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LONDON:

Printed by D. S. Maurice, Fenchurch-street.

PRE FACE.

PN 1136 R8

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In compliance with established custom, the Editor, having completed these Volumes, is now called upon to apply himself to the " "weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable" task, of writing a Preface for them; and it becomes a question of what that Preface is to consist. Of the two topics usually put in requisition for the performance of this duty,-apology and panegyric, he does not conceive he is at liberty to avail himself. With regard to the first, in these days of light reading, when works of a desultory and amusing description have usurped so large a portion of the shelves of every bookseller, it cannot, surely, be necessary to offer any excuse for obtruding on the world a few additional volumes, on the interesting and exhaust

VOL. I.

less theme to which the present are devoted. The enormous and increasing demand for works of Anecdote, renders such excuse perfectly nugatory; and the Editor is, therefore, precluded from indulging in the favourite apologetic strain.

Still less does it become him to adopt the panegyrical, and, sitting as censor on his own work, in imitation of certain modest writers of the day, to point out to the world the great advantages which it possesses over all that have gone before it, and, indeed, over all that will come after it. He cannot persuade himself that he is the most impartial judge of the merits of his own compilation; he will, therefore, leave it to the public, whose peculiar province it is, and who are far more likely to come to a just decision on the subject, to ascertain what degree of merit may belong to it.

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He will only say for himself, that he has endeavoured to select such Anecdotes relative to the Poetry and Poets of his own country in particular, as may convey information as well as amusement, cautiously rejecting the trite stories which are to be met with at every corner, and diligently searching among works little known to the majority of readers, for those

gems which lay buried in their obscurity. He has thus been induced frequently to refer to our older Poets, many of whom, although possessing great genius, are now scarcely known to the world at large, even by name; and, in these cases, he has departed from the more restricted plan usually pursued, in order to introduce slight sketches of their lives, and specimens of their productions, which, he trusts, will be found both novel and curious. Nor have the Poets of other nations been neglected; on the contrary, many names of this class are introduced, together with translated extracts of their works, derived from sources which taste and criticism must allow to be the best. He has, also, given occasional notices of several living aspirants to the bays, principally of the Sister Island, the specimens of whose hitherto unpublished poetry will serve to shew, that no inconsiderable degree of poetical talent is obscured and depressed by the want of that fostering care which, in this country, would speedily be exerted in favour of modest and retiring genius.

As, however, he imagines that few, or none, will read this Preface, without glancing at the contents of the volumes to which it is prefixed,

he deems it superfluous to enter into any detail of the matter which they embrace; with regard to which the reader will, doubtless, form his own judgment, uninfluenced by any thing which might here be said in its favour. To that judg ment he submits his work, and awaits that verdict to which he, and all his fellow culprits in the sin of authorship, or editorship, must submit without appeal.

RICHARD RYAN.

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