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THIS volume is published with Mr. Browning's sanction; but for the choice of the particular pieces he is in no respect responsible.
The rule observed in the Selections has been to avoid giving mere fragments.
is presented, as far as was found practicable, in a complete form.
Mr. Browning's leading poems, "Paracelsus," Sordello," and "Christmas Eve and Easter Day," appear by such portions only as could be so detached that they should possess an independent and intelligible interest. His dramas, Strafford," Pippa Passes," King
Victor and King Charles," "The Return of the Druses," "A Blot in the 'Scutcheon," "Colombe's Birthday," and "Luria," are represented each by separate acts or scenes constituting pictures of character in themselves complete. His "Dramatic Lyrics,” and “Men and Women," have been laid under contribution exclusively for poems without omission or abridgment.
The volume originated with two friends who, from the first appearance of "Paracelsus," have regarded its writer as among the few great poets of the century; who have seen this opinion, since, gain ground with the best readers and critics; and who believe that such a selection as the present may go far to render it universal.
The manner of an original writer, always marked and peculiar, often prevents his general acceptance, until the novelty has worn off.
This, for the most part, is what is meant when certain forms of poetical genius are said to be too subtle for immediate enjoyment. Friendships likely to be lasting, are seldom formed suddenly. But good service is done when such difficulties are, as far as possible, helped away. It is believed that this little book, by the range and variety of power it brings at once under view, will arrest, without overstraining, the attention of many readers; and, by making less novel and unfamiliar to them the style of a thoroughly original poet, will open to them sooner the full enjoyment of a series of writings as remarkable as any that have enriched the literature of our time.