Alexandre Spiers, Study of English Poetry, or a choice selection of the finest pieces of the poets of Great Britain, arranged in chronological order from the 13th century to the present day (London: Simpkin, Marshall and Co., 1835)

Information about the collection: After the preface and introductory treatise on English versification, the selection of poems is preceded only by this paragraph:  "In considering the rise and progress of English poetry, we cannot but participate in the opinion of an illustrious critic, Mr. Villemain, whose erudition, eloquence, and wit have thrown a halo of glory around the Sorbonne and the Professorship of Literature, that le grand mouvement du genie anglais ne date que de la reforme, it is from the reformation we have to date the first grand impetus given to English genius. But we have thought that, by exhibiting a specimen or two of the poetry of each century preceding this period, and commencing at that of the thirteenth, we should form a whole, a compact body of English poetry, from its earliest times to the present moment."

From the Preface: "And of all nations our own country stands inferior to none in the production of illustrious poets. and still our youth study almost exclusively in our public schools the ancients, and comparatively neglect our own fertile Parnassus. Shall French and German youth (and it is for them especially this volume was composed, and it has been adopted by the French University for the use of the colleges of the whole kingdom) in the most obscure town of the Continent cultivate as classics our native 'nature-painting' Shakspeare, 'fancy's child,' or the blind old man seeking inspiration at the sound of his organ, and finding it but from the autumnal to the vernal equinox, and who sung 'man's first disobedience,' a subject equally interesting to all humanity: shall then, we repeat, the youth of France and Germany, Switzerland or Russia, thus enrich themselves with our literature, and British youth alone remain indifferent to its vast treasures?....In the selection of poetry we have endeavoured to give really the beauties of the highest order. There are 70 pages of Shakspeare's plays or poems, 45 pages of Milton, 42 of Pope, and the rest in proportion to their merit and importance. Nor have the contemporaries of our great poets been omitted. Thus Spenser and Shakspeare are surrounded by Sackville, Marlow and Lilly, by Beaumont and Fletcher, Ben Jonson, Cartwright, Herrick and Brown....We have at times taken the liberty to substitute one expression for another when the original was not adapted to universal perusal. In reality, there is not in the whole volume a single word that could in the slightest degree offend the most chaste ear of the most delicate parent.....We shall need no apology for the frequent appearance of our bard of the Avon; nor for the frequent introduction of Pope, Butler, and Swift, who are the types of English wit which, as has been so justly said, the English 'use to sharpen good sense and not to dispense with its assistance.'"

Table of Contents:  None.

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