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ADVERTISE M E N T.
N order to account for the anachronisms
in this essay, it is necessary and respectful to inform the reader, that this volume was printed, as far as the 201st page, above twenty years ago. The author begs leave to add, that he flatters himself, that no observations in this work can be so perversely misinterpreted and tortured, as to make him insinuate, contrary to his opinion and inclination, that Pope was not a great poet: he only says and thinks, he was not the greatest. He imagined his meaning would have been perceived, and his motives for composing this essay would have been clearly known, from the passage of Quintilian, prefixed to the first volume of it; which passage implies, that as there were readers at Rome, 3
who inverted the order of poetical excellence, and who preferred Lucilius to Virgil; fo there might be readers in England, fo devoted to Pope, as to prefer him to Milton; and the author thought and knew there were actually many such readers and judges; who seemed not to recollečt, that, in every language, he is the truest and most genuine poet, whose works most powerfully strike the imagination with what is Great, Beautiful, and New.
EW disquisitions are more amusing,
or perhaps more instructive, than those which relate to the rise and gradual increase of literature in any kingdom : And among the various species of literature, the origin and progress of poetry, however shallow reasoners may despise it, is a subject of no small utility. For the manners and cusVol. II.
toms, the different ways of thinking and of living, the favorite pafsions, persuits, and pleasures of men, appear in no writings fo strongly marked, as in the works of the poets in their respective ages; so that in these compositions, the historian, the moralist, the politician, and the philosopher, may, each of them, meet with abundant matter for reflection and observation.
Poetry made it's first appearance in Britain, as perhaps in most other countries, in the form of chronicles, intended to perpetuate the deeds both of civil and military heroes, but mostly the latter. Of this species is the chronicle of Robert of Glocelter ; and of this species also was the song, or ode, which William the Conqueror, and his followers, sung at their landing in this kingdom from Normandy. The mention of which event, will naturally remind us of the check it gave to the native strains of the old British poetry, by an introduction of foreign manners, customs, images, and