equally-balanced excellence, not that which is most easy,
but that which is most difficult of access. To the credit
of former collectors it may be said, that continued and
somewhat laborious researches after overlooked merit
have often been attended with only negative results.
Withal, this selection claims to be other than former
or contemporaneous ones.
There is nothing arbitrary in the unequal length of
the biographical sketches. The notices of authors are
shortened or prolonged, not as they have achieved a
secular distinction, but in proportion as their poetry
presents points of contact with religion, and, again, as
the sources of information concerning them are open or
It has seemed. just to the reader, and a sacred right
of the author, that poems which profess to be quoted in
their integrity should be given unmutilated. One ex-
ception may be noted—the suppression of two redundant
lines, as extraneous in sense as in form, from the sonnet
by William Lithgow.
In a few of the earliest poems their original ortho-
graphy has been retained, for the reason that it involves
the rhythm; and in one or two more modern instances a
single terminal word involving the rhyme has been pre-
served as the author wrote it.