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“When they talk'd of their Raffaelles, Correggios, and stuff, He shifted his trumpet, and only took snuff.”
The character of Goldsmith, as a writer of varied powers, is deservedly held in estimation. He attempted almost every species of composition, and to each gave fresh attractions : NULLUM QUOD TETIGIT NON ORNAVIT.
As a poet, in which capacity he now appears before the public, the most favoured of his numerous competitors scarcely equals · him in popularity; and, since this distinction neither derives support from the charm of novelty, nor from the influence of party feelings, there can be no reason to doubt its permanency.
While relieved, by such circumstances, from the task of devising some plausible motive to the publication of this volume, it becomes the more requisite that I should describe the care with which it has been prepared; and I submit, therefore, a series of remarks on the text, the notes, the memoir, and the engraved illustrations. ·
As Goldsmith never edited his poetical works collectively, I have felt myself at liberty to reject the methods which have hitherto prevailed, and to carry into effect my own ideas of editorial propriety. I have, accordingly, divided the poems into three classes—descriptive poems, lyrical and miscellaneous poems, prologues and epilogues ; and have placed the contents of each class in the presumed order of composition. I have also collated the various editions of each article, and have given the text of that edition which exhibits the last revision of it. The result of the collations is— an improved text of The deserted village, of the Threnodia augustalis, the Prologue to Zobeide, etc. The Captivity, also, is now faithfully printed from the valuable manuscript of Mr. Murray of Albe
The notes are intended to point out the source