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It is hoped that the survey of our early literature contained in these volumes, notwithstanding many defects in the execution, may be found useful, and may be received with some degree of favour, as offering the only account yet drawn up which aims at taking a complete view of what has been done in the illustration of this interesting subject down to the present day. Ever since the first publication of Bishop Percy's Reliques,' nearly eighty years ago, the study of our ancient English poetry has engaged a large share of attention; and, if Percy, Warton, and Tyrwhitt still remain, in every sense, our first names in that department of learning, in respect at least of the number of the followers whom their example has produced there has been nothing to complain of. Undoubtedly, also, much new light has been thrown upon portions of the subject by the improved archæological scholarship of recent times. But our oldest poetry is not English, but French; and, as such, it has of late greatly interested and occupied our neighbours across the Channel, of whose literature it is the root and beginning in a stricter and more exclusive sense than it is of our own. Both Tyrwhitt and Warton had long ago pointed out the obligations of our earliest English poets to their predecessors who wrote in French; but it was reserved for the late Abbé de

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