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And as to morals, "Poetry," in the words of Sir Philip Sydney, "doth not "only fhew the way, but giveth so sweet a prospect of the way, as will entice 66 any man to enter into it; nay, the Poet doth, as if your journey should be "through a fair vineyard, at the very first give you a clufter of grapes, that, "full of that tafte, you may long to país farther. He beginneth not with ob"fcure definitions, but he cometh to you with words fet in delightful propor❝tion, either accompanied with, or prepared for, the well-enchanting skill of "mufic;-and with a tale;-he cometh unto you with a tale, which holdeth "children from play, and old men from the chimney-corner. Even those hard"hearted evil men, who think virtue a fchool-name, and defpife the auftere "admonitions of the philofopher, and feel not the inward reafons they stand σε upon, yet will be contented to be delighted; which is all the good fellow "Poet feems to promise; and so steal to fee the form of goodness; which feen, "they cannot but love, ere themselves be aware, as if they took a medicine of "cherries."
Thus Poetry, by the gentle, yet certain method of allurement, leads both to learning and to virtue. I conclude, therefore, that, under a few felf-evident. restrictions, it is properly addreffed to all young minds, in the courfe of a liberal education.
It must be confeffed, at the fame time, that many sensible men, both in the world and in the schools of philofophy, have objected to it. They have thought that a tafte for it interfered with an attention to what they call the MAIN CHANCE. What poet ever fined for fheriff? fays Oldham. It is feldom feen that any one difcovers mines of gold and filver in Parnaffus, fays Mr. Locke. Such ideas have predominated in the exchange and in the warehoufe; and while they continue to be confined to thofe places, may perhaps, in fome inftances, bė advantageous. But they ought not to operate on the mind of the gentleman, or the man of a liberal profeffion; and indeed there is no good reafon to be given why the mercantile claffes, at least of the higher order, should not amuse their leifure with any pleafares of polite literature.
That fome object to the ftudy of Poetry as a part of education, is not to be wondered at, when it is confidered that many, from want of natural sensibility, or from long habits of inattention to every thing but fordid intereft, are totally unfurnished with faculties for the perception of poetical beauty. But shall we deny the cowflip and violet their vivid colour and fweet fragrance, because the quadruped who feeds in the meadow, tramples over them without perceiving either their hues or their odours? Against the oppofers of Poetry, the taste of mankind, from China to Peru, powerfully militates.
Young minds have commonly a tafte for Poetry. Unfeduced by the love of money, and unhacknied in the ways of vice, they are indeed delighted with nature and fact, though unembellished; because all objects with them have the grace of novelty: but they are transported with the charms of Poetry, where the funfhine of fancy diffuses over every thing the fine glofs, the rich colouring, of beautiful imagery and language. "Nature" (to cite Sir Philip Sydney again) "never fet forth the earth in fo rich tapeftry as diverfe poets have done, "neither with so pleasant rivers, fruitful trees, sweet-fmelling flowers, nor "whatsoever may make the earth more lovely. The world is a brazen world "the poets only deliver a GOLDEN; which whoever diflike, the fault is in their judgment, quite out of tafle, and not in the fweet food of SWEETLY-UTTERED "KNOWLEDGE."
It will be readily acknowledged, that ideas and precepts of all kinds, whether of morality or science, make a deeper impreffion when inculcated by the vivacity, the painting, the melody of poetical language. And what is thus deeply impreffed will also long remain; for metre and rhyme naturally catch hold of the memory, as the tendrils of the vine cling round the branches of the elm.
Old Orpheus and Linus are recorded in fable to have drawn the minds of favage men to knowledge, and to have polished human nature, by Poetry. And are not children in the ftate of nature? And is it not probable that Poetry may be the best inftrument to operate on them, as it was found to be on nations in the favage ftate? Since, according to the mythological wisdom of the ancients, Amphion moved ftones, and Orpheus brutes, by mufic and verfe, is it not reasonable to believe, that minds which are dull, and even brutally infenfible, may be penetrated, sharpened, softened, and irradiated, by the warm influence of fine Poetry?
But it is really fuperfluous to expatiate either on the delight or the utility of Poetry. The fubject has been exhaufted; and, whatever a few men of little taste and feeling, or of minds entirely fordid and fecular, may object, such are the charms of the Goddess, such her powerful influence over the heart of man, that she will never want voluntary votaries at her shrine. The Author of Nature has kindly implanted in man a love of Poetry, to folace him under the labours and sorrows of life. A great part of the Scriptures is poetry and verse. The wife fon of Sirach enumerates, among the most honourable of mankind, SUCH AS FOUND OUT MUSICAL TUNES, AND RECITED VERSES IN WRITING.
With respect to this Compilation, the principal fubje&t of this Preface (but from which I have been feduced into a digreffion, by giving my fuffrage in fayour of an art I love)-if I fhould be asked what are its pretenhons, I must
freely answer, that it professes nothing more than (what is evident at first sight) to be a larger Collection of English Verle, for THE USE OF SCHOOLs, than has ever yet been published in ONE VOLUME. The original intention was to comprize in it a great number and variety of such pieces as were already in use in schools, or which seemed proper for the use of them; such a number and variety as might furnish something satisfactory to every taste, 'and serve as a little Poetical Library for school-boys, precluding the inconvenience and expence of a multitude of volumes.
Such was the design of the Publication. The Editor can claim no praise beyond that of the design. The praise of ingenuity is all due to the Poets whose works have supplied the materials. What merit can there be in directing a famous and popular passage to be inserted from Shakspeare, Milton, Pope, Gray, and many others of less fame, indeed, but in great efteem, and of allowed genius? Their own luitre pointed them out, like stars of the first magnitude in the heavens. There was no occasion for singular acuteness of vision, or of optical glaises, to discover a brightness which obtruded itself on the eye. The best pieces are usually the most popular. They are loudly recommended by the voice of Fame, and indeed have been alrcady selected in a variety of volumes of preceding collections. To confess an humiliating truth, in making a book like this, the land of the artisan is more employed than the head of the writer. Utility and innocent entertainment are the fole designs of the Editor; and if they are accomplished, he is satisfied, and cheerfully falls back into the shade of obscurity. He is confident that the Bock cannot but be useful and entertaining; but he is, at the same time, so little inclined to boast of his work, that he is ready to confess, that almost any man, willing to incur a confiderable expence, and undergo a little trouble, might have furnished as good a collection.
As tafte will for ever differ, some may wish to have seen in it passages from some favourite, yet obscure poet, and some allo from their own works; but it was the business of the Editor of a school-book like this, not to insert scarce and curious works, such as please virtuoso rcadirs, cliefly from their rarity, but to collect such as were publicly known and univerfally ceebrated. The more known, the more celebrated, the better they were adapted 10 this Collection; which is not designed, like the lessons of some dancing-masters, for grown gentlemen, but for young learners only; and it will readily occur to every one, that what is old to men and women, may be, and for the most part muff be, New to loys and girls recciving their education. Private judgment, in a work like this, muft often give way to public. Some things are interted in this Volume, entirely in submitive deference to public opinion; which when general and long continued, is the least fallible test of merit in the fine arts, and particularly in Poetry. Whatever was found in previous collections, which experience had pronounced proper for schools, has been freely taken and admitted : the stamp of experience gave it currency. The freedom of borrowing, it is hoped, will be pardoned, as the collectors, with whom it has been used, first let the example of it.
It is unnecessary, and perhaps might be deemed impertinent, to point out the mode of using the Collection to the best advantage. It is evident that it inay be used in schools, either in recitation, transcription, the exercise of the memory, or in imitation. It furnishes an abundance of models, which are the best means of exciting genius. Such Arts of Poetry as those of Gildon, Bysshe, Newbery, and their imitators, effect but little in the dry method of technical precept; and the young Poet, like the Sculptor, will improve most by working after a inodel. It is evident that this Collection may be uíefully read at Eng. LISH SCHOOLs, in the classes, just as the Latin and Greek authors are read at the grammar-schools, by explaining every thing grainmatically, historically, metrically, and critically; and then giving a portion to be learned by memory. The Book, it is hoped, will be particularly agreeable and useful in the private Studies of the amiable young student, whose first love is the love of the Muse, and who courts her in his summer's walk, and his winter's folitude.
In the latter part many little pieces are admitted, mere lusus poetici, chiefly for the diversion of the student. They are, it must be confessed, no more than flowrets at the bottom of Parnassus; but it is hoped, that their adinission will be approved, as they may gradually lead the scholar to ascend higher up
the hill, who might have been deterred from approaching it if he had seen nothing in the first prospect, but the sublime, the folemn, and the sombrous.
To every Edition a great variety of long and valuable Poems has been added, and the volume is consequently much enlarged. A few pieces have been of neceffity omilted, the infirtion of which would have rendered the Book unwieldy. Their omision is amply lupplied by the copious addition of new Materials.-If some mistakes have infinuated themselves, in consequence of the Editor's distance from the press, it is haped they will be conjidered with candour.
The reader will have no cause to complain, if, instead of Extraf?s, he often finds whole poems inserted. This has been done whenever it seemed consistent with the design, and could be done without injustice. In this matter, the opinion of those who must be supposed best qualitied to give it, was asked, and followed. The wish was to take nothing but what seemed to lie on the common, relinquished or neglected by the lord of the manor.
Though the Book is divided into Four Parts, yet the formality of regular
Perhaps the reader will be the more inclined to extend it towards me, if I do