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AN ENGLISH ANTHOLOGY

OF PROSE AND POETRY

1

NOTE

THE PUBLISHERS HAVE MUCH

PLEASURE IN ANNOUNCING

THAT SIR HENRY NEW BOLT HAS

PREPARED, AS A COMPANION TO
THE PRESENT VOLUME, AN
ANNOTATED INDEX CONTAIN-

ING DESCRIPTIVE AND CRITICAL
NOTES ON ALL THE SELECTIONS
INCLUDED IN THE ANTHOLOGY.

AN ENGLISH ANTHOLOGY
OF PROSE AND POETRY

SHEWING THE MAIN STREAM
OF ENGLISH LITERATURE
THROUGH SIX CENTURIES

(14th Century-19th Century)

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1922
LONDON & TORONTO
J. M. DENT & SONS LTD.
NEW YORK: E. P. DUTTON & CO.

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PREFACE

THE plan of this book is simple, but it is believed to be new. My object has been not to supply one more portable collection of gems, but to show the progress of the English language and literature as the gradual gathering of many tributaries into one stream, or of many characters and influences into one great national concourse. In attempting this I found at once that three conditions imposed themselves. The selection must include both prose and verse : and it must treat upon the same footing all printed work of interest, whether scientific, philosophical, political or creative. But thirdly, an arrangement must be devised by which the reader should be enabled to follow the stream continuously, to trace without confusion the entrance and effect of the gathering influences.

It has generally been the custom in making a volume of selections to place the authors according to their dates of birth : but from my point of view this was too mechanical an arrangement and would often introduce confusion where it was a chief object to be clear. The moment of birth is not the moment of a great writer's entry into the world of thought: nor is it possible to fix any age at which genius or literary influence may be said in general to take effect. I will give a simple illustration : Peacock was seven years

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