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The design of the Editor or Compiler of the following volume was to present one great panoramic view of the masterpieces of English poetry, and that of the publishers to issue it in a form and at a price which would recommend it to the taste of the rich, without placing it beyond the means of the poor. The original intention of the Editor was to commence with Chaucer and end with Wordsworth, Moore, Rogers, Hood, Campbell, and other poets of the last generation, who have recently passed from among us, thus excluding the works of living writers. To this arrangement the publishers made objection, on the ground, very easily defensible, that some of the brightest gems of the “ Thousand and One” are the productions of living genius—both in Great Britain and the United States of America. The Editor yielded the point, but was met with the serious difficulty that it was not in all cases possible to include the works of living writers—even if their consent could be obtained ;-firstly, because the copyrights were not always their own ;-secondly, because their addresses were not obtainable without great trouble and loss of time ;—and thirdly, because the modern poets, in England and America, were so numerous, that if specimens of all their poetic jewellery were got together, an undue proportion of the volume would be occupied by writers of the second half of the nineteenth century. Another difficulty which personally was more serious, existed in the dilemma in which the Editor found him. self with regard to his own compositions. Had any other than himself been Editor, the publishers were of opinion that his consent would assuredly have been asked for permission to reproduce some of his lyrics and other pieces; while the Editor, on his part, knew
that had such consent been asked, it would have been cheerfully given. If there be, under the circumstances, an apparent sin against good taste in the matter, the pablishers must bear the blame ;– for it is they who have put the pressure upon the Editor, and compelled his assent to a selection, which would not have been necessary, if the original idea of the volume had been adhered to. As regards the selection itself, it claims to justify its title, and to afford a fair as well as comprehensive view of the rise, progress, and present state of English poetry. All the “Gems" in the volume are not of equal brilliancy. The diamonds, rubies, emeralds, and pearls of literature are few ;—but there are other "gems” than these, of inferior value, but still gemlike ;-agate, cornelian, amethyst, turquoise, onyx, and scores of others known to the lapidary and jeweller, and prized by them and by the public to whose appreciation they are offered. To the living writers, whose consent has been given to the appearance of their "gems” in these pages, the Editor offers his best thanks ;—to the living writers whose consent has not been asked, he offers his apologies, and would gladly have included some specimens of their genius had time and the bulk of the volume permitted ; and to those who have been asked and who have not replied, he has to explain that wherever permission was possible, he would not act without it. To the publishers of the works of authors recently deceased, and proprietors of their copyrights, he has also to offer his acknowledgments for their courtesy, and for the promiptitude with which they entered into what, he supposes, would have been the feelings of those poets if they had been still alive ;-the very natural desire to appear in the immortal company of the Fathers of English Song.
The Editor desires also to acknowledge thankfully the courtesy of Messrs. Ticknor and Fields, of Boston, proprietors of the works of Longfellow, Emerson, Holmes, Lowell, Whittier, &c.; and of Messrs. Appleton & Co., of New York, publishers of Bryant's poems -in granting exclusive permission to incorporate in this volume selections from the works of those distinguished A merican writers.
A THOUSAND AND ONE GEMS OF
(GEOFFREY CHAUCER. 1328-1400.) Of his statùre he was of even length,
And wonderly deliver and great of PRAISE OF WOMEN.
strength; For, this ye know well, tho' I wouldin And he had been some time in chevachie lie,
In Flandres, in Artois, and in Picardy, In women is all truth and steadfastness; And borne him well, as of so little space, For, in good faith, I never of them sie In hope to standen in his lady's grace But much worship, bounty, and gentle. Embroidered was he, as it were a mead ness,
All full of freshé flowers white and red. Right coming, fair, and full of meekéness; Singing he was or fluting all the day : Good, and glad, and lowly, I you ensure, He was as fresh as' is the month of May. Is this goodly and àngelic creature. Short was his gown, with sleeves long
and wide ; And if it hap a man be in disease, Well could he sit on horse, and fairé ride. She doth her business and her full pain He couldé songés well make, and indite, With all her might him to comfort and Joust, and eke dance, and well pourtray please,
and write. If fro his disease him she might restrain: So hot he loved, that by nightertale In word ne deed, I wis, she woll not faine; He slept no more than doth the nightin. With all her might she doth her business
gale. To bringen him out of his heaviness.
Courteous he was; lowly and serviceable,
And carved before his father at the table. Lo, here what gentleness these women
have, If we could know it for our rudeness !
ARCITA'S DYING ADDRESS. How busy they be us to keep and save Both in hele and also in sickness, “ALAS the wo! alas, the painés strong And alway right sorry for our distress ! That I for you have suffered, and so In every manere thus shew they ruth, long! That in them is all go ess and all Alas, the death !-alas mine Emelie ! truth,
Alas, departing of our company !
Alas, mine herte's queen alas, my wife, TIE YOUNG SQUIRE.
Mine herte's lady-ender of my life!
What is this world? What axen men to With him there was his son, a younge have ? Squire,
Now with his love, now in his coldé A lover and a lusty bacholer,
grave With lockés crull, as they were laid in Alone! withouten any company, press.
Farewell, my sweet 1 - farewell, mine Of twenty year of age he was I guess. Emelie !"
I could rehearse, If that I would, GOOD COUNSEL OF CHAUCER.
The whole effect of Nature's plaint, Fly from the press, * and dwell with When she had lost the perfect mould, soothfastness ;
The like to whom she could not Suffice unto thy good, though it be paint. small,
With wringing hands, how did she For hoard + hath hate, and climbing tickleness ;
And what she said, I know it aye. Preise & hath envie, and weal is blent o'er all.
I know she swore, with raging mind, Savor|| no more than thee behoven Her kingdom only set apart, shall,
There was no loss by law of kind Rede I well thy self that other folk can'st That could have gone so near her rede,
heart; And Truth thee shalt deliver — 'us no And this was chiefly all her pain,drede. *
“She could not make the like again.” That thee is sent receive in buxomness :
Sith Nature thus gave her the praise The wrestling of this world, asketh a
To be the chiefest work she wrought, fall.
In faith, methink, some better ways Here is no home, here is but wilderness. On your behalf might well be sought, Forth, pilgrim, forth-on, best out of Than to compare, as ye have done, thy stall,
To match the candle with the sun. Look up on high, and thank the God
of all! Weivith+t thy lust, and let thy ghost thee lead,
HOW NO AGE IS CONTENT And Truth thee shalt deliver - 'tis no
WITH ITS OWN ESTATE. drede.
LAYD in my quiet bed in study as I
I saw within my troubled head, a heap of [The EARL OF SURREY. 19061547.)
And every thought did shew so lyvely in GIVE PLACE, YE LOVERS.
myne eyes, GIVE place, ye lovers, here before That now I sight, and then I smilde, as That spent your boasts and brags in
cause of thoughts did ryse. I saw the little boy, in thought how oft
that he My lady's beauty passeth more The best of yours, I dare well sayen,
Did wishe of God, to scape the rod, a tall Than doth the sun the candlelight,
young man to be, Or brightest day the darkest night ;
The young man eake that feles his bones
with paines opprest And thereto hath a troth as just
How he would be a riche old man, to As had Penelope the fair;
live and lye at rest; For what she saith ye may it trust,
The riche olde man that sees his end As it by writing sealed were ;
draw on so sore, And virtues hath she many mo'
How he would be a boy againe to live so
much the more. Than I with pen have skill to show.
Whereat full oft I smylde, to see how all
those three The crowd. + Treasure. 1 Uncertainty: From boy to man, from man to boy, I Commendation. U Desire, 9 Counsel. + Fear. tt Subduc. #1 Spirit
would chop and change degree.
And musing thus, I think, the case is COMPLAINT OF THE ABSENCE very strange,
OF HIS LOVE. That man from wealth, to live in wo, doth ever seke to change.
SOE feeble is the thred that doth the Thus thoughtfull as I lay, I sawe my
burden stay, withered skyn,
Of my poor life in heavy plight that falleth How it doth shew my lented chewes, the
in decay, flesh was wom so thin,
That but it have elsewhere some ayde or And eke my totheless chaps, the gates of some succours, my right way,
The running spindle of my fate anon shall That opes
and shuttes, as I do speak, do end his course. thus unto me say:
For since the unhappy houre that dyd me The white and horish heres, the mes. to depart, sengers of age,
From my sweet weale one only hoape That shew like lines of true belief, that hath stayed my life apart, this life doth assuage,
Which doth perswade such words unto Biddes the lay hand, and feele them my sored mynde, hanging on thy chin.
Maintaine thy selfe, O wofull wight, some The whiche doth write to ages past, the better luck to find. third now coming in;
For though thou be deprived from thy Hang up therefore the bitte, of thy yong desired sight wanton tyme,
Who can thee tell, if thy returne before And thou that therein beaten art, the thy more delight; happiest life defyne.
Or who can tell thy loss if thou mayst Whereat I sighed, and sayde, farewell once recover, my wonted toye,
Some pleasant houres thy wo may wrap, Trusse up thy packe, and trudge from me, and thee defend and cover. to every little boy,
Thus in this trust, as yet it hath my life And tell them thus from me, their time sustained, most happy is,
But now (alas) I see it faint, and I by If to theyr time they reason had, to know trust am trayned. the truth of this
The tyme doth flete, and I see how the
hours do bende, So fast that I have scant the space to
marke my coming end.
Westward the sunn from out the east scant (Sır THOMAS Wyatt. 1503-1554]
shewd his lite, A DESCRIPTION OF SUCH A When in the west he hies him straite
within the dark of night ONE AS HE COULD LOVE.
And comes as fast, where he began his A FACE that should content me wonde path awry, rous well,
From east to west, from west to east, so Should not be fatt, but lovely to behold, doth his journey lye. Of lively look all griefe for to repell Thy lyfe so short, so frayle, that mortall With right good grace so would I that men lyve here, it should
Soe great a weight, so heavy charge the Speak without word, such words as none bodyes that we bere, can tell ;
That when I think upon the distance and Her tress also should be of crisped gold.
the space, With wit and these, perchaunce I might That doth so farre divide me from thy be tryde
dere desired face, And knit againe with knot that should I know not how t'attaine the winges that not sude