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PREFACE.

This volume is the result of the union of a collection of the peasant ditties of England with one of a rather higher class of ballad composition, both of which were formerly published under the auspices of the late Robert Bell.

The selection of ancient poems which forms the first half of the work was intended to exhibit, by a variety of specimens in short compass, the special characteristics which distinguish our old ballad literature from other kinds of poetry, not only in its forms and diction, but in its choice of topics and modes of treatment.

The second portion of the work is devoted to the really valuable collection of quaint lays of the English peasantry of the past, the origin of which is explained in the special introduction to that part of the volume (p. 227).

As the Editor affirms, it is not to be expected that within the limits of a single volume such a selection of ballads could be brought together as wonld satisfy

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the anticipations of every reader. But in connection with this work it will not be out of place to refer to the revised and improved edition of Percy's

Reliques of Early English Poetry,' which has recently been published in two volumes uniform with this; and it is considered that in the three volumes together will be found the most complete collection of ballad literature accessible to the public at a moderate price.

April 1877.

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