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and Miscellany Poems which I have turned over for the purpose, it would show that industry at least had not been wanting in accomplishing it. This kind of praise, however, is of so inferior a nature, that, I confess, it would scarcely satisfy my ambition. During the progress of my researches, I was insensibly led to make some remarks on the peculiar character and diversities of the pieces which passed in review before me, and to form comparisons between them and others, the produce of a different age and country. As the subject had novelty to recommend it, and was suited to iny inclinations, I was incited to pursue it to a length which seemed to render it lawful for me to take the title of an Essayist, instead of a mere Compiler. If the attempts which should support this more honourable character have not the fortune to meet with approbation, I must be contented with my humble endeavours to please by the merits of others; yet I cannot acknowledge any impropriety in the design, well remembering that Horace promises his friends
not only to present them with verse, but to tell them the worth of his present.
It may perhaps be a matter of surprise, that after so much labour I have not been able to furnish a larger Collection than is here offered ; hut on considering the manner in which these pieces have been ushered into the world, the wonder will cease. The chief sources of good Songs, are the Miscellany Poems and Plays from the time of Charles the Second, to the conclusion of Queen Anne's reign. Most of these were given in the earliest Collections, mixed however with the trash of the times, and copied from one to another with no farther variation than substituting new trash for such as was out of date. In the most modern Collections, all the beauties, as well as the insipid Pieces of the early ones are discarded, and the whole is made up of favourite airs from the fashionable Comic Operas of the winter, and the summer warblings at Vauxhall, Ranelagh, and Spring Gardens ; so that in a year's time they are as much out of date as an Almanack. From this
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 far- " ther 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.