecces are unrivalled for point and facility of execution. His fancy is delightful and brilliant, and his songs have gone to the heart of a nation.
LEIGH HUNT has shewn great wit in his Feast of the Poets, elegance in his occasional verses, and power of description and pathos in his Story of Rimini. The whole of the third canto of that poem is as chaste as it is classical.
The late Mr. SHELLEY (for he is dead since the commencement of this publication) was chiefly distinguished by a fervour of philosophic speculation, which he clad in the garb of fancy, and in words of Tyrian die. He had spirit and genius, but his eagerness to give effect and produce conviction often defeated his object, and bewildered himself and his readers.
Lord THURLOW has written some very unaccountable, but some occasionally good and feeling poetry. [xiv / xv]
Mr. KEATS is also dead. He gave the greatest promise of genius of any poet of his day. He displayed extreme tenderness, beauty, originality and delicacy of fancy; all he wanted was manly strength and fortitude to reject the temptations of singularity in sentiment and expression. Some of his shorter and later pieces are, however, as free from faults as they are full beauties.
Mr. MILMAN is a writer of classical taste and attainments rather than of original genius. Poeta nascitur--non fit.
Of BOWLES'S Sonnets it is recommendation enough to say, that they were the favourites of Mr. Coleridge's youthful mind.
It only remains to speak of Mr. BARRY CORNWALL, who, both int he Drama, and in his other poems, has shewn brillancy and tenderness of fancy, and a fidelity to truth and nature, in conceiving the finer movements of the mind equal to the felicity of his execution in expressing t hem.
Some additions have been made in the Miscellaneous part of the volume, from the Lyrical effusions of the elder Dramatists . . . . [same as 1825.] [xv]
[CONTENTS is identical to the 1825 edition, up to Cowper. Between Cowper and Burns, who ends this volume just as he does in the 1825 edition, there appears:]
Pleasures of Memory 569
An Epistle to a Friend 572
Ode to Superstition 573
Verses written to be spoken by Mrs. Siddons 575
On a Tear 576
The Pleasures of Hope 577
Gertrude of Wyoming 579
Battle of the Baltic 588
The Farmer's Boy 589
The Village 593
Phoebe Dawson 596
Sir Eustace Grey 597
The Borough 601
Edward Shore 606
The Confidant 610
The Brothers 615
The Rime of the Ancient mariner 619
Ode to the Departing Year 625
Fears in Solitude 626
Fire, Famine, and Slaughter (a War Eclogue) 628
We are Seven 631
The Pet Lamb (a Pastoral) ibid.
The Idle Shepherd Boys (a Pastoral 632
To H.C. Six Years old 633
The Female Vagrant ibid.
'Tis said that some have died for Love 635
The Complaint of a Forsaken Indian Woman 636
The Last of the Flock ibid.
Michael (a Pastoral Poem) 639
To the Daisy 643
The Waterfall and Eglantine 644
The Kitten and the Falling Leaves ibid.
To the Cuckoo 645
Yew Trees 646
The Reverie of Poor Susan ibid.
Resolution and Independence ibid.
The Thorn 647
Hart-Leap Well 649
Lines, composed a few miles above Tintern Abbey 651
Sonnets 652 [including: "Though narrow" (Though narraow be that Old Man's cares, and near,) "Personal Talk" (I am not one who much or oft delight), "Continued." ("Yet life," you say, "is life; we have seen and see,) "Continued." (Wings have we,--and as far as we can go), "Concluded." (Nor can I not believe but that hereby), "Composed upon Westminster Bridge, Sept. 3, 1803." (Earth has not any thing to shew more fair:), "The World is Too Much With Us," (yes), "Thought of a Briton on the Subjugation of Switzerland" (Two voices are there; one is of the sea), "Written in London, September, 1802. (O Friend! I know not which way I must look), "London, 1802." (Milton! thou shouldst be living at this hour:), "Great Men have been Among Us" (~; hands that penn'd).]
Expostulation and Reply 654
The Tables Turned ibid.
Lines Left upon a Seat in a Yew Tree 655
Lines written in early Spring ibid.
The Two April Mornings 656
The Fountain ibid.
Lines written while sailing in a Boat at Evening 657
Remembrance of Collins ibid.
Animal Tranquilitiy and Decay ibid.
Ode. 658 [Intimations Ode]
The Boundary of the World ibid.
An Idol 661
An Eastern Evening ibid.
The Apparition of Yedillian ibid.
The Submarine City 662
Pelayo and his Children 663
Roderick in Battle 664
The Holly Tree ibid.
The Last Minstrel 668
Margaret at her Father's Bier ibid.
Deloraine goes to the Grave of Michael Scott 669
A Birdal 671
The Trial of Constance 672
Court of James of Scotland 675
The Battle 676
The Death of Roderick Dhu 678
Wilfrid's Song 680 [xx / xxi]
Hunting Song 681
The Violet ibid.
To a Lady 682
The Bard's Incantation ibid.
The Old Familiar Faces ibid.
A Farewell to Tobacco ibid.
To T. L. H. 684
Lines suggested by a Picture of two Females by Lionardo da Vinci 685
Lines on the same Picture, &c. ibid.
Lines on the celebrated Picture, by Lionardo da Vinci, called the Virgin of the Rocks ibid.
The Grandame 687
Composed at Midnight ibid.
From the Tragedy of John Woodvil 688
The Pillow 690
The Common Lot 691
Death of Adam and Eve ibid.
The Effect of Music on Cain 693
The Giant Chieftain 694
Ice-blink and Aurora Borealis 695
Norwegian Tribes 696
Incognita, written at Leamington in 1817, &c. ibid.
The Lake of Geneva.--Clarens 698
Night, at Abydos 699
The Death of Lara 701
Execution of Hugo 702
The Brothers 704
Scenes from Manfred 706
She walks in Beauty 709
Vision of Belshazzar ibid.
The Lament of Tasso ibid.
Stanzas for Music ibid.
Ode to Venice 713
To the Invisible Girl 715
To Nea ibid.
To Joseph Atkinson, Esq. ibid.
To Thomas Hume, Esq. M.D. ibid.
Cloris and Fanny 717
A Canadian Boat Song ibid.
From the Two-penny Post Bag ibid.
King Crack and his Idols 721
Horace, Ode XI. Lib. II. ibid.
The Sale of the Tools ibid.
Azam visits the Haram of Mokanna 722
Mokanna in Battle 724
The Peri ibid.
The Retreat of the Fire-worshippers 727
Irish Melodies 728
Ode for the Spring of 1814 732
Thoughts of the Avon ibid.
To T--L--H-- 733
To the Right Hon. Lord Byron, on his Departure for Italy and Greece ibid.
To the Evening Star 735
On the Death of Bion ibid.
The Story of Rimini, Canto III. 736
The Panther 742
From Amyntas ibid.
From Alastor; or, the Spirit of Solitude 745
The Dedicaiton of the Revolt of Islam ibid.
From the Revolt of Islam 746
From Rosalind and Helen 747
Lines written among the Euganean Hills 748
Hymn to Intellectual Beauty 750
Sonnet [Ozymandias] 751
An Exhortation ibid.
Ode to the West Wind ibid.
To a Skylark 752
A Song to Sir Philip Sydney 754
Zerbino instructed by the Muse ibid.
A Dialogue of two Shepherds 756
On beholding Bodiham Castle, on the bank of the Rother, in Sussex 758
The Temples of Venus and Mars ibid.
Procession and Hymn in Honour of Pan 760
The Moon 761
The Indian Lady's Song 762
The Eve of St. Agness 764
Ode to a Nightingale 767
Robin Hood 769
From Hyperion ibid.
Rowena Introduced 771
Hengist consults the Oracle ibid.
The Fountain of Siloe--Night 772
Ode to the Saviour 774
Marriage Hymn 775
Chorus of Maidens ibid.
Chorus of Youths and Maidens ibid.
Chorus ibid. [xxi / xxii]
The Broken Heart 779
A Vision 780
A Song 782 [Lie silent now, my lyre,]
To a Child ibid.
Sonnet ibid. ["Imagination" (Oh, for that winged steed, Bellerophon!)]
From a Sicilian Story 783
Conclusion of the Falcon ibid.
From Marcian Colonna ibid.
Address to the Ocean, from the same 785
The Rape of Proserpine ibid.
The Last Song 787
Sonnets 788 ["On a Sequestered Rivulet" ("Three is no river in the world more sweet,"), no title ("Perhaps the lady of my love is now")
[BURNS the same as 1825, and MISCELLANEOUS PIECES the same as 1825.]
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