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erved, uponen the compilet:hat this ca
W HEN Dr. Aikin published, in the year 1820, the Select Works of the British Poets, I observed, upon the publishers presenting me with a copy of the book, that, if I had been the compiler, it should have ended just where it now began. No one will suppose that this casual observation was meant to disparage the contents of that volume ; what it implied was, an opinion that the poets whose works were thus brought together had been, and were still, frequently reprinted in various forms *; but that the elder poets, the fathers of our poetry, were some very scarce, and others to be obtained only in the general collections of Dr. Anderson and Mr. Chalmers.
Some years afterwards the publishers reminded me of what I had said, and asked me to edit such a volume as I had then wished for. It was an indispensable part of their plan that the Faery Queen and the Poly-olbion should be included; and large as the volume is, the introduction of these poems made it necessary to curtail the selection which I would willingly have made from other authors. The reader will, however, find in it Hawes's Pastime of Pleasure, which, not having been reprinted since the middle of the sixteenth century, had become extremely rare. The whole of Tusser is here also ; the greater part of Lord Brooke's poems ; some selections from Wither (which should have been much more copious if my limits had allowed); and some from Lovelace: none of these are in either of the general collections. Skelton, Gascoigne, and Habington, are not in Dr. Anderson's : Sackville not in Mr. Chalmers's.
It is not to be supposed that I could afford either time or eyesight for correcting the proof sheets of such a volume. But there are two errors of my own which I take this opportunity of acknowledging.
I have said " it is certain that Chaucer wrote rhythmically rather than metrically." Dr. Nott has, in my judgement, proved this, and I entertain
• The publishers beg to say that this evidence of the popularity of these poems induced them to desire their being formed into a collection in a single volume to be sold at a low price.
no doubt of it whatever myself. But as the question is disputed, I ought to have expressed myself less positively ; especially since my old schoolfellow and pleasant acquaintance, James Boswell the younger, was of a different opinion. His opinion upon any point of old English literature should be of great weight ; and I speak of him now, as I shall always think, with a friendly feeling of respect for his many good qualities, and of regret for his loss.
The other error is of a different kind. I expressed a hope that the lost poems of William Browne might yet be found, not knowing at that time that they had been recovered, and printed in a very beautiful form by Sir Egerton Brydges:- one of the many services which he has rendered to the literature of his country.
CON T EN T S.
Gascoigne's Good Morrow ......................
Gascoigne's Good Night
Gascoigne's De Profundis....................
Gascoigne's Gardenings ......................
EARL OF SURREY.
reuiueth to Pleasure ........
Castara. Part I. A Mistress
To Castara. A Sacrifice ........................