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COPYRIGHT, 1909, BY HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED INCLUDING THE RIGHT TO REPRODUCE
THIS BOOK OR PARTS THEREOF IN ANY FORM
R, L. 8. 183
The Riverside Press
PRINTED IN THE U.S.A
The present volume is designed to meet the needs of a less advanced class of students than is provided for in the comprehensive collections of the late Professor Child or in the edition by Kittredge and Sargent in the Cambridge Poets series. Those great sources of material and illustration have been drawn upon, as was inevitable, with great freedom ; and this selection is to be regarded as an introduction which, it is hoped, may allure students to a more exhaustive study of the subject. With this end in view, the attempt has been made to lay solid foundations for the understand ing and appreciation of ballad poetry by making the selection representative, by refraining from any tampering with the texts, either in spelling or in readings, and by supplying abundant references to works in which the study of ballads may be further pursued.
Miss Witham's Introduction seeks to give in concise form the gist of the most recent scholarship concerning the characteristics and the origin of ballads. Here she is naturally chiefly indebted to Professor Gummere, especially in his book on the Popular Ballad, and to Professor Kittredge in the introduction to his volume in the Cambridge Poets series. The notes show similarly a free use of the introductions by Professor Child in his great final collection; and by specific references the reader is constantly reminded of the mass of variants to be found there, a knowledge of which is so essential to a right conception of ballad poetry.
It is not to be supposed, however, that basing the book upon
these fundamental authorities makes it any less serviceable to the reader who wishes merely to enjoy. The preservation of the spelling of the texts as Professor Child prints them offers but a slight obstacle to easy intelligibility, and soon comes to be to any lover of ballads almost an essential feature. Modernization is, moreover, impossible without some degree of falsification, and no method at once consistent and innocuous has yet been discovered.
The writing of the Introduction and the compiling of the Notes and Glossary are the work of Miss Witham, the share of the supervising editor having been confined to criticism and advice. Obligations to the works of Professors Child, Gummere, and Kittredge have been specifically recognized wherever possible, and a general acknowledgment is here gratefully rendered.
W. A. NEILSON.
CAMBRIDGE, Mass., January 5, 1909.