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mined whom it should include. In consequence of this arrangement a few names will be found, which are included in the work of Mr. Ellis.
Many worthless versifyers are admitted among the English Poets, by the courtesy of criticism, which seems to conceive that charity towards the dead may cover the multitude of its offences against the living. There were other reasons for including here the reprobate, as well as the elect, My business was to collect specimens as for a hortus siccus; not to cull flowers as for an anthology. I wished, as Mr. Ellis has done in the eardierams to exhibit specimens of every 'Writer, whose: retses appear in a substantive 'form: äidind their place upon the shelves of
collector: The taste of the publick may better be estirated from indifferent Poets than from good ones; because the former write for their contemporaries, the latter for posterity. Cleveland and Cowley, who were both more popular than Milton, characterise their age more truly. Fame, indeed, is of slow growth; like the Hebrew language, it has no present tense; Popularity has no future one. The gourd
which sprang up in a night withered in a day. The list of these writers, will inevitably be imperfect. Of all branches of knowledge bibliology, though always becoming more and more needful, is that in which the student of our literature can find the fewest works to guide his researches. I have, however, to acknowledge with pleasure, much personal assistance. Mr, Heber's stores have been open to me on this, as on former occasions ; so also has Mr. Hill's ample collection of English Poetry. The worthy heart of Mr. Isaac Reed would have rejoiced to have known the advantages I have derived from his rare Library, and still rarer knowledge; but while I am adding one more testimony of esteem and thanks to the
many due to him, I hear of an event, which places him beyond my praise or my gratitude. Grosvenor Charles Bedford, an old and dear friend, with whom I have lived in habits of unbroken intimacy, since we were school-boys together, has been my coadjutor in the work, has selected many of the specimens, supplied many of the prefatory notices, and conducted
the whole through the press, which, in a situation so remote from London as that of my residence, it was impossible I could do myself.
The biographical notices might easily have been extended, had it been consistent with the plan, or the limits of this selection. Of a few great writers it was unnecessary to say anything-of some ignoble ones sufficient to say what they had written. I have, in a few instances, rather inserted a piece of inferior merit, than those which are so well known, as to be printed in every collection.
II. The collections of our Poets are either too scanty, or too copious. They reject so many, that we know not why half whom they retain should be admitted; they admit so many, that we know not why any should be rejected. There is a want of judgement in giving Bavius a place; but when a place has been awarded him, there is a want of justice in not giving Mævius one also. The sentence of Horace concerning middling Poets is disproved by daily experience; whatever the Gods may do,certainly the publick and the booksellers tolerate them.
When Dr. Aikin began to re-edite Johnson's collection, it was well observed in the Monthly Magazine, that to our best writers there should be more commentary; and of our inferior ones less text.' But Jobnson begins just where this observation is applicable, and just where a general collection should end. Down to the Restoration it is to be wished, that every Poet, however unworthy of the name, should be preserved. In the worst volume of elder date, the historian may find something to assist, or direct his enquiries; the antiquarian something to elucidate what requires illustration; the philologist something to insert in the margin of his dictionary. Time does more for books than for wine, it gives worth to what originally was worthless. Those of later date must stand or fall by their own merits, because the sources of information, since the introduction of newspapers, periodical essays, and magazines, are so numerous, that if they are not read for amusement, they will not be recurred to for anything else. The Restoration is the great epoch in our annals, both civil and literary: a
new order of things was then established, and we look back to the times beyond, as the Romans under the Empire, to the age of the Republick.
III. The early history of poetry, in every nation of modern Europe is the same; the Monks wrote hymns and legends, while. war-songs were composed for the Chieftains and Soldiers, who were as yet only half converted. It is idle to look for the origin in any particular place. Wherever language is found, verse of some kind or other is found also. Wherever any of the Gothick, or any of the Romance languages was spoken; that is, in every country of modern Europe, except the Slavonick confines of barbarism which have never yet been civilized, the institutions, manners, and pursuits of the people were alike, and the same species of poetry was cultivated at the same time'; and this similarity continued till the different nations had acquired each its peculiar character. Similar states of intellect produce similar customs; our ancestors tattooed themselves; scalping was a Gothick punishment ; the Berserick fury of the Danes, differed only