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THE primary object of the publishers of the Alinia+ ture Library of the Poets being to supply the public with standard works in as portable a form as · possible, consistently with legible type and good materials, it is thought advisable to omit some of the longer poems of Wordsworth, as well as, with a few fine exceptions, the Ecclesiastical Sonnets, and some others, to bring the collection within the compass of two volumes. The Excursion and the Prelude are not the greatest, though they are the longest productions of the poet, and many of the shorter pieces are of such inferior merit that it is difficult to believe they are written by the same author. This fact has been recently remarked by one of the acutest and most learned critics of the day, Mr. Matthew Arnold, in an admirable preface to a selection edited by him. In that treatise he has also done Wordsworth the tardy justice of ranking him above all other English poets (speaking of those who are dead) except Milton, since the time of Shakespeare.
It was the poet's great ambition and hope to be found in the illustrious companionship of the author of Paradise Lost, an aspiration that was long sneered at as extravagant and audacious, though Coleridge, Professor Wilson, and a few other admirers of his genius, cherished the same expectation. In this little series Wordsworth is placed next to his great predecessor, with the hope that they may become pocket companions to many thousands of their fellowcountrymen.