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point, cooperate with irrefiftible energy to fo defirable effects?
But whatever eafe or hopes (except of gain) thofe who have hitherto published Collections of this kind may have conceived, their execution of them feems, to the author of this work, as well as to the writer of this preface, the cleareft demonftration of their having greatly deceived themfelves in their eftimates. The models. of fome have been too narrow to be of any real or extenfive ufe. Others have made half their work confift of detached epithets, fuftian phrafes, and dictionaries of rhyme. Some again, in their choice of thoughts, have given us abundance of alloy with very little ore; and, to fwell their volumes, have ftuffed them with useless matter, long tranflations, and paraphrafes of well-known originals. Some have confined their collections folely to the ftage; and others entirely excluded whatever it could fupply. Some have cited their authors fo blindly, that no recourfe can be had to their works; and others have not quoted them at all. Some, either through ignorance, or want of care, afcribe to one author the paffages of another; and others, officiously turning authors themselves, continually fophifticate what they transcribe, and give us their own interpolations. blend.
blended with their authors fenfe, that what they cite in fuch a manner, cannot be adjudged either to the one or the other. Some injudiciously extract the worst parts of their author, and even infert thofe under improper topicks; and others quote authors they never looked into, but take upon truft wherever they find them. Some have been fo careless as to borrow paffages from those who stole them: And all, especially of our late compilers, have neglected even to de look into the many excellent ancient poets, Pfrom whom the following fheets are taken, whose thoughts might often have claimed a preference, or, at least, an equality with thofe they have inferted in their collections, the dress of words only excepted. I would not derogate in the leaft from the praise of the more modern or cotemporary poets, to whom the highest regard age and veneration is moft justly due; but to exclude the merits of the dead, whom authemfelves have always admired, is fo far an be from being a compliment to them, that it e not must be an unpardonable partiality in their ough fenfe; efpecially whilft they know, that the one old vices and follies of mankind are perherstually reviving, and that the prefervacon tion of as much of the knowledge of things cribe as poffible, is fo neceffary to correct the igance and follies, and improve the know
ledge and manners, of mankind; the great ends of all useful learning, and especially that diviner species of it, poetry.
But to come more particularly to the proof of the defects we have afcribed to the poetical Commonplace Books hitherto pu blished, we proceed to a brief review of all that have come to our knowledge, from the first appearance of fuch collections in print.
It is obferved, even in the middle of Queen Elizabeth's reign, that books of poetry, and works of a poetical nature, were more numerous than any other kind of writings in our language. Accordingly, in the latter end of it, they were thought to abound with fuch elegancies, that no lefs than two collections, principally from the poets of her time, were published in one year. One of thefe is called BELVEDERE, Or, The Garden of the Mufes +. The author's name was John Bodenham, a gentleman undoubtedly ambitious of diftinguishing himself by the Laconick fingularity of his performance. Hence, we fuppofe it was, that he made it his inviolable rule to admit no quotation of more than one line, or a couplet of ten fyllables. This
*Webbe's Difcourfe of English Poetry, 4to. 1586. Pref.
+ Printed at London for Hugh Aftley, 8vo. 1600.
This makes him fo fparing of his fenfe, and gives him fo dogmatical an air, that his reader is rather offended, than fatisfied with his entertainment. The length or brevity of a paffage is, indeed, no reason for either admitting or rejecting it; its value being to be rated not by its fize, but fenfe; but where the former is fo penurious, the latter ought to make amends either in beauty or inftruction. This, his friend the publisher feems to have underftood; for he tells us, his author would not be perfuaded to enlarge his method, and promises ample additions in the fecond impreffion. So affected a piece did not escape cenfure. It was expofed in a dramatick performance at Cambridge a few years after, in which the poet compares this mutilating compiler to a poor beggar gleaning of ears after harvest: (he might have faid fingle grains from thofe ears.) is, indeed, fo abrupt and fudden a hurry from one idea to another in every chapter of his book, that the fentences flip through the reader's apprehenfion as quickfilver through the fingers; he scarce perceives them before they are gone. The author had not only a friend to diftribute these minute particles for him under proper heads,
Return from Parnaffus, &c. publickly acted by the Budents of St. John's College, Cambridge, 4to, 1606.
heads, and to fubjoin a fection of fimiles, and another of examples, to each of them; but a printer fo obfervant of an odd 'method and uniformity, undoubtedly prefcribed him, that there has fcarce been a book printed fince with a formality fo re-' markably infignificant. But there is another fingularity of a more ferious nature in this performance, which is, the collector's having omitted to annex the poets names to his citations; which leaves room to fufpect, that he was afraid of being detected of having mangled his originals egregiously in his barbarous manner of curtailing them.
The other collection, published the fame year in a larger volume, is called ENGLAND'S PARNASSUS; or, The choiceft Flowers of our modern Poets, &c. It is dedicated to Sir Thomas Monfon by the author, who, in moft of the copies, writes himself R. A. but in one or two I have met with, there is R. Allot, of which name I find a bookfeller at that time, but know not whether he was the collector. He has, indeed, been more liberal in his entertainment, for the generality, than the former; for he does not mince his quotations, and is not fo fhy of his authors; but his performance is evidently defective in feveral other refpects. He cites no