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P R E F A C E.
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 Telection would not be ill bestowed. Compilations of this kind are chiefly designed for such as either want leisure, skill, or fortune, to choose for themselves; for persons whose professions turn them to different pursuits, or who, not yet arrived at fufficient maturity, require a guide to direct their application. To our youth, particularly, a publication
of this sort may be useful; since, if compiled with any fhare of judgement, it may at once unite precept and example, New them what is beautiful, and inform them why it is fo: I therefore offer this, to the best of my judgement, as the beft collection that has yet appeared: though, as tastes 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 design 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 so common, and yet so absurd, as affectation in criticism. The desire of being thought to
have a more discerning 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 posseffed, or the public has been long mistaken, of peculiar merit: every poem has, as Aristotle expresses 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 designed for boys than men; for it will be feen that I declined all refinement, satisfied with being obvious and sincere. In short, if this work be useful in schools, or amusing in