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IN preparing this collection of English verse, it has been the aim of the compiler to include such poems as are acknowledged to be among
the best works of the authors here represented; and also to present, in one compact, inexpensive volume, a popular handbook of English Poetry, from the time of Chaucer to the present day.
In the pursuance of this plan he has availed himself largely of the labor and judgment of others, in deciding what authors or selections should be included.
Among the works more frequently consulted, and from which numerous extracts have been made, are the following: viz., Ward's “English Poets," Palgrave's "Golden Treasury," Mackay's "Thousand and One Gems," Beeton's "Book of Poetry," "Living English Poets," and English Poetesses."
A number of poems by authors now living brings the volume down to the latest period, and will doubtless prove of interest to many readers who have not access to the works of these writers.
The biographical data are from Johnson's "Cyclopedia," Ward's "English Poets," Allibone's "Dictionary of Authors," "Men of the Time," and other reliable sources.
An Index of Authors, Contents, and First Lines has been placed at the end of the volume.
[GEOFFREY CHAUCER, born in London probably about 1328, died at Westminster in 1400. He was the son of a vintner; was page in Prince Lionel's household, served in the army, was taken prisoner in France. He was afterwards valet and squire to Edward III., and went as king's commissioner to Italy in 1372, and later. He was Controller of the Customs in the port of London from 1381 to 1386, was M. P. for Kent in 1386, Clerk of the King's Works at Windsor in 1389, and died poor. Mr. Furnivall divides his poetical history into four periods: (1) up to 1371, including the early poems: viz., the A. B. C., the Compleynte to Pite, the Boke of the Duchesse, and the Compleynte of Mars; (2) from 1372 to 1381, including the Troylus and Criseyde, Anelida, and the Former Age; (3) the best period, from 1381 to 1389, including the Parlement of Foules, the Hous of Fame, the Legende of Goode Women, and the chief of the Canterbury Tales; (4) from 1390 to 1400, including the latest Canterbury Tales, and the Ballades and Poems of Reflection and later age, of which the last few, like the Steadfastness, show failing power.]
[HENRY HOWARD was the eldest son of Thomas Earl of Surrey, by his second wife, the Lady Elizabeth Stafford, daughter of Edward Stafford, Duke of Buckingham. The date and place of his birth are alike unknown. It probably occurred in 1517. He became Earl of Surrey on the accession of his father to the dukedom of Norfolk in 1524. The incidents of his early life are buried in obscurity; the incidents of his later life rest on evidence rarely trustworthy and frequently apocryphal. He was beheaded on Tower Hill January 21, 1547, nominally on a charge of high treason, really in consequence of having fallen a victim to a Court intrigue, the particulars of which it is now impossible to unravel. With regard to the chronology of his various poems we have nothing to guide us. Though they were extensively circulated in manuscript during his lifetime, they were not printed till June, 1557, when they made their appearance, together with Wyatt's poems and several fugitive pieces by other authors, in Tottel's Miscellany.]
THE MEANS TO ATTAIN HAPPY
[Translated from Martial.] MARTIAL, the things that do attain The happy life be these, I find; The riches left, not got with pain,
The fruitful ground, the quiet mind.
The equal friend, no grudge, no strife,
The household of continuance.
The mean diet, no delicate fare;