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This volume is based upon a course of lectures given at the Universities of Wisconsin, Kansas, and Chicago. While some slight changes have been made in revising the text for publication, the matter is here reproduced substantially as it was delivered, the twelve lectures becoming the twelve chapters of the book. This explanation of the origin of the work will account for its salient features, such as the avoidance of minutiæ, the direct manner of the discourse, and the liberal use of quotations, both by way of illustration and of commentary. The author has not hesitated to give copious extracts from the poets considered, and he has also made free, with due acknowledgment, of the opinions of other critics whenever they have seemed to him possessed of pertinence and finality.
As the text explains and frequently emphasises, the purpose of this work is not so much to discuss the twelve men considered in their character as poetic artists, as to view them in their relations to the world of thought and action. Although the character of their work as an æsthetic product is by no means ignored, it is given a place of secondary importance in the exposition, the author's main object being to examine their poetry with respect to its