Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

down its screening hedges. The public right of way is all but established, and necessity, which is the mother of so many virtues, now leaves us no choice but to be generous and try to guide newcomers to the unobtrusive flowers whose delicate fragrance had long delighted us. We shall not have to deal with a crowd, for Augustan poetry will never be popular. It is too purely artistic in its inspiration and attitude to life ; but for those who take pleasure in anything perfectly and delicately done, who are in sympathy with the urbane and the sophisticated, and who set store by tranquillity, the Augustans will always have their appeal.

Considerations of space more than anything have had to determine the omissions which are the inevitable drawback to every anthology. The original plan of the book included the Elegy, The Vanity of Human Wishes, The Deserted Village, Thomson's Winter, a larger selection from Gay, and additional hymns. When curtailment became necessary it seemed best to omit these. With the possible exception of Winter they can all be obtained at little cost, and as the chief purpose of the anthology was to make accessible the lesser-known poems of the century, it seemed preferable to omit those already well-known in favour of those which deserve to be better known. The exclusion of Pope was determined on both practical and literary grounds. His complete poems, as well as being necessary to anyone studying or interested in Augustan poetry, are within the reach of all. A selection, to be adequate, would have to occupy more space than could be assigned to it except at the expense of poets such as Swift or Churchill who are not easy of access, and who both need and repay selection. It is true that by the omission of the greatest of Augustan poets and of three of the century's masterpieces the collection may be exposed to the charge of being a selection only of the second-rate. I hope I have avoided this by the inclusion of poems by Gay and Prior, Gray and Collins, Retaliation and the best of the hymnology.

The date 1700 has been taken for the earliest poem, and the last poem of Dr. Johnson (Lines on the Death of Mr. Levett, 1782) determines the latest date for inclusion. This excludes, rightly, the work of Cowper and Crabbe, neither of whom was Augustan in inspiration, and that of Burns, whose literary genealogy is alien. For the same reason the Jacobite and other Scotch songs of the period are also omitted.

An Anthology is in its nature incomplete, and much still remains to be done for the eighteenth century. In a recent anthology which appeared while this book was in proof, Mr. Iolo Williams has brought to light some five hundred short, and for the most part lyrical poems, of varying merit, of which a large proportion are good enough to repay the labour of excavation. This collection, apart from the many delightful poems it contains, is valuable in illustrating the metrical variety of the century. Augustan genius, however, did not most readily express itself in lyric, and it is probable that the more characteristic forms-satire, familiar epistle, or burlesque

- could be similarly collected in unsuspected excellence. The present collection, the preparation of which was interrupted and delayed by residence in India, was not designed to be more than an introduction and a startingpoint for such research.

The arrangement of the poems is chronological. This method seemed the most critically significant, since it is possible in this way to note something of the fashions and literary progress of the century, to indicate its variety, and to place many well-known poems (notably hymns) in their correct literary setting. A grouping by authors, with its consequent juxtaposition of poems widely separated in date of composition, seems to produce a misleading effect. For example, of the poems quoted from John Byrom, the first is dated 1714, the last 1750. An arrangement under authors would place the 1750 poem (“ Christians, awake ') next to Sir W. Browne's Epigram on the Universities (1730) followed by Lord Chesterfield's Lines written in a Lady's Sherlock (1755), a grouping both misleading and without any particular significance.

Arrangement under technical forms has little to recommend it, being at best artificial and only useful to readers studying one of these forms. It is often difficult to classify a poem accurately: the ode, lyric, and ballad as interpreted in the eighteenth century have much in common, as also have the descriptive and meditative poems. This method has further the grave disadvantage of grouping together the weakest poems—the lyrics.

The poems have been grouped in decades, to which they have been assigned by one of three methods, adopted in the following order : (I) by the date of composition if available ; (2) if this cannot be ascertained (as is most often the case), by the date of first publication ; (3) by the date of the author's death if the first publication was posthumous. Any special evidence for a date has been indicated in the notes.

Nearly all the poems chosen have been reprinted from the first edition or the earliest printed texts, but a few (chiefly hymns, and certain poems by Gray and Akenside) have been taken from later editions ; the source of the text of each poem is indicated in the Index of Sources. The original spelling has been preserved, and also (with rare exceptions) the original punctuation. The use of italics and initial capitals has been followed in the text of the poems, though in the titles a certain amount of modification of the original typography was found to be inevitable.

My absence from England while this book was going through the press has considerably added to the general editor's duties, and it gives me pleasure here to express to him my thanks for his generous help.

I should wish to acknowledge my obligations to the late Professor Arber's The Pope Anthology (now out of print). I am also indebted to Professor H. J. C. Grierson for several valuable suggestions and, as at all times, for his kindly encouragement. QUETTA.

K. C.

POEMS ON SEVERAL OCCASIONS Written in the Eighteenth Century

LES ESTREINES

SET BY MR. SMITH

a

ACCEPT, my love, as true a heart

As ever lover gave :
'Tis free (it vows) from any art,

And proud to be your slave.

Then take it kindly, as 'twas meant,

And let the giver live :
Who, with it, would the world have sent,

Had it been his to give.

And, that Dorinda may not fear

I e'er will prove untrue,
My vows shall, ending with the year,

With it begin anew.
New Year's Day, 1701.

MATTHEW PRIOR.

SONG OF THE ANGELS AT THE NATIVITY OF

OUR BLESSED SAVIOUR

WHILE Shepherds watch'd their Flocks by Night

all seated on the Ground,
The Angel of the Lord came down,
and Glory shone around.

"Fear not," said he, (for mighty Dread

had seiz'd their troubled Mind) “Glad Tidings of great Joy I bring

to you and all Mankind; “To you, in David's Town this Day

is born of David's Line, “The Saviour, who is Christ the Lord;

and this shall be the Sign: “The heav'nly Babe you there shall find

to humane view display'd, "All meanly wrapt in swathing Bands,

and in a Manger laid." Thus spake the Seraph, and forthwith

appear'd a shining Throng Of Angels praising God, and thus

addrest their joyful Song; All Glory be to God on high,

and to the Earth be peace ; "Goodwill, henceforth, from Heav'n to Men, begin and never cease.”

NAHUM TATE.

[ocr errors]

TO A CHILD OF QUALITY Five Years Old, the Author Forty. 1704. LORDS, knights, and squires, the num'rous band,

That wear the fair miss Mary's fetters, Were summon'd by her high command,

To show their passions by their letters. My pen amongst the rest I took,

Lest those bright eyes that cannot read Should dart their kindling fires, and look,

The power they have to be obey'd.
Nor quality, nor reputation,

Forbid me yet my flame to tell ;
Dear five years old befriends my passion,
And I may write till she can spell.

« ZurückWeiter »