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In the prefatory note of the first edition of this work (1891) the Editor invited criticism with a view to the improvement of future editions. Several critics responded to this appeal, and their valuable suggestions have been considered in preparing this re-issue. In some cases the text has been revised and the selection varied; in others, additions have been made to complete the representation. The biographi. cal and bibliographical matter has been brought up to date.-A. H. M.
'HIS volume treats of the poets born between the
years 1774 and 1792, the period of Southey, Landor, Campbell, Moore, Byron, and Shelley.
Of these, Southey has receded from the proud position which gained for him laureate precedence, while Landor has advanced in fame and favour, Campbell has lost the honours brought him by his longer poems; but still lives in the hearts of his countrymen by virtue of his sea-songs and battleballads. Moore still sings the dirge of the “ Last Rose of Summer,” and survives in the popularity of a score of other Irish melodies, though his Oriental fictions have ceased to exercise their earlier charm. Byron has lost and gained by turns as time has passed, and is still the object of no little controversy; while Shelley has outlived the prejudice of his contemporaries, and in a day of larger charity has gained a better understanding and a wider fame. Of the minor poets of the period, Charles Lamb and Leigh Hunt still maintain their hold upon our affections, and are cherished in our memories for the rare association of fine critical insight and delicate creative skill. Ebenezer Elliot records the struggle of his generation for free bread, a struggle which made him the founder of the family of the political poets of the people. The mention of
Sheridan Knowles recalls a long series of successful plays, which show that in his day, at least, poetic form was no impediment to stage success, but also, it must be added, that the poetic dramas of the century have succeeded upon the boards in an inverse ratio to their poetic power. William Tennant has an interest, apart from the merit of his verse, as the founder of the "new style of poetry,” adopted by Hookham Frere for his “Monks and the Giants," and for ever perpetuated by Lord Byron in “Don Juan,” Robert Tannahill still holds high rank among the lyrists of Scotland, and a warm place in the affections of his countrymen. The name of Thomas Love Peacock revives the memory of an interesting personality and much original, if not unique, work. The sonnets of Sir Aubrey de Vere yet emit a mild and pleasant fragrance and justify Wordsworth's admiration. The poetry of Edwin Atherstone evidences powers capable of higher achievements had they been associated with less ambition and more restraint. Some of Barry Cornwall's songs still live embalmed in the music they inspired, as does his name enshrined in loving memory.
Grateful acknowledgment is due to Messrs. Bell & Sons, for the use of some of Barry Cornwall's verse; and to Mr. Aubrey de Vere, for information concerning his father.
A. H. M.