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THE ENGLISH AND AMERICAN
POETS AND DRAMATISTS
Sometime Professor of Modern Languages in the Royal Belfast Academical Institution;
Teacher of the English Language in the Royal Prussian School of Artillery.
Poets are all who love, who feel great
FRANKFORT 0. M.
Entered in the Ministerial Registry for the Protection of Copy-Right.
Congress at Washington.
Printed by Knauer brothers, Frankfort o. M.
For some years past the conviction has been gradually gaining ground in Germany, that a knowledge of the English language, as well as of the England and the Englishman of our times, is only to be acquired by a study of the popular literature of the present day. Germans who have visited England relying on their acquaintance with the writers of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, have found themselves in a world where everything was strange to them. They daily heard a language in many respects unlike that of the authors with whom they were familiar; they misunderstood the greater part of what was said to them, were misunderstood in their turn, and saw themselves at last necessitated to apply themselves seriously to the acquisition of a tongue, of which they had imagined themselves to be perfect masters.
From this it by no means follows, that a study of the older English writers is valueless, for the man who can trace the language back to its sources possesses an immense advantage, other circumstances being equal, over the less deeply read student. We merely mean
to say, that as the purpose of school education is to fit us for some particular career in life, common sense would seem to suggest, that young people should begin by learning what is likely to be of service to them in after - years. In our bustling, work - day world, how few comparatively have leisure to devote themselves to pure philological research! We live in an age of eager competition, one in which much must be learned before a young man is thought capable of filling the most modest position, and we hear constant complaints of the overtasking of youthful minds. Is it not then the part of wisdom, in the study of languages, to proceed with as little delay as possible to the practically useful?
In this concise handbook the student will find the English of our day both in its most elegant and its most familiar form. And here will not be out of place to observe, that the language of recent English poetry does not materially differ from that of good prose. In the older poets we meet with a superabundance of metaphors, conceits, quips, and pedantic classical allusions, which have no place in the poetry of the Victorian Age. When William Cobbett said, that if a man wrote a letter in the style of Paradise Lost, his relations would put him in a madhouse, and take his estate, he showed his ludicrous want of all poetical feeling; still the caustic pleasantry is not devoid of a grain of truth. But a man might compose an epistle in the language of Tennyson, without any risk of losing either his personal liberty or his personal property
The production of the present volume has been truly, on the part of the author, "a labour of love”, and it has been his endeavour to make it as complete as he could. He believes that he has not passed over a single name worthy of mention, and in choosing the extracts it has been his constant aim to introduce the reader to the real beauties of each writer. Many of these selections are true gems, which will be perused with delight, and always remembered with pleasure, for, to quote the words of Keats: