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account it will be perceived, that after making use of one of the best old Collections as a standard, all the rest were little more than mere repetitions; and that the very modern ones were entirely useless.
After all, I would not presume to say that I have culled every valuable production which this branch of Poetry affords. Difference of taste will always prevent uniformity of judgment, even where the faculties of judging are equal; and I have been much less solicitous to give a Collection to which nothing could be added, than one from which nothing could reasonably be rejected. In Song-Writing, as well as in every other production of art, there is a large class of the mediocres, which are of such dubious merit, as would allow the Reader to hesitate in his approbation of them. I have felt very little scruple in rejecting a number of these. It is not enough that Poetry does not disgust, it ought to give raptures. A much more disagreeable piece of severity was the rejection of several Pieces, marked with a rich vein of genuine Poetry, but not suf
ficiently guarded from offending that charming delicacy of the sex, which every man must admire, and ought to respect. These were the luxuriances of an age, when the men of pleasure lavished wit and genius, as well as health and fortune, upon their diversions. Had they lived at a time when taste was more refined, and manners were less licentious, their natural gallantry would have restrained them from offering an outrage to those, whom they most wished for readers and admirers.
I hope I have now said enough to intimate for what class of readers this Work is calculated. The soft warbler, who fills up a vacancy of thought with a tune, in which the succession of words gives no idea but that of a succession of sounds, will here be much disappointed in meeting with the names of Prior, Congreve, and Landsdowne, instead of Arne, Brent, and Tenducci. The midnight roarer of coarse jest and obscenity will be still farther out of his element. But to those who are enamoured with that sacred art, which beyond every other elevates and
refines the soul, to whom the sprightly lyre of Horace and Anacreon, and the melting music of Sappho still sound, though ages have passed since they vibrated on the ear, I will venture to promise a source of enjoyment, from the Works of those great masters whose names adorn this Collection, which I hope they will not think too dearly purchased by the perusal of such introductory matter as is submitted to their candid examination.
A TABLE OF FIRST LINES.
297 307 222
A CHIEFTAIN to the Highlands bound
Ah! the shepherd's mournful fate
Alexis shunn'd his fellow swains
279 328 103 110 67 58 203 206 150 235
65 218 326 348
280 254 238 159 264
Bid me when forty winters more