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P R E F A C E.

M.

Y Bookfeller having informed me

that there was no collection of English Poetry among us,

nong us, of any estimation, I thought a few Hours spent in making a proper Yelection would not be ifl 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 sufficient maturity, require a guide to direct their application. To our youth, particularly, a publication

of

of this sort may be useful; since, if compiled with

any

fhare of judgement, it may at once unite precept and example, hew 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 lefs generally read, and others still may wish, that I had felected 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 foremost in promoting deformity. In this compilation I run but few risques 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 Aristotle expresses it, a beginning, a middle, and an end, in which, however trifling the rule may seem, 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

the

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

OLIVER GOLDSMITH

THE

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