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of this fort may be useful; fince, if compiled with any fhare of judgement, it may at once unite precept and example, fhew them what is beautiful, and inform them why it is fo: I therefore offer this, to the beft of my judgement, as the best collection that has yet appeared: though, as taftes are various, numbers will be of a very different opinion. Many perhaps may wish to see in it the poems of their favourite Authors, others may wish that I had selected from works less generally read, and others still may wish, that I had selected from their own. But my defign was to give a useful, unaffected compilation; one that might tend to advance the reader's taste, and not impress him with exalted ideas of mine.
Nothing fo com
yet fo abfurd, as affectation in
criticifm. The defire of being thought to
have a more difcerning taste than others, has often led writers to labour after error, and to be foremoft in promoting deformity. In this compilation I run but few risques of that kind; every poem here is well known, and poffeffed, or the public has been long mistaken, of peculiar merit: every poem has, as Ariftotle expreffes it, a beginning, a middle, and an end, in which, however trifling the rule may feem, most of the poetry in our language is deficient: I claim no merit in the choice, as it was obvious, for in all languages. the best productions are most easily found.. As to the short introductory criticisms to each poem, they are rather defigned for boys than men; for it will be seen that I declined all refinement, fatisfied with being obvious and fincere. In fhort, if this work be useful in fchools, or amusing in
the closet, the merit all belongs to others; I have nothing to boast, and, at best, can expect, not applause, but pardon.
ENGLISH POES Y.
The Rape of the Lock.
This feems to be Mr. Pope's most finished production, and is, perhaps, the most perfect in our language. It exhibits stronger powers of imagination, more harmony of numbers, and a greater knowledge of the world, than any other of this poet's works: and it is probable, if our country were called upon to fhew a fpecimen of their genius to foreigners, this would be the work here fixed upon.
7HAT dire offence from am'rous causes springs,
What mighty contests rise from trivial things, I fing-This verfe to CARYL, Mufe! is due: This, ev'n Belinda may vouchfafe to view: Slight is the fubject, but not fo the praise, If She infpire, and He approve my lays.
Say what frange motive, Goddefs! could compel
Her guardian SYLPH prolong'd the balmy reft:
The filver token, and the circled green,
Or virgins vifited by Angel-pow'rs,
With golden crowns and wreaths of heav'nly flow'rs; Hear and believe! thy own importance know,
Nor bound thy narrow views to things below.