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THIS little Volume is not intended as a general Selection from the British Poets, several works of that nature, of various merit, being already before the Public. The origin of the present attempt is shortly this:
The Editor, for his own amusement, began, in the year 1807, a Common-place Book for Poetry, into which he transcribed, from time to time, such pieces as particularly pleased him. Many of these he occasionally read to some of his friends whom he knew to have a just taste for the beauties of poetical composition; and their approbation, expressed in very flattering terms, induced him to think of the present publication.
Notwithstanding the numerous Poetical Selections already printed, there still seemed to be wanting one of a moderate size, in which every entire poem or extract might not only be above mediocrity, but bear the decided stamp of genius-a volume, on the pages of which the admirers of poetry might delight to dwell, and which might prove an agreeable companion in the study, the garden, or the field.
That a Selection, compiled with judgment and good taste, might still attract favourable notice, has recently been shown by the success which has attended Mr M'Diarmid's excellent and pleasing publication, "The Scrap Book," a work chiefly confined to prose.
With respect to the present Volume, the Editor hopes that it will be found to contain a considerable number of poems of great beauty, carefully collected from an immense variety of sources, many of which seem hitherto to have entirely escaped notice. He flatters himself, that there is scarcely a poet of any eminence in the present age, of whose composition he has not given a specimen; that the work will be found to exhibit examples of almost every kind of measure of which the English tongue is capable; and that it will present, to persons of taste, many and various instances of the energy, the harmony, and the expressive power of our language.
It has been thought advisable to insert, from our older poets, some well-known pieces of acknowledged merit, in order to render the Work convenient as a book of reference for compositions which must ever be perused with delight. But the great object has been to rescue from oblivion many flowers that were lying in obscurity, and which seemed well worthy of a better fate. W. C.