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"Y Bookfeller having informed me that there was no collection of English Poetry among us, of any estimation, I thought a few Hours spent in making a proper felection would not be ill bestowed. Compilations of this kind are chiefly defigned for fuch as either want leifure, fkill, or fortune, to choose for themselves; for perfons whofe profeffions turn them to different purfuits, or who, not yet arrived at fufficient maturity, require a guide to direct their application. To our youth, particularly, a publication


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 fee in it the poems of their favourite Authors, others may wish that I had felected from works lefs generally read, and others ftill may wish, that I had felected from their own. But my defign was to give a useful, unaffected compilation; one that might tend to advance the reader's tafte, and not impress him with exalted ideas of mine. Nothing fo common, and yet fo abfurd, as affectation in criticifm. The defire of being thought to


have a more difcerning tafte than others, has often led writers to labour after error, and to be foremost in promoting deformity. In this compilation I run but few rifques 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 fhort introductory criticisms to each poem, they are rather defigned for boys than men; for it will be feen that I declined all refinement, fatisfied with being obvious and fincere. In fhort, if this work be useful in schools, or amusing in


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the closet, the merit all belongs to others; I have nothing to boast, and, at best, can expect, not applaufe, but pardon.



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