« PreviousContinue »
nothing seems better calculated to entertain, than a judicious collection of the smaller, though not on that account less laboured, productions of eminent poets : an entertainment, not unlike that which we receive from surveying a finished landschape, or well disposed piece of thell-work: where each particular object, tho' singly beautiful, and fufficiently striking by itself, receives an additional charm, thus, as Milton expresses it, sweetli
The first miscellaneous collection of poems, that ever appeared in Great-Britain with any reputation, is that published by Dryden : which was afterwards continued by Tonfon. There are many pieces of the highest merit in this collection, by Dryden, Denham, Creech, Drayton, Garth, Marvell, and many others; yet the compilers, it is evident, were not always fufficiently fcrupulous and cautious in their choice, as several pieces are admitted, among the rest, which would otherwise utterly have perished, and which had no other recommendation, than that they served to swell the volume. Since this, many miscellanies have been published both in Scotland and England: to enumerate which
would be no less tedious than useless. It will be sufficient to remark, that through want of care or judgment in their respective editors, they are all forgotten or neglected. From these the miscellany known by the name of Mr. Pope perhaps ought to be excepted; tho' that, indeed, cannot properly be styled a collection of poems by different hands, which is such a one as we are speaking of at present, the greater part consisting of pieces by Mr. Pope only. The beit miscellany at this day extant in our language, and the first complete one of the kind which we have seen, is that lately published by R. Dodsley, which boasts the greatest names of the present age among its contributors.
As to the poetical collection here exhibited to the public, we apprehend it challenges no small degree of regard, as it was made under the immediate inffection and conduct of several very ingenious gentlemen, whose names it would do us the highest honour to mention ; and as it contains a variety not to be found even in the admirable collection last spoken of; I mean the Intermixture of poems both Scotch and English. Nor is this variety less agreeable than useful; as from it we have an opportunity of forming a comparison and estimate of the taste and genius of the two different nations, in their poetical compositions.
It will be necessary to take notice, that our chief care has been to furnish out the following miscellany with those pieces, regard being first had to real merit, which have laid unknown and inobserved from their MANNER of publication ; several of them liaving been printed by themselves, and so perished as it were for want of bulk, and others lost amid the rubbish of collections injudiciously made, and perhaps not easily to be met with. Nor will it be improper to mention, that in order to render our volume still more compleat, we have had the favour of some original poems, written by a late member of the university of Aberdeen, whose modefty would not permit us to prefix his name : one of which in this edition is printed with many improvements, from a corrected copy. And from these ingenious essays, the public may be enabled to form some judgment beforehand of a poem of a nobler and more important nature, which he is now preparing. Nor must we forget to return our public thanks to this gentleman, for the service he has been to us, not only in making this collection more excellent by his own contributions, but in felecting such pieces of others as were suitable to our design.
It is hoped that the ancient Scottish poems (amongst which THE THISTLE AND THE Rose, and HARDYKNUTE are more particularly distinguished)