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PREFATORY NOTE.

THESE biographical sketches and critical estimates of the laureates (especially in the case of Southey, Wordsworth, and Tennyson, whose genius has evoked a whole literature of analytic criticism) are necessarily fragmentary and brief, designed merely to stimulate detailed study. Such study would be fruitful of much delight as well as include a survey of many momentous historical and literary events, and furnish glimpses of a large number of famous men whose lives touched directly or remotely those of the poets laureate.

As the field is so wide, the task of making these selections from the fourteen laureates has been difficult, not only because the works of several of them are buried in out-of-the-way and forgotten places, but because in many cases the flowers of poetry have had to be plucked from a mass of coarse or noxious weeds. For this valuable aid in our work we are indebted to Miss Josie Russell, who, in the selections, has shown taste and critical judgment as well as industry. She has not attempted to give the strictly official poems of these poets laureate, but to, as far as possible, furnish examples of their lyrical genius. In cases where their official poems are representative of their genius they are of course included. A complete collection of these official odes of the laureates would be of unique value and interest, though it would exclude the work of the greatest poet among them all. After Wordsworth's acceptance of the laurel he wrote nothing official except a fine ode on the installation of Prince Albert as Chancellor of the University of Cambridge.

The Introduction dealing with the origin and significance of the Laureateship appeared originally in The Century Magazine; and is here reproduced by kind permission of the publishers.

Statistics are not always entertaining reading, but they are essential for accuracy, and nowhere more essential than in the discussion of this subject of the Laureateship of England; as so much has been written upon it which is misleading. Many journalists, in wishing to present to the public the outlines of a "timely subject," read hurriedly a few "authorities," not waiting to investigate whether these be reliable; they do not weigh

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