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of every student. Circumstances prevented me from beginning the book for several
years, but five years ago I began it and have continued to work upon it whenever it
was possible to find time and strength for it. Two years of illness sadly interrupted the work, which has, indeed, been much more difficult than I expected. It is now completed, and I hope it will be of service to teachers who believe, with me, that the love of reading and the habit of it are best awakened by treating pieces of literature as living, organic wholes and by subordinating all other considerations to this during the student's first introduction to the study of literature. It may also be useful to that large group of teachers who believe, as I do, that however small may be the number of poems that time permits one to read with his class, they should be chosen by the teacher himself with special reference to the taste and mental development of the pupils he actually has to deal with in each class. In general the poems in this volume are given without introductory remarks or annotations. Such information can best be supplied by the teacher in the form and amount suggested by his knowledge of his pupils. In regard to most of the authors and poems presented, the most necessary information is to be found in any of the good elementary histories of English literature, and it is presumed that one of them will be used in connection with the course. In certain special cases I have supplied in the Introduction brief remarks intended to supplement the text-book. Explanations of difficulties of thought or allusion I have avoided altogether. In such reading they are neither welcome nor helpful to a pupil until he feels the need of them, and then they can best be supplied by the teacher. The earlier poems are provided with notes giving the meanings of unfamiliar words. It is believed that these notes and an ordinary dictionary will enable any student to read intelligently any of these poems. It will be observed that the modern equivalents of prepositions have not usually been given, and that rude English will often result from substituting the words in the notes for those in the text and making no further change. But it is only thus that the student can learn to receive the ancient thought in the ancient forms. Except in vocabulary Middle English is really not very difficult to any intelligent Englishman, and it is hoped that this book may help to remove the prevalent ignorance and fear of it. A little ingenuity and intelligent guessing at the
identity of words disguised by their spelling will soon repay the student richly. Authors
and poems which have hitherto been mere names to burden the student's memory may easily acquire meaning and interest by reading or even skimming these early poems.
Two principles have determined the choice of authors and poems: none has been omitted that seemed of real importance for the main features of the history of English
literature; to these none has been added that had not a clear title to intrinsic beauty
and value. . It has of course been impossible to include all the poems of this character that exist in English literature, but it is hoped that no teacher will miss any old favorite whose place is not filled by a poem equally deserving of his favor. Dramatic selections have been excluded because every play that deserves to be read should be read as a whole, and no single volume could contain all the good ones.
The selection from Ford's The Lover's Melancholy (p. 163) does not in reality violate this principle of exclusion, for the passage chosen is in no sense dramatic. It is a bit of pure narration, slightly helped in its movement by the interrupting questions, but not dependent upon them. It is highly characteristic of Ford, and under the circumstances there seemed no more impropriety in including it than in including a song from a play. From some of the longer narrative and reflective poems only extracts are given. An effort has been made to choose extracts characteristic in themselves and, as far as possible, self-explanatory. Usually omissions are indicated by stars, but in a few instances these have been left out where the line numbering makes clear the nature and amount of the omission. Some teachers will be disappointed to find that the familiar Anight's Tale is not given among the selections from Chaucer. The authority of Milton, as well as its greater brevity, may be pleaded in justification for making the unfinished Squire's Tale the representative of the Canterbury Zales. It is hoped that both teachers and students will approve the inclusion of specimens of the work of some of the living poets who belong to the age of Tennyson. Certainly George Meredith and Swinburne could not have been excluded without serious loss. All chronological divisions of literature are in some respects unsatisfactory. The division made in this book of the Renaissance in England into the Beginning of the Renaissance, the Renaissance, and the End of the Renaissance is perhaps even more unsatisfactory than usual. The authors are arranged in the order of birth, but unfortunately they neglected to mature and to die at any standard uniform rate or to be equally quick and sensitive in responding to new ideas and new influences in poetical style. Thus it will be found that even before Wyatt and Surrey some writers showed traces, faint indeed but real, of the intellectual awakening that we call the Renaissance. And within the period itself it seems absurd—and from the point of view of style and ideas it is absurd—to find Giles Fletcher the Elder in the division called the Beginning of the Renaissance and William Warner in the Renaissance itself, as if the latter belonged to a more advanced stage of development than the former. Of course the explanation is that the work of Edmund Spenser is generally regarded as the first perfect flower of the epoch, and Fletcher, who happened to be born earlier, naturally finds place in the earlier period, though he outlived Spenser and shows in some of his work the fully developed qualities of the period of Spenser; while, on the other hand, Warner, though born later, seems to have been insensitive to the new ideas and the new style and belongs artistically to the previous generation of crude and antiquated workmanship. In printing the texts the best accessible editions have been used and great pains have been exercised to avoid errors of every kind, but entire freedom from errors is too much to expect. I shall be grateful for any aid which will enable me to correct such as occur. The spelling of the earlier texts has been scrupulously reproduced with only such modifications as are accepted and used by good editors. In the single case of The Ormulum the ancient symbols for thand palatal g have been used. In it this procedure seemed necessary, as the main value of the work lies in the spelling. It would be inexcusable pedantry to preserve these old forms in other poems in such a book as this.
For aid in making the book I have to thank several friends. My cousin, Louise Manly, began making the selections with me and did a very large amount of work. These selections were revised by me and many were rejected for lack of space, while others were replaced by selections which seemed to me, for one reason or another, better suited to the purposes of the book; but my debt to her is very great, both because her selections were made with taste and judgment and because without her aid I should probably not yet have begun to carry out my plan. To Dr. Hardin Craig, Mr. A. E. Hill, and Miss Elizabeth Calhoun I am indebted for aid in verifying readings while the book was going through the press. To my sister, Annie Manly, I owe the greatest debt for aid in copying and for reading with me every revise of the proofs of the whole book.
THE MIDDLE ENGLISH PERIOD
The Mirror for Magistrates (The Induc-
Bk. I, Canto III. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Io3
To Colin Clout (Shepherd Tony).......