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the sagacity of his conjectures, he has often drawn conclusions, that have no foundation, and supposed motives, that had no existence. Whether these considerations were sufficient to warrant the composition of new lives, the reader is to judge.
There is, also, another part of the editor's task, which will demand the liberality of the reader. By the plan adopted, the edition was to be comprised in fifty volumes; each volume to contain four hundred pages, and the order of chronology to be observed, not only in the arrangement of the different poets, -but in that of the works of each particular poet. It may be supposed, that the execution of such a plan was not easy; but let no man pretend to estimate the difficulty, until he has made the experiment. The editor soon discovered, that no principle, but that of Procrustes, would enable him to fulfil it completely. Had the order of time been rigorously pursued, not only the works of many authors would have been awkwardly distributed in different volumes,-but he must have printed many single poems, a part in one volume, and a part in another. To avoid these incongruities, it has, in some instances, been thought expedient to violate chronology; and, in the case of Milton's works, the disarrangement has been such as, perhaps, the reader will be little inclined to excuse. One volume of
his poems had been printed as a specimen, before the plan of the edition was reduced from an hundred to fifty volumes, and before the editor had resolved to extend his biographies of the more illustrious authors. It was necessary to adapt the remainder of the edition to that volume; and this it
was impracticable to effect, without the disarrangement here alluded to.
It may not be impertinent to suggest, in conclusion, that, while the reduction of our plan from one hundred to fifty volumes has diminished the cost of subscription one half, the reader will probably experience no real loss of pleasure in the absence of the poetry, which has been necessarily excluded. A century ago, the English paid no regard to their earlier poets; and, when once the revulsion of taste began, they seemed to think it their duty to compensate unusual neglect by overrunning admiration. Poets, who had long slumbered in the oblivion of black-letter, were dragged to light with antiquarian zeal; and whatever author had written any thing in the shape of verse, was deemed worthy of a name and a place in the temple of the British Apollo. An immense mass of vapid poetry is thus foisted into the later collections on the other side of the water. this country, however, we do not feel the necessity of sustaining the national character by a superstitious reverence of English authors, merely because they are old; and all that is excellent in English poetry, may, we think, be easily included in the compass of fifty volumes.
The Lovers Sorrowful State maketh him write Sorrowful Songs,
but (souche) his Love may change the same,
Request to Cupide for Revenge of his unkind Love,