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The public is here presented with a selection of English poetry, in a chronological series, from the beginning of the sixteenth century (or, including an extract from CHAUCER, from the latter part of the fourteenth) to the present time, upon a plan hitherto unattempted, at leaft in this country*. It will not be thought possible that a collection in three volumes should comprise every poem of value in the language; but it may be confidently asserted that there is scarce a single poet of any eminence or merit who has not contributed generally his best,
* THE CALEDONIAN Muse, a collection of Scotilla poetry, upon a similar plan, printed some years Ance, though not yet published, was, in fact, a subsequent com. pilation
and in some cases his only, production, and that no publication of like nature ever comprehended such a number and variety of excellent poems, or was printed with superior elegance, fidelity, or correctness. No altera tion (except in apparent mistakes) has been attempted either in the language or in the orthography, and as little as possible even in the punctuation, of the edition followed, which, if not always the best, will in no case be found a bad one; the only variation, if any, confifting in the orthography, which is, perhaps, very feldom that of the author : nor has any piece been inserted which had already appeared in “ A SELECT COLLECTION OF ENGLISH SONGS," published in 1783.
It must be confessed that the use, or rather abuse, of Italic types and capital letters has proved a source of constant discouragement and vexation. To have entirely preserved thefe frivolous distinctions, of which, in many