Page images
PDF

of this fort may be useful; since, if compiled with any stiare of judgement, it may at once unite precept and example, shew them what is beautiful, and inform them why it is so: I therefore offer this, to the best of my judgement, as the best 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 wisti that X had selected from works lets generally read, and others Hill 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 ia 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 rifques of that kind; every poem here is well known, and possessed, or the public has been long mistaken, of peculiar merit: every poem has, as Aristotle expresses it, at 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 thechoice, as it was obvious, for in all languages the best productions are most easily found.. As to the short introductory criticisms toeach poem, they are rather designed for boys than men; for it will: be seen that I declined all refinement, satisfied with being obvious and sincere; In short, if this work be useful in schools, or amusing in

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

OLIVER GOLDSMITH,

THE THE

BEAUTIES

- OF

ENGLISH POESY.

The Rape os the Lock.

This seems to be Mr. Pope's most sinished production, and is, perhaps, the most persect in our language. It exhibits stronger powers of imagination, more harmony of numbers, and a greater knowledge of the world, than any other of this poet's works: and it is probable, if our country were called upon to shew a specimen of their genius to foreigners, this would be the work here sixed upon.

WHAT dire offence from am'rous causes springs,
What mighty contests rise from trivial things,
I sing—This verse to Caryl, Muse! is due:
This, ev'n Belinda may vouchsase to view:
Slight is the subject, but not so the praise, If She inspire, and He approve my lays. Vol. I. B Say

Say whit Grange motive, Goddess! could compel A well-bred Lord t'assault a gentle Belle? C fay what stranger cause, yet unexplor'd, Could make a gentle Belle reject a Lord? In tasks so bold, can little men engage, And in soft bosoms dwells such mighty rage? Sol thro' white curtains shot a tim'rous ray, Andope'd those eyes that must eclipse the day: Now lap-dogs gave themselves the rouzing shake, And sleepless lovers, just at twelve, awake: Thrice rung the bell, the slipper knock'd the ground, And the press'd watch return'd a silver sound. Belinda still her downy pillow prest; Her guardian Sylph prolong'd the balmy rest: 'Twas He had summon'd to her silent bed The morning dream that hover'd o'er her head. A youth more glitt'ring than a birth night beau, .(That ev'n in slumber caus'd her cheek to glow) Seem'd to her ear his winning lips to lay, And thus in whispers said, or seem'd to say. Fairest of mortals, thou distinguish'd care Of thousand bright inhabitants of air! If e'er one Vision touch thy infant thought, Of all the Nurse and all the Priest have taught; Of airy Elves by moonlight shadows seen, The silver token, and the circled green, Or virgins visited by Angel-pow'rs, With golden crowns and wreaths of heav'nly flow'rs; Hear and believe! thy own importance know, Nor bound thy narrow views to things below.

Some

« PreviousContinue »