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lated, and accompanied by Biographical, Critical, and Historical Notes.
An INTRODUCTORY VOLUME will present a succinct account of English Poetry from the earliest times down to a period which will connect it with the Series of the Poets, through whose Lives the History of our Poetical Literature will be continued to the present time. Occasional volumes will be introduced, in which Specimens, with connecting Notices and Commentaries, will be given of those Poets whose works are not of sufficient interest to be reproduced entire. The important materials gathered from previously unexplored sources by the researches of the last quarter of a century will be embodied wherever they may be available in the general design; and by these means it is hoped that the Collection will be more complete than any that has been hitherto attempted, and that it will be rendered additionally acceptable as comprising in its course a Continuous History of English Poetry.
By the arrangements that will be adopted, the Works of the principal Poets may be purchased separately and independently of the rest. The Occasional Volumes, containing, according to circumstances, Poetry of a particular Class or Period, Collections illustrative of Customs, Manners, and Historical events, or Specimens, with Critical Annotations, of the Minor Poets, will also be complete in themselves.
As the works of each Poet, when completed, will be independent of the rest, although ultimately falling into their places in the Series, they will be issued irrespective of chronological sequence. This arrangement will present a greater choice and variety in the selection from month to month of poets of different styles and periods, and at the same time enable the Editor to take advantage of all new sources of information that may be opened to him in the progress of publication. General Title-pages will be finally supplied for combining the whole Collection into a chronological Series.
London: JOHN W. PARKER and SON, West Strand.
THIS volume contains a collection of Songs from the English Dramatists, beginning with the writer of the first regular comedy, and ending with Sheridan. The want of such a collection has long been felt, and that it has never been supplied before must occasion surprise to all readers who are acquainted with the riches we possess in this branch of lyrical poetry.
The plan upon which the work is arranged furnishes the means of following the course of the drama historically, and tracing in its progress the revolutions of style, manners, and morals that marked successive periods. The songs of each dramatist are distributed under the titles of the plays from which they are taken; and the plays are given in the order of their production. Short biographical notices, and explanatory notes, have been introduced wherever they appeared necessary or desirable; but all superfluous annotation has been carefully avoided.
The orthography of the early songs has been modernized, in no instance, however, to the loss or injury of a phrase essential to the coloring of the age, or the structure of the verse. The old spelling is not sacred; nor can it be always fixed with certainty. It was generally left to the printers, who not only differed
from each other, but sometimes from themselves. By adopting a uniform and familiar orthography, the enjoyment of the beauties of these poems, the most perfect of their class in any language, is materially facilitated.
In the preparation of this volume, all known accessible sources have been explored and exhausted. The research bestowed upon it cannot be adequately estimated by its bulk. The labour which is not represented in the ensuing pages considerably exceeded the labour which has borne the fruit and flowers gathered into this little book. Many hundreds of plays have been examined without yielding any results, or such only as in their nature were unavailable. Some names will be missed from the catalogue of dramatic writers, and others will be found to contribute less than might be looked for from their celebrity; but in all such cases a satisfactory explanation can be given. Marlowe's plays, for example, do not contain a single song, and Greene's only one. Southerne abounds in songs, but they are furnished chiefly by other writers, and are of the most commonplace character. Etherege has several broken snatches of drinking rhymes and choruses dancing through his comedies, full of riotous animal spirits soaring to the height of all manner of extravagance, and admirably suited to ventilate the profligacy of the day; but for the most part they are either unfit for extract from their coarseness, or have not substance enough to stand alone. Wycherley's songs are simply gross, and Tom Killigrew's crude and artificial.