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SELECTED AND ARRANGED
RICHARD CHENEVIX TRENCH, D.D.
ARCHBISHOP OF DUBLIN
SECOND EDITION, REVISED
The first question which I asked myself, when I resumed a purpose long ago entertained, and then for a long while laid aside, of publishing such a selection of English Poetry as the present, was this, namely, whether Mr. Palgrave by his Golden Treasury had not so occupied the ground that there was no place for one who should come after. The selection is one made with so exact an acquaintance with the sources from which such a Treasury as his should be replenished, with so fine a taste in regard of what should be admitted there, that this was the conclusion to which at the first I was disposed to arrive. But on further consideration I saw reason to change my mind. The volume which I meditated was on so different a scheme and plan from his, that, while no doubt I should sometimes go over ground which he had gone over before, it seemed likely that for the most part our paths would be different, and the poems which I should select not identical with those already chosen by him. This to so great an extent has proved the case, that of more than three hundred pieces which compose this volume, less than sixty have appeared in his. And
it is easy to perceive how this should be. His is a Treasury of the best Songs and lyrical Poems in the English Language, and of these exclusively; but within this circle he proposes to include all which is of first-rate excellence in our language by authors not living. My scheme is at once broader and narrower: broader, in that I limit myself to no one particular class of poetry, and include the living no less than the dead; narrower, while I make no attempt to be exhaustive, or to give more than a very few samples of poets who would easily have yielded me ten or twenty times as much, and of a quality not inferior to that on which my choice has fallen.
But if Mr. Palgrave had not forestalled me, I certainly did not feel that any other had so done. Most of the collections which have fallen under my eye have failed to leave the impression of being the result of investigation at first hand, on the part of the collector, into the treasures of our English Poetry. There is so much there which invites citation, and which has never been cited yet in any of our popular anthologies, that it is difficult to think that any one who had himself wandered in this garden of riches would not have carried off some flowers and fruits of his own gathering; instead of offering to us again, as most do, though it may be in somewhat different combinations, what already has been offered by others. When I see, for example, 'Queen and huntress chaste and fair,' doubtless a very graceful lyric, with one or two other familiar poems, doing duty in one collection after anoother as the specimens of Ben Jonson's verse, it is hard