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intellectual content, to set forth their ideas upon religious and philosophical subjects, and to discuss their attitude toward the political and social conditions of their time. This, at all events, is not as distinctly a work of supererogation as would be a repetition of that combination of literary analysis and personal characterisation which is most frequently given us in a survey of any group of poets.
No one could be more painfully aware than the present writer of the inadequacy of one small volume to explain the outlook upon life of twelve great poets. Only ideas of the most general nature can be given any place at all within the narrow limits to which he is restricted; he hopes, however, that so far as his opportunities have reached, he may be found to have drawn his conclusions fairly, and to have made their statement clear. He will, at least, urge for his work that plea of
“Il lungo studio e il grande amore”
confessed by the great poet of the Middle Ages for the Master-singer of the Latin race.
A few passages contained in the chapter on Swinburne have been reproduced from the author's introduction to Swinburne's "Selected Poems,' published in the “Belles-Lettres Series" by Messrs. D. C. Heath & Co.
The nineteenth century is a well-defined period in the history of English poetry, and, now that its accounts have been definitely closed, the occasion seems fitting to undertake a review of its contribution to the highest form of literary art. The Romantic Movement which, in its various phases, constitutes so large a part of the century's literary history, whether in England or in the world of letters at large, may be said to have been ushered in for English poetry by the publication of the “Lyrical Ballads” in 1798. The one great poet left at the end of the century to the English-speaking race, published, in 1899, a volume which, in its display of restrained and ripened art, was no unworthy addition to the glorious roll of nineteenth-century English poems. Between the date which witnessed the appearance of the epoch-making little volume in which Wordsworth and Coleridge made their tentative proclamation of a new æsthetic gospel, and the date of the appearance of Mr. Swinburne's “Rosamund, Queen of the Lombards," there was worked out a transformation in English poetry, its spirit and its aims, greater, perhaps, or, if not greater, at least farther-reaching, than any previous
transformation in the history of our literature. It will be remarkable, indeed, if the twentieth century shall, with respect to its poetical activity, exhibit as marked a departure from the nineteenth, as the poetry of the century recently ended exhibits from the ideals and the methods of the one preceding it. It is true that the romantic éclosion had long been preparing at the time when the "Lyrical Ballads” saw the light. We understand this now better than it could have been understood a hundred years ago. In the first place, study of the romantic origins, as illustrated by the useful little book of Professor W. L. Phelps and the more comprehensive work of Professor H. A. Beers upon the same subject, has gone much further in our own day than it could have gone at a time when the possibilities of romanticism were first being unfolded; in the second place, the conception of evolution was not then, as it is now, a controlling influence in all the departments of human thought, and no one, a hundred years ago, could have felt as we now feel it, the imperative intellectual necessity of accounting for so startling a series of poetical productions as were characteristic of the first quarter of the last century. What to the observer of a hundred years ago were independent phenomena appear to us rather as links in the causal sequence, and as products into which tradition and environment enter for no inconsiderable part.
Be that as it may, it is not the purpose of the present work to inquire too curiously into the causes