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FLOURISHED IN THE REIGNS
HENRY VIII. QUEEN ELIZABETH. JAMES I.
THE original plan of this work was to comprise all the beautiful Poetry in the English language, from the time of Henry VIII. and Queen Elizabeth, (when the excellence of our poets began to fix the language,) down to the present time. But the limits to which the Editor was confined, rendered it impossible; much fine poetry was unavoidably to be excluded: this has constituted one great difficulty, and must be the excuse for many of the onsissions. The selections from the minor ancient poets, are chiefly taken from a small volume published in 1790, entitled Specimens of the Early English Poets. With respect to the moderns, the Editor has not attempted to come down lower than Cowper. The arrangement which has been adopted, (of placing all the poems of one author together, and classing the poets according to the time in which they flourished,) is the most obvious, and the best calculated to show the gradual alterations in our language, and the improvement in our versification, if not in our poetry. A division under se. parate heads, must generally be fanciful. The length &f the selections from each poet, has been as much as possible proportioned to his excellence: and where all the fine poems of an author could not be admitted, those have been chosen which are most generally admired. No selections from our Epic, and other long poems, are admitted,