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THE Body of ENGLISH POETRY, probably the largest in any modern alnguage, contains, in every species of Poem, examples of the highest and most varied excellence. It is the richest treasury of all our maxims of moral truth and of prudential wisdom; and it is here we are to look for those proofs of genius which are acknowledged with universal conviction, and which enable us to hold a high rank in the Republic of Letters. The necessity of frequent Selections, however, has been apparent to all who wish that the principles of taste should be formed on the best models, and studied in the most useful regularity; and although many Publications of this kind have
been presented to the Public, the continual additions making to English Poetry may plead for the present attempt; while it cannot be denied that the greater part of the Selections already in circulation are made with little skill, or disa crimination.
From this motive, the Publisher has been induced to think that a new Selection of EngLISH Poetry would be highly useful in education, and acceptable to all lovers of ELEGANT LITERATURE: and, fortunately, when he had in some degree matured the plan, he was enabled to prevail with Dr. Wolcot not to disdain a task which' they who were not aware of its delicacy and importance, might well judge to be beneath his talents and acquirements.But, the Publisher judged that he whose own Works display, in almost every species of 'pure poetry, examples of singular originality and excellence, who has left hardly one . poetical phrase in the whole compass of English speech
and composition that he has not transferred into his writings, was perhaps of all men living the most competent to form a SELECTION OF EngLISH Poetry to answer all the ends which he had in view.
To add peculiar value to the Collection which he should form, the Publisher, with difficulty, has prevailed with him to intersperse in it, a few of his own original compositions. He was well persuaded, that, whatever his modesty might suggest to the contrary, there are none among the Poets of former times, whose works have given immortality to the English language, but, if now alive, would be proud of any disposal of the flowers of his writings which should exhibit them in mingled assemblage with those of Peter PINDAR-a name on which its sportive use by Dr. Wolcot has conferred a celebrity far higher and more extensive than was given to it by the ancient BARD of THEBES.