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Wi Preface.

ter, therefore, of some moment, that even a miniature volume, like this one, should be employed for the purpose of diffusing such poetry, in a popular form which possibly may make it known to some, who otherwise would more slowly gain acquaintance with it. To the ha

bitual readers of Wordsworth's poems, this little selection may present in a convenient shape some favourite pieces. Possibly others may be led on to the knowledge of a poet, the love of whose inspirations is cherished as bringing a rich reward of its own to all who feel it. I should indeed lament if this volume were made by any one reader, a substitute for what it would but poorly supply,–the entire collection from which it has been taken. But it is scarcely to be apprehended that any one of ordinary intelligence, or imagination or feeling could (for instance), after reading the touching story of ‘Margaret, or the Deserted Cottage,’ rest contented without seeking the perusal of that great poem, “THE Excursion,’ from which it has been detached with, I almost fear, something of rude violence. This, it may be added, is the poetic tale, so full of deep feeling—so unaf.

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fected in the narration—of which Coleridge spake, as one of the most beautiful poems in the language. No piece has been inserted in this volume arbitrarily or carelessly, but the principles which have guided the selection could scarcely be stated without filling more space than is consistent with the nature of the publication, even if the statement were of any importance. The chief difficulty has been in the necessity of omission, and the consequent effort to refrain from transcending too far the prescribed bounds. This difficulty has been the greater, where the selection has been entrusted to one, who is happy to acknowledge a faithful gratitudemoral and intellectual gratitude—to the Poet.

The time has not arrived when with propriety the biography of Mr. Wordsworth can be written. Distant, yet, may the day be, when the important trust will devolve cn some friend worthy to do justice to his memory! The general course of his life may be gathered

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viii PRefAce.

from allusions throughout his poems. A few facts, taken from them, can be stated here with

out presumption or the risk of inaccuracy. WILLIAM Wordsworth was born on the 7th of April, 1770, at Cockermouth, a small town of Cumberland in the north of England. The early part of his life was spent in that romantic and mountainous region which was to be the happy home of his manhood and old age. His scholastic education was completed at St. John's College, in the University of Cambridge, after which he spent some time upon the Continent, and was in France at the outbreak of the French Revolution. The earliest date affixed to any of Wordsworth's pieces is the year 1786—more than half a century ago, and now, when he has passed the solemn limit of three score years and ten, his imagination is active with unabated vigour. His has been a life devoted to the cultivation of the poet's art, for its best and most lasting uses—a self-dedication as complete as *AW 4, any the world has ever witnessed. The habit .. łlso of life of the Poet of Rydal Mount' has been | that of meditative seclusion-sympathy and

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served with the hearts of his fellow-beings. His has never been the heart that lives alone, Housed in a dream, at distance from the Kind: but one of the admirable moral aims of many of his poems has been to “excite profitable sympathies in kind and good hearts, and in some degree to enlarge our feelings of reverence for our species, and our knowledge of human nature, by showing that our best qualities are possessed by men whom we are too apt to consider, not with reference to the points in which they resemble us, but to those in which they plainly differ from us.” The life of Wordsworth has been distinguished for the symmetry and the harmonious succession of its various periods. His days ‘bound each to each by natural piety' have been sedulously guarded from all influences alien to his genius: He murmurs near the running brooks A music sweeter than their own.

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