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THE NEW YORK
ASTOR, LENOX AND TILDEN U DATIONS 197
PRINTED BY SWIFT AND CO., KING STREET, REGENT STREET. THE FRONTISPIECE FROM AN INEDITED PORTRAIT OF SHAKESPEARE.
THE SERIES BROJECTED AND SUPERINTENDED BY
He who accumulates rare gems with the desire of forming a peerless collection enjoys the satisfaction of knowing that, should at any future day his taste in their arrangement be questioned, the woven links that bound them wrenched asunder, the settings cast aside and new ones substituted, still the labour of his life will not be wasted, since it was expended on substances durable as resplendent; objects which long survive in bright and flawless integrity the hundreds of perishable hands through which they may have chanced to pass.
If I have failed to assort in a manner worthy of their value the jewels I have selected from the
mine of noble thoughts bequeathed to us by genius, I will console myself with the reflection that uncouthness of arrangement can affect their vital beauties as little as the rough handicraft of the barbarian detracts from the splendour of the precious stones his dusky fingers link together in tasteless sequence.
Nearly a hundred years have passed away since Mr. Dodsley formed that voluminous collection of Poems by several hands," which was so popular that it found a place in the libraries of all who affected to possess taste for the refinements of literature.
On a book-shelf before me now I see the six brown volumes united together by the flimsy veil of a spider's web. The tiny architect, emulating man in the ambition of its requirements, has constructed a spacious abode for its small wicked body; the area of his woven palace extends over the whole of Mr. Dodsley's work; and obscuring the dull gilt lettering of the centre volume, hangs a captive fly, with all the buzz gone out of him!
Two causes may be assigned for the neglect into which that worthy bookseller's collection is fallen.