Page images

instances, it was utterly impoffible to discover the reason, would have been perfectly ridicu lous; to omit them altogether appeared an act of violence. The editor, therefor, has not the vanity to hope that either the retention or the omiffion will fatisfy the more critical reader; being utterly unable to discover any principle which will justify either the one or the other. It is however to be wished that, except in fixed and given inftances, they could be entirely laid afide; being no more necessary, one would think, to the works of Pope or Swift than to those of Virgil or Horace.

As it has been thought advifable to publifh the first of these volumes before the others can be printed, it is earnestly requested that those who poffefs the dates of the birth and death of FITZGERALD, BRAMSTON, FAWKES, SIR CHARLES HANBURY WILLIAMS, SMART, MERRICK, LLOYD, LANGHORNE, DR. COTTON, HALL STEVENSON; LADY MARY

WORTLEY Montague, mrs. BARBER, and MISS MARY JONES, will be kind enough to communicate them to the publisher, in order that the selections from thofe poets may be duly arranged and even the births of SIR JOHN HARINGTON, DUKE, SIR SAMUEL GARTH, FENTON, BROOME, and SOMERVILE, may be made use of in a future edition, fhould the collection be found to deserve it. One fhould indeed have naturally concluded that these important facts, for such the birth and death of a man of merit or eminence undoubtedly are, would be found in the lives that have been written of almost all the perfons juft named; but, in short, many of these lives, even in the excellent biographical prefaces of Dr. Johnson, may be carefully perused without betraying even the century in which the author made so distinguished a figure.—Any suggestion, at the fame time, for the improvement of the work, in matter, method, accuracy, or

elegance, will be gratefully received, and properly attended to.

It were, perhaps, to be wifhed, that the collection could have commenced at an earlyer period; but the editor is fufficiently familiar with the poetical productions of preceding centuries to pronounce with confidence, that no compofition of a moderate length is to be found, prior to the year 1500, which would be thought to deserve a place in these volumes; the nicety of the present age being ill difpofed to make the neceffary allowances for the uncouth diction and homely fentiments of former times. Nor will any perfon be forward to rescue fuch things from oblivion, while the attempt exposes him to the malignant and ruffian-like attacks of fome hackney fcribbler or perfonal enemy, through the medium of one or other of two periodical publications, in which the moft illiberal abufe is vented under colour of impartial criticism, and both the literary and moral character of every man

who wishes to make his peculiar ftudies contribute to the information or amufement

of society are at the mercy of a conceited pedant, or dark and cowardly affaffin. The editor, at the fame time, by no means flatters himself, that either the omiffion of what is obfcure and unintelligible, or the insertion of every thing elegant and refined, will be fufficient to protect these volumes from the rancorous malice and envenomed flander of the reviewing critic. He appeals, however, from the partial cenfures of a mercenary and malevolent individual, to the judgement and candour of a generous and difcerning public, whose approbation is proposed as the fole reward of his difinterefted labours.

It ought to be mentioned, in justice to the prefent compilation, that it was made many years ago: nor fhould it, perhaps, if it could, be concealed that the idea originated from a fight of the elegant French fong-book, intitled L'ANTHOLOGIE FRANÇOISE.


« PreviousContinue »