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point, cooperate with irresistible energy to so desirable effects ?
But whatever ease or hopes (except of gain) those who have hitherto published Collections of this kind may have conceived, their execution of them seems, to the author of this work, as well as to the writer of this preface, the clearest deinonftration of their having greatly deceived themselves in their estimates. The models of some have been too narrow to be of any real or extensive use. Others have made half their work consist of detached epithets, fuftian phrases, 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 stuffed them with useless matter, long translations, and para phrases of well-known originals. Some have confined their collections solely to the stage ; and others entirely excluded whatever it could fupply. Some have cited their authors so blindly, that no recourse can be had to their works ; and others have not quoted them at all. Some, either through ignorance, or want of care, ascribe to one author the passages of another ; and others, officiously turning authors themselves, continually sophisticate what they transcribe, and give us their own interpolations
blended with their authors sense, that what they cite in such a manner, cannot be adjudged either to the one or the other. Some injudiciously extract the worst parts of their author, and even insert thore under improper topicks ; and others quote authors they never looked into, but take upon trust wherever they find them. Some have been so careless as to borrow passages from those whồ stole them : And all, especially our late compilers, have neglected even to
look into the many excellent ancient poets, Pa) from whom the following sheets are taken, of whole thoughts might often have claimed of
a preference, or, at least, an equality with loy those they have inserted in their collechelt tions, the dress of words only excepted. I lels would not derogate in the least from the cafes praise of the more modern or cotempo.
rary poets, to whom the highest regard ge: and veneration is most justly due ; but to
exclude the merits of the dead, whom au themselves have always admired, is so far bel
from being a compliment to them, that it no must be an unpardonable partiality in their
sense; especially whilst they know, that the one old vices and follies of mankind are per
ritually reviving, and that the preservacontion of as much of the knowledge of things as posible, is so necessary 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 ascribed to the poetical Commonplace Books hitherto pų. blished, we proceed to a brief review of all that have come to our knowledge, from the first appearance of such collections in print.
It is observed, even in the middle of Queen Elizabetb's reign, that books of - poetry, and works of a poetical nature, numerous than
other kind of writings in our language. Accordingly, in the latter end of it, they were thought to abound with such elegancies, that no less than two collections, principally from the poets of her time, were published in one year. One of these is called BelveDERE, or, The Garden of the Muses t. The author's name was John Bodenham, a gentleman undoubtedly ambitious of diftinguishing himself by the Laconick singularity of his performance. Hence, we suppose it was, that he made it his inviolable rule to admit no quotation of more than one line, or a couplet of ten syllables.
This * Webbe's Discourse of English Poetry, 4.10. 1586. Pref. + Printed at London for Hugh Afley, 8vo. 1600.
. This makes him so sparing of his sense, and gives him so doginatical an air, that his reader is rather offended, than facisfied with his entertainment. The length or brevity of a passage is, indeed, no reason for either admitting or rejecting it ; its value being to be rated not by its size, but fenfe ; but where the former is so penurious, the latter ought to make amends either in beauty or inftruction. This, his friend the publisher seems to have understood ; for he tells us, his author would not be persuaded to enlarge his method, and promises ample additions in the fecond impression. So affected a piece did not escape censure. It was exposed 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 single grains from those ears. There is, indeed, so abrupt and sudden a hurry from one idea to another in every chapter of his book, that the sentences Nip through the reader's apprehension as quicksilver through the fingers ; he scarce perceives them before they are gone. The author had not only a friend to distribute these minute particles for him under proper
heads, Return from Parnasus, &c. publickly atted by the judents of St. John's College, Cambridge, 460, 1606.
heads, and to subjoin a section of fimiles, and another of examples, to each of them; but a printer so observant of an odd method and uniformity, undoubtedly prescribed him, that there has fcarce been a book printed since with a formality fo remarkably insignificant. But there is another fingularity of a more serious 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 same year in a larger volume, is called ENGLAND'S PARNASSUS ; or, The choicest Flowers of our modern Poets, &c. It is dedicated to Sir Thomas Monson by the author, who, in most 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 bookseller 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 foriner ; for he does not mince his quo. 'tations, and is not so shy of his authors; but his performance is evidently defective in several other respects. He cites no